This session from December 6th has Jochen Eckert explaining the RUT-K scheduling software built for Deutsche Bahn in Germany. There was an associated demo of the software, but I think this came across fairly well. You can find the slides here (PDF)
Another Enterprise Architect discusses why large enterprises no longer focus on productivity as there are many things much more important nowadays. I guess this leaves the Ruby on Rails and Smalltalk folks thinking we are enterprisey but in all reality, they need to start paying attention to forces that drive our economy or be doomed to derail
When you start thinking that trivia is more relevant than work, you've reached enterprisey nirvana. Filing reports may keep the regulators happy, but it won't pay any bills, or make customers happy. Somewhere along the way, an awful lot of people forgot that.
In today's Smalltalk Daily, we pick up where we left off yesterday, and add a GUI to the ObjectStudio client. This allows us to enter a misspelled word on Windows, make an St-St call over to VW on the Mac, and have the Mac send back the corrected spelling after a Google WS* invocation.
Slashdot asks "Why does everyone hate Microsoft?".
Hate is way too strong a word, I think. For an awful lot of people, it's simply a matter of seeing faults in the biggest player on the field. IBM attracted a fair bit of dislike back when they were the big guy on the block; MS is getting that now. Of course, like IBM back then, they don't help themselves much either. Consider:
- WGA: The activation scheme in Vista has the ability to disable your PC until you contact MS. Given the false positive problem, this is a PR problem waiting to get bigger
- Paying blood money to the RIAA: MS is big enough that they could have held the line with the Zune. Instead, they went along with the extortionists at the RIAA. A negative PR event was enjoyed by all
- Patch schedules: Patches to serious bugs? Monthly. Problems with DRM? Addressed immediately. Along with the above, it starts to make you wonder whether the studios have incriminating photos of someone high up the food chain at MS.
- PVP-OPM: Watch your legally owned content on any device you own? Not in Vista; again, MS sucked up to Hollywood.
For an influential company, they sure act like they are powerless in front of the studios. Most people's negative feelings come more from the constant security problems you get with Windows, along with the way you get bit rot over time. The stuff above doesn't help though; it shows a big company getting progressively stupider over time.
Vista Smalltalk is descended from a Lisp interpreter that I started working on several years ago. I switched to Smalltalk syntax when the kernel was finally able to support messaging and dynamic object creation.
Now, I have begun re-integrating the Lisp reader and some built-in functions back into the Vst package. The lisp capabilities include basic functions such as “apply”, “mapcar”, “dolist”, “dotimes” and “eval” as well as macro expansion complete with “backquote”, “comma” and “at-comma” forms.
Kind of like peanut butter and chocolate :)
Technorati Tags: lisp
Time for the weekly look at the logs - BottomFeeder downloads went at a rate of 166 per day (plus the 24 per day I'm getting from the CNet site - all Windows, that one). The details:
Who knew there were seven Dec Alpha users without an RSS reader? Anyway - off to the HTML page stats:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
Back to my normal distribution between Mozilla and IE; the traffic spike I had has fallen back to normal - and the distro has gone back with it. Finally, the syndication stats:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||7.1%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||6.5%|
|RSS 2 Email||1%|
No end of tool diversity there
Bob Lewis highlights an all too common problem in corporations: turf battles that involve IT:
I find myself in the midst of a turf war. The president of the company is battling the CIO over the issue of who should control the website. The president says it belongs in the Marketing department, the CIO says it belongs in IT.
Sometimes this is just a plain turf battle, and other times it's a sign of a much bigger problem: IT's real or perceived inability to execute. When business units start managing their own IT infrastructure, it's usually not because they have a real hankering for doing that; rather, it's because the IT department is seen as being incapable. That only leads to bigger internal turf battles - but the root probloem remains unsolved. Lewis gets to that issue here:
To the extent that the scope of the website encompasses areas beyond marketing, other areas also have content responsibilities - shareholder relations and recruiting being two of the most common. Another thought, that stems from the first, is that your president's thought process also worries me. He/she is making a common mistake - making a decision about organizational alignment based on the existence of a performance problem instead of fixing the problem. What I'm trying to say is that If IT isn't performing, keeping the website away from it still leaves the company with an IT organization that isn't performing.
Which points back to a general management failure. If business units won't utilize IT, that's a probably a sign that IT is broken. If management won't deal with that reality - and instead just tries to band-aid it by distributing responsibility (or allowing that distribution to take place) - then the root problem remains, and is a sucking chest wound for the entire organization. I suspect that this is a problem for an awful lot of companies.
If we assume Microsoft's costs per employee are about $200,000 a year, the estimated payroll costs alone for Vista hover around $10 billion. This is incomprehensible. A CEO has no idea how much his most significant product in six years cost to build.
