April 5, 2008

Latest Links

Filed under: Uncategorized — numist @ 8:45 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

This is a collection of blog entries I’ve intended on posting, but haven’t had the time to do. Sorry for the size.

I’ve started following User Friendly again (both articles and comics). It’s reasonably clever, and even though most of the topics are very “last month”, the useful signal to noise ratio is very high. Yesterday this little gem was posted, which starts with Illiad overhearing a drama-viper advise a friend, which turns into a quick psychoanalysis of women, and how lucky we are to have geek women. We really are. Anyway, it’s worth a read. Makes me feel very lucky.

Since I’m prone to posting regrets over corporate America, these next two are about two big companies that I feel like complaining about.

First up is Motorola who, in this Engadget article, is lambasted by the former personal advisor to (the late) Geoffrey Frost. If you don’t recognize the name, he’s the fellow who created the RAZR and allowed Motorola to continue to survive in the consumer cell phone market. Faraz blames the upper management of Motorola for not only standing in the way of progress and being totally inept, but also for killing Geoffrey. Have a gander. I’ve never particularly liked Motorola; their software stinks and their hardware, while decent, is not really useful for a power user.

Next up is Garmin, my favourite of GPS companies (not kidding!). Unfortunately, their business needs some work (not news). Jeff Bonwick (from Sun) has a few (pointed) things to say about staying up to date with your Garmin GPS and, unfortunately, it’s all true. I may still be bitter at the decision to discontinue the iQue (which was a fantastic piece of kit), but staying up to date with your maps is still one place where Garmin fails to please.

Now, students at universities have to put up with all sorts of policies and procedures that make no sense and feel like three steps backwards for every two forwards (you know, just like Real Life). One of the annoyances that more and more universities are embracing is The Patry Copyright Blog (by Sr Copyright Counsel for Google, William Patry) has a good article on the topic.

Since I’m never done complaining about companies, but I am tired about complaining about “evil” companies, I want to take a look at Sun. Sun, in recent years, is a great place. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they’re a good business, but if you were to look at them as a research lab (which is how they got their start), they excel. In fact, I’d really like to work there some day. The moves in recent years to make source to new technologies (not just limited to software!) has done a lot for computing at large, and we’re seeing the effects in every operating system that isn’t Windows.

With the patronizing out of the way, Sun has a few problems: it’s not a great business, and it’s really disorganized. In previous jobs where my team had to work closely with Sun, we were frequently roadblocked not because Sun itself was evil or unhappy with us, but because individual teams at Sun were not communicating, so whenever we got a message from them, it was like meeting someone entirely new at a party. Someone with very strong preconceived notions about you.

This problem is not something they don’t know about, Bryan Cantrill (from Sun) says, as part of this post:

I have always said that a major advantage of working for or doing business with Sun is that we’re too disorganized to be evil. Being disorganized causes lots of problems, but actively doing evil isn’t among them

And he’s right. Unfortunately, while it keeps Sun from being evil on purpose, it still kills them in other ways.

Bryan Cantrill seems like he’s pretty in-touch with things in general. He also has a good explanation of why companies have such problems with providing OSS as a business, which uses the release of DTrace on Leopard as it’s working example. If you’re in business at all, you should have a gander, the ideas he has are applicable to more than just software companies. Consider it a paper on business philosophy; it really does explain a different way of doing business.

Credit where it’s due, Bryan Cantrill and Jeff Bonwick’s blogs were brought to my attention by Joe.

On a lighter note, Eric linked me to an episode of BMW’s made-for-the-internet shorts, a series call “The Hire”. What they’ve done is hired Clive Owen as The Driver (and a few well-known co-starts which vary per short), and ask popular directors to create one nine minute short each. The only real restriction is that Clive Owen has to pilot a BMW through an action-packed plot against meanies that want to ruin someone’s day.

The results are incredible. All the episodes have incredibly high production value, good plots, and still manage to serve as advertisements, without being overtly so. They’re shorts that you want to watch, even though you know they were paid for by BMW.


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