My Google Development Community Piece was referenced at ZDNet

2 days ago I wrote a post about the lack of Google Israel’s involvement in the development community.

It seems that in most of the places (I’m sure in the US, I’m not sure if the rest of the development centers in South American and Europe have the same involvement) where Google has development centers they are a little more involved with the development community in the form of lecture, places to meet and chat, sponsoring events, etc.

I got referenced on ZDNet by Donna Bogatin (Thanks Donna! :-) ) in a post Donna wrote about a victory that Microsoft had over Google in Israel for an enterprise search engine.

There are a couple of things I wanted to comment about Donna’s post.

People need to realize that Microsoft had a presence in Israel for quite some time starting from the 1990 or so (if I’m not mistaken) and the first development center outside of the USA that Microsoft had was the one in Haifa, Israel.

There is a big and fat contract for the Israeli government as well as the Israeli education system with Microsoft, so there is no real wonder why Microsoft one this contract. Of course I might be off on this one since I lack all of the details, but its reasonable to assume that one less contractor and some other promises from Microsoft and the contact was sealed.

One anecdote is that the Israeli government helped to finance the Hebrew translation and major Hebrew support in OpenOffice (just go to openoffice.org.il – Hebrew Link – and see that the effort was sponsored by the Israeli ministry of finance). One of the reasons for this project was to enable every citizen and school to have an advanced word processor, spreadsheet editor, and other solutions in Hebrew and for free as part of the government of Israel’s online government project (which is quite advance in global terms as well).

This means that every school in Israel, the Israeli education system and all of the government offices could have migrated to a pure Hebrew OpenOffice and save a lot of money (and there are better uses for this money in Israel. Trust me) instead of getting a contract from Microsoft to supply it’s Office suite.

Of course, even though the government paid for the translation and migration of OpenOffice to Hebrew, Microsoft still won the contract (probably because the government didn’t want to move to another operating system and retrain the staff) and Israel got a “real deal” so that it paid quite a few bucks for that.

There are rumors Steve Ballmer’s visit a few years back was the one that made the deal very lucrative for the Israeli government and closed the deal.

Now I know it sounds like I’m yet another Microsoft basher and it might be partially true. I am, however, proficient and trained enough in Microsoft technologies. I even have an Advanced .NET Debugging blog and I have worked (and still working) with Microsoft technologies for a good part of my professional life.

I do, however, feel comfortable in Linux and non MS technologies (both Web and non web).

On the other hand I’m not an MS zealot as well as not an open source zealot. I believe that the right tools should be used for the right cause and circumstances and I do believe in open and good competition which is a bit lacking in Israel at the moment, at least from the development community side.

As I’ve said in the previous post, the open source community in Israel is quite alive and kicking and they do have conferences and group meetings, but its mainly based on the good will of good people to organize and make sure things like a Linux Installfest and the Israeli Open Source developers conference still happens, usually with a very small participation and/or funding of the “big companies”.

I just hope that one of the Googlers here or in the US read about it and decide to act upon it :-)

Google Israel – Where Art Thou in the Development Community?

I know that Google‘s original Googleplex at Mountain View is very active for non googlers. There are frequent open lectures there and they host a bunch of other things like Summer of Code (well, not always host, but sponsor and make sure people know about it) and Google Developer Day (which is happening at 10 different locations worldwide, but NOT in Israel).

I know there are suppose to be two development centers in Israel, one in Haifa (which I know is located in MATAM cause you can see it from road #2 leading from Tel Aviv to Haifa near Intel and Microsoft Haifa) but I have no idea where the other development center in Israel is located, other than the fact that its suppose to be in the Tel Aviv area.

I don’t know how active Google is in the development community in other countries besides the US but I think that Google Israel (and the rest of Google) as well as the rest of the development community in Israel will benefit if they’ll open up a bit and become a major player in the development community.

Microsoft Israel figured this out a long time ago and there are quite a few communities (warning: Hebrew link) that meet once a month. There is also at least one full time Microsoft employee (at least that I know of) that is logistically leading this effort and making sure everyone stay happy and use MS products. I don’t even talk about the big events Microsoft Israel holds at least once a year to show off new things and to educate people about the new technology.

I guess this effort paid off since most of the companies developing in Israel today (and quite a few startups, even in the web 2.0 arena) are using Microsoft technologies and not Open Source products and technologies.

If Google Israel (hopefully the R&D part) will open up a bit and start hosting lectures and events in Israel, the same way the original Googleplex (and possibly other Google centers around the world, I don’t really know) does, the Israeli development community may gain a valuable player that can educate people about the usage of Open Source development environment, products and solutions.

It can become a driving force that can change how the Israeli development community looks and acts.

