Is open sourcing Domino a good idea?

Ian Tree has written an open letter to IBM asking them to release Domino under an open source license. While I agree with him that open sourcing Domino could have lots of positive effects, he's ignoring the cost and time involved. All those good things might not happen given how hard it is to open source a large existing code base. Just ask Sun if you want to know how much work it is to release an existing product under and open source license.

  • First off, it's going to take years.
  • IBM will have to go through all the code, line by line (hopefully automated) and make sure that they own all of the intellectual property. Was it written by them? Were those developers under non-disclosures with other companies at the time? Did they leverage some of their patent cross-licensing? And so on. Any good lawyer could write pages of all the things they should check.
  • Then when they open it, in the short term it's going to take more resources than they currently have, assuming they want to create an external community around it. Now not only do the developers need to work on the code, but they also need to interface with the community and bring other developers up to speed.
  • And that community, while willing to help, will not be ready to jump in immediately. It will take a few years to grow that community – it may take a year or two for each individual developer to come up to speed on the project!

Picking the license and model (the parts Ian Tree suggests are hard) might be the easiest part. Making it happen will be the hard part.

So I'm not saying that opening Domino is a bad idea. To the contrary, it might be really interesting. I'm just saying that his reasons for why it's a good idea need to take into account that it might take 4-5 years to actually happen.

Diversify yourself

The Diversified Bootstrapper had some intriguing career advice about how to diversify yourself. In addition to having a couple of interesting side projects and consulting gigs, he recommends the type of job you need to have in order to be able to diversify. It's good advice even if you don't decide to diversify. According to Scott Scheper your main job is critical and must be:Marbles

  • aligned with your passion
  • have freedom or be part-time
  • value results (over time in the office)
  • teach you new skills
  • be challenging

FYI, open source software projects and volunteer jobs are a great way to learn, meet others and open up opportunities.

Photo by Michelle Brea.

What’s popular for Christmas presents this year?

Whenever I write about something, I usually include a link to Mostly I include the link so that people can see what I’m talking about. However, every year around Christmas, people find my old posts though google, and buy some of the more interesting gadgets as presents. I can see what they buy through my Amazon associates account. This year is pretty interesting.

  1. Moving alarm clocks like the Clocky Mobile Alarm Clock are very popular. These have been very popular every year since 2004 or so when I posted about them. (And people buy some models that have been ranked terribly – I won’t buy anything rated 1-2 stars on Amazon, not for myself and not as a present. But some people must buy these as a gag gift and not care if they work or not.)
  2. HP A10 Printing Mailbox for Presto Service. This was a real surprise. I blogged about this two years ago and this year was the first year a bunch of people bought HP’s computerless photo printing device. Either it suddenly became popular (two years after it released) or for some reason my blog post on it ranked higher in the search engines. (I really wanted one for my grandmother but she’s deaf so she doesn’t have a phone line. The phone line cost twice per month what the service did when I looked into it.)
  3. Wii Fit – actually anything related to the Wii. I can’t even give you a link to the Amazon Wii Fit page through my associates account. Amazon won’t let me because they are too popular this Christmas! They’ve also put a two per household limit on them and they are sold out most of the time. But people are still managing to buy them.
  4. Luggage Scale – Hand Held – With Tape Measure By Travelon Bags I guess the $25-50 per checked bag is getting to people! I’ve never talked or blogged about this and I still see people buying them … that makes me think they are popular.


  • If you click on these links and buy things from Amazon, I will make a small profit. I will also be able to see what people buy after reading my blog – that’s actually more interesting to me than the money I make. (In December I usually make enough to take Frank out to a nice dinner. The rest of the year I make enough to buy a book every couple of months. If I made more, I’d probably care more about the money, but that’s really not the point of this blog.)
  • I don’t sell enough on Amazon to make my study representative in any way shape or form, not even my blog readers as most people that buy things, like the moving alarm clock, hit my blog after searching for moving alarm clocks.
  • In case it’s not obvious, you should not feel obligated to buy anything on Amazon though the links on my blog. My family and I do not depend on that income!

