Recently in Application Category

A lifetime in IT but I still have to 'mug up' on stuff

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It is amazing to me that although I have been in this industry for more years than I care to count I still find nooks and crannies where I feel like a veritable babes in arms.

This week my focus is UML - frankly I knew it existed but it was not one of the tools that I have had to got 'eyeball to eyeball' on.

With my role encompassing Visio I have been called upon to demo the UML modelling capabilities of the product and frankly I am not sure where to begin, I have arrange some training with my colleagues in Redmond but that is only using the tool. I have put myself on a crash course on UML (through research) and 3 days on I realise what a deep and useful subject this is.

However my customer demo goes I am sure the investment in becoming familiar with the framework will be time well spend.

The joy of apps

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Just a quick blog post to recommend two apps I am runing on my iPhone: a) Blogpress - a useful mobile blog applet suppoting a number of well know engines (including MovableType which hosts the CW blogs) and b) WhatsApp - a push IM tool for iPhone and Blackberry that uses IP and therefore no incremental charges ( except when roaming) other than your data plan and can be much faster than erratic SMS Enjoy -- Post From My iPhone

Location:Heathbourne Rd,Potters Bar,United Kingdom

RTM - Three little letters that tell us that the software elves can have a short rest

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Its has been a long time since I last blogged regularly but I now have my blogging mojo back together. I am still with Microsoft although in a slightly differing capacity than this time last year when I was wearing a Groovy Visio mantle in Europe, now I wearing a Projected Visio cape in the same area (yes the pun sucks).

As I type blog posts are being deposited hither and thither regarding the RTM last Friday of Microsoft Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Project 2010, Visio 2010 (hey did we copyright that 2010 thing, no, dang should have).

For those of multiple 100's of thousands of you who have down loaded the public beta you will already know this is an order of magnitude improvement in our client and collaborative server offerings, those of you who have not tried it out yet, get hold of the trial download as soon as they come out, you will (I hope) be pleasantly surprised.

I have not had as much fun since Notes/Domino 4.6 was released back in the days when it mattered.

Over the next few days I am going to post a couple of blogs on the key new / rediscovered capabilities of my adopted software children plus some thoughts on my peripatetic coverage (subject to Volcanic eruptions) of the countries that I have some responsibility for.

Oh and RTM for the uninitiated - Released To Manufacturing

Visio, It's a drawing Jim, but not as we know it

Location:Bushey,United Kingdom

Empty promises and broken dreams

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for thumb_chapman_pincher.gifWebsites, like rust, never sleep, so how oxidised are the page impressions you offer-up to your visitors? Did you put up your site in the good times? Does it now reflect the changed commercial environment? If not, your corporate image may look as tarnished as an old rust bucket.

While you don't have any control of the recession, you can optimise what you do control by building a recession-proof Web site. Firstly, get someone independent to take a look and make an assessment. Secondly, take soundings from the departments or disciplines represented on your site and see how they see the world and what their priorities are. Too many sites are making promises that no longer ring true. It could look like your just whistling in the dark if your organisation doesn't reflect the new reality.

So what makes a recession proof web site? There are words that shouldn't be used i.e. jargon that doesn't wash. Images that shouldn't be seen, for example, picture's that paint too rosy a picture. It's all about finding the right resonance - a line somewhere between sunlit uplands and soup kitchens. A site that converts better will decrease cost per acquisition and, in turn, will increase marketing spend efficiency. A site improved for conversion can withstand economic storms.

Optimising your site should be a scientific process that is accountable, efficient, and measurable. It should be one that gives your existing customers confidence, attracts what new business can be had and critically one that your staff can believe in. Over the next few days I shall be blogging in more detail about what can be done to achieve a rust proof web presence.

GIS - the next generation

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for thumb_chapman_pincher.gifThe ESRI user conference last week brought together the brightest and best in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and geospatial collaboration. I went to see what was happening. Geographic information is getting 1] Richer (improved meta data) 2] More detailed spatial data (20 sq cm resolution) 3] Multi-dimensional (3D without glasses) 4] Centralised (pay as you go data sets for mash-ups).  

There were a broad range of applications from local authorities fixing problems - FixMyStreet, to a much better understanding of pluvial flooding (surface rain water) through to the intelligence services able to detect objects in a hostile environment - Top secret. With mapping linked with GPS and GNSS the applications are getting interesting. BMW is experimenting with pre-emptive headlights linking the car's beam to Satnav so that they turn as you round a corner and dip them in built up area. - Daft maybe but the start of increasing interoperability between maps and machines.

