Fun coding with Apache Whimsy

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve done non-open source blogging here! Most of my time is spent at Community Over Code or speaking at conferences, building a new consulting gig up (more on that soon), or continuing work on a variety of Apache work at the Foundation level.

But I have been coding!

Of course, I was a developer for years at $previous-employer (we don’t mention that name here), but unfortunately all the code I wrote was secret. And the only volunteer time I had for Apache was working on trademarks or board issues, not digging into code.

But not being employed gives you lots of extra free time, even after spending a lot of time with family! So I’ve started writing code, but now it’s on Github and under the Apache license!

The Apache Whimsy project builds a number of web tools that visualize internal data at the ASF, and automates a number of organizational tasks for Apache projects and members. Think managing new project graduations, changing PMC membership, and running board meetings efficiently. Now that Whimsy has attracted some development interest, there are a whole host of various tools that Apache committers rely on we’re improving and bringing into the current century!

In any case, while my coding work is on and off (there are lots of other things behind the scenes at the ASF), it’s finally something I can share on Github, along with my other website work there.

Goodbye OSCON! See you next year!

It was an amazing week at OSCON – so many great people to meet and share ideas with, both people I’d never met (some who knew me!) and plenty of old friends. Unfortunately I missed traveling out early to attend the Community Leadership Summit, a mistake I will not repeat next year – I’ll see folks there!

While my OSCON talk submissions on brand didn’t quite make the cut (they had an amazing number of great CFP submissions), I was lucky enough to present an OSCON Ignite 5-minute talk on Why your project’s brand is more important than the code, or BRAND > CODE. Since the slides for the 5 minute talk (they auto-advance every 15 seconds) are mostly graphics, I’ve posted my BRAND > CODE script as well.

Oh, hey, OSCON Ignite videos are already up – yay!

Giving the talk was great, but what was even better was the number of people who have come up during the conference who mentioned they liked it and/or that it opened their eyes to thinking about the bigger story that your project tells to the world.

Hope to see some more folks when I get to speak at ApacheCon Europe this November in Budapest – the conference schedule is now posted! And I’m hoping to be speaking at OSCON again next year as well!

Overly intelligent spam

I just moderated through a comment on my other blog (about trademarks in open source) that, while simple, was relevant to a previous post. Then I followed the link to the poster’s site, and noticed it was “Just another Article Directory” – oops, spam.

Reading the comment again, I see one of the things the cool spammers are doing today. The comment was relevant to the post – because they had scraped a previous comment and re-used the content! At first scan, I had thought it was two posts from the same person (impatient at my moderation delay). When I noticed the second username and website were different, I said ah-ha: just spam scraping. It was way too specific of a comment for a spammer to have typed it in by hand.

Thank goodness for Akismet – well, once it catches up to the spammer’s domain name, that is. Heck, now I’m trying to figure out what the spammer’s point is, especially since there aren’t any obvious ads or other income streams on the site itself.

Oracle’s three missing words…

… “open source compatible”.

The Oracle reply to the ASF’s position on the Java 7 vote really doesn’t say much at all, now does it?

Everyone understands the point, right?

  • Oracle refuses to play ball by the written agreements they made with the JSPA – so, basically, they’re breaking their earlier contract (and also reversing the position they held pre-Sun aquisition).
  • All Apache wants is to be able to release Apache Harmony as a Java-compliant JDK, under the Apache License; we will not release software under another license.
  • All Oracle wants is sole control the future of Java, and is using whatever licensing tactics they can to assure that.

From Oracle’s point of view, they’re presumably concerned about their revenue streams from Java related technologies. That’s great for them; possibly less great for everyone else, and certainly not great for a truly open Java ecosystem.

From Apache’s point of view, all we want to do is release software under our own license. Oracle’s continued disregard of the rules of the JSPA, and continued refusal to grant a TCK license that is actually “open source compatible” is the real problem point, no matter how much the Oracle marketing machine says otherwise.

To everyone else working on Java: if your project is willing to accept the restrictions that Oracle is putting on Java, then that’s great; I’m happy for you.

