May 2011 Archives

Do cloud developers need to go back to school?

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I spent this weekend writing up some opinions from a bunch of academics and recruitment specialists on the subject of whether cloud computing focused developers have enough skills to cut the new (cloudy) mustard.

It seems that opinions are mostly in line with a consensus which agrees that we have a skills issue to address. New languages and new software methodologies are at work inside the cloud paradigm and not every programmer has the skills base to cope.

The jump to cloud (and the news skills it will require) has even been likened to the new skills shift that programmers have had to embrace to cope with the new world of mobile apps.

While I spoke to headhunters and university professors for my initial analysis, I also had conversations with one vendor who had some worthy thoughts to add.

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Sarah Sandbrook, is HR director, for T-Systems Limited, a cloud solutions provider and Deutsche Telekom's corporate customer arm - she argues, "Is the IT recruitment industry facing a skills gap? Yes, to a degree. Have organisations and cloud solutions providers fully grasped what the new skill sets will be? No, not yet. Everyone is talking about the technology, but there has been a fundamental shift in the way the cloud is viewed and used and we haven't begun to feel the ripples yet. It is highly unlikely that the people I recruit three years from now will have the same skills profile as those people I recruit today."

Sandbrook says that in her position as a recruiter for a cloud solutions provider, she needs to cut through the new vocabularies of the cloud and identify how much is hype and how much requires new skills.

"Technology evolves and this current skills gap fits a pattern that we have seen repeated over the years. Ten years ago the big shortage was in Java skills. There is currently a big demand and a premium for programmers, coders and software application developers with the latest technical knowledge, but that occurs when there is a step change in technology (even a fundamental one). It's not a unique cloud phenomenon. T-Systems is not just meeting the challenge through recruitment, we are also up-skilling by training the staff we have with us today," said Sandbrook.

How should we "interpret" the cloud?

"The most significant and fundamental shift in skill requirements will be driven by the stratospheric spread of the cloud's interpretation. The focus is moving from hardware and infrastructure issues to applications and software-as-a-service, taking cloud into new areas. The customer-supplier relationship is changing resulting in a redistribution of roles between IT outsourcers and internal IT departments. Cloud solution providers will still need traditional IT skills such as, architecture, test and development, but they will also need business analysis, demand management and vendor management skills. Cloud is changing IT's role in the corporate world order."

SAP & Sybase keep it real over real-time apps

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Data-centric newlyweds SAP and Sybase have announced a series of new device agnostic mobile apps built on the Sybase Unwired Platform aimed at mobilising business processes and business information.

Quoting last years stats for some reason, Sybase points to a survey by Forrester Research which has suggested that in 2010 over 60 percent of companies will make mobile applications a priority over the next 12 months.

Forrester says that around 75 percent of organisations deploy mobile applications to increase worker productivity -- and, overall, "improved customer satisfaction" is an important driver of mobilising applications for 42 percent of firms.

"Over the past 18 months, SAP has been releasing technologies enabling the rapid creation and deployment of mobile apps through our platform and development tools," said Dr. Raj Nathan, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Sybase.

Among a newly strengthened corporate stronghold of spokespersons all dutifully playing to the SAP song sheet, Nathan is known for his vibrancy and creativity. As such, his comments are (arguably) among the more worthy of those emanating from Sybase if we are to trust in his PR department's ability to show him where he is quoted.

"We are announcing several packaged mobile apps that will drastically reduce the costs and time needed for organisations to implement a mobility strategy. Enterprise mobility is a phenomenon that transcends all borders in the workplace and SAP is out in front of this trend as it revolutionises the mobile space by making mobile the new desktop," added Nathan.

The SAP revolution -- are you sure you wrote that yourself Dr Raj? We're just kidding with you, it's a worthy citation sir.

The new mobile apps are designed to drive short-term, bottom-line results for businesses and employees across key industries.

As field service engineers are required to make more informed, timely decisions, the new SAP Field Service mobile app is designed to enhance customer satisfaction by bringing the right data resources, knowledge and information to the point of issue resolution. Built on Sybase Unwired Platform, the field service app will (says Sybase) provide full online and offline access to assignments, service orders and service confirmation.

