Big Boy and Big Girl Coding

November 30, 2009

I read “Microsoft’s Top Developers Prefer Old-Schoool Coding Methods” and compared that information with my Google research. I won’t bore you with too many comments. First, let me point your attention to what I found an interesting passage in the ComputerWorld write up:

“Graphical programming environments are usable when they are useless, but unusable when they would be useful,” said Jeffrey Snover, another Microsoft distinguished engineer and creator of Microsoft’s PowerShell scripting tool for Windows. “When there are five things on the screen, you can burp that out [in text]. But when there are 500 things, [graphical programming] is completely unusable. You zoom in and zoom out and you lose all context. I think it’s just smokin’ dope.”

Microsoft has been pushing graphical programming tools forward with each release of its flagship coding air craft carrier, VisualStudio.

I am neither Googley nor a coder of note. However, in my research I had to nose around the Google’s open source informatoin about programming. The Googlers operate a bit like an old feudal system. The boys and girls at the top can code pretty much any way their fancy takes them. The criticism from their peers makes an approach sink at the dock or make it into the Google ocean. Among the languages that the open source information suggests is partially in favor is my old favorie  Haskell, a lazy like a goose functional programming language. Below the top boys and girls are more everyday tools; for example, Google’s once-revered Sawzall and one of Google’s own tools, Noop. I don’t want to forget python because it is easy to love python when the person who wrote it may be playing Foosball down the hall.

The lower level code, if my understanding of certain Google patent documents is on target, seems to be done with increasing frequency by semi-autonomous software agents. I describe some of these in my Google Computational Intelligence briefing. The general idea is that smart Googlers can be put to better use than doing certain types of coding. Google’s coding horizons are wide. References to Java, perl, and other tools can be found in the Google open source technical documents. Heck, I have seen reports of SQL queries used to make MySQL perform some Googley tricks.

I describe other ways Google reduces the “heavy lifting” for an individual coder. You can find that information in Google Version 2.0: The Calculating Predator. I am confident the new Google TV show will dive right into Google’s janitors and their clever methods of resolving ambiguity for certain tasks.

My take-away. Google uses certain methods. Microsoft uses similar methods. What’s the marketplace say? You have to answer that for yourself. I like the approach that reduces costs and development.

Stephen Arnold, November 30, 2009

I want to disclose to the Office of Science and Technology Policy that no one paid me to write about this exciting topic.

IBM: Going the LTV Way?

November 30, 2009

I find it interesting when a large, highly regarded company keeps buying technology that it invented. I may be addled, but I recall that the Codd database was an employee of Big Blue when he cooked up the de facto standard for data management in organizations. IBM has gobbled up other data management systems, including Informix (remember that outfit), iPhrase (a repository vendor), and the many data management tools that flow from the IBM research labs. I can’t keep track of those, but I do remember that IBM nurtured Dr. Ramanathan Guha, who is now working data management magic at the Google.

What does IBM do? It, according to Reuters, bought Guardium. You can read the Reuters’ story “IBM to Buy Start Up Guardium for $225 Million” yourself. According to Reuters:

Guardium’s product enables companies to extend the use of corporate applications to customers, partners and providers while ensuring that the databases used by those applications are shielded.

This passage does not shine light in the dark corners of the deal.

Haaretz.com added this insight:

As to whether the company is really Israeli, the source said: “The technology is Israeli. The investors are Israeli, the management is partly Israeli and the entrepreneurs are Israeli. True they moved at the beginning to the United States and there are not now 50 to 60 employees in Herzliya Pituah and Ra’anana who will become rich. But that does not change the fact that it is an exit with an Israel component.”

Globes.com tossed in:

Guardium was founded in 2002 as a pin-off from Log-On, and since 2003 it has been based on Boston, Massachusetts, with only a small part of its activity being carried out in Israel. The company was founded by Amnon Keinan, formerly a vice president at Amdocs, and, Lior Tal, who, since leaving the company has gone on to found two other start-up companies in the information security field.

Can IBM manage another data management tool? What’s wrong with existing IBM data management tools and security components? In my opinion, another LTV. Security may sell but I keep wondering, “What’s the flaw in IBM’s present security software offerings?”

