Back to blogging again, after a long hiatus and not Twitter’s fault

Back to blogging again, after a long hiatus and not Twitter’s fault

Finally, I’ve moved my little blog around from Lycos.nl. Last year I had no time or taste for blogging at all. After letting myself be tempted by tweeting, I found the energy to get back to blogging. If you are (or have been) following thanks for hanging in there, it’s going to be much more useful, thought provoking and even some media experimentation stuff.

What’s changed?

I guess I now feel the need to actually post stuff instead of just pretending to. This blog was only ever about finding out how hard it could be to keep one up, using the lessons learned to inform and help clients professionally. It’s gone well beyong that remit and have taken various shapes. Now it’s evolving again and I suspect in a more useful way.

IT industry lacks of chartered associations

Today, computers and the Information Technology rule huge amount of our daily lives yet they are wide open to the most ridiculous misdemeanours, mostly with no consequence to the culprits. How did it come to this? If unckecked, often that is, nearly anybody can claim to be an IT expert and cause untold damages to organisations and their clients and customers? The basic safeguards are either not in place or they are desperately inadequate. Why is it so? Why didn’t the automobile and aviation (who’ve also known huge growth in relatively short timeframes) know similar “laisser-faire”?

It’s a good thing that we can learn from our forefathers’ legacies. It’s good that we can experience the world in our own way – some will rightly dispute the term “our forefathers”. This way we can enrich ourselves and our communities, discover new things (“new” in this context only applies to the discoverer and some part of his/her community). Nearly every discipline in our body of knowledge and society have known a select group of influential contributors, some of these have single-handedly driven things forward. These pioneers’ and geniuses’ acts and thoughts in some cases took the entire mankind to new places, always with the duality of good/bad aspects and consequences.

However.

People have quickly learned that some experiments and explorations are best kept within bounds. If nothing else we realised that we could get hurt or others (we care about) could also get hurt. Every time we reached such epiphany we came up with elaborate principles, ways of behaving and means of communicating for preserving self- and preserving loved-ones. Examples abound, we have rules and regulations to deal with all aspects of society, we have codes of conduct, we have traffic rules, we have laws, we have regulatory bodies, and so on and so forth. This can be collectively called “civilisation”, for the lack of a better term. Thank goodness we can now walk up and down city streets, buy food, enter and exit buildings, get on planes, trains, cars, go places, all of this with reasonable assurance that we will get through the experience unharmed and we can repeat the feat again and again.

Firefox 3 beta 4 is ridiculously fast

After reading a couple of articles about the latest development nighly build of Firefox 3 beta for Mac Os X Leopard. I thought I should give beta-4 a try – I had already been running beta-3. Blimey! When you experience software running this fast you can’t help thinking: what else could have been done much better that isn’t yet? I’ve been in this industry for 17 years now and I keep wondering how much waste there is. Looking around you at whatever IT project you’re involved in or software you must be running or building, there’s got to be an unlimited amount of waste around. So IT Waste Recycling has got to be the business with the most growth potential for years to come. Never mind mobile internet which is already over-crowded thanks to Google Android and Apple’s iPhonecar hire bulgariamebeli. I know I’m making a bit of a leap here, but I’m quite sure it’s not far from the truth.

Nomad Computing as ultimate scalability concept

Nomad people take their cattle around to better grazing areas year in year out. They are always locating the best resources and have no problems migrating constantly. I see the future of computing following a similar model, swarms of rudimentary computing units self-organise to deliver the best service at their point of consumption. Resources are truly allocated on-demand, scalability becomes transparent.

In my take of Nomad Computing, object-orientation reaches its pinnacle. The traditional separation of databases and applications and web tiers will become meaningless. Each of these concepts will become more ‘nomad’, programmers need not worry about them. Databases systems and application server systems would have to mutate into entities that can register themselves and join in on local computing resource hubs. Once they’re in they start to figure out the best ways to self-organise for maximum throughput, spontaneously creating clusters based on usage patterns. Writing applications for Nomad Computing would be easier: no more coding login windows or data access objects, such usage patterns will be retired. Instead developers would concentrate on object graphs they intend to create, this would encourage crafting and creativity. Operating System platforms will also become largely irrelevant and pushed further in the background, taking away arguably one of the biggest pains in custom application development: deployment concerns.

