As Mike Arrington says, Comcast mostly doesn't have to care about your connection issues (or TV issues, for that matter), because they have a local monopoly in most places (I suspect that I have things a bit better here because Verizon laid down fiber - and started offering a real alternative). Having said that, what possesses them to tell outright falsehoods? Like airlines, are they operating under some bizarre belief that "we can't handle the truth"?
As Arrington relates the story, they told him that the outage he had was "California wide" (even though he was getting online at other people's houses nearby). It was only when he started the tweetstorm that Comcast called him, and then came out and fixed his problem. On the one hand, it's good that they monitor corporate references; on the other, they end up looking stupid due to the earlier behavior.
This kind of thing drives people nuts, and makes them feel like a prisoner rather than like a customer. Does anyone at Comcast see that? From here, it looks like the answer is a resounding "no".
I'll be out of the office most of Wednesday, as I'll be heading up to NYC for a meeting with a customer. I haven't ridden the Acela trains in awhile, so I'll be interested to see how they are these days.
Google has announced their application platform, and their hook to get you started is that it's free up to a certain level of usage - that usage level is restricted for the beta period (first 10,000 signups). Here's the detail on that:
Google's App Engine initially will have limits of 500MB of storage, 10GB of daily data transfer bandwidth, and 200 million daily cycles of processor use. That should be enough to power a Web site with about 5 million page views per month, Koomen said.
Once they get out of beta, that usage level will be free, with anything beyond that charged on a pay as you go basis. The interesting thing is this: the development environment for it is Python. So much for Sun's theory about what you need to scale in the Enterprise.
That provides an interesting counterpoint to what Amazon is offering though. With Google, small scale use is free, but your toolset is limited. With Amazon, you pay as you go from the start (not a lot), but you can use whatever tools you want.
Bottom line, developers just got more choices for building out web apps.
Technorati Tags: cloud computing
Jeff Jarvis is connecting the dots on CBS moves in the news division:
The signs have been adding up: CBSNews.com did major layoffs and an aggressive retreat from news online. CBS stations made news layoffs aplenty. And now CBS is said to be talking with CNN -- again -- about outsourcing news to CNN. One imagines a one-woman-thick news operation: Katie Couric reading intros to CNN reports.
As Jarvis notes, this isn't a bad thing. I rarely watch one of the 30 minute national newscasts - why would I? I have CNN, MSNBC, and Fox running news 24x7, and CNN runs a headline service if I want something short. I also have the whole net to choose from.
The interesting question is what this will do to local news operations. Those have long been seen as the "farm teams" for the big networks, but that's not going to hold any longer. I expect to see more and more affiliation with the cable news networks, and for the bons between local stations and their "home" networks to loosen.
Technorati Tags: media
Michael has been putting together OpenGL and Cairo, and the results are pretty interesting - I've got a short (45 seconds) video demonstrating what he's been working on. You can load it and try it out yourself: just go to the public store, and grab the OpenGL-Examples package.
I've also made it available on YouTube:
It's been a slow but steady process - over the last couple of years, we've been moving more and more to the Mac, and to Apple products in general. It started with the Mini we bought, just before Apple went to intel. Then came the iPods, one for me, one for the kid.
That was it for awhile, but then the MacBook Pro arrived last summer - I was sold enough that my wife got a MacBook - which she loves. Now I've upgraded my old iPod to a Nano, and my wife is getting one of the classic models.
This is a sea change for us - not too many years ago, I was arguing that Macs simply weren't worth the cost premium. Now? The sheer amount of time I haven't had to pound my head on the desk makes up for that differential.
Dave Buck has announced a Smalltalk training class in Santa Clara, California:
Simberon will be offering an open enrollment course Introduction to VisualWorks Smalltalk course in Santa Clara, California. It's a 5 day course that will be running from May 12th to May 16th 2008. The course covers the Smalltalk language and basic libraries, version control, refactoring, and building user interfaces. To register visit Simberon's web site.
Technorati Tags: training
I like taking the train (as opposed to flying) when I head to NYC. This might come as a surprise to people who know me, as they know that I'm fairly skeptical about any expansion of high speed rail in the US. The thing is, it works in the Washington - NY corridor, and in the NY - Boston corridor. There are other places in the US where it either works now, or could work - the region around the Great Lakes comes to mind, and also the coastal California corridor between LA and SFO. That's not to say there aren't problems though.
If the railbed isn't ready for high speed trains, the infrastructure cost for laying those down is enormous - especially compared to planes, that don't have to stick to a restricted space. On longer haul routes, rail makes even less sense. In the abstract, I'd love to take a comfortable rail trip across the US. In reality, there aren't enough people who want to do that on a regular basis to justify it - why take a multi-day train when you can fly in 5-9 hours (depending on whether it's non-stop or not)?
