May 2008 Archives

Samsung provides no printer parts

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My absolute worst customer support experience is Samsungparts.com
There appears to be no connection between the Japanese and U.S parts depot. The support scenario reminds of the TV repair shop of the 1970's. The company insists upon contracting out its the responsibility of stocking and shipping parts to the customer.

Previously, the only Samsung hardware that I have ever owned were commodity based cellphones. The very inexpensive SCH models. Typically these phones become obsolete before they fail. Luckily I never had any hardware issues with three previous models.

Well, roughly 1-yr ago, I decided to replace an aging Brother laser printer. The device was given to me at a LUG meeting and all I purchased for it was a toner cartridge. The PPM rate was deathly slow, so I knew it was time to upgrade. Enter the Samsung ML-2010. I copped this model for roughly $65 US. Not a bad deal. I was able to get it working with CUPS fairly easily.

LinkedIn Family

I'd like to welcome all of my newest readers.. Not sure what new feature has been added to LinkedIn, but I seem to be getting a huge amount of traffic from my profile. Feel free to drop a few comments while your here, always great to get new perspectives.

Also, in my last netcast I mentioned that I am now accepting audio comments via SIP. If you have comments about the show or anything else, you can Call me via SIP. Of course you'll need SIP capable client (not Skype), Ekiga, X-Lite, etc..

Cloning vs. Innovation

While perusing some of Dave Winer's very early writing I found this snippet. Though he was talking about his work with the RSS protocol, I still found it intriguing..

Read Dave's entire post here. Checking in with Mr.Safe

..Nice idea, but format and protocol design doesn't actually work that way no matter what some open development advocates say. They're mostly well-intentioned people, many of them users like Larry Lessig, who want software to work for them, without the usual tricks that software developers play to lock them in. I share that goal, totally. But people like Eric Raymond and Richard Stallman have told them that they have figured out how to design software without a designer, but unfortunately their technique only works for cloning ideas that have already been designed..

I suppose there is some truth to the above statement. Instead of cloning, I would say assimilation is more appropriate. I have heard that F/OSS collective rivals the Borg. Resistance _is_ futile, believe that :)

All joking aside, to a greater extent everyone does a form of derivative work. Pure innovation can be quite expensive. Not too many people write software from scratch. Hence the reason that the Cupertino and Redmond giants more often than not, swallow and assimilate, rather than innovate.

I suppose what sets F/OSS apart from proprietary software models is the idea of the "release early and often" mantra. A product development analogy would be Kaizen, or constant gradual improvements. The ability to execute this concept has given the Japanese automakers a distinct advantage over the more seasoned US counterparts. Not many people call Honda or Toyota copycats anymore.

Still more folks seem to subscribe to the premise that F/OSS does not innovate.
Here is another excerpt that I stumbled across.

In his Info World's "Open Sources" column, Savio Rodrigues responds to Jaron Lanier's views on OSS..
OSS Does Innovate

Some of you may have seen this article in Discover Magazine by Jaron Lanier. I find it difficult to argue when someone challenges "OSS obvious truths" because doing so takes some degree of professional courage. Jaron writes:

Twenty-five years later, that concern seems to have been justified. Open wisdom-of-crowds software movements have become influential, but they haven’t promoted the kind of radical creativity I love most in computer science. If anything, they’ve been hindrances. Some of the youngest, brightest minds have been trapped in a 1970s intellectual framework because they are hypnotized into accepting old software designs as if they were facts of nature. Linux is a superbly polished copy of an antique, shinier than the original, perhaps, but still defined by it. Before you write me that angry e-mail, please know I’m not anti–open source. I frequently argue for it in various specific projects. But a politically correct dogma holds that open source is automatically the best path to creativity and innovation, and that claim is not borne out by the facts. Why are so many of the more sophisticated examples of code in the online world—like the page-rank algorithms in the top search engines or like Adobe’s Flash—the results of proprietary development? Why did the adored iPhone come out of what many regard as the most closed, tyrannically managed software-development shop on Earth? An honest empiricist must conclude that while the open approach has been able to create lovely, polished copies, it hasn’t been so good at creating notable originals. Even though the open-source movement has a stinging countercultural rhetoric, it has in practice been a conservative force.
The fact that many "sophisticated examples of code in the online world" are of the commercial software kind, and not OSS, is simply because the vendor felt they could grow and be profitable without open sourcing the product. In some "innovative products" such as Joost or Skype, the open/closed nature of the underlying software is of little concern to the users. In other cases, such as RIM's enterprise software, users may prefer a more open product, like Funambol, but are willing to trade openness for a product that just works.

When a vendor has a truly innovative product, they do whatever they can to increase their return on investment. In most cases, this means that the source code isn't released. The conclusion is not that OSS projects don't innovate. Rather, that projects that are truly innovative are developed by vendors whose benefactors (VCs or Wall St.) want the biggest bang for their investment. Ipso facto, closed source is usually the path taken in these situations. This has nothing to do with the type of innovation that OSS can deliver....

Rodrigues hit the nail on the head. I couldn't have stated it better, closed source companies are seeking a competitive advantage for the benefit of shareholders. Not necessarily the benefit of their consumers. Very different from the Bazaar model that ESR describes in the Cathedral and the Bazaar essay..

Entire conversation was done over my Asterisk box. I guess I can finally cut ties with FreeConferenceCall.