Then the other incomprehensible "tidbit" is that it cost at least $10 billion USD. And they did not even get a new operating system out of it. The new product is really a face lift and some bug fixes on an aging infrastructure.
I'm sure someone at MS knows what the cost was; they use that for tax purposes. It's got to be an ugly number though, and it's even uglier if you ask: "Is there a truly compelling reason to move from XP to Vista?"
Technorati Tags: windows
Scoble has found a soft spot in Google's ad model:
Did you realize that over on Naked Conversations, our book blog about corporate blogging, we can’t put Google ads on there?
Why not? Well when we tried Google ads we got a ton of porn advertising (we’re the #10 result for “naked” ). Yes, we’ve out SEO’d the porn industry, but that means we can’t take Google ads cause Google ads (unlike ads, from, say, FM Media) won’t let us choose which advertising we want on our pages. So, we removed the Google ad bar from our blog.
This is what Dave Winer and I were talking about this morning. We’re looking at a lot of Google advertising on Gmail, on blogs, on Web sites, and other places and we’re unimpressed. On the main search engine it makes a lot of sense (and is why probably 98% of Google’s revenues come from advertising on Google.com). But on blogs? On Gmail? On other components? It makes a lot lot less sense.
Not everything can fit into the fully automated bin - for some things, you need some human intervention. When trying to sell an ad model to a marketing department, the problems Scoble brings up are going to be a huge smack in the forehead. There are plenty of seams to fill in Google's strategy right now.
Technorati Tags: advertising
There's almost nothing that advocates won't say about open source - here's a good example of the triumphal school of thought:
So, for example, I take it for granted that open source will be as successful on the desktop as it has on the server - with the caveat that the desktop itself may well be far less important in ten years' time. I also assume that everyone will be using ODF as the standard for document interchange and storage, and that GNU/Linux will consolidate its growing success in the field of embedded systems.
The question you have to look at is this: which open source projects have succeeded in a large way without major corporate funding? That's suddenly a thin list, isn't it? Here's another thought: had Microsoft released Visual Studio as free software 10 years ago, that almost certainly would have been seen as predatory behavior. IBM released Eclipse for free, and it's killed off all the commercial Java IDEs out there. Sure, the source is available - but why isn't that seen as predatory? The net effect has been the same.
I'm not nearly as cheerful about OSS as I used to be, and it's due to the fact that OSS in the hands of large companies is a "get out of jail free" card for what would otherwise be seen as predatory behavior.
David, Michael, and I had a wide ranging discussion of design and code "smells" last night - in particular, those that strike developers using OO languages (and Smalltalk even more particularly). James Savidge's jobs report is there at the end, around minute 42 or so. We had a great conversation - hope you enjoy this one as much as we enjoyed doing it. For feedback and/or questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm sold. I was over at a friend's house this evening, and he introduced me to the Wii. What a great system! Sure, the graphics are better on the XBox 360 and the PS3; but that doesn't really matter. For me, the game play is everything, and that really came out in the Wii Sports game. The golf game was so much better than the GameCube (or PS2) one - you actually swing the Wii-mote to take the shots, and that makes it so much more fun.
I think Nintendo has a real hit on their hands. While MS and Sony fight over the same hard core fans, Nintendo is going to bring in a whole new set of casual gamers. After 30 minutes of Mario Kart, my hands hurt (GameCube). Same thing on an XBox or PS2 system (and the controllers on the new revs are the same). After 30 minutes of the Wii, I just wanted to play more :)
Alan Knight gave a presentation on Store at the users conference on Wednesday, December 6th. He laid out the current roadmap, including our plans for configuration management support. The matching slides are here; if you have questions or comments, please send them to me, James Robertson.
Doc Searls reposted something from a few years back, and it makes even more sense now than it did then: the legacy advertising model is utterly broken, and it's held up more by inertia than by anything else:
...imagine what would happen to the TV business if mute buttons delivered "we don't want to hear this" feedback directly to advertisers. It would crash the whole industry's business model in a heartbeat.
Let's face it: there are only two kinds of advertising demanded by their consumers: yellow pages and classifieds. It's not coincidental that they're both ugly. Beauty isn't a value when the only purpose is to answer the simple demand for useful information.
Changing the current model isn't going to be easy. Not only are there the (mostly useless) MarCom types to shove aside, there's also an entire business model. Consider professional sports, especially the big ones (here I'm focusing on the US): the NFL and the NBA. TV networks pay huge amounts of money for the broadcast rights. That money is paid back to the networks via advertising, and the outflow to the leagues pay the huge salaries.
Reconsidering that model is like being the little dutch boy who pulls his finger out of the dike. It's a seemingly small act, but the side effects are huge. Ultimately, sports should all go subscription. Most likely the rest of TV should, too. Getting from here to there is going to be an interesting thing to watch.
Technorati Tags: advertising
This is a good sign: Google is backing away from SOAP:
As of December 5, 2006, we are no longer actively supporting the SOAP Search API. We encourage you to use the AJAX Search API instead.