There is also a new SAP Retail Execution mobile app, as well as a new offering for field technicians in the form of the SAP EAM Work Order mobile app.

Sybase has also suggest that new employee productivity mobile apps are in development with the goal to enable employees to remain productive through one-click access to key capabilities for completing routine activities, such as travel and expense capture, approving HR-based requests, entering sales orders and approving or rejecting purchase orders.

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Ali G: keeps it real -- Sybase & SAP: keeps it real time

Although journalists were politely not invited to attend last year's Sybase TechWave developer conference and industry exhibition/symposium - an understandable situation given the state of flux at the time - this year it appears to be an all singing all dancing affair. So I hope to report on the new Sybase and see if it is still the company it once was -- and more besides, perhaps?

I wandered lonely as a (managed) cloud service

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Actually a "managed" cloud is not so lonely is it? But is it enough to bring companies into adopting the cloud computing model of IT delivery if they still harbour misgivings about cloud security, cloud data privacy issues and cloud robustness in all its many forms?

Will the in-house developer team be able to work with the new computing paradigms now in place? Will the skill sets exist to cope with new programming languages being used in the cloud such as Voldemort, Puppet and Chef?

... and, most of all - can you trust a cloud SLA? Or are they not worth the (virtual) paper that they're printed on as seems to be the view of the collective cloud commenting community these days?

Rackspace says its cloud is baked with just about as fully rounded and tasty a recipe as you'll find anywhere, but is this just marketing talk? Or is there substance to the breadth of its so-called "managed cloud support" services.

This week sees the company open up its new managed support option to its UK cloud service. Rackspace is gambling its dice on an offering that claims to provide 24x7x365 managed services with "competitive" Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

Ah - so that was "competitive" SLAs, not "concrete" SLAs you will notice.

The new UK offering marries Rackspace's scalable on-demand cloud servers with monitoring and troubleshooting support -- this is designed to remove the headache of everyday infrastructure worries and enable organisations to focus on their core business.

But does it work and is it enough to help companies transition to cloud?

Here's what the customers have actually said:

"We started testing the cloud last year. Our traffic isn't always predictable; it's centered around events, especially at the World Championship. I love it that you're combining the managed service level that I've had on the dedicated side for all these years with the cloud systems that allow us to scale and adapt rapidly. To me, that's the greatest solution." Travis Sitzlar, Chief Technologist for IRONMAN at the World Triathlon Corporation.

You can watch Rackspace's launch video below:

Rackspace's latest offering supports the following operating systems: MS Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise 64-bit, Ubuntu 10.4, (Lucid Lynx), Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4, CentOS 5.5 and key applications, including Apache, MySQL, PHP; .Net/IIS; Microsoft SQL Server Standard Edition 2008 R2.

Cloud security, Lord of the Rings & 'gung-ho' IBM

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Following on from my blog yesterday, which suggested that IT vendors are scrabbling around like possessed hobbits trying to sell to the SMB sector, I feel I should expand on the inspiration for such comments.

Twas just the night afore last when IBM drew the cloud computing cognoscenti to a small repast in London's square mile.

The plan was simple -- we were to feast on salt marsh lamb and suckling pig, while the elders of our gathering ruminated on this new "cloud paradigm" that stalks the networks and byways of our once peaceful client-server based landscape.

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Sorry - I went all "Lord of the Rings" there for a moment; let's get back to cloud and selling it to SMBs with all the current security concerns that exist.

The discussion was both fueled and vibrant. Both spokespersons and press had plenty to say, but a few comments stood out.

The event was staged to highlight Big Blue's Institute for Advanced Security, which (as far as I can tell) is not an institute at all, but rather a division of IBM dedicated to security.

This gung-ho labeling is a shame in some senses as the content on the "Institute's" website is arguably quite valuable. Great pieces explaining advanced persistent threats, advice from policy experts, cyber security blogs and collaborative discussion forums -- what's not to like?

