December 31, 2004
Steve donated and we just did too. Have you?
Situated Software in action
So we designed a simple requirements system for them and are building it right now. The system will basically allow everyone to record the requests they get from various sources and then check out requests to say they took care of it. The (of course Web based) system will at least help eliminate duplication of effort. This is going to be demo'ed to them at tomorrow's (well today's now really .. its nearly 3am) 8am meeting and if they accept it'll will go live by noon. Not a bad turnaround time eh?
December 30, 2004
Ways to fix your life: quit your job
Last night I was listening to Barry Schwartz' talk from Pop!Tech on how "Less is more". In the talk, Barry provides some examples of how adding more choices (e.g. more jam variations in a supermarket) actually may not increase the sales of jam. In fact - the more choice that is provided, the more likely it is that the sales figure will actually go down - as people become reluctant to actually make a decision. He also talked about a speed-dating example that shows the same effect (the more choice - the less dates).
Each additional choice you add provides less gain in the actual outcome - until you reach the point where people are overwhelmed with choice and actually become unable to choose. So, the vendor side overshoots the customer side.
This reminded me of the same notion, Clayton Christensen puts forward in The Innovator's Dilemma related to vendors adding feature after feature to a software or hardware product up to the point where the buying side loses interest. That is a time when the disruptive vendor can move in and offer something different - with less choice.
So if you are in the salad-dressing or jam business then I guess you too could introduce the concepts of disruptive technology into your jam offering. Produce a "simple" new line of jam that only comes in 3 flavors - and not in 250.
December 29, 2004
Silent-Penguin.com is mine
Good news from the domain front. It looks as though Bloghosts have finally been able to start transferring domains back to their owners. I have just completed the painless process over on GoDaddy after receiving an email from them.
Blogging the disaster into a book
After reading some of the eyewitness blogs (links) on the disaster in Asia, I wondered this morning whether any book-publisher has thought about gathering those reports into a book. Seems like a way to make sure these harrowing stories are not lost and remain accessible to a larger audience.
December 28, 2004
It is that "between the years" time when you sort of reflect on the past year and look forward to the next one. The subtitle of this weblog is "Making a dent - somewhere" and really, 2004 has been a sort of "dent-less" year. One of the best birthday presents I received (ok, it was on my wish-list) was a (tandem) parachute-jump I will hopefully be doing sometime in the Summer. And in a way, I guess that's a sort of fitting symbol - if you will - for a hopefully dent-full 2005. And let's face it - the end result of the jump may be just that - a dent somewhere. Hopefully there are plenty of other dents out there waiting to be made.
December 26, 2004
Thousands killed in Asia
Nature knows no peace for Christmas.
December 24, 2004
Merry Christmas everyone
The tree is decorated, the presents all packed and waiting for sparkling children's eyes. Ho Ho Ho.
SourceLabs does have weblogs
I received an email from Alex Bosworth from SourceLabs. He pointed me to the SourceLabs weblogs - here. My mistake for not looking for them there. Perhaps an idea would be to make that clearer from the homepage or even publish the company weblog on the homepage itself?
December 23, 2004
FT on corporate blogging
Neville Hobson quotes a Financial Times article on corporate blogging. The FT article explicitly quotes an example from Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, where the company has set up about 120 internal blogs to promote discussions and distribute information inside the enterprise. Way to go.
Open Source service companies - say what?
I've been taking a look at some of the new Open Source service companies that have appeared on the market in the last 12 months or so (such as SpikeSource and SourceLabs). I am slightly puzzled by the fact that even though these companies have been able to raise plenty of VC $, the actual offering or business proposition seems very vague (to me at least). SpikeSource offers a certified stack of Open Source components (one of which is just called "Apache" - what's that?) and a tool that checks out which Open Source components you have on your system. Hmmm... SourceLabs appears even sketchier, offering some sort of support and system testing services. Did any of these companies write a business plan? I guess they must have to get funding. Or are names and buzzwords (accountability, dependability) enough when you're riding a hype-wave? I don't think so. I'm sure there's a market for this type of company - if done right - but formulating a vision that appeals both to commercial clients and the Open Source community at large is key. Combine that with the open communication networks leveraged by social software, and you have a winner. Try finding the weblog on those companies websites for example.
