Dezember 2011

IT has seen a crazy year

Information Technology has seen a really crazy year. Among all the smaller incidents, the big bangs involved Nokia partnering with Microsoft, abandoning Maemo, HP driving with WebOS against the wall, patent lawsuits everywhere.

What that means for FOSS-lovers is clear… you can’t trust any company to continue working on anything. Business demands are what counts in the world of mass markets. If you want longterm support for a platform, your best bet is to build a community around it. But you will also want to work on hardware support otherwise you’ll run into the next dead end.

To be honest, right now I don’t see much of a future for any mobile Linux-inspired platform other than the mutation called Android. But that’s not much of a problem per se. The smartphone market is crazy. To compete in that world, you have to give up on freedom. But is the mass market really what we want? Is it what mobile Linux needs?

I don’t think so. There are still huge opportunities for using Linux-based mobile software platforms in niches such as machine2machine communication, home automation, research, teaching, and more. That’s where a service-based middleware like FSO comes into the game: for special interests. However, even niche-adoption is hindered without a minimal set of applications. And that is where we still lack: Even special interest people want to use their smartphones to manage contacts, browse the web, send mails, play media, etc. We don’t have an integrated software stack with a complete set of UI applications that would cover these needs. Openmoko worked on one, but failed. Nokia worked on multiple ones, but gave up (multiple times). What else do we have?

With HP’s recent announcement about releasing WebOS as open source, the game may have changed. If we could use the WebOS application stack on top of the FSO middleware, we may have a real chance to get something great and usable – and complete – soon. I have always liked the WebOS UI. If it’s a bit slower than other UIs, who cares as long as it is free?

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Towards the end of 2011

Tempus fugit. I can tell you. Even more so, if you have a baby. I must confess I somewhat underestimated the impact the baby would have on my spare time. In some weird mindset I really thought I could continue working as usual on my open source projects… as we know now I couldn’t. I completely lost track and have to catch up with all changes that happened over the last 6 months.

The first bunch of weeks with the baby were really demanding. I mean, really. She screamed a lot and could only sleep in our arms. Boy, were we tired. We carried her around so much we have Schwarzenegger arms now. But it’s great to see her developing, err… growing up, of course. With 6 months now she is a very interested baby, eager to learn new things and always trying to become more mobile.

Luckily both my wife and me are self-employed. It so much easier when you can skip some hours at the usual start of the workday and also at the usual end. Of course, the work needs to be done, so we have to compensate when she’s in bed. But still, it’s very satisfying being able to see her twice a day for a couple of hours — not all families have this luxury. Plus the existence of our two invaluable grandmas… it’s great.

Company-wise, the Lauer & Teuber GbR had an amazing year with many interesting iOS (and some Android) projects. We have reached the maximum we can do with the two guys we are, so we decided to grow and hire our first regular employee who’s going to start in 2012. We also rented another office and are already moving.

I’m slowly getting back into some of my beloved open source projects… it’s great that work on e.g. FSO did not stall at all, but continued while I was „away“. Last week, I attended the 3rd installment of the Open Hard- and Software Workshop in munich, where the latest development of the very promising GTA04 mobile phone was presented. I had a talk about Vala which was well received. By the way, my Vala-book plans are not dead yet… just in parking position 🙂

Next week I’m attending the FSOSHRCON, a joined conference with the people working on the freesmartphone.org middleware and the SHR software. It’s going to be great seeing all the folks again, concentrating a full weekend to agree on some important issues laying the path forward for the next year. Can’t wait to be there.

What’s left is the feeling that an extremely busy year has passed by, spiced with incredibly intense emotions. I’m a happy man and I love my life. I’m given exciting opportunities, but also challenges – and I plan to accept everything 🙂

All the best to you guys!

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