In attendance at IBM's meeting was sharp-penned journalist and contemporary hack-about-town Jane Gray of The Manufacturer who described IBM's new baby succinctly as follows.

"IBM's new institute is designed to connect public and private sector organisations either using cloud application or considering the transition. IBM will be offering advice and access to research through the institute, which will give insight into areas such as security analytics, cryptography and privacy. Forums discussion groups and demonstrations will be held by the institute at IBM's technology labs across Europe, including the IBM Hursley lab in the UK."

So what have we learned?

  • IBM likes to 'big up' the name of its departments.
  • IBM is a good source of information on cloud (and wider) security issues.
  • Salt marsh lamb is indeed the finest lamb you can eat.
  • If you re-watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy it ends up affecting your blog writing.
  • Vertical website commentary is more valuable than you might think.

Vodafone Euro-developer start up challenge

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Mobile comms company Vodafone is extending one last promotional-friendly arm to developers in the run up to the company's Vodafone Mobile Clicks 2011 competition, which closes next month.

Described by Vodafone's head of developer marketing Hemant Madan as a vehicle for encouraging, supporting and nurturing developer innovation - Madan has called on the European developer community to submit their applications for a chance to pocket the £200,000 prize fund.

Any new company with a mobile site, service or application across Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom can compete.

The year's judges will be scoring entries based on five criteria: originality, creativity and innovation; technical and operational feasibility; economic and financial viability; value to end-users; and finally, the quality of the management team.

Budding start-ups looking for inspiration need look no further than last year's Vodafone Mobile Clicks winner, Cardmobili.

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Since winning the competition in September 2010, Portugal-based Cardmobili has launched its application on Windows Phone 7, translated the app into French and Spanish and also seen its user base increase by 80%.

While some argue that the value of this kind of competition is relatively low in terms of the issues facing real world developer innovators, Vodafone's challenge has thrown up comments from previous competitors which hint at the real empirical use of such events.

"Competing in the Vodafone clicks competition last year did more for us than the 50k Euro for coming runners up in Europe," said Dave Tharp, managing director of Cricket Roulette Ltd . "Having the opportunity to hone our proposition, be challenged by the leading lights in this space and gain insight into how our application and our business is seen by others was invaluable. Just as important was getting a sense that actually we were doing a lot right -- and sometimes you need to hear that every now and then. I'd urge anyone thinking about entering to do so. It's well worth the effort."

The SMB low hanging (or at least abundant) fruit basket

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Well don't the IT vendors love small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) these days? OK, in fairness, the UK is a nation of shopkeepers (and so SMB keepers too) as the so-called small business sector makes up the such a huge proportion of our country's workforce.

The government's HM Revenue & Customs website defines SMBs in various ways at this link here -- but suffice it to say that this covers a lot more companies than you might have at first imagined.

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The thing is, SMBs represent not so much the "low hanging fruit" of the economy, but perhaps the fruit that is most abundant. So cloud vendors want to sell to SMBs (because big businesses are an easier sell and have been early adopters), web services companies want to sell to SMBs because they are among the ripest pickings out there... and the list goes on.

Basically, SMBs are hot sales targets - got it?

So what does this mean for software development in the SMB sector? Business consulting director at Infor Phil Lewis has suggested that today, faced with a scarcity of "big ticket" deals, software houses of every size are now focusing their marketing resources at the mid-market. However, many vendors have yet to realise what is involved in developing solutions for organisations of this size and how it can be done profitably.

Infor's Lewis writes for CWDN as follows:

Firstly it is imperative to understand that the profile of these businesses has changed drastically over the past couple of years. Two forces now drive a lot of end user expectations which IT teams must satisfy: the look and feel of the 'personal' computing experience and a greater awareness of enterprise applications.

Typical personal computer use has changed beyond all recognition over the past two years. The software behind sites like Facebook and YouTube is easy and intuitive to use. The web continually delivers simpler, faster, more engaging ways to interact online, seamlessly mixing data, information and services. Entertainment, information and commerce readily and quickly blur.

