On dry ground wearing dry clothes

Runa had posted about our travel in monsoon. A group of people from the Mumbai office were stuck at the beginning of the Eastern Express Highway at Sion from Tuesday (26th) 1900 hours till Wednesday (27th) till 0745. We decided to walk it out to Vikhroli (where Venky has judiciously bought a flat), had some tea and then went to respective places. That was a nearly 12km walk in belly deep water and pouring rain.

Currently, I am at Satish’s place – waiting for the time to go to office. 94.32 cms is the record rainfall in a single day eclipsing previous best of 83.43 at Cherrapunji during 1910.

By the way, this is being written using the Reliance connection which seems to be working ok.

Make your own CD

marcus.bauer at gmail dot com writes that:

Creating a customized GNOME liveCD yourself is easy and takes just a
few minutes of time:

It involves three simple steps:

1. download and unpack http://project77.info/gnomelive/liveCD-0.2.tgz
2. ./make_livecd.sh en en_US
3. burn the resulting .iso onto a CD-ROM and enjoy!

You can customise in an effortless way:

* the default language
* background images (boot splash, gnome splash, desktop)
* add sample files to the Desktop
* add and remove packages

Uneasy lies the head…

The recent issue of Businessworld has an interesting insight on the symbiotic relationship between eBay the company and eBay the community [membership login required]. Providing a sort of loving insider’s view of the economy model of eBay, it provides tremendous insights into how service delivery platforms are influenced in unthinkable ways by end user consumption of services. What started off as a trivial buy-n-sell forum is in many cases the bread-earner for families. In a fascinating number of instances, the power of eBay the model has been brought across to the board members of eBay the company. So why talk about eBay today ?

Simply because for a economy model that revolves around a broad base of user community, it is important for the focal company to be agile and receptive to ideas. The experiences of eBay are not of User Driven Innovation (something that I keep on talking about ever so often) but of User Focussed Business Model. In a service driven economy, the variables of service delivery (from operations to processes) can be replicated and provided at a knockdown cost. What remains as the only differentiator is the way in which flux is handled. eBay has learnt its lessons (and still learning them) by burning its fingers once too often. But what sets eBay the company apart is the eagerness to respond to user pressure. Success in a community based model is really a measure of the user footprint. Being nimble enough to respond and being sensitive enough to properly convey the message is required. Long back when we were discussing about productisation of FLOSS services consultancy, the only thing that kept nagging was the means of differentiation and the focus area of the consultancy. Looking back, I can see how naive we were. The differentiation onus is not on the parent but embracing the practical feedback is the parent company’s.

And perhaps this is one way the Indic L10n process model can grow…

Linux and Audio Production: Simplicity Required

Linux and Audio Production: Simplicity Required

The second issue is usability. Multi-track tools are renowned for being complex to use. This complexity is not necessarily an issue with the concept of recording audio into tracks, but the issue of having the requisite knowledge to spit shine the track with EQ, dynamics an effects to get the best out if it. This knowledge sits outside of the application. The same can be said for IDE’s – creating a project in an IDE is fairly straightforward; the challenge lies with understanding the code – an entirely separate issue.

One more time – Let’s go for a complete desktop

Hmm…here we go again. This time it is a rant about why we should attempt to make a localised desktop complete. So why is completeness important ? Or more precisely, why is this important now ?

In the light of the analysis of everyday incidents, and their very remarkable conclusions drawn in The Tipping Point – it is easy to see why a complete Linux desktop is in the offing. For a moment, just think about the wild upswing of Firefox. It started as a trickle and then slowly turned into rolling thunder gathering tremendous momentum along the way. Now that the initial spate has tapered off, a study of Firefox downloads might provide greater insight into the number of people upgrading Firefox. The upgrade part is important. Since each upgrade represents in some ways an incremental feature enhancement, the increasing usage of higher versions (for repeat consumers) would signify the need to have more feature creep into the software development model.

What would be the ideal desktop in any local language ? At any point in time this is a difficult question to answer. Currently more so than ever. Indic L10n shows remarkable maturity skew when it comes to desktop environments and the various development libraries. Choosing either GNOME or KDE immediately limits the number, type and user interface of applications one can have on the desktop. That said, both GNOME and KDE ship with a number of redundant applications, or applications which collectively make a lot of sense but fail individually in terms of feature value. The ideal localised desktop could aim to be modular in terms of applications. The concept is to replicate the stack model made popular by Senpai and Spikesource and extend it to the desktop space. A base set of applications which provide for comprehensive localisation would enable a lot more usage of it than one which provides an unstructured collection of applications.

What could be the basic stack of applications ? To begin with, one needs to look into providing the following: a user manager, a system services administration tool, a web browser (with plug-ins enabled), a ftp client, a mail client, a downloader program, an office suite, a task manager, basic games (card, strategy and the like), sound and video player and graphics tools. In a normal day, these are the applications a normal user would be more likely to use.

To begin with, one could make a list of the L10n status for each of these top-level categories so as to enable one to create a prototype desktop. A tentative plan for the same was unveiled as GRIND. Already GRIND has thrown up some interesting side tracks in the form of Senpai and the Koha stuff. One only has to wait and see how it goes further.

Reading Books

I have an odd habit of purchasing a book and then just rushing someplace to sit down with it and leaf through. Last week I read through Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time. I am still reading it for the second time and I must say that it has been a very humbling experience. I would recommend this for anyone who wishes to start off a new business venture that is customer facing and based on service delivery. Sure, the products might not be the same as Starbucks, but the engine of growth that runs through a customer service industry is the same everywhere – generating Customer Delight

For some time now, I have been trying to figure out what makes software services companies in the FLOSS space tick and how should they carry out business to enable them to sustain themselves. I have known too many companies starting off with very adrenaline ambitions only to peter out within 2 quarters. FLOSS is a technology driven space – and this is where the catch lies. FLOSS based business should not be driven by the lure of every moving target technology, but based on a solid foundation of core concepts. Figuring out what one can be the absolute best at takes sometime. But once that exercise is complete, building on the foundation through discplined action is just a matter of natural follow-up. Discpline must prevail at all levels of service delivery chain – from making the first proposal to getting recurring revenue out of an account. Taking a look at these chaps might be a good idea. Additionally, if you do have access to a good library, go get this book. It is worth every moment you spend on it.

Finally, anyone who can provide me with a download link from the Project Gutenberg site for The Seven Pillars of Wisdom would be profusely thanked.