A possible drawback to Nomad Computing will be hunting and fixing bugs and removing malicious software. These problems would possibly become intractable. Governance and safety would also become horrendously complex since unforeseen outcomes would be commonplace. Perhaps all these disciplines would need to evolve in entirely new ways. Specialised software will need to emerge to provide answers and keep ahead.

I realise this is all far fetched but it just seems that we might not be too far from it.

In a way we’ve already started to see early implementations of Nomad Computing, Amazon’s S3 and Apache Hadoop are good examples in the right direction. Power grids in electricity distribution industry are perhaps the closest model I see as incarnating Nomad Computing. Once we’ve really figured out how to do Nomad Computing properly we would be in a position to leverage massively multi-core systems as they become available.

Silver bullets do exist, you just have to find yours. Wait…

UPDATE: I was just kidding, in case anyone didn’t notice. If you’re here for the first time then I’m trying to be cynical.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing that you see very clearly when looking back at some events. Most of the time you wish the hindsight were actually insights, i.e. you knew about something before you got to where you are as you reflect on things. This tends to be a problem, something that often tastes like a regret. Hindsight is one of the characteristics of Silver Bullets. Silver Bullets can be found everywhere if you looked carefully and with the right timing.

Where do you find Silver Bullets? How do you recognise any if you saw one?

I obviously won’t give away the precious answers just like that. Let me give a few general tips though. I’ll leave it up to you to do the rest of the work.

A silver bullet:

  • is a proven best practice, best in class solution that is particularly well suited to your very specific needs
  • gives your organisation a unique competitive advantage over the rest, despite being a proven best practice
  • is very cost-effective, it solves your business puzzles and challenges without creating new ones
  • makes all your stakeholder groups very happy while only requiring negligible compromises
  • powers the specific business model you have selected without any further consequences to you
  • helps decision makers’ career: nobody ever loses his/her job because of a silver bullet, on the contrary you get praises for your foresight and imaginative approach to solving business problems.

If you’ve been reading, this should be enough clues to get you started in finding the specific Silver Bullets that befits your organisation.

“The seemingly impossible is possible”

I quote here Hans Rosling, a man with great understanding of human societies. Not knowing about Hans Rosling is akin to illiteracy for anyone involved in international development or the aid industry.

TED Talks is a place where great videos can be found. I’m not talking about watching a dog skating or Chris Crocker, two of YouTube hits. I’m talking about well put together presentations that really teach you something new, serious talks from serious people nicely packaged.

One of the most inspirational videos I’ve seen of late is Hans Rosling single-handedly redefining the notions of development and progress. Hans’ approach to analysing and presenting statistics is very refreshing and certainly a novelty to me. It tells me that nothing is really new under the sun. There are mainly changed interpretations, new insights leading to new ways of thinking or new behaviours. Evolutionists would talk about evolutionary changes, there’s a truth in that.

Hans Rosling brings us the sort of new insight that makes us think differently and hopefully behave differently. What’s knowledge worth if not applied? In the world we live in today, it pays more than ever to free your mind and open your eyes, the rewards can be priceless while costing you nothing. Pun intentional. History will probably place Hans and his colleagues amongst the champions of Enlightenment 2.0 – I’m referring to the contemporary equivalent of the eighteen century european Enlightenment movement, a fiction of mine naturally.

Back to back I watched two presentations:

  1. Andrew Mwenda: Let’s take a new look at African aid. then,
  2. Hans Rosling’s masterful presentation: New insights on poverty and life around the world.

After visualising these two videos I wondered what we learn from the story of Cuba. The country is said to have a very high level of litteracy and one of the world’s best health care systems. It’d be interesting to hear Hans Rosling’s opinion about this. Perhaps I should just get his book Global Health to find out.

When FUD is over-stretched

I can perfectly see why a web browser would carry a ‘Home’ button, after wandering about for a while one sometimes desire to ‘get back Home’. I don’t use it all too often but it doesn’t bother me much. Folks at Camino and Safari understood this, the ‘Home’ button is not that prominent and can easily be removed from these products’ toolbar.