Stephen Arnold, November 30, 2009

I want to disclose to the ever vigilant Open World Leadership Center that I was not paid to compare IBM to LTV. I was paid in inner enjoyment.

SharePoint 2010 Installation References

November 30, 2009

Short honk: We make SharePoint 2010 hum last week. Some folks have not been in hog heaven. SharePoint Buzz collected a useful list of comments about SharePoint 2010. “SharePoint 2010 Beta Installation Roundup” provides quite a few interesting links. The list is worth reviewing. Quite useful.

Stephen Arnold, November 30, 2009

Oyez, oyez, Constitution Center. A freebie.

Attivio and Traction

November 30, 2009

Attivio is a search and content processing company that has been dancing with some interesting cha cha cha variations. The company’s announcement earlier in November caught me by surprise. Attivio and Traction Software are teaming up. Attivio describes itself in this way:

Powering Business Solutions with Active Intelligence

Traction Software says about itself:

Traction TeamPage adds security, threaded discussion, moderation, document management, and more to award-winning social software and search that works like the Web. Whether you’re one team or want to connect hundreds of customer, supplier, partner, and internal groups, Traction TeamPage is your best choice for Enterprise 2.0.

According to Fierce Content Management:

By tying a search tool to a security model, it means that only those employees who are supposed to see the information will see it. It gives you the power of collaboration and enterprise-class search along with security.

I will need more detail before I can answer the questions swirling through my mind?

  • What exactly will each company do in an enterprise?
  • What is the cost of the combined solution?
  • What types of organizations need the blend of Attivio and Traction innovations?

The goslings and I completed some research that suggests social functions and other enterprise 2.0 “plays” are not hitting home runs. Where deployed, there are some singles. Worth monitoring in my opinion.

Stephen Arnold, November 30, 2009

Dear Oversight Authority at Administration on Developmental Disabilities. I was not paid to write this article expressing my inability to figure out the upside of the tie up for the types of organizations silly enough to hire me.

Solr Faceting Revealed

November 30, 2009

If you are contemplating Solr for an enterprise search solution, you will want to navigate to “Faceting in Solr 1.4 Enterprise Search Server”. The article provides useful information, clear comments, and code samples. If you want more, you can buy David Smiley’s and Eric Pugh’s book Solr 1.4 Enterprise Search Server. Interest in open source search solutions is clicking upward. Keep in mind that when you buy some commercial solutions, there are training wheels, rubber mats, and EMS personnel standing by in case you need some help. Search is complex. Procurement teams will want to weigh the cost savings of an open source solution with a commercial solution that can be up and running in a matter of a day or a week or two. Information technology professionals often perceive search as a piece of cake. It’s not. But “free” is a potent concept even if the meaning of “free” is not put in context.

Stephen Arnold, November 30, 2009

Okay, listen up, people. I am reporting to the US Marines that I was not paid to write this article and point out that an over confident IT team can throw a wrench into an open source search solution when the index won’t update or the crawler can’t find new documents.

Google and Real Motivation

November 29, 2009

Get ready. The addled goose is going to assert that a former, real, live Google employee may be looking at the tail of the brontosaurus, not at the whole beastie. Exciting for sure.

Venture Beat’s “What Are Google’s Real Motivations behind Chrome OS?” reminded me about the strengths and weaknesses of the received wisdom about Google. On the positive side, comments about Google provide clear statements of obvious Google activities. For example, consider this statement:

Chrome OS is Google’s latest entry into the consumer space. It is designed to be an operating system that runs on customized hardware and provides the user with only a state-of-the art browser running  HTML-5 and some plugins.

The comments are given additional authority because the author can state:

As a disclosure, I am a former Google employee, having worked there from 2002 to 2008, but I don’t have any inside information on this project. In fact I didn’t even know of its existence before I left.

That comment makes clear the downside of the received wisdom—Employees of Google do not have much, if any, perspective on the broader technologies that Google has in its bag of tricks. In fact, I sold a copy of my first Google book to a Googler, who shall remain nameless. His comment to me was, “I had no idea.”

There you have it.

Getting a perspective on Google’s billions of dollars of investment in technology is tough. The company’s senior mangers (about 150 when I did my last count) don’t provide much information to employees and even less to those outside the company. Not surprisingly, when Google moves in a new direction with a baby step product / service like Wave or Chrome, the discussion rambles hither and yon about the “real motivations”.

