Archive for October, 2008

Herzlichen Glückwunsch

zum 25. Jubeltag, dem “Zentralorgan von Nerdistan“, wie der SpOn heute die c´t, die einzig wahre Fachzeitschrift für Computertechnik bezeichnet.

Ich kann mich auch noch an die frühen Ausgaben erinnern. Seit werweisswielang habe ich das Abo und kann auf die c´t, wie auch auf die Zeitung, hinter der immer ein kluger Kopf steckt nicht verzichten.

Weiter so, und mal sehen was uns in den nächsten 25 Jahren erwartet. Ich freu´mich drauf.

The Bank of San Serriffe

D.E. Knuth has opened up his own bank where he deposits the checks for all that find errors in his books. And he has invented a new currency:

Instead of rewarding heroic bug-finders with dollars, I shall henceforth award brownie points, otherwise known as hexadecimal dollars (0x$). From now on it will be kudos, not escudos.

Instead of writing personal checks, I’ll write personal certificates of deposit to each awardee’s account at the Bank of San Serriffe, which is an offshore institution that has branches in Blefuscu and Elbonia on the planet Pincus.

He explains the reason here:

For example, due to an unfixable security flaw in the way funds are now transferred electronically, worldwide, it is no longer safe to write personal checks. A criminal who sees the numbers that are printed at the bottom of any check that you write can use that information to withdraw all the money from your account. He or she can do this in various ways, without even knowing your name — for example by creating an ATM card, or by impersonating a bank in some country of the world where safeguards are minimal, or by printing a document that looks like a check. The account number and routing information are all that international financial institutions look at before deciding to transfer funds from one account to another. (See, for example, Grant Bugher’s comments.) More and more criminals are learning about this easy way to acquire money, and devising new schemes to conceal their identities as they steal the assets of more victims.

Nowadays almost everybody knows that it’s dangerous to reveal your credit card number, or to have that full number on a printed document that somebody might find in the trash. Soon people will learn that it is equally dangerous to reveal the numbers that are printed in plain sight on every check. Forget signatures; banks have no time to verify them. The once venerable system of checking accounts is irretrievably broken. Before long, companies will find it impossible to give out paychecks without exposing themselves to unacceptable risk.

Fully agreed. But his solution is not working for us mere mortals. And, after all, only a few of his checks have been cashed at all.


Opinionated Eggs?

The Dent of the Day as the US election day comes closer and closer:


Will this tech recession will be different?

George F. Colony, CEO of Forrester Research, thinks so.

His main arguments are:

1) Tech will be down, but not out.

2) Transformation and innovation will lead recovery.

3) Tech is everywhere.

4) Customers live on tech.

5) Tech issues are burning.

Tech suffers when GDP growth stalls — that is always the case. But the tech environment has transitioned since the 2001-2002 hurricane — meaning that this time around will not be as severe.

I think he is partially right. Vinnie is a bit more sceptic:

… I already see bigger, incumbent vendors digging in to protect their revenues and margins from older “utility” areas – in “uplifts” for older software releases, in print consumables and roaming mobile charges and outsourced processing and storage. Many, many items which should have been declining nicely for years but continue to crowd out budgets for innovation projects.

If such vendors continue to win, this tech recession may end up being no different from previous ones.  And that would be depressing.

Indeed. So hope for the best and see that your company is making the right movements despite rough environments and shaky business conditions.

Cloud week

(El Alamein 1942: British Matilda tanks move forward at Tobruk)

This is an interesting week. And the battle for the cloud has increased its intensity.

We had Microsoft reveal its Cloud Stratey on the PDC with Azure. We also had the debate between Tim O´Reilly and Nick Carr, which I touched briefly upon.

Today I find further interesting pieces (via). Tim Bray discusses “The Shape of the Cloud“, and is reminded of Altavista (the dominating search-engine that was before Google, ya know?). But he mentions very important topics which he believes are true:

Monopolies Don’t Require Lock-in

Low Barriers to Entry Win

Economies of Scale

CIOs Aren’t Stupid

and the analogy to Altavista:

Amazon Web Services smells like Altavista to me; a huge step in a good direction. But there are some very good Big Ideas waiting out there to launch, probably incubating right now in a garage or grad school.

