Thursday, May 31, 2007

Don't be dumb, give it an A (GPL)

Today the FSF has introduced the latest draft of GPL v3 and, at the same time, of AGPL v3. I am not going to comment on the changes of the GPL v3 (although the compatibility with Apache licenses is a great step forward), but I would focus on the AGPL v3 (a.k.a. GNU Affero GPL).

In a nutshell, AGPL v3 is the same exact document of GPL v3, with an additional paragraph on Section 13, which says:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, if you modify the Program, your modified version must give all users interacting with it remotely through a computer network (if your version supports such interaction) an opportunity to receive the Corresponding Source of your version by providing access to copy the Corresponding Source from a network server at no charge.
What this means is: if you run this software as a service (SaaS), everything else here applies. You must give back the source code. It closes the in(famous) ASP loophole.

Now, my suggestions on the last draft were:
  1. Do not make the provision as in the current Affero license, that forces the ASP to offer a service to download the source code while you are using the program (insane, think how you could apply this to mobile phones)
  2. Do not let Affero Inc. own the license but make sure it is managed by the FSF
  3. Make it OSI approved
It might be my lucky day... since they just created the next HPL (but compatible with the other licenses) and:
  1. The provision stated above is just perfect. You have to give the users an opportunity to receive the source code. CVS will do it.
  2. They changed the name of the license, adding GNU at the beginning. It is pretty clear who owns it now ;-)
  3. It is exactly as GPL v3 and I bet it will be OSI approved the day after it is final
The FSF did another interesting thing, compared to the last draft: they changed the license number of AGPL to v3 (from v2, as in the previous draft). So... there is no AGPL v2, like there is no Funambol v4... Aligning the two version numbers makes a lot of sense to me and it will prevent confusion.

Bottom line: if GPL v3 and AGPL v3 are exactly the same document and are 100% compatible, why would an open source developer choose to allow people to run its software as a service without returning the code to its community? It does not make any sense... Zero, nada... Every single developer that will have to choose between GPL and AGPL will go for AGPL. I guarantee it.

The only risk is ignorance. Therefore, the next fight is making sure that the entire open source community knows about AGPL. Let me start here.

Do not use GPL. Don't be dumb, give it an A. That's AGPL (and yes, I might have a t-shirt for OSCON ;-)

Steve Jobs is reading this blog?

I was reading Om transcript of an interview Steve Jobs gave today and he said pretty much what I wrote on Apple in the last months...

No, he is not reading this blog, but I still like what he said...

In a nutshell:
  1. iPhone will support third party apps by the end of the year. I actually had a bet on this: thanks Steve from the entire Funambol community. We promise you'll get the best push email and sync experience on that device from us.
  2. iPhone is the best iPod we ever made. It sounds like someone trying to make it less of a niche, focusing a lot on music and hoping to get people to upgrade (BTW, fantastic news yesterday on iTunes selling non-DRM music. It is a world revolution)
  3. Apple TV is a "hobby". Nice way to say video quality on it sucks, but that's all we can do for now... Adding YouTube videos is just highlighting it.
Gotta love Steve Jobs and Apple!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Foleo: when open source is not enough

Palm announced the Foleo mobile companion today. Jeff Hawkins was forced (I believe, he is a myth for me) to present it and say it is "the most exciting device he's worked on" (probably since this morning, but tomorrow will be a different day).

Bottom line: yawn... I am not impressed. Jeff must not be impressed himself, since he just sold 15,000 shares of Palm stock ;-)

Ahh, what about the device? It is a sub-notebook with wi-fi and bluetooth (and a keyboard). It has two buttons, one for on/off and the other one to pair with your smartphone, to sync your email.

It is a 600 bucks mobile companion to your 300 bucks smartphone... It weights a heavy 2.5 pounds... It has only 256MB of memory... It runs just for 5 hours (hem, my smartphone runs longer...), and it will drain the battery of your smartphone too via Bluetooth :-)

Any good news? YES! It is Linux. It is mobile open source!!

Does it matter? NO. It is still a useless device that nobody will carry around.

