Just returning from one of the probably busiest weeks in my life. The entire week was spent with meeting lots of FIC staff. Finally I'm able to connect faces to the members of the hardware and production testing team located in Taipei.
Significant time was spent talking to vendors of WiFi chipsets over the last week. The choice seems to have boiled down to designs around Atheros AR6K or Marvell 8686. The AR6K driver code is completely public for quite some time, even though it (and the mvista SDIO code it depends on) might need a bit of cleanup. From Marvell we yet have to find/receive the GPL licensed driver source code - at least from our [high level official] marvel contacts we have received positive confirmation. So actually, for now, only AR6K is a 'known possible' choice, whereas Marvell might become a choice, once we see the source :)
The other big task was sitting down with Werner Almesberger and doing the system level design for the next major hardware revision, and discussing this design with the hardware team. A lot of things are still in flux. But at least the potential of it is _really_ promising. Details are to be revealed at their appropriate time.
I've also had the chance to briefly meet with senior management such as the head of the mobile communications business unit, as well as the CEO and the chairman of the board of FIC. Everybody seems to be really excited and looking forward to the time ahead, now that we have identified many of the problems in the hardware design, production quality and internal processes and are heading to a much brighter future.
Another interesting opportunity was to present at Taiwan NTU University on the 'correct' way of doing Linux development, both technically and from the GPL / policy point of view. Let's hope we now have a couple of more software developers who will know these things before entering the industry :)
In retrospective, I should have done this trip way earlier on. But then, many things have changed over the last nine months, and it might have been an entirely different experience.
Taiwan/Taipei really seems to be an incredibly interesting place. A world of never-ending possibilities in the field of computer hardware. An industry that can produce about any device of your dream - but doesn't since it seems to be locked too much into either the master/slave role of traditional OEM/ODM business - or into producing the same things like all of their competitors, without really trying too much new/exceptional things.
So it seems, after all, my good intentions about travelling less in 2007 seem to be vaporizing sooner than I would have liked. I guess the productivity gain of me being in Taipei at least from time to time is worth it...