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by MichaelF on September 27, 2006 08:13pm
To continue the series of interesting people we met at OSCON Anandeep spends some time with Andreas Knab Computer Systems Engineer at the Center for Instructional Technology at James Madison University. Andreas works on an Open Sourced .NET project at the University called: Madison Digital Image Database. The project is an online slide management and teaching tool. Think of it as an online substitute for the 35mm projector from Art History class. In the podcast Andreas and Anandeep discuss the project, the development environment and Andreas' experience working on an Open Source project.
http://mdid.org (project wiki) http://mdid.org/demo (demo site, requires registration)
[Edit] We just got the following note from Andreas:
"...we actually just received an IMLS grant(http://www.imls.gov/news/2006/092606_list.shtm#VA) to add an API to MDID to facilitate interoperability with other image management and presentation systems, so the project will stay in active development for the foreseeable future."
by MichaelF on September 25, 2006 06:56pm
I collect old computers. I always have, not sure why exactly but it does often help me remember where we have been and to contrast it to today and where we are going. In my office I have the following machines:
(on the desk)
· HP AMD64 desktop with dual monitors (primary workstation) running Windows Vista and Office 2007 · Mac Intel running OSX but often running Ubuntu or Red Hat Linux in Parallels virtualization software
(on the shelf)
· Commodore PET · Sinclair ZX81 · Radio Shack TRS-80 · TI 99/41 · Atari 400 · Osborne I · Commodore 64
It’s the same at my home, where there is a mix of Microsoft Windows, various Linux, Unix and BSDs, and Apple operating systems running about. At one point, I had some Irix and NeXTSTEP systems in the middle of this bedlam, but the electricity bill was getting a little silly at that point. This is both intentional (at a minimum) and part of a grand master plan (at the maximum). As much as possible, I try to force my computing experiences to include a broad range of technologies. The incongruities that exist when bringing various technologies together are, in my mind, where we learn a tremendous amount. We take a similar approach here in our lab.
There is another, more subtle, benefit of having all these different technologies together. There really is no better way to see the differences, advantages/disadvantages, and the level of progress between technologies than using them side by side. This goes for desktops, servers, and embedded devices.
When I first programmed, I was writing code that quickly consumed memory (what little of it there was) so I had to be very cognizant of memory allocation and deallocation, and practice judicious control of memory consumption and data manipulation. Good practice, in general, but it was fun this last weekend to run that same old code on a modern machine that has 1GB of memory. If this was the type of system available to me back then, I doubt I would have learned as much about efficient sorting algorithms as I did. The tools available today would have made this easier as well.
As an industry, we strive to build innovations that capitalize on hardware advancements. We are in the era of big network pipes, large and shared memory architectures, multi core chips. How we ‘light up’ those hardware and infrastructure advancements is the magic of software, which is why I think work such as Software Transactional Memory and LINQ are fascinating – making complicated technologies easier for developers, essentially democratizing programming.
As a counterpoint, think about one of the key features of the Sinclair ZX81 (released in 1981): The ZX81 could be operated in two modes, SLOW and FAST. The FAST mode only refreshed the display when the system had finished computing, causing a severe screen flicker (think frozen screen). It was a useful mode when you had to do a lot of calculation without the need to see what's going on all the time on the screen. The SLOW mode (which computed at just that speed) behaved like all other computers did, refreshing the screen all the time. Imagine that concept today – if you need to run that Excel calculation or load a complicated Web site, you could go FAST but not use the display. At the time, this was innovation – get work done faster, but at a price.
This is why I keep these old boxes and machines around – to keep perspective on where we have been and where we might be able to go. Create an incongruous environment and see what you can see.
P.S. - I am still looking for an Altair 8800 to complete the collection, so if you know of a good deal, send me mail.