I do not even know where to start, but if the iPhone is going to be a niche and the Nokia 800 is looking for a segment, this is a niche of a niche with no segment. Too expensive, too limited in features, too big (I would need to buy bigger pants to fit it in...).

I cannot believe this is the way out for Palm. I wrote many times that Palm needed open source, but - apparently - it won't be enough.

Hey, I could be wrong. After all, the device is all about synchronization (I am the #1 believer in it). Maybe an enormous community will jump on the Foleo and will make it great. And Palm will make it cheaper, faster, smaller, with more memory and battery life. Or maybe by that time Palm will be called something else...

When phishing gets good

A few days ago I received an interesting email with subject "BBB Complaint for Fabrizio Capobianco". Wow, I thought, someone in the open source community complaining about me? What did I do?? The content of the email was:

Dear Mr./Mrs. Fabrizio Capobianco (Funambol)

You have received a complaint in regards to your business services.
Use the link below to view the complaint details:


Complaint Case Number: F9F137
Complaint Made by Consumer Mrs. Marcia E. Worthington
Complaint Registered Against: Fabrizio Capobianco of Funambol
Date: 05/14/2007/

Instructions on how to resolve this complaint as well as a copy of the original complaint can be obtained using the link below:

Disputes involving consumer products and/or services may be arbitrated. Unless they directly relate to the contract that is the basis of this dispute, the following claims will be considered for arbitration only if all parties agree in writing that the arbitrator may consider them:
  • Claims based on product liability;
  • Claims for personal injuries;
  • Claims that have been resolved by a previous court action, arbitration, or written agreement between the parties.

    The decision as to whether your dispute or any part of it can be arbitrated rests solely with the BBB.

    The BBB offers its members a binding arbitration service for disputes involving marketplace transactions. Arbitration is a convenient, civilized way to settle disputes quickly and fairly, without the costs associated with other legal options.

    © 2007 Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. All Rights Reserved

  • Now... an email with my name not misspelled is already a rarity... plus they did not misspell the name of the company. It must be legit, I thought... Nah, it can't be... We are open source, the code is open, who can complain? ;-)

    I was already googling Mrs. Marcia E. Worthington when I noticed that the links in the email were not pointing to the BBB web site. A phishing scam, very well done. I trashed the email.

    Apparently, the scam worked. 1,400 US executives clicked on the link... The authors of the scam sent this email only to executives after researching the web. It turns out the link installs a malicious post logger that transmits all information submitted through Internet Explorer to a website controlled by the attackers. It does not work on Firefox :-))

    Now, I stopped because I could not believe anybody could complain about an open source company (yeah, right!), what about the other 1,400 non-open source executives using Internet Explorer? Man, I would love to put my hands on that list!

    Monday, May 21, 2007

    Funambol cracking the US market

    In the office, I have a year-old framed article from RCR Wireless, where I am quoted saying "We haven't cracked the US market yet. US carriers have never been fast movers". I look at it every time I play foosball on our Garlando table and I always thought I had to do something about it. The US is three years behind the rest of the world (when it comes to mobile), but I live here. My board members live here. Most of my friends live here. We have carriers going live anywhere on the planet, but I wanted (at least) one here. And I was not willing to wait three years ;-)

    Today we have announced Helio is using Funambol. It is the coolest MVNO around. Their shop in Palo Alto (in front of Caffe' del Doge, my favorite coffee place in the Bay Area...) is gorgeous. Their new device, the Ocean, is one of the hottest device today (an iPhone killer...). And Funambol is powering it...

    The nice thing is that we got to Helio through Earthlink, which is also using our software. It is really a great deal for us and for open source in general. If you look at what OpenXchange is doing with 1&1 and what Zimbra is doing with Comcast, you can tell open source is conquering the service providers market.

    Since I had few people asking me questions about the deal, here you have the Q&A directly from Earthlink.

