<Glazblog/>

Thursday 23 April 2015

Lettre ouverte à M. Manuel Valls, Premier Ministre

Monsieur le Premier Ministre,

L'industrie de l'Informatique et du Numérique est, par construction, une industrie largement apolitique. En effet, toute notre formation, toutes nos habitudes, toute notre éthique nous entraînent en général vers la solution la plus propre, la plus propice et la plus respectueuse de l'usager, indépendamment de qui la propose. C'est pourquoi c'est sans aucune visée politicienne que nous nous opposons aujourd'hui fermement au Projet de Loi sur le Renseignement porté par votre Gouvernement.

Passe encore que ce projet soit digne des néoconservateurs américains des années Bush, encore qu'il soit choquant qu'il soit porté par une Gauche française se réclamant de l'Humanisme.

Passe encore que vous fassiez fi des avis techniques éclairés dont nos experts vous ont pourtant abreuvé, soit en direct, soit via la représentation parlementaire, soit via une instance comme le Conseil National du Numérique, depuis des mois.

Mais il est hors de question d'accepter la surveillance de masse automatique des citoyens français que votre projet de Loi prône. Nous comprenons parfaitement que les boîtes noires existeront toujours, le travail des Services de Renseignement étant, comme un certain Colonel Moreau me l'avait précisé il y a bien longtemps, de fournir au Gouvernement les informations et actions que la Loi ne permet pas aisément voire pas du tout. De là à institutionnaliser l'écoute systématique de l'ensemble d'une population, il y a un pas que notre industrie n'est pas prête à franchir.

Vous avez déjà vu la réaction de nos hébergeurs de données prêts à se délocaliser au-delà de nos frontières, certaines de ces entreprises rarement mentionnées étant à la pointe de la technique mondiale, connues des offreurs de service dans le monde entier pour leur qualité. Vous avez pu lire la réaction de Mozilla, l'un des grands acteurs du Web et de l'Internet et ardent défenseur des libertés individuelles sur les réseaux. Vous avez pu prendre connaissance de l'article du New York Times fustigeant ce projet ou encore la réaction du Conseil de l'Europe. Le prestigieux Groupe d'Architecture Technique du World Wide Web Consortium, qui préside les évolutions techniques des Standards du Web, est même en train de discuter une réponse formelle à votre projet. Plus de cent dix mille citoyens et plus de cinq cents acteurs français du Numérique ont déjà exprimé leur opposition à votre projet, en dehors de tout initiative politique partisane.

La France, qui tente de porter partout le phare des Droits de l'Homme, est aujourd'hui la risée de la planète, pointée du doigt pour un jusque-boutisme déplacé et liberticide, s'offrant pratiquement le droit d'ouvrir toute communication sans intervention judiciaire.

Les investissement étrangers dans le numérique en France, déjà anémiques depuis l'action malencontreuse de M. Montebourg en protection de Daily Motion, vont drastiquement s'en ressentir. Alors que l'État a suffisamment pesté contre les écoutes américaines pour initier un programme (totalement stupide, mal ficelé et atrocement coûteux mais cela est une autre histoire) de Cloud dit souverain, nous ne pouvons être que choqués par une initiative qui vous donnerait légalement des pouvoirs d'écoute encore plus grands, au nom de la sécurité. Or l'équilibre entre libertés individuelles et nécessaire sécurité est fragile, et votre projet de Loi le modifie profondément, menaçant les fondamentaux économiques de notre industrie. Cela reste un élément tout à fait secondaire face à la menace pesant sur les libertés des citoyens, mais tout de même.

Je vous rappelle que l'industrie de l'Informatique et du Numérique est la seule industrie dans laquelle on peut se lancer avec quatre cents euros : l'informaticien a besoin d'un ordinateur, d'une table, d'une chaise, d'une connexion à l'Internet et d'un cerveau en état de marche. Une telle industrie, porteuse d'un ratio potentiel/investissement colossal, doit être soutenue et favorisée et non pas fragilisée.

Soyez certains que nous utiliserons nos talents, nos innovations, et surtout nos codes pour lutter contre votre projet. Nous ferons essaimer les technologies de chiffrement des messageries électroniques au-delà des cercles peu étendus actuels, nous inventerons de nouvelles techniques de contournement pour les accès au Web, nous ferons percoler des applications connues des seuls initiés dans le Grand Public. Nous communiquerons tous azimuts contre ce projet, et nous nous ferons entendre dans les prochaines campagnes électorales, interpellant directement vos candidats. Nous utiliserons tous les moyens légaux à notre disposition pour préserver les libertés individuelles dans ce pays.

Notre industrie est non seulement apolitique, mais elle fonctionne également - pour les mêmes raisons profondes - à la confiance. Le pont de confiance qui a pu exister entre notre industrie de l'Informatique et du Numérique et votre gouvernement n'est pas entamé, Monsieur le Premier Ministre. Il est rompu. Et c'est pourquoi, dans une référence que toute notre industrie comprendra, nous vous disons, tel un Gandalf face au Balrog sur un même pont :

Vous ne passerez pas.

