Showing posts from May, 2008

'Old' Tech Still Has a Few Tricks Up Its Sleeve...

I've been a technology/gadget freak almost my entire life, and I remember at an early age being curious about how the technology around me (TV's/Radios/Remote Controlled cars) worked. This of course influenced my career path, and led me to a Computer Science degree. However, I've never lost my love of all forms of technology, especially radio. This love of technology has also intersected with the desire I've developed to volunteer in emergency services/communications roles outside of my normal job (a desire cemented after I lost a colleague and friend on American Airlines flight 11 on 9/11).

Two years ago, I studied for and received my Amateur Radio (Ham) technician class license (K6GWM). At the time, some of my tech friends questioned the decision for me to invest in such 'antiquated' technology. However, experience in emergency situations since that time has taught me time and time again that the saying: 'When all else fails, Amateur Radio' is a…

Open Source and Corporations - Can't We All Just Get Along?

Corporations and the Open Source community seem to have a love/hate relationship most of the time, and I think it stems from several key misunderstandings (mainly on the part of the companies). A lot of companies (though there are notable exceptions, such as IBM) seem to look at Open Source as a source of free (as in beer, not as in speech) code/labor. In other words, management sees that code and those developers as a great way to shortcut the product development process, do it for less, and then 'profit ensues'.

I know that sounds funny to a lot of technology people (like me) who are familiar with and involved in the Open Source community, but that mentality is very real in larger/older companies (especially those in consumer electronics sectors). It doesn't help that marketing and PR grab ahold of the notion of Open Source as a great 'hook' to make their company or product offering sound sexy and appealing. The unfortunate reality is that a lot of corporate e…

Silicon Valley Prognosticators Convention

I recently attended the Churchill Club's annual 'Top 10 Tech Trends' event at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, CA. I had been looking forward to this night, since I've attended previous club events, but never this one. I wasn't disappointed, as the panel of tech prognosticators that they brought in was informative, entertaining, and had a good mix of opinions.

I'll lay out all of the trends below, and comment on a select few that interested me the most. This was a panel format, with each panelist getting time for two trends that they could put forth as their top thoughts on the future. After each presentation, the panel got to 'vote' ('red' or 'green'), and explain their reasons. An audience poll was also taken after the panelists were finished discussing, and this was recorded as well. The panel was a 'Who's Who' of Silicon Valley tech experts, venture capitalists, and technologists. The panelists for this evening were:

In Search Of...

In today's installment, we go in search of... well, code. This being a technology blog, searching for answers in codes seems like a natural thing to do. :)

In the last year or so, I've become more convinced that detailed, accurate code search technology is critically important to developer productivity, code reuse, and helping to squash pesky bugs on projects/pieces of code that have subtle inter-dependencies. I also believe that, properly implemented, social knowledge management/networking can be applied to further enhance the benefits of accurate code search.

First, let's start off with the major players:

Google (of course)
Koders (now owned by Black Duck Software)

Google does a fairly good job of indexing existing Open Source code from the net, but their interface relies too heavily (in my opinion) on regular expressions, and doesn't provide the flexibility of search targets that Krugle and Koders do. Additionally, Google currently doesn't offer an Enterpris…

Dash Express GPS Software/Traffic Model Updates

As most of you might guess from reading this blog, I'm big on social collaboration and 'crowdsourcing'. I've mentioned Dash Navigation in the past, since I think they epitomize that notion quite well. Gizmodo had a blurb about Dash's first major software/traffic model update today.

Quoting from the article:

"The Dash Express GPS just received its first historic traffic model update using the live Dash data gathered by users. That'll help predict traffic in areas where no Dash or other trusted data sources have been in the last 15 minutes. By end of month, a software update is coming with tweaks in performance, stability and routing."

I for one certainly hope that Dash becomes more successful and ubiquitous, not just for the cool collaborative traffic and their other features, but mainly for the ability to update maps over-the-air. I have a Nissan Murano with a built-in navigation system that works well (for the most part), but on a trip to Reno th…


My colleagues and I have a standing joke when we talk about what makes social networks/collaborations/knowledge management work - it's everyone's favorite radio station, WII FM (What's In It For Me). To be sure, there are some social/crowdsourcing applications out there that people contribute to purely for altruistic reasons, or to share things with their friends. However, the vast majority of attempts to harness the 'group collaborative', or 'hive mind' for business purposes or knowledge management have failed unless there was a clear win in the WII FM department.

Two examples of applications where WII FM makes a huge impact are (social bookmarking), and Dash Navigation (crowd-sourced realtime traffic). In both of these cases, there are clearly benefits to the users of the respective applications, and the participation engendered by that benefit is the main reason the systems produce good data (search and traffic, respectively). It is very r…