    Q. Is this arrangement targeting all of EarthLink's mobile devices?

    A. There are two components to the arrangement - one is a server-side component and one is a client-side component. The server-side component is targeted at supporting future Helio devices (starting with the Ocean that just started shipping). Note, Helio is the MVNO joint venture between EarthLink and SK Telecom. The client-side component will support EarthLink desktop clients (see below)

    Q. What desktop email clients will be supported?

    A. EarthLink is developing a next generation email client coming out in beta later this year. This client will use Funambol's syncML client code to sync the client address book with the server-side EarthLink address book.

    Q. Will the sync service be limited to an EarthLink customer bundle, or is it going to be a service that is available independently?

    A. Our future vision is that any application or device that has a syncML client on it will be able to sync with the server-side EarthLink address book. A customer would have to have an address to take advantage of our server-side address book.

    Q. When will EarthLink roll it out?

    A. Helio is already using the syncML server. The desktop client will roll out later this year.

    Another good day for Funambol. Another good day for mobile open source.

    The nice face of the evil empire

    This morning I attended a portion of the Microsoft Open Source ISV forum. Unfortunately, I had to leave early, but I feel I was there for the juicy part of the event: the Q&A about the Fortune article...

    Sam Ramji did a phenomenal job. Being a punching bag for 30 minutes is not easy. He responded to every question politely and called the Fortune article unFortunate... I truly believe his intentions are genuine. He really thinks Microsoft is going to do with open source what they did with the Internet: in 1995 they were not an Internet company, in 2005 you can tell they definitely embraced it. In 2005 they were not an open source company, but he said they will become one by 2015. They still have a long way to go...

    The issue I have is with the rest of the company... Although I get the press is always ready to position Microsoft as the bad guy, I cannot believe the CEO is saying one thing and he does not mean it... That the top Microsoft counselors (they are lawyers, best paid in the world, not the last people on the street) release statements to a journalist they did not want to be released. If you spend millions analyzing 235 patents vs. every open source project, and you talk about it, maybe there is some evil plan behind it. At least, it is easy to think there is.

    My suggestion? Use the patents you have to indemnify open source companies that are willing to partner with you. In an open way (not as in the Novell deal). You have the patents, you claim you love open source. So do we. Let's all make them disappear.

    I know it is hard, but showing a nice face to open source is not enough. You have to back it up with something. You cannot ask to partner, hiding a hammer over our heads...

    I'll see you tomorrow at OSBC. I am on a panel at 10:30, talking about innovation and open source. I believe we will also have a desk there. With some of the t-shirts left from the Microsoft event (although Sam took three of them ;-)

    Friday, May 18, 2007

    235 more reasons to love open source

    The news about Microsoft claiming to have 235 patents against open source bugged me. I totally signed up to Larry's reaction (shut up or put up). The fact that Microsoft later clarified they are not going to sue anyone (for now), does not change the situation that much. I knew it already...


    Because a superpower does not start a nuclear war.

    They simply cannot attack. The retaliation from OIN with IBM, Red Hat and others will be instantaneous. Microsoft would be attacking their own customers (every single enterprise today is using Linux and Microsoft together), which will fight them back. It is simply not going to happen.

    What Microsoft is trying to achieve is to spread some more FUD (fear uncertainty doubt) about open source. They are hoping to slow us down. However, the more I look around, the more I am getting convinced it is actually already backfiring.

    What Microsoft is showing the world is why open source is much better. No open source project will attack you. Not only the software is better, with a community supporting you, where you control your destiny thanks to the source code (and no lock in). But you also have assurance nobody is going to sue you because you want to use a competitor... Better and cheaper software, with no objective risk associated.

    What Microsoft is giving us is really 235 more reasons to love open source. I made a t-shirt of it.

    Monday, at the Microsoft Open Source event in San Francisco (a PR attempt from MSFT to show the open source community still loves them) I am going to wear it. Actually, I am going to bring some with me, in case you want to also show Microsoft why we are thankful of their latest move. I'll bring some at OSBC as well on Tuesday, just in case nobody shows up at the Microsoft event :-)

    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    The club of the 1,000,000 downloads

    I was looking at our stats on ObjectWeb today and I saw we passed 1,000,000 downloads also there (the number on OW does not consider our initial downloads in SourceForge). Almost 800,000 of them happened in the last 18 months.