Daniel Glazman

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Samsung Gear Fit, or « hardware obsoleted by software »

Samsung Gear FitFollowing a hint given by someone a few days ago during the Bulgarian Web Summit, I was quite shocked to discover this morning that my Samsung Gear Fit is obsolete, software-wise. The Gear Fit was released with the Samsung S5 a year ago, on the 11th of April 2014. Although a bit limited and even buggy, it's a pretty interesting device partly because of its very peculiar form factor. It was said to work only with a few Samsung devices, but many people succeeded using it with all sorts of Android devices. I wish I could use it with my iPhone but that's unfortunately not an option.

The Gear Fit has a few downloadable extensions, based on a SDK also released a year ago. The fact extra apps can be created and maintained is a very important indicator of not only the market success of a given device, but also of the obsolescence of the device.

That SDK is not available any more from http://developer.samsung.com, as it is confirmed here. And it's not a very recent change. Samsung then turned obsolete - because of software - a hardware they released less than a year ago. From a customer's perspective (again, I bought that device), that's pretty shocking.

The Samsung Gear Fit is still available everywhere here in France, from Orange stores to supermarkets. But it's a dead duck without a SDK. Don't buy it.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Beau temps sur le nord avec un nuage statique au-dessus du 15ème arrondissement de Paris

Oui, je sais, je vais pouvoir m'accuser moi-même d'alimenter le Tristan-Nitot-Tracker mais bon, c'est un peu la faute à Tristan aussi... Il a annoncé ce matin qu'il rejoint CozyCloud et ça a même donné lieu à un communiqué de presse, ils ont bien eu raison de capitaliser sur sa notoriété (le troll zélé notera, vaguement amusé, que bon hein hors sujet voilà). Outre les félicitations d'usage aux deux parents (Tristan et CozyCloud), tous les voeux pour le futur bébé et toussa, il faut noter la belle découverte de Guillaume Laforge :

Nous surnommerons donc Tristan C3PO alors qu'on s'apprêtait plutôt à passer à Cumulo-nito-nimbus, cloud oblige.

Mais revenons à nos petits moutons qui sautillent gaiement dans la rosée de ce beau matin printanier du 11 mars 2015 (ça va, vous suivez toujours ?) et surtout à l'annonce de Tristan. Donc le Nitot rejoint une startup qui fait dans le cloud dans un modèle propre, respectueux de l'usager et de ses données.

L'État et d'autres investisseurs ont englouti des fortunes dans CloudWatt et Numergy, dont l'échec est patent et surtout cuisant. L'État d'abord, ces deux entreprises ensuite, ont gravement merdé et à de multiples niveaux encore...

  • pognon tombé du ciel
  • participations abracadabrantesques
  • deux entreprises lancées en même temps sur le même marché ! Eh, pourquoi pas 3 ou 4 hein ?
  • grosse frénésie « ma trombine partout » des dirigeants
  • modèle pour le moins fumeux avec des prix pifometrisés d'après le marché
  • incapacité à délivrer
  • incapacité à attirer

Franchement, on dirait qu'on a pris exemple sur le RSI...

Si je vous dis tout ça, c'est parce que normalement, un projet de Cloud souverain bien mené, protégé (tant que faire ce peut) des intrusions extérieures et respectueux tant de l'usager que de ses données, ça aurait du faire tilt chez un gars comme Tristan si cela avait été bien fait. Mais comme cela a été fait en dépit du bon sens... Tristan chez CozyCloud c'est une super-nouvelle tant pour lui que pour eux. Et c'est aussi un glas qui sonne pour CloudWatt et Numergy. Un de plus, me direz-vous :-)

Monday 9 March 2015

e-junkie's mega FAIL on EU VAT

I have been using e-junkie for my sales of BlueGriffon add-ons and BlueGriffon EPUB Edition for years. Quite happily until recently. But this changed and I am now extremely upset by the way e-junkie dealt with the recent changes in VAT in the European Union.

Until the 31st of december 2014, using them to sell a downloadable product world-wide from a business inside the EU was easy. You only had to set your price without VAT and check a checkbox to apply VAT to your sales to european customers. One single price, one single sales button and shopping basket, e-junkie handled your VAT rate based on your business's country.

Since the 1st of january 2015, the EU rules have changed. A bit painful but certainly not unbearable: the VAT rate to apply to european customers is not based on the business's location any more but based now on the customer's location.

In short, it means that in 2014 e-junkie was determining the VAT rate to apply from an array of 27 values looking for the business's country. In 2015, the value should be retrieved from the customer's value, something that is perfectly doable for e-junkie since it can, at the shopping basket level, require the user to enter his/her country of residence and even the zipcode.

But no, e-junkie declined to do so and completely changed its behaviour overnight. Starting 01-jan-2015, the unique price you set in e-junkie for a product INCLUDES VAT for european customers...

E-junkie leaves a few ugly options to european businesses: have one sales button for EU customers and one for others (urgghhh...), offer a discount code to non-EU customers and other ugly solutions of that kind. E-junkie say they must validate the address and that can be done only after the bank/paypal has accepted the sale or something like that. That argument is not acceptable, since all european users of e-junkie perfectly know some european users cheat and give for instance a US address for downloadable purchases, to avoid paying VAT. It cannot be worse. And the argument that e-junkie had to do this or that does not stand, e-junkie is not a european company and does not have to comply with European Directives, they're outside of the European jurisdiction.

E-junkie has left all its european customers in limbos with respect to EU VAT. It really looks like they did not want to touch their code and UI - that have not changed in years. They already had the array of 27 VAT rates in the EU, and the VAT was  added only after the shopping basket had verified both the customer and the business were in the EU. Their refusal to tweak their code - and as a programmer I cannot believe the change was complex - is a true shame.