Give me a break.

The motivations for Google’s senior managers have been clearly stated by the company for a long, long time. Here’s my short list:

  1. Monopolize information, information access, and information services without making the mistakes Microsoft did
  2. Become a big company, a $100 billion is a target I have heard mentioned a couple of times
  3. Disrupt and exploit opportunities these disruptions create
  4. Use basic methods of information control to make it tough for people to see the end game
  5. Exploit the Google infrastructure (scale, cost performance advantages, rapid deployment, iterative development, etc.).

I probably left out a couple of points, but there is no mystery behind any Google product or service.

Who is the target of Chrome? Forget whether Chrome is good, bad or indifferent as software goes. The point is to poke a small hole in a Microsoft revenue stream. Enough holes means that Microsoft will implode because its need for cash is huge and there are only a couple of solid revenue streams for Microsoft. Microsoft has been trying to cut off Google’s money supply for a decade and so far, Microsoft has failed. Google is using Chrome as one more rapier thrust. If Chrome fails, Google will try another sword. Chrome and other Google products map to the strategy of disruption.

Employees drink Google-doped Kool-Aid and have as tough a time figuring out what Google is doing. Googlers appear to have lots of free but in reality engineers rarely stray far from their core love and competencies. As a result, clumps of Googlers work on project those people enjoy. Asking them to comment on what Dr. Guha is doing is going to elicit a “who’s he” response. I asked about a major Google acquisition and the senior manager replied, “I didn’t know we owned that company.”

To get a better perspective on what Google is going to roll out in the months ahead, you might want to buy a copy of my Google trilogy and read about the specific engineering investments that Google has * made * (not is making) in technology that will severely disrupt a number of business sectors. For telecommunications, Google’s been there and done that. Now telco is a mopping up exercise. I heard a podcaster with a huge audience say that Android would challenge the iPhone. Telcos were not on this person’s radar any longer.

It is important that other business sectors understand the Google technical capabilities. Former Googlers, pundits, mavens, SEO experts, and azure chip consultants are describing the here-and-now. Google’s next-day actions are the ones that are going to make the greatest impact. Have you read a Google technical paper today? Nah, it is easier to read the recycled received wisdom, right?

Stephen Arnold, November 29, 2009

I too must disclose to the Securities & Exchange Commission no less that I was not  paid to write this opinion. I bet quite a few pundits writing about what Google did are getting lots of money to explain the past with 20/20 vision. Too bad, Google’s future actions are the ones that are unsolved mysteries.

Google Gets a TV Deal. Microsoft Does Not

November 29, 2009

Short honk: It may not have the sizzle of American Idol, but Google gets at TV show. How tough will it be to explain a Google janitor to the TV crowd. Any one think Microsoft will sponsor the program that airs in early December? Not even IBM in its salad days rated a cable show. Guests will include pundits, SEO experts and azure chip consultants. Hang on to your arm chairs and get “Inside the Mind of Google.” More info is here. Maybe Bravo or Lifetime will do a show about Bing and Microsoft Fast? Oracle might turn up on the military channel. Ooo rah.

Stephen Arnold, November 29, 2009

I want to disclose to the Kennedy Center that I was not paid to write about this forthcoming great American performance.

Google Books in Limbo: The Beat Goes On

November 29, 2009

I detect a note of glee in Alex Pham’s “Google’s Book-Scanning Deal Is Not Sealed Yet.”  Google keeps on scanning, and the publishing world keeps on fighting a rear guard action with too few troops and no supply line. Nevertheless, the Los Angeles Times writes:

Critics have argued that Congress, not a private lawsuit in federal court, is the appropriate venue to settle the conflict because its outcome could alter the rights of many people who may not be aware of the case. So even if Chin grants final approval, the settlement could remain mired in courts. Among those who have said they would appeal is Scott E. Gant, a class-action attorney with Boies, Schiller & Flexner. Gant filed a personal objection to the settlement in his role as an author of a book titled “We’re All Journalists Now: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age.” “I am gravely concerned about the rights of the absent class members who are either unaware or do not understand the implications of this settlement,” Gant said.  “It could be several years,” he added, “before we will see final resolution.”