    A couple of years ago, when I was raising Series A funding (nope, not the Italian soccer league, the first round of Venture Capital funding), I used the boom of our downloads as the key to convince investors we were going to get big. John at Sugar did the same. Everybody in open source did it. Downloads were the key metric.

    The question I have now is "does it still matter?"

    Probably, it does... At least as a threshold to separate successful open source projects from wannabes. However, when you get to the club of the 1,000,000 downloads, I feel it just does not matter that much anymore.

    I am not sure how many open source projects we have in the club (but it would be fun to count them) and how many commercial open source projects (another interesting statistic). However, if you are a commercial open source company with 1M downloads, it does not matter if you have 2M or 3M of those at the end of the year. What now matters is if you were able to translate that into sales...

    I have a feeling VCs do not invest in downloads anymore (and I would like to see Larry's statistic including only Series A deal). They are back investing in sound business models and customer traction.

    Actually, my sense is that VCs are now looking at revenues more for open source companies than for any other company. You have to prove you can make money, if you are an open source company. If you are YouTube or one of the thousand Web 2.0 company, you are off the hook. For now, until the wind will change...

    Bottom line: if you are out there working hard to join Funambol in the 1,000,000 club, make sure you do not forget the top line ;-)

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    Funambol v6 is GA (General Availability)

    Getting software to GA or General Availability (that is, all features completed, no major bugs) feels always very good.

    During the weekend, Funambol Community Edition v6 got the stamp. The stable release is now out and we are suggesting all our users to migrate to it (not very hard, since the clients are backward compatible, so are the connectors). Exciting stuff.

    You can download it at the Funambol Open Source Download page.

    Great effort from the Funambol DEV/QA/PM teams (about 40 people) in conjunction with our wonderful community (thousands and thousands, considering we just passed 1,000,000 downloads). I am very proud of you guys.

    Lots of people are asking me "Why v6? Wasn't your last release v3? What happened to v4 and v5?". The answer is that Sync4j started in 2001 as a server-only component. The server evolved during the years. When we began adding clients components and we created bundles, we bundled them as v1, v2 and v3. In the meantime, the server kept evolving and we ended up having a v3 bundle with a 5.x server... That created some confusion, so to clean up the mess we had to bump everything up to the server level. Here you are. I promise the next release will be v7, not v9. Although we could start calling it Vista or 2007 or who knows? ;-)

    Friday, May 11, 2007

    A preview of the iPhone nano

    An Apple patent has surfaced today, which looks very cool because it might solve The Mobile Conundrum: making devices smaller and still easy to use. The issue is not trivial. You need a crisp big-enough screen to use data applications on a device, but you need an appropriate input mechanism to be able to interact with it (in particular, if it goes beyond a simple wheel or phone pad).

    I criticized the iPhone quite a bit, also because I am not a huge fan of touchscreens. In particular, because you have to put your sweaty fingers on the screen to interact with it, forcing you to keep cleaning the surface and, eventually, scratch it for good. On top of it, when you type, your fingers are covering part of the screen so you actually give up screen resolution.

    The patent seems to solve most of these issues. For those who are familiar with patents (and have a lot of imagination), here you have the diagram.

    For the rest of us, here's the idea. The front of the device is 100% screen (as the iPhone). The back is a force-sensitive touch-surface. That is: you move your finger on the back of the device and you see the cursor move on the front. So... you are actually not sweating on the front and your screen remains clean. And you do not cover your view while interacting.

    Seems difficult to use? Have issues with hand-eye coordination? Well, you are using a mouse to scroll this page and you are not looking at your hand. You can make it. And the iPhone gets smaller and smaller, becoming mass market...

    The iPhone nano, the biggest selling device of 2009.

    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    TV?? I want messaging on my phone!

    The GSM Association has produced a global report on consumer awareness, trends and expectations of emerging Mobile Services across Europe, North America and Asia (based on over 3,000 interviews in 15 countries). The findings are summarized in the following table.

