DIY Cufflinks

You know how it is, you grab a couple of shirts, fling them into your back, and rush out of the door (late) for your plane, neglecting to notice that one of the shirts you’ve grabbed in such a hurry requires cufflinks. Cufflinks that you haven’t had the presence of mind to pack.

Well, you probably don’t know how that is… on account of the fact that you probably have a heap more common sense (and “organisation skills”) than I have.

So, you won’t ever need to manufacture your own cufflinks.

But I had to this morning.

I grabbed two complimentary sewing kits from the hotel reception (each containing 2 buttons) and made these…

A picture of my DIY cufflinks

I haz sewing skillz

HP To Keep PC Division

HP has announced that it has completed its evaluation of strategic alternatives for its Personal Systems Group (PSG) and has decided the unit will remain part of the company. The official release is here

My take :

  • HP has made the right decision but there’s work to do with the Personal Systems Group
  • HP needs to sort its strategy out
  • HP needs to sort its board out
  • HP needs to kill WebOS
  • HP needs to rediscover the thrill of innovation

For the detail….

Continue reading

IBM’s next elephant wrangler will be Ginni Rometty

Yesterday, IBM announced that Ginni Rometty will succeed Sam Palmisano as CEO in January next year. Palmisano will remain on board as chairman.

Here’s what I think…

  • Ginni Rometty has been my front runner for the job for a long time, and last year I was certain she’d get the job
  • Ginni is the right person for the right time for IBM
  • It’s a healthy thing that Sam is staying on as Chairman
  • IBM’s rejuvenation has been built on the shoulders of many giants
  • IBM’s approach to succession management is something a number of firms can learn from
  • Looking forward, IBM’s future depends not just on keeping the elephants dancing, but in getting them to dance in sync
  • OH.. And one final thing (that really shouldn’t need to be said)

As usual, if you’d like to read more, then click on “More”

Microcontrollers… Pic vs Arduino vs mbed logo Logo for Arduino




I’ve been indulging my inner-nerd for some time, by playing with Microcontrollers. Why have I taken up such a geeky passtime? Well these things are flipping magic! For a few dollars you can build a little computer that is capable of doing stuff!

If you’re still shaking your head, then maybe this post isn’t for you, but if you have an interest in embedded development and microcontrollers do read on.

For some time now I’ve been doing “silly little projects” using Pic microcontrollers – Burglar alarms, power supplies, a couple of battery chargers (including a solar battery charger), and some radio controlled stuff.

It’s been on-and-off – it rather depends on my workload, but there’s a corner of my office that always has a breadboard with various bits hanging off it.

Then a couple of weeks ago, someone mentioned the Arduino project to me – he’d used an Ardiuno to create an awesome remote controlled BBGun. So I bought an Arduino dev board.

Then I discovered the mbed project – which uses a surprisingly powerful ARM-based processor at the heart of a surprisingly easy to use development board.

Well blow me down… there’s some very clever stuff going on, and I’m planning to get hold of an mbed board in the next couple of weeks and start playing.

My initial reaction is that the Pic microcontrollers still offer the best transition from prototyping into production, but the Arduino and the mbed platforms offer the best entry point to microcontroller development. The fact that the processor used by the mbed board is so awesomely powerful has also got me going more than a little bit.

Over the next few months I’m going to be tinkering with each of these devices, and I’ll keep you all informed.

HP sells its HALO video conferencing product for $89 Million

HP has just announced the sale of its HALO video conferencing product to Polycom for $89 million. See the NY times story here

While I know that analysts are meant to be above “snark” (ha ha) but this is a real “TOLD YOU SO!” moment for me, made all the more yummy by the fact that when I was demoed Halo by HP in 2006 I made two key comments –

  • It was (and still is) horridly expensive (At $500,000 per room)
  • It was utterly closed – I asked about interconnection with things like Microsoft NetMeeting, Skype and other video conferencing technologies

Neither of these comments seemed to go down well at the time, indeed my thoughts on openness actually caused a slightly patronising smirk to appear on the face of one of the executives who was briefing us.

