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Bad Penguin: “Linux – The OS I’ll – eventually – wear”: Kim Bach – still Mac user :-(

Bad PenguinClick here for the most popular videos

So I thought that Linux was ready for prime time, but not just yet – it was hurting my productivity too much :-(. I need some help setting my system up, and will attempt to get that when I soon will attend LinuxParty in Roskilde.

It did make for a couple of interesting Jaiku presense stream though (Kim Bach: Former Mac user and Installing Ubuntu on my new Lenovo V100 – Firefox on WiFi from the Live CD while my drive partitions. Have I died and gone to heaven?.

Performance of the applications is really great though, and I hit on one of the biggest obstacles, non-functioning DVD playback due to patent issues – really amazing that the International anti-thrust organisations haven’t looked into that :-(.

I hope to return to the Linux world soon, Ubuntu keeps improving

But the future really lies in simpler technology, and “the puck” is moving elsewhere than the monolithic computer. My mobile is increasingly my primary Internet access terminal, and Apple might just have got it right with the iPhone. The iPhone is actually much more Linux than people realise, it’s powered by FreeBSD and contains source code form from several open source projects, most noticeably KHTML which is the basis for the Safari browser.

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“Linux! The last OS you’ll ever wear”: Kim Bach – Former Mac user

Bad Apple

Overheard during Software Freedom Day 2007, September 15th in Copenhagen, Denmark:

I don’t know much about Linux! And you’re an open source activist?

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LinuxParty – LinuxParty

Linuxparty?Action=Attachfile&Do=Get&Target=Linuxpartydklogo
LinuxParty – LinuxParty
LinuxParty kan måske blive sjovt i år

Da jeg skal til at “spise hundemad”, har jeg seriøst brug for hjælp, hvad mon der sker hvis man medbringer en “pristine” Vista maskine, og slipper nørderne løs med at gøre den til den sejeste Linux kværn i byen!

Jeg skal nok give et par omgange gutter!

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Moonlighting: Microsoft Delivers Silverlight 1.0, Extends Support to Linux

Microsoft Silverlight LogoMicrosoft Delivers Silverlight 1.0, Extends Support to Linux: “Entertainment Tonight” HSN and World Wrestling Entertainment showcase new online experiences; more than 35 partners commit to Silverlight Partner Initiative.

REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 4, 2007 — Microsoft Corp. today released to the Web (RTW) Silverlight™ 1.0, a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering richer user experiences on the Web. In addition, Microsoft will work with Novell Inc. to deliver Silverlight support for Linux, called Moonlight, and based on the project started on mono-project.com.

Silverlight significantly reduces development and deployment costs and provides enhanced Web audio and video streaming and playback using industry-leading Windows Media® Technologies. Microsoft unveiled new Silverlight customer experiences on “Entertainment Tonight,” HSN and World Wrestling Entertainment, and also launched the Silverlight Partner Initiative, a program designed to foster collaboration among solution providers, content delivery networks, tools vendors and design agencies.

“Our expectations for compelling, immersive experiences on the Web are increasing daily,” said Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief software architect. “With today’s release of Silverlight 1.0, we’re making it possible for developers and designers to deliver to individuals the kind of high-def experiences they crave by integrating data and services in rich and unique ways. Silverlight will further accelerate the growth in rich interactive applications by giving developers and designers new options for delivering great experiences that span the Web, PC, phone and other devices.”

I think my jaw just hit the floor, this exceeds my wildest dreams – let’s hope that it’s not just that – and that it will materialise.

This is the validation that the Mono Project needed! Flash will now – finally – get serious competition – or rather a run for it’s money – from a company that understands, and listens to, developers (no “monkey dance” here – they just do!).

It’s WONDERFUL news. GO RAY OZZIE, Microsoft will be “insanely great” – unlike “another” company – that no longer has ANY interest in computers!!!

And guess what: I just started as a Microsoft developer again – seems that I got the timing right.