However, a ‘home’ menu option on an office productivity suite is baffling to me. What’s that suppose to mean? Sure, clutter-free context-sensitive tasks and menu options are nice improvements. But who’s idea was it to replace ‘File’ with ‘Home’? This is not only counter-intuitive, it smacks of well…fear.

Microsoft’s focus on improving user interface is encouraging, the new Office suite and Windows Vista experience have seen notable improvements. But a ‘Home’ menu is out of place on the Office toolbar (or whatever they now call it). Giants like them could stay level headed and introduce the right innovations, not confuse their users with such cheap tricks. An office suite is conceptually closer to a toolkit than a city map, there simply can’t be any notion of ‘Home’ in the former.

It’s a miracle, a teenager cracked it!

Yes! Yes! A teenager cracked the iPhone and set it free from AT&T, if you like the “god phone” is now available to earthlings and ‘believers’ from outside of America! What a miracle! If this was done by an adult then the title could have been something like “a naughty 30-something committed the ultimate sin”.

The press bore me to tears sometimes, they never relent with pompous headlines “a teenager managed to do…blah blah..” Apparently teenagers are bumpkins, not supposed to be skillful or focused. Never mind that teenagers are biologically similar to any grown up (ahem, they eventually become grown ups) Never mind the tons of free information available at the fingertips (or shall we say at “mouse clicks”?) for anyone looking. Allo! Allo! This is planet earth calling, teenagers are just young people, a little more grown up than small people. Teenagers are no less intelligent than grown ups, are they? all the years don’t make up for useful experience without proper focus, dedication and even awareness.

If a teenager achieve something it’s a sign that he/she has been focused, when they put their mind to something god knows they can achieve. Anyone noticed how easy young people pick up foreign languages when their grown up parents lamentably fail? Why is it that after all the millennia in seeing the same thing, a teenager achieving anything is headline news? Don’t we learn? It was your son, your daughter, your nephew, the same kid you’ve seen growing up while you were busy doing nothing (or drinking?).

Actually if people were clever enough they’d pay more attention to their teenage offsprings and relatives, we always talk about kids being the future yet we’re surprised if they do anything more than annoying us or getting into drugs. What’s that all about? I reckon that a teenager spending six months on anything can achieve a lot more than adults can, all other things being equal. If grown ups want to be real models or leaders, they’d do well not to slap little Johnny. Hey Johnny, the boy that did this is 2 years your junior, look at you…!

Make poverty history by hiring “perfect crooks”

There’s somehow a mis-conception that corruption could and should be eliminated in order to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. That may well be true on paper, it somehow makes (cheap) mathematical sense: 1 – 1 < 3 – Eureka! The problem seems so simple and glaringly obvious that you wonder why it’s there in the first place. Corruption is closely linked to greed and selfishness, fueled by unfetered and abusive power (sometimes dire conditions). If you’d like a cheap way out you’d blame it on many things, preferably all the things that the claimant would not identify himself/herself with. Of course. Ouch, that blinding light of the obvious again!

However, just like certain age old habits will never die, we know very well that greed and power-mongering are very human. It’s in all of us, whether we like it or not, whether we admit it or not. Since we couldn’t hate ourselves we find complicated methods to justify what we do and how we think. The whole issue boils down to definitions sometimes.

For as long as people live in organised societies there will be power-mongering and corruption. Sometimes you find openly fierce advocates of good governance that are themselves corrupt, they just claim that they’re different and their actions and causes are somehow more noble. Hmm, suddenly you start doubting your own intelligence, if not your language skills.

Now then, what I’m suggesting is that if you’d find very good crooks, tightly link their interest and status to the activities that promote and help the poor, there’s a much higher chance that poverty “as we know it today” will eventually be eradicated. No doubt a new kind of poverty will settle in, but the kind we know today would be defeated.

So if you’re in the business of eradicating poverty, I’d say hire the right crooks and things will look up. But that might actually not be in your interest, isn’t it? Would you kill your own job?

Whatever you call it, knowingly doing harm to people is bad. If nothing else, selfishness tells us so because we don’t like to hurt.