Let me state it clearly: this is a failure of a rarely seen magnitude and I am now looking for an alternative to e-junkie dealing better - dealing at all should I say - with EU VAT rates. I have recommended e-junkie to a gazillion of EU businesses. I am now recommending them to flee and find another shopping basket manager.

If you have a suggestion for an alternative to e-junkie, please leave a comment? Thanks!

Monday 2 March 2015

Vivaldi, the browser

Vivaldi is the new kid on the block. It's not a new rendering engine, since it relies on Google's Blink, but it's definitely a new browser.

But I have a gut feeling this is not only a company and a browser. It's also a personal revenge on Opera's current board and the company was formed as such. Jon von Tetzchner has enough capital to do that w/o caring too much about the money, and the words of Tatsuki Tomita, co-founder, « we feel that there is a need for a more powerful browser for people who want more from their browser » are a bit lightweight as a business plan for a free app, really.

Even if it's based on Blink and not on Presto any more, Vivaldi aims at continuing where Opera stopped. The first feedback from users is very clear on that. And no need to comment more on the Opera and Vivaldi names, right?

We'll see where it goes from here, and if Vivaldi's Jon does not become in the future for Opera what NeXT's Steve Jobs became for Apple, something I am 100% sure he has in mind :-)

Lykke til, Jon !

Adobe Edge Reflow anyone?

Edge ReflowI received this morning a message from the Adobe Edge Reflow prerelease forum that triggered my interest. I must admit I did not really follow what happened there during the last twelve months for many various reasons... But this morning, it was different. In short, the author had questions about the fate of Edge Reflow, in particular because of the deep silence of that forum...

Adobe announced Edge Reflow in Q3 2012 I think. It followed the announcement of Edge Code a while ago. Reflow was aimed at visual responsive design in a new, cool, interactive desktop application with mobile and photoshop links. The first public preview was announced in February 2013 and a small community of testers and contributors gathered around the Adobe prerelease fora. Between January 2013 and now, roughly 1300 messages were sent there.

Reflow is a html5/JS app turned into a desktop application through the magic of CEF. It has a very cool and powerful UI, superior management of simple Media Queries, excellent management of colors, backgrounds, layers, magnetic grids and more. All in all, a very promising application for Web Authoring.

But the last available build of Reflow, again through the prerelease web site, is only a 0.57.17154 and it is now 8 months old. After 2 years and a half, Reflow is still not here and there are reasons to worry.

First, the team (the About dialog lists more than 20 names...) seems to have vanished and almost nothing new has been contributed/posted to Reflow in the last six to eight months.

Second, the application still suffers from things I identified as rather severe issues early on: the whole box model of the application is based on CSS floats and is then not in line with what modern web designers are looking for. Eh, it's not even using absolute positioning... It also means it's going to be rather complicated to adapt it to grids and flexbox, not even mentioning Regions...

Reflow also made the choice to generate Web pages instead of editing Web pages... It means projects are saved in a proprietary format and only exported to html and CSS. It's impossible to take an existing Web page and open it in Reflow to edit it. In a world of Web Design that sees authors use heterogeneous environments, I considered that as a fatal mistake. I know - trust me, I perfectly know - that making html the pivot format of Reflow would have implied some major love and a lot, really a lot of work. But not doing it meant that Edge Reflow had to be at the very beginning of the editorial chain, and that seemed to me an unbearable market restriction.

Then there was the backwards compatibility issue. Simply put, how does one migrate Dreamweaver templates to Reflow? Short answer, you can't...

I suspect Edge Reflow is now at least on hold, more probably stopped. More than 2 years and still no 1.0 on such an application that should have seen a 1.0beta after six to eight months is not a good sign anyway. After Edge Code that became Brackets in november 2014, that raises a lot of question on the Edge concept and product line. Edge Animate seems to be still maintained at Adobe (there's our old Netscape friend Kin Blas in the list of credits) but I would not be surprised if the name is changed in the future.

Too bad. I was, in the beginning, really excited by Edge Reflow. I suspect we won't hear about it again.

Monday 23 February 2015

Manly Beach

Soooo... When I was in Sydney, I had to find a doctor and then a pharmacy to buy a strong antiseptic cream. Beach's sand (more probably sharp bits of shell) created four scratches between two toes of my right foot and after a day and a half, it became slowly red, and it started swelling and oozing. And the smell was not normal. It was also quite painful. It was of course an infection, that the cream fortunately helped curing in less than two days. But now it happens I have a second extremely similar skin infection elsewhere, also happening on sand scratches, and that started very slowly after my last half-day in Sydney, half-day I spent on the same beach while my CSS WG friends were scuba-diving 300m away.

I have never walked barefoot outside of the beach, I had socks inside my light shoes so the only place I could get it from was the beach.

I am therefore seriously questioning the cleanliness of the sand at Manly Beach or worse, the pollution of the water. I read that bacterial water pollution can be rather high in Manly after rainfalls or storms and I wonder if the sand on the main beach is not accumulating that bacterial pollution... In Europe, such spots are regularly disinfected and I wonder if it's the case on Manly beach. All in all, getting not one but two skin infections from sand scratches at the same beach, on two different moments, does not seem to me a coincidence... FWIW, I never had such skin infections before.

