three wishes for chandler development

  1. go mobile, in one way or another. connecting to the hub on a mobile device is close, but not cigar. look out for iphone. can the ical app on iphone interact with chandler, ie syncing with the chandler hub? or perhaps a third party application for iphone? it’s difficult though, considering that there already is ical.
  2. learn from claris organizer (which became ical). features such as contacts, ability to attach contacts/appointments into an existing appointment, including the ability to search for associating contacts for a particular appointment. kudos to benjamin wilreker for his innovative contact management in chandler to date.
  3. learn from the calendar in nokia s60: it’s fantastic to have your upcoming appointments and tasks (with alarms) in your pocket, immediately at your sight and editable when you grab your phone.

or is it already too late to pull it all together? not having contributed to the project, i feel uneasy critisizing, but i hope chandler will reach beta status within 2008. at the moment it still hasn’t found its niche, nor is it usable enough.

chandler and mobility

for some years, i’ve been keeping track of chandler, an open source personal information manager. at the moment, it’s on the verge of becoming usable for me. i still miss claris organizer (1, 2), which i used as my calendar until 2001. since 2004 i’ve been using the built-in calendar of the n-gage, and now the n80ie.

i’ll get back to chandler in a moment, but first some points about my current pim.

  • almost always carrying a device such as the n80ie gives me the possibility to immediately take note of whatever i need to, as well as being reminded of any task or meeting. this alone is enough for me to keep using the n80ie as my main and only pim.
  • the drawbacks: the calendar is medieval, and i cannot synchronize it with chandler/my computer. i don’t quite like nokia, and i prefer open source, already using linux. also, chandler offer so much more.

there’s no point for me to keep two parallell calendars (chandler & n80ie); i can’t combine the mobility of n80ie with the features of chandler. sheila at the chandler project tells me that there is indeed some movement towards mobility. however, it seems the next step is focused upon notifications to mobile devices, which isn’t enough for me to abandon my current pim. i have to be able to quickly get a view of my calendar anywhere, anytime, and schedule a meeting or whatever on the spot. not even my otherwise valuable eee enables me to do that (too big to fit in my pocket, and too slow to get from shutdown to an open calendar).

the iphone comes with ical, which uses the same standard calendar format .icl, but i’m not sure to what extent it’s reasonable to expect chandler to work along with ical on the iphone specifically. on a larger note, i’m curious to see the prospects of chandler working at all on a mobile device. the openmoko device perhaps, eventually? maybe chandler could go the ubuntu way and develop a specific chandler mobile version, that could be syncronized with the chandler hub?

free software users and the question of ownership

i promise more than i deliver in the headline, but one step at a time.

bruce byfield writes about differences between how people relate to computers. he starts off with an example of how he was able to fix a windows computer although he had limited experience from that particular operating system whereas the users in question had plenty. he attributes his competence in understanding computers to being a “free software user” and defines the concept as follows:

  1. Free software users expect open licenses and no activation methods
  2. Free software users expect regular upgrades and patches
  3. Free software users expect to work the way they choose
  4. Free software users want control of their own systems
  5. Free software users explore
  6. Free software users expect to help themselves
  7. Free software users don’t fear the command line
  8. Free software users learn software categories, not programs
  9. Free software users expect access to developers and other employees

the central theme is ownership, control and sharing. with physical objects, there would be an incompatibility issue between ownership and control versus sharing. but it’s different with zeroes and ones. that’s because data can be copied, and there is no difference between the original and the copy. the order of zeroes and ones are exactly the same. thus, it’s possible to maintain control and ownership of the exact data stored on the physical device you possess, even if another device electronically reads it. reading data is copying data. hence, the issue of control and ownership is different with electronic data. you can’t share physical objects without loosing total ownership and control, but it’s possible to share electronic data without loosing ownership and control of the actual copy you own on a physical device. the same way it’s impossible for anyone to steal a thought from your mind.

perhaps i’m being generous with my interpretation of byfield, because much of it is what i would argue for anyway, but byfield seems to say that there’s an unholy alliance between [a lot of people who for short term convenience expect computers to “just work”] and proprietary businesses like microsoft (and apple, nokia as well, i might add) who are obsessed with gaining control of what the users are able to do with the software that the user own (in the sense of owning a physical copy, running o a device they own). byfield concludes by putting forward the possibility that in a few years time, free software users culture will be quite unrecognizable to the “desktop users”, something that in my opinion to a large extent is evident already. however, he guesses that, also within a few years, the pure desktop users will encounter some problems that will force them to attempt to take ownership and control over their computers. to put it in another way; will the vista users even be able to switch to open source alternatives if their data is already locked to their existing (vista) software?

the importance of owning the data that’s important to you is a related question, and in this context i’ll settle with: because it’s utterly important to me, obtaining the linux-based eee makes perfect sense.