Some Progress on Wikipedia Editing

Wikipedia has long been suffering from its rather raw “wiki markup” editing experience. The reason is that the underlying software is stuck in the mud and any progress is slow and painful. Right now there is some excitement over progress on the “visual editor” of Mediawiki. As you can see in the video below the look and feel is 2016, while the functionality is still 1999. How we will catch-up with Google Docs or Medium or any reasonable editing experience this way remains a mystery to me.

I want my computer to be as easy to use as my rice cooker

There is a (by now oldish) saying, attributed to Bjarne Stroustrup:

I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone; my wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone.

I used to riff on this with the following variant:

For the sake of my parents, I want their computer to be as easy to use as my rice cooker.

My wish now has come true, as the WSJ reports about the new Mi rice cooker (local copy), which is controlled by a mobile app and needs resetting using a small pin.

The Internet is Eating the Things

A lot of my industry talks emphasize the value of software over hardware because of the significantly higher speed of innovation. In a well run continuous software engineering (DevOps) organization, you can go from commit to production within seconds. Try that with hardware! The feedback you can gather from customers and the market is at least a power of ten faster in software than in hardware, creating a whole new layer of product innovation on top of existing hardware platforms.

I use the following slide to drive home the point, kind of abusing Marc Andreesen (though I bet he would like it), for this purpose.

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Offene Daten und die Deutsche Bahn als Vorbild #opendata #deutschebahn

Die Deutsche Bahn hat letztes Jahr ihr Offene-Daten-Portal (Open Data Portal) ins Web gestellt. Ein erster Schritt und ein wichtiges Angebot, das wahrgenommen werden sollte.

Die Deutsche Bahn ist auch ein Vorbild für Deutschland und Deutsche. Meine Meinung, vereinfacht: Ist die Deutsche Bahn dreckig, fühlt sich Deutschland dreckig; ist die Deutsche Bahn verspätet, bemühen sich Deutsche auch weniger, pünktlich zu Meetings zu kommen.

Die Deutsche Bahn arbeitet zur Zeit stark an Qualitätsverbesserungen, auch als Reaktion auf die Kundenkritik. Was der Deutschen Bahn als erstes unangenehm erscheinen mag (die Kritik) ist aber auch eine Chance: Die Bahn liegt Ihren Kunden weiterhin am Herzen.

Hier kommt dann wieder das Offene-Daten-Portal ins Spiel. Die Deutsche Bahn ist ein großes Unternehmen, aber auch nicht allmächtig. In einen Konzern mit über 500 Tochtergesellschaften und über 2 Milliarden Beförderungen pro Jahr ist viel zu tun. Die offenen Daten der Deutschen Bahn ermöglichen die Entwicklung von innovativen Apps und anderen Diensten durch die Community oder Unternehmen. Mit diesen Apps können Kunden, Partner und auch die Deutsche Bahn einen Beitrag leisten, dass sich Reisende weiterhin in und mit der Bahn wohlfühlen.

The Design Space for Object Creation

While preparing a session on (object-oriented) object creation for my Advanced Design and Programming course, I noticed that there are at least two major ways of looking at how to decide on how to create an object. The traditional way is a (still unwritten) pattern language that utilizes the classic Gang-of-Four object creational patterns (and then some) to guide the developer in designing the object creation process.

Fortunately, object creation has a neatly defined design space with clearly independent dimensions and hence lends itself well to a structured discussion. Without further ado, here are the dimensions of this design space as I see them:

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Things Wrong with my Amazon Echo and Fire Tablet

A while back I gushed about how great the Amazon Echo is. True Star Trek feeling for those who remember. I even bought an Amazon Fire tablet to go with it.

With a couple of months more using the devices, I need to point out their weaknesses.

In a nutshell, if you don’t want to be confined to a closed Amazon software ecosystem, don’t bother buying.

The devices shines with an Amazon Prime subscription, but everything beyond that is just tiresome.

For one, I own a media streamer that is not a big brand one and that does not have a microphone and does not call home to some service. I can’t get Kore, the default remote for the Kodi media streamer I’m using, from the Amazon store. I can side-load it, but why do I have to?

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Amazon Echo and Skype

I’ve been using my Amazon Echo for a couple of months now and I’m still in awe. The speech recognition, without any training, is great. “Alexa, play KQED” is reacted to promptly and will actually play KQED. It is also intuitive. I did not need a manual to try “Alexa, set volume to 3.” It worked right away. Take this from someone who, according to one former boss, still has a strong German accent.

The Echo is still U.S. focused. When asked to play Deutschlandfunk (German public radio), Alexa asked back: “Do you want to play dog sled funk?” As much as I would like to unleash some dog sled funk in my living room, this is not what I what I was asking for. So I got an Amazon Fire tablet and the Alexa app and got DLF to play. Ever paranoid, I intend to eventually switch off voice recognition and/or ban the Echo to my kitchen, as I dislike the thought of having my voice print stored on U.S. American servers.

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Another Take on Explaining Open Source Business Models

Open source remains popular and I find myself explaining the economics of it to ever broader audiences. Rather than talking legalese or philosophy, I’ve been wondering about a pitch that focuses on the high-level strategic objective of the companies that are paying for open source. Here is a short summary; let me know if you think it works.

I’ll start out with disclaimer:

Open source is a tool, not a philosophy. Open source licenses are a legal tool, open source foundations are a governance tool, and open source processes are better ways of developing software. As a consequence, these tools can be used to create very different business models, not just one.

I’ll then launch into the examples:

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