Waystation Partners offers companies the benefit of Rich Stillman's extensive experience in leading-edge technology. For over twenty years, Mr. Stillman has evaluated, configured, implemented and developed strategies for the implementation of new technologies, including PCs, email, networking, collaborative software, wireless communications, small-form-factor devices, and instant messaging, for his employers and consulting clients.
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October 12, 2009: About a year ago, I retired my trusty Sidekick and moved up to an Android-based G1. Read here about the product's strengths, shortcomings, and the wish list of accessories I bought to make it just about perfect.
October 31, 2007: Here's a Halloween story that could have turned scary, but for the excellent customer service of two companies. Read here about the product, the companies, and the problem that could affect just about any person or organization that depends on licensed computer software.
May 2, 2006: My trip to Linux World in Boston last month yielded many benefits: answers to several of my toughest Linux technical questions, a better sense of the directions in which the Linux range of applications is expanding, and best of all, a free iPod courtesy of a raffle at the AMD booth. Linux and open-source software is finally starting to look good at all levels: excellent server software, great server virtualization, desktops that ordinary people can administer, and mainstream applications suites that can stare down Microsoft Office and even interoperate with it in many situations. Open-source software is growing more sophisticated by the month. But to me, it's still not enough, and the problem isn't anything that the open-source community can fix. Read my analysis to find out why Linux still isn't gaining traction, and why your next computer will still boot up showing a Microsoft or Apple logo.
March 12, 2005: It's been a long time since something happened that stirred me to write an article, but I see Microsoft's recent acquisition of Groove Networks as one of those industry-changing events that we will still be talking about years from now. For Microsoft, it's the perfect acquisition: by adding Groove's core capabilities to Windows and Office, Microsoft makes their next product cycle a must-have upgrade for users and blunts the onslaught of open-source competitors. Read my analysis to find out why.
November 14, 2003: Comdex has been a fixture on the technology scene for over twenty years. It became the place to go to meet people, explore new tech directions, make deals, and plan business or personal technology directions for the next six to twelve months. Now, Comdex is on the ropes. Its sponsoring organization is bankrupt, the exhibit hall is down to less than a quarter of its former size, and the expected attendance is down to about one-third of its peak. Breaking with a fifteen year personal tradition, I won't be hanging on every development that comes out of Las Vegas next week. Here's why.
November 14, 2003: The recent publicity surrounding Novell's acquisition of SuSe raises some questions about how the cross-company, individualist, social model of software development embodied in Open Source will actually fare when applied to the world of commercial enterprise, earnings per share, and quarterly reports. In this article, I try to address two potential speed bumps in Linux' future.
April 3, 2003: Do you use a headset with your cell phone? I didn't think so. Here's a unique headset design that may change your mind. And, after the disappearance in early 2004 of SyberSay and its entire product line, news about where you can buy one again.
April 3, 2003: The news is out: Key3Media, owners of Comdex and other trade shows, is reorganizing under federal bankruptcy protection. They have lined up funding that should allow this year's shows to proceed as planned, but that may be a Pyrrhic victory. The founder of the Comdex franchise is preparing to compete head-to-head with this year's Comdex show: same time, same place. Does any of this make sense? Can Comdex be saved? And finally, should we care? I think so, and here's why.
On March 6th, 2003, I presented a session on the subject of mobilizing electronic mail as part of the Technology Update series of Babson College's Center for Information Management Studies (CIMS). Giving mobile workers usable access to email on portable devices benefits both the worker and the organization in ways whose value can be easily demonstrated. What's more, it's a solution that easily scales down, so pilot projects or individual initiatives are easy and practical. Waystation Partners offers services to assist companies wishing to take advantage of this important new capability.
This page contains my slide presentation and speaker's notes, an ROI worksheet for wireless email, links to research, and software tools that will get anywhere from one to a thousand people carrying email on their belts and in their purses in no time.
February 19, 2003: I've run a Linux server at home for the past 18 months, using four different versions of the OS. I've use the system to serve Web pages and FTP services to the Internet, files on my local Windows network, and X sessions to my other home systems. I've also used it as a desktop system, using OpenOffice.org, Ximian Evolution, the Mozilla and Opera web browsers, The Gimp for image processing, and a number of other programs.
Using Linux in this way, and with very little training on Unix commands and internals, my experience has come pretty close to the first impression the typical Windows emigré would have when exploring desktop Linux. My verdict: Linux for the end-user is a bulletproof OS with an impressive but incomplete suite of applications, and lots of pitfalls that no casual user should be forced to tolerate. As a Windows replacement, it's tantalizingly close, but gets no cigar... yet. Read all about it.
January 15, 2003: In my 2002 Comdex reports, I described a new keyboard design called the FrogPad. Shortly after the show, I was contacted by FrogPad's CEO who gave me a quick introduction to the Frog. Although the actual device is not yet out where the world can try it, I can see how it might change keyboard design on everything from handhelds to PCs. Read on.
Since Amy Wohl published my DMCA article in her Opinions newsletter, I've received some interesting responses. The best came from O'Reilly and Associates, the well-known publisher of technical books. Tim O'Reilly is a strong advocate of the intellectual commons, and his company is conducting what can best be described as experiments in the distribution of creative content. O'Reilly has placed some book titles in the public domain, offers premium services to subscribers, distributes some books digitally. Most important, he appears to trust his customers to do the right thing.
Movie and recording industry strategists would do well to study O'Reilly's approach. Adoption of some of that company's strategies might help defuse the ongoing war between these businesses and the customers on whom they depend. You can read Tim O'Reilly's opinion, and a description of his strategy, in his article called Piracy is Progressive Taxation, and Other Thoughts on the Evolution of Online Distribution.