Sunday 8 February 2015

CSS Parser and Tokenizer API

The first time I mentioned the need to reach the internal CSS parser of a rendering engine from JavaScript was 17 years ago during the CSS WG meeting I hosted at Électricité de France in 1998, during a corridor discussion. All the people around said it was out of question. Then I put it back on the table in 2002, with little success again. Today, I was actioned by the CSS WG and the TAG in the Houdini Task Force to start editing a new document (with Tab Atkins, Shane Stevens and Brian Kardell) called CSS Parser and Tokenizer API. It does not say it's going to be accepted or anything, but at least it went beyond the 5 minutes chat and rebuttal. I am extremely happy and proud :-) If we succeed making it happen, this is going to be a game-changer for a lot of web applications!!!

Wednesday 4 February 2015

In praise of Tristan Nitot

There's a high probability Tristan and I met when we were kids. We were both hanging around the same places at the same time to have access to computers. We met again during the early years of Netscape, while I was leading everything web-related at Électricité de France. Later, he was of course the first one to greet Peter and I when we joined as sherpas in november 2000.

On the 15th of july 2003, Tristan, Peter and myself were on the "special" conference call about a "reorganization". In the next minutes, all our colleagues from the US sent a farewell message and Netscape was no more. After the summer break, Tristan, Peter and myself met at Peter's apartment in Paris to discuss our future. I suggested to take advantage of the OSS nature of Mozilla and launch a software company, but Tristan and Peter had only one idea in mind and it was already called "Mozilla Europe"... I eventually launched "Disruptive Innovations" alone while they remained focus on their project.

Tristan and Peter worked incredibly hard to achieve that, giving Mozilla a unique and powerful presence on the Old Continent. After the official launch of Mozilla Europe, Tristan became ubiquitous. He was so present in European media I started the Tristant-Nitot-Tracker as a joke. Newspapers, Web magazines, radios, television channels, there has not been a single day between 2003 and 2011 without multiple appearances of Tristan everywhere in Europe, and sometimes beyond. I never understood how Tristan found the time and energy to make Mozilla so visible in the media here.

The face of Mozilla Europe is - we'll soon have to say was - Tristan. There's that classic and completely stupid french proverb that says "nobody is irreplaceable"... If someone you hired is replaceable, it only means you have to improve your hiring process. Successes are built with irreplaceable people.

Tristan is irreplaceable, because he's not only giving work, skills, energy and talent. He's doing it in a way that is from my perspective unique: tons of humor in absolutely all circumstances, extreme dedication, convinced and convincing spirit, ability to discuss with absolutely anyone from geeks to politicians, outstanding spoken and written communication, indisputable loyalty, inspiring everyone.

I'm not a Mozilla employee. But Tristan has been, as Mozilla Europe's leader, a crucial person to my company. So let me thank him deeply and sincerely for all the fish he gave me, all the fish he gave us all.

Tristan, all I can say is that you now have more free time to ride your motorbike to come have lunch with me in Saint-Germain! Best of luck for the future, the coaching and the book!

Monday 26 January 2015

En vrac

  • Customers' response to the launch of Samsung Tizen Z1 in India is said to be « freezing cold » and a « failure ». I'm clearly not surprised.
  • -1 again on Samsung Open Source Group's headcount, what a success. Not sure Samsung has even one person in the whole world still working full-time on Servo...
  • but in the meantime, Samsung launched a great DSLR with Tizen inside.
  • IBM announced the Layogeddon. 111,800 persons let go before the end of the month.
  • my Quaxe project received an « E-Toiles d'Or 2015 » award

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Jean-Claude Bellamy

Jean-Claude Bellamy

J'ai été pendant six ans Ingénieur-Chercheur à la Direction des Études et Recherches d'EDF. Un environnement très spécial, où les coups tordus pleuvaient comme la mousson en Inde au mois de Juin et où l'inertie ambiante était assez délirante. Peu de temps après mon arrivée, j'avais été "invité" dans un mini-réseau de gens fiables et loyaux à l'entreprise. Parce que tout marchait comme ça, il y avait les gens fiables, sur qui on pouvait compter en toute circonstance, et les autres. Jean-Claude Bellamy, qui vient de nous quitter, faisait partie des gens hyper-fiables.

Mais Jean-Claude était aussi bien plus que ça : c'était un humoriste, un bon vivant, un mentor, un ingénieur remarquable, un type fidèle, loyal. Un homme bon, tout simplement.

C'était aussi un dieu vivant de Windows. Il était MVP (Most Valuable Professional) Microsoft depuis des années et même un des très rares non-employés-Microsoft en France à avoir accès au code source de Windows, par décision venant de Microsoft Corp. à Redmond... Microsoft France l'avait il y a peu viré de son statut MVP (après plus de douze ans ininterrompus !!!) et de l'accès au source, malgré une confiance renouvelée par Redmond. Comme Jean-Claude me le disait lui-même :

Mais je crois que mon franc-parler critiquant çà et là (avec argumentation incontestable) le désastre de "Windows Phone" et les concetés à répétition et l'horreur de "Windows 8" n'ont pas du plaire! ;-)

Ces andouilles ne se sont pas rendus compte qu'en faisant cela, il m'ont redonné une liberté totale! ;-)

On ne pouvait que bien s'entendre, n'est-ce pas ?