Photo by craftapooloza.

Never assume the other person has even basic information

Phonecallnews This weekend we had the annual Secret Santa party at our house. It wasn't our weekend to have my stepson Jacob so on Sunday morning I went to go get him, so he could attend the party.

On the way home, he asked some of the strangest questions. First, he asked if his little brother could come. Of course he's coming, I responded! He lives with us. I then wondered why he asked, did he think that kids just get arbitrarily left out of half of all the things their families do?

Then when we got to the house, he asked if he could come in! Of course, I responded! It's our house, your house! Then I wondered, what did I do to make him feel not welcome?

So we're inside and I'm recounting all these strange questions to my mother-in-law, wondering what in the world I've done wrong as a parent, when Jacob spots the cooler full of sodas and beer and says "The party is here??"

You see, it had never occurred to me to tell him that the party I was taking him to was at our house. So here I am wondering about all these deep things like kids growing up with two homes, four parents, parenting styles, etc and the whole problem was a very basic lack of information!

So next time you're talking to someone and you're thinking "they just don't get it!", maybe it's time to stop and go over the basics. They just might not have that really basic and really vital piece of information that you are assuming.

About Stormy Peters

My name is Stormy Peters. You can
contact me by sending email to stormyscorner — at — You can also leave a comment on any post
where you have something to say!

I currently work as the executive director of the GNOME
. I also am an advisor for HFOSS, OpenSource World, IntraHealth Open and OpenLogic, as well as founder and president of Kids on Computers, a nonprofit organization setting up computer labs in developing countries.

I do a lot of public speaking. For more information about the topics
I speak on, see my speaking resume. You can also see me speak at:

I am passionate about learning, books, technology and open source
software. I read a lot, travel a lot and I never pass up an opportunity to learn something new.

I have two boys – an eight year old and a two year old – who keep me
entertained. My boyfriend does lots of interesting things like cooking,
hunting, pickling and building stuff – you can find his blog at Life of
a Hunter

You can also find me on twitter (@storming) and LinkedIn.

Christmas Tree

We got our Christmas tree last weekend.



We all had a great time playing in the snow.

We let Frank do all the real work like pulling sleds, cutting trees and lifting kids out of snowbanks when they got stuck.



And for those that are worried that we are cutting down a live tree. Agreed that cutting down a live tree is not the best thing in the world to do, but in this case it’s a highly regulated activity by the US Forest Service who says where you can cut, when and what size. When they don’t have a bunch of amateurs out there, they cut the trees down themselves to keep a healthy forest.

It makes the US Forest Service money, and for us it provides a great family tradition. This is our fifth year cutting a tree together as a family.

  • The first year I had to carry Jacob.
  • The second year he inexplicably got terrified that we were lost.
  • The third year I almost dumped Caleb on his head trying to get him in the baby bjorn. And then six year old Jacob very gallantly held my hand so I wouldn’t trip and squish his little brother.
  • Last year Jacob hit one year old Caleb in the face with a snowball. (He misunderstood my directions to *not* aim at his face.) 

This year we all had a great time! Even the dog!


Documentation is important

 So I have to admit that although I've been preaching for years that open source software needs more documentation, it wasn't really something I worried about. (Probably partially because I have a good network I can always ask when in doubt.) At least that's how I felt until I got my G1 phone.

I read manuals. I read the G1 manual in a couple of minutes. And then I really wished I had the real manual – one of those that tells you everything about your phone – when …

  • At one point in time I saw a list of wireless networks on my G1. Now it just seems to connect to one. I can disconnect and reconnect … to whichever random network it wants. Nothing in the manual. Some where on my phone has got to be an option that would show me the available wireless networks and let me select one.
  • I was trying to add shortcuts to the home screen to no avail. A quick google search told me that tapping and holding would show me the most used six apps. Nope, but it did let me add a shortcut!
  • Speaking of which, my phone does a lot of cool things that I keep accidentally discovering. Like an accidental swipe to the right showed me that the home screen is three times as big as I thought!

