The Red1 Story
(written with Huck-Femme)
Chapter I - Through The Thin Wire
The eco-center of a what has become a method for launching dreams and teleporting people to a world stage is a farm that exists 30 km from the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. Imagine leading an aspect of global revolution from a 2 acre plot of land where monkeys and children co-exist on fertile fields that fuel your imagination. When you dine with your family, it's on the plants that you nurtured and fish that you feed. This farm provides everything you need to sustain life, and not just survival, but the ongoing sensation of being truly alive. Imagine that the simple act of expressing that gives birth to a community that takes on a life giving life of its own. This is no fairy tale. It's the true story of Red1 and this idyllic farm serves as the inspirational backdrop to the remarkable reality that he has created. It also serves as a foundation for the spirit that exists within ADempiere.
Red spends most of his time with his family. His African-born wife has dedicated the last 17 years to keeping him in line and caring for their home and children. Having overcome amazing odds of her own she is content to rule their domestic domain and cultivate the garden that Red strolls while rooting for the ideas that will ferment into his next self indulgent blog entry on Red1.org. He does this most mornings after breakfasting and sending his kids to school. There's a flow to his days that most people longingly yearn for in a ideal they'll experience "some day," but while Red has his stop-the clock and experience the moment rituals on which he centers there is nothing routine about his days.
He does not rush out in the mornings to work because he has no office to report to. He doesn't even have a job to hang on to. He is what most people call a freelance consultant but he would prefer not to be called that either because the notion of "work" is detestable to him. The notion of living for his next paycheck is as foreign as the notion of living without a paycheck would be to others. If his ship came in, he'd ask the captain if he could exchange it for a chance to explore a corner of the globe he's yet to explore. His home is a small-three bedroom house. This and the land it rests on are rented to him by a friend who had qualms about Red's income to sustenance ratio. He lives for freedom, time with his family, choosing when and where to apply his talents and enthusiasm. At the moment this translates into coordinating a global effort from the comfort of home, often in his pajamas.
His only goal is to earn enough to sustain his liberty to walk in his backyard garden of overgrown spots of lemon grass, angled beans, and pot after pot of flowers aligned along paths that represent a mini struggle to create free zones in a subtle resistance to his wife's compulsion to seed every barren spot of earth she comes across. His income trickles in from fees stemming from part time private tuition and repairing small networks and PCs in people's offices. It sounds like a heaven for a wealthy retiree or a pipe dream lifestyle for a man with 4 young growing children to feed but not only does he pull it off, but he nurtures other people's ability to do the same. The simple act of focusing on finite within the realm of universal possibilities and inspiring others, through service, to do the same has led to Red becoming a driving force behind the push for a more conscious approach to capitalism.
So, how did all of this come about and what, on that little plot of earth, is this man up to? How did a man who struggled, just like pretty much every one else, after the dot com crash of 2001 manage to come to this. What disguise was fortune wearing when it came knocking on Red's door, and what transformational magic did it have to impart to him?
Well according to Red, Fortune is a Telekom contractor. One day he descended on Red's farm wielding thin copper wire thus activating broadband service. This had the impact of delivering the world to Red's fingertips and, eventually giving the world access to the phenomenon that is Red. This long, lone thin telephone wire is probably the only resemblance of modernity that exists on the farm, and Fortune travelled through many kilometres, along a semi-dirt road, passed through a cemetery and a lot of old rubber trees to get to him.
