UpFRONT

Stop the Presses, LJ Index and more.
What's Hot, What's Not

You must have been on an island not to know that LinuxWorld was in San Jose in August. It had so many exhibitors that some of them overflowed the exhibit hall and ended up out in the hallways. Rumor has it that next year's West Coast LinuxWorld will move to San Francisco's Moscone Center to handle the anticipated larger crowds. There also was a lot of big names there: IBM, Dell, Compaq SGI, HP, Sun, as well as the usual Linux crowd, such as VA Linux and all the major Linux distributors. The BSD folks also had an interesting presence.

If anything can be said about future trends, it has to be Linux for embedded systems. In contrast, last fall's theme was Linux in the business world, and this year delivered great growth in that arena. At this show, most of the software exhibitors were providers of B2B solutions. Two products caught my eye: the color PDA, Compaq iPaq, running PocketLinux; and the black and white Helio. At $500 and $200, respectively, they will give Palm a real run for its money (http://www.PocketLinux.com/). eGrail (http://www.eGrail.org/) is an open-source provider of content management software for the Web. It provides server-based access to the central repository and tools through any browser.

THEY SAID IT

“Five years from now the government will measure open-source project starts the way it now measures housing starts.”

—Bill Weinberg, MontaVista

“In any business model you need someone to sue. That's the American way.”

—Bill Weinberg, MontaVista

“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't.”

—Erica Jong

“The condition of the free man is that he does not live for the benefit of another.”

—Aristotle

“They rely on customers to find uses for minicomputers, rather than burdening the company with huge costs of developing and marketing applications of its own. Digital salesmen, engineers selling to other engineers, nurture strong and lasting relationships with customers...it's surprising how little they've caused their own growth. For years, they've been dragged along by interesting applications their customers came up with.”

—From In Search of Excellence, by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman (1982), on the subject of Digital Equipment Corporation.

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”

—Douglas Adams

Disease can be cured; fate is incurable.

—Chinese proverb

“Prediction is especially difficult. Especially about the future.”

—Niels Bohr

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

—John McFee

“If by some fiat I had to restrict all this writing to one sentence, this is the one I would choose: The summit of Mount Everest is marine limestone.”

—John McFee (on geology)

“I am the last bastard of free speech.”

—Howard Stern

Takeoffs are optional. Landings are mandatory.

—Sign in small airport

“The average knowledge worker will outlive the average employing organization. This is the first time in history that this has happened.”

—Peter Drucker

“Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining.”

—Jeff Raskin

“It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.”

—Andrew Jackson

“What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.”

—Bertrand Russell

“All models are wrong. Some models are useful.”

—George Box.

BUZZPHRASER GOES OPEN SOURCE

The original BuzzPhraser was created by the staff in the office of my old company in 1990 or so. It took the form of a spreadsheet that we gradually filled with overused buzzwords. To qualify, they had to work in a phrase the way a blank tile works in Scrabble: you can use it anywhere, but it has no value.

We sorted these words into a series of columns: adverbs, adjectives, adnouns (nouns used as adjectives), nouns, prefixes and suffixes. After the columns began to overflow, I thought “Hmm...BS seems to be programmable. Let's make something here.” So I got together with Ray Miller of Turtlelips Productions and we (mostly Ray) crafted a Hypercard stack that put together random buzzphrases from the table, based on various user-defined combinations of modifiers, nouns, prefixes and suffixes. BuzzPhraser made a bit of news and then quickly became one of the most-downloaded files on both AOL and Compuserve.

Several years ago, Charles Roth (the prime author of Caucus, the primo conferencing software) kindly adapted BuzzPhraser to the Web, where it has served ever since, burping up useful but value-free generica for publicists and their enemies everywhere. Examples:

  • management technology implementation channel protocol

  • empowerment architecture topology

  • workgroup-dependent program-level i-shrinkage rule operation

  • structured client leadership chain

  • substantially phase-free product-intensive demand-elegant gesture exchange

  • enhanced policy services content dependency solution leverage policy

Now Charles has completely rewritten the entire site in Javascript and open sourced it. To get the source, go to http://www.buzzphraser.com/. And let us know what you do with it.

—Doc Searls

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