January 15, 2003: Quite a bit, it turns out. Three months after buying the Danger Sidekick from T-Mobile, I'm using email in a very different way. Read about my experiences.
December 10, 2002: Digital rights management, enforced by the DMCA, is a topic on everyone's lips these days. Witness Fox Corporation chairman Peter Chernin, who harangued an audience of influential techies at Comdex with a keynote speech called "Stop the Piracy" when he should have been talking about new frontiers in delivering cool new media products to consumers. You can read the transcript of his comments here.
But move from the extreme, polarized point of view to the reasonable center, and you'll find that there are solutions - solutions that make consumers happy, techies excited, and media moguls rich. Read my comments, see what you think, and email me if you have some ideas of your own.
December 3, 2002: In a word, maybe. But the show's new owners have to know what to keep, what to throw away, what to build from scratch and, maybe most important, who their friends are. Read on.
December 2, 2002: Here's a final thought from Comdex and the TabletPC blitz: Once handwriting recognition works well, the need to carry a conventionally designed computer is reduced. The question then is: should we be grafting pens onto this generation's portable computers, or should we be fitting computers inside pens?
You can read my thoughts about the way a real pen computer should look.
Thanks to Paul Gustafson of CSC's Leading Edge Forum for getting me started on this line of thought.
Comdex may be fading away, but it was still alive and kicking
in Las Vegas this November. In the tradition of the past 15 years, here are my reports
about the show that was until recently the biggest trade exposition in
November 13, 2002: Why did I temporarily rebuild my XP file server with Red Hat Linux? Because it was there, I guess, and because I wanted to test three new Open Source products: Linux Terminal Server, OpenOffice, and Ximian Evolution. Read all about it.
November 11, 2002: Recently I backtracked on a long-standing bias and bought my first cell phone. What's kept me away so long? My strong and apparently lonely belief in the inadequacy of voice-only devices, and my ability to manage my communications needs using a text pager, an email-forwarding service, and pay phones.
What changed my mind was the Sidekick, a new device from Danger, Inc. that integrates text and voice. It's got a full keyboard, a screen with the proper aspect ratio, support for POP3 email and AOL instant messenger, and a Web browser with excellent server-based rendering. All this fits in a package the size and shape of a bar of bath soap after a few showers.
After a month's use, I've cut back my pager to minimum service and cancelled my email forwarding, saving $70 per month against the $40 cost of the new device. I took a two week trip and only once used my laptop for email. I've used the Sidekick's browser for traffic reports, news updates, driving directions, and looking up garage sale items on eBay while I was still at the garage sale. And it's a pretty good phone, too.
Check out my first impressions as well as some comments I wrote after about ten days of use. And, as always, if you have any comments of your own, send them to me. I'll probably read your email on my Sidekick.
During the summer I corresponded with Amy Wohl on two topics: instant messaging and small devices. Ms. Wohl is the president of Wohl Associates, a technology consulting firm, and the author of an excellent weekly newsletter on technology. Click here to find out more about Wohl Associates, to subscribe to the newsletter, and to read back issues. Ms. Wohl covered the topics of instant messaging and small devices in two of her recent newsletters. You can follow our conversation here, or in the Letters to the Editor sections of "Amy D. Wohl's Opinions" back issues from June and July 2002.
My full-time employment has always mixed hands-on technology work with technical staff management. In my most recent full-time job, I managed a group that grew to nine people, with direct responsibility for a multi-million dollar development lab, a technology infrastructure that covered two buildings, and tech support for well over two hundred road-warrior consultants. I have been responsible for the continuous evaluation of hardware ranging from enterprise Unix servers to handheld devices, and have integrated developments in these areas into the developer tools available in the applied technology development lab and the toolkit available to business and technology consultants.
To see and print my resume, please click here.
My work with road warriors led me to develop an interest in increasing the efficiency of communications between members of workgroups, particularly those that are geographically dispersed. Independent investigation into developments in networked and wireless communications methods led to a funded research grant from my employer. The resulting paper, titled Pervasive Messaging: Developing a New Message Architecture for the Enterprise , was presented at several technology conferences and became one of the foundations for a new consulting practice.
To read a copy of the paper, please click here. To see my overview presentation on the topic, please click here, and expand the speaker notes at the bottom of the frame.
To see my short presentation on the business opportunities that can be leveraged through new messaging technologies, please click here.
For almost fifteen years, I have attended Comdex and other technology conferences and sent back targeted analyses to a growing mailing list. My dispatches are read and forwarded by over a hundred people and have been featured on the Web sites of major corporations (click here for a sample).
Click here to read reports from Comdex Fall 2001, which I "attended" from my home office via Comdex's excellent Web site.
To read a sample report from Comdex Fall 2000, please click here.
For a sample report from Comdex Fall 1999, please click here.
For a blast from the past, here's a report from Comdex Fall 1993.
Outside of direct work responsibilities, I periodically write opinions on technology topics of personal interest, for limited distribution. Here are two related articles on the topic of small-form portable devices, written in 1992 and 2001.
In my spare time, I'm a banjo player active in the Boston-area bluegrass scene for the past fifteen years. My current musical association is with Adam Dewey and Crazy Creek, a traditional bluegrass band that performs extensively in Massachusetts and neighboring states.
To find out more about Adam Dewey and Crazy Creek, please click here.
My most successful effort to date has been the creation and management of the band WayStation, which played from 1992 through 2000 and released a CD.
To find out more about WayStation, please click here.
I'm also an avid cross-country skier. When I worked at Harvard Business School, I mapped out a ski route along the Charles River. If you are interested in trying it out, here it is.
Finally, I've got a collection of links to technical reference pages. The list is quite old and I'm no longer supporting the page, but a number of the sites have survived. Click here to check it out.
Any more questions? Send me email and I'll be glad to answer.
All items on this site ©Rich Stillman.