There is an important lesson here, Tech companies have a very natural tendency to cherish the technology that they own, and this can lead to a degree of myopia when it comes to understanding how that technology will play out beyond the lab and the corporate koolaid.

It’s difficult when someone tells you that your baby is ugly (or in the case of Halo – fantastically expensive and not at all sociable), but success in the world of Tech depends as much on the products you were willing to can (or dramatically revise) as it does the ones that you run with.

All this leads me to HP’s latest “HALO” – WebOS.

Somewhat like HALO WebOS has much to recommend it – It’s a very very nifty mobile operating system, it has some open source street cred as it’s based on Linux. But it’s still going to fail in the market place.

Because the quality of your tech is only one ingredient in the souffle of success – Ecosystem, licensing, development support and “cool” are all equally important. Alas, its strength notwithstanding – WebOS has none of  these.

Alarmingly HP CEO Leo Apotheker has been quoted saying:

I happen to believe that WebOS is a uniquely outstanding operating system. It’s not correct to believe that it should only be on HP devices. There are all kinds of other people who want to make whatever kind of hardware they make and would like to connect them to the Internet.

Whoever briefed Leo (and I’m guessing he’s only ever used a Blackberry because while WebOS is very good – it’s nothing like “uniquely outstanding” when set against some of the best Android devices or the iPhone.) was being, at best, “disingenuous” in pitching WebOS that way.

My advice to HP is – “Step away from the WebOS koolaid”. Set aside any thoughts you have of WebOS taking over the world. If you think that the future of mobile operating systems lies with a Linux core (and there’s every reason to think it might well) then take that expertise and produce a kick-ass Droid variant.

Microsoft produces a “trash talk” video about Open Office

Microsoft has released a YouTube video offering “A few perspectives on”… watch and enjoy… As an OO user, and a supporter of ODF my initial reaction was to scoff…

As Glyn Moody says on his (excellent) blog here supporters of OpenOffice ought to be pleased – When Microsoft fires up the fud-o-matic it’s a sure sign that they are at least paying attention.

Here’s my take :

  • Yes, it’s nice that Microsoft is paying attention
  • But it’s not the point – as I’ve said time and time again the traditional “(Microsoft) Office Suite” is dying
  • The OpenOffice guys have to confront the reality that they’re NEVER going to build a better “Microsoft Office” than Microsoft Office

Continue reading

Oracle and IBM agree to work together on OpenJDK

Yesterday Oracle and IBM hosted an analyst call to announce that they’ve agreed to collaborate on the future development of the OpenJDK for java, In addition the two companies stated that they will continue to work together to enhance the JCP.

As usual, here’s the compressed version:

  • This is good news
  • It’s positive to see Oracle willing to collaborate with IBM
  • Oracle still has to address some serious concerns surrounding the JCP
  • Java ME is dead, the future of Java on mobile devices is Java SE

Continue reading

Open Office : Well and truly forked

LibreOffice has just emerged as a new fork to the openoffice suite of products. Its mission is :

to make an office suite available as truly free software, developed within the wider community. The organisation has support from companies like Google, Novell and Red Hat.

I wish LibreOffice success, but a big part of me thinks that without some huge changes, OpenOffice is a dead horse that ought not to be flogged any more. Now I’ve written about it before, but I’m just going to have to get “shouty”.

Here’s what I’m planning to say:

  • OpenOffice is a great product… for the 1990’s
  • Seriously… there’s this new thing… The Internet. And it’s awesome
  • OpenOffice is doomed to fail without a major change in strategy and purpose
  • Microsoft is busy seeing the future while the “office wanabees” scurry after it
  • Office suites are the past not the future
  • If you want to get ahead of Microsoft look at CKEditor, Evernote, Google Docs, WordPress, Joomla then take another step…
  • What I’d do if someone gave me the cash,..
  • A call to action

Continue reading