Ses docs sur Windows étaient également des mines de renseignements fabuleuses et je crois bien que c'est Jean-Claude qui a écrit un des tous premiers documents sur la possibilité de dual-boot, il y a une éternité. Tout francophone qui voulait bidouiller/coder dans Windows est un jour ou l'autre tombé sur son site Web ou ses innombrables contributions sur Usenet ou les forums développeurs de Microsoft.

Il nous faisait aussi marrer comme des baleines. Je me souviens d'une réunion EDF à laquelle nous étions tous les deux, assis l'un à côté de l'autre, et nous pestions sans arrêt contre l'épouvantable langue-de-bois de tous les orateurs qui se succédaient. Quelques jours plus tard, Jean-Claude nous annonçait sa page de logomachie, et nous hurlions de rire en nous rendant compte à quel point c'était malheureusement proche des discours qu'on nous servait.

Mes six années à EDF n'auraient pas été les mêmes sans Jean-Claude. Tant humainement que techniquement, sa présence m'a été inestimable. J'ai été infiniment honoré de son amitié fidèle, même après mon départ d'EDF.

So long Jean-Claude, and many thanks for the fish.

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Reflections on the Samsung Z1 launch

The difficult steps of Samsung in the software world

Important disclaimer: I worked for Samsung Research America as a full-time contractor from september 2013 to june 2014, and have been maintaining there no contacts but personal ones since then. The following lines represent only my personal opinions and do not contain any detail or information that were not published by the Press before if you except what people having no employment or contractual link with Samsung shared with me between september 2014 and today.

A Tizen-based phone, finally..

After a long, long, really long wait, Samsung finally releases one Tizen-based smartphone to the market. The Z1 is now available in India for a unsubsidized price of 5,700 rupees, so roughly 78€. The full specs of the beast are available for instance here. Here are my thoughts about that release...

First, the name of that smartphone is badly chosen. Very badly even. The successful Sony Xperia Z1 was released Q3 and Q4 2013 and googling Z1 usually drives to the Sony smartphone almost everywhere in the world. Of course, because of the release, references to the Samsung release are now on top of list but that won't last if the Samsung Z1's market does not rapidly increase. As a matter of fact, some of the first Indian articles about the Z1 are not that impressed.

The smartphone is almost similar to the ZTE Open C that runs Firefox OS if you except the fact the Z1 is dual-SIM. Even the price is the same. But the ZTE is available in many countries and received extremely positive reviews even here in France. Firefox OS is also available on a high-end device in Japan, crossing a segment boundary that Samsung does not seem ready to cross with Tizen.

It can run Android apps, through OpenMobile ACL (Applications Compatibility Layer) available in the new Tizen Store (no URL, reachable only from a Tizen device...). This is important and there are many positive and negative things to say about it. First, it shows that despite of injecting literally millions of dollars into software companies, Tizen has not attracted a big enough Apps catalog to live standalone. I even heard last month from a software company that ported its app to Tizen that they don't care about Tizen at all, they just caught Samsung's money and don't plan to update their Tizen app after that.

OpenMobile ACL is not an emulator. Apps should almost run at native Android speed. So that is quite positive from an end-user's perspective if you except one tiny detail: reaching and running Android Apps now rely on third-party software that is another problematic layer in the bigger Android fragmentation issue. OpenMobile ACL say on their web site they provide an AppMall for Android apps. I have no confirmation about this but my first thought is that it is necessary to make sure OpenMobile ACL users only download and try to run apps that are validated, i.e. apps that are known to work under ACL. AppMall is probably integrated into the Tizen Store. So what about the version of Android ACL allows? And what about ACL's updates? No word.

One word about ACL: a "Samsung spokesperson" denied Tizen on the Z1 can run an Android app without having the code re-written. Given what OpenMobile says on their own web site about ACL, I would be more than cautious about the authoritativeness of that clarification...

All in all, OpenMobile ACL's presence in the Tizen Store and the fact it's officially shown as a sales argument is not a good signal for Tizen itself. Will developers have any incentive to develop natively for Tizen? I don't think so. Will ACL's limited openness to the Android world be a problem? Almost certainly. Furthermore, the whole Tizen story was about building an alternative to Android and the Android app ecosystem; that strategy seems to have failed at least in Samsung execs' minds, and Tizen is, at least for the time being, unable to provide Samsung Electronics with such an alternative. I fail to see how that situation could improve in the near-term future without drastic strategic changes.

The Z1 is fueled by Tizen 2.3, released in December 2014, after a loooooong history you can read summarized here. And after so much time and many, many hesitations at Samsung that CNet reported about (launch announced, launch delayed, launch area restricted, launch suspended, again and again), it's amazing to watch the pace of Firefox OS, that went from inception in July 2011 to market availability in nearly 30 countries in December 2014 on phones, TVs, tablets, watches and even a TV stick. Firefox OS also has attracted many app developers, without subsidizing them, because it's a true open HTML5-based platform.

The browser inside the beast is clearly Blink-based, so that's another extremely strong tie to Google. A while ago, Samsung announced a collaboration with Mozilla to work on a new rendering engine, Mozilla Servo. Seen from github, that collaboration seems to have drastically fallen.

That said, let me tell you what I think of Tizen at Samsung.

What's wrong with Samsung's software

Samsung is a hardware leader. This is clear, recognized by all and quite stable. Yeah, well, its smartphone market share may suffer a bit these days but its chips and parts are still everywhere.