It's a really cool phone and it does cool things, but accidentally discovering features one by one makes me feel like I'm missing out. (Not to mention the frustration I feel when I'm trying to do something I know it can do.)

So I'm not complaining about my G1. I'm just pointing out that good documentation is a good thing.

Photo by romainguy.

A walk down memory lane … with GNOME and Stormy

I ran across the GNOME Advisory Board Minutes from June 2003, back when I was on the advisory board representing HP:

Stormy Peters did a presentation about her work on the Open Source
Program Office at HP, policy, review for releases, and the OSS portal.
The Foundation provides:
- a bridge between community and the users
- credibility
- product management
- communication, especially roadmap
which are the main values from a corporate perspective.
Stormy devoted a significant portion of her presentation to the role
of the advisory board. She says that the advisory board could contribute
more to the GNOME project and could be more helpful to the foundation.
She urged us to make better use of the advisory board, and of her
resources in particular.

Well, the GNOME Foundation is certainly making better use of my resources now! We could still do something about that roadmap though.

Advisory board members often ask for the GNOME roadmap. (Or the GTK+ roadmap or the you name it roadmap it.) They need it to make their plans. They need it to explain to their management and their peers what GNOME is up to. I think even if we didn't have concrete dates on the roadmap, we could still create one. The idea is to show where you're going, not necessarily all the fine detail of how you'll get there.

For example, recently someone contacted us for a list of GNOME goals for 2009. I was getting ready to jump in with some high level, vague answer when Vincent Untz jumped in with this great list of things that might happen in 2009. I went wow, where'd you get that from? To which he responded, in typical Vincent fashion, that it was only in the heads of crazy people who try to follow everything. (And I am very, very impressed with how much crazy people like Vincent follow, keep track of and know. 😉

But what if we created a GNOME technologies roadmap of all the crazy things that might happen in 2009-2010? Then we could color code it with likelihood of happening and update it a few times a year. We could also mark who was working on what, what areas needed help, …

Cows on the road!

This is what I ran into this morning. Only the cows I ran into were white. And there were more than 30 of them. And they were running. (I really have to start carrying my camera with me!)

Photo by Cameron Maddux.

Cameron_MadduxI ended up driving slowly through the cows to pull up to the house that looked like they might belong to. As I pulled up, a woman came running out with her cell phone in one hand and her keys in the other. She ran to her car and drove straight across the road and into the field – in front of the cows that were making a break for it. Shortly afterwards, three pickup trucks came careening across the field and all the cows were shooed back into the right field. I asked if they needed any (inexpert) help and they said they were good.

(I hope she got her car out of the field ok but I suppose the three pickup trucks will help if she's stuck.)

I feel like it should be an exciting day now!

GNOME Advisory Board Meetings

Every month we have GNOME advisory board meetings that are designed to bring our sponsors and our community closer together – to open up channels of communication. The topics so far have covered things from usability to GTK+ 3.0 to finances. There's usually a short presentation by the team and then there's time for discussion.

From the advisory board members it's a chance to hear in more detail what the GNOME community is doing, as well as the other advisory board members, and to give feedback. In addition, since we invite the appropriate community members or additional people from advisory board companies, it's a chance to meet the experts in the community.

From the community perspective the meetings are a chance to show off their project, get feedback from downstream users and make sure that sponsors know about their project.

The meetings are held the second Wednesday of every month. This month we'll be holding it a week late (this Wednesday) and we'll be talking about upstream, downstream relationships.

If you have any topics you'd like to see covered, please let me know. We're especially interested in hearing from community members who'd like to share their project with the advisory board members.