Get Silverlight 1.0 here (yes: it’s ALSO for the Mac)…

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Blogs Computere og Internet Kim Blog (English) Open Source Technology

Format Wars – Return of the Jedi – RELOADED – Come to your senses Microsoft

OH HAPPY DAY!!! I’m very happy, relieved and surprised: Microsoft Office Open XML (MSOOXML) has FAILED – yes that is F-A-I-L-E-D – to win approval at the vote in the International Organisation for Standardisation – ISO.

Microsoft is in “Neverland”, and sort of claims victory, and their official press release is titled “Strong Global Support for Open XML as It Enters Final Phase of ISO Standards Process” and the comment from the OOXML community site, OpenXML Community reads:

Results of this ballot:

* 87 countries participated in the process: 69 voted Yes or No (51 countries voted in favor*, 18 voted against) and 18 Abstained.
* 41 of 41 P members took part in the vote, meeting the 50% participation requirement for those members.
* Open XML received 53% (17 of 32) of the required two-thirds voting Yes or No, falling 5 short of this requirement (22 Yes votes out of 32 Yes or No votes would have met the requirement).
* Overall, 26% (18 of 69) of countries voted No, one vote over the threshold of no more than 25% of No votes (17 or fewer No votes out of 69 Yes or No votes would have met this requirement).

Microsoft remains optimistic that Open XML will meet the above ISO/IEC requirements after the comments submitted by the National Bodies have been addressed during the upcoming ballot resolution period.

Notice the asterix (*), yes they snapped out of it, and realised what had actually happened:

* Note: 32 ISO members voted in favor of Open Document Format (ODF) 1.0 at the end of its process and 15 ISO members supported PDF/A-1 at the end of its process.

Groklaw helped doing the math for Microsoft:

Microsoft is, of course, counting P and O members in one bunch. The actual percentages go like this:

  • P-Members voting: 17 in favor out of 32 = 53.12% (requirement >= 66.66%)
  • Member bodies voting: 18 negative votes out of 69 = 26.08%
  • Disapproved

“Return of the Jedi – RELOADED”: The Empire is under pressure, there’s going to be a sequel, stay tuned, we do indeed live in interesting times.

France has an interesting proposal: Simply merge ODF and MSOOXML

My take on this is:

Microsoft: Come to your senses! Admit defeat! Spare the world, and your shareholders the agony of this stupid format war and MOVE ON.

It’s really very simple Microsoft: Just document ALL your formats, including the old binary Office formats, and we can declare victory for humanity in this STUPID war.

More on format wars and “the Jedi of the Internet” from yours truly.

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“Hello Kitty” – Leopards are KEWL but I want something CUTE (and FREE)

Baby Clouded LeopardAfter being AWOL from Macnyt – lurking and being EXTREMELY bored with what was going on there, I’m, Bach! (For a short notice I think…)

Poor new user BTW. I have since repented and answered on-topic. Sometimes we’re not too friendly to new users @ Macnyt – thank you for pointing that out Cathrine – and read on! This is not as boring as usual – ah maybe it is – or rather: “it has no interest what-so-ever” to you ;-))”.

Well, a common Macnyt scenario (when I’m involved;-)), unfolded:

It started by me “thread-jacking” a serious discussion about “if you should wait for the next version of Mac OS X: Leopard to buy a Mac, in order to save a few – 129 actually – bucks” (:: macnyt :: danmark :: – Leopard eller Tiger) (a frequent – and ANNOYING – asked question BTW. Come on: if you need a computer get it ASAP – Leopard will not improve your creativity significantly compared to Tiger, but a MacBook Pro most likely will – to quote Ben Hammersley: “Da Vinci would have killed for a PowerBook”).

“Hello Kitty”

Well, the thread took a major turn, and we began discussing “cats” (and Nintendo DS – but I’ll save that for another time)!

I think that Leopards are KEWL, much more so than Tigers, and I also found out that they’re TOO CUTE (for proof look here: Clouded Leopard Project – Babies, from where the picture for this article was taken).

But “we’re” running out of names for “cats”: Puma, Cheeta, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger and Leopard already in use , so I began throwing ideas for new names for Mac OS X around, suggesting Felix, Norwegian Forrest Cat – and indeed it turned out that a lot of people already had ideas like that (and one I – and others – had in mind actually feel victim to self-censorship ;-)).