To relate this to software, I think it's another case of picking the best tool for the job. When I have to head to NYC, the train is a far, far simpler and more efficient option than air travel. When I have to head to Cincinnati? It's a different ballgame.
This is kind of curious. My trip up to New York was completely uneventful. On my way out of Penn Station I noticed soldiers (National Guard, maybe?), all unarmed. I wasn't sure whether they were working or just in transit, like me. Now, on my way back home, I noticed soldiers at Penn Station again (unarmed, so what's up with that?) - and then on my train (the 5 pm southbound) - police stationed on the train, in between every car. I've never seen that before - is this normal, or are they looking for something? Very strange...
Alan posted some basic info today (with more to come), but here's the basics:
- Wednesday, June 18: Registration, Coding Contest, Welcome Reception
- Thursday June 19 - Saturday, June 21: Conference
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
By now, everyone has heard about the inspection related cancellation of thousands of American Airlines flights; the bad news is, there's more to come across the industry:
A second wave of audits began on March 30 and will continue through June 30. Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the FAA, said it could not rule out further groundings. "We don't know," she said. "We find what we find."
Who knows which airlines will end up in the crosshairs? I'm still planning to fly American to Smalltalk Solutions - odds are, the problem will have gone by them by June. Knock Wood....
If it's spring, it must be time for our annual planning meeting in Cincinnati. Next week (airlines willing), we'll be getting the Smalltalk team (myself, Arden, Suzanne, and all of engineering) together to look at the next release cycle. Arden has been asking for customer feedback for awhile now, but I'm sure he'd be happy to get more.
Charles Miller isn't happy with the rash of Twitter-spam out there. I'll note that this isn't new; Immediately after I joined Twitter (awhile ago) - I recall that one of the first "follow me" requests came from "Girls Gone Wild". I kind of figured that they weren't interested in "Smalltalk Daily" :)
Technorati Tags: twitter
Who knew Yahoo would go this far to avoid Microsoft - it looks like an AOL/Yahoo merger is in the works. I'm not at all sure that it's a good idea; both companies are foundering, and it's rare that two bricking companies do more than sink faster.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is talking to News Corp. to create a joint MS/News Corp/Yahoo monstrosity? Sheesh, Microsoft can't focus now; can you imagine them after that took place?
If Google has any sense at all, they'll sit back, order some popcorn, and watch their competition commit suicide.
Mathew Ingram points out that a lot of PR pros haven't caught up with reality - the "dead tree" release is as dead as many newspapers are:
This is not rocket surgery. Put links to relevant information in there; add multimedia content if you have it, with either embedded images or links to them. Better still, create a blog post that has all of these things in it and is tagged properly, and people will find it. Whether you follow the structure here or not is up to you (some people believe starting with the facts and not the spin or “hook” is the wrong way to go, but that’s debatable). Just put some damn links in there, and quit hoping that a boatload of overused adjectives will somehow sell the thing for you.
With old releases, the goal was to get phone calls. With new ones, the goal is to drive people to the right part of your website. If you aren't linking to it, how exactly is that supposed to happen?
Technorati Tags: marketing
On today's Smalltalk Daily, we pick up the end of the Seaside tutorial again, and go through the various ways you can save your work.
Now this is amusing:
A devilish Boston fan working on a concrete crew at the $1.3 billion stadium covertly buried a Red Sox T-shirt under what will become the visiting team's locker room to jinx the Yanks, two construction workers told The Post yesterday.
The only solution is to tear that part apart and remove that jersey!
Jeff Jarvis notes the absurdity of this:
On NPR this morning, I heard an old lady in a wheelchair forced to come to the airport to change her canceled American tickets -- she wasn’t allowed to do it online or on the phone, not even after she said she was disabled and her daughter had seven children and a newborn and couldn’t take her to the O’Hare’s hell.
Unless you sell a commodity whose value is solely determined on price grounds (like, say, gas at a self serve station), customer service is everything. The reason a lot of companies don't get this is simple: Excellent service seems to have little upside. No one comments on it, and praise is infrequent. However, bad service gets passed around via word of mouth. Restaurants figured this out a long time ago; unless you can count on a steady traffic of non-locals, you simply cannot afford bad word of mouth n the food business.
The thing that's changed is how viral word of mouth has gotten. A decade ago, stories like the one Jeff relates would have appeared (maybe) in a local newspaper. Unless a national news organization latched onto it though, it would have been very unlikely to see it spread beyond the people the woman in question knew.
