It's a Mac

The decision been's made, the money's been paid. I've bought my parents an iMac Intel Core Duo. Spent some time investigating TabletPCs and Apples, old and new.

The TabletPCs don't use a touch screen, as I knew; they use a digital pen. What I didn't know was how they work for selection and control. The Toshiba and HP/Compaq units, at least, that were available at the local CompUSA, work like this. To simulate a left mouse double-click, you press down on the point. For a right click, you press a button on the barrel while pressing down with the point. I felt this might be confusing for my parents, and maybe even impossible for my poor, old arthritic mother.

I was thinking that the Tablet would allow them more freedom in use, even more so than their old, dead Sony laptop, that handwriting might be easier than typing, and if not, they could use the keyboard. However, the disadvantages just seemed to outweigh the advantages.

The iMac really won out with its clean display. I think it will be very good for my parents to learn a new user interface as well. So my partner and I spent some time today at Robert Scoble's favorite Apple store in Palo Alto, and came away with the iMac. Surprisingly, the other area where the iMac won out, was in price. I also considered a Mac Mini plugged into an LCD screen [maybe even an Apple Cinema Display] :>> to replace their aging - but working TV.

But to duplicate the specs of the 17 inch display iMac with a Mac Mini or TabletPC would bring the price over two grand US$. Granted, since my first home computer, a Kaypro 64 in 1984, I've always set $3000 as the reasonable price for a reasonable PC. But not today. Here's what we got for $1299:

  • 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo Processor
  • 2MB L2 cache shared across the two cores
  • 512MB DDR2 SDRAM
  • 160GB SATA hard drive
  • Slot Loading superdrive (DVD+R, DL/DVD+/-RW, CD-RW)
  • ATI X1600 graphics with 128MB GDDR3 SDRAM
  • Built-in iSight video camera (web cam)
  • 10/100/1000 Ethernet
  • 2-Firewire400, 3-USB2, 2-USB1.1 ports
  • 802.11g built-in
  • Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR built-in
  • Every audio and video I/O port you could ask for
  • All the software my parents need including some of the best A/V & photo software around

I couldn't go wrong. :p

Set-up back at the office couldn't be easier. It found our WLAN, and accepted the hex code for the passphrase without an hitch. As I write this blog using Safari [testing web designs we make on Safari will be much easier than going to said Apple store and telling the staff why we're there], MELA [Italian for Apple] is getting its updates.

Now for the hard part...

Bringing MELA to my parents and giving it to them. :-/

Sun T2000 Try and Buy

It looks as though we've been accepted for Sun Microsystems' "Try and Buy" program. Yep, a free Niagra Server, as explained and updated by Jonathan Schwartz.

We received a quote today from Doris Hamel of Sun.

Here's a quote of the Try & Buy T2000, should you decide to purchase after the trial period.end quotation

Here's the specs and the price:

1 Config ID 4296652 Configuration: T20-104A-08GA2C 1 $8,295.00
1.1 T20-104A-08GA2C Sun Fire T2000 Server
4 core 1.0GHz UltraSPARC T1 processor,
8GB DDR2 memory (16 * 512MB DIMMs),
2 * 73GB 2.5" 10K rpm SAS hard disk drives,
1 DVDRO/CD-RW slimline drive,
2 (N+1) power supplies,
4 10/100/1000 ethernet ports,
1 serial port,
3 PCI-E slots,
2 PCI-X slots,
Solaris 10 and Java Enterprise System software
preinstalled
(Standard Configuration)
1 $8,295.00
1.2 X311L Localized Power Cord Kit North 2 N/C

We'll be using the Sun T2000 for testing of open source solutions for Business Intelligence, in support of our research both for our book project and for our strategic consulting services. We'll be reporting the results of our testing on this blog, the wiki and lens. We'll also be using Linux and Windows platforms as part of the testing. In addition to the performance and functional testing, we're also providing background information on the OSS BI projects. An example of which can be found in the series of podcasts that we just published with the folks at Pentaho. Part 3 also contains links to Part 1 and Part 2.

I also asked if Doris knew when the T2000 will be shipping? It will help in
our planning to know when to expect it. And it will help me contain my excitement at getting this new toy. :>> Clarise is pretty excited too.

Update: It looks like we'll have the machine by the end of March. April and May are going to be very busy.