Mac OS X 10.6 – “Garfield” (LOL) would be great, and a computer that refused to start on Mondays would not be such a bad idea after all, even though edible drives made from Lasagna might not. But really: the current batch of Macs are “obese” as it is, they need to go on a diet, something Garfield will NEVER do.

Anyways…This made me think that Apple should create a CUTE version of Mac OS and call it:

Mac OS X 10.6: “Hello Kitty”

Here kitty, kitty, kitty…Ubuntu killed the cat

My good buddy Esben was quick to point out that Gibbons and Fawns are WAY KEWLer than Cats, and would have a brighter future, if some big players like Adobe agreed.

Shuttleworth could maybe “forget some boxes” at Adobes offices, if there’s still room next to “boxes” Steve already has “forgotten” there.

CS on Linux would be the ultimate “Cat killer”. Actually I think this is bound to happen, Adobe is looking for new markets, and ways to distance themselves from Microsoft and Apple, and with the increasing support for Linux that Adobe is rolling out (Flash and Apollo), I’m optimistic, and Shuttleworth can keep spending his money on Ubuntu.

Apple should fear that day, all they will be left with is Microsoft Office.

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How to implement native Danish spell-checking in Mac OS X – Apple: steal it, I’ll post bail

Bad Apple

A discussion on the Danish Macintosh community, Macnyt, about the missing native Danish spell-checking in Mac OS X, let me to speculate on what it would take to implement it. Apple you’re more than welcome to steal it, and I’ll even post bail ;-).

NOTE to Danish Mac users: What follows will not give you native (Danish) spell-checking in Mac OS X, but it describes what I believe would be required, by Apple, to implement it.

What? No Danish?

Apple’s Mac OS X comes with a very nice, integrated spell-checking service. Unfortunately there’s no support for the Danish language, and this omission hits all Mac OS X applications that plug into Mac OS X for their spell checking services. This excludes Microsoft Office:mac and most open source software like Open Office and NeoOffice, that has their own spell checkers, but it hits all system applications as well as Apple’s own iLife, IWork and most other 3rd party applications.

I know from experience that this is a major issue with Danish Mac users, the question surfaces again and again.

cocoAspell to the rescue

The current solution is to install cocoAspell, a Mac OS X wrapper for the Aspell open source spell checker, and download the Danish dictionary. If you understand Danish, you can also get help from Æbletræet and this detailed guide (ZIP file) made by a Macnyt user.

Unfortunately that is not something the average person knows how to do, and it’s relatively complicated.

How to implement native Danish spell-checking in Mac OS X

So here it is: This is what I have found out, that it would take to implement native Danish spell checking in Mac OS X.

From an implementation point-of-view, it looks like it is quite straightforward.

Everything is located in the AppleSpell.service package, that is located in /System/Library/Services.

The file is organised like a .app package, first a Contents folder, that contains a Resources and a Mac OS X folder, along with a PkgInfo file and some .plist files.

Each supported language is represented by an entry in a .plist file called info.plist located in Contents, and a .lproj folder located in Contents/Resources.

The .lproj folder contains two files, one is called bindict, the other Dictionary.dat.

Problem: bindict and Dictionary.dat are binary files, and I haven’t been able to locate ANY documentation of the formats.

Step-by-step guide (for the Apple engineers):

  1. Get a copy of the “Store Danske Ordliste”
  2. Organise it “in a manner that is compatible with your indexing software” (this is the hard part, and I’m sure you could get community involvement in this).
  3. Run it through your indexing application (or lend us a copy)
  4. Create a new AppleSpell.service package
  5. Add the entry for Danish to the Contents/info.plist file
  6. Add a folder for Danish language to Contents/Resources
  7. Add the bindict and Dictionay.dat files created by the indexing application to the folder for Danish language
  8. Replace the old AppleSpell.service package with the new
  9. Ask the Danish Mac community to help test it
  10. Release it with the next, minor, update of Mac OS X

I estimate that it would take no longer than 1 man-week to implement and test this – so Apple come on

p.s.. do you really need to reinvent the wheel?

In many ways cocoAspell, is a better and, not least, open solution, so Apple you should really consider the alternative: drop the native spell-checker and embrace cocoAspell, there’s really no need to reinvent the wheel is there?