Such an idea doesn’t have to come from a big company. And it doesn’t have to be proprietary to grow fast and dominate the landscape. It has to have no aroma of lock-in, it has to be obviously better, and most of all, more than anything else, it has to be really, really easy to get started with.

And he is absolutely right.

Eric Larson adds another important point:

The essence is that we haven’t quite found the sweet spot for deploying apps to the cloud.

I would imagine there will be two progressions that will allow deployment on the cloud become mainstream. The first is languages will create a simple way to wrap up an application with all its libraries, much like a desktop application. The second is that cloud service providers will change from supporting a language or virtual machine to supporting a process. The idea is that if I can take my web app, zip it up and throw it on their server with a simple bash script they can monitor and scale by adding more processes, then it seems feasible we might see could computing environments that are essentially like the current wealth of shared hosting services.

Being able to start small is going to be the killer feature of the next generation cloud platforms. We are not there yet, but folks seem to be quickly narrowing in on hitting that sweet spot.

Fully agreed.

Update: I had it open in another tab, but forgot to include here. Microsoft has yesterday on PDC also showed their offering for Office functionality on the web that is supposed to compete against Google Apps, Zoho and alike. Nick comments:

The battle is joined. The outcome will be determined not only by whether Microsoft will be able to maintain its dominance of the Office market but also by whether it can maintain the outsized revenues and profits it has long enjoyed in that market.

Interesting times, really.

Update 2:

Vinnie asks “Wrong Side or Wrong Cloud?” and links to Bob Warfield who summarizes the debate between Nick Carr and Tim O´Reilly: Cloud Computing Network Effects, Or Why Tim O’Reilly and Nick Carr Are Both Wrong. It started with a post from Hugh McLeod: “the cloud’s best-kept secret“. He blieves that cloud computing will lead to a huge monopoly. Time will tell.

Finally, Nick adds a typology of network strategies. Interesting reads, all of them.

Interview snippet of the day

The Spiegel is interviewing Robert Kagan:

SPIEGEL: An overwhelming majority of Europeans want to see Barack Obama become president…

Kagan: Yes, of the United States, although they would never elect someone like that in their own countries.


And you know why…

Twitter makes itself such an easy target if you have seen this post by Alex Payne, API Lead at Twitter:

The Internet is built wrong.

We now know, for example, that IPv4 won’t scale to the projected size of the future Internet. We know too that near-universal deployment of technologies with inadequate security and trust models, like SMTP, can mean millions if not billions lost to electronic crime, defensive measures, and reduced productivity.

Did he know this before they designed the architecture of Twitter? For me it is partly explaining why we have seen the Fail whale way too many times. Because observing one problem and not taking the learning from it to avoid it in your own projects makes you part of the problem, not of the solution.

Says one anonymous reader at Slashdot:

Payne doesn’t mention, however, that his own system, Twitter, was built wrong and is consistently down.



Nine most contentious IT Issues for the next two years

and they are, according to Gartner:

Issue 1 – Business Expectations for IT have outstripped IT’s Internal Capability to Deliver.

Issue 2 – How to More Rapidly Modernize Infrastructure and Operations and Reduce Costs.

Issue 3 – Business Accountability for Security and Risk Management.

Issue 4 – Lack of Business Intelligence Sponsorship.

Issue 5 – How Do I Get My Vendor to Deliver What I was Promised?

Issue 6 – “Turf”

Issue 7 – Should We Modernize Applications? If So, When?

Issue 8 – To Whom Should Business Process Professionals Report?

Issue 9 – How Much Formal Process is Needed for Program and Portfolio Management?

Definitively interesting issues. How important are they in your business? And how do you deal with the current environment and the growing uncertainty?

Lazy Morning Linkdump