Archive for February 2009

O’Reilly’s state of the book market programming languages

February 25, 2009

O’Reilly is releasing their numbers on the book market via programming languages. It is pretty interesting to see where growth was and what languages are more popular than others. For instance they saw the most growth in Python, and saw a pretty significant drop in Ruby and C++, while C# is the most purchased programming language book.

Of course O’Reilly isn’t the end all be all of computer book sales (as in there are other players who may have totally different results) and this is totally just by number units sold, but it is interesting to see what the numbers casually tell you.

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UK government to adopt open source

February 25, 2009

Score one for the UK government. They announced plans to use open source wherever possible. This is very exciting news for the open source community. It seems like there has been a significant uptick in open source for infrastructure and servers, and this is only just the most recent one I have seen. From the article:

…Open source can help avoid many of the hidden costs of proprietary software such as making organisations re-pay for licenses if they want to shift use of a particular piece of software from one place to another.

That is one of my biggest problems with closed source products. Long license keys and if you do even the slightest thing to your computer you have to re-register the product, and what if you buy the Mac version but later want to change to the Windows version? With open source you just download the software and install it, no registration, long serial numbers, or phone calls to tech support.

They also mentioned open standards and migrating services. Imagine the cost it would take to move 1000 users from Exchange to some other system or migrating from Active Directory to LDAP. And since both of the MS products are proprietary technology there would be no easy way to migrate users or email to either system. Open source does a good job at filling in the wholes, but if a user wanted to switch from Exim to Send Mail there would be no license or proprietary protocols to get in the way.

Which was another big thing the article brought up. Governments have all the resources they need to hire top notch professionals who could fix something should a problem occur. They mentioned that with open source they could freely change or adapt a program to meet their needs and not worry about licenses or patents. The article also mentioned some troubles they had with closed source software breaking and they weren’t able to fix it due to the closed nature.

To be fair open source has its problems. For instance, if closed source software goes down you usually, though not always, have someone to call that can eventually get the problem fixed, and with open source not all products offer such support, if any. However, I think from the article you will see a good balance and a realization that the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Hopefully we will see this come to be.

A blog worth reading – Calvin Sun

February 25, 2009

I don’t usually promote other blogs here, but I keep going back to this one.  Calvin Sun is one of my favorites – his wisdom in relating basic common sense to work situations is commendable.  A great example of his skill at teaching business and life principles in very accessible form can be found here

I discovered his work through his Tech Republic posts, but he has been published other places as well (such as ComputerWorld).  He hasn’t been posting much on his blog lately, but the collection of articles on there is still well worth your time.  The link to his site is on my blogroll, or you can simply click this link:

http://succeedingatwork.blogspot.com/

You can read his bio on his personal web site here:

http://www.calvinsun.com/biography.htm

10 things that make Win7 better than Vista

February 25, 2009

Here’s a great synopsis of some of the improvements in Windows 7.

http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/10things/?p=536

Apple by the numbers (and Linux browser share)

February 24, 2009

Ars is reporting about how to determine what Apple market share actually is. The article does a good job talking about positives and negatives or accuracy vs. inaccuracy. The skinny is that Apple share is certainly going up and it looks like a continuing trend.

The one section I thought was interesting was in browser share. Apple is going up, but they mentioned that Linux numbers are quite low. The metric works by tracking browser statistics of particular sites (NY Times being one). The article did a good job showing why these statistics can be false:

The discrepancy in Linux numbers makes it easier to explain why Net Applications’ data isn’t necessarily a precise picture of the market. The company tracks OS and browser use among “member sites” that use Net Applications’ tracking services, which the company says encompasses data from some 160 million users per month. This means that the only OS and browser numbers being tracked are those from users who specifically visit those member sites, which include the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and InformationWeek. If specific demographics of users—like, say, Linux users—don’t tend to read those types of sites, they are going to be underrepresented, and similarly, other demographics may be overrepresented.