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Spammers beware: The Karmic laws will “haunt” you

I’ve hosted a wiki on my website (http://www.kimbach.org/wiki) for some time now, and in keeping with my ideals, that states that participation should be as easy as possible, it was totally open. Notice the past tense: this morning I decided to edit the configuration files, and I now require registration if you want to edit articles on the wiki.

“Low maintenance”

The old, and totally open, setup was partly inspired by the “Co-Creation Rules” session @ reboot 8. In the discussions I had “post-boot” with the hosts of the session, we discussed that “low maintenance” was key to running a successful, participatory, site.

Stop Hand“Low maintenance” means that you create as low barriers as possible to avoid turning users away, e.g. allowing updates and comments without requiring the user to register, or in any other way surrender personal information.

There’s a major problem with “low maintenance” however: Even an uninteresting wiki, like mine, received an increasing amount of vandalism and spam, so I had to spend more and more time reverting vandalism. That’s the reason I’ve decided to require that you register and login, before you can contribute to my wiki.

I’m quite sad about this, but it’s out of necessity – I just don’t have the time to keep it clean.

Spammers beware: The Karmic laws will “haunt” you

So “thank” you spammers and vandals – I don’t really care too much – since it’s your “karma” that will be taking a serious beating for your actions.

Yes to “Low maintenance”, but for me.

If I was running a corporate wiki, and had the resources to patrol the articles, I’d still recommend as low maintenance as possible for the users. However, for personal websites – like mine – it’s just too stressful.

Spam prevention tools should be in the MediaWiki core (and they might be in the latest and greatest versions – which I can’t use because my host doesn’t support PHP5 :-(), and it should work much like Akismet integration in WordPress, which quite simply, is amazing. Akismet is a webservice, that you can query and update to prevent spam comments on weblogs, and it really (understatement) works in WordPress.

Akismet of hope

Without Akismet I would seriously have considered closing my website, since I received something like 1 spam comment every minute – instantly that disappeared when I activated Akismet.

But for now my wiki will remain high-maintenance for users and low-maintenance for me.

You’re still more than welcome to participate in my public Projects through the wiki, but it does require registration now.

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Urban: Marie Østerbye har svært ved at huske sine kodeord – lad os hjælpe hende!

Marie Østerbye fra Urbans bagside kommer med nogle spændende og relevante betragtninger i hendes klumme Indtast venligst…Øh? fra Urban den 11-Juni-2007.

Uden at vide det (tror jeg) rammer hun faktisk hele den digitale verden hårdt og præcist, og hun giver os da en klar udfordring, der kan opsummeres med dette:

“Hvorfor skal vi have alle de kodeord, et burde da være nok”.

Vigtigheden af at have et sikkert system til vores digitale infrastruktur kan ikke undervurderes, og det er uhyggeligt at folk føler sig så utrygge, og det med god ret, ved at gemme kodeord på deres computere.

Problemet skyldes egentlig web-browseren, der aldrig har været tænkt som en platform til at køre deciderede programmer, og problemet er at stort samtlige hjemmesider har udviklet deres egne systemer til login, uden at tænke over standardisering.

Til jeres og Marie Østerbyes information, kan jeg oplyse om at der foregår en hel del standardiseringsarbejde på dette felt, bla. i offentligt regi, hvor det også hører hjemme, selvom løsninger det offentlige tidligere har promoveret, som f.eks. digital signatur, ikke fået den udbredelse som forventet.

Der forgår bla. et godt arbejde i projekter som OpenID, der er et åbent, decentralt og frit system til bruger-centreret digital identitet, der får stigende støtte i f.eks. open source miljøet, og listen over software der bruger OpenID vokser.

Så der er håb forude, selv om jeg nu ikke tror det kommer fra folk som Janus Friis, William Henry Gates III og Steve Jobs – som Marie Østerbye håber på – men man kan jo håbe at de følger trop, eller tvinges til at gøre det, hvis der kommer nogle åbne standarder.

De nævnte mennesker er ganske vist meget interesseret i at folk kun bruger et enkelt kodeord, men det skal naturligvis være til de tjenester de selv tjener penge på (hhv. Skype og Joost, MSN og iTunes).