    I can't say I am surprised, but it is hard not to notice that the top 5 preferences are all messaging. Browsing comes sixth and mobile TV eleventh... Porn seems to be missing because I would have expected it to be high in the list, or maybe it is in the "content" category, or maybe the GSM Association was just shy to ask...

    On messaging, there is a quite interesting finding, although not surprising:
    The survey uncovered some significant regional differences. North American respondents ranked mobile email as the service they most prefer, ahead of text messaging and mobile instant messaging. In Europe and Asia, text-messaging scored highest, followed by mobile email and MMS.
    Bottom line: messaging is king. I do not see this changing any time soon. The phone is a communication device, people need to communicate when moving, they use their mobile device. Everything else is gravy.

    Monday, May 07, 2007

    Are you an omnivore or a lackluster veteran?

    Today, the Pew Internet & American Life Project released the results of a survey designed to classify Americans into different groups of technology users. They asked people if they had gadgets and connectivity, what they were doing with them and if they liked it or not.

    The findings are quite interesting, in particular because they put them in a table with funny names. You find it below. If you click on it, it gets bigger (and you can even read it ;-)

    In a nutshell, there are three big categories: the Elite (Web 2.0 savvy), Middle-of-the-road (funny enough, they put mobile centric people here, like Mobile is not Elite :-) and those behind the curve (for many different reasons).

    The game is to put your entire family in the boxes. I would probably end in the Omnivores; I would put my wife in the Connected but Hassled, my parents in Light but Satisfied (they would be lost without a Skype video chat every week), my sister-in-law in Inexperienced Experimenters (she blogs but could do way more), my grandma in Off the Network (but my mom prints out for her every email and post by any relative) and so on...

    We should put points on every box and see which family scores higher.

    Saturday, May 05, 2007

    Next week is JavaOne

    JavaOne has a special feeling for me. It is one of the first conferences I attended, after moving to California in 1999. It is the one where we announced Funambol to the world in 2005. This year, we are coming back. But, for once, I am not paying... Sun invited us.

    They're highlighting Funambol as they view us as one of the best and most exciting open source technologies (or so I hope...). We are one of a handful of open source projects, out a gazillion that Sun looked at, to be invited in
    the Application Showcase area of the exhibit floor (in the Mobility Village). We will be showing there our new open source Java ME push email software that runs on hundreds of millions of Java-enabled mass market handsets (Edo will be at the booth, so do not miss him because he is THE Java ME guy). Sun really liked our application because they told us it is a highly innovative business application that leverages many of Java ME's capabilities, such as push registration, SMS message receiving, network connection, playing sound and advanced low-level implementation of the user interface. In other words, our software pushed the envelope of Java ME's capabilities and really allowed Java ME to shine.

    In a way, we are a perfect technology for Sun to highlight, as our software heavily utilizes Java for both our server and client components i.e. it consists of an open source Java EE mobile data synchronization server (i.e. 100% Java app) and our Java ME push email client that runs on commodity mobile phones.

    Sun also invited Funambol to participate in their .Org zone and CommunityOne
    events (the former takes place during the three main days of the conference, Tue-Thu of next week, the latter is a one day event on Monday and precedes the conference) , which focus on bringing together developers and community members from a diverse range of new and emerging open source technologies (cool idea by Sun, they seem to be now trying hard to be the dot in :-) Both are essentially casual environments where we will be demoing our software and talking to open source developers and community members from a wide range of open source projects.

    I look forward to seeing you there, it should be fun.

    Thursday, May 03, 2007

    The cool factor

    Engineers are good at developing efficient and stable code. Some also get User Interfaces (UI) and can design them, but most don't. Once a good UI is designed, you need to make it cool. Some UI designers can make cool UIs, but most don't.

    In my experience, the best combination is to have:
    1. a person that can design a UI and
    2. gives precise directions to an engineer for development and
    3. gives precise directions to a designer to make it look cool.
    Now at Funambol we have all three (before we had just one, I let you guess which one ;-). It took a while to assemble the team, but if you look at the two pictures in this post, you can tell there is a bit of a difference between Funambol v3 and v6 clients...