The same cannot be said for rigid business applications and the associated computing experience. But make no mistake -- mid-market expectations of technology are increasing because of this domestic ease of use. Software developers who ignore this shift do so at their peril.

You can read more at this blog's extended section.

IBM Blueworks Live for business process management

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One of the reasons some people leave big business is that they can't cope with this thing called "process" -- speaking personally, it's what drove me out of working for big companies.

Still, process is what runs businesses and Business Process Management (BPM) has arguably gained a fair degree of traction among IT departments that want to gain "visibility into the status of daily tasks", as the BPM vendors like to put it.

One of the current trends in this sector of IT is the push to eliminate the need for deep technical skills -- but does that take power (and quality control) away from the developer function, or does it alleviate higher-level pressures and make things better?

IBM says that BPM process companies can empower the business itself to turn an unstructured series of activities currently run over email into automated processes.

"Blueworks Live is IBM's new SaaS offering that gives everyone in an organisation a voice in process improvement. Borrowing concepts from social networking, IBM Blueworks Live turns BPM into a collaborative exercise in which the team has control over how fast or how deep they scale up their BPM expertise," says the company in a press statement this morning.

IBM has developed an infographic explaining the BPM journey which can be viewed online here:

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Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: new functions emerging

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While details relating to Apple's next operating system are still somewhat scant, we do know that Lion Mac OS X 10.7 will be delivered via the Mac App Store -- rather than by traditional CD-ROM.

Early previews are also suggesting that the OS itself is a lot more "gesture" driven -- and this of course pays homage to the popularity of the iPad. A "swipe" across the mouse will allow switching between screens.

The iPad feel extends to the new Lauchpad application that Steve Jobs previewed at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference earlier this year. If you have ever seen a fully loaded iPad with apps grouped by category, then this is the best way we can describe it to you at this stage.

The developer preview is currently at stage 3 -- and Apple still lists the final release date for the OS as "summer 2011".

Developers are being urged to start using the resources on Apple's Lion developer pages to ready themselves now for the new OS when it finally arrives.

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Is Serena's 'orchestrated' ALM out of tune, or a sweet melody?

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Serena Software's latest attempt to tune us into "orchestrated" Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is built around the proposition that the business needs a clearer single view of the entire application stack.

More specifically, we're hearing assertions from the company that "other" (i.e. not theirs!) dashboards provide a view into key performance indicators (KPIs) and correlated business metrics, but most are built to report on a single vendor's technology.

This problem situation, suggests Serena, prevents companies from gaining a comprehensive and timely look at how their critical processes are functioning.

Serena says it has been working to provide developers with a new way to identify and reduce "re-work" and improve responsiveness to the business.

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Serena VP of marketing David Hurwitz has gone on the record to say that, "Development teams want to be more productive, while business teams want the results of development work faster. These two teams ultimately have the same goals, but the tools that they use to support these processes have often put them at cross-purposes."

So two business functions + one organisation + two different processes = big problem then right?

"I see that the application delivery function within businesses has to look at wider business processes for software development and change management, rather than just concentrating on putting together code, if it is to meet the greater demand for updates within the business, and the shorter timescales for that work to be delivered in. Serena's vision for application delivery is to make the business process work better for the application development team and the business, letting each section of the chain concentrate on what produces value," said Serena's Hurwitz.

Serena sets out its ALM stall on the premise that an effective dashboard must be able to flow work data and "insight" to the following people:

  • developers,
  • analysts,
  • executives,
  • operations managers,
  • other stakeholders in the application lifecycle.

These then are the orchestra's players if you buy Serena's marketing concepts. There is some value in this for sure, but what if you can't stand classical music and you're a heavy rock fan at heart?

Yahoo! Open Hack Romania, in pictures

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Bucharest, Romania is the location for the 2011 Yahoo! Open Hack day. This is the fourteenth event of its kind and somewhere around 300 developers have descended on the city to hack up & mash up, eat pizza and cram as many carbonated drinks down as them as they physically can inside 24 hours.

