Archive for July, 2011

Moving Out

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Thanks to everyone who commented on my pending divorce from Apple, both here and on G+. I’ve decided on aiming to be Apple free by July 4th, 2012, as Apple won’t announce its plans for iOS on Macs until next summer (I’m thinking WWDC) and this should give me plenty of time to get ready for it.

I do want to stress that this is an issue with irreconcilable differences between me and current Apple policies and does not mean that Apple sucks or that you suck for liking your Apple products. People get very attached to their technology choices and from some of the comments on G+ it seemed like people were taking my breakup with Apple a little too personally. I expect Apple to get most of our friends in the divorce.

Here is an incomplete list of things I use on my Mac for which I need replacements, in no particular order. My plan is to implement an immediately embargo on OS X-only software and preferably to find FOSS replacements. Then as I move closer and closer to being Apple-free to switch my desktop and base O/S to Linux. Finally, I want to part from my iPhone.

I’ll be updating this list as well as my #noapple progress over time. I’m moving the list of “solved” alternatives to the bottom.

Time Machine

This one product has saved my butt more times than I can count. The ability to almost completely restore an old Mac image to a new Mac is more amazing than I gave it credit for at first. Part of this can be addressed with disk layout (store all data on one volume and the O/S on another) but I really need a good way to restore a machine from bare metal if I have to.

Keychain

Another great “under the covers” feature, the keychain stores all of my passwords in an encrypted fashion and other apps can leverage it. Since most of them are for websites, much of the functionality can be had with Firefox, but it would still be nice to have it at an O/S level.

Encrypted Disk Images

Huge privacy nut, especially when Apple refuses to return defective disks they replace under warranty, so I always use FileVault and encrypted disk images for sensitive information. I know there are open source alternatives to this, as I encrypt a volume on my Debian server at home, so this at least should be easy.

Mail.app

I like Apple’s Mail.app. I used Thunderbird many years ago, but it used to crash on me in a very evil manner. But still I think it is the leading open source mail application, so I’m going to give it another shot.

iCal

With thunder comes Lightning. Haven’t used it yet.

Address Book

I love the Apple address book, especially the ability to put in pictures of people.

iPhoto

Speaking of pictures, I guess the next big thing to replace will be iPhoto. Not that I use the functionality much, but I do need a simple photo management system. Don’t suggest Picasa, since the Linux version isn’t really maintained. I’ll probably settle on Gallery, which I like for a server based solution.

RSS

I like NetNewsWire, but I believe Firefox has a built in RSS reader. I would like something that syncs with Google, since I read my feeds from multiple systems.

IRC

I assume xchat is still around. I use Colloquy at the moment.

Terminal

I use iTerm versus Terminal, and my only requirements are tabs and select to copy.

Stickies

I don’t use stickies as much as I used to, so I can probably find an easy replacement using a text file.

Quicktime

I tend to use VLC more than Quicktime, so that should be an easy switch as well.

Photoshop

The Gimp is the only real option here, I believe. Time to start climbing that learning curve.

iTunes

I hear decent things about Rhapsody and Banshee. Any preference?

iWork

I love Keynote and the rest of the iWork suite has a simple beauty about it, but I’ve been forcing myself to use OpenOffice/Neooffice/LibreOffice for some time now. Leaning toward LibreOffice but I was having problems printing envelopes last time I tried it, so I’m back to Neooffice for now. Still having issue with how ugly the interface can look compared to Apple (the same graphics rendered under keynote beautifully look pixelated on the others). I am hoping that when I switch to a Linux desktop perhaps that will improve.

Which brings me to the final issue: which Desktop? There are only two real choices, Ubuntu and Fedora. While I think Debian is the most freedom loving of the major distros, squeeze doesn’t move fast enough to keep up with the changes happening there. Jeff likes Fedora, but I think I’m going to start by given Ubuntu a go. Shuttleworth seems to understand Apple and he is trying to bring the Apple experience to the Linux Desktop, so it seems like a great place to start.

Solved:

Safari

Already switched to Firefox and Chrome, so no worries there.

IM

Already an Adium user, so no problems there either, as I can easily just use Pidgin.

Suggestions on app replacements are welcome.

Apple: I break with thee, I break with thee, I break with thee

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Apple my love, we’ve been together many years. You’ve brought a little magic back into my life and made me fall in love with design again, but with your new Lion dress on, I don’t recognize you any more. You are not the company I fell in love with.

It wasn’t love at first sight. When we were both young I was across the hall with my TRS-80 and you were over there with the Apple ][e. You had color, and a lid that just popped off so you could see the magic inside, while I was in drab black and white, with tamper evident screws to keep anyone from opening me without voiding the warranty.

But then we both grew older. In college I saw you again, this time as a Macintosh. What an amazing little machine, and I could put System 6, MacWrite, MacPaint and MacDraw on one 800K floppy disk with a little room left over for files. And that was good – because I couldn’t afford to buy you and needed to borrow you in the computer lab (although by this time, strangely, the PCs I did buy had color).

We parted ways for many years, but then at my local Linux Users Group you showed up again as a Powerbook. And you were running something called OS X. It was the Mac interface crossed with Unix, and what a lovely combination that made.

My business was doing well, so a bought a 12-inch Powerbook the day it was announced. I never looked back. OS X Jaguar was perfect – a great UI and UNIX under the covers. A wonderful marriage of proprietary and free. Through the fink project I could still play with all my old Linux friends but on a sweet piece of hardware. The upgrade to Panther was the easiest O/S upgrade I ever did.