Sitting in this farmhouse in 2004, Redhuan D. Oon, then 43, wondered why the Telekom contractor asked if he wanted the broadband connection when he has left the IT world for dead. Still Red received the DSL line gave him a change of life that was previously unimaginable when he registered his cyber identity as 'red1'. Through that line, he became the leader of the ADempiere Bazaar, the Open Source Enterprise Resource Program (ERP) that has since become the number one ranked ERP project on SourceForge. The project's dedicated contributors hail from all over the world representing a collaboration between people from, Europe, North and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and many outlying islands as well. Whether actively recruited or just drawn to the energy that exists in the Bazaar, Red has created a pool for the best skillsets, experience and track records in the business. Now 'red1' pretty much exists in this one-world universe. He's continuously connected to where these people or businesses are and frequently chats around the clock, organizing ADempiere and tending to the far-flung cyber-empire, http://red1.org, of which he is the self-proclaimed "benign dictator." He can now make connections, establish alliances and close deals that sound like something ripped from the pages of a futuristic novel with epic implications.
Today, he sustains his family from home on projects he completes, usually without ever meeting his clients, and you've likely passed one of his associates on the street. They come from New York, Chicago, Brussels, Bonn, Sydney, Helsinki, Sofia, Cyprus, Sarajevo, Mauritius, Cape Town, Medan, Jakarta, Cebu and of course Kuala Lumpur. Red and his associates rarely meet each other in 3 dimensional life, yet the results of their virtual collaboration have set the world stage for an Open Source project that shines. He does this by leveraging that lone, thin copper wire to divert requests to members of the online bazaar that he monitors based on geographical location or skill-set relevance. Yet he does this out of a love for associating with people who share his passion for contributing software codes and documentation guides so that the world has free alternatives that are comparable to, and much more flexible than, the proprietary options presented by giants such as Microsoft and Oracle.
So far red1 regards that target of kicking behemoth butts a couple of years away. But at the rate things are going with the online bazaar at www.adempiere.org, there are indications that it might be a lot sooner than he thinks. The ADempiere Bazaar is gaining steadily on the proprietary ERP world with its explosive huge base of Open Source applications that can handle what most business operations want, better. From Point of Sales, Customer Relationship Management, Inventory, Accounting, Sales and Supply Chain Purchasing, to Shop floor scheduling and web interfacing, ADempiere stands to be the integrated solution to every program a company conceivably needs. One SAP blogger, Axel Angeli, has even mentioned the name ADempiere twice as a looming threat in the Small and Medium Business (SMB) arena.
Previously Open Source or freely available sourcecode software was confined to base level utilities such as Linux and MySQL. Now, with ADempiere, it has moved up the rung into more high-worth business applications that SMBs can really use. The worldwide consultants that join ADempiere are either those who are using it for their own companies or are implementing it for their clients. They pocket the earnings and then give back by donating their skill sets and soliciting senior level engineers' time-based resources for the bazaar. Heavy mentoring and continual improvements are tandem aspects of each release. In many ways, ADempiere houses its own organic economy of supply and demand, ripe with expert services and huge pool of users that so far is holding out as the ungovernable freewheeling social business model that Eric Raymond, one internet guru has termed such phenomena as 'The Bazaar'. Eric called the conventional model of producing software as 'The Cathedral' where progress is slow and much innovation is lost; whereas, in the Bazaar model, information flows freely, and members derive octane-high satisfaction by just topping each others' codes and know-how.
Red1's lifestyle of shunning suits for pajamas and corporate airs for unkempt hair suits the status of a king that lives for inhaling the fragrance of the flowers that hold court in his backyard garden. It is a humble and decent life, free from pretensions and trappings. However it has its ups and downs. Sometimes his debts pile up and there are moments he wonders if he is crazy and should revert back to his days as a normal, 9 to 5 traffic hogging commuter plowing his way through the concrete jungle. It takes a unique individual with valuable perspectives to maintain the balance he does on the wire, but he keeps his eye on his vision and resides in faith. He refers to himself as the "benevolent dictator" and is prone to sounding downright egotistical, but underlying that is a powerful brand of humility and much of his rhetoric is a tongue in cheek approach to mounting the ongoing courage it takes to embrace his role as a progressive community leader while shunning the contemporary lifestyle most people subscribe to. We shall then meet the man in closer detail and see how sometimes the law of Karma blesses those who actively choose to contribute rather than continually seek to possess.