I really like the way this is described here:
It won't happen at once, it wont be overnight, but one day SOAP will be over. We will look back and wonder "what were we thinking". It will be up there with ActiveX, EJB2, and other things that we will describe as mistakes that should never have made it past the powerpoint stage.
The WWI reference is perhaps a bit overdone...
Here's Martin Kobetic's talk on SSL and Certificate management from day 2 of the users conference. He did his presentation using a Smalltalk presentation framework he uses, so there are no slides yet. We may be able to get a PDF rendering of them - if we do, I'll link to that when they arrive.
Forget about the SOAP vs. REST debate for a second, since most of the world doesn’t care. Google’s search API let you send a search query to Google from your web site’s backend, get the results, then do anything you want with them: show them on your web page, mash them up with data from other sites, etc. The replacement, Google AJAX API, forces you to hand over part of your web page to Google so that Google can display the search box and show the results the way they want (with a few token user configuration options), just as people do with Google AdSense ads or YouTube videos. Other than screen scraping, like in the bad old days, there’s no way for you to process the search results programmatically — you just have to let Google display them as a black box (so to speak) somewhere on your page.
I feel stupid for having missed this yesterday, but one of the commenters on my post made the obvious point about that, which amounts to: "well, duh". To be more explicit, let me lift his comment out:
Never mind SOAP - I don't get how it could ever be in the interest of a search engine company to provide their technology through an interface that does not provide any way to earn them money. It would be one thing to offer such a service on a subscription basis, but I don't see any point of doing it without any way to recoup the cost.
Which explains the whole thing. Ask yourself: how does Google benefit (and no, warm fuzzies from developers don't count) by having an open API that anyone can use? It's a free lunch for any developer to ride on, and there's no real need to credit Google in any way. Meaning, there's no revenue there.
What an awful lot of people forget is that companies are not charities. Their purpose in life is to make money for their shareholders, not to make developers all happy about free stuff. Sometimes, those things overlap. In this case, it's very, very hard to see the overlap.
Apparently the nefarious straps were engineering the whole thing, since GW LLP claims "Owners of the Nintendo Wii reported that when they used the Nintendo remote and wrist strap, as instructed by the material that accompanied the Wii console, the wrist strap broke and caused the remote to leave the user's hand." Given the fact that the basic premise of these claims is a tad bit off (we're fairly certain those straps have been breaking after the Wiimote leaves the hand) and that Green Welling's main demand from Nintendo is that they replace the straps ( done and done ), we can't see this lawsuit getting too terribly far, but we suppose we'll have to wait and find out.
Where there's an ambulance, a greedy little moron with a law degree can't be too far behind...
I was perusing the latest Dr. Dobbs this evening, and ran into some information that generated some head smacking. I've complained about the Yahoo podcast directory not accepting my feed, and I just found out why - my feed was missing the requisite information.
As it happens, Yahoo has their own module - 'media' - which is a lot like the Apple 'itunes' one. I vaguely recall reading about that awhile back, but had long since forgotten. I went ahead and added the support to the server a few minutes ago, regenerated the podcast feed, and bam - Yahoo accepted my feed.
It looks like it'll be a day or two before it shows up, but that was the case with itunes as well. Yet another error that originated between the chair and the keyboard :)
I have no idea why Comcast is dragging their feet so much on the Tivo software rollout. Are there compatibility issues with the software and their installed base of boxes? Who knows? All we do know is that it's at least another year of swearing at the absolutely awful DVR interface they ship now:
Comcast first announced it would be using TiVo's software back in March 2005 and expected the majority of Comcast markets to be fitted with TiVo by mid-to-late 2006. However, only this month has Comcast began testing TiVo software on Motorola boxes with a handful of Comcast employees.
Comcast won't actually begin its first actual market trial until spring of next year and refused to comment on whether the TiVo service would be available to most Comcast subscribers by the end of next year.
The Comcast DVR is so bad that's I'd rather watch standard definition TV with the trusty ReplayTV. Yes, it sucks that bad...
Giles Bowkett has some provocative things to say about software development:
But say that we know the average technology business is really kind of pathetic. Say further that the only difference between a company running Seaside, a company running Rails, and a company running PHP is that the Seaside company has huge balls, the Rails company has some balls, and the PHP company has no balls at all. That's got nothing to do with the godlike qualities of any particular language. All that tells you is that very few companies opt to use the best technology available to them. And unfortunately, anybody who has noticed that Microsoft exists already knew that.
The culture of technology businesses has a serious problem, which is that technology decisions are generally made by people who do not understand technological issues. But saying that the best languages somehow require godlike intelligence, when they are in fact simpler to use, more intuitive, and in one case designed for little kids, that's just silly. The difference between a Smalltalk programmer and a Java programmer isn't really located inside their brains at all. Look a little lower down. It's a difference at the scrotum level. One of these programmers has a scrotum, and one of them does not.
