FryUp: The hack phone

A FOSSy hack phone, the corporate blog bog and numbers don't tell you everything

— The hack phone

— Blog bog

— Browser dowser

Neo: Spellbound

It’s not often you come across electronica from Hungary that’s this good. As Neo comes from the land of Ligeti, their poppy prowess shouldn’t perhaps surprise.

— György Ligeti - Spellbound

— György Ligeti - Poème Symphonique For 100 Metronomes

György Ligeti obituary

The hack phone

We’re ahead of the world, so the Neo FreeRunner phone that’ll be launched on July 4 in the rest of the world will in fact debut the day after here. And, significant it is, the Neo-phone, with its Linux-based OpenMoko operating system that’s all Open Source, warm and FOSSy. Oh, the CPU is open source too, apparently.

The tri-band GSM FreeRunner looks OK, and the 802.11b/g Wifi sort of makes up for the slow 2.5G GPRS for cellular data in an era of 3G phones. Who will buy the Neo FreeRunner though? Obviously, any Open Sourcerer worth his or her name has to get one and start hacking on it, but who else? I can’t quite see how the Neo will appeal to normal users like Teenage TXTing GooGooMucks or salesdroids who spend half their lives talking on mobiles. Obviously, the Neo FreeRunner was about making a statement and creating a free phone, but in the process of doing so, did it become restricted to one kind of audience?

OpenMoko: Neo FreeRunner

Blog bog

Forrester says in so many words what most of us know already: corporate blogs are boring and people don’t want to read them. This adds insult to injury for the poor employees who are being forced to blog while wearing corporate straitjackets, because some executive or marketing genius has decided that the company needs new and fresh ways of communicating key messages to customers.

Imagine how agonising it is when you, the blogging employee, have to post something but cannot write about things personal or give away anything funny or interesting about the company. Nor can you spend too much time on the entries. Slapping up wacky videos is out of the question because you can’t even get to YouTube through the corporate firewall. Everything you write has to be approved by management anyway, to ensure company policies are adhered to. Sometimes managers nix the posts, other times they forget to approve them. You have to post something everyday though, as the number of blog posts is one of your KPIs that will go into the quarterly performance review.

It’s truly a cruel and unusual workplace practice. OSH should step in and put an end to corporate blogging.

Corporate blogs fail to engage customers

Browser dowser

The Alternative Browser, Firefox, is doing increasingly well against Microsoft’s Internet Exploder, and is rapidly approaching a fifth market share if analysts Hitlink are to be believed. It would of course be interesting to know why IE has dropped six points in less than a year while Firefox use has gone up just over 4% — ditto the reason why if you add up the market share for Firefox 2.0 and 3.0 it comes to 18.44% whereas total usage of Firefox is said to be 19.03%. Hmm. Internet Explorer 6 and 7 combined have 72.83% of the market in June this year on one page, and 73.01 on another, according to Hitlink.

Never mind, being pedantic and probably missing something but... if you click over to the operating systems bit, it shows Windows usage declining, on the internet at least. An increasing number of people use Macs however, and iPhones, for browsing. Looking at the operating system versions trend, Windows Vista is growing, but only has 16-something per cent of the market. XP is slow to die and has over 70% market share. Windows 2000 is lingering on still, and Mac usage is growing, hitting over 8%.

Oh well. Figures don’t tell the whole tale.

Firefox sets new share record, cracks 19% market share

Hitlink: Top operating systems share trend

XKCD

McGyver gets lazy

Cartoon: www.xkcd.com

Robert X Cringely

Windows XP: dead or just resting?

It turns out the reports of XP's death may be slightly exaggerated. Sure, the obits have been posted and the requiems are being sung. The fat lady has already packed up her girdle and gone home with a bucket of KFC. Yet it seems XP — like Bill Gates — is still alive and kicking, at least in some form. One day after XP's "demise", Dell SMB manager Jenni Doane posts a blog entry that details how you can still get XP by exploiting some of the loopholes left open by Microsoft. (Essentially, you can buy a Vista license but ask Dell to downgrade the system to XP, which they will continue to support. The catch? You have to buy it through Dell's Small Business sales operation, and you can only get XP Pro.) You know the PC biz has gotten weird when offering a 7-year-old OS becomes a marketing advantage. But the reason why is obvious. Vista is such a dog it qualifies for the Iditarod. Even Intel won't let it in the door, lest it chew on the furniture and soil the carpets. In a BuzzDash poll posted by my erstwhile colleague Jeff Bertolucci, 72% of respondents wanted Microsoft to "revive" XP, which is presumably encased in a glass coffin not dissimilar to Stalin's in the Kremlin. And of course, more than 210,000 InfoWorlders signed the Save XP petition, hoping Microsoft would grant clemency at the 11th hour. Instead, companies like Dell must come to the rescue. How humiliating is that? My feeling about the sudden surge in nostalgia for XP is that it's really more a) a reaction to the Big Headache (or at best, the Big Nothing) of Vista, and b) revisionist history. When Windows XP came out, it was panned for being slow and incompatible, just as Vista has been (in InfoWorld, no less). It was also woefully, almost laughably insecure. Imagine shipping an OS with the firewall turned off by default. Yet that was XP in 2001. It wasn't until Aug. 6, 2004, that XP began to grow up. That was the day Microsoft finally released Service Pack 2 for XP, which closed a bunch of gaping security holes in the OS (including turning the firewall on by default). From that point on, XP was a viable OS, though it was still far from airtight. It also signaled that Microsoft finally "got it" when it comes to Net security. We've seen a real turnaround in how it responds to and handles security breaches and patches ever since (from horrible to adequate, at least). And now, of course, Vista has (some) security built in. But if this whole XP/Vista struggle means anything, I think it proves that Microsoft's approach to operating systems is fundamentally wrong. We don't need a brand-new-from-the-ground-up OS every three (four, five, six) years. We need incremental releases on a regular schedule, with fewer whizzy interface "improvements" and more bug fixes and performance boosts. In other words, more like a Linux distro. But I'll be selling snow cones in Hell or maybe Ballmer will be -- before we'll see that coming from Redmond.

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Tags Firefoxwindows xpGyörgy LigetivistaInternet ExplorerNeo FreeRunnerFryUp

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