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Archive for June, 2009

Betanews makes the case for lightweight operating systems:

The rise of the netbook and other form factors is driving a fairly substantial re-think in terms of how we use computers and what we expect out of them. We no longer shoot for all-encompassing capability, and instead want simpler devices that do the job quickly and efficiently. We don’t want to wait after every keypress or mouse activity, and we don’t want to be confused, either. Simple is the new goal, and an OS that strips out needless complexity, stays out of the way and lets users get their work done uninterrupted represents the new state of the art.

Scott F. Fulton largely follows the LXDE design objectives. What will people like him make switch? The answer is probably that we want operating systems as pervasive that we don’t even care about them anymore, so we also don’t care about switching. An “OS that strips out needless complexity, stays out of the way and lets users get their work done uninterrupted” is a call to leave the users alone. And the current mature desktop environments do exactly the opposite, they add features and complexity, also for development, strip out core functionality and replace it by immature technologies, force decisions upon you. I recently installed the new firefox 3.5 developer version in a virtual machine but basically I don’t even notice which browser I am using anymore and I cannot tell you the differences. I don’t have to tell and I don’t want to tell. Breathe…

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EU press release:

The SO sets out the preliminary view that, should the Commission conclude that Microsoft’s conduct was abusive, any remedy would need to restore a level-playing field and enable genuine consumer choice between Internet Explorer and third-party web browsers, in order to bring the infringement effectively to an end. A potential remedy to these concerns, which the Commission considered in the SO and which would not require Microsoft to provide Windows to end-users without a browser, would be to allow consumers to choose from different web browsers presented to them through a ‘ballot screen’ in Windows.

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Adobe demonstrates that cutting edge software technology is also useful for military uses. In times of stimulus spending and costly military missions certainly an important business option:

This week I wanted to talk about another fascinating use of Adobe AIR. Wade Arnold and his company T8DESIGN built an AIR interface for the US military that is used to drive a cutting edge combat robot call the R-Gator. You all know Wade as the developer of AMFPHP and now the Zend AMF framework. Well in his real job he is building things that are helping to save the lives of our troops. The R-Gator is essentially an unmanned vehicle that is driven remotely using an XBOX 360 controller of all things.

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The LXDE wizard Hong Jen Yee (“PCMan”) makes some bitter remarks concerning the Desktop standard process:

Why should we always be forced to follow all those things we don’t like or don’t even need? If we don’t follow them, we lost compatibility with many existing Gnome/GTK+ and KDE programs. In addition, they modify the specs frequently, and always break backward compatibility. So our precious time are wasted on re-implement everything in their new specs and try to fix all broken compatibility left by them. It’s enough!

And his recommendation:

So, every enthusiastic developers/users of lightweight desktop environments, please join their xdg mailinst list and join their discussions and let them listen to your voice.

For me that is not only an issue rooted in my genuine interest in LXDE but me and my colleagues discussed within the Digital Standards Organisation, which we established in The Hague, how to make standardisation work and I researched policy options in standardisation for quite a while. Of course you won’t find a magic bullet, and most problems concern the correct application of the openness concepts concerning disclosure and licensing. The typical predatory pratices are patent ambushes. Likewise the European Commission IDABC develops a multidimensional standard/specification evaluation model named CAMSS and some EU whitepapers outline the way forward in standardisation.

Another aspect which is often overlooked is technology infection. What I mean is that certain commercial interests abuse a standard to mandate specific services. This is the scenario here and concerns standards on a different level.

To members of the XDG list Hon Jeng Hee now proposes a voting process. If I understand his motivations correctly he wants to see the interests and requirements of lightweight desktop environments better considered or considered at all, and the voting process is a means to this end.

Liam R E Quin disagrees:

Voting inherently disenfranchises minorities. That is, the nature of a majority vote is such that the people who vote No get overruled; this is very different from achieving consensus.

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eyeDesigner

eyeDesigner is the graphical interface builder for eyeOS, the Cloud Computing Operating System.

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Amarok continues to experiment with the user interface for the Amarok2 release cycle. Software reconstructionism in search for the ultimate music player interface. Here is one element, in the description of the video:

An extension of the dig-down interface prototype that gets rid of the big, ugly vertical back button and adds a much more flexible breadcrumb navigation widget instead

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Project Natal

The futuristic controller is you, watch yourself:

Just a first step into augmented reality though.

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European Citizens do not only get their say in the upcoming EU Parliament elections, they are also invited to contribute to the consultations of the Commission presents with the IDABC Interactive Policy Making tool.

On March 12, 2009, the Commission adopted a Communication on mobilising Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to facilitate the transition to an energy-efficient, low-carbon economy. The Communication announces the planned adoption of a Commission Recommendation setting out specific actions to make the best use of ICTs in improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.

We have the opportunity to contribute our perspective. Deadline for submissions to the consultation is June 14 2009.

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InfoQ explains Google Wave’s architecture, there a link to Waveprotocol and here Operational Transformations (OT) because algorithms are king at Google. Looks like we will all have to learn new termonology.

And for my field of special interest, patents and standards, yet another patent license text:

Patent License
Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, Google and its affiliates hereby grant to you a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable (except as stated in this License) patent license for patents necessarily infringed by implementation of this specification. If you institute patent litigation against any entity (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit) alleging that the implementation of the specification constitutes direct or contributory patent infringement, then any patent licenses for the specification granted to you under this License shall terminate as of the date such litigation is filed.

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The new search engine bing.com shortly tested:

I search for “Sägezahntiger” (the correct word is “Säbelzahntiger“), first hit, Bing tells me that I may find many Sägezahntigers at ebay and asks me if I was looking for “Sägezahn Tiger”.

Now, let’s try the map service, I am of course using Opera as my web browser:

The web browser on this computer and the Maps site may not work well together.

To continue, install a browser that is more compatible with this site. Or, continue to use your current browser, keeping in mind that some features may not work correctly.
Install Internet Explorer
Install Firefox
Go to the map using this browser

Hello, Mrs Kroes, …! It reminds you so much of the old DR-DOS tricks but this is even more silly for a new search engine which was supposed to get it right. One of the best and most popular web browsers, Opera, is not supported? Surprisingly everything works seems to work fine anyway when you select “Go to the map using this browser”.

The map service looks great, but it is not fully translated yet into German language. Additionally to the usual satellite images it adds a bird view perspective. I am from Germany’s largest navy port and I am quite surprised that you can get detailled bird view pictures of our military facilities. In the real world signs scare you that they may shoot at you. And if you take pictures, the police might be very interested in your identity and your actions may be interpreted as a criminal offence by a court. With Bing.com you also find out that the vessel “F214” is the F214 Lübeck. In another map view the arsenal port is mislabeled as the “Jade Bay”. I really wonder why these search engine and map companies are not concerned about homeland security at all.

Then I search for “Place du Luxembourg”. It shows me a place in Luxembourg but offers no context link to the well-known alternative in Brussels.

Responsiveness of Bing? Needs improvements. I stay with Google though I like the bird view for maps. It is just more convenient and mature.

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