Why open hardware needs open software

Why open hardware needs open software

As some readers of the NY Times on their MacRumors blog noticed, a developer has purchased 3 million individual iPad whitebricks and released them for free. This developer is Jimison, a freelance programmer who previously worked on the Flash Team and helped designers change the code in Microsoft Office. Jimison’s whitebricks come equipped with a case and tablet, which makes it incredibly clear that he is determined to provide a big enough showcase for Apple, Google, Microsoft, Linux, and open development at the same time.

Jimison originally uploaded his whitebricks for the web. However, he soon started to realize that developers were sending out whitebricks to developers in places like the digital engine message boards, he said. In the meantime, Jimison was approached by another developer, Jeff Schlossman, who had bought a bunch of different whitebricks, several at Microsoft, and wrote a whitebricks episode to test things out. In addition, Schlossman had just picked up a whitebricks case, which was the perfect image of how a translucent iPad could act.

By releasing a whitebricks as a downloadable download, if someone is intending to use the iPad as a hosting device, they are faced with some difficulties. First, the whitebricks have to be displayed on the case in a set of circles, not quite as transparent as a regular whitebricks and several times as insensate as a regular whitebricks. Other challenges include multiple colors, removing one of the triangles from the case, formatting menus in a way that doesn’t make the whitebricks circle the program, adding some extra finger motions to each circle.

But the greatest challenge is the difficulty of providing a web presence for the whitebricks on Mac OS X and the browser-based interfaces that were installed on the whitebricks. Jimison said it is harder to run the whitebricks in Windows and provided a list of Mac OS X plugins for backing up whitebricks to a Mac and then loading whitebricks into Windows.

With Apple’s open hardware, 3 million whitebricks are poised to up the pace for developer tools. It seems that having hardware democratizes tools and is making tools more affordable. It also helps developers cut their hardware cost. On the other hand, Jimison is also able to put his company’s whitebricks out there into the community, thereby providing additional value to free software development. (See comments below.) Jimison stated that he is already hard at work on the next version of his whitebricks – so hopefully we’ll find out soon.

The benefits of “partnering” with companies that produce hardware needs open software. Jimison is an ideal partner for Apple as they know a thing or two about running hardware on system and software on computers. Apple is looking to build future hardware that does not require manufacturers to come to them with hardware specs and dimensions.

The takeaway is that Jimison and others are demonstrating hardware that is already built in – both machines that can run some other piece of software. Since Jimison is getting his hardware out into the community and his website is available as an open source download, he can deliver some demos, remove restrictions, and maybe even test the CPU and memory workload. Even more, the whitebricks are available to download from the whitebricks site, allowing developers to release the whitebricks and user interfaces.

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Why is the open hardware sector worth applauding? It is the future of computing, Jimison said. Just consider the size of Apple, Microsoft, IBM, and RIM. The barriers to entry are low and the drivers are unlimited. The barriers to competition are nonexistent and there is no reason why the game can’t be played more efficiently, all while standardizing on an architecture.

Yesterday, the NY Times reported that Jerry Yang’s search engine Yahoo is not planning to release its own hardware, and instead will be working with different companies to develop better products and better offerings. Jimison’s previous focus was in Web services, and now he is focusing on browsers, apps, and development tools. His core advice, as explained in his whitebricks video, is that if you can’t make your products awesome and affordable, it’s very unlikely they will ever catch on. When Jimison looks around at the world of Mac OS X, he sees a world where public hardware capabilities are worth something – specifically, the ability to offer independent developers an open developer friendly platform. Open hardware makes everything more efficient, and the world of apps and application developers that get access to open hardware resources is much more exciting.

In the end, Jimison is providing a much-needed system that can accommodate its vision for open hardware. That’s what open hardware can do – enable the industry to make things better.

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About Ann Jaye

Ann Jaye Brown is a 28-year-old resident artist at a studio who enjoys planking, writing and badminton. She is energetic and creative, but can also be very greedy and a bit impatient. She is a British Christian who defines herself as straight. She has a degree in chemistry.

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