December 30, 2004

How does Amazon contribute back to OSS?

Hmm, maybe I shouldn't jump in here, but Krzysztof Kowalczyk doesn't like some aspect of Amazon and I'd like to correct that - either through pointing out what we do or through changing what we do.

I'm picking on Google, but they are not alone. Amazon, yahoo, ebay, aol. Any large business that uses web as means of providing services and making revenues is enjoying enormous savings by using open source stack on their back end. And what do they contribute back? A good approximation of zero compared to benefits they reap.

So, what does Amazon contribute back? There might not be much in terms of mere lines of code - dead software that doesn't do anything for you - but in terms of real data and a living, growing and scalable service it's huge. Amazon is host to 50M products and makes these available via Web Services - simple HTTP and XML. No amount of source code distribution would enable third-party developers to equal this feat. There's no real magic here in the software (complex and customized as it is), the value comes from the actual data and the actual 24x7 support of the service. We could describe the algorithms used to create product authority, but without 10s of millions of products the algorithm is useless. In this business, content is king.

December 28, 2004

Amazon and American Red Cross Tsunami Disaster Relief

Please visit this link at Amazon and donote to the American Red Cross for disaster relief.
So far - $250K in 1 hour.

American Red Cross

December 26, 2004

December 25, 2004

O Frabjous Day, an iPod mini on Christmas Day

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! I got an iPod mini on Christmas Day!

But the highlight really had to be three families over for the Holidays - our house is full of eight adults, four children and one darling 6 month old baby. Not counting the three cats and one dog. Or the fish. The presents under the tree were pretty ridiculous, but with four families there's gonna be a lot of boxes.

Merry Christmas everyone, and have a Happy New Year!

December 23, 2004

Flickr: Photos from dierken

I've been using Flickr for a while - I really dig the photostream from the water tag and the hawaii tag. Here's my photos, just a few from the past couple years. Photos from dierken

December 22, 2004

Jon Udell: Management by objects

Jon Udell talks about command line access to objects that manage computer resources (and possibly applications and services as well) in his blog - Management by objects. He suggests that Java is the counterpart for the Linux world, but he didn't mention beanshell as an existing system that may be close to what he's looking for.

December 20, 2004

Great Hackers

Ouch... from Paul Graham in Great Hackers

The programmers you'll be able to hire to work on a Java project won't be as smart as the ones you could get to work on a project written in Python.

I suspect that there is a difference between self-absorbed and smart.

This further bit is suprising:
Writing a compiler is interesting because it teaches you what a compiler is. But writing an interface to a buggy piece of software doesn't teach you anything, because the bugs are random.

It's suprising because bugs are not random. Even in a buggy piece of software some other company built, there is a pattern and something to learn. Good hackers see the patterns right away and know what they are in for - that's why they don't like those projects.

Here's a great alternate view on programmers, developers and hackers.

December 19, 2004

Camels and Rubber Duckies

Joel has done it again - what a wonderful piece on economics - Camels and Rubber Duckies. This is basic reading for anyone working on e-commerce and encountering the conundrum of perfect information and differential pricing. Here is a good piece on reverse auctions that gives some real world background to Priceline and their ties to airlines.

December 18, 2004

PeopleSoft and exit strategery

(From Scoble) David Sohigian is pointing out the human cost of Oracle acquiring PeopleSoft and posting resumes of people he knows and recommends. Large scale change like this can create disruption, but hopefully many people can create an opportunity to make their own change - move on to new and different things. Personally, I'd be happy to see a few of the stars rocket out of PeopleSoft head toward Amazon. Here's a posting of a job description on my team. It's a pretty crucial system to how Amazon operates and if anyone would like to help build out a great Internet enabled commerce platform, check it out.

December 16, 2004

Froogle Shopping List

Oh joy - Froogle adds shopping lists and wish lists - Froogle Shopping List. Sure, sure "who in their right mind would use that when Amazon has so many more features...". See Innovator's Dilemma for the answer.

Here's my wish list by the way...

December 09, 2004

Microformats - The next big Thing

From Adam - Relax, Everything Is Deeply Intertwingled: Microformats:

I'm excited that thoughts on catablog suggest that there are opportunities to create microformats for products -- perhaps the music, movies, and books that fill up peoples' typelists represent a good place to start.

We hear you and this is right on target.