P.S.S. – another benefit of having old computer stuff lying around, is you can modify your home furniture. Here’s a picture of a media cabinet in my home where I cut holes into the back panel and attached two cpu fans to a six volt battery, connected through a car light switch (where the red/black wires drop down from at the top). This is so I can switch on fan power to the cabinet to cool down my Xbox 360 system behind this panel – which is necessary after long hours in Ghost Recon or Call of Duty2 play. And yes, I opted for cpu fans with flashing blue leds, it is a game cabinet after all.
by MichaelF on September 20, 2006 06:54pm
Sam interviews Rod Smith Author of the O'Reilly Book: Linux in a Windows World, a required read for OSSL staff. In this interview Sam and Rod discuss the impetus for writing the book and what readers can expect as well as Rod's background and challenges faced in penning this useful resource.
Along with the interview, O'Reilly Publications has given us permission to repost an excerpt from the book that provides useful information on configuring a Samba Server.
Big Thanks to O'Reilly for allowing us to make this portion of the book publicly available through Port 25!
Click the cover for the excerpt: (Download PDF)
(cover link: http://blogs.technet.com/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer-Blogs-Components-WeblogFiles/00-00-00-86-46-PDFs/2766.excerpt_5F00_linux_5F00_in_5F00_a_5F00_windows_5F00_world.pdf)
Title: Linux in a Windows World First Edition: February 2005 ISBN: 0-596-00758-2 Pages: 494 URL: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/linuxwinworld/index.html
Copyright © 2006 O'Reilly Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
by MichaelF on September 20, 2006 03:23pm
I’ve seen a lot of speculation on the rationale (some call it strategy) for why I invited the Mozilla developers up to Redmond. I thought I’d lay out my thinking so you can decide for yourself.
In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the press coverage of the invitation. The articles I read varied from hopeful to suspicious – as it typically is for the work I do (collaboration between open source and Microsoft continues to surprise people). Most misread my opening joke as paranoia rather than humor, which struck me as funny. On the other hand, bloggers seemed to mostly get it right and see that my invitation was authentic and represents a real shift to do the right thing for open source projects. And they got my joke ;)
Most importantly, Mike Schroepfer and Mike Beltzner got it, and accepted. I am grateful to both of them for being open to real collaboration. Mike & Mike – thank you.
As to the why of it
Part of my personal mission is advocacy for open source applications on Windows. I posted a long time ago that dividing the world into open source and closed source doesn't make much sense. Software is software.
Software companies (or ISVs, as they are known inside Microsoft) that run on Windows have a broad set of resources available to them - from technology enablement to special licensing programs to business development and sales assistance. Currently these programs are built to deal with software companies.
Open source projects - with some exceptions - are not run by companies, but by people (maintainers and committers), often without a legal entity and usually not interested in building a business. Microsoft partner programs simply have never been set up to handle this kind of organization. This is not surprising when you consider that as a commercial, for-profit company, Microsoft is already well designed to work with similar entities that have a shared goal of driving revenue.
All developers should be able to build applications that are able to run on Windows, regardless of licensing models. Different styles of development call for different kinds of support. As Port 25 readers are aware, Microsoft is working with JBoss and SugarCRM to help them deliver versions of their products on Windows, and these won't be the last commercial open source companies we work with. We’re also working with XenSource to enable excellent virtualization of Linux on Windows – again, independent of the licensing model, I want to see technology work well.
In a way, I'm trying something new by inviting the Mozilla folks (both Firefox and Thunderbird) to Redmond. I’ve gotten a number of emails from inside Microsoft – teams who want to meet up directly with Firefox developers to show them cool features and brainstorm together. I expect not only to help Mozilla, but to learn how we need to change to support this style of development team.
Mike Beltzner pointed out that we have an opportunity to provide better support to open source projects in general – a jump start on Vista that includes docs, sample code, testing tools, integration points and what is changing. In response, we pulled together the first cut at a site to bring this info together. This will evolve over time as we learn what’s needed by the community.
From here, the lab will be expanding our work in this area – both by creating new resources for open source developers, and by growing my team to support more direct work with Open Source Software projects.
