Friday, May 20, 2005

(Computer) platform strategy

Last week I was invited by Microsoft (Indonesia) in a small discussion. They have a guest from Redmon, Martin Taylor, who is the GM for Platform Strategy. We had a small roundtable discussion. Martin explained what his job is and his experience touring around the world. It was interesting that the people who were invited (four of us) were people who are slanted towards open source.

I think the aim of this meeting is to understand more about IGOS (Indonesia Goes Open Source) movement. What's the main goal of this initiative? Can it be done without specifically use open source? Why limiting the option? Well, I am not part of IGOS, so I cannot answer those questions. (In fact, I have similar questions.)

I pointed out that open source is not their "enemy". Perhaps, Mac OS X is. I am thinking of switching to Mac OS X. I don't feel the excitement with Linux anymore. GNU/Hurd is more interesting. You may laugh, but GNU/Hurd is coming along nicely. It's unfortunate I don't have time to tinker with it.

Another thing that I pointed out is that while Microsoft can be made very inexpensive (eg. through campus agreement in our case), we still have to go get proprietary applications such as Adobe Photoshop and the like. The result is an expensive platform (even if the OS is free!). Most open source and free software applications are available on Linux, but not on Microsoft.

I believe, one of the reasons Linux is popular is the availability of applications. That's why freeBSD is lagging (even though its networking code is 'better'). I can pick many applications (word processors, drawing programs, painting programs, development tools, etc.). Right now I am struggling to find a good drawing program that can generate EPS for my LaTeX document. I used to use tgif under X window. There's no good xfig-like program for MS Windows. (Yes, I know there's winfig. But, it's limitted.) I use cygwin under my MS Windows with FlyakiteOS which makes it looks like a Mac. (Why still use MS Windows? Long story.)

If Microsoft wants to keep leading the desktop world, it should port more open source and free software to MS Windows. (There are many ways doing it.) I don't think they believed me. Well, I tried. I have many ideas but don't have time to put write them down. Besides, Microsoft is smart enough. They don't need me.

As for platform strategy? Well, I have to put more thoughts on it ...

Kilauea?

I got this audio CD. The cover says it's Lee Ritenour "Alive in L.A.". Great. But, when I put the CD in my computer, Media Player says that it's "Kilauea featuring Daniel Ho: Diamond Collection". Which one is right?

The first song acording to Media player is "She Wore Diamonds", but according to the cover is "A Little Bumpin'." It's a jazzy song with accoustic guitar. So, I still think that Media Player is wrong. But listening to the rest of the songs, I am more convinced that this is Kilauea. The number of tracks matches Media player description. Either way, this is a great CD. I really like track 3, "Malibu Wave" (hopefully it is the right title). If I were to write more songs, this is the type of song I would write. (Unfortunately, I don't have the time and equipment to compose.)

I think I want to know more about Kilauea. Time to check the Internet.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Watching Numb3rs

Ok, I'll confess. I've been watching Numb3rs lately. It's a story about an FBI agent with his brother, a math professor. The thing that I like is how they try to integrate math into the problem at hand.

I am not a math expert. In fact, during my undergrad years, I hated math. Schrodinger and Maxwell equations gave me nightmares! I did poorly in math. I did love math (and numbers) since I was a kid though. I am not sure what happened in those undergrad years. My grad years brought back the interest in math to me. So, now I am interested in math.

Another thing I like about this TV show is that it introduces scientist to laymen (although, I am not sure who the viewers of the series are). We use to see lawyers, doctors, and military personnels. Now, it's time for scientists. But, not the kind of absent minded professors. The "regular" scientists.

In the future, perhaps, engineers?

Friday, May 06, 2005

Strange Magic

I know the ins and outs of a computer. But somehow I still view it as magic. The fact that the parts interact with each others to do something is amazing.

When I write a program, design a web, write a document, and tinker with electronics I can feel the thrill of creating something from nothing. The power of creation. The feeling is so strange.

Strange magic!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Finally, the real Zen of Blogging

I've been searching for a simple web tool to format HTML pages into a nice consistent web site. Available tools are (a) complicated, (b) require GUI, (c) require database, (d) must be dynamic, (e) written in language that I am not familiar with. All I want to do is create files and a directory and generate static pages. I don't want to tax my server with all those dynamic pages.

Then, by following links to links to links (more like a breadth-first browsing), I stumbled this excellent tool: Blosxom. The slogan said, "the zen of blogging." That's exactly what it is. It's a simple (one) perl script. (Okay, it is not simple, but what can you say to a 16715 bytes-sized script?) You have to check the web site for more information. Blosxom can generate a web site / blogs based on files located in a directory (and sub-directories beneath it).

Blosxom (a) is simple, (b) does not require GUI, (c) uses regular files (no need to setup a database), (d) can generate static pages, (e) written in perl. What can I say? I am touched!

Okay, now, all I have to do is creating a "flavour" (look and feel) for Blosxom-powered Blog. Bah! I am too lazy. I'll use a flavour that comes with the script :)

Thank you, thank you, Blosxom.