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by jcannon on September 28, 2007 03:09pm
Frequent visitors to Port 25 may be familiar with Paula Bach’s HCI and ICT work from her blogging over the summer. What may not be familiar to many is the collaborative work we’ve done with Tracy Kennedy at the University of Toronto around the intersection of technology and communities. Open source is clearly a manifestation of this intersection.
Tracy’s work is impressive, and while her doctoral thesis examines the integration of the Internet into Canadian households, and how pervasive household internet use has led to its domestication – she does find time for lighter fare. One such example – the ‘Geekus Unixus Microsoftus’ (pdf) was published by Tracy in March of 2007. Through humor, Tracy uses primary research and empirical data obtained through interviews with employees to examine the culture of a UNIX expert working at Microsoft - and how they relate to other technology 'clans'. An excerpt follows:
“In uninhabited areas of web a new clan of hybrid technologists have been spotted: the Geekus Unixus Microsoftus (GUM). As the prevalence of interoperability between platforms and between commercial and open source software continues to grow, this report provides a socio-cultural overview of the GUM clan – a hybrid group of UNIX individuals working at Microsoft. An investigation of cultural habits, social customs, and personal experiences in a previously uncharted terrain is documented. It is hoped that technologists (from whatever platform) may better understand this new clan and endeavor to co-exist peacefully with them so that we can all benefit from their initiatives.”
We're excited to post it for Port 25 readers to enjoy. We welcome people's thoughts on the paper & we'll certainly invite Tracy to join the discusson. - Jamie.
More About Tracy Kennedy: Tracy Kennedy is a PhD Candidate in Sociology at the University of Toronto. Her doctoral thesis examines the integration of the internet into Canadian households, and how pervasive household internet use has led to its domestication. Tracy is also a research consultant in virtual and physical worlds. She has organized several virtual world events such as the 2007 Second Life Conference for the Communication & Information Technology section of the American Sociology Association, and a blended reality event at Vancouver’s Centre for Digital Media in British Columbia that featured an Open House for the new campus in both worlds. Tracy recently returned from an internship with Microsoft in Redmond, Washington where she worked closely with the Community Technologies Group and Games User Research Group to examine gaming networks, women’s online gaming experiences on Xbox Live, and the issues the industry faces in attracting non-traditional gamers. Tracy is also a lecturer at Brock University and the University of Toronto on the subjects of media, culture, ICTs, gaming & virtual environments, higher education and gender. Check out Tracy’s blog: http://netwomen.ca/Blog/
by Sam Ramji on September 26, 2007 09:35pm
While at OSCON this year Sam and I got the chance to spend some time with Simon Peyton Jones, researcher at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, England and Honorary Professor of the Computing Science Department at Glasgow University. Earlier in the week Simon had presented a tutorial on Haskell titled: A Taste of Haskell at the O'Reilly event.
Taking advantage of the opportunity to have some time with Simon, we found a (sometimes) quiet hallway to talk about Haskell, functional programming and other topics.
by jcannon on September 24, 2007 06:01pm
Just about one year ago, Bill Hilf announced Zend and Microsoft's partnership to enhance PHP performance on Windows Server's IIS web server. This technical collaboration has focused on enhancing the reliability and performance of PHP on Windows Server 2003, and Windows Server 2008. As part of this collaboration, the IIS product group has been working on a new component for IIS6 and IIS7 called FastCGI Extension which will enable IIS to much more effectively host PHP applications.
Today, we're excited to announce the release of the Go Live version of Microsoft FastCGI Extension for IIS 5.1/6.0 (FastCGI Extension) as a free download. There's a ton more information on various community sites, so let's get right to it:
Would like to hear feedback from our community on this release and will ensure it is routed back to the OSSL and the IIS product team.
by hanrahat on September 12, 2007 12:19pm
We’ve announced this week the opening of the Microsoft and Novell Interoperability Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. With this announcement we can now talk about the work that’s been underway at the lab since the beginning of summer.
The lab itself is well equipped. It consists of 2500 square feet and contains over 80 servers. The servers are x86-based, dual-core and quad-core systems with hardware virtualization technology enabled and our storage area network has terabytes of capacity. Here’s a look at the lab layout.
For now, we’re focused on testing three areas of interoperability. The first is virtualization, where we’re intent on validating the interoperability of SLES running on Windows Server virtualization and Windows Server 2008 running on Xen. This is a development lab, so we’re running current bits from the development organizations at both Microsoft and Novell. We’re part of the integrated development teams at both companies and are actively involved in the testing process for pre-released software.
Our second area of focus is web-services management. We are currently working with the development teams at both Microsoft and Novell to identify the test cases we want to use to validate client-server implementations of the web-services management protocol from both companies. Our third area of interest is identity federation where our planning for the lab is just now getting underway.