It’s going to be long ride and I’m here to see it through.
by MichaelF on September 19, 2006 03:57pm
Update: We thought we would try our videos on YouTube...would love to hear feedback on this implementation. Sam interviews Wayne Citrin to discuss work his company, JNBridge, has done to provide interoperability between .NET and Java.
Wayne Citrin is the CTO at JNBridge. He is the architect of JNBridgePro, and has been engrossed in Java and .NET interop issues since .NET's beta days. Previously, Wayne was a leading researcher in programming languages and compilers, and was on the Computer Engineering faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He was a researcher at IBM's research lab in Zürich, Switzerland, and has a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in Computer Science.
The JNBridge blog can be found here.
by MichaelF on September 15, 2006 05:24pm
I wanted to share with all of you the letter one of Our Penguins wrote. Unfortunately he will be leaving us in another week.
Dan (or, as he's known in other circles: Hypovex), You will be missed!!!
** DISCLAIMER: No Penguins Were Harmed In The Making Of This Blog **
(See Dan: We took you up on your dare.)
As of 9/22/06, the open-source lab will be the second coolest place to work in the dot-com industry. That’s right; yours truly is hitting the road.
Mid-winter of 2006 I had been out of work for about 3 months. It was also the lean-season in many companies, so jobs were few and far between. I have been a Linux sysadmin for about 6 years now and always in a full-time capacity. The idea of contracting had never occurred to me, and the thought of working at Microsoft was right up there with pursuing my childhood dream to be the first man to set foot on the Sun. I was a bit dubious about the prospect of a “Linux job” at Microsoft.
If you’ve spent as much time as I have in the past ignoring Microsoft, there really aren’t many building blocks available to you for constructing a mental image of what to expect. I imagined a scenario that might be some kind of punishment for the divine comedy’s 8th deadly sin: Corporate Geek; Parroted “Office Space” clichés, cubicles plastered with Dilbert comics, people who name their laptops, and have replaced their dating “black book” with an Outlook Calendar. Sounds like fun, right? (and by “fun”, I mean in the same sense that diving into a wood-chipper might be).
Despite my initial reluctance, I was intrigued by the thought of an “Open Source Software lab” at Microsoft and immediately agreed to begin the interview process. I was given all kinds of advance warning about the dreaded “Microsoft Interview”. To prepare myself, I went out and bought a book on that very subject. I spent 2 days studying puzzle questions, filling my head full of logic bombs, and then the day came…
My first contact with was a phone screen with the group of penguins as it existed at the time and Kishi (as lead) who began to unleash a assault of logical conundrums like, “how would you create an ext3 file system in Linux?”, “What are some ports/sockets and associated services?”, “what’s the difference between a file and an inode?”, “what tool would you use to inspect the integrity of a hard drive”, “how would you troubleshoot this/that”, and “what is your favorite Linux distro?”
I was puzzled. I thought, “what the hell is wrong with these guys?!?! Forget all of that Linux-Schminux crap! Ask me how I would create a test matrix for Bill Gates' underwear!!”
I hadn’t even been hired yet and the penguins had already cost me $5.99 and two days of my life that I will never get back…jerks.
Apparently they liked me enough though to invite me to an in-person interview. I would go into depth on what we discussed, but if you’ve ever been grilled during an interview for a Linux SA type job, just think of the questions you were asked and pretend I’ve typed them all here. After which, they explained to me some of the projects they’d taken on, what they liked about the job, what they’d like to improve, etc and so on. It was more of an informal discussion than an “interview” per se.
The next week I met with Sam Ramji. The technical portion of our discussion was pretty much as follows:
Sam: So, you like working with Linux? Me: yeah Sam: Want a job? Me: sure. (note: infer sarcasm)
Actually, there’s a little more to it than that. The general criteria are that you have to have the knowledge and experience to do the job(s) and genuinely enjoy what we do. They generally have to like you and you have to truly enjoy working with open-source technology. Not giving mindless answers to questions as noted in the above, fictitious conversation probably helps as well.
