IBM Steps into Gluecode

Open source services company Gluecode got slurped up by IBM this week. It provides custom services to companies who use Geronimo, an open source competitor to IBM’s WebSphere. JBoss is another competitor in this market.

Why would IBM want to buy a company that appears to compete with one of its products? Actually, IBM can’t do much about Geronimo – it’s open source – no easy money there and no way to take it off the market. And they don’t want to go low-end with Websphere – the descent may be endless. So why not buy up the services side? Costly customization is the IBM way.

Video Ads and Mobile Video – Expectations versus Reality

According to Frost and Sullivan, the mobile video market will grow from 28.8 million in 2004 to $1.5B five years later (2009). In addition, mobile providers are intending to capture that market through service offerings (video, ringtones, games). Doesn’t sound like a lot of room for ad revenue.

Penn Media has announced that they intend to place a “proprietary video player” called Vidsense on its network of Web sites to serve video ads and content. “Most sites can’t afford to license content, encode, stream, and sell advertising for their site. Most sites do not have the reach. The Vidsense program takes care of all of this.” ( Jaffer Ali, CEO

So let’s get this straight. They’ve got a hold of some old video content, put ads in them, transcoded them (probably in flash – that’s the easiest although not the best looking), and they’ll put them on your site. You use a little video player (lots of Java players out there) to record the views. They make money from the advertiser on the views and pass a few pennies your way. If the player has a problem, though, it’s probably your problem.

Also, there are the bandwidth issues – to wit, who pays? A reasonably sized video (like a 2 minute flash) is about 4 MBytes, and most hosts will notice if you’re streaming more than two at a time, and charge you accordingly. So those few pennies you make may not offset the bandwidth costs you incur.

I’m all for video – that’s what we do at ExecProducer. We work with publishers and bloggers to create, deploy, and monetize their own current and timely content. Since we’re on the content creation side, we want you to make money on the best quality video we produce and deploy. Google ads may be a better bargain right now if you can’t afford to create and control your own content and revenue stream.

Sun Pats Rump SCO – Tarantella Cashes Out After Lots of Agony

A teeny tiny acquisition announcement brought back a lot of memories today.

Remember Santa Cruz Operation – no, not the SCO you read about fighting IBM and Novell, but the “old SCO”? Bob Greenberg and friends did a very brain-damaged version of Unix for the PC (originally derived from Version 7 and System 3) way back in the dark ages. Bob had done a Version 6 Unix derivative for the RAND Corporation called BobG Unix. The group was spun (thrown? or maybe walked?) out of Microsoft because Microsoft really didn’t want a Unix system if it wasn’t written in BASIC.

In 1982, Intel offered Symmetric Computer Systems CEO and Founder William Jolitz a great deal on 286 processors when he was deciding on processor bids to use in their new workstation funded by Technology Funding Partners (Symmetric’s lead venture firm). There were lots of problems with the 286 and Unix: 1) the instructions were not restartable, so if the operation could not complete (like memory wasn’t loaded) you could not reliably reload the instruction (there were steppings that supposedly could, but you never knew what you’d get), 2) the only way the address space was made large was by the reloading of segments – we’d encountered this problem before with the PDP-11 (William Jolitz work as an undergrad was on overlays for the PDP-11, so he was very familiar with this problem) – performance goes to hell when you move data from overlapping 64 kbyte segments to other segments, with all bets off when you hit an exception during that time, and 3) the calls within the segment and intrasegment calls made for variable sized stack frames, and the way Intel, Microsoft and others agreed on stack frame layout required a major rewrite in Unix – ironically, this made it difficult for early Windows programs derived from DOS as well. From these issues, we knew 286 Unix would never be a successful product, because there were too many compromises to move too many software packages from architectures like the VAX to it. SCO went ahead and made a Xenix based on the 286 – took them three years and a lot of work – and it was still a disappointment.

Search Engine Quirks and Search Engine Jerks

Everyone talks about hot search engine companies, and the next big thing in search (currently locality, with video emerging). But how many search engines are trolling the web, gleaning bits and pieces of the Internet corpus collosseum, and how do they differ in the process by which they search?

Check out Byte Online for the latest Lynne Jolitz article Search Engine Quirks and Search Engine Jerks. Join me today as I give you the “inside the datacenter” view of different search engines, what they like and don’t like, and how to tell the difference between a bona fide Google bot and a bad bot. See you there.

Fun Friday – Fetches, Kvetches, and Hammerlund Catches

Well, it’s Friday so I suppose I should go through the odds and ends catagory. The first item is a story about Rambus latest patent to speed up graphics. Dean Takahashi of the Merc is breathless in his admiration, “Micro-threading is the brainchild of a team of Rambus engineers led by Fred Ware and Craig Hampel. They were trying to figure out a way for memory chips to catch up with microprocessors and personal-computer components that have become faster over the years.” Yes, memory bottlenecks are a problem and they do , and Rambus deals with it.