Så jeg tror virkelig på at Marie Østerbye meget snart kan nøjes med at huske et kodeord, nemlig det til hendes computer, men lad os tage os sammen og sørge for at det sker.

Der er i øvrigt intet mere kedeligt end at udvikle systemer til bruger identifikation – je’ ve’ det je’ har gjort det – så kære udviklere: spar besværet, sæt jer ind i standarderne og nyd det gode vejr, i stedet for at sidde inde og genopfinde hjulet.

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Net Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

In the beginning the digital world was a big wasteland, with scattered oases. These oases were called Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes), driven by “crazy” people that spent their savings on dial-up connections, so they could provide support for a local BBS oasis.

Episode IV: A new hope

And it was relatively quiet for a long long time.

Then something happened, the oases began “trading” information, and information began flowing between the oases, making it possible to talk to people from all over the world.

This was all being build by a volunteer workforce, and different languages were being spoken – depending on the software used to run the “oasis”. This meant that the different systems used to run the oasis, couldn’t really trade information between “borders”, and since it was all based on scheduled windows of information trade, due to the expensive dial-up connections, delivery of information was sometimes very slow, and could take many days.

“The Internet” changed all that. That was because it established “traffic-rules” that guide it. The rules are invented, or rather proposed and ratified through RFCs (Internet standards are suggested by so called RFCs – Request For Comments), in an entirely open review process, ensuring that information can flow freely. Another important difference between the rather disconnected world of the BBS oases, and the Internet, was that the Internet servers were always accessible, ensuring instant exchange of information.

Having established the traffic rules, the world could be “paved” with a computer network, driven by the military, research and governmental institutions of the world.

But it was still relatively quiet.

That was until 1991 when Tim Berners-Lee (TBL) came up with the simplicity of the Uniform Resource Locator (URL), that meant that all information could be refered to (linked to) using a simple string of text. You all know that as the address with the strange http:// in front. That is a URL.

HTTP is an acronym for HyperTextTransferProtocol – and HyperText documents are the documents that you download when you browse the web. HyperText Documents are formatted in a “language” called HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language). HTML is a pure text and human-readable document format, making it possible to apply attributes to text like bold and italics using nothing but a lowly text-editor, that usually comes bundled with the operating system (e.g. Notepad on Windows, TextEdit on Mac OS X and vi/EMACS on *UX).

TBL wrote the first web-browser, and the Internet instantly became usable. That was due to the intuitive document metaphor, and the fact that the web-browser ran under a user graphical interface, made away with the text commands, that was mostly used for navigating the web, before the web-browser was introduced.

Deployment of the web and e-mail applications was swift.

I remember talking for months with partners on how to trade information (exchange files). Usually we set up dial-up connections to local computers running either terminal emulation software with X, Y og Z-Modem protocols, or later more advanced things like cc:Mail.

Then suddenly, within the span of a few months in 1996, we all had Internet @ e-mail addresses – it was astonishing, and it’s really hard to believe that you had to send disks to your costumers a mere 10 years ago.

It didn’t take me long to discover the feature of the web-browser called “view source”, and that was how I learned HTML.

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

The Internet, and before that the BBSes, has always, despite it’s roots in the military, been a place for free-thinkers, and in parallel with the grass-roots, a number of commercial systems for online communications existed, CompuServer, Prodigy later AOL. They all relied on dial-up access – you know using the modems that made the whining fax-machine sounds – to their servers, and had expensive subscription-plans that made it possible to tap into a community of experts.

William Henry Gates The Third – amongst others – saw this clearly, and wrote about it, at great lengths, in his quite visionary book: “The Road Ahead”. Bill Gates saw the power of online services, and wanted to take the next version of Windows, Windows 95, to the next level, by providing seamless integration with an online service called MSN – The Microsoft Network. Microsoft also wanted to provide the entire infrastructure, including access-points and network access subscription plans.

Controlling the desktop entirely, MSN should have been a tremendous success, but at the same time, 1995, the Internet had gained critical mass, and MSN didn’t happen, and by the time “The Road Ahead” was issued, Bill Gates had realised that the Internet might actually become the ubiquitous network, “the information superhighway”, that he envisioned, and Bill Gates was getting ready to turn the supertanker, that is Microsoft, around.