And that was pretty much that. There was also the entrance ritual of having to pit-fight Bill Hilf, which I thought was bollocks as he’s got about a 2-inch reach and height advantage on me. Fortunately, he sprained his ankle surfing while at some open-source convention in Pago-Pago. I got a bit of a reprieve.
The team itself is comprised of a very friendly cast of characters with some very diverse backgrounds in the industry. Some of us are admins, some of us have dev backgrounds, some straight out of college, etc. There’s no politics within the group, no geek-ego among us, or over-ambitious prima donnas.
In all honesty; being here and working on this team has vanquished every assumption I’ve had about what being here and working on this team would be like. It’s been a fun, engaging, and communicative team to be a part of. Our project managers really go to bat for us. If we need anything done to accomplish a project or task, it’s usually an email away or short walk and a, “hey, any chance you could…” Red tape doesn’t exist here.
Contrary to the belief of many, there is a strong bias toward Linux and the open-source community by us. Our managers, leads, and the teams we work with depend on that bias. We are not here to preach to the choir. We build and demonstrate Linux and open-source solutions to push Microsoft to improve its own product line. In that regard our work has had some very tangible results, which I think is really cool.
Personally, my time on the team has provided me the opportunity to learn a few new things and really expand my knowledge of a few key pieces of software. Unfortunately, I can’t elaborate more without breaking my NDA. I’ll just leave off with saying that I’m moving on with a sharper skill set than I came in with. I’m glad to have been a part of it.
In the next life,
by MichaelF on September 15, 2006 03:37pm
Today Channel 9 posted an interview they did with Bill to discuss a number of topics, or to use Charles' words:
"...to talk about, what else, open source software and Microsoft's position on it. Sure, we have shared source, etc, but what is Microsoft doing in the open source software space? Why do we have an open source lab, what going on there, and what was Mozilla doing there recently? Bill and team have a lot of respect for Channel 9 and created an off-shoot that targets the open source community, called Port 25 (http://blogs.technet.com/b/port25/). What is Port 25 and why?"
It's an interesting interview and you can see it here:
by MichaelF on September 14, 2006 03:15pm
We've received numerous inquiries regarding the Windows Vista Beta program so I wanted to make sure anyone subscribed to our RSS feed who also happens to be interested sees this before the program fills up.
In order to download the bits (3.0GB's for the 32-bit version to be exact) you will need a Windows Live account.
by jcannon on September 14, 2006 02:09pm
Over the past weekend, we discovered that some of the comments being posted to our blogs were being caught by the Community Server spam filter. Usually, this wouldn't be a bad thing - especially if you were around when we launched Port 25. However, the algorithm for catching spam had been unknowingly set to the strictest interpretation due to a recent server upgrade...so many benign comments had been caught over the past couple weeks.
This has been corrected & all comments have been set to publish. If you've had this happen to you - we apologize. Comment away! If you ever feel like something on the site isn't working the way it's supposed to - please let us know.
To make up for our oversight, the video below should provide a good laugh for anyone who works in IT - regardless of what operating system or development models you subscribe to :)
Thank you Long Zheng (I Started Something) for blogging about 4.
by MichaelF on September 14, 2006 01:45pm
In addition to technical tips, blogs and video interviews, the Open Source Software Lab at Microsoft conducts a number of technical analysis and research projects throughout the year to help inform and solve key interoperability challenges between Microsoft and open source technologies. This paper is part two of three. The first paper in this series discussing DHCP can be found here.
This paper is an evaluation and teardown of the GNU GPL-licensed FreeRADIUS software (http://www.freeradius.org/). This document includes a detailed analysis of the features that are supported by the server as well as an analysis of the configuration, management and overall usability of the system.
Much of the analysis was done on a RedHat Enterprise Linux version 4 (RHEL4) system using the vendor-supplied FreeRADIUS package, which at the time of writing is version 1.0.1. The latest package from the project website is version 1.1.0, which was also analyzed for additional features.