Quality and consistency are still major challenges (some data is only updated every year)  and licensing the cost restraint. However, Web 2.0 technologies, combining Web Services and SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) are facilitating data and processes on-line by combining geospatial and mainstream business data. The oblique imagery of Blom Urbex allows you to locate, view and measure buildings, structures and urban landscapes in over 1000 European cities this allows, for example, insurance companies to better evaluate risk and emergency services to manage disasters.

Ray Ozzie an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum

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thumb_white.gifI have known (to a small extent) Ray Ozzie since around 1995. Ray is clearly a man of huge vision with an intellect to match. On rare occasions at big events he has shown the ability to enthuse a crowd. 

At IBM's Lotusphere in 1997 the shy man really thrilled the crowd with the launch of the 'Domino' server line and at the same event in 2005 he gave, to an adoring audience, what turned out to be a valedictory address as a few month later he and Groove was acquired by Microsoft.

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It is now three years on and this PDC will see not one, but two keynotes from Ray and what is more it is going to be live streamed.

If you are interested in the crystallisation and delivey of Ray's Microsoft vision check out www.microsoftpdc.com/ at 08.30 PST tomorrow and Tuesday.

Wikipedia - Internet minnow

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thumb_white.gifLast night 'English humorist, writer, wit, actor, novelist, filmmaker and television presenter', Stephen Fry presented 'Stephen Fry in America'. This is one of many BBC programmes currently focussed on the US in the final run up to the American election. 

Of all the montages that the first episode covered a short interview with legendary Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales caught my atention. During this segment he affirmed that the total number of Employees at Wikipedia is 10. 

If ever there was an underlining of the Social in Web 2.0 technologies this is it. We all know that Wikipedia is driven by its contributors however the light touch of the centre is truly impressive and a testament to the power, flexibility and scalability of the emerging technologies.

There is a 50% chance your CIO does not care about your output!

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A very interesting piece of research has come to light as reported by Computer Weekly. The report from Original Software and which cites IDC states:

'When asked how the importance of their software quality is perceived within the business, more than 40% of CIOs admitted "not at all" or "as a nice to have". 

The Original Software study follows a recent IDC survey which revealed that more than 40% of all software applications are released with between one and ten critical defects, with the management being fully aware of this at the time of issue'

This I suspect does not surprise many of us but it is a damning indictment of CIO's that court 'Profile' ahead of the solutions they may be responsible for.



Not 'Rich' = not interested

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thumb_white.gifSo a Yahoo mail account has been hacked, well they are only one or two belonging to the Governor of a US State, potentially the next Vice-President and therefore only a vote / heartbeat away from the Presidency. Ed Brill has linked to this excellent article making the case for considering the potential risks and downsides for externally hosted mail and webmail in particular.

All electronic communications whether they be email or collaborative application based should trigger a number of considerations that should be taken into account when choosing an environment:

  • Trust - is the originator  who they say they are?
  • Security - are the intermediate hosts fully locked down?
  • Privilege - Can the administrators of the system access my content?
  • Compliance - Does information storage meet SOX (or equivalent) regulations?
  • Control - Can I impose an archival regime?
  • Ubiquitous - Is access to content easily achieved outside of the firewall or disconnected from the network and then does it stay in a guaranteed secure environment?
  • Housekeeping - Can corrupted or accidently deleted information be easily recovered?

These and many other similar questions tend to point a considered organisation towards rich clients within proprietary environments as the only way to tick all the boxes.

Recently this sort of approach has been seen to be 'old fashioned' by some, but the hardening that a proprietary system can deliver is far and away more robust than one based on open or de-facto standards.

As for freeware this simple motto to use is 'you get what you pay for', 'nuff said.

Whether you are a small or large company the test needs to be:

How much damage could an individual do if they had improper access to you systems internally or externally hosted?

Twitter - cleaning up its act

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thumb_white.gifThursday saw the updating of the Twitter UI and some its technology. At a time when Facebook is starting to look like an 'accident in a paint factory', the denizens of Twitter are producing a UI that's clean fresh and usable.

Well done Twitter, its been a long time coming. Facebook take note.

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The opinions expressed herein are the personal opinions of the authors and do not represent either of our employer's views in any way. All postings and code samples are provided 'AS IS' with no warranties, and confer no rights.

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