And what will change? In my opinion, not too much. Google keeps on scanning and processing. Who is going to do the job? Any national libraries? Thomson Reuters? Reed Elsevier? A consortium of publishers? Too late in my view.

Stephen Arnold, November 29, 2009

I wish  to disclose to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department that I was not paid to write this opinion.

Social, Real Time, Content Intelligence

November 29, 2009

I had a long talk this morning about finding useful nuggets from the social content streams. The person with whom I spoke was making a case for tools designed for the intelligence community. My phone pal mentioned JackBe.com, Kapow, and Kroll. None of these outfits is a household word. I pointed to services and software available from NetBase, Radian6, and InsideView.

What came out of this conversation were several broad points of agreement:

First, most search and content processing procurement teams have little or no information about these firms. The horizons of most people working information technology and content processing are neither wide nor far.

Second, none of these companies has a chance of generating significant traction with their current marketing programs. Sure, the companies make sales, but these are hard won and usually anchored in some type of relationship or a serendipitous event.

Third, users need the type of information these firms can deliver. Those same users cannot explain what they need, so the procurement teams fall back into a comfortable and safe bed like a “brand name” search vendor or some fuzzy wuzzy one-size-fits-all solution like the wondrous SharePoint.

We also disagreed on four points:

First, I don’t think these specialist tools will find broad audiences. The person with whom I was discussing these social content software vendors believed that one would be a break out company.

Second, I think Google will add social content “findability” a baby step at a time. One day, I will arise from my goose nest and the Google will simply be “there”. The person at the other end of my phone call sees Google’s days as being numbered. Well, maybe.

Third, I think that social content is a more far reaching change than most publishers and analysts realize. My adversary things that social content is going to become just another type of content. It’s not revolutionary; it’s mundane. Well maybe.

Finally, I think that these systems—despite their fancy Dan marketing lingo—offer functions not included in most search and content processing systems. The person disagreeing with me thinks that companies like Autonomy offer substantially similar services.

In short, how many of these vendors’ products do you know? Not many I wager. So what’s wrong with the coverage of search and content processing by the mavens, pundits, and azure chip consultants? Quite a bit because these folks may know less about these vendors’ systems than how to spoof Google or seem quite informed because of their ability to repeat marketing lingo.

Have a knowledge gap? Better fill it.

Stephen Arnold, November 29, 2009

I want to disclose to the National Intelligence Center that no one paid me to comment on these companies. These outfits are not secret but don’t set the barn on fire with their marketing acumen.

Wave: What is That Sucking Sound?

November 28, 2009

I like sucking sounds. In fact, one of my favorite words is “suck”. My preferred usage is the sound of slow moving companies going down the financial drain. The BearStearns, the Tyco, and the Enron implosions were suck music. Maybe I should collect these sounds and put out an Addled Goose album for download.

When I read “Why Google Wave Sucks, and Why You Will Use It Anyway”, I thought now there’s my favorite word presented with a twist. The write up makes a good point in my opinion:

If you criticize Google Wave, you should keep in mind that it is a “preview” now. It’s not a beta, and it’s not a final release. The Google Wave team has set out to create “email as it should be in 2010?. And from what I see, they have a good chance of doing so, but 2010 is less than two months away. However, I am willing to bet that this piece of software will eventually overcome Robert Scoble’s criticism. For professional collaboration, I still recommend the wikis mentioned above. But if you’re into real-time collaboration, Google Wave will eventually be your choice. Just make sure to bring advanced web skills.

This comment comes at the foot of a pretty good discussion of Wave. What troubles me is that there is an on going perception that Wave is a variant of email with some other functions tossed in. In my research, I uncovered some other facets of Google’s technology that can be glimpsed within the “preview” and “beta” of Wave. I want to mention one and leave it to you to work through this useful article. Dataspace. Oh, and what does Google have with a collection of dataspaces running on its platform? Now that’s a question that will really suck some competitors into a new place in my opinion.

Stephen Arnold, November 28, 2009

Disclosure: No one at NASA paid me to use the word “dataspace” or to write this article. How will I pay my deaf, rescued boxer, Tess? Maybe she can beg with a sign around her neck and an empty dog bowl in front of her.

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