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The thing about an event like this is the passion evident in the eyes of the coders themselves; the programmers work a full 24-hour cycle through the night without sleep. The event began with a series of technical workshops, followed by the 'hackathon' itself.

Services and APIs such as YUI, YQL and BOSS serve as the core building blocks for the developers' new applications.

YUI is an open-source framework, written with JavaScript and CSS, for building rich, interactive web applications.

YQL, the Yahoo! Query Language, is an expressive SQL-like language that lets developers query, filter, and join data across web services.

Finally, BOSS is a data API that gives developers access to web search, image and news content for a low usage fee.

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Also attending the Bucharest event are some well know programmers and developers who have made their name on the global stage.

Douglas Crockford (pictured below) is known for popularising the JavaScipt language JSON (JavaScript Object Notation).

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No sleep till hack heaven - this event's attendees are working mostly in teams, grabbing some much needed shut eye as and when they can. Some of the 'hacked' technologies resulting from these events do indeed make it into Yahoo! Proper.

A new photo sharing tool is featured in Yahoo!'s full-blown offering and this did indeed result from an open hack event.

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Yahoo! lays on a games room and chill out centre for developers to use at these events, but most of the time is spent at the keyboard. The ethos here is innovation at its most distilled - but if that sounds like a cheesy marketing line, Yahoo!'s Todd Hay was pretty open about how much real value the community stands to benefit from these gatherings.

"Real innovation comes from a real world event such as this, not from capturing some 'best practice blue sky thinking' session held in a boardroom somewhere in Sunnyvale," said Hay, who is head of the Yahoo! developer network.

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Although Romanian hackers make more headlines for their black hat malicious credit card scamming negativity. The new "free" Romania is attempting to press hard for democracy and justice.

How much of that emanates from Bucharest's colossal government building is hard to say -- as I taking the below picture, a friendly Romanian policeman issued me with a no nonsense "vamoose!" and I don't think that means welcome to Bucharest have a nice day.

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So what is Yahoo! today? I asked Yahoo! chief technology officer Raymie Stata and his team during a press roundtable - and this is how the company wants to position itself now:

  • Yahoo! Search Direct gives answers not links (so they say).
  • Yahoo! founded the hack days concept and now Facebook (and others) host similar events -- the company wants to hammer home its developer message.
  • Yahoo! is a media company, but is also a platform.
  • Yahoo! is a search company? No - Yahoo! is a digital media company, that's how they would prefer it.
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Yahoo! hackers descend on Dracula's Romania

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After attending the Yahoo! open hack day in Bangalore a few years back and meeting co-founder David Filo, I've had a soft spot for a company that still arguably has a lot to offer to the web developer community given its pedigree in online page presentation, API openness and all round desire to openly hack.

Chemam toti hakerii!

I believe that's Romanian for "Calling All Hackers!", because that's where I'll be spending this weekend. In a land made famous by Vlad the Impaler (or count Dracula as we know him), Ilie Năstase and the Cheeky Girls - and now for the Yahoo! Open Hack Europe of course.

Yahoo says that we'll witness more than 300 developers from 19 countries gather this weekend. As well as participating in the open hack challenge that is set, participants are also required to donate IT equipment to help create informatics labs for under-privileged children in Romania.

Yahoo's open hack events take place throughout the year at several locations around the world and the attendees get hands-on tutor time with the company's web gurus.

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This is intended to be a venue for developers to "leverage the entire Yahoo! digital media platform" - which, in essence, means that they will be able to hack using an extended range of Yahoo's tools and content, such as BOSS, Updates, YQL, YUI and Hadoop.

Developers will also be engaging with the Yahoo! Developer Network (YDN) this weekend, which is the arm of Yahoo responsible for collaborating with Kids on Computers - a non-profit organisation, that focuses on providing underprivileged children with IT equipment and computer training.

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Attending Yahoo's similar event in India was a real 'work hard, play hard' experience. Hackers worked 24-hours straight to come up with online web services built using the access they were given to the company's APIs (application programming interfaces).

The Indian event was won by a lad who created a "walking path mash-up" to lay over online maps for Indian villages which had no paths or street names, so that people could still be shown directions online - cool huh?

