“That thing you burned up isn’t important to me.”

Interesting announcement from the LibreOffice project about their online and tablet versions. Those of you who’ve been around as long as me will remember that Sun had the same vision for StarOffice almost from the moment they acquired StarDivision, announcing the StarPortal project for browsers and PDAs somewhere around the end of the last century.

In the end, like all too many Sun projects, it was delayed, then subsumed into the SunONE Webtop project in 2001, and died off before it could gain any traction. Just goes to show that from a business perspective, being a decade ahead of the curve isn’t necessarily much better than being a decade behind it…

A decade at Sun redux

I felt a mild flutter of excitement when I finally received my 10 year Sun/Oracle service award notification on Friday, two months after my actual anniversary, because Sun had some nice gifts you could choose from (I chose a telescope for my five year award!).

Assuming Oracle would be much the same, I hastily logged in to see what I fancied, only to discover out that there was only one option: a ballpoint pen. A $200 ballpoint pen, certainly, but a ballpoint pen nonetheless.

How many people in the IT industry, I wonder, have a use for a $200 ballpoint pen? I certainly wouldn’t carry around a pen that expensive, as it’s the sort of thing I’d inevitably lose. Even as UI designer who does a fair bit of sketching, I just tend to use whatever pen or pencil comes to hand. And if I did want my own fancy, personal pen, it would be a fountain pen, not a ballpoint. (But you have to rack up 20 years at Oracle to earn one of those—even 15 just gets you a ‘rollerball’.)

Indeed, up until I left university, and for a while afterwards, I did carry around a fountain pen. But it wasn’t an expensive one, and it was in the days when I still wrote a lot more than I typed. I doubt there are many people in our line of work who do that nowadays.

So if you’re reading, corporate gift overlords, we minions do appreciate a choice. And if you’re not going to give us a choice, could you please at least give us something we can either put to good use without fear of losing or breaking it, or something that looks nice on a shelf? Or, if in doubt, just stick an extra few quid in our pay packet that month, and let us buy whatever we like :)

A decade at Sun

Well, 9.66 years at Sun, and 0.33 at Oracle… it was the Tuesday after the August 2000 bank holiday when I first ventured into this office, from the B&B that Sun were putting me up in until I found an apartment. Back then, we were working on getting the forthcoming GNOME 1.4 to play nicely on Solaris 8…

Have to say it would be nice if I got to choose the traditional thank-you gift from any leftover Sun stock in one of the countries that hasn’t LEC’ed yet :) But somehow I can’t see that happening…

All my pictures seem to fade to black and white

Tonight we head into town for a few beers, to commemorate the untimely passing of Sun Microsystems Ireland Limited, some 17 years after Sun’s operations began in Dublin, and a little less than ten years after I joined.

Tomorrow, at 10.30am sharp, and likely with a few sore heads, we become inducted as employees of Oracle Ireland. See you on the other side.

VirtualBox 2.0

Sun xVM VirtualBox 2.0.0 was released today, and is available for download from virtualbox.org. New features include 64-bit guest support, host interface networking on Solaris and OS X hosts, support for nested paging on modern AMD CPUs, and a native front end for the OS X client (and a move to Qt 4 for the others).

More detailed changelog here.

T -1 day

Like many of you, I’m sorting myself out tonight to fly to what will be my seventh GUADEC in Istanbul tomorrow. (I’ll actually be there for two weeks, as my wife is flying out after the conference to join me for a week’s vacation.)

Pleased that there’s a very healthy crowd of Sun desktop folks attending this year (18 at last count), and rumour has it we’ll have some OpenSolaris 2008.05 LiveCDs to be giving away, so you can play along live with John Rice’s talk :) Hopefully I’ll also find a few interesting things to snap with the Lomo Fisheye camera I got for my birthday last month…

Sun’s Web App UI Guidelines

Cool to see Sun’s Web App UI Guidelines finally go public. As Chip Alexander says,:

They are a set of building blocks for web applications that have been designed by user interface specialists, thoroughly thought through and usability tested. They can be used for developing full web applications, allowing designers and developers to focus on their application’s particular needs rather than the design of all the controls and elements inside.

The corresponding Woodstock toolkit for which they were written has been available under an open source (CDDL) licence for a while, but of course the guidelines themselves can be applied to any web app. (They do have a bit of a system administration app slant, though, for obvious reasons.)

Sun patch day: Wednesday

Inspired (partly) by some recent gripes about some of the patches Sun are applying to GNOME for Solaris, Laca has announced our first community patch day this coming Wednesday:

The desktop team at Sun would like to invite you all to a Sun-patch day. The goal of the patch day is to go through all Sun’s GNOME (JDS) patches and: – push the less controversial ones upstream – a great opportunity to vent your frustration about all the crack that may have slipped in – start a discussion about the more controversial patches.

Where: irc://irc.gnome.org#sun-patches

When: Wednesday, July 11th.

You can read Laca’s full announcement here.

HR, HIG’n’Stuff

*Sigh* Bit of a crummy old time at the moment, what with one thing and another, and the worst is probably yet to come…

On the other hand, sounds like this month’s round of politics has left me unsoiled, and my work on the GNOME accessibility guidelines and Human Interface Guidelines can continue unabated. Whether or not this turns out to be a good thing for either the community or my sanity remains to be seen :o)