Heh. It's a fun read - and I agree with him.
In this talk from day 2 of the conference, Uwe Liebold of AMD Dresden discussed the approach AMD takes to testing. It's a good talk on an interesting subject - AMD runs their chip wafer fabs with a Cincom Smalltalk application, and they have very short windows during the year during which they can update their code. You can see his slides here.
I don't often agree with Dave Winer, but he has JSON nailed: what were the developers of that thinking? Just as XML formats have become somewhat standard, we needed to invent something different just for the heck of it? Here's the JSON format description - it's basically key value pairs, surrounded by curly braces and quotes. Yeah, I really want another parser in my application to bulk it up some more. Thanks.
Technorati Tags: stupidity
I gave a "webinar" this morning - the slides and audio will be appearing over here for people who register. I recorded the session (at least my end of it), and I'll be posting the audio from that in a few weeks (I want to give the site an exclusive for awhile).
I'd like to emphasize the not software part especially in light of Googler Steve Yegge's Ridiculous post who sprouted off for pages against Agile. He didn't know a thing about Agile which showed in his post - almost nothing he said was correct or substantiated. He glorified a cowboy egocentric coding style that is thankfully long gone from most companies. You get to do that when YOU DON'T BUILD REAL SOFTWARE and build glorified web sites that sell advertising that say "whoops" all the time. At least I know one company I'll never work for.
Google has finally updated Blogger - after years of neglect that allowed it to slip into being a huge spam farm. I haven't been keeping up with splog happenings, but I hope they paid some attention to that during the update.
MetaCase’s MetaEdit Plus 4.5 isn’t based on UML. It’s a domain-specific modeling tool, said company CEO Juha-Pekka Tolvanen. MetaEdit Plus differs from UML offerings in that it models concepts “that are specific to a narrow area,” he said. For instance, instead of specifying an application in terms of classes, attributes and operations, as UML tools do, MetaEdit Plus specifies an application using concepts that are specific to that industry. “For the insurance industry, you could model an application in terms of damages, payment, risk and bonuses,” said Tolvanen, offering an example.
Technorati Tags: DSM
I see Microsoft has filed another set of bozo patents - two related to RSS. Here's the first blurb that's easy to make fun of:
If granted, one proposed patent would cover "finding and consuming Web subscriptions in a Web browser." The invention, for example, could allow a user to "subscribe to a particular Web feed, be provided with a user interface that contains distinct indicia to identify new feeds, and...efficiently consume or read RSS feeds using both an RSS reader and a Web browser".
Hmm. Call me crazy, but that sounds a heck of a lot like what BlogLines does. BlogLines has been around since before the June 2005 filing, so this seems to be an absurd attempt at overreach. Let's move on:
A related application, titled "content syndication platform," appears to describe a system that can break down feeds into a format that can be accessed and managed by many different types of applications and users.
Gee, you mean like OPML? Or like the various feed synchronization schemes that are out there? Here are the people who *cough* take credit *cough* for these bozo patents:
Jane Kim, program manager for RSS in Internet Explorer, detailed those features in a blog entry last year. Kim and her colleague Amar Gandhi, group program manager of the Windows RSS team, are among the inventors listed on both applications.
We can only hope that Kim and Gandhi will do the right thing, and try to get the patent application withdrawn.
I've just posted the last session from day 2 this morning - but I'm not planning to get any sessions uploaded at all next week. Cincom is mostly shut down next, and I'm at least taking a break from the audio editing :)
The day three sessions will start arriving after the new year. Happy Holidays to all!
Oh boy, here's another judge with no idea how the internet works: deep linking ruled out of bounds:
A federal judge in Texas has ruled that it is unlawful to provide a hyperlink to a Webcast if the copyright owner objects to it.
U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay in the northern district of Texas granted a preliminary injunction against Robert Davis, who operated supercrosslive.com and had been providing direct links to the live audiocasts of motorcycle racing events.
Lindsay ruled last week that "the link Davis provides on his Web site is not a 'fair use' of copyright material" and ordered him to cease linking directly to streaming audio files.
If you don't want content linked to, then use redirects, password walls (etc, etc). If you put content up in an accessible location, you are allowing it to be linked to. Can someone hand this a judge an "internet for dummies" book and read it to him? I'm not even expecting him to read it himself without assistance.
Update: There are a bunch of dumb analogies in the comments. Here's the point: by making a page linkable, you are - in fact - inviting people to pass through it. That's the way the web works. The door on your house is intended to be a barrier through which you invite people. You want a link to require an invitation? Fine - push it behind a password wall. Given the way the web works, a linkable location is an invitation. Anyone who thinks otherwise has a serious misunderstanding of the nature of the system.