    Actually two: someone who designed the UI and someone who made it look good. Plus the great developer that makes it actually work, fast and stable.

    The result is shown below: it is the Funambol Outlook plug-in released in v6 (now beta, soon GA). Above, the old v3 client.

    When I showed to my wife for the first time, she asked me: "who developed it?". I answered "Funambol". She asked me: "no, I mean, which company made this application?". I answered (thinking she was making fun of me...): "Funambol". She finally said "Ahh, you mean it is Funambol software? I though it was Apple. Very cool".

    Well, I cannot ask for more than "cool" and "Apple-looking" from my fashion-minded Italian wife...

    A couple of weeks ago (maybe after seeing the cool client;-), Gartner put us in the "Cool Vendor" category... It is cool to be cool :-)

    If you are devleoping software, do not underestimate the importance of cool. Open source software, in particular, is usually ugly-looking. It does not have to be. For open source to become mainstream, you need cool looking apps. They will look at your ugly app and say "naahh, they are not ready for prime time. It is just open source". Invest the $$ for someone to design the UI and someone else to make it cool.

    BTW, if you are using Funambol v3 already, you can use the v6 clients today. They are backward compatible with the v3 server. No need to ask your IT Manager to upgrade the server. Download the betas with confidence, they are of a very good quality. Did I mention also cool?

    The world championship of funambolism

    When it comes to sports, I am a fan of pretty much everything. Soccer, baseball, American football, tennis, ski... Even some bizarre sports. For example, funambolism, also known as tight rope walking or high wire walking. The name of my company and the logo might have given you some hints about this ;-)

    Korea is hosting this week the World High Wire Championships. People walking on a rope, crossing the Han river (that's about a kilometer...). The Washington Post ran an article about the competition.

    The fastest guy so far finished it in 11 minutes (Chinese). The American did it in 17 minutes. Some fell, like the Russian, jumping in the river fifty meters to the end. I am not sure if there is an Italian, but I bet s/he would do well :-)

    Funambolism is the art of commercial open source. I believe we should organize a local competition between CEOs of commercial OS companies, crossing the San Francisquito Creek, and see who's best at it. I am the mobile guy. I should make it even wireless...

    Anybody out there willing to accept the challenge?

    Wednesday, May 02, 2007

    A ribbon for open source

    Roberto Galoppini wrote a post a few days ago, asking my opinion on his idea of an Open Source Awareness campaign. He wrote:
    Besides the need for open source lobbyists, the biggest issue with Open Source awareness might be the clique phenomenon, resulting in open source advocates, analysists, customers, developers and users bound to each other. In other words there is also a need for connectors.

    Googling around I found a pretty long list of ribbon campaigns - among them the ASCII Ribbon Campaign and the EFF’s Blue Ribbon Campaign - but there is no Free Software or Open Source awareness campaign.
    So... the idea is to launch a campaign to make sure everybody understands what Open Source and Free Software are. A battle for freedom, I guess... A Ribbon to FLOSS (well, that's an idea for convergence...).

    I believe there are more important battles to fight (AIDS, cancer, hunger in Africa...) and I feel my brother might kill me if I start walking around with an open source ribbon (luckily for me, today he is far away in Kenya, fighting hunger). Also, I would prefer to stay away from being associated to battles such as "against HTML mail, vCards and proprietary formats" (that's the ASCII Ribbon Campaign cited by Roberto)... I have the feeling there are more important things in life. Let's all fight for a better world without vCards :-))

    Jokes apart, open source is a serious movement and a battle for freedom. It can free your mind and keep big brother at bay, so it is definitely worth fighting for. I am positive on the awareness campaign. Since Roberto's question was "which color would you choose for the ribbon?", I would say: blue, green-white-red or black & white (but I doubt Matt would support the last one...).

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    A review of the Nokia N800 Linux tablet

    Last week I attended the Nokia Mobile Mashup event. The nice surprise was the gift of a N800 Linux tablet. That's definitely Mobile and Open Source, so I spent a Saturday morning playing around and here you have my review.