Now? All it takes is someone who thinks the topic should be talked about, and there are so many bloggers around that the liklihood of that happening starts to approach 100 percent. That doesn't mean that it will be known by "everyone", but you can bet that frequent travelers - who follow this kind of news - will find out early, and react to it. It's a whole new ballgame, and it's one that companies and public figures are having a lot of trouble with. Take this item about Bill Clinton, for instance - and never mind the politics, it's the communications issue I'm interested in:
Watching Bill on the trail makes folks wonder whether he could have held up to scrutiny in 1992 had YouTube and instant fact-checking existed back then. No one has seemed less prepared for the intense scrutiny of this campaign than Bill. He seems to forget that even when he's in rural Indiana, he's on the national stage. In '96, the Clinton campaign thought their local market strategy was innovative (it was), since it allowed him to talk to key media markets outside of the interference of the national press. Now, the national press is everywhere since local can become national in an instant.
This is a key thing in modern PR that is just as true for companies: it's virtually impossible to segment a message to different audiences now. Want another example? How about this Absolut Vodka campaign, intended to be targeted solely at a Mexican audience? Again, the people who put that together assumed that the audience was limited; they learned all too quickly that the audience was global, regardless of the theories they held.
You simply can't segment the audience with any expectation that it will stay segmented. "Edgy" campaigns are now every bit as dicey as the idea that you can campaign one way in this area, and another way in a different one. You have to assume that a video camera, phone, and internet connection exist in every single context, and act accordingly.
Technorati Tags: marketing
Here's the video I shot of Peter Deutsch's talk at SPA 2008, on March 18. It's a bit over an hour, with half of that being a Q&A segment. I'll have this out as audio only (podcast) over the weekend. In the meantime, you can grab the video in one of two formats:
I wanted to post larger resolution, but that file was nearly 1 GB in size. Enjoy!
Windows is to the new crop of smaller, lower power devices. I'm not the only one who thinks Windows is on the way down - see Joe Wilcox at Microsoft Watch:
By contrast, Vista dramatically increases operating system complexity and hardware requirements. But, with the increasing business and consumer shift to mobile devices, the market demands less complexity and lower-powered hardware. Microsoft's inability to offer Windows Vista for low-powered laptops is example of the problem's size. Vista demands too much. Something else: Deployment complexity plagues Windows and many supporting applications, particularly in the enterprise.
If Vista hadn't landed with such a resounding thud, they might have had a shot at turning things around. However, they are now in panic mode, trying to get Windows 7 out in order to sweep the latter day Windows ME under the carpet. Meanwhile, the next generation of small devices will evolve without Windows.
Technorati Tags: vista
Scoble brought the whole Shyftr thing to my attention with this post; apparently, it's a service that rehosts syndication traffic and allows commenting directly on their site. There's a lot of chat about that; some people think it's awful, others (like Scoble) seem to be taking a "what can you do?" attitude. That's mostly where I am, but with one caveat: my ability to follow.
For this blog, I don't really have much of a problem, but if you're more popular (like Scoble), the conversation is going to extend far further than you'll possibly be able to deal with. That's what I'd worry about more than anything else; the sheer inability to follow the conversation as it continues to fracture.
This week's podcast is another keynote from SPA 2008: Peter Deutsch's talk on his experience (50 years worth) in software development. This was recorded on March 18, 2008 at the conference - I posted the video of the same talk here.
I finally sat down and watched the last episode of season 2 of Jericho; it had more holes in it than the first season, which was hard to do. On the other hand, if you're the kind of conspiracy nut who still thinks FDR planned Pearl Harbor (not to mention the more modern versions of the same thinking), then maybe you'll enjoy it - it definitely falls into the "6 impossible things before breakfast" theory of plot development.
Though not the first omni-directional treadmill we've ever seen, this version crafted for the EU-funded CyberWalk Project is entirely more interesting. The 6- x 6-meter device features an active walking area of 4.5- x 4.5-meters, and later this month, individuals anxious to prance through a virtual city will be able to strap on a head-mounted display, lace up their LA Lights and indulge in escapism.
So how soon will I need to pick between the blue pill, and the red pill :)
We are about to get a change in the weather here (two good days - it's about to get colder again). Right at sunset, I took two photographs of the wild sky/cloud color:
I was kind of hoping to get away with no coat on this trip to Cincinnati; sadly, here's tonight's forecast:
A pair of hardhats working at the new Yankee Stadium dropped a dime on the location of a buried Red Sox jersey.
After the hardhats pointed to the spot, workers brought out jackhammers and dug furiously for five hours, creating a 2-foot- by-3-foot, gravel-filled pit in their search for the tainted threads. They spotted the jersey at 3:25 p.m. and called Yankee brass. The cursed shirt was about two feet deep in cement.
