Open-source gnaws its way into . . .
. . . the heart of Oregon"s economy. And politicians in the Beaver State certainly like it. Rob Drake, the mayor of Beaverton, Ore., thinks so much of open-source software that he helped spearhead the city"s US$1.2 million investment in the brand-spanking-new Open Technology Business Center (OTBC), which was unveiled last week with modest fanfare, including a speech from Gov. Ted Kulongoski. The state"s chief executive brags that the greater Portland area is already home to Open Source Development Labs Inc. (OSDL) and a growing handful of vendors that use Linux, PHP, MySQL and many other freely licensed technologies. "Our region"s soil is rich in open-source ingredients," Kulongoski says, adding that he"s "dedicated to making open technology a key factor in Oregon"s economy." Stuart Cohen, OSDL"s CEO, points out that Linus Torvalds, the inventor of Linux and the crown prince of the open-source movement, now calls Portland his home. LaVonne Reiner, executive director of the OTBC, says the facility will incubate "ventures in residence," fund individual research and house the Open Technology Executive Institute. She says the latter will be a partnership with a university, which will be named within two months, to teach an open-source curriculum to business leaders, consultants and lawyers. The OTBC has already lured its first venture in residence. Ryan Lucas, CEO of Stunt Computing LLC, says his company is abandoning Chesapeake, Va., for the open-source-friendly Pacific Northwest. Lucas is mum about what his new product will be, saying only to expect a bundle of hardware and software based on open-source technology. Not everyone is delighted with the OTBC, though. Russ Walker, northwest director at Citizens for a Sound Economy, an advocacy group affiliated with former Congressmen Dick Armey, Jack Kemp and other conservative Republicans, decries the city"s investment in the OTBC. "It"s a bad idea to let government choose winners and losers in technology. Let the market do it," Walker gripes. Some of the folks across the border in Redmond, Wash., might agree.
Clusty takes on the "big boys" . . .
. . . in the search-engine wars. If you"re bewildered by endless lists of unorganized links to your search requests, give Clusty a shot. It"s the brainchild of some brainy Carnegie Mellon University denizens who founded Pittsburgh-based Vivisimo Inc. According to CEO Raul Valdes-Perez, the company has been shipping its Velocity Suite enterprise-class search and categorization tools for a couple of years to the likes of the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency. Now Vivisimo has a beta of its search engine available at www.clusty.com for nonspooks. The speedy search tool clusters results into numerous categories, making it much easier to ferret out information gems. For example, a search on "Super Bowl" yields a long list, as you"d expect, but also more than 10 groupings, such as Super Bowl history, betting and ads. In addition, Clusty includes thumbnail images from www.wikipedia.com with selected results, which breaks up pages and makes them easier to read. "It is time to move away from disorganized lists of information," Valdes-Perez says. But can a small start-up really take on the likes of Google, Yahoo, Lycos and Ask.com? Certainly, Valdes-Perez boasts. Categorization, he says, "makes us a full-featured alternative to the big boys."
Control the corporate RSS feeding frenzy . . .
. . . with Enterprise Syndication Server (ESS). Managing internal consumption of information based on the Real Simple Syndication (RSS) standard will get a bit easier later this quarter when KnowNow Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif., releases its new software. Ron Rasmussen, KnowNow"s vice president of product development, claims that by using ESS, "IT can control the RSS information accessible to employees." That may seem Draconian, even un-American, but he argues that the IT infrastructure inside large companies can become bogged down when thousands of employees subscribe at will to the hundreds of thousands of RSS feeds available online. Rasmussen says that ESS can be incorporated easily into company portals and that it integrates with Lightweight Directory Access Protocol authentication schemes, provides auditing and logging reports, and centralizes control of the RSS feeds permitted into networks. Perhaps more intriguing to IT developers, ESS lets you link corporate applications into an RSS feed so employees interested in getting dynamic data, such as reports on sales or manufacturing yields, can subscribe to information based on their roles. Rasmussen says no client code or browser plug-ins are necessary. Pricing has yet to be determined.