Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Mobile computing choices are increasingly becoming more like trying to purchase a pair of shoes. When I go to the store with my kids to buy their plethora of athletic shoes I need to know what what sport with which they will be used: basketball, softball, or football? Each type of shoe has a unique purpose in order to do its job well. For example, I wouldn't buy them metal spiked cleats for the gym floor so why do I see MANY air travelers literally lugging around 17-inch desktop replacements as mobile laptops?

Now I know what you're thinking, it costs a lot of money to purchase multiple PC's for specific uses. Not really.

Here's how I did it:
- Purchased a slightly used Asus Eee 701 7-inch netbook from a disappointed user from Craig's List for very little because he thought it too small for daily use. Paid $300.
- Bought a 1st generation iPhone from a buddy of mine when he told me that was upgrading to the new 3G version. I unlocked and jailbroke this unit the first day I had it. I now use it on T-Mobile and it runs on WiFi with my trusty ATT login at all McDonald's, most airports, and all Starbucks. Paid $125.
- A work provided Dell 12-inch D410 laptop.
- And lastly upgraded my Blackberry Curve to the T-Mobile G1 running Google's open source mobile platform, Android. Upgrade fee $175.

So for the price of mid-range laptop I now have three separate units for a total of $600. The above mobile computers are particularly adapted for traveling and/or remote users. So now, I too have a "shoe" for every playing surface.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


We are not being destroyed from falling bombs but by rapidly falling bonds and markets. It seems as if there is no force, coalition, or government that can correct this situation. Open source is not relevant in this matter as a development idealogy but one for transparency. Anything done in openness is inherently better and consequently side agreements and secret conversations are bourne out of hypocrisy within the context of struggles for power.

The new super powers are now truly The Super Markets on the global stage. And the more we understand that we are interconnected and interwoven than ever before we can see how complicated the problems are as civilizations and not just individual countries.

Open source and Globalization are the two newest 800 pound gorillas in the room.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Open Source = Updates

As I sit here with my 4-day old T-Mobile G1 phone I am most struck by the updates, i.e. early and often. Even though, to me, it is a converged device of my iPhone and BlackBerry Curve and even with relevant hardware it is still the software, stupid. While my trusty Curve only had one OS update this whole year it still made me plug it into a PC via USB and download, backup, and restore. Ditto for my unlocked, jailbroken iPhone now running 2.1.

But on Saturday morning I received a message on my phone telling me that an OS upgrade/update was already available and even better - it was delivered OTA (over the air) without any PC and USB cable needed. Now to be fair it was shipped with RC28 and this update was for RC30 but for a new OS this is pretty cool.

Now for the kicker....the G1 runs on Google's new Android platform that is open source and the SDK is readily available for any who want to write apps/code/fixes. Sooooo that means that the software can be written by a community of developers instead of a proprietary group within a single company (no matter how large) it will never be bigger than a global community of rabid fans.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How can voting be made more secure and exact?

Open source the machines and the application. Anytime there is a proprietary way of doing something it can always be hacked or changed to serve someone else. If the technology community designed the tools we use to vote they would already have inherent weaknesses patched in development. Instead there is one or three companies manufacturers out there who test and re-test the equipment then it is release into the wild and they are exposed to the real world.

Yesterday my wife asked me why we can't hold voting online. Hmmm, something to think about. Funny how we can buy stocks online, watch our 401k, order our clothes and even post our most private thoughts in online blogs and journals. But the world wide web has not been used for voting. We Americans stand in line for iPhones, Star Wars movies, and for delayed airplanes but for voting? It seems so old-fashioned. Maybe in the not too distant future the fundamentals of open source can be used in the development of voting machinery and quite possibly the voting process. Sort of sounds like a representative form of government with a majority rule, does it not?

Friday, September 19, 2008

2 much 411

Lately, I have been trying to read all of the blogs and feeds that I am subscribed to and am beginning to think it's all for naught.

Technology is definitely moving too fast for any one person to keep up with in light of products, speeds and feeds, and how to's.

I for one will do a better job of unplugging and enjoy real face-to-face communication instead of IM's, em's, and webcasts.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Google goes live with Android

In a few short weeks T-Mobile will introduce the new phone boasting Google's Android open source platform for mobile phones. Even though, it will be a start to the "Android" phone it will be revolutionary in that it is all about the applications for this phone.

Google is banking that developers will be the life's blood for Android's stack and API's. I own both an iPhone and a BlackBerry Curve and while both of these devices have their respective advantages, hopefully one day we will have a mobile unit that will act both like a UMPC and a phone but without compromises in either. But for now I travel with the before mentioned phones and my trusty Eee 701 laptot.

Until then....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Today's Browsers are tomorrow's Operating System

As we get more and more competitive features from Mozilla FF, MS IE8, Opera, and now Google's Chrome the lines between application and the WWW are getting blurrier and blurrier.

