Monday, 24 December 2007

Anatomy of malware

I had no idea such things were so sophisticated... not so much the technical sophistication, as the market around them.

Startups in 2008

Note to self for one year's time: see how these companies did.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Bees and internetworking

The principles of swarms are not new to computer networks - bittorrent networks are based on them - but this is an interesting spin (or dance) on a similar theme.

I couldn't help thinking, while reading it, of Eddie Izzard saying "Brian, where's the honey!"

Friday, 14 December 2007

Friday, 26 October 2007

Space quest - storage leads the information revolution

Peter Cochrane makes some interesting observations here about the storage market. We all know it has transformed significantly, but the scale is astounding. 1MB 35 years ago cost 1000GBP, and today it costs less than 1p. The implications are profound and they still have some yardage... all that space to fill...

He also comments on the need for speedy networks to complement this explosion in storage. I hadn't really considered storage as a compelling driver for network speed, but seen this way, it is obvious that there is a huge disparity in the speed of improvement in these technologies.

Friday, 12 October 2007

AppleInsider | Road to Mac OS X Leopard: Spaces [Page 2]

Interesting treatise from AppleInsider about the history of virtual desktops. I always wondered why they were never in desktop OSes...

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Google-Mart - the future of Google?

This is fascinating and quite compelling speculation from Cringley about where Google is heading. Basically, it postulates that Google will be the Walmart of the internet.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

The CIO defined (according to Martin Butler)

Interesting article from Martin Butler, regarding the role of the CIO. This is the first definition I've seen that seems to have the right blend of operational and project imperatives, as well as strategy.

The role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) within an organisation is the subject of much debate. We are starting to move on from the rather blunt discussion of whether or not the role should exist at board level – that surely is dependent on the strategic intent for IT within the business, and the capabilities of the individual concerned. The blend of skills required for the CIO role is certainly changing, but my concern is that there is still a substantial gap between the typical core education and career development path on the one hand, and what we expect of the CIO on the other.

I believe that the core skills required for the CIO role should include the following ten principles, and we must ensure that the career development path reflects these:-

1. Awareness of the core processes that support the organisation. Firstly, a CIO must have a comprehensive understanding of the organisation, its value proposition, its structure, its resources and funding, and the core revenue and cost-generating business processes that make it tick.

2. Appreciation of the role of information within the organisation. This is a key point because it focuses on information, rather than technology, as the basic currency of the CIO role. Understanding how the value-creation processes of the organisation rely on (and can be enhanced by) information, should be the most fundamental part of the responsibility.

3. Sound understanding of business and organisational finance. The CIO requires both a general understanding of business finance, and a specific familiarity with that aspect of his or her own organisation. I believe that CIOs should not be reliant on others to assess the financial worth of prospective projects, but should be able to use such knowledge to understand where their efforts can most usefully be focused.

4. Knowledge of core technology propositions and technology trends. Whilst I would place a separation between the CIO role and that of the principal technology caretaker, it is important that the former understands the basic building blocks at his or her disposal, how these fit together, and how they are likely to develop over time.

5. Creative approach to business problem solving. This, I believe, is one of the unique skills of a CIO: the ability to bridge the gap between business requirements and how technology can support these. The rapidly-evolving nature of technology means that the problem-solving toolkit, and the accompanying patterns are also changing. CIOs must, therefore, constantly consider new solutions to the challenges facing them.

6. Ability to communicate the business impact of technology initiatives. The next requirement is to be able to communicate those solutions effectively to senior colleagues and to the organisation at large, in terms which are meaningful to the relevant audience.

7. Experience of initiating or leading business-change programmes. Whilst it is the CIO that is typically charged with developing the solutions to information-related problems, it is often the case that others are expected to implement that solution, and drive through what can be a significant scale of business change. Whilst a CIO must engage with many other participants within the organisation for project success, I believe that he or she should be capable of leading a programme where information management is the primary characteristic.

8. Understanding of how to assess and manage risk. The CIO should be fully conversant with assessing and managing project risk, with particular emphasis on those elements of risk that are associated with developing new information systems, and introducing them into an organisation.

