Oh, My, Read That 5.1 Article Wrong

Sorry, but I misread the announcement about the Dynamics NAV 5.1 delay. Microsoft uses these lovely little abbreviations. Q1 FY07 (first quarter, fiscal year 07, which begins at 7/1/07 since MS’s year end is 6/30.) In this case, the new release date is H1 CY08. Translated into realspeak, that reads “The first half of 2008.”
As much as I hate the expression, “My bad.”

Dynamics NAV 5.1 Delayed

I think I may have mentioned this, but the official word came down from Redmond (or Fargo, or wherever the source of power is these days) that Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.1 (the big rewrite that will include the roles based interface and some other cool revisions) isn’t coming out until 1st Quarter 2008 (I would add “at least.”)
I expect to see this in 2008, but if it’s the first quarter, I think it will be end of first quarter. The “technical preview” that was to be available with 5.0 was delayed and separated from that release. As of the last time about 10 days ago that I looked on the Microsoft site, it still wasn’t there.
No big deal here. I think the delay is probably a good thing. More time to make sure the code is right.

Microsoft vs. Open Source OR The Cold War Redux

Open source violates Microsoft patents, so Microsoft claims. Patents, I guess, that Microsoft basically “borrowed” from Xerox PARC–who didn’t have the foresite to patent the GUI or the mouse–years ago, or blinding flashes of the obvious that Microsoft rushed a patent filing into the patent office on.
I guess it’s bad that I make my living working mostly with Microsoft products yet I still am a bit testy when Microsoft brings out the legal guns–or the threat of legal guns. It’s not that Microsoft makes bad products–as a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it if it weren’t for Microsoft products. Microsoft products also integrate in a unique way. I’m not sure–for example–that there’s another product in the market with the number of necessary features that Outlook and Exchange have when paired. And that’s to write nothing of the integration between these products and the development tools Microsoft has. The object models for addressing the various Microsoft products are quite helpful in writing code to do a variety of things. Not that other companies don’t have much the same thing.
But the thing that chaps me is that so many software companies have started to compete on the basis of how much cash they have to buy up competitors and how much slush fund they have to pay attorneys. Now Microsoft says, “we’d rather license than litigate.” Nice alliteration there, but truth is borne out in action, methinks.
And now the open source community fires back that it has patents on technologies that are in Microsoft products.
Let the lawsuits fly! Mutually assured destruction.
It reminds me of the old move “War Games” where a kid accidentally hacks the US military’s war computer and starts the game “GlobalThermoNuclearWar.” It’s a lot of fun until he realizes that (a) the guys in the green suits with scambled egg on their sleeves and bars on their chests don’t know it’s not real, (b) there may as a result be a real ThermoNuclear war, and (c) the computer can’t be stopped.
Ultimately the world is saved by setting the big computer to playing tic-tac-toe against itself. It’s a deadlock game, of course. Neither player can win if both play optimally.
The computer comes to a profound realization about both tic-tac-toe and Nuclear war: “What a strange game…the only way to win is not to play.”
Show the movie in the boardroom guys. And get back to the business of competing on who makes the best mouse trap and markets it best. Leave the legal system for the guys in ChinaTown selling DVDs of movies not yet released on DVD for $5 each.
Microsoft Claims Open-Source Technology Violates 235 of Its Patents

