It would seem that Ubuntu is in a race with Microsoft and Apple to make a massive change to the way we use desktop. With the HUD and Unity they are trying to moving things in a new way and change the way we all work. While I am still on the fence on Unity the HUD is something I hope Apple and Microsoft embrace and extend. This is a nice article from the man himself, Mark Shuttleworth, about his plans for the future of User Interfaces.
The US Department of Justice seems to be done looking into the Patent deals that were a result of the Attachemate merger with Novell. The good news is that they don’t see any red flags. It’s yet to be seen if they will do anything agressive with them. Linux should be safe becuase the DOJ says there is no way to get them out of the governance of the Open Invention Network.
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Well at least that is the idea found here on article on the linuxuser.co.uk site. Software patents are really starting to threaten our future and that of inivation. When Apple can patent a left to write swipe as they did this week how can we ever expect people to want to inovate. We all hear about some of them but how many just slip by without notice? Do you want to spend days, weeks, months or years developing something only to be told that someone else already has a patent that covers that? While it won’t stop most people how many great innovations are we missing out on because of our current patent system?
I originally wrote this after Paul Thurrott wrote a ridiculous article (http://www.windowsitpro.com/content1?topic=android-140400&catpath=google1) about all that is wrong with Android. After writing it, I felt better but I realized he isn’t the only one with this messed up perception of corporate life. I have been consulting and supporting companies in the area of IT operations for my entire 16 year career. I have worked for a vary diverse set of companies from GE and Chrysler to an Internet Startup to Mom and Pop companies and everything in between. While they all have their own issues and odd behaviors, they always have a few things in common. IT is always a drain on resources that no one wants to fund. The IT staff always has to do more with less than they had last year. Finally, they are all expected to figure out how to do the next big thing.
So why am I writing about this on a Corporate Linux Blog? A lot of the press are making an argument for the IT Professionals, the ones supporting the phones, computers and servers companies use every day. They somehow thinks it’s harder to manage different versions of Android than it is to support Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux which these same professionals support already. As an operations veteran in corporate environments of all sizes, I am frankly pretty insulted. My teams and I have been doing this kind of work for my entire career.
These press individuals have all obviously never been in the trenches when a virus like Nimda hit. They have not had to make the arguments to upper management that a consultants computer be brought up to the corporate standard for antivirus and patching or they shouldn’t be allowed on the company network. They are forgetting the days when Microsoft put out patches all throughout the month not just on one Tuesday. They do not deal with the fact that users routinely stop or refuse to take critical patches. They have not been at the help desk at 7AM on a Monday morning when <insert vendor name>’s software just messed up the entire call centers computers and the company is losing untold amounts of money every minute they are down.
The reality of corporate IT life is that only in the last couple of years have the tools we have available to us started to become effective at managing any OS. No matter how hard anyone tries and no matter how large the company is, things fail. Patches sometimes won’t install or they cause conflicts, or they break new things. That is just part of life and one of the major reasons why you test. More importantly, it’s why you always have a back out plan. None of that means that we can as IT Professionals tell our users not to use X critical software that only runs on Y OS. We as professionals are there to do what must be done, support our users. We are there to make things run as smoothly as possible. We tell them no when it will hurt them, train them when they need to do things in new ways, and generally try to stay as invisible as possible.
Companies have been looking at allowing personal devices into the corporation for years now. It has never been a whether or not we would have to allow them, but a when and how discussion, at least internally to IT. The inability to manage all of these closed and open solutions is the far larger problem today. As we all know where a problem exists, a line of companies will form to fix it. Symantec, IBM and others are set to roll out solutions by the end of the year to manage IOS and Android. They will add Windows Phone 7 when it reaches a critical mass. None of them is picking sides or describing the problem as more difficult for either of the platforms.
So the next time Mr. Thurrott or anyone in the press wants to talk about life as an IT Professional he or she should try being one for a while. For now though, go back to doing what you do best. Be a great reviewer and tell me what great things I have too look forward to from all of my favorite vendors. Leave the heavy lifting and worrying about how to protect corporate assets to the people who do that for a living.
I stopped reading PCMag.com’s editorial stuff years ago becuase before I became a Linux geek I was a Mac Geek. The constant Microsoft bias then and the continued anti-FLOSS bias now still remains. In this article the author almost sounds like he is upset that he isn’t talking about the Microsoft offering since it seems to be missing completely. What’s worse about this article is that for some reason Android isn’t considered FLOSS becuase it’s forcing people to use Java for Application Development. The problem with that is that Sun Open Sourced Java Years ago. If you look into the history of Java you will see that things like Cell Phones and your Refrigerator are exactly what it was meant to be used for originally. It was only later that people started using it for Web Stuff like most people think of it today.
Even if you ignore that little point the proposed reason why Open Source will fail to take over the cell phone market is the exact reason why it will. Open Source projects have the ability to go viral. They can be expanded without and often in ways the original author intended. The carriers are protecting their bottom lines without a doubt. But what they have learned is that it’s easier to manage bandwidth with ridiculous fees than trying to control what apps run on the phone. There is also the issue of my favorite Government Agency the FTC. The Federal Trade Commission is pressuring even Apple and AT&T to do the open and in some cases right thing. The bigger threat to what Apple and AT&T had going though was and is Android and the Droid line of phones being placed onto the Verizon Network.
If you haven’t noticed the once thought reasonable now turned extreme app approval process at Apple has been under fire. Apple and AT&T have heard the grumblings and are moving out of the way and trying to become more transparent about the process. No that there is any hard proff they are going to do it and not just lip service the goverment. It may be to little to late. As a Droid and IPod Touch owner I can tell you that a couple more releases of Android and the Droid lines of phones will place it ahead of Apple. Roughly the same amount of time it took Apple to take over or create the App Phone Market.
The stability of the hardware is what is important. That is what concerns the Carriers and consumers the most. The Carriers see these bandwidth hogging phones as profit centers no matter what OS is running. If you think they can’t find a way to preserve their cash flow you are crazy.