9. Focus on service quality and service improvement. A key element of the CIO role is to foster a service approach, and to implement ways of monitoring, maintaining, and improving the level of service. Above all, this requires developing metrics for information costs and value, which should be as essential to the organisation as financial metrics, production statistics, or sales figures.

10. Aptitude for establishing and managing relationships with third-party service providers. Where an organisation has made a decision to outsource a substantial portion of its IT provision, then the role of the CIO will be to assist in managing the interface between the external providers and the requirements of the organisation. With an internal model, the CIO should similarly help define and manage the interface to IT services, and be closely involved in decisions on which services might sensibly be sourced externally.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

"Museum" Halo 3 ad

What a great ad for Halo 3. Deftly understated & quite emotive - it really reminds you what you like about this game.

Friday, 7 September 2007

The birth of Google

Every company has its creation myth, like Microsoft beating DEC to the OS license for IBM PCs because the then head of DEC 'went flying' instead of meeting with IBM. Here, we have Google's creation myth. While it's no accident that Google's execution was flawless, it's nice to see that their brand was basically luck.

Monday, 27 August 2007

The Facebook economy (

Who says you can't make money from the Internet any more? This article shows the true power of Facebook. It inherently offers nothing more than Myspace, except a cleaner interface. However, it also offers a platform, not only for creativity, but also for profit. It is truly an online economy akin to Second Life. But unlike Second Life, I think it will survive the popularity fad because it offers something that makes people's real lives easier, in the same way eBay does.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Simulating even a mouse brain takes a lot of hardware!

This is an interesting article about future technologies (the 'soap' mouse is particularly intriguing!), but this item about neurological computers is interesting because it has some stats about the hardware required to simulate a mouse's neural cortex. Makes one realise how far we have to go in this regard.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Cyber wars evolving

I actually find the measures and countermeasures of online security fascinating. Not (just) because of the geeky aspects, but because it is so fast-moving and innovative.This article (The Register) captures some of the craziness going on under at least 50 million of our noses.

Oh, to be able to convey such incredible machinations to joe public in a compelling, exciting way...

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Johnny Cash covers Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" - with feeling

Looking pretty jaded, Cash sang this from his home in Tennessee, apparently. While there's always pathos watching footage of recently deceased people, it's a very interesting choice of (swan) song for a country singer.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Apple retail - some stats

It might seem hard to believe, but there was a time in the not-so-distant past of 2001 that magazines such as BusinessWeek screamed, "Sorry, Steve, Here's Why Apple Stores Won't Work." Retail consultants and online chatterers fell all over themselves to join the nay-saying chorus - some chiming in right up until the moment it was reported that Apple's 174 stores generate $4,032 in annual sales per square foot. That beats Best Buy, Saks, and even Tiffany & Co.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is a textbook example of how to do things right. Apple's retail success spoke for itself when its stores reached $1 billion in annual sales faster than any retailer in history. That was in 2004. In 2006? Sales reached $1 billion a quarter.

Crazy numbers that are often overlooked in the great Apple debates.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

The Secret of Apple Design

This is a fascinating article speculating about why Apple emphasizes design and why it does it so well.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Where Are All the Open Source Billionaires?

This article comes with a cool diagram, showing the Linux distros timeline. Interestingly, the article argues several cases. My personal view is that software's business model is transforming from product to service, and as such is more reflective of effort than materials.

The days of producing something intangible, yet selling it tangibly are numbered (that goes for media as well as software).