But Apache isn’t willing to accept the restrictions: our license is a key part of what we do and who we are. If we can’t release something under our license, then we can’t release it, period. If the EC and the JCP aren’t producing specs where implementations can be released under the Apache license, then Apache projects won’t be able to implement them.

That would be unfortunate for nearly everyone, I think. All it takes is for Oracle to add three little words…

Urgent question!

In The Blues Brothers, isn’t the sound the rocket launcher that Carrie Fisher fires when they go back to Elwood’s apartment taken from Battlestar Galactica? The firing and explosion sound seem just like the blasters from the ships.

It would make sense – it’s the right kind of feel, and it’s just the right time, too.

Oh, and I must say – I’m very disappointed in you internet. Besides the fact that you don’t have the immediate answer to my question [1], I’m asounded – astonished! – amazed, in fact that no one retweeted my tip on the newest taste sensation out there, Inhalable Coffee.

I mean, come on – how many jokes are there about geeks and caffeine, and now someone has commercially available (mail order even) coffee you can breathe, and no-one cares? I realize it’s not in an IV or patch form, but still – this is such a breakthrough in caffeine delivery – and reportedly tasty too – and no-one else retweeted it or is even talking about it? Has caffeine gone out of style when I wasn’t watching or something? Or is it true, that since I’ve been blogging so infrequently that no-one is reading anymore?

Ah well. We’ll see if anyone reads my review of the freshest new coffee product out there next week.

[1] Isn’t it interesting how the internet has the answers to almost all your questions, but… no useful information about some of your questions. I think my brain only bothers to ask the questions that I think the internet will answer, and I just dismiss other questions. I know, I know: what I really need is a librarian instead of just the internet.

[2] P.S. I have no affiliation with – nor have I actually tried – Le Whif yet. But I will soon, especially since it’s available locally.

Why don’t we switch to Dvorak?

I was following a @monkchips link to IgnoreTheCode about smartphone touch keyboard design, and thought about a bigger issue.

Why do we still use QWERTY?

Sure, it’s embedded in tons of hardware – both plastic/metal and muscle for many of us – but isn’t it a good time to switch? The immensely fast pace of learning for younger people, plus the soon-to-be outpouring of new keyboard and input styles seems like we could actually start the switch now.

Not only would touch-screen keyboards be simple to switch, but form factors and tactile feedback are changing for more and more of our data entry. This would be a good time for existing QWERTY folks to start switching their muscles to think AOEUI instead, since we’re already having to adjust to how glass-screen typing feels anyway.

Hmmm, that’d be a great geeky replacement for ROT13 too.

Awesome new business idea

I have an awesome new business idea. I came up with it while drinking DD with friends after eating Korean food at H Mart, so it must be good. But I have no worldly idea of how to actually find the right people to see if it would fly. Sigh.

Seriously – it’s amazing. OK, we were sitting around for a while and yakking it up, and maybe I’m a little out there, but I think it actually has potential for a new niche market someplace. Involves licensing management (in areas that understand licenses but aren’t usually managed like this), and usefully targeted advertising (yuck, I know, but hey, the “useful” applies to consumers and advertisers alike). Requires web presence much like dozens of other sites use, but fits a niche that’s simultaneously narrow and yet broad (depending on how you look at it).

The idea has nothing to do with what I do for a living or volunteering at the ASF. The question is, do I actually know anyone I trust who could evaluate it and might know the right place to sell it?

Take Back the Beep – purposeful inefficiency is unforgivable

Open letter to AT&T

Please add a clear and obviously explained option, for both callers and AT&T customers, to permanently disable the carrier-provided messages for voice mail.

A suggestion for your business model: realize that in today’s age of excessively fast information, your customers actually do care about the details – and if they don’t now, some blogger will remind them of it soon.

Comments like this (from the David Pogue NYT article):

And yes, several attendees (cell executives) admitted to me, point-blank, that the voicemail instructions exist primarily to make you use up airtime, thereby maximizing ARPU.

will alienate your company from larger and larger segments of your customers in the coming years. And it’s not just the cost issue, it’s the efficiency issue. Your fellow industry leaders have admitted that they’re PURPOSEFULLY wasting our time. While I can understand that your purpose is to make a profit, it’s just insulting to be doing it by explicitly being inefficient.

Thanks for your time,
– Shane