There’s an article at Mercury News about Motorola licensing the tracking technology that Wheels of Zeus has been working on. I wrote about WoZ in a recent entry here. What I found interesting about the article in Mercury News was that Wozniak would like to see this deployed more as a standalone system rather than getting it hooked into other information networks. I think I could see why he’s positioned that way, given what I’ve heard about wOzNET being focused on preventing issues with missing children. But it also could remove it from the playing field of location based services in general, and could leave some significant value on the table for others to snap up.
There’s a service called TagAndScan available now in the UK. It allows users to leave entries tied to a location, which other users of the service can then come back and view later on. I think of it like a blog with geolocation information, which is something that a number of people have been working on. Of course I would like to see something setup where people can use this information without being tied to a particular service provider (and having to pay to add entries). I won’t go into the details about why, I think I’ve already spouted off a bit too much recently regarding my views on companies and their ability to drive the front edge of innovation. But I would point out that while TagAndScan sounds like a really cool service (and kudos to them for deploying a service like this that users seem to be able to access easily), I would point other developers to projects like GeoURL, which attempt to get users to add geolocation info to their pages, and then provide a way to lookup local info. I would like to work on a palm app that can lookup your location based on address, then use geourl to find places near you and provide hookins to the browsers to allow viewing those locations. Should be pretty simple given what I’ve seen, but I’m still a bit of a geolocation newbie. Others who are interested, please contact me or leave a comment here.
I’ve been kicking around the idea for the Open Palm Environment project for a while now. I registered the project on Sourceforge in September of last year, so it’s been at least three months that I’ve really been actively mulling over the different aspects of the project. Not very long in the grand scheme, but I’ve turned over and played with lots of ideas during that time. I wanted to try to take a bit of time to write some of them down. In part to share them, but also to try to lay them bare and try to organize them.
I went over to the MacWorld expo today. I’m not a regular Mac user, I just wanted to go. I think the newest Mac operating systems kick ass. Pretty and functional AND stable GUI over a rock solid kernel. This is what computing should be. I’m a Linux user, thru and thru. Have been for 10 years. But I’m always on the lookout for cool new stuff. New Macs made it onto the radar. And Mac addicts are always spouting off about how Macs are just an amazing system compared to any form of Windows system. Well.. that is true, but cinder blocks make better desktop systems than Windows PCs do. So that point just doesn’t impress me.
There’s an article at Gadgetopia in response to a discussion about piracy and the general economic effects. The discussion centers around the inflated numbers that are thrown around by commercial developers in order to justify the laws they need to get passed. Some interesting points are raised, especially that most pirate users probably wouldn’t pay full price no matter what. The conclusion I draw from this is that the people hurt the most by piracy might actually be open source projects. Piracy draws potential interest away from free/open source alternatives when users are able to pick up pirated versions of commercial apps. The open source projects lose the marketing effect the user might have, a potential tester and developer, and the pride brought about by swelling ranks of users. Maybe we should help corporations crack down on piracy. They would just end up driving users to the competition and help to fill out the open source projects they compete with. I for one would love to see that.
There’s an article at Groklaw by the General Counsel of Red Hat Inc. about what exactly open source software is, the groundings of open source in copyright law, and how those rights are managed by open source licenses to enact the different goals embodied in different types of open source projects. It lays down the different types of licenses, and goes into detail about the GPL. It also lists some of the common myths about open source and why they’re really just myths, and lays down some best practices for companies working with or on open source. Certainly worth a read.
I was wandering around looking for info about why it is that my old Palm m515 doesn’t work with some WAP sites, and I ran across Kannel, an open source WAP and SMS gateway. I still haven’t figured out what the hell the deal is with the Palm, but at least now I can pass requests through a local gateway rather than just having to rely on sniffing the requests sent to the gateway. This is one of the many annoyances of WAP, one that I had forgotten about. Your request has to go out to some third party on the Internet, who then passes the request along to the person who actually fulfills it. Not a big deal, proxies exist all over the place, right? Well, what if you’re a developer, and you suspect that the gateway you’re sending the request through is mangling it for some reason? Unless you’re running the service that you’re accessing as well, you normally can’t see that. But with Kannel, I can. So here’s throwing some props their way. I was able to download the package, compile, setup the wap gateway, and pass requests around. I still have lots of debugging to do, but at least now I can do it. Schweet.
The Stanford Palm Users Group meets on the first Tuesday of each month, the next meeting is Jan 6th 2004. The page for it isn’t regularly updated, but the group is alive. I know a lot of you probably got cool new toys to play with this holiday. Come on out and talk about the cool stuff you want to get them to do.
Today most of my time was taken up fooling around with getting the XMLRPC library for the Open Palm Environment at least chugging along. It’s shaping up pretty quick, but I know it will be at least a couple of days worth of work before I have it parsing actual XMLRPC requests. Parts of this are due to my still being pretty recently returned to Palm programming. The work I’ve done on Vagablog is just about the only serious Palm work I’ve done in the last 3 years or so. So I’m still getting back into it. And this is also the first time in a while that I’m starting a low level XML parser from scratch. Normally, when working on desktop systems, writing on top of the expat style stream parser interface isn’t done any more. You use a DOM based interface, or grab one of a number of existing projects and massage it into a new form.
There’s an entry in Tim O’Reilly’s blog regarding the evolution of software into systems that link together services running on multiple devices. I think would prove particularly beneficial for mobile computing. Personally, I don’t care for the sync-to-the-desktop model that devices like Palm handhelds try for. I would much rather see applications that allow for handhelds to serve as smaller access portals to the same applications which are used from desktops. Keeping the PDA in the role of a desktop peripheral kills much of the value I think a portable device can add. However, I do agree that most applications aren’t well suited to any other form of use currently. A move in the direction of the kinds of services that Tim describes there would get us a bit closer.
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