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New Laptop for the Old Folks

My parent's laptop died this weekend. It's a five year old Sony, so no real complaints. Dad is going nuts without access. I spent the day setting-up an old Dell that we kept as a spare, even though it has intermittent video problems. I thought this was a quick fix, while I decide what to get for them. But Murphy was against us. On logging into an account, it can no longer find the harddrive - so odd seeing a message, please insert disk into /dev/.../harddisk/DR-2; like it's removable media. /sigh

I'm considering getting them either an Apple or a TabletPC. The Apple for its reliability, simpleness and iLife software - all they use a computer for is email, web, IM and photo storage. The TabletPC has appeal because they can use it anywhere easily, and they really liked the touchscreen on their old 3Com Audrey. Of course, with the Apple, I can test web designs on Safari without going to an Apple store. :-)

What they really need is a Palm LifeDrive with a 10-inch screen & a 40GB harddrive. I think that should be our next venture.

Any thoughts?

Open Source and Offshore Development

Recently, my friend Todd McGrath has written about the symbiotic relationship of open source software and offshore development. He builds a case for the relationship between building trust in developers you might never meet (or mitigating risk in an offsourced project) with the use of open source software in the project.

In combining Open Source software and offshore development, high quality, cost effective software is more easily obtainable... Open Source provides a foundation of trust and confidence when using and/or providing offshore software development services.

In this article, my definition of Open Source is intended to mean complete products, tools, libraries, etc. with a vibrant community.

When implementing an outsource development strategy, choose developers that will use Open Source software in the overall solution. Using Open Source in the solution provides a shorter path to confidence and trust in outsourced software developers. Put another way, open source plays a positive part in the risk management of the decision to outsource. By choosing offshore software development partners that deliver based on community established Open Source with appropriate license for your needs, quality and the most competitive cost can be obtained.end quotation
-- Todd McGrath in Flat World Software Development ยป Open Source and Offshore Development

Those excerpts give his premise and conclusion, but you must read the whole article to see how he builds his case.

Todd focuses on outsourced, especially offshore, software development. There are, however, other things being offshored by businesses today. Business processes such as accounting and human resources, IT operations & maintenance, telecommunications management, design and development projects, and manufacturing are only a few examples. And there are many reasons for businesses to outsource. Some of these are reducing cost, enhancing skills, suplementing personnel, and taking advantage of economies of scale.

Having a common architecture or framework can be important in mitigating risk. But the assumption here is that if the first outsourced project fails, another team can pick it up because open source software provides common themes throughout software development, and you can find other developers with familiarity with the open source software that forms the basis of the project. I don't believe that this constitutes bulding trust in the original team, or even in the offsourcing tactic. So, I disagree with the premise that bulding trust is equivalent to mitigating risk. I would agree that using open source software in a software development project can help mitigate risk.

More importantly to building trust and to mitigating risk is assuring that the culture of the outsourcing partner matches your own culture. Can both partners truly communicate? Not just speak the same language, or a dialect of the same language, but truly understand each other's written and spoken dialogues, specifications, emails, messages and meeting notes. When offsourcing, societal, cultural and language barriers will complicate matters, and you may not have much control over these factors. [Excepting some artificial and unsustainable rules, such as a USA firm should only choose offsourcing partners in the Philippines because of the good blend of cultural match and economics.] You do have control over corporate culture aspects that affect the project, process, program or people being outsourced. For the type of software development projects of which Todd is speaking, you might want to consider:

  • decision making
  • documentation
  • specification
  • in-code comments
  • project management
  • QA
  • configuration control
  • version & release management
  • testing
  • bug fixes, enhancements and problem escalation/resolution
  • meeting protocol
  • team structure/team building
  • interfaces across and interactions among business untis/users, operations personnel and developers

I think these types of factors will be more important in building trust across distributed workgroups than the software architecture to be used.

Having said that, I do agree that there is a symbiotic relationship between offsourcing and open source development methodologies, in that both use the priciples of distributed workgroups, both are enhanced by the TeleInterActive Lifestyle™ and the two movements have feed off each other to a certain extent.

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The TeleInterActive Press is a collection of blogs by Clarise Z. Doval Santos and Joseph A. di Paolantonio, covering the Internet of Things, Data Management and Analytics, and other topics for business and pleasure. 37.540686772871 -122.516149406889

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