Showing posts from November, 2003

Telirati Newsletter #24

Here is an idea whose time didn't come, but is ripe for a second look soon. The success of Linux in embedded and consumer electronics applications means that many of these appliances will grow to become the personal servers described here. The general stability of file sharing protocols has made them possible to reverse engineer, and Macs, Windows PCs, and Linux nodes will like happily together. Telirati Newsletter #24: The next battle: Personal networks, tiny servers A lot of the smoke and noise coming from the computer battlefield over the next three years will be over servers and networks. For most, the perception will be that this is all about servers for the un-exploited small and medium sized business market, and about the further downsizing of formerly mainframe-based systems. These are, certainly, important developments. But like a really big rock rolling downhill, there are not going to be many surprises about where all this is going. There is, however, a market i

Telirati Newsletter #23

Here we looked at the ultimate ridiculousness of the government's pursuit of Microsoft. As the software business gets more mature and as dubious technologies like DRM make regulation possible, in addition to keeping an eye out for the irony of Microsoft forging its own chains, we must continue to look out for government folly in the area of software regulation. Newsletter #23: Mr. Pot, I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Kettle Political matters are a touchy topic in business. All the more so in technology which has been innocent of politics for so long. Those of you reading this that come to computer telephony from the telephone operating companies may chuckle a bit at the innocence of computer people. In this light, Microsoft appears naive, and the U.S. Department of Justice involvement in the question of browsers integrated with operating systems signals the maturity of the software business. There are two reasons to think differently: First, computer software and the In

Telirati Newsletter #22

The decadence of the desktop metaphor, and the lack of a repalcement gestalt, still draws too little attention. The phone UI is an example of the cost of ignoring this deficiency. Phones continue to lack a consistent, easy, and powerful user interface, which is one big reason why all the features of switches and networks don't get accessed. Ironically, it will be trivialities like ring-back tones and "video ringtones" that bring people to look at call state and how it is presented at the handset. Hopefully something more useful than annoying MIDI melodies will come of it. Newsletter #22: Everything you know about user interface is wrong Software user interfaces are about to change, a lot, and for the better. This change represents the next stage in the evolution of the desktop metaphor, and it opens the door to evolving the desktop metaphor to encompass a hypertext world where most documents will never be printed on paper. This change centers on Dynamic HTML

Telirati Newsletter #21

Well, now! Here we have strong evidence of excellent prognostication. All this has come to pass, and we even find Linux in Motorola mobile phones. Newsletter #21: Wham! Another surprising result of the Internet culture No, not George Michael's old band. I mean another bolt out of the blue is in the process of striking the software industry. This time it is open source software. It used to be the case, back in the late seventies and early eighties, that every university that used UNIX had a source license. That meant anyone could make alterations to suit needs like real-time data collection, add network protocols, or even port the whole operating system to another CPU architecture. Access to OS source code was a necessity when adding a device driver meant re-linking, if not recompiling, the OS. Many sites that did not pay for source licenses "borrowed" source access from nearby universities. Other OSs widely used in universities were written there, like ITS. Comme

Telirati Newsletter #20

In this and the previous newsletter I prescribe how to get CPE telephony products out of the dark ages. This advice is no less heed-able today as when I first gave it. So there you have the benefits of glacial progress: stuff you thought of years ago can be restated as completely up-to-date advice. The bursting of the Internet bubble and the general weariness of the CPE telephony business ensure that outside of a few small corners of the industry, it won't be galloping away from this position any time soon, either. Newsletter #20: Envisioning the Telephony Future, the Enterprise Edition In newsletter #19 we visualized IP telephony for the small business customer. Now we’ll try on the large size enterprise suit. I had promised to discuss moving IP telephony products through the small business channel, but we’ll take a side trip here, for the reason that IP telephony in the enterprise has different and in many ways simpler requirements for formulating the product to the correc

Telirati Newsletter #19

Here again we provided a healthy slap on the fanny to a CPE telephony industry that not only failed to heed the call, remains as much asleep today as it was then. Maybe when I go shopping for that Cisco or 3Com IP PBX I will see some inkling of these developments. Telirati Newsletter #19: Envisioning the Telephony Future, the Small Business Edition I have, in previous newsletters, commended the virtues of visualization, of picturing an outcome in your mind. In telephony, sitting down and doing some serious visualization is in order, because the industry seems blocked from advancing by some unknown force. Visualization makes such impediments visible. Visualization is also useful because it makes one see a situation in sequence, and from a particular point of view. In this case, we will start from the point of view of a small business proprietor buying communications capabilities for his business. From his point of view: “I gotta buy a phone system.” Get inside his mind, sho

