Sunday, December 19, 2010
I own one of the Sony E-Readers and quite like it. It has many advantages over the Kindle, Nook or IPad and yet its largely forgotten. I have a theory as to why.
Sony forgot to give its product a name! Quick test: what is the name of Sony's e-reader? Its "E-Reader". Since thats also the generic term for the device it amounts to not having a name.
Sometimes having the generic name for the device is a good thing. Xerox has the generic name for the photocopier. The important thing however is the timing.
Its a Good Thing to have your product name become the generic name. Its a Bad Thing however to simply use an existing generic name.
Imagine a device making introducing an MP3 player and calling it "MP3-Player". Rather than subsuming all the good will associated with the general product this new device would feel like a cut-rate generic device.
I think thats what happened to Sony's device. You can't even talk about their reader. I can't tell you how many times people have asked me: "is that a Kindle?". I say "no, its Sony's Kindle", which is certainly not an answer to warm the hearts of Sony's marketing department.
I don't know what surprises me more, the fact that Sony forgot to name their device, or that no one seems to have noticed this failure.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Although I'm not a Ruby programmer the RubyLearning blog run occasional articles on learning in general.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
The link is: http://www.oracle.com/us/javaonedevelop/future-of-java-168616.html#tarbox
It was interesting to sit back and think about what makes using Java interesting. It also reminded me of the freedom that comes from having an open source project. If I want to explore using Groovy I don't need to get the approval of a committee I can just do it.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Most of us work in jobs that primarily focused on solving an immediate need for existing customer, who needs a quick solution today. This certainly pays the bills but generally isn't the kind of venue to leads to discussions about to create "software that sings". Indeed when I used that phrase in a previous article I got comments that even thinking about writing such software was beyond the pale for most people.
So, where do people find an outlet for that part of the mind that goes beyond solving the problem for today? Having just come back from the Atlassian Summit 2010 I can tell you how recharging it was to spend a few (long) days surrounded by people whose mission it was to be better. One of Atlassian's commitments this year is for their tools to save every developer 15 minutes a day. It was fun to spend time thinking, arguing, brainstorming about how to change tools and processes to squeeze out an incremental amount of productivity. And then I went back to work. where the focus is (as it should be) on the short term deliverable. I suspect I'm not alone in this regard and wonder how people recharge their batteries.
Some years back I visited The Orchard tea room in Cambridge, England. This humble tea room hosted Virginia Wolf, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein and others. Its as if Edward Tufte, Richard Feynman and Claude Shannon hung out together at the local Starbucks. Imagine sitting at the next table from that gathering every week! Without putting myself in such company I wondered if such places existed today where motivated people could gather and discuss their craft.
Our conferences and User Group meetings try fill this role but to a very limited degree. Its tough to have an in depth discussion at a 15,000 person, $5000 JavaOne for example. User Space conferences may be better for this but they're still discrete events rather than something ongoing. I started wondering about other models such as the JavaPosse. That's a group of four friends who meet once a week or so and basically spend an hour discussing whatever they find interesting. While the Apple bashing/praising they engage in has gotten a bit tiring it’s still a very interesting model. The parts that stand out for me are:
- its a regular meeting rather than an occasional event
- it happens (mostly) in person. The four members actually sit together and talk
- it's outside the work venue and not paid for by my employer so I'm not obligated to focus on near term problems/solutions
I've decided to start a similar group myself, not with the intention of podcasting it but simply to spend some regular time talking with smart people about the craft. We currently have three members and are carefully thinking about a couple more people. We're also trying to determine what kind of meeting place we should have.
I wonder if anyone else has tried something like this or if anyone has other ideas for on-going mental stimulation?