    Let me start saying I do not understand this segment. I might be stupid, but I do not get why a consumer would need an Internet Tablet... It is a device with wi-fi but no cellular connectivity, no keyboard and a pen. Soooo... you can't make a call (yes, you could with VOIP but try to put it close to your ear and you look like a fool) and you can't write emails (no keyboard, c'mon...). What you can do is browse the Internet (clicking on links with the pen...), read RSS feeds and listen to music/video. In a nutshell, it is an entertaining device not meant for consumers ;-) Similar to an enterprise device not meant for enterprises (the iPhone). A niche.

    That said, the device is absolutely great. The screen is gorgeous, so crisp it shocks you when you turn it on. The device feels nice in your hands. It has a few buttons on the left to navigate the functions, but I rarely found myself using them. The music sounds good, even when streamed over the Internet. It also has an extremely cool tiny retractable webcam, for videochats.
    It supports wi-fi (although not my office network) and I was able to pair it with my Verizon Treo 650 via Bluetooth to navigate the Internet (it took me a few steps but it miraculously worked!). The virtual keyboard on the screen is small when your pen is out, big when it is in its pocket (so that you can use your fingers): nice touch! Browsing with Opera is pretty good and the RSS reader is fully featured: I sucked in my feeds in an OPML file from Netvibes (nice feature, BTW) and I got all my feeds instantaneously.

    The Home interface is made with Applets. Sort of widgets, with the info you should need when turning the device on, for example your latest feeds, your speed contacts, a Google search and so on. Clearly, the hope is that the Linux community will create many more (weather and so on). The idea is good, but the feeling is that it lacks applications, yet.

    As obvious, the first need for me was synchronization (ok, I am biased, but why did Nokia not add any way to sync the device? Where do Nokia people have their address book???). Luckily, there is an open source client called SyncEvolution, based on the Funambol sync client. I went on the site and tried to download the app. There is a debian package available, plus the source code.
    Unfortunately, the N800 Application Manager did not like the debian package...

    I am a stubborn geek so I did not give up. I started looking at the open source community at (quite lively, I have to say. Good job by Nokia). I downloaded an Xterm application and in a second I was browsing the file system with a terminal. Using vi without a keyboard is a pain, so I thought "this thing is connected to my network, if I find a telnet server I could access it from my PC"... I had first to upgrade the firmware to the latest version (quite easy, with a USB cable), then I downloaded an ssh server from maemo. A second later, I was accessing the wireless device from my PC, with a real keyboard and a mouse. Very cool. It gave me the feeling of power, in particular when I found out how to become root (that's the ultimate feeling of being God for people that grew up with Unix).

    I then installed the debian SyncEvolution package, configured the files to connect to a Funambol v6 server and boom, my address book was synched. It worked like a charm. Amazing. The power of freedom.

    The beauty of the device is that it is open as in open source. They have a good community building lots of apps. For example, I needed an IM for Yahoo Messenger and I found Gaim was available. It works great. They need more apps, but I am sure they will come.

    As I wrote before, the problem is really who would really use it, apart of a bunch of geeks. Maybe it could be used in hospitals or other specialized niches, but definitely I have no use for it in my life (I am a part-time geek ;-) If I am close to a PC, I use that for browsing or emails. If i am running around, I use my cell phone with 3G. If I want to listen to music, I use my iPod.

    Since I did not have a use for it, I tried the ultimate consumer test: I asked my wife if she wanted it. She looked at it and said "cool, I'll take it!". I asked her what she was planning to use it for... She said "I'll browse the Internet when I am in the backyard" but a second later "or maybe not, I'll use my laptop there". Then "maybe in the kitchen"... "or I could print out the recipes so I do not fill it with flour". Then she said "I would definitely not go around with a thing that big in my purse". And the final "actually, you can keep it". End of story. The device is not for consumers. I really hope there is a segment somewhere for it, because it is really a beautiful device. But it is likely to be small. And if Nokia gave it to me as a gift, it is probably not selling that well ;-)