Then you started to change. You brought out the iPod, which was amazing, but then your shifted your gaze away from computers and into mainstream consumer electronics and all the hype and fashion that entailed. Then came the iPhone – a revolution to be sure – but gone were the days when freedom and fashion could play together.

I stuck with you because you made things easy, but at what price? I found myself getting tied tighter and tighter to your world. I couldn’t replace the battery on my iPhone without a lot of hassle, but then you even made that more difficult by adding pentalobe screws. You had to double check and second guess everything. If I wanted to play outside of your sandbox I had to jailbreak my phone and potentially void my warranty. But I overlooked that since a phone is not a computer. I consume information on my phone – I create on my computer.

But you got too greedy. You moved the App Store onto OS X to position yourself to get a cut of every software sale for the platform. You want all music, movies, book and software to come through you, and only you, and you are even suing people for using the term “app store”. What, $76 billion isn’t enough? We all can see the writing on the wall. The lion is the king of the jungle – the top, the chief, the end. The next OS release for the Mac is going to look a whole lot more like iOS than OS X, because then your hegemony will be complete.

Don’t deny it – you’re even locking down the hardware by making it that much harder to do simple things like replace a disk drive. You are so focused on controlling the user experience that you’re stifling play, smothering wonder. Instead of a lust for learning you are replacing it with a lust for consuming. You use to be the outsider, the underdog, now people buy you just because you are cool and fashionable. They think that they can buy happiness, which is the worst part of consumerism.

Hey look – I know you have stockholders to please and if I was driven solely by money I’d be doing the same things you are. But that’s not the Apple I fell in love with. This isn’t the Apple that used to encourage people to look inside the box. You’re more beautiful than ever, but oh so cold.

I feel that if I don’t leave you now, I never will be able to – it’s hard enough already. I’ve grown used to things just working, and working well together, but if the price for that is my creative soul then it’s too high. Plus you have given those in free software a lofty target for which to aim, and several are coming close.

I don’t need you to share my memories. I don’t need you to read a good book. I don’t need you to enjoy a beautiful day outside. You forget that it’s our interactions with people that make memories, not our interactions with things. And you have forgotten that when you let people work together to make things, that’s where real magic happens.

So go play with the cool kids. I’m going in a different direction. I’ll always love you, but more for what you were than what you have become.

Oh, and here’s some dog poop for your shoes.

Conferences

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

This year I’ve been doing a talk at conferences this year on marketing an open source business, which is a little recursive, since one way to market open source is to speak at conferences.

The next one will be OSCON in Portland next week. If any of my three readers plans to be there, drop me a note and we’ll be sure to meet up. If you are not coming to the conference but are in the area and want to get together, drop me a note as well. The main nights of the conference (Wednesday and Thursday) are booked, but I’m open Tuesday night if folks want to meet somewhere downtown.

I certainly hope a lot of people show up, as there are eighteen (18!) other talks going on at the same time as mine, including one by Chris Dibona (which always seems to happen to me). That’s insane. But in any case, stop in on Thursday from 13:40 to 14:20 if you are interested.

And I just found out I’ll be speaking at the Ohio LinuxFest in September. I had a blast last time, and I hope to see a lot of old friends and make new ones.

Did I mention there’s a Jeni’s in Columbus?

Chicago Board Options Exchange

Friday, July 15th, 2011

I’ve spent this week in Chicago. I love Chicago. I think if I didn’t love living out in the middle of nowhere in North Carolina I’d seriously consider moving here.

It also helps that we seem to have a cluster of OpenNMS customers in the area, mostly in finance. The trip this week was to work for the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

One of the schools I got kicked out of was Harvey Mudd College. A friend of mine from those years was a math major, and after graduation he went to work for a private equity firm as an options trader. It was fascinating to me, and once I spent an hour and a half just staring at the action on the floor of the Pacific Exchange. All the traders wear special jackets identifying who they work for, and all those colors moving around was quite mesmerizing.

But that was over 20 years ago, and options trading has changed a lot since then. The physical trading floor has shrunk and about 95% of trades are completed electronically. The CBOE is the largest options exchange in the US by volume, so you can imagine that information technology plays a key role.

I came up here as part of a Greenlight project to replace a Netview installation, and so far I’ve had a blast. The CBOE team are sharp guys. They had managed to do quite a bit with OpenNMS before bringing me up, and I’ve gotten to focus on cool integration stuff. After several installs, I think I finally have a handle on the black magic that is LDAP authentication, and we did some notification work to create pop-ups on operator screens as well as an integration with BMC Event and Impact Management (BEM).

But despite the fact that Chicago is pretty pleasant in July, I’m looking forward to heading home. I’ve been on the road a lot lately, and it doesn’t show signs of letting up anytime soon. After a week on the farm I’m off to Portland for OSCON. Hope to see some of you there.

Groundwork Survey: “Possible Community Edition Revision”

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Okay, I know beating a dead horse isn’t going to make it run any faster, but only 19 months after releasing their last “community edition” it looks like the company known as Groundwork Open Source is, at least considering, maybe, possibly, offering another community edition revision. On the table are considerations that it might not be free and it might not be open source (at least in how I read the survey questions) but I doubt they’ll let anything get in the way of “release early, release often”.

Oh, wait …