"Yahoo! has 680 million unique visitors a month, reaching 50 percent of the global online population. The developer community is a critical part of this ecosystem and we're committed to continuing to invest to support our core technology strategy to deliver deeply personal digital experiences," said Todd Hay, head of Yahoo! Developer Network.

"Yahoo! Open Hacks and internal hack days are part of this investment and are about providing a venue for the developer community to realise their creativity helping them develop innovative new products that leverage the massive Yahoo! digital media ecosystem."

"Open Hacks provide developers with many opportunities to learn, share and participate in building and developing projects together. It's an open idea exchange, allowing developers to get together and turn an idea into a prototype, a demo and a bit of working code. Open Hacks also provide developers with a fun environment to get hands-on access to the tools, support and services that will help them reach the most relevant audiences and be successful with the Yahoo! network," added Hay.

So yes, I am giving up my weekend to go and experience this event - and hopefully see a small amount of Bucharest-style Romanian culture too.

Will I be heading out to check out Transylvania too? Don't be so cheeky!

From mobile Augmented Reality to Speech Recognition in 24 hours

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This week I am seeing new-age software enhancement technologies come to the top of the agenda. Yesterday there were reports of mobile Augmented Reality (AR) applications being set to skyrocket in the fields of counter terrorism, medicine and utilities -- and today my inbox is filled with voice enabled apps and speech recognition.

Augmented Reality, or (AR) as it is jauntily known, is technology that provides digitally enhanced images of the physical world that feature information and data overlaid on screen.

Mobile AR then needs to rely upon location-sensing GPS, accelerometer technology and digital compass functions to provide a smartphone-type view of a location with supplemental on-screen content that is informative to the user.

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Is this an interesting and wildly spawning (and potentially profitable) areas for developers? It has to be right?

Anyway, onto voice enabled apps and speech recognition. The Nuance Mobile Developer Program (if you can 'stomach' the American spelling) says it has signed over 2500 developers in its first 90 days and successfully launched "dozens" of voice-enabled apps globally for iOS and Android.

The programme (mme - ah, that's better!) provides developers with access to the Dragon Mobile SDK - featuring the core Dragon speech recognition capabilities - that allows them to fully voice-enable virtually any app and bring it to market.

The most interesting apps so far are as follows:

• Avantar's AirYell app for iPhone and iPad lets users speak to find businesses, services and people located near them. AirYell uses iPhone's geolocation capabilities to recognise where consumers are, but also deliver results based on what's nearest to them. Results allow users to tap on the map to display driving directions and tap on the phone number to make the call.

• The iTranslate app from Sonico takes advantage of Dragon's voice recognition capabilities to let users speak words or phases into their iPhone, which are then translated in the language of choice. With the Dragon Mobile SDK's broad language support, iTranslate provides translations for English, German, Dutch, French, Italian, Polish, Russian and Spanish.

• Taskmind from Catalyst leverages Dragon to enable mobile organisation and productivity via its high performance team-work tool that lets users to speak notes, ideas or simple thoughts anywhere and anytime into their iPhone. All spoken notes are transcribed and stored in one central online task tool that allows users to then reference and share notes with friends or colleagues.

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First-generation firewalls do not cut the mustard

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In the wake of the InfoSec information security exhibition in London last month, I think I finally have Part II to my blog written to coincide with the event: Infosec 2011: application (development) appetisers Part I.

What I was looking for was some insight into how the mechanics of security technologies work, so I spoke to Florian Malecki who is EMEA enterprise marketing and product marketing manager at SonicWALL -- a company that describes itself as a purveyor of intelligent network security and data protection solutions.

Malecki's comments were deeper than most, so that was good.

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In the main I discerned that we have a potential IT development/management issue with firewall technologies -- when network infrastructures are upgraded to 10 GbE to accommodate for growth in bandwidth requirements beyond 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps), these upgrades can be neutralised by firewalls that are unable to handle high bandwidth requirements or connectivity.