But it's nowhere in software (yeah, yeah, I know Samsung is a huge contributor to Linux) because the company and its processes seem mostly unadapted to software. The software stack of my connected Samsung TV sucks, the software bundled with my Samsung laptop all suck so deeply I deleted them, Kies for mobile devices (think iTunes) that is major visibility thing for Samsung is a endless subject of laugh and unfortunately cries for everyone I know, my Samsung S5 was so plagued by ugly UI, system bugs, painfully annoying and totally useless additions to Android that I finally moved back to Apple.. And Tizen is... well... stop the first person around the corner and ask "have you ever heard of Android? iOS? Windows? Tizen?". There are remarkable bits inside Tizen; Linux, EFL and more. It's the whole packaged thing that feels wrong.

To maintain a hardware leadership on devices, Samsung absolutely needs to become a software leader.  That won't be easy. First it needs to adapt to the software engineering culture and that implies opening a full Pandora's box because software engineering culture remains mostly a fact of the western world. To master software, Samsung then needs to move one of its centers of gravity outside of Korea, a true taboo as of today. This not hyper-specific to Samsung; most Korean companies suffer from the same issue and are unable to become global. It also means Samsung must induce a self-revolution to attract software engineers because the projects are exciting and will change the world, and not only because of the salaries, reported as being pretty high on Glassdoor. Samsung is known to be a rather vertical company, and that certainly fits well with hardware processes. It does not fit at all with software ones. All of that will require the implementation of drastic changes in the company. Again, Samsung is far from alone in that situation. Openness of mind is not a message, it's a core feature.

In that perspective, Android is at the same time an enabler and a blocker. Enabler because it clearly helped Samsung reach the #1 position on the mobile phone market but blocker because Android and its Play Store are in the hands of a partner that is also a competitor. Big names own an operating system and a browser stack. You can name four, in alphabetical order, and that's all: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla. Period. The others can reach a #1 position in sales but they will always remain strategically behind these ones because they don't own the full thing.

But Tizen seems to be managed by Samsung, at the highest level and not the technical one, by people who haven't understood at all how to insert it into the market. Or maybe they have and they were blocked by the corporate structure, which is clearly worse.

  1. you can't flash your personal phone, even a Samsung one, with Tizen. Holy cow, read that again: Tizen is heading towards version THREE ZERO and you still can't try it on any personal phone, even a Samsung one.
  2. so-called "reference phones" are so old/weak they cannot trigger developers' or manufacturers' interest. They're also rare and difficult to obtain.
  3. who cares about a Tizen emulator on a desktop computer when there are no phones in the wild...

So Samsung urgently needs to change that. It needs an extra team with one single goal: provide as soon as possible Samsung phone owners all around the world with flashable builds of Tizen for the longest possible device list (and of course easy way back to Android). That's where politics could enter the game, with the tenants of the Google partnership probably refusing collaboration on that ground. This is pure speculation of mine but I would not be surprised if it was later confirmed. The conclusion is simple: if Tizen is thought to be an answer to the decorrelation-from-Google question, then the decision to support and release has to come from the highest level in the company and be very strictly enforced. And if not, Tizen has to be ditched. In my opinion, Samsung must have its own OS stack to be a top player instead of being only a major player. It has to shift a large part of its growth from hardware to software and user experience.

Tizen itself needs, at the technical level, some major love. Its Web API is so different from the stable or proposed W3C API it's utterly shocking. Even the Alarm API, authored on both sides by a former Intel employee who spent a rather short while at Samsung and eventually left to Apple (ahem...), shows incompatible specs. The whole SDK needs a complete review, and revamp. Open Web Standards must be the only ground layer there.

At the UI level, Tizen is almost a clone of an old version of Android, and there is no fun using it. Tizen UI has nothing special, nothing exciting or different. Seen from a meter away, one is unable to say if a given phone is running Android or Tizen. So Samsung needs UI designers totally free to push the limits far beyond what Samsung is usually able to do in terms of UI. You may or may not like the tiles of Windows Phone, but they're a distinctive sign of Microsoft and the slowly but steadily increasing market share of Microsoft seems to indicate many people actually like them. Tizen has nothing like that for the time being.

The app layer is again a tough choice: native or web-based? C++/Java or HTML5? Still or sparkling? It's 2015 and developers should still love to code in, ahem, Java? Seriously? The largest pool of developers in the world is on the Web, every single web page author can be turned into a Web-based app author at very little cost, and the Tizen Z1 will try to gain success using a compatibility layer with Java-based apps? Wow. The future of apps is clearly HTML5-based even if some native apps will remain.

And then comes the browser issue... As I said above, a major corporation that does not own a browser stack is a major player, not a top one. And using Blink inside Tizen preserves a tie to Google that is completely counter-strategic and certainly harms the whole original Tizen plan. Samsung, like all other major smartphone manufacturers, needs a 64-bits multi-threaded rendering engine with parallel layout, to extract the highest performance - and the lowest battery drain - from multicore CPUs. It also needs its own rendering engine because the rendering engine is a core element of most Apps so innovating in that engine is a key factor of market success. Innovation should not be in the hands of a third-party, even a long-time partner and a fortiori not a competitor.