Those of us who work at the lab have strived over the past few months to create an environment that is not strictly Microsoft and not strictly Novell. We’ve successfully created a unique entity, a development lab, at which there resides a single team of engineers whose individuals are involved in and supportive of each others’ work. We’ve pushed both companies to share resources and pushed their boundaries of openness. I’m excited to be part of this team. I look forward to working with my colleagues at the lab and to identify more areas of common interest for us to pursue.
by Paula Bach on September 10, 2007 04:59pm
Developing software has been an engineering discipline with formal methods. The evolution of software methods has ranged from the now outdated waterfall method to formal specification languages with precise semantics. Despite having methodologies, software engineering continues to be difficult. Yet despite having what seems a lack of software engineering methodology, open source software development can produce stable, useful software. In 2002, Fred Brooks gave a talk at CMU discussing the design of software. You may remember Fred Brooks from such publications as The Mythical Man Month and No Silver Bullet. In the talk at CMU, Brooks focuses on the social issues surrounding software engineering. Likewise, Microsoft Research (MSR) recently initiated a new group called Human Interactions in Programming (HIP). This group studies the social aspects of software engineering. Their joke is that they “ build tools as if software were made by people … working together. This quote, taken from the technical report, outlines some social issues software developers experience in their day-to-day work. Another way to look at my dissertation project is as an extension to looking at social issues in software development. While the HIP group at MSR studies human interactions among software developers, I extend that and study the human interactions among software teams (or project members): developers, project managers, and usability experts in both proprietary and open source software development environments. As I mentioned in my last blog, I am studying the role of usability expertise in both software environments through surveys, interviews and observations. I have previously reported on the open source software survey and observations. In this blog, I am reporting on the interviews I conducted internally at Microsoft. I spoke to eleven employees who are working on various projects at MSFT in various roles including program managers, developers and user experience researchers and designers. I spoke to junior and senior staff and well as leads. Program managers are responsible for the feature that their team designs and builds. Developers write code. User experience designers create mockups and give feedback in design meetings and user experience researchers collect field data and conduct usability studies. Travel Interlude I wrote the above section before I left Redmond and now I am back on campus at Penn State. I had to hurry back and drove straight through from Redmond to Minneapolis. We left Redmond in the afternoon and stopped in Spokane for dinner and left at dusk. Spokane looks like it is growing and as such has some money injected into its economy. We drove through the night passing through Idaho and through Montana the next day. We passed through North Dakota late in the afternoon and stopped in Fargo for dinner. After dinner was the biggest rain storm I have ever seen – and I am from Vancouver, Canada where it rains a lot. I was driving southeast to Minneapolis on I-94 and slowed down to 10MPH because the rain was pelting down and blowing so hard across the road that it was like a whiteout. I could barely see five feet ahead. We made it to Minneapolis (avoiding the I-35W bridge area) at about 1AM and checked into our hotel. The next morning we awaked late, had breakfast, did some grocery shopping at a favorite natural food coop called the Wedge. I used to live in Minneapolis when I worked at Unisys and Promedicus--a startup that made decision support systems for physicians that died with many other dotcom startups. It was nice to be back to The Cities. After our deserved travel break we went to Madison, WI to visit an old college buddy of my husband’s. They used to play in a band together. His buddy Frank still plays. We stayed there way longer than planned, but it was fun to catch up. We ended up reaching our next destination really late. We ended up in South Bend, Indiana (home of Notre Dame) when the sun started to rise and the birds began chirping. We were so tired the next day that we forgot things in the hotel, including a credit card! We did not notice it missing until we got to Toledo. Luckily it was the last leg of our trip and we made it back to State College, PA around 11PM and slept in the next morning ready to move back into our townhouse on campus. End of Travel Interlude. Now that I am back on campus, I have had some time to reflect on the interviews. They uncovered a variety of interesting things. Overall the eleven people I interviewed were very enthusiastic about the research and most wanted to see results. Again, I have not analyzed anything formally yet, but all of the people I interviewed mentioned that communicating design changes was very challenging especially when it comes to usability issues. It seems like the biggest challenges relate to power relationships (not their words) among the team members and the ability of the person with usability expertise and training to gain trust with decision makers. A prevailing problem is that some people tend to think they are usability experts even when they are not trained and if they are more pushy or otherwise in a position to make the final decision, usability might be compromised. Of course many other factors weigh into the usability of a product, but overall it seems that the usability experts are being heard one way or another. In comparison to usability in open source, a large proprietary software company has more resources for bringing usability expertise into products, but the social dynamics appear to be as complex as in open source. The only difference may be the characteristics of the dynamics. In my observations online of open source usability discussions, most of the interactions seemed to be devoid of such social dynamics, except for one group about one issue. So in comparison, open source might not have the same kinds of power relationships because the roles are not as differentiated. As I continue to investigate the characteristics of usability expertise I will see what open source interviews turn up. Stay tuned.
by Sam Ramji on September 05, 2007 08:45am
For those of you who have met Miguel de Icaza, you know right away what I mean when I say that he is one of the most energetic people I’ve ever met. Clearly, the whole Moonlight team (whom I haven’t met) would also qualify for this appellation – in roughly 21 days between May and June, they collectively built an alpha implementation of Silverlight on Linux, based on many pieces of the Mono codebase.
After a great deal of work between the Moonlight and .NET teams, we’re ready to formally announce that we (Microsoft and Novell) will be bringing Silverlight to Linux, fully supported and including application and media codec compatibility.
The expansion of the existing work between Microsoft and Novell to include support for Silverlight on all Linux platforms is a major step in the journey of interoperability that we are on. We’ve heard clearly from the community that a full cross-platform web development solution is not only Windows and Macintosh, but must include Linux. I think this is a big deal. While we’ve licensed media codecs before, this represents a fully heterogeneous implementation of a strategic client technology.
Here’s to a better web and support for all users. Hopefully this will help breed further productive conversations about what developers and users need, and in someone else’s famous words, we can all “just get along.”