When I first started in the hardware business over ten years ago the emphasis was on local process power, RAM, and hard drive capacity. While those are still concerns of a current PC buyer the new "need for speed" is the bandwidth capacity. DSL, cable, fiber, and T1's are all ubiquitous so we just want it faster and cheaper. So what has this done to the modern OS? Not much actually, it has just created more and more applications that live on the world wide web. Oh sure, local PC operating systems will still be utilized for availability and virtualization for managing resources but as more and more applications are written as Rich Internet Applications (RIA), then so too will browsers be equipped for Silverstream, Flash, Java, etc. right off the showroom floor.

The dominant player for Software As A Service (SaaS) is Google and they have gone so far as to create their own browser framework for Google Docs, Gmail, and the like. Even though Microsoft still has the largest market share with IE the other smaller niche open source browsers are quickly on the rise. More and more web users are becoming increasingly aware of security, spyware, and other risks that can break their web sessions, browsers, and even their computers.

In closing, the newest crop of browsers are just touching the hem of the garment of what developers have in mind for our near future personal and corporate applications.

Play ball!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Free is the new Black

I am sure that most of you all out there have gotten "free" stuff for service. For example: free mobile phones, free dish satellites, etc. Well, if the sign says free then why do you have to sign a 1yr or 3yr contract to get your free-ness on?

Because none of it is free, it is just subsidized by the bloated service contract.

Open source software is never free. Even if the developers let you download it from the web for no charge their energy, and effort went into it to create it.

When I talk to freetards who think that OSS is free I try to remind them while the distribution may be, the support is most certainly not. This past week was down and the global outage cost to Jeff Bezos was $31,000/minute and $16,000/minute for North America. They use OSS in their infrastructure but it was internal and external support that got them back up and running and not freeware.

You know what they say...time is money.

Monday, May 19, 2008


So here I am, a proud new owner of an Asus 4G 701 Eee PC. It is a 7" laptop that is about the same size as a travel DVD player. It has a full keyboard, three USB 2.0 ports, ethernet, VGA out, and a Kensington lock when needed. I have been using it for about three weeks and other than my latest BlackBerry Curve and iPod it is possibly the greatest tech buy I have ever made.

It allows me to be online at any given time (with WiFi availability) and is the size of a hardback book but it's not just the portability that is special about it. I'll give you a hint. It runs Linux. While there is an XP version and others have installed Windows on the Linux versions there is no way I'd even entertain it. Even if I didn't work at Red Hat.

This operating system lets me do anything I want to do while not getting in my way. No de-fragging, no anti-virus, no spyware, and NO multiple rebooting after software is downloaded and/or removed. This open source operating system that is written and maintained by a Linux community is perfectly ubiquitous and transparent all at the same time. The value I find is that this PC is a true tool that I can use and not spend most of my time maintaining and protecting it from the big bad WWW.

Open Source: 1, Proprietary: 0

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

When is open source like Starbucks?

When there is a premium placed on customization. This morning I am getting some work done in a local SBUX waiting for traffic to die down and I see a stream of people willing to come in and pay two to three times the price for a cup of coffee from the competitor across the street. Why is that? Customization.

I watched a special that featured SBUX on television the other night and their VP of Brand stated that there are 80,000 possible combinations of coffee using their standard menu. Starbucks understands that people will pay a premium to get exactly what they want.

This can be applied to open source software where the premium isn't always a financial one. It could be the investment you have to make in your IT force to educate them in other lines of software or understanding that your IT services need to change in order to better server the organization as a whole.

Companies will not only pay more for better service but they will do so gladly. What they resent though are sky-high fees for licenses, maintenance, insurance, proprietary audits, and the like; and then being asked by those same software companies to sign on the the line which is dotted for another three years.

The open source companies are here today and are open for business.

You want extra whip on that?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The world is flat but business is vertical

When it comes to solving large enterprise IT problems we typically offer solutions for the usual suspects: Healthcare, Financial Services, Oil/Gas, and Telecom. If we offer software, services, and training to fix problems then why do we do this in silos? I am sure that most industries face the same exact issues: speed of transaction, security of transaction, and getting more out of less.

Instead of selling to vertical markets we need to sell general solutions for specific needs. If in fact open source is the preference for innovation then we can use this new arrow in our quiver to REALLY understand our customer's needs and adapt our software to them while at the same time turning them from just a customer to an open source contributor.

Customers want to hire and do business with problem solvers and not transactional order takers.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

When good Globalization goes bad.

As more and more financial institutions write off losses in the billions I listen for culpability in the marketplace and I am still not sure how we got in the perceived mess we're in. It sounds as if the basic rule of Economics 101 was grossly violated: do not buy more than you can afford. But therein lies the engine of a free market: borrowing and lending.

But it is now much more complicated because the proverbial pebble in the water has now caused ripples to manifest themselves in nasty ways in China, the Euro's, and all other large investors (read owners) of the U.S.A. It now seems that some of our largest corporations can now be bought "on the cheap".