Download the Networking Roles Analysis-Free RADIUS paper (.PDF, 396k)
by MichaelF on September 12, 2006 07:25pm
It has been a while since I posted a blog, and I really have no other excuse than that I have been very busy. I have had a whole bunch of blog ideas percolating in the back of my mind, and I will be writing them down soon.
When we started port25 and the OSSL it was met with great skepticism. But there have been a lot of changes going on around us here at Microsoft. And one of those I wanted to bring to your attention.
A few years ago the mere thought of Open Source at Microsoft was ridiculed both inside and outside of the company. But I am starting to see small and sometimes not so small changes. This blog describes a very positive change.
As you might all know, I went to the 2006 OSCON conference in Portland. And there I met another Microsoft employee, Sara Ford. She works in the Visual Studio and Power Toys area. She has been a very active blogger in the past (unlike myself, working on it though!) And you can find her page here.
We got to talking at the conference and I have worked with her a little since then and found her to be a very energetic person greatly interested in OSS. But why is this interesting??? Well she attended a session at OSCON given by James Howison. (See his OSCON session info here ) And his presentation was on open source communities.
She was so impressed by it that she is currently working on Open Sourcing the Power Toys. I had the pleasure to sit in the training she gave the team, you can see more of the training she gave (unfortunately I was there as well and probably messed up the whole video by opening my mouth. So ignore me!) here.
In any case, who would ever thought Microsoft would open sourcing anything. But it is happening, and in future blogs I will give you all more insight on my first 4 or so months here and the changes I am seeing both internal and external.
by MichaelF on September 11, 2006 03:16pm
Be careful what you write on your blog about having such a great time at OSCON, because the
Port 25 team will find it! I mentioned that I had wanted to do a second video regarding everything I had learned at OSCON. I was (almost) embarrassed how my first video interview fell into the category of “common misconceptions about running OSS projects.” Knowing me, I had to correct this at once.
James Howison, a doctoral student on Kevin Crowston's NSF-funded research team at the Syracuse University Information School and a regular presenter at O’Reilly events, gave this incredible tutorial about OSS communities. I couldn’t wait to get back to campus to show my team what I had learned and how we were going to apply it to our power toys. So, we all decided to film the presentation in order to capture the discussions of a team at Microsoft going open and have something to share with other teams that are interested. I think this is extremely cool stuff, and I hope you agree and want to see more like it.
As a follow-up we hope to get James in for a pod cast interview in the near future to provide some feedback and insight on this topic. Stay tuned.
by MichaelF on September 08, 2006 08:19pm
I am compiling a list and analysis of all the analogies and metaphors that have been used to characterize open source software development and its social, technical, and business implications. I think it is unlikely this will be the next DaVinci Code-style best seller, so I don’t expect to give up my day job, but my interview of Professor Alfonso Fuggetta where he talked about the distinction between specification and implementation reminded me of why I started this project.
Analogy and metaphor are fundamental to not only how we understand something, but also to how we form our opinions about it; in an influential paper on artificial intelligence and cognition, the authors emphasize the centrality of analogy to not only how we make sense of the world but its powerful and often unrecognized implications:
When people make analogies, they are perceiving some aspects of the structures of two situations—the essences of those situations, in some sense—as identical…Furthermore, not only is analogy-making dependent on high-level perception, but the reverse holds true as well: perception is often dependent on analogy-making itself. The high-level perception of one situation in terms of another is ubiquitous in human thought. In the large or the small, such analogical perception—the grasping of one situation in terms of another—is so common that we tend to forget that what is going on is, in fact, analogy.*
The authors use a few contemporaneous controversial situations from US politics in the late ‘80s – early ‘90s to illustrate this point—what struck me about their emphasis on the power of analogical reasoning to shape opinion was the fact that analogies to “Vietnam” and “Hitler” were used in those examples in their paper and, 20 years plus later, those same historical events are in the news as analogies today. The two examples highlight how acceptance of the analogy carries with it a strong bias to shape your attitudes and your behavior (even manipulate your emotions): analogies don’t necessarily just frame the argument—sometimes they are the argument.