There are two things that I want to mention about this. First Ars is right that perhaps Linux users don’t read these sites…I’d venture a guess that computer websites would show Linux numbers far higher. Second, though, is where do a lot of people read these sites? That is an important factor, I mean I am an avid Linux user, but at work I use Mac and in previous jobs had to use Windows. So if the majority of my reading were done at work than it is an unfair metric (perhaps for both Linux and Mac). Recently Lifehacker mentioned that Linux stories do extremely well on their site, but that they get more Apple and Windows traffic. I used the same argument for them. Most of my Lifehacker is done at work on my Mac, but that doesn’t mean I am not a Linux user. So don’t let the numbers discourage you Linux users.

As far as Apple share is concerned I like it. I don’t necessarily want to see Windows dissolved, but I do want to see the balance of power shifted more evenly. I would love to see Windows overall market share closer or below 50% and right now the best competitor to do that is Apple. So keep it up. May the best OS win 🙂

Going with streaming not DVR

February 24, 2009

So I have been debating the DVR vs. Streaming for a while now. I have decided that for now I am going to install Boxee and see how well I like it. So far it has been all talk on my part. I do a lot of streaming, but I haven’t been using my tv or dedicated box. So tonight is the night. I am installing Boxee and will give it a run. I’ll write a post about it when I get a chance.

My reason behind the move is that so much content is online. I watch way too much tv as it is so being able to record old shows and such for later viewing only fosters too much tv viewing. There is plenty of new content being created and I can stream all of that. Of course this Summer I may reverse course when there are only reruns.

Anyway here is an interesting link from Ars about statistics of tv viewing. The two sectors that grew the most were DVRs and online viewing. This doesn’t surprise me at all. I think all of these are good trends and hope they continue to grow.

Boxee vs Hulu

February 19, 2009

Recently I have been considering ditching Mythtv in favor of streaming. One service that really intrigues me is Boxee which is setup to be a media center for TV streaming. It is clearly geared towards a dedicated machine hooked to a TV as apposed to a monitor. It appears that the content owners at Hulu are freaking out about the fact that Boxee allows you to stream video to your TV. This strikes a particular chord in my heart and maddens me to see the utter stupidity that makes up big content creators. Their view is that they must control every aspect of your viewing life and any innovation that happens outside of their enclosed fortress needs to be put out immediately. In case you don’t know Hulu allows you to stream shows, mostly from NBC and Fox, to your computer via a web browser. The shows are on Hulu for free and you can view them at anytime, you can even pause or fast-forward. The only thing that Boxee does is make it more convenient for your to stream it to your TV screen via a computer (note that Boxee is not downloading the video or changing it an anyway just streaming the same that Firefox would). So what is the difference? Well apparently the screen. It is all fine if you are streaming the video to your laptop screen or LCD monitor, but if it is a TV watch out!

Hulu has an official response, and to be fair I like it a lot. It would seem that the CEO of Hulu doesn’t like it at all and realizes how absurd it is, but has little choice (though I think they are in a good position to put up a stink).

Our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee product, and we are respecting their wishes. While we stubbornly believe in this brave new world of media convergence — bumps and all — we are also steadfast in our belief that the best way to achieve our ambitious, never-ending mission of making media easier for users is to work hand in hand with content owners. Without their content, none of what Hulu does would be possible, including providing you content via Hulu.com and our many distribution partner websites.

Boxee also has an official response. They don’t want to ruin any friendships so for now there won’t be a hack or anything.

The biggest absurdity of all this is that I can simply take a machine plug it into my TV open up FF and fire up Hulu. You would think content owners would realize that, but apparently they don’t. Beyond that Boxee only made the content more valuable. Content owners somehow think that a service like Boxee takes away from the content or makes them lose revenue, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Boxee was driving more traffic to Hulu and allowing more people to watch Hulu shows in a more convenient way and somehow that is a bad thing? Techdirt summed it up the best:

Hell, I imagine users of Boxee (depending on their setup) can simply use the computer they already have hooked up to their TV to surf directly over to Hulu. The interface might not be as nice, but they’ll still get to see the content. In those cases, it’s not even about the screen — but the browser. It’s perfectly legal for me to hook up my laptop to a TV, surf over to Hulu in Firefox and watch a show. All Boxee does is put that into a different browser — a better browser for TV. Since when does any content provider get to say that it’s okay to watch the content they put online in one browser, but not another? In the end, what good at all does it do to ban Hulu on Boxee other than piss people off?

One day content owners will figure this out and start treating customers nicely.