So now what happens on Wall Street not only affects Main Street but now the transatlantic waterway...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Will work for open source

Just in case you didn't know I am employed by Red Hat as a partner manager for the Dell Americas account. I happen to believe that RHT has a handle on the open source market in many regards, but even more than before after returning home from my company's annual sales meeting this past week.

I was emboldened by our renewed JBoss message and the ultimate flexibility of Linux Automation. We are doing many "firsts" in the industry but we are now truly staking our claim as the 'defining technology company of the 21st century'. This year holds much excitement for me; as we and the new CEO, Jim Whitehurst, move forward to evangelize the open source development model as well as feeding the subscription business model.

The competition is still there but I feel privileged to be a Red Hatter at this moment in time.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Often when I work remotely I tell my co-workers that I'm "mobile". Think about it. Nowadays many of us are mobile. On my way to work I see women putting on mascara, men talking on a phone, and steering with one knee with a cheese burger in the other hand. People are TCOB'ing and closing million deals in traffic. We are getting too consumed with doing too much while on the go.

"Hello, my name is Sam and I am an addict". I do waaaaay too much at one time and it constantly corrodes my quality of work but I just can't stop. Not with my BlackBerry on my side and my tri-booted laptop in my bag and ideas rattlling around.

So what's the point here? Not much ... Just wanted to get some things off my chest. Gotta go and answer e-mail, talk on the phone...
Sam Herren
sent from BlackBerry

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Novell to buy maker of restroom hygiene systems?

That's what I thought after seeing the following article this morning:

I was reading too quickly as usual but until I realized it was Newell and not Novell I wasn't even surprised. Novell has been on a buying spree lately to ensure their place in open source history to remain relevant, but I didn't think that buying hand washers would help sell more Linux!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Modernity is good

It is 10:25 pm and I am in our kid's school parking lot waiting for my oldest daughter to get back from playing an away softball game. I am listening to the newest Crackberry podcast on my iPod and uploading this blog on my BlackBerry. I worked from a hair salon this afternoon on free WiFi whilst my wife had her hair cut. With power cords, Bluetooth and WiFi devices in tow I carry batteries to back up batteries.

Today's technology is a godsend in the way it can make us all more productive (or at least look like it). I assume if am doing all I am to do more I also wonder what my customers are doing with JBoss, RHEL, and other open source software they are rolling on their own. IT departments are doing more today in order to stay ahead and make profits versus spending them.

Just like's better to share.

When you think of technology what comes to you mind? Personal computers, filament lightbulbs, the automobile assembly line? The past one-hundred years have been the most progressive in the history of mankind yet there is still so much to do and learn. How about open source software (I will commonly refer to this as OSS), do you think of this global phenomenon as a trend that can truly change the way companies and people think of their software applications? I do, and hopefully after reading this article you will too.

OSS is the term for any software that can be distributed with any number of BSD, GPL, LGPL, etc. licenses and the source code can be viewable as well as changed. A community of developers and users then become supporters of the software to form an open source community for any number of OSS projects/products. The inherent power of OSS is that it is changeable by its users. This is a clean break from proprietary software vendors who sell you a monolithic package with a license-to-use (LTU) purchase. While these companies are not necessarily bad or evil what they do their customers is certainly an injustice. With proprietary software you are at the mercy of the company and its closed band of developers. If you purchase an operating system that limits your ability to be productive and you cannot change said operating system to serve you it is holding up production. Here lies the power of OSS! With OSS you are able to change the software to serve your needs and not the other way around.
Whether it is an operating system, middleware, or an application development platform if it is open sourced there is transparency and collaboration. A community who rallies around ANYTHING is essentially a fan base whether be a football team or an application system and sometimes these feelings can be as strong as a religion. These large communities greatly enhance the speed of development because instead of a finite number of developers working for Big Software what we have with OSS is literally thousands of people who are available to write and check code. Acceleration is also the name of the game when it comes to getting a product out on time. Imagine if you will a concept car going from development to production and the design team only has ten people who are designing and building the car. Even though this happens often, how much longer do you think it will take this auto to get to the showroom versus having a thousand people design and build it? Exactly.

OSS is about empowerment and change. These are both powerful motivations for customers who consider their application environments as a means to an end - not the end result. Today's software architectures are very complex with many different avenues for connection, serviceability, and execution. Recently, there has been a new way to build enterprise software structures with service-oriented architecture (SOA). At the its most base form SOA is a way to allow the service executables to be shared by applications like resource pooling. If your applications can share process management or transaction firing without being written into the program it can run in an outer silo and not be tied to the application. Thus the services can be modular and reusable allowing for the applications to be lighter and the services to be shared across the enterprise.

For instance, if you have application "A" that calculates employee benefits from payroll and application "B" deducts state tax they can both use the same business process management (BPM) and rules engine that tell both applications to get employee info and social security number. This is a simple illustration but since this intelligence is not written into the application it allows the core services to do focus on primary functions while allowing BPM and rules to be used and reused by both applications.

Just like in's better to share.