My Linux Saga…Chapter One

Ok, so I don’t fit in the demographic of Linux desktop users from the survey. They’re in their 20s…but if you want to think of me as in my 20s, you can indeed think of me as that.
I’ve been interested in Linux for some time. Ever since the first commercial version of Linux appeared on the Egghead Software store shelves for a lot under $100 and included everything you needed to set up a web server with a web store, including credit card processing…for under $100.
And there were these rumors that Linux could run on PCs much too old to run the current version of Windows.
So I picked up the box and took the little penguin home with me. And I TRIED…let me say that again…I TRIED to load it on a PC. I got so far, then couldn’t get further.
Turned out that all the instructions were written by pimple-ridden fifteen year olds who constantly reminded you in their instructions to be sure to “read the instructions” before asking questions. The implication was that they would find you and do something monsterous to your computer or email if you dared to ask a newbie (uninitiated user) question.
Well, you can be sure that I wasn’t likely to put my own business on the line for support by fifteen year olds…OK, maybe some of them were in college and maybe they didn’t have pimples…I was just being facetious (don’t send me an email unless you know what this word means without looking it up in a dictionary…and don’t comment on the blog entry for this post if you even THOUGHT about looking it up…OR if you’re under 40…OR if you own an Apple computer…OR if your mother lives in the house with you…OR worse still, if you live in the house with her).
See what I mean? It’s nasty to be reminded that you’re ignorant with the insinutation that you might just be stupid or have sub-human intelligence.
Anyway, that has nothing to do with Linux. Except for the sub-human intelligence part.
Linux was too risky, to put it mildly.
Today, several years…maybe a decade later…I realize something. I don’t know much more about the innards of Windows XP and Windows Vista than I do about Linux. And when I need to know something about the innards of them, I look it up on the Internet.
It takes a different midset and a different set of skills to look up the answer for Linux. But, frankly, I’m not finding it too difficult. And I’m impressed with the ease of use.
So I went out and bought a $400 laptop. I spent three days downloading the DVDs of Debian (only the first of which I have used). I loaded Linux the first time on my PC. I figured out how to review disk partitions and configure things and look at network configurations. I’ve loaded a new browser…FireFox. I’m relearning vi — the text editor — and learning bash as well as Linux command language.
I’m reading Thomas Merton at the same time. And Linux hasn’t yet made me want to become a hermit like Merton. That time may be just around the corner. Who knows.
For now, I think Linux is pretty neat.
I’m not ready to run a business with it or to propose it for any clients. But I’m thinking and learning.
What do you think about Linux?
Who Are the Linux Desktop Users?

Microsoft-Novell Deal

Open source software isn’t exactly the same as FREE software but from the perspective of most business users, they look darn close to the same. The new version of the GPL (see the previous article) seems to take a pretty hard swipe at anyone who wants to license patented technology and use it in their release of software.
One of the big users may be anyone that would have benefitted from the Microsoft-Novell deal.
It’s interesting that Microsoft has JUST published the claim that 200+ of its patents are infringed by open-source code. GPLv3 means–apparently–that Microsoft wouldn’t be able to press patent claims against anyone using software distributed under the Microsoft-Novell deal. And that–apparently–applies even if the person or company in question didn’t get the software through “approved” channels….like Novell or Microsoft.
I’m not a lawyer, but to me as a business person, this looks like it might be bad from a lot of perspectives. I think I understand why the Free Software Foundation (FSF) included these provisions in the GPLv3 license, but it seems there would be a way to allow the partnership between Microsoft and Novell.
All of this comes, I think, from the fact that a lot of the open-source community is somewhat “counter-cultural” at least from the perspective of the big company like Microsoft. You can see this–for example–in the Linux release of the browser FireFox. Evidently, there are some intellectual property rights surrounding part of the FireFox name or logo, so the Linux version is IceWeasel. Clever, I guess. But intended to poke a bit of fun at intellectual property rights which many open-source fans see as “foolish” or “exploitative.”
At this point, I think FSF is happy that this throws a monkey wrench into Microsoft and Novell’s plans…after all, they may represent the “evil empire.”
Microsoft Would Lose Patent Rights Under New Linux License Terms — Microsoft — InformationWeek