What Samsung needs to do to fix its software effort

My advices to Samsung about Tizen would be the following ones, even if I could say the same to any of their major Android-based competitors:

  1. yes, you need your own OS. It would be a very serious strategic mistake to ditch or even limit Tizen.
  2. no, OpenMobile ACL is not a killer feature, don't forget the downsides and the fact others OSes like Firefox OS can have it too.
  3. no, its current UI and UX are clearly not enough and you need a deep investment there.
  4. no, the way you try to increase Tizen's visibility and external contributions to the Tizen ecosystem does not feel right. Look at how Ubuntu Mobile or Firefox OS built a community and do the same.
  5. no, sorry, Tizen is far behind competitors in terms of modernity and openness. You must implement drastic changes there, and that goes down to the technical layer.
  6. yes, to do that, you must implement globalization. You must implement it anyway for a zillion good reasons. That will require cultural changes and a less vertical organization.
  7. yes, to do that, you also must release Tizen to existing devices, and you must even release nightly builds. Make "early adopters" become your best evangelists.
  8. no, you're not good enough, not open enough and not disruptive enough in the software world. To do something different, you must do it differently and with different people and habits. Accept it and apply it. The more you wait, the harder it will be.
  9. no, you just cannot wed yourselves eternally with Blink. You need your own rendering engine to fully unleash the hardware power of your devices and stimulate the rest of your software innovation. This remark is also valid for the browser on Android, although I'm not sure the new terms of the Android embedding agreement still allow the bundling of an extra browser...
  10. in that light, the Samsung Tizen Z1 could, perhaps, address the low-end segment of the market in some geographic areas but it's hardly the announcement of a new and successful OS ecosystem.

Update: mention of Android 2.3 for ACL in Z1 deleted after new input.

Friday 9 January 2015

No comment

HTTP headers
Screenshot by Robin Berjon following a message of mine

S'il est un bal tragique, c'est celui des hypocrites

Depuis mercredi matin, j'ai les larmes aux yeux toutes les dix minutes, ça fait dix ans que cela ne m'est pas arrivé. J'ai du mal à me concentrer sur le travail, à m'imposer un rythme. J'ai grandi avec Reiser, Cavanna, Choron, Wolinski et Cabu qui ont forgé mon premier esprit critique d'ado. J'ajoute à cette liste Coluche et Desproges. Le simple fait que certains (pas mes parents) aient pu, à l'époque, me dire « mais comment peux-tu lire ces horreurs ? » me renforçait dans ma détermination à lire ces gens. Tout d'abord parce que je n'y trouvais aucune horreur, justement. Ensuite parce qu'ils fustigeaient les cons, un de leurs rares points d'accord avec de Gaulle : vaste problème. Enfin parce qu'ils me faisaient beaucoup marrer.

Dur d'être aimé des cons

Ils sont morts et hurleraient de rire s'ils avaient pu apprendre qu'on a sonné le glas de Notre-Dame pour eux, ils en feraient une couverture ! J'imagine le curé s'envolant parce qu'il tient la corde du glas et le cercueil de Wolinski déclarant « waaaaah, on lui voit les couilles ! ». Et puis tout de même, se retrouver avec de Gaulle et Pompidou comme rare cause de sonnerie du glas, quelle ironie fabuleuse ! Comme m'a dit un copain qui se reconnaîtra, pas rancunier le curé... Ils se tiendraient aussi le bide en se payant leurs tronches s'ils apprenaient que tous ceux - et ils sont nombreux - qui avaient déclarés Charlie Hebdo « irresponsable » il y a quelques années sont aujourd'hui alignés dans une belle indignation. Enfin quoi, la République entière et même ses élus se levant pour quelques journaleux ou dessinateurs de miquets assassinés, certains étant des libertaires, alors que les politiques ont toujours eu - et ont souvent encore - la tentation de les museler ? Museler un journaliste, c'est aussi le tuer ; temporairement du moins. Je relis alors un de mes vieux billets et je crache à la gueule de la légion des hypocrites.

Il y a un poster "Je suis Charlie" sur la porte de ma maison parce que je suis fier que ma réputation d'emmerdeur qui ouvre toujours sa gueule quand il a quelque chose à dire soit un peu le fait de Charlie Hebdo ou de ses ancêtres. Mais non, je ne suis pas Charlie, parce que je n'aurais fort probablement pas eu le courage de me mettre (et les miens avec) ainsi face aux balles.

François Hollande s'en sort très, très, très bien. Lors des procès sur les caricatures en 2006, il soutenait à fond Charlie Hebdo, se déplaçant même au Palais. L'ancien grand mufti de Marseille, Soheib Bencheikh, absolument parfait, s'était déclaré opposé « à toute action en justice ou manifestation » contre la publication des caricatures au nom de « la liberté d'expression (...) sacrée ». Quant aux autres, relisez bien ce qu'ils disaient en 2012, c'est parfois bien plus ambigu. Seuls se démarquent François Fillon et Jean-Marc Ayrault qui avaient soutenu à fond, clairement et à haute voix, la liberté d'expression. Juppé par exemple parlait d'irresponsabilité ; étonnamment, il ne dit plus la même chose aujourd'hui, eh.

La première mention spéciale du jour va à Donald Trump, preuve vivante que l'argent ne peut pas tout acheter puisque sa fortune n'a pas réussi à lui acheter un cerveau. Il a déclaré que si les gens avaient des armes, ils auraient au moins eu une chance et qu'il était intéressant que cela se soit produit dans un des pays ayant une des plus fortes législations sur les armes.

