Android isn’t open source

There’s been a lot of discussion over documents coming out about Google’s strategy with Android. Google wants to use a Carrot and Stick strategy with Android to try and maintain control of the platform. This involves giving hardware manufacturers that behave early access to new code. It also meant that the code is developed in private and only released after the fact.

I don’t care what Google or others say, this isn’t open source. This is published source. There is no way to see bugs, contribute a patch, or take part in discussions on development. The only saving grace is that Google is publishing their code with a fairly unrestrictive¬†license.

What this situation is screaming for is to have someone with a desire to actually behave in an open source manner to come along and fork the code. Then allow developers to contribute to that branch and let Google go it on their own. My hope is that Amazon will do exactly that with their fork of the Android code base.

Trusting Facebook

There’s been a lot of discussion on the web over the last several weeks on how much trust we can put into Facebook when it comes to handling private data. They’re making a play to be the primary repository of identity on the web. The hub that other web sites link off of to determine personal connections and demographics for a user. Facebook already has a huge lead in this area with 400+ million users that are using actual names instead of screen names.

It would be nice to have a place where we can set up who our friends and coworkers are as well as what we’d like to share with them. Having to recreate this network each time we want to use a new site is a complete pain. But who can we trust to store this valuable info?

Leo Laporte has mentioned in his podcasts that for some reason he just doesn’t trust Facebook as much as he would trust a company like Google to fill this role. I agree wholeheartedly that it’s risky to trust Facebook. For me, the core of this mistrust is that I feel that Facebook hasn’t yet found its truly profitable niche yet like Google has. Google makes so much money in search ads that it can afford to not make money in other areas and take the high ground when it comes to privacy and openness. Facebook doesn’t have this profit center yet to support the other areas of its business. The scary part is that the data that Facebook collects could be quite valuable. It’s really going to come down to where they decide to draw the line on how to use our data. And because this is still unknown and they’ve taken several missteps in the past, it’s difficult to really trust Facebook.

Google Voice Update

Just noticed that there’s a great feature with Google Voice. If for some reason you’re not happy with the phone number that you’ve been assigned you can select another one. Just go to the account settings on Google Voice and then select to change your phone number. There’s a one time $10 charge to do so, but it’s really simple to do and takes effect immediately.

When I first signed up, I went through things really quickly as I was just testing it out. But since this is something that I’d like to use as a primary number I wanted to make sure that I could get one that was easy to remember. So I’ve updated my number to (650) 450-9057.

Family Tree

Wow, following a very round about path I just spent way too much time building a family tree over at Ancestry.com. I started out looking for used book stores and libraries in the bay area. This then led me to Google Book Search where I was testing out searching for some terms from older books (Google’s Book Search is pretty amazing by itself). This then led me to searching for “McCormick Family” which brought up a lot of old family history books. I was curious if any of these people were related, which led me to try out Ancestry.com to see if it had a way of filling in some of my family tree that I didn’t know.

The site is pretty amazing with the amount of source material that you can search through. I was quickly able to build up a tree going back to my grandparents and was able to find documents for almost everyone. The problem was that I had trouble taking it to the next level beyond that. I needed a few clues to fill in the next level of branches, which I didn’t have, and hit a brick wall with the search. I know that there are privacy concerns with private family information, but I wish there was a way for their systems to notice if some other user has a missing branch of my tree and offer to fill it in.

Overall a fun use of an evening.