On A Linux Tear

Ok, so you may have guessed that I’m on a Linux tear. That is, I’m doing a lot of thinking and research about Linux. Thus far, I know I can install it much easier today than 2-3 years ago. I know that some stuff still isn’t ready for prime time (like support of Wireless Networking, which is the only thing that won’t work on the laptop I’ve installed it on to play with), and some things are still developing (like ERP software for Linux).
All of this aside, I’m also learning a lot of terminology, most of which consists in trying to learn how to pronounce words. For example, I’ve learned that ET-see is the way you pronounce the file system directory /etc. This is where all the configuration stuff is.
The biggest battle, though is pronouncing the names of the “distributions” of Linux. Names like Debian (DEE-bee-un) and ubuntu (ooh-BOON-too). Red Hat I can handle. SUSE (SOO-SUH), and others.
The concept of a “distribution” is a bit dense for some people. You may be asking, “Isn’t Linux LINUX?” Well, no, and–well–yes. The core of Linux (the kernel) is pretty much the same. But it’s the things that are packaged with that kernel (like the Accessories in Windows…you know, the little calculator and WordPad, etc.) that are different. Some distributions are designed to be small and minimalist. Some distributions are designed to have “everything” (like Debian).
And some distributions–like Red Hat–have been around for a while and have options for support contracts. Other distributions are by some gal (or guy) in her (or his) garage…
All in all, they are a lot alike, and today’s Linux can be installed by a novice (the installation program will ask you questions that you don’t understand and don’t have a clue what the best answer is, but if you just pick one, you’ll probably wind up with something that works.) On my laptop–purchased for price not for features without checking the hardware compatibility list–Debian installed first time, without issues.
Now comes the hard part…
The State of Ubuntu 7.04 Is Strong

Disaster Recovery: Many Professionals are Interested

I taught a class on disaster recovery a couple of years ago. It was interesting to see how few of the people who attended the class had actually thought about disaster recovery from a systems standpoint.
Having a good backup isn’t the end of disaster recovery, though it’s a start. And computer systems aren’t the only thing that has to be recovered from a disaster, but they are more and more important in business.
As the article below from CIO Insight notes, it’s not good enough to have a plan, you actually have to test it and then re-test it. I’m doing more and more work on our disaster recovery planning here at DGG. How about you?
Some things you might think about:

  • How much does your insurance policy really cover? I found out recently that hardware and software is covered by our policy, but not data. Also, our business continuity policy used to cover only events that occurred on our business premises. So if the building was destroyed, that was covered. If a tornado tore out the infrastructure that supplies the electricity to the building, that wouldn’t have been covered.
  • Are you backing up all the data you need? We’ve tended to insist on full backups with systems we setup, but we’ve seen systems where files were backed up selectively (so they took up less space on the backup media). That’s OK as long as you’re sure the files you backup are the ones you need.
  • What would you do if your building was destroyed along with all its contents? Do you have an off-site backup? Where?
  • What would you do in the event of “the big one” that destroys most of the city you live in. Here in Memphis, for example, we worry about an earthquake, since we sit on a fault line
  • Do you need redundant data centers? That is, do you need a computer somewhere else that has the ability to continue to operate your company in the event of a total failure in your location?

These are some really basic questions, but think a bit about them. You may be frightened by what you learn.
Survey: Many Backup/Recovery Systems Going Untested

If You Blog, Blog Legal

I know from my business law course that you can’t just say anything about anybody without repercussions. There are slander and libel laws, though I can never keep up with which one is in print and which one is verbal.
Turns out that there are a number of other important laws that every blogger needs to know about. The Aviva Directory posted the “12 Important U.S. Laws Every Blogger Needs to Know.” The link below takes you directly to it.
Blog Law サ 12 Important U.S. Laws Every Blogger Needs to Know

Time To Reevaluate Linux

Everyone with a finger on the pulse of technology has been watching with bated breath to see what happens with Linux. Many companies and consultants have decided that there is just not enough support or enough applications that run on Linux to justify the risk. After all, the old adage has it that “you get what you pay for.” And “FREE” has to mean “worthless,” doesn’t it?
That may be true in real estate, but I’m not sure it’s true anymore with software. We’ll just have to wait and see.
But while I’m waiting, I’m playing with Linux.
Dell to Preload Ubuntu Linux on Some Consumer Machines