December 22, 2004
Subscribing to Jamba
Jamba, a company that sells mobile ringtones, wallpaper and Java games has become one of the largest advertisers on German TV and is increasingly getting on viewers nerves. Especially if you are about 25 years younger than I am and watch MTV or VIVA (not that I don't watch them). There are now so many Jamba spots that the TV stations are actually losing other companies business (because they feel their spot will be lost between all the loud Jamba spots). Jamba is also coming under increasing fire due to the practice of selling ringtone subscriptions that are disguised as single ringtone purchases. It's perfectly legal, as the details are in the small-print but which you can hardly make out in the TV spot. This article in German takes a critical look at their business model.
Using continuations to develop complex Web applications
BitTorrent - the sequel
An excellent article by Mark Pesce on how BitTorrent works and why the recent takedown of BitTorrent sites like Suprnova will eventually backfire on the industry. I am still amazed that the industry hasn't realized that they can't win. But they could join.
December 20, 2004
Rick Stein, beware
Until this morning I had no idea who Rick Stein was. Now, however I have a couple of his books and a date. I love cooking and have always wanted to go on a cookery class somewhere. So, as a birthday present, my wife is sending me to Rick Stein's cookery school in Cornwall next August for a day course in fish cookery (she hates fish btw). I wonder if Rick has WiFi?
Update: Frank posts another picture. Name the computer.
Del.icio.us in a box
Another day, another business idea. Is anyone offering "Del.icio.us in a box?". I could imagine there being a market for a product like that inside the enterprise. Imagine having a similar way of collecting and subscribing to bookmarks - but inside corporations. See something you think may be interesting to say the marketing guys - then just bookmark and tag it. Should be pretty easy to implement and roll out - or is there something around already? How about adding that type of functionality to the Socialtext product, Ross?
Today is my birthday. A day like any other. But what they don't tell you about are the pains, or the cracking joints or the lapse of...now what was it that lapsed....anyway, I'll survive. I'm not sure I understand all this new Internet stuff anyway. Bah Humbug.
Update: Thaks for all the words of sympathy :-)
December 18, 2004
GeekConsultants - relaunched
I have decided to relaunch GeekConsultants.com this weekend as a German (ok, my try at German anyway) language weblog on Social Software in the enterprise. We'll see if it goes anywhere. At the moment I'm using the Silent Penguin image, but hopefully I'll have a different one up there soon.
December 15, 2004
Open Source software and corporations
This morning, Frank pointed me to Kristian Köhntopp's blog entry on "Open Source software and corporations" (in German). An interesting read and as I had some additional remarks, I emailed them to Kristian (they were too long to add as a comment). He contacted me and posted my email as a followup entry on his blog. My comments are things that I've posted here before and that I talk about in the "Open Source for Managers - Don't Panic!" session I've held at Jax a couple of times. Aimed at corporations interested in getting into - but scared of - Open Source, I talk about how communities are built, what mistakes you can make (we made them all) and how to get involved.
December 13, 2004
Gems is a new project on java.net. It is the home to a collection of small JSR-168 compliant Portlets. These portlets can be used in portlet containers that support the standard. Of course I would choose the Cocoon portal.
Build your evangelists - film at 11
Setting up a weblog about your product or brand allows your customers to provide you with direct feedback and for you to engage in a conversation with them that typical old-school marketing hasn't allowed. If those customers are happy with what you tell them then they'll start spreading the word and become your evangelists. Getting your customers to participate in the actual marketing by creating say a TV-ad is the logical next step. In fact if they like your brand enough, then they'll just do it. Next you know, they'll be running the whole campaign.
December 12, 2004
Personalized Bittorrent portal
I came up with the following: Set up a portal - where everyone can have their own login. Then allow people to configure the type of feeds they're interested in. The portal then farms the available torrents and provides personalized lists of torrent feeds. Could even be an RSS feed. Then I could mark the ones I was really interested in for later download. I know this sort of thing is available as a plugin for Azureus - but as a centralized web service?
December 10, 2004
Erik's new book on Lucene is scheduled to ship in a couple of weeks. Congratulations! And what's next? :-).
What do you know, I'll be an Old Fart just before Robert Scoble. 10 days to go and counting.
And yes, this is a shameless plug for presents.
And then the incumbent loses
Scoble and Israel have posted a draft of their book proposal. An excerpt from the first paragraph echoes my current thoughts on Social Software and Open Source really well.