La seconde va à Apple Inc., oui oui la firme à la pomme, dont la page Web du site français affiche un beau bandeau noir "Je suis Charlie" alors que l'Apple Store censure en permanence des écrits, des applications, impose aux développeurs des conditions bafouant la liberté d'entreprendre. Et ce matin encore. Vous croyez vraiment que Charlie Hebdo est disponible dans le kiosque à magazines d'Apple, hein ? Alors qu'Apple a censuré des dictionnaires parce que des mots contenus dedans ne lui plaisaient pas, comment osent-ils afficher l'esprit de Charlie ?

Ma suggestion à Apple France est simple :

Wednesday 7 January 2015

JE SUIS CHARLIE

Je suis Charlie

Et je vais m'abonner dès que ce sera possible. En soutien. Total.

Thursday 25 December 2014

Wish... ou pas.

Mon fil Facebook sur mon iphone vient, comme trop régulièrement, de me montrer une pub. Jusque là, rien de nouveau sous le soleil de Noël me direz-vous... La pub était pour une appli iOS, dont le nom est Wish, permettant d'accèder à un site de vente avec - apparemment - des prix intéressants. Je sais, je sens, que c'est un pipeau. Je ne clique jamais sur ce genre de trucs. Mais pour une fois j'ai envie de voir  ce qui se passe quand on clique.

Wish
Wish dans l'AppStore

Donc je clique. Je me retrouve sur la page AppStore de l'appli en question. Il y a, excusez du peu, 487 avis déposés sur l'appli entre le 19 novembre 2014 et aujourd'hui. Wow. De plus la plupart sont incroyablement positifs mais... mais...

Wish commentaires dans AppStore
Avis dans l'AppStore

Mais si on cherche bien on trouve le commentaire d'un gars qui dit en gros voilà j'ai laissé mon avis sur votre appli super moi aussi je veux un cadeau. Ahem. Alors je regarde mieux et la plupart des commentaires n'ont jamais utilisé le site. Et je cherche encore mieux, cette fois en dehors de l'AppStore et cette fois-ci les commentaires sont majoritairement ultra-négatifs, tant sur l'appli que sur les produits vendus, les ventes ou le processus de livraison (quand les produits sont livrés...).

Sur Facebook, pas pareil...
Sur Facebook, pas pareil...

Dites Apple, vous emmerdez régulièrement des Apps que vous supprimez pour des raisons parfaitement stupides, vous ridiculisant par la même occasion. Là, on a une appli de l'AppStore dont les avis sont visiblement bidons et bétonnés, une appli d'e-commerce listant des centaines de clients mécontents et que votre AppStore présente comme une appli sûre et bien notée. Bref, vous induisez les utilisateurs des produits Apple en erreur. Vous pensez faire quelque chose avant la Saint-GlinGlin ?

Dites Facebook, vous acceptez de la publicité pour des sites qui sont au-delà de la limite basse de l'arnaque. Vous avez pourtant accès à tous les commentaires négatifs hein... Vous pensez faire quelque chose avant la fin des haricots ?

Wednesday 24 December 2014

En vrac de Noël

  • J'ai besoin de mentionner ici la compétence, l'accueil, l'efficacité, le souci du patient du service de chirurgie pédiatrique du CHI de Créteil. Absolument parfait, de l'accueil au chirurgien en passant par les infirmiers et les aides-soignants. Même le coup de fil du lendemain, le 24 décembre, d'une chirurgie ambulatoire pour vérifier que tout va bien... Bravo, et merci. C'est à l'autre bout de la région parisienne pour nous mais ça valait le coup.
  • Oui, j'irai voter Juppé à la primaire UMP si celle-ci est ouverte à tous. Pour barrer la route à Sarkozy, qui ment comme un arracheur de dents, qui continuer à fricoter avec les Buissonistes à tout va.
    Ceci dit, il y a un risque fort : quand j'ai commencé à dire cela autour de moi, peu de gens disaient la même chose ; aujourd'hui, ce n'est plus pareil et j'ai même lu un article disant que les électeurs de gauche envisagent de massivement voter Juppé dans la primaire UMP. Sarkozy aura beau jeu de déclarer que l'ouverture de la primaire introduit une distortion potentiellement bien trop importante des résultats. Le pire, c'est que pour une fois cela sera vrai.
  • Il y a visiblement quelque chose qui ne va pas chez Mozilla en ce moment. Vu du dehors, le moins que je puisse dire est qu'il semble y avoir du mou dans la corde à noeuds. On verra si j'en fais un article quand j'ai un peu de temps.
  • Bonnes fêtes à tous, et bien des choses pour 2015.

Sunday 21 December 2014

Bloomberg

Welcoming Bloomberg as a new customer of Disruptive Innovations. Just implemented the proposed caret-color property for them in Gecko.

Saturday 20 December 2014

Sims4 WTF

My son Gabriel got as a present the Sims4 game for Windows. He tried to install it on his Win7 Ultimate 64bits box but no luck at all, Origin crashing in msvcr100.dll with a c0000417 error. Despite of looking everywhere for an hour, we could not find a fix. Since I'm sure some of my readers have already hit - and solved - this issue, can you please help? Thanks a lot !

Thursday 18 December 2014

Bulgaria Web Summit

I will be speaking at the Bulgaria Web Summit 2015 in Sofia, Bulgaria, 18th of april.

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