While MSN was sitting idle, a number of implementations of the web-browser had been released, especially the company Netscape had success and had become the de-facto web-browser.

Bill Gates didn’t like that, he wanted Windows 95 to tap into MSN, and this was difficult, because Netscape, by default, sent their users to the Netscape home-page.

A leaked internal memo described the plan – “how do we leverage the fact that we own the desktop”? The answer was simple, bundle the browser with the operating system, and give it away – that will surely kill Netscape, since they charge for it.

And that was exactly what happened! Netscape lost the war, Microsoft had won, they owned the desktop, the browser (Internet Explorer market share topped at something like 95%) and MSN had finally found it’s market due to the IM client for MSN that is also bundled with the operating system.

And despite the fact that Microsoft actually was found guilty in monopolistic practices, they just kept on going, and the change of US administration in 2001, only meant that the judgement against Microsoft never really materialised, and didn’t account for more than a slap on the wrist.

The ability of Microsoft to change strategy was amazing, the supertanker did a 180 in a very short timeframe. Microsoft also managed to make Windows much more manageable, effectively killing off the concept of the Network Computer, the PC and Windows had grown up, and it became the cornerstone of the digital world.

Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi

But something surprising happened. Microsoft became lazy, complacent, and arrogant. Microsoft was also under constant attack from “terrorists” that targeted their operating systems, binding developer resources, that should be working on the next version of Windows, now known as Vista. Vista was supposed to be the long promised nirvana of Cairo, but constant delays and de-scoping of important features like WinFS, means that Vista ended up being little more than a point-release

Internet Explorer and Windows had been sitting idle for 5 years, the bugs in it becoming more and more annoying, and the security patches kept coming in, an ever increasing stream.

During that time Bill Gates also seemed to loose interest in Microsoft, focusing more and more on his reputation for posterity, being the greatest philanthropist in the history of humankind.

This relative absence of Microsoft meant that opportunities for alternatives opened wide. Netscape finally had success with their open source efforts, and released Firefox, the KHTML project from KDE (desktop environment for *UX) had been adopted by Apple with the Safari browser and now it’s even finding it’s way to Windows. The Opera browser runs great on basically anything from desktop computers over gaming consoles to cellphones, meaning that there’s an alternative browser even for embedded OSes, like Windows Mobile, Symbian and Nintendo DS.

Linux has also seen tremendous growth, and philantropic projects like Ubuntu has started spreading Linux to the desktop. Linux is no longer hiding in the back-office, and the dark rooms of the geeks.

Linux is also on the rise as an embedded OS, with Maemo and OpenMoko, and the amazing project XO, formerly known as One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), the brainchild of Nicholas Negroponte, that promises to bring computing to the children of the developing world, by thinking different.

I can’t wait for the children to start creating Wikipedia entries, blogging, sharing pictures, making music, digital art and writing books. Imagine what they can do when they grow up!

And with social web-applications and Wi-Fi access becoming universal, we don’t really need complicated OSes for our day to day computing tasks, and a new class of devices will help us shed the shackles of the anachronism, the desktop computer. If you doubt me, try to take a look at Flickr, it’s better at organising information, than your desktop operating system.

Another frontier is open standards, especially document standards are being debated. The closed standards are history, and no matter who wins the “format wars” (that I’ve written about earlier), completely closed de-facto standards for documents, is going to become a closed, and very dark, chapter in the history of computing.

The Jedi of the BBS has returned…

…may the Force be with you.

Free at last, free at last, God all-mighty we’re free at last!

ps. I know there’s episodes I, II and III, and I might write about the prequel – even though the Star Wars prequels weren’t that succesful – and Microsoft might be down, but they’re not out. I have tremendous respect for Ray Ozzie, the current Chief Software Architect at Microsoft, and the Internet Explorer team and the Mac Business Unit are doing great applications.

So there might also be a sequel: “Episode VII: Developers, Developers, Developers” – stay tuned – it will be fascinating – we do indeed live in interesting times.