Too Many Points of Failure (at Theranos)

I just finished reading John Carreyrou’s book Bad Blood, which presents the story of the rise and fall of one-time Silicon Valley unicorn Theranos through his eyes as the journalist who broke the story. In case you missed it: Theranos was a healthcare company promising to sell a machine that could perform quickly and reliably a large number of blood tests needed by medical doctors to aid their patient care. The hitch: The technology never worked and Theranos managed to hide this from investors and the public for a long time.

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It Does Exist!

During a trip to Porto’s Ceija I was able to confirm that one of the professorial caste’s most cherished yet elusive objects does exist: The conceptual machine.

In this case, it is a 3D metal printer, and it printed this piece of hardware (and many others); this one took about 12h to finish.

The Innovations of Open Source Kolloquium Talk at University of Hamburg

Update 2019-01-30: The talk slides and a video recording (local copy) are available now.


I got invited and will be presenting a talk in the colloquium of the computer science department at the University of Hamburg tomorrow, January 28th, 2019, at 17:00 Uhr. The talk topic are the innovations of open source and I will present a broad-brush account of open source as well as the industry problems and research challenges it poses. The talk is open to the public. Hope to see you there!

What Software Vendors Don’t Seem to Understand About University Teaching

I often get approached by software vendors with the suggestion that I teach a course using one of their product tutorials. There are plenty of open source databases, operating systems, and cloud computing solutions who want to make it into my curriculum. Of course, vendors don’t always call their product tutorials by that name, but use labels like college-level courses or the like, but this doesn’t change the content: They are still product tutorials. I can’t teach those and no self-respecting professor will ever do this. Let me explain.

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The Uni1 Project (2016)

Abstract: The aim of this project outline is to describe how universities and other higher education institutions (HEIs) can work with businesses to conduct teaching projects for and with students. Both parties stand to benefit; the projects generate recruitment, outsourcing and innovation (ROI) for businesses and provide HEIs with new partners for cooperation, a source of funds, and a boost to the attractiveness of their teaching.

Keywords: Industry university collaboration, research-to-industry transfer, business model, teaching

Reference: Dirk Riehle. “The Uni1 Project (2016).” Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Dept. of Computer Science, Technical Report, CS-2018-05. Erlangen, Germany, 2018.

The report is available as a local PDF file and on FAU’s OPUS server.

Please note that this report is a translation to English (by FAU’s Sprachendienst) of the prior report Das Uni1 Projektkonzept (2016).

My Top Three Trends for Open Source in 2019 (3/3)

The most important long-term trend, and my number #3 for the foreseeable future, is the sponsorship and management of open source software development by users, not vendors. The trend towards ubiquitous digitalization is leading users of software to take their software fate into their own hands, establishing informal communities or incorporating as non-profit user consortia to manage the development of the software they need. The Eclipse Foundation has been picking up this trend, supporting it with what they call Industry Working Groups; the Linux Foundation is also supporting this. Open source like this will not remove the need for commercial support, but it will reduce the effects of vendor lock-in, because products that are built on community open source can be switched more easily. Continue reading “My Top Three Trends for Open Source in 2019 (3/3)”

My Top Three Trends for Open Source in 2019 (2/3)

Trend #2 for 2019 in my book is making single-vendor open source, also known as the open core model a.k.a. neo-proprietary open source, work in the world of cloud computing. In this model, a software vendor goes to market using an intellectual property strategy that combines open sourcing of the product with an aggressive copyleft license. This approach nudges potential customers to moving from the free version to a paid-for proprietary version. In 2018, it visibly broke down when industry consensus emerged that cloud providers aren’t affected by copyleft licenses. Software vendors are now working on licenses that close this (so perceived) loophole. Thankfully, the Open Source Initiative remains the main arbiter of what constitutes a valid open source license. While some scoff at this business model, I think it is an important part of the overall open source community as it is the main way to channel venture capital into the creation of open source components.

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My Top Three Trends for Open Source in 2019 (1/3)

Trend #1 that took root in 2018 and will continue in 2019 is the clean-up of the open source supply chain. According to some lawyers, there is little legally valid software left, mostly because of unclear copyright and licenses of open source code in products and components. To clean up this mess, all open source code that makes it into products needs to be labeled and tracked correctly along the supply chain, so that the final product has a chance of being license-compliant. The OpenChain and related projects of the Linux Foundation are trying to do this. This mess is less plastic (pardon the pun) than the garbage pile in the pacific and on our beaches, but probably equally big.

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Upcoming Industry Talk on Building Evolutionary Architectures by Patrick Kua of N26 GmbH

Post-talk update: The talk slides are now available.


We will host an industry talk on “Building Evolutionary Architectures” in AMOS, our agile methods course. The talk is free and open to the public.

  • by: Patrick Kua, N26 GmbH
  • about: Building Evolutionary Architectures
  • on: January 24th, 2019, 10:15 Uhr
  • at: IAV DigiLab, Hallerstr. 6, 1. OG, Berlin (Charlottenburg)
  • as part of: AMOS speaker series

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Upcoming Industry Talk on Introducing Continuous Delivery to the SAP Ecosystem by Benjamin Heilbrunn of SAP SE

Post-talk update: The talk slides are now available.


We will host an industry talk on “Introducing Continuous Delivery to the SAP Ecosystem” in AMOS, our agile methods course. The talk is free and open to the public.

  • by: Benjamin Heilbrunn, SAP SE
  • about: Introducing Continuous Delivery to the SAP Ecosystem
  • on: December 20th, 2018, 10:15 Uhr
  • at: IAV DigiLab, Hallerstr. 6, 1. OG, Berlin (Charlottenburg)
  • as part of: AMOS speaker series

Continue reading “Upcoming Industry Talk on Introducing Continuous Delivery to the SAP Ecosystem by Benjamin Heilbrunn of SAP SE”