The analogy that’s top of mind for me today is from Open Sources 2.0 (Sam blogged about it here), and was laid out by Matt Asay (who frequently has interesting things to say on his blog or, for that matter, here on Port25). It’s one of those that I think warrants some discussion because, as it stands, I think it actually raises much more interesting questions than what Matt initially describes.
In his chapter “Open Source and the Commodity Urge: Disruptive Models for a Disruptive Development Process,” he is arguing open source reduces prices by facilitating the option to “do it yourself.” After hiring out their landscaping, including cement work, he goes on to relate the unfortunate story of having to pay (high) legal fees to resolve a dispute with his (bad) cement contractor. The price of legal assistance was high because of the “skill set involved and the artificial licenses set up by the legal profession to keep would-be attorneys in would-be land.” And necessary because (emphasis added) ”I am effectively barred from accessing the “source code” of the legal…profession, which drives up the price I must pay.”
Here’s the interesting thing: as much or perhaps more than any other domain, we are not barred from accessing the “source code” of the legal profession.
True, there are hurdles you have to go over to practice as an attorney and represent others—but that is not relevant to the “do it yourself option.” In fact, you are entirely able to represent yourself if you want to, and some venues (small claims court and many administrative processes) are designed to accommodate self-representation. So, first—relatively speaking—law is an areas where you have a lot of latitude to “do it yourself” (by comparison, “do it yourself law enforcement” or “do it yourself public highway repair” by contrast, is actively discouraged.)
Second, the “how-to” of underlying knowledge is perhaps more widely available in the legal domain than in any other: there are many public law libraries and a large (although its practitioners would say not big enough) network of volunteer assistance organizations.
Finally, legal documents are almost universally public as well, so you can seek an example of someone else’s filing, brief etc from among literally millions of such documents—from the lowliest pleading to the most momentous Supreme Court argument. If a situation where the full text of millions of legal artifacts available freely (or for the price of distribution) aren’t like open source code…I’m not sure what is!
This analogy was powerful enough to lead me to think a long time about the contra case: not is lack of openness inflating prices, but what if a high degree of openness does not reduce prices (--or at least “reduce enough” relative to expectations). Thus the question: are there analogies that help make sense of this possibility? I have some ideas that I’ll offer in my next blog.
*High-Level Perception, Representation, and Analogy: A Critique of Artificial Intelligence Methodology; Chalmers, French, Hofstadter 2001
by MichaelF on September 06, 2006 12:19am
· Technical Whitepapers
· Thirty minute compatibility check
· Extended feature details
· Integration guidance
· Application compatibility
· Interoperability and Migration
· Mobile PC
· System Services
Recently Mozilla’s Mike Beltzner suggested we provide: "Something like a checklist of the most common OS integration points that have changed from Windows XP would be extremely useful…"
Turns out there are some useful resources already available, see above, for those interested in developing Open Source applications for Windows Vista or ensuring that their current applications are compatible.
I took a few minutes to speak with Michael Shaw, Technical Evangelist, to get some additional details on the resources available at the sites listed above. The following is a short synopsis of our conversation.
What is http://www.devreadiness.org?
MShaw: The site is an aggregation of tools, whitepapers, presentations and videos intended to help developers understand how to make their existing Windows XP applications compatible with Windows Vista.
Are there other sites aside from devreadiness that developers can turn to?
MShaw: Yes, but many of the resources available on those sites are either linked from devreadiness or the tools/resources are also located on our site. Consider this a one-stop shop for Vista application compatibility resources.
Is there anything in particular that those interested should take a look at?
