Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Just Installed Gentoo

My technical bi-curiousity finally got the best of me. Today, I installed a distro of Gentoo Linux configured specifically for my Compaq X1000 laptop by Ahmad. So far, all I can say is that it works. I don't know much about Linux or Unix, but, as a self-proclaimed geek, I think I'm long overdue for some exposure.

Hopefully, the feeling of being a n00b will subside soon. It really sucks not knowing your way around an OS, I just take Windows for granted. Not knowing how to do simple things like install a friggin' Firefox upgrade is rather humbling. I extract the installer to my desktop, run the setup script, and it defaults to attempting to install on the desktop!

Now, I know Firefox is already installed, but where? Right-click the shortcut, select properties, and I see "/usr/bin/firefox" Mmm, ok, so, do I just point the setup script there? Do I have to delete it first? Let's see what it contains. Oh, it's not a directory, it's a shell script! Wonderful. This really makes me appreciate OSs that don't make you think about this sort of thing.

I suspect that anyone reading this who knows Linux probably thinks I'm an idiot, but it's just this sort of thing that's deterred me from using it in the past. And I'm not alone. If the open source community ever expects to Linux to make a dent in the desktop market, they'll need to make little things like this "just work". Until then, a few users, like myself, may take the time to figure it out, but the majority will turn to more user-friendly alternatives.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Urban Grind

One of my favorite aspects of living in Portland is the variety of coffeeshops. They range from larger chains, like Peet's and Seattle's Best to small, hip places like Annabanana's, Backspace, and, my personal favorite, Urban Grind. For a tech-minded person like myself, Urban Grind strikes the right balance between tech savvy and good old-fashioned customer service.

It's a large, open space with lots of comfortable couches and chairs. It also serves as a gallery, showcasing a variety of pieces from local artists. Any given day, you're likely to see students, artists, musicians, and programmers commingling and slurping down large quantities of Urban Grind's excellent, home-roasted coffee. If that's not enough, there's free WiFi, courtesy of the Personal Telco Project, and Mac, who rocks.

I like to spend at least one morning here a week, mainly to do some research and meet random people. Case in point, I was just chillin' on the couch, typing this post, and I noticed that the guy sitting across from me had a Personal Telco sticker on his laptop. I asked him about it, and it turns out that in addition to contributing to Personal Telco, he's a technical marketing engineer at Intel, working on laptops that we'll see in two years.

Would I have stumbled across someone this cool at a local Starbucks? I think not. Nor would I be as wired, but I digress...

We had a good talk about Linux, open source networking utilities, and the future of paid WiFi. As a Microsoft-centric programmer developing software that, among other things, enables people to charge for wireless access, it was interesting to talk to someone who derides Windows and thinks that paid WiFi will only work in very niche markets. He had some valid points, and it will be interesting to see where the market goes.

My take on it is that there will be a continued market for paid wireless, particularly in the hospitality and travel industries, where you have a captive audience. Also, as wireless networks evolve and higher bandwidth content becomes available, a new market for ultra-high bandwidth will emerge, and people (like me) will be willing to pay for premium service.

Just like TV, which supports over the air, basic cable, and digital high definition, internet access will continue to have differing tiers of service. Now it's 56k, DSL, and FIOS for wired access, but it's basically WiFi (802.11b/g/x) and everything else (3G and it's brethren) for wireless. Eventually, 802.11x won't be enough for Joe Consumer to use his Killer App wirelessly, and he'll be willing to pay a little extra for better service. This is, IMHO, where the market for paid wireless access will continue to exist. And with a little luck, it will be Powered by Eleven™

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Taking the Plunge

First post!!!

Ok, so this isn't Slashdot, and I'm not about to launch into some anti-Microsoft/RIAA/DRM tirade. Instead, I'd simply like to introduce myself. My name is John Hann, and I'm a software developer in Portland, OR. In addition to programming, I have a lot of other hobbies including snowboarding, mountain biking, and hiking.

I don't know what you'll be reading here in the coming months, but chances are you'll see posts on life, technology, culture, and maybe even politics. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and, hopefully, you'll contribute a comment or two.

I'd like to thank the folks that encouraged me to take the plunge and start a blog, including Rich, Jason, and Ponzi. The cusp has been crossed, and the best is yet to come. Stay tuned.