Tablet PC Thoughts

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Delayed Deposition

I have had some people asking about my deposition for the SCO vs. IBM lawsuit. Well ... it was delayed. I was supposed to be deposed in Salt Lake City on the 16th of this month, however it turned out that SCO didn't have enough lawyers to cover all of the depositions going on. So I was asked to alter the date ... which was fine with me.

So my new date is this Friday ... the 31st. I'll head into Salt Lake City first thing in the morning, and the deposition will begin at 9:00am. I had to ask some questions to learn more about this since I have not been subpoenaed for a deposition before ... by the US Federal Courts no less.
  • Do I get paid or reimbursed for my time?
    • Nope. Nada.
  • Well ... how much time to I have to provide?
    • IBM is allowed up to 7 hours of "tape time". Crap! That's all day!
  • Can I blog about the experience?
    • Yeah ... but not about the content. Period. The judge said so.
  • Can I plead the Fifth?
    • I didn't really ask this ... but it sounded kinda cool.
  • Do I get to eat lunch?
    • Yeah ... there's a lunch break, but it's not counted in the 7 hours above.
  • Who pays for lunch?
    • I didn't ask, but I'm going to guess that they can't buy me lunch either!
    • (As a side note, I think that IBM and SCO ought to fairly split the cost of my lunch so that I would be equally biased.)
Hmmm ... I ownder what to wear? :-)

Well ... I'll blog about the experience. It's going to be interesting.


Wow ... time flies. I know that I have to alter my blog writing behavior. It seems that when I start to get busy with things. I stop blogging until I have the time to "post it correctly." I want to make sure that I write it well. I really want to give this up and just blog.

Today I started to think that I want to stop creating Blogaps, or Bloggaps ... large gaps of time between my blog posts. Ok ... time for a new word:

bloggap (blggp)

  1. An interruption of continuity in blog posts: a two week bloggap left his readers in a quandry; real bloggers don't have a bloggap of more than 12 hours.
What I realize in all of this is to just BLOG. Post it! Don't worry if it's good enough!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Closer to the Singularity

My friend Dave Cline sent me another link today about Mechanical Turk. It's a story from the MIT Technology Review about Pennies for Web Jobs. To me this is the type of article that backs some of of my theories on the coming Singularity.

From the article, I really liked this quote:
Not only did participants supply the necessary answers, but they did so "outstandingly fast," according to Cabrera, allowing Amazon to use the photographs in its search results. "This is the tip of the iceberg, but you can see how it enables 'massively parallel' human computing," he said.

When I last met Vernor Vinge I spoke with him about my theories on how to measure the presence of the Singularity. I proposed that we might look to create a metric based on how many people are performing machine driven work. Mechanical Turk is a very good example of this ... and yes it is simple ... but there are people and systems putting "work" into a large database, and there are people who are executing on queues of tasks for money. To me, this really isn't that different from the little mouse pressing a bar for a piece of food.

A more complex example are the drivers for UPS and Fedex. Their entire day is coordinated by massively complex computer systems that manage the thousands of drivers all over the world. From the beginning to end of the day they are simply following the directions of computer systems that are managing a process far too complex for humans to direct anymore. In fact, the computer systems are managing the flow of packages and simply using humans as one of the components in that management system.

Vernor talks about a hard takeoff, and a soft takeoff of the Singularity. I will argue that we are already accelerating on our way in a soft takeoff.

Microsoft Origami - first thoughts

Well ... it's been fun watching the media uproar, and the debates over the hype about the Microsoft Origami device. I has also been fun to see the product announced and in the press. It was fun since we at Agilix Labs had one here at our facility for quite some time prior to the leaks. We've been tweaking our GoBinder code to ensure that our Tablet PC applications work on this new device.

So what do I think about the UMPC/Origami device? I actually like it! Yes, like many people are saying, this is a mini-Tablet PC type of device. There is nothing earth shattering about it that I know of right now, but I do want to buy one for my three year old son. He has been using my HP Tablet PC for quite a while now, and is becoming very adept at navigating the user interface, and easily switching from mouse to stylus. I have really been thinking about what I buy him to use ... or do I give him my old laptop as I upgrade? What about a PlayStation Portable? Oh ... what about the $100 Laptop Project?

My laptop is too large for my son. The PSP? It's still $250.00 and doesn't have half of the capabilities nor features. The $100 Laptop? Way too limited in my opinion in that it lacks the breadth of application support ... and isn't yet available. A Tablet PC? No ... too expensive today.

In my opinion the key is going to be the price point of these new Origami devices. When I can buy a device like this for the ~$600+ I have a hard time considering anything else. It runs a standard operating system (and might even support Linux!) and brings the full breadth of application support. It'll run games, and provide Internet connectivity. It'll have Bluetooth and integrate with cell phones.

I'm not saying that this product is going to kill the $100 Laptop Project ... that will always have it's place. But in more affluent societies where some extra money can be spent it seems to me that the Origami is addressing a real market. This is the place between the PDA/PSP types of devices, and the laptop/Tablet PCs.

So I'll probably buy one for my son. Will I buy one? I think that I might buy one for myself ... just to experiment as a platform for new applications. Religion aside, when Microsoft and Intel (and Samsung, and ASUS, and ...) get behind something they are going to create a new market. I do believe that for software developers, there is going to be a whole new generation of applications for this platform.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I've been served!

