Tuesday, May 20, 2008

MacOS X vs Ubuntu- A Personal Assessment

Copied from my Slashdot journal:
Here's my problem: I use macs at home. Ok I admit it, it's not a really problem because I believe it's the best overall user experience for me. Even if I'm a heavy open source software user (and sporadic contributor) and enthusiast, I still haven't been convinced Ubuntu is ready for me. I don't have a lot of Ubuntu experience despite using Debian at work, but Slashdot users do! I don't want or need a flamewar, I'd like to get your informed feedback. I wrote a short personal assessment of why I stick with Macs instead of switching to Ubuntu right away. Where I am wrong? My short text quickly looks at the software I, and any average user, use on a computer: email (Apple's Mail vs Thunderbird / other), Spotlight vs Beagle, etc. To reassure Ubuntu fans, here's an extract: "I found this interrogation from one of my colleagues, "will MacOSX forever stay more advanced than Ubuntu?". I tend to believe the answer's no and as a consequence, you'll eventually see me use an open source operating system on my primary computer at home. We're not just there yet."

Sunday, May 04, 2008

PASS: Product Attribute Sharing for Sustainability

Here's a few words on the Product Attribute Sharing for Sustainability (PASS) project that went back to oblivion last summer. In my opinion, it's a great project that will eventually see the light in one form or another (and I most probably won't be involved in its coming to life). I discussed the concept over 10 years ago with friends (I sure don't claim to be the first to think about it) and in spring 2007, an enthusiastic friend called me and told me he wanted to work on the project. Along with a small core group of about 5 people, we met a few times, brainstormed, gathered and shared information, discussed and wrote some documentation. At the end of the summer, when the main conceptual aspects of the project were pretty mature, we decided to halt the process. Why? Weren't we working on another Great Idea (tm)? Time. We all have (generally exciting) full-time jobs and, as much as we'd like, we could not figure out a way to keep the project alive while keeping ourselves alive. Here's a very short summary, we have a 6-pages document to share with anyone interested (in French though).

Okay, so what it is? The name "Product Attribute Sharing for Sustainability" provides a few hints. This acronym is a working title. In a few words, it's a small-size portable digital device, to be used in groceries and various stores, aimed at advising users and consumers about sold products, specifically about their quality, their origin, their health and ecological impacts, and so on. The device may have the ability to read product barcodes but it is not required. Products data and metadata would be validated, potentially using existing reliable sources and a moderated wiki system. The portable device may sync itself over the Internet (and the software will upload only relevant information to the user, based on the products he has access to and his preferences). The information provided to consumers would be tailored to his preferences (example: someone may favor local products or small producers, another one may favor healthy, vegan or nuts-free products, etc). There's much more to it, but you get the idea.

As I said, I strongly believe this project will eventually come to life. Why? Because it will be a success (if well implemented, of course ;-). One of the group even scooped that taoit are working on it, but in my opinion it's vaporware until anything tangible is released. Similar existing projects includes Barcodepedia and Skin Deep.