Telirati Newsletter #18

Now here is a truly interesting bit of Windows and Java history: Visual J++. Visual J++ could have been a lot of things. It could have been .NET delivered two years earlier. It could have made Java relevant to Windows desktop applications. It could have made .NET more widely used by giving it a head start. Instead, Sun succeeded is suing Visual J++ out of existence. This delayed the use of the Visual J++ class libraries - which are where most .NET ideas were first hatched. This prompted Microsoft to redouble their efforts and, as a result, .NET is much more than the Visual J++ class libraries. But now Microsoft's impact on server applications and an active and interconnected set of Internet-distributed systems has been blunted by Linux. What did Sun get out of this? Not much. Newsletter #18 Can Microsoft redefine Java? In previous newsletters I have mentioned Java because it an important development: Java is the most interesting challenge to Microsoft’s hegemony si

Telirati Newsletter #17

While some of the past I commented on recedes quickly - like the memory of Digital Equipment Corporation - other things, like the matter of when IP telephony will expose some function or value directly to the user, remain fresh. This is of course another illustration of the glacial speed of telephony, especially wireline CPE telephony. My company's next PBX will probably be an IP PBX, but we will still qualify as an "early adopter," and, when asked, we will be hard pressed to answer what specific benefit we derive from owning an IP PBX. Newsletter #17: How to Lie With IP Telephony Statistics In earlier newsletters I discussed some of the technical challenges to IP telephony, particularly IP telephony to the desktop. But when you look at IP telephony in the real world, many of the challenges do not come from the technical aspects of implementing IP telephony or formulating IP telephony products. Instead, the economics of IP telephony and the process of creating IP te

Telirati Newsletter #16

Remember Clipper? Thankfully, in the intervening years strong cryptography has come so far out of the toothpaste tuble it is unlikely ever to return. But in the era of "Patriot" Acts the general warning to be on guard for similar attempts at expanding the surveillance state are valid as ever. Newsletter #16: Bit crime E-commerce and IP telephony require data security that has to withstand challenges that range from a curious colleague in the next cubicle to corrupt foreign government officials out to commit multi-million dollar larceny. In other words, security needs to be secure globally, and cannot rely on the good graces of the laws of developed nations. Now imagine being able to identify and access any telephone conversation from any past time period, between any two parties, at the touch of a button. You would know with complete certainty who the parties were, when they spoke, from which locations, etc. Sound outrageous? This would be the consequence of requirin

Telirati Newsletter #15

Among the insights here are the comparison of the scale of telephony and computing. Although the Internet has grown faster than wireline telephony, the large-scale comparison is still valid today, especially in measuring mobile communication against computers: More than 400 million new mobile handsets each year, and billions of mobile subscribers versus 100 million PCs and hundreds of millions of INternet user. And, since I now work on mobile entertainment products, the roughly hundred-to-one ratio of mobile handsets to game consoles is an even more startling comparison, espcially when considering that connectedness among game consoles, even if it quickly reaches 100% of all game consoles sold, will always remain a tiny fraction of the globally available, mobile, and globally connected numbers of mobile handsets. Newsletter #15: Feedback works Some of the feedback I have enjoyed the most over the course of creating this newsletter has been with a friend who works for Microsoft in

Teirati Newsletter #14

Just five years ago we buried Digital Equipment Corporation. This post-mortem looks at the incidents that led to Digital's demise, and also briefly looks at how voice processing finds it self in a similar bind. The intervening years have, of course, revealed that when Compaq ate digital, it ate poison, and Compaq itself never recovered from the downward momentum of all the lines of business it acquired with Digital. Newsletter #14: Strategies work, until they stop working Recent events in Washington illustrate a point: strategies appear to work until they stop working. While it did not result in a complete catastrophe, it is difficult to see boinking interns as a sustainable practice in the executive branch. Similarly, or perhaps just contemporaneously, the purchase of Digital by Compaq brings to mind once again the long and painful history of how Digital came to decline from the second largest computer company on the planet. Despite the dominance of the PC, it is startling t

Telirati Newsletter #13

While this collection of predictions holds up pretty well, it also shows how little consideration I gave to mobile telephony at the time I wrote it. Newsletter #13: Perception vs. Reality Perception: Microsoft is a boorish, arrogant company that harms your well-being by driving alternative browsers out of the market. It also squeezes PC makers by unfairly requiring them to bundle Internet Explorer with every copy of Windows. Reality: The browser controversy is unimportant. Microsoft’s real weakness, and how they ill-serve their customers the most, is that Microsoft is not set up to be responsive to its customers. The customers I am talking about are the computer manufacturers. They are the ones paying Microsoft for Windows. Retail sales of upgrades, while nice, are not the driving force in Microsoft’s OS revenues. Where Microsoft’s would be competitors should have tried, and either missed the opportunity or failed, is in better serving OEM customers. Little things, like not bo