Most revolutions are not televised—at least not until their outcome becomes obvious. Insurrections usually begin far from the spotlight where incumbents continue right along, doing whatever it is incumbents do. Those in power dismiss early disruptions as scattered and insignificant. They point out that the rebels are ragtag and their leaders mere peasants. While most revolutions do fizzle, some gather unstoppable momentum and when that occurs, the status quo defenders wake up one morning to discover they’ve already lost.
Are you asleep?
December 08, 2004
Best Wiki for an encyclopedia?
We want to set up a Wiki at work that allows us to build an internal encyclopedia for a specific topic. Something like our own internal Wikipedia. There are obviously loads of Wiki implementations we could use, but I'm interested in one that supports a more encyclopedia type paradigm. Wikipedia is based on MediaWiki, so maybe that's a good alternative to start looking at. But I'm interested in any suggestions you may have.
Speaking of Wikis, I recently installed Instiki - a Ruby based Wiki - as my own personal work Wiki. Really easy to install as all it requires is Ruby.
Update: Yeah Steven I know I have comments turned off - but you can send me an email or leave a trackback :-).
Social Software articles
The new dead tree edition of the German Linux Enterprise magazine was published today. I wrote 2 articles for this issue. The first gives an overview of Social Software in general and the second is a more detailed piece about "Social Software in the Enterprise". I interviewed Ross Mayfield from Socialtext for that one - hopefully the interview made it into the printed version.
ApacheCon Europe in 2005
By now most people will have seen that ApacheCon Europe is scheduled to take place in Stuttgart, Germany from 18.-22. July. Parts of Germany will be on Summer vacation during that week, so it will be interesting to see how the attendance is. By chance I checked the link "apacheconeurope.com" and it exists. It points to Entwickler.com, a site run by Software & Support Verlag. They also produce conferences such as JAX and the International PHP conference. Although I've not seen anything official, this would suggest that they will be producing ApacheCon Europe too.
December 07, 2004
Nobel prize blogging
Who says blogging is just for nerds? If a Nobel-prize winning economist and a federal circuit judge can blog (and also think blogging is "a major new social, political and economic phenomenon") - then so can you.
eCommerce Stress Test
It looks like this could be the Christmas season the eCommerce sites get put through their paces.
Our Canadian "Running Man" is having shin splint problems. I can remember having the same problem when I started running. Mine improved after making sure I had some good shoes for running on hard surfaces and by doing some exercises - such as those listed here.
December 06, 2004
Scoble is writing a book...soon
You have to hand it to Scoble - or rather his readers. Already, his book on corporate blogging (together with Shel Israel) is being hyped all over the blogosphere. And he's written...let me see...oh, nothing yet. He still a long way to go then. In fact Robert himself writes: "Last time I participated in a book I swore I'd never do another one (I wrote about 40% of a book back in 1997 about NetMeeting). That project nearly killed me.". We'll see what happens once the actual writing starts.
December 04, 2004
Ooh but it's so bad
Seems to be turning into a musical weekend. Anyway, I read a couple of weblog posts about how bad the new version of "Do they know it's Christmas" is. I really thought people were just knocking it off because of it being a remake. Then, today, I actually heard it for the first time. It is so bad, words fail me. I'll be sticking to the original.
December 03, 2004
Ooh but it's so good
I'm talking about the new U2 album - How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. I just purchased it from the ITunes store. Makes me feel - uh - younger again.
Speaking of which - it looks like the ITunes store needs to do something about pricing differences.
Listening to: Love and Peace Or Else from the album "How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" by U2
December 02, 2004
The day the revolution ended
I've been following (and involved in) the Open Source movement for the last 5 years. During these years I've always had the feeling of being part of a revolution that was changing the way the software industry ticks. The signs that the revolution was actually coming to an end have been on the wall for the past few months with the growing "normality" of Open Source being chosen in commercial environments. Therefore, I guess today is as good a day as any to declare the revolution over. Actually there is a real reason for choosing today (in Germany anyway): The full page advertisement for Firefox in the German national newspaper FAZ. We're not in Kansas any more.
Note, I don't mean that Open Source itself is over. Far from it. It's just not "revolutionary" any more. Yawn.
Making an open-source living
A slippery slope?
A rather misleading title "Apache chokes on open-source philosophy" for an article on how the ASF is thinking about hiring staff to help run the organization.