I’m not saying there is no open source community and activity in Israel. There is quite a few. Heck, even PHP (from v3 I think) is in part Israeli and Zend (the company behind PHP which supports its development) is in Israel. There are more than a few Linux kernel hackers that I know of that contribute on a daily basis to the Linux kernel and other sub systems and more than a few companies that base their products on open source products and give back to the community in the form of patches, fixes and features.

What I am saying is that having a major player that can concentrate the efforts and help cultivate and educate the development community in Israel on things other than Microsoft and Microsoft Technologies can have a major effect on the Israeli development community and there is no better time than now.

If one of you Israeli Googlers are reading this, you are more than welcome to comment or even comment privately directly to me.

Of course, I might be imaging all of this but some quick Google searches didn’t put anything up in an obvious way.

Speaking of development and the development community, since MS already has a development center in Israel (and is creating additional ones besides the one in Haifa) and Google has 2 development centers in Israel, where is Yahoo? I guess that’s something for another post :-)

Nokia E61 Change Language Keys Combination

I own a Nokia E61 phone which I’m very happy with (leave aside the PC Suite backup problem my wife had when she upgraded to an E61 as well).

Even though I’m an Israeli I use its English interface because it’s less buggy and because most of the things I do with the phone (Emails and such) are usually in English, but from time to time I do need the occasional SMS in Hebrew.

Some of the programs on the E61 like Opera Mini and Fring (great program btw, try it! it gives you MSN Messenger, Google Talk and Skype capabilities on your cell phone including voice!!!) don’t have the “Writing Language” option on their menu and I was forced to do a stupid thing like go and create a new SMS message, change the language and return back to the program.

I knew there had to be a way of changing the language without doing this stupid thing and I finally found it.

You should press:

Shift (the Up arrow) + Chr

That’s all. Simple as that. Works in all text entry screens.

Heck, I’m probably the last Nokia E61 user on this planet that has more than one language on his phone and don’t know this shortcut… :-)

Yedda Twitter .NET / C# Library

This is a bit of shameless promotion but I think it’s worthwhile never the less :-)

One of the things I did lately on my day job (Yedda) was to integrate it with Twitter (check the integration here and add Yedda as your friend!).

Yedda is all about sharing and us sharing things like code with the rest of the world is no exception.

So, without further due, I’m proud to present the Yedda Twitter .NET / C# Library (you will see that it’s more of wrapper than a library… really ;-) ). The post about it in our Dev Blog is here and the details, source and binary are here.

The code is free as in beer and is provided on a “AS IS” basis.

If you have questions about the library, Twitter, C#, .NET, the API, the meaning of life etc, feel free to ask on Yedda.

Corporate Identity and Identity Issues

There is a lot of buzz about Sun’s announcement of OpenID support and the fact that Sun will be giving OpenIDs for all of its employees.

While this is indeed good news for the identity community in general and for the OpenID community specifically, it got me thinking about the implications for such a move in which a big company OpenID enables all of its employee.

If a company OpenID enables all of its employees and its OpenID server is usable for outside parties to authenticate against it means that now every employee of that company, when authenticating with his/her OpenID can be verified as an employee of that company (providing that no one spoofs the domain and DNS settings, etc).

On one hand, now when I read a forum post or blog comment that was created by a certain company employee which authenticated using his/her corporate OpenID account I can evaluate that this person indeed works for that company and take that into account when evaluating the things he/she said.

On the other hand, it loosens the rope around the employees necks and allowing them to express under their corporate identity which, in some cases, may circumvent the PR department. Since we already know (or can verify) that this identity did come from that company it can cause PR hell (or goodness, depends on the information :-) ).

The only way to properly utilize this power is to educate corporate users on identity issues, not just the rest of the users using the internet. The corporate will greatly benefit from that by avoiding PR hell and the users will gain better understanding about internet and online identities which is always a good thing to educate people about in this always on, publicly accessible and fast world we live in.

What do you think on the subject of corporate identities?

Will better education of people regarding their online identity and separating their corporate identity from their personal identity will help everyone better understand when they are in their corporate hat and when they are on their own?

I wonder what would be the best ways of educating people about that? Should it start from having multiple user names when sharing a single computer?

Bi-Wiring is Cool

I just moved to a new apartment and when I started to setup my home theater system again I’ve decided to use Bi-Wiring for my front speakers.

My front speakers support this and up until now had a bridge connecting the elements of my speaker. I removed the bridge and ran cables to each part.

While the Wikipedia article states that from an electrical point of view there is no difference when you bi-wire or not, I did notice a difference in the sound which might stem from the very small changes in resistance which theoretically exists since the system has changed a bit.

Oh well… I guess I should fix the Wikipedia page a bit :-)

In any case, its more fun for my ears!