Wow ... that was wild. I'm sitting here working on some code and projects (~9:43pm) and there was a knock on my door. Some guy standing there looking a little shady ... like one of these guys chasing bail jumpers. He asked me "Scott Lemon?" as he pulled out some papers ... oh I know what's going on: I'm being served with a subpoena!

I actually figured this might happen ... the IBM lawyers have been calling me since before my vacation last week. For the many people who didn't know ... I used to work for SCO. Yes ... Santa Cruz Operation ... the ones in the big lawsuits with IBM and Novell. Now before you start to dis' me let me provide some background. I was working for a very innovative startup called Vultus. I joined a team of guys at Vultus who were working on this amazing technology that used Javascript, XML, and HTTP to create active 'applications' that ran within a browser. Yes ... today that is called AJAX ... but we were doing it years before that term came about. (Shipping product in 2002!)

So anyhow ... Vultus was purchased by SCO just prior to the whole lawsuit issue blew up. In fact, I have to admit that I was floored. When we were negotiating with SCO about the acquisition, I was looking forward to the opportunity to working for a Linux company! Just as they purchased us, we were told one day there was going to be a huge "Linux announcement". Yeah ... and when I heard it I couldn't believe it!

So anyhow, I quickly became the SCOX Architect working on some web services integration projects, and then architected and collaborated on a patent with Bruce Grant for a OS independent application substrate. About that time I became the Chief Technologist and spent considerable time researching the differences between kernels and numerous Open Source projects. I have to admit that I really was given the opportunity to learn a lot about UNIX, BSD, Darwin, and Linux ... along with the vast amount of Open Source that is out there running on all of these. My real interest was researching the new substrates ... the new layers of software that are emerging as the next generation platforms above the operating system. I left SCO almost two years ago as they were consolidating and letting a lot of folks go.

Well ... it appears that somehow IBM got my name, and with their discovery deadline coming up fast they must be grasping for straws all over the place. They called me just before I left on vacation and asked if I would be able to sit down with them and chat, and then sign a legal declaration. My question was "How much do I get paid for my time?" Yeah ... right. I told them that if I had the time I would get back to them after my vacation. It was funny when the IBM attorney asked where I was going - Hawaii - and then he actually asked me if I would meet with their attorney's while on vacation in Hawaii! I'm guessing that sending attorneys to Hawaii for a interview would just be a IBM expense paid for by the shareholders?

They called me this last Monday and when I said I really wasn't interested they followed up with the following e-mail:
Thanks for your quick reply. We would like to meet with you as soon as possible. Our discovery period is quickly coming to an end, and we would like to assure ourselves that we will be able to get your testimony in a manner that we can use. Our preference would be to do so through more informal means in a signed declaration. An attorney would meet with you to put together the facts, then draft a declaration after the meeting. The attorney would then review the declaration with you, and obtain your signature at a later meeting. The other way to get your testimony would be more formal. We could serve you with a subpoena requiring you to attend a deposition at which lawyers from both sides could question you under oath. If you would prefer that to the more informal declaration option, we could arrange that. Also, if you are unsure if you would be willing to do a declaration, we could serve you a subpoena now, and then withdraw it later if you decide to do a declaration. Let me know if that option appeals to you. One of our lawyers from either NY or SLC can meet with you virtually any time, any day, and any place that would be convenient for you. I understand that our deadlines are not your problem, and that we asking you for help, so I would like to make this as easy as possible on you. Please let me know how you would like to move forward. Please give me a call or reply to this email. Thanks Scott.

Greg T. Lembrich
Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
Worldwide Plaza
825 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10019
(212) 474-1462
fax: (212)474-3700

Uh ... ok. So let me get this straight. Either meet with us because you are a nice guy and you just want to give us a bunch of free, uncompensated time ... or ... we'll use legal means to force you to sit down with us. Hmmm ... let's see ... in both cases I get nothing in return for my time. I replied letting him know that they could feel free to subpoena me. And they did.

Looks like I'll be visiting the offices of Snell & Wilmer here in Salt Lake City on the 16th of March. I'll make sure to blog about the experience.

Eye Tracking Research

This post on Slashdot brings up some interesting perspectives ... I mostly like the eye tracking research that is referenced. It's fun to see what we are *really* doing when watching a video. I know that I work to catch myself when I get distracted, etc. but this research shows what the eye is drawn to.

I don't agree that video blogs will suck ... but I do believe that video podcasting is a very different animal. I'm finding that for audio, I really like the 15 to 30 minute podcasts. For video, I haven't really found something that works for me. I could see where I might subscribe to a "movie feed" to get stuff onto my PC at home for later watching. From my early conversations with some students it seems that video podcasts (on campus lectures, etc.) are used mostly for their audio content, however when something interesting is said the student will then rewind and look at the video.

The biggest issue that I see is *where* I view video podcasts. I can listen a lot more places than I can watch. For me, driving is the place where I listen to most of my downloaded content.
Why Video Blogs Will Suck. [Slashdot]

Amazing robotic advances

While I was on vacation last week I came across an article about an amazing robot being developed as a "pack animal" for soldiers. I have a long time love of robotics, and downloaded the video ... and it is surreal! You have to go and check out the BigDog from Boston Dynamics and download the video. It is stunning to watch this thing. As I watch ... I just keep thinking of seeing old World War II movies where two guys are carrying a stretcher. This is stunning to see! There is an amazing human/biomimicry component that I just can't believe ... can you tell?

I'm downloading the videos of their other robots now ...