Well, we can all breath a huge sigh of relief now :)
If I didn't have spam filtering turned on for our Wiki, I definitely would not be able to keep it running - here's a bit of the logging, which illustrates the problem:
<< April 13, 2008 10:49:48.216 >> << Spam from: (IP Omitted) >> << Spam Intended For: Cincom Smalltalk >> << April 13, 2008 10:49:48.781 >> << Spam from: (IP Omitted) >> << Spam Intended For: Wiki Syntax >> << April 13, 2008 10:49:59.142 >> << Spam from: (IP Omitted) >> << Spam Intended For: Add an action button to a canvas >> << April 13, 2008 10:51:29.850 >> << Spam from: (IP Omitted) >> << Spam Intended For: Wiki Syntax >> << April 13, 2008 10:54:22.129 >> << Spam from: (IP Omitted) >> << Spam Intended For: VW NameSpace Reservations >>
It's like that 24x7.
I'm later with this post than I should have been, but at least I remembered before my trip. I'll be in Cincinnati at our annual "all hands" meeting - meaning, I'll be with the entire Smalltalk engineering group. That also means I have an opportunity to get podcasts on just about any topic of interest to the Smalltalk community (assuming I can convince the relevant engineer(s) to sit down and talk :) )
So - any suggestions? Leave a comment or email me.
Technorati Tags: smalltalk
Jarvis puts his finger on the root of the problem the airlines have - and it's the same one the record labels have, and Microsoft - sheer inertia. They like running things "the way they've always been", and when change enters the business picture, they go straight to denial, rather than to any attempt to fix things. Digital music a threat? Try to sue it out of business. Web based applications a problem? Try to build more walls around Windows. This quote from Umair Haque sums up the problem nicely:
The dynamics of old boy's clubs are almost deterministically predictable: they fight tooth and nail against risk, against the radical, against any kind of change to the status quo. They're great at "monetization" - cutting deals - but the last thing old boy's clubs are good at, unfortunately, is sticking up, come hell or high water, for innovation. From music, to publishing, to food, to autos, the outcome of locked-down boardrooms has been innovation stifled and suffocated
When the business environment changes, you need to be able to adapt. Those who aren't, die.
This is huge - Google and SalesForce are teaming up - which means that the Google app stack (including the new app framework - will be a good default choice for SalesForce users (and vice-versa). This is a huge game changer, because it means that Office is not the default choice for an increasing number of business users.
Microsoft is getting disintermediated, and there's not a heck of a lot they can do about it. They're stuck in the kind of management inertia problem I spoke about yesterday.
We've just started our annual get together for the Cincom Smalltalk team - I took a few pictures of our opening - here's Suzanne Fortman getting things started:
And Alan, the new engineering manager
And below, three photos of the crowd in the meeting room. Here's to a good week!
Speaking of game changing - Google announced their web services a week ago - now Amazon has announced something truly cool - persistent storage for EC2. Not S3, mind you - attached storage for the EC2 instance that is persistent:
In the same way that your running EC2 instances, your Elastic IP addresses, your S3 buckets and your SQS queues can be thought of as items contained within the scope of your AWS account, our forthcoming persistent storage feature will give you the ability to create reliable, persistent storage volumes for use with EC2. Once created, these volumes will be part of your account and will have a lifetime independent of any particular EC2 instance.
These volumes can be thought of as raw, unformatted disk drives which can be formatted and then used as desired (or even used as raw storage if you'd like). Volumes can range in size from 1 GB on up to 1 TB; you can create and attach several of them to each EC2 instance. They are designed for low latency, high throughput access from Amazon EC2. Needless to say, you can use these volumes to host a relational database.
This is absolutely huge - it means that you can now run an entire application stack on Amazon's service without having to rely on S3/SimpleDB for the back end storage. Need to scale your website up? That just got a whole lot simpler.
I'm not sure whether I'll be able to get new Smalltalk Daily episodes posted this week; I'm in planning meetings, and I may not have time. In the meantime, have a look at the large number of existing ones!
I got a little ahead of myself with the posting of Cincom Smalltalk Spring 2008 for download. The commercial release isn't quite out yet, so I've reverted the download page to OST 7.1.3 and VW 7.5. We should have the commercial release out shortly; the product is ready to go. The only issue has been getting ObjectStudio 8.1 Vista Certified, which has been taking more time than we hoped it would.
If that keeps stringing out, we'll be splitting the release - sending out commercial VW 7.6 and OST 7.1.3 now, and OST 8.1 when the certification comes through. Either way, the commercial release should happen within a couple of weeks at worst, and the NC site will revert back to the latest code.
Sorry for the inconvenience!
I'm sure that the few $K in support contracts that come out of this kind of MySQL conversation will justify the $1B they spent:
After a profoundly awkward silence, one of the individuals from their internal development team piped up, "Actually, everybody uses it. Why bother hassling with license agreements when MySQL's got you covered. We're stoked you bought them."
At that rate, I'm sure Sun will monetize that investment in just a century or two. Good luck with that :)