MShaw: Yes. I would first take a look at the Application Compatibility Cookbook that is located here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/windowsvista/reference/appcompat/default.aspx. This is the first document developers should look at concerning application compatibility. We have identified and addressed the major areas affecting applications when changing from Windows XP to Windows Vista. I’d like to point out the section on Computer Defaults as this is one big area that developers should take a close look to ensure compatibility for users.
Thanks to Michael Shaw for taking the time to talk with us and to Scott Laster who manages these sites. If you have specific questions about devreadiness or the Application Compatibility Cookbook, let us know.
by MichaelF on September 05, 2006 06:01pm
On a recent visit to Thailand I had the opportunity to meet a variety of customers, open source community members, government officials and new Microsoft people. A great part of my job is the opportunity to understand the state of the software industry in different countries around the world – both in developed and emerging countries. It’s fascinating to see the patterns of similarities and often surprising to learn about the myriad of country-specific characteristics that influence the evolution and growth of a software industry. My visit to Thailand was remarkable in both of these areas. I visited at a time where the government was under some unstable conditions – although the environment is amazingly under control and calm. The state of the Thai software industry is relatively segmented, with some areas quite advanced and some under significant early development.
The role of Microsoft in a country like Thailand is somewhat different than in many large developed countries. In countries like Thailand, Microsoft participates heavily in the growth and health of the software industry. Certainly we do this in large countries as well, but it’s much more direct and hands on in countries like Thailand. Naysayer’s will claim this is so we can just ‘sell more’ to new audiences. Of course we care about software sales (we’re a commercial software business!) but in these environments we prioritize the condition of the software ecosystem as it’s the basis for any near or future business. For example, the Microsoft general manager for a country like Thailand (Andrew in the photo below – far right) will spend a good portion of their time working on country-wide initiatives for improved software education, or in cross-vendor forums focusing on improved software security, or in helping the government plan for software infrastructures for future natural disasters (tsunamis, for instance). What I find interesting, is that many people, particularly in the U.S., don’t often see this side of Microsoft and it is a very important part of our role as a business, community and industry leader to help the entire software ecosystem grow and prosper.
Related to this, one of my trip highlights was a dinner in Bangkok with some of the leading science and technology thinkers in the Thai government around the future of IT in Thailand*. Below is a photo of (left to right): Dr. Chadamas Tuwasetakul, Assistant to Director, National Electronic and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC); Dr. Pairash Thajchayapong, Senior Advisor to National Science and Technology Development Agency; me; Dr Thaweesak Koanantakool, Director, NECTEC; Andrew McBean, General Manager, Microsoft Thailand.
We had a great discussion about software for children in K-12 classrooms, the benefits and challenges to delivering country-wide computing infrastructure for environments that have numerous IT challenges (such as very few technical support staff). We also talked about commercial and free software, Microsoft’s position on OSS, standards, interoperability and our future product line – particularly Windows Vista and Office 2007. It was a great and opinionated discussion and I learned much from Dr. Tuwasetakul, Dr. Thajchayapong, and Dr. Koanantakool, their insight was highly valuable.
The software industry is going through tremendous growth in Thailand. I feel there is much to be learned from watching these next frontier software ecosystems, to see how they develop their industries in this new era of software economies, how they learn from other economies, countries and trends and most importantly how they create a software legacy that is both prosperous and uniquely Thai.
O’Reilly blogger Allison had an interesting term, technodiversity that I think is a great way of thinking about ecosystem evolution. I believe strongly that intellectual invention, innovation, and both pragmatic and expressible interoperability are keys to achieving this type of technodiversity. In an upcoming blog entry I hope to dive more into this area of pragmatic and expressible interoperability to describe why this often fuzzy term ‘interoperability’ is crucial to growing ecosystems. Warning – expect unusual correlations to trains, newts and other seemingly random but (to be illustrated) relevant examples to the subject.
* To be fair, earlier in the day I spent time with James Clark, long time OSS/XML developer and now part of SIPA (Software Industry Promotion Agency) and the leading OSS promoter in Thailand, and I would include James as one the leading thinkers on software in Thailand as well.