Originatics Originatic Universal Computer is an interesting device with much potential. Marty states the product should be on the market 4th Qtr 2008. We talked about the specs, deployment and support strategy.

Download mp3 (71.43min || 17MB)
Download Ogg (71.43min || 27MB)

Shownotes:

Update: Universal Computer at the 2008 International CES (Youtube)

links for 2008-05-19

OLPC will fork

The latest OLPC news has left me befuddled and annoyed. Negroponte seems to have become intoxicated off the Redmond "get-high".. What is perhaps more disturbing is that it appears that OLPC leadership and many of its core developers is clearly split over the issue of allowing an XP port to the XO platform. Betrayal seems to be the often used word to describe the feelings of some of the people who have either worked with the project or have witnessed the momentum behind this effort. Though, I did not take advantage of the G1G1 campaign (I will likely grab an orginal XO from eBay), I also feel somewhat foolish. I have always been a supporter of the effort to support emerging nations (and our own struggling communities) ability to expose children to computing.

Negroponte seems to believe the most important aspect is getting "technology into the hands" of as many children as possible. The underlying OS is immaterial. Lots of people disagree. There are many reasons why the OLPC effort is in serious trouble.

  • Product Support
  • Deployment Strategies
  • Economies of Scale

However, let's focus on the goodness that OLPC has spawned. Prior to the OLPC project, very few vendors thought it was a good idea to build sub-compact, low-cost, high value notebook computers. This conventional wisdom was encouraged largely by the defacto M$ tribute that vendors must pay to include the proprietary OS. The cost of this tax is passed onto the consumer. So, the vendors were happy to retain the status quo and fostered the symbiotic relationship.

Enter OLPC, and its new partnerships with hardware vendors. The promise of several developing nations purchasing these machines made the proposition intriguing. Coupled with the fact the hardware would not be encumbered with software licenses and various impeding software patents. Now you have a serious game changer.

At the beginning of the project, Negroponte stated that the effort was about empowerment and access to knowledge. He agreed that Linux provided a significant advantage due to the ability of the kernel to take advantage of the optimized low power consumption architecture. I suppose what changed his mind is that he began to believe that the non-profit OLPC project was in the technology business, and not the goodwill business. It was never about providing children an avenue for children to learn Windows or M$ applications.

As stated earlier, the OLPC project spawned an interest in low-cost, sub-compact machines. ASUS eeePC and Intel ClassmatePC. I am certain there will be many others to follow.

Some have argued that F/OSS does not guarantee that children will be more interested in computing or programming. Well time will tell. One thing F/OSS does not foster is laziness. There is always something new to learn. Affordable and accessible computing is a mantra that makes sense to me. Obviously, Negroponte had a different agenda. It really is a shame. The only way to defeat the inevitable implosion is to fork the project. Essentially, that is one of the four freedoms of Open Source. I still have faith that people will make the right choice.

links for 2008-05-14

New students abound

It does seem that whenever a new martial arts film is released, it tends to spike our school enrollment. I am not certain, that there is a direct correlation, but nonetheless it is an interesting hypothesis. Our new participants are comprised of eleven youngsters and one adult. It is very difficult to retain people because there is a certain level of discipline and commitment to practice the arts. We offer the first month free, and it would be great if we could retain two of the twelve after the trial is complete. Very abysmal numbers, but that is par for the course. I'll give an update in one month.

In truth, it is more fun to have new people to train. Clearly it make the class more enjoyable and you are able to re-affirm your skillset. Teaching does indeed enhance your knowledge base.

Site for sore eyes

Six-24 has been re-incarnated. It is good to see that Courtney is back in the saddle again. I missed seeing that CF bot in my logs.
Hmmm. Maybe he'll be willing to talk about the hiatus?

More Trixbox Musings

Some weeks ago I had listened to an episode of TLLTS, and discovered one of the hosts extolling about the virtues of Asterisk. So, I figured that I'd visit his blog and to my chagrin I could not find any helpful war stories. The hope was that I would be able to learn from his past experiences.
My previous struggle was putting together a working IVR and functional conference room within Trixbox. Both items are fairly trivial; however, I seemed to struggle mightily.

Well, I fired off an amusing email to Dann and he got back to me. We setup a time to meet on the IRC during the week. Once we connected on the IRC, I explained the issue was having with setting up the conference room. For whatever reason, I was under the impression that you needed to have a landline or at least zaptel card to setup a working conference.

He explained that although a zaptel card is not required, you still need to load the 'dummy zaptel' modules. Hmm why didn't I see that in any of the documentation. So I load the 'ztdummy' modules and low and behold... I have a working conference, complete with music and everything. So, I know longer have to use freeconferencecall.com services anymore. I can do all that I need on my own Asterisk box. Dann and I probably spent an hour or more on the phone testing out the IVR and conference. He was even nice enough to revert his currently running slackware based asterisk box back to an earlier trixbox setup, so that he could recall the appropriate settings. I suppose he had hot swappable disk or virtual instance of Trixbox running on his server. TLLTS conducts all of its netcasts via trixbox, in fact, they were an inspiration for my setup. I too plan to conduct netcasts via my trixbox.

The entire experience brought me back to my earlier days working with folks in the Linux community. Each one teach one. Hack to you drop and then teach some other people to do the same. Mad fun..

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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