But what’s their “invention”, really. Instead of one 32-byte fetch, they do 4 8-byte fetches in parallel… this is considered “clever”. Sigh. Actually, they’re very smart at Rambus, but I think they spend way too much time with lawyers (and journalists) and not enough with engineers.

Byte Online decided to rerun my article The Problems of Personalization this month, and I got quite a kvetch from a reader who caught every typo the editor missed. Needless to say, I agreed with him, notified the editor, and had quite a laugh. It’s good when your readers are so involved in your story that a double “and” is grating. So keep my editors on their toes and let me and them know if you find any other problems.

Mike Cassidy of the SJ Merc’s column today on old ham radio antennas brought back memories. Last summer my kids sold my father-in-law’s old Hammarlund HQ-129-X after realizing they were never going to use it (they spent the money on telescope parts). Now that they’ve got the Internet – why bother with radio? They buyer was a nice young undergrad from the Naval Postgraduate School ham club. I was told I could get a lot more for it from a collector, but this kid was really nice, drove over from Monterey and picked it up (it weighed about 40 pounds). So it got a good home and everyone was happy. Well, not quite. The antenna got taken down years ago and scrapped, so it wasn’t part of the deal.

Open Source – The Times They Are A Changing

Three very interesting little open source stories passed my desk recently that I found shone facets on open source issues.

Last week, the Industrial Commercial Bank of China has signed a deal with Unix-clone Turbolinux to run open-source software in all of the bank’s operations. “Linux deployment is growing in China, with software makers targeting segments such as banking, insurance and wireless applications. Intel last year began a program to boost sales in China of desktop computers based on Linux.” Perhaps Microsoft shouldn’t look to China for much market growth.

Meanwhile, domestic open source companies have also been pursuing revenue through maintanance fees. According to Martin LaMonica of Cnet “In the absence of software license fees, open-source companies are adopting a services-intensive business model, accelerating an industrywide shift toward ongoing, rather than up-front, revenue.” Why would anyone want to pay up-front for software, when you can try it out and pay as you go?

Finally, open source companies, the pariahs of venture capitalists, are finally beginning to get some respect. When William Jolitz and I released to the public after 3 years of work in 1992, there was no serious business model for open source companies – especially an operating system. Companies bundled Unix on their brand of hardware, like Sun or Symmetric Computer Systems. Microsoft had the X86 desktop “locked up”. No one could compete with Microsoft by “giving away software”!

But the times, they are a changing. According to Gary Rivlin of the New York Times, “The first time Marc Fleury tried to raise money for his technology start-up company, in mid-2000, a venture capitalist told him that he didn’t have merely a bad business plan but a terrible one. Not only was Fleury planning to compete against the likes of IBM, but his product was open-source software, which he would give away. Four years later, he tried again. His business was still based on the free distribution of code, yet now there was a dogfight among venture capitalists competing to finance his company, called JBoss.In February 2004, JBoss received a combined $10 million from two prominent venture capital firms: Accel Partners in Palo Alto, Calif., and Matrix Partners in Waltham, Mass.”

Who’s Doing the Icon’ing?

So, Steve Jobs got annoyed at a publisher’s attempt to sponge off of his rep and decided to kick out all of Wiley’s books from the Apple stores. Matt Marshall pulls some really funny quotes from the NYTimes from the beleaguered author, a kind of “pity me, I’m an orphan because I killed my parents” defense:

“This guy is out of control,” Mr. Young told the Times, referring to Jobs. “I’m just a little guy. I’m just one of many guys Steve has destroyed over the years,” he added, though it wasn’t clear from the NYT article exactly what he meant. Young added: “He has an amazing ability to con people.”

So does the author, apparently, who according to “the late Jeff Raskin, a former Apple employee”, didn’t mind a bit of imaginative invention himself. As an author myself, I can’t really feel any sympathy for a publisher and author who can’t even pull off a good scam. Steve is better – that’s a surprise?

My take to Matt today:
“Figures you’d get the pathetic cry for sympathy from a hack writer who rehashed a lousy 20 year old book.

But the real problem is Wiley. They’re the ones who got something on the cheap and said “Hey, let’s just respin this – who’s gonna do anything about it?” Well, guess they found out. 🙂

Maybe Wiley should pay a *real* writer to do a bio. Isn’t Silicon Valley worth the insight and talent of a Tom Wolfe or a Ken Kesey – or a Tracy Kidder, who’s “Soul of a New Machine” captured the sheer thrill of competition in the computer industry?

I think after changing the world, innovators in Silicon Valley deserve a real writer for a change. Put the hacks on the throw-away Britney Spears bios, and give us the literary positioning we deserve.”