Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Butterfly Effect of Oracle’s Lawsuit Against Google

No one knows with any degree of certainty what the outcome will be from Oracle’s patent infringement lawsuit against Google.  While the impetus of the lawsuit is largely focused on Dalvik, Google’s mobile VM based on Java, the consequences of legal action will likely reverberate through the larger Java world. 

I don’t have a dog in this fight.  Yet. On the one hand, Oracle appears to be hell bent on reversing Sun’s decision to release Java to the open source community, according to an InfoWorld article:

It's no secret that Larry Ellison wants to make money from Java, something Sun's execs, whom Ellison held in contempt, was never able to do. It may be that Oracle wants nothing more than a cut of Google's Android revenue -- IDC's Will Stofega told Bloomberg News that the case will probably end with Google agreeing to pay to license Oracle's patents.

On the flip side, it sure looks like Google didn't do any favors for itself either. 

Whatever the case, there are potential far reaching implications of Java in the open source world.  For one, it will reinvigorate the debate around software patents. More specific to my interests here, XML was, and is, heavily influenced by Java and open source. Think Xerces and Xalan, Saxon, FOP, Ant, and more recently Calabash and Calumet.  It also factors in to related technologies like the APIs  for eXist and MarkLogic, and fuels reference implementations of standards like DITA (see the DITA Open Toolkit).

My immediate reaction is the cat’s already out of the bag: Java is already open source, which means nothing will change for XML technologies.  For now.  In the short term, it’s very likely the only ones affected are Android application developers.  Longer term, however, Oracle’s behavior might well impact a wide array of technologies, including XML, by deterring developers from using Java in the first place.  That would be a huge detriment to XML across many technologies and industries.  Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cancer Sucks

My Grandparents died from it. My mother had it (in remission), but now she needs to have a full mastectomy because a genetic marker indicates she's at higher risk to get it again (she has surgery on March 7). And now, a friend and colleague of mine has it. This guy is healthier than 95% of other men his age, has like zero body fat, and is always encouraging everyone to ride with him (more like follow from a long distance). That's just hard to take in and process. While he's the one that has his world rocked, cancer also has a nasty side effect on family and friends. Put it bluntly: Cancer sucks.

Few other spoken words, irregardless of language or dialect, can evoke as much emotion as 'cancer'. Even as scary as influenza and other diseases like AIDS are, and as much devastation they can bring to an individual, a family, a community, and even the world, there's something about cancer that is so viscerally scary to us. For me it's because cancer is, in my non-medical, simpleton view, a mutation of cells. It's not like a virus or an infection where a foreign organism is making you sick, and you can take medication to kill off the nasty invaders - it's your own cells that, for some reason have started going haywire. That's just downright frightening to me. And that cancer is so seemingly random and unpredictable just makes that much more hard to take - you could be in the best possible physical shape and still get it.

Science and medicine have come so far when it comes to curing many forms of cancer. Many people have a good chance of living long, healthy lives if they catch the disease early. But often they have to go down through the depths of hell physically and emotionally to get to the finish line: cancer-free. Yet, they keep their eyes on the prize.

I'm pretty sure my friend will beat this. His odds are really high, and his outlook on life and his current illness are positive, which also increases his chances.

If nothing else, it's a reminder that life is too short, so live it to its fullest. It's so easy to become burdened with frustration, stress, angst, even hatred. In other words, we lose sight of the forest within the trees. I'm probably the most susceptible to this.

In short: Work hard. Play harder. Laugh more. Celebrate with your family and friends. Find something everyday that is good. A sunrise or sunset, a laugh with your kids, a hug or a kiss with your spouse or significant other, a walk in the park with your dog. It's your life - own it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apple to Release Tablet PC Today: e-Books are One Target Market

Apple is releasing their tablet PC today.  According to NPR, they plan to include an e-reader.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I though that the tablet was the perfect medium for e-books, and would supplant the Kindle, Nook and other current e-book devices.  Only time will tell for sure.

The move by Apple is brilliant.  It already has a first class distribution model with iTunes pushing out applications and music for the iPhone and iPod.  e-Books are just a natural progression. 

From an XML publishing standpoint, EPUB is a relatively easy format to render. The DocBook XSLT stylesheets has an EPUB format built in.  I'm not aware of one for DITA yet, but I can't imagine that it would be too far behind, or difficult to build.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tablet PCs - What does this mean for e-Readers?

HP previewed their new tablet PC at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show.  Apple will release their version later this spring.  Sounds to me like this could supplant the Kindle, Nook and other e-Reader devices.  It might also be the impetus for EPUB distribution.  e-Readers are nice, but they're one trick ponies. 

From an education publishing perspective, this could really open the door to new revenue models for schools at all levels to distribute published content.  It also opens the door for new models for authors writing content. 

More on these ideas later.