SonicWALL suggests that this is especially true as an increasing number of security-conscious organisations replace their traditional firewalls with a new breed of deep packet inspection (DPI) firewalls that provide protection against the evolving threat ecosystem and the network attack vectors prevalent today.

"The adoption of web 2.0, social networking, cloud computing and mobile devices has dramatically affected the corporate network and the security challenges surrounding it. New bandwidth-hungry web 2.0 applications and social media sites are overwhelming networks, and first-generation firewalls are failing to stop the invasion of new and sophisticated threats. Costs are soaring because the need for bandwidth is increasing -- just to maintain the performance of mission-critical applications," said Malecki.

Massive deep security issue, or company that sells firewall technologies trying to fuel debate over the granular control of application traffic and bandwidth?

A bit of both probably, right?

Opera Dragonfly web design and developer toolkit now buzzing

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Norwegian browser developer Opera is this week unveiling its Dragonfly web developer toolkit. The new product is emerging from its exoskeleton as a collection of tools for web design and development, with a special emphasis on debugging.

Opera Dragonfly a hybrid web application -- which means users never need to update it, since the latest version is always pulled from the web. Plus, it will always be compatible with the version of Opera being used at the time.

Opera clearly realises that the world has gone mobile -- and has provided a remote debugging tool for mobile devices this time.

A web designer/developer turns on the 'remote debugging' function and Opera Dragonfly will connect to Opera Mobile and allow for debugging directly on the device.

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"You can even hack your site on tablets, TVs or your colleagues' computers with the remote debugging feature. And, Opera Dragonfly can mask as other browsers to help ensure cross-platform mobile compatibility," says the company.

There are also advanced colour-picking tools, options to debug Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) and a JavaScript debugger.

"Just one wrong line and your masterful script is in ruins. So, we make it easy to go through your code with conditional breakpoints, deep property inspection and watches to turn even the most jumbled JavaScript into a thing of beauty," says Opera's press statement.

USER NOTE: Personally, I'm a big fan of Opera as I think it's a clean browser with a lot to like. But as I also run Chrome, Firefox and Safari on my Mac -- and Internet Explorer on my PC I think there are improvements that Opera needs to catch up on. Auto dragging sites into the bookmarks bar being my major bug bear, surely this needs to arrive soon?

Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 from a software developer's perspective

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Adobe is hanging out the flags this week for the launch of its Creative Suite 5.5 product. Now with added vitamin C, bicarbonate of soda for a whiter smile, extra minty freshness and so-called "breakthroughs" in HTML5 authoring and mobile app development.

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Reading the company's official statements surrounding this release, the product advancements in HTML5 and Flash authoring are said to enable designers and developers to create compelling content and applications.

But how?

I've criticised Adobe before now for simply not sharing enough of its operational mechanics with us, let's hope this isn't more of the same.

The company talks of "sweeping advances in Flash tooling", along with improved "authoring tools" -- both of which are said to allow developers to create, deliver and monetize (with a Z no less) rich content and applications for virtually any screen.

But how?

"Designers and developers can create rich browser-based content across screens using HTML5. Adobe Flash Professional CS5.5, Flash Builder 4.5 Premium and the Flex 4.5 framework allow users to develop, test and deploy high-performance mobile applications for Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS and Apple iOS," says Adobe.

OK, so we're getting there.

Adobe's SVP & GM of Creative and Interactive Solutions David Wadhwani has suggested that his company is "leading the charge for HTML5 authoring" with the new capabilities in Creative Suite 5.5 --

...but again, what substance is there in such a gung-ho statement?

"{Our work will} radically enhance the delivery of HTML content across multiple browsers -- on the desktop, tablets and smartphones. For creators of mobile apps on iOS, Android or BlackBerry Tablet OS, our latest Flash tools deliver stunning high-performance apps, without having to start from scratch for every device," he said.

But if you want the real meat behind the whistles and bells and showboating going on here, you'll need to read this document presented by Adobe itself to detail what's new in Creative Suite 5.5 today.

There's also real content available in the below video from Adobe TV, where SDKs and command line centric information is discussed.

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