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Crackberry addiction

I've just got a Blackberry from work, although I've been a handheld email user for years (Treo), it's very interesting to step into the world of crackberries.  My old Treo email polled the server every 2 hours, although this could be reduced to 5 minutes. But not realtime.  Which, I think, is where the addiction stems from. An opinion reinforced by the following article:-

The information in this Internet e-mail, including attachments, contains information that is confidential and may be protected by attorney client privileges. This email, including attachments, constitutes non-public information intended only for the use of the designated recipient(s) to which it is addressed and may contain legal or financial information which is privileged, confidential or subject to copyright. Access by any other person to this Internet e-mail is not authorized. If you are not the intended recipient, please delete this Internet e-mail, including attachments, immediately and notify the sender by return email. Any disclosure of this Internet e-mail, including attachments, or of the parties to it, or copying, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it is prohibited, and may be unlawful.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Web 2.0: it's about data

This (Wired) is an interesting commentary from Tim O'Reilly, the publisher, about Web 2.0. He notes that it's not about wikis and AJAX, but about the network effect and data. An oft-cited issue with internet business is that it's harder to protect your turf - after all, your competitor is only one click away. But O'Reilly poses a simple question: why has nobody usurped eBay? Because the more people use it, the better it gets.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

I want my M server

The thing I hate about the IT industry is that it usually tries to be too clever. It panders to geeks' addiction to features they barely or rarely need, like people who put spoilers on low spec cars.

Such has it been for years with home servers and so-called media centres. The more recent efforts haven't been too bad - the MVix and Apple TV, but where PCs are too big and desk-oriented, these devices are too constrained by media formats, either because of substandard hardware, or locked up software. When video standards are a broad, open market, it pays to be modular: have a tool for retrieval/storage/processing and distribution of media (a home server) and separate tools for presentation of media (a screen or a stereo or a printer). This home server just needs to be a suped-up hard disk attached to a network, with a webserver for GUI and LOTS of protocols for retrieval and distribution of media.

It doesn't sound hard, does it? Yet I've never seen such a straightforward device. The Apple TV is close, but is hobbled by format/protocol restrictions and DRM.

This device shows more promise. It just needs a complimentary box attached to the TV to convert datastreams into the plethora of multimedia formats (Component, co-ax, HDMI, DVI etc.).

I think the latter half of this year, going into next year, will be home media server time

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Skills mapping

The next mainstream OS will not be desktop-based, it will be hosted by central servers. Consumers' security concerns can be alleviated by tight integration with keyfobs, and possibly a light, encrypted local instance of the OS running on linux (maybe even on the keyfob).

The enterprise OS is a different story: the winner there will not necessarily be the most technologically advanced, but just the one who wins the skillset wars.

Where are the tech dev skills? Somebody give me a Google Earth overlay of tech dev skills: geography and skill type. That will lead to the next paradigm.

Monday, 19 February 2007

Risk-based software engineering

Software is invisible, which makes it incredibly hard to test thoroughly. Here's and interesting discussion about it.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

The trouble with software...

.. is that it's soft. Malleable, pliable, moveable... wobbly. And, what's more, invisible. This makes it much harder to engineer than, say, a chair or a car.

With physical objects, you get predictable results: the chair stands, the car starts. Even when things go wrong, the symptoms are relatively straightforward, and the causes clear: the car won't start because the starter motor is broken or the battery is flat, probably caused by wear & tear or unusual weather.

This article (BCS) argues that software should be designed based on this dependability: risk-based software design. It's an admirable principle, but where to start...?

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

The usability flaws of OSX - oh yes there are!

Most OS usability articles are about how nice Mac OSX is compared to Windows. It's something that mac zealots like to rave about. Contrary to popular belief, I'm not a mac zealot: in fact I find the zeal or scorn from either camp somewhat ironic. If you like macs, you're clearly a zealot, and if you like Windows, you're clearly a dummy.

If I have any apparent bias, it's an appreciation of the innovations that macs offer in a Windows world. If Microsoft emulate Apple's good ideas, then good for us. Likewise, if Apple emulated Microsoft, then good for us.

This article is a rarity in that it addresses the latter.

Vistastic ..!

Is it me, or is Microsoft hubris becoming laughably absurd? This article cites a case in point: the Vista wizard that determines whether your computer is ready for Vista, rather than the other way around.

So, it seems that Microsoft are still doing more with more: the American tradition of bigger engines = more power = good. When will M$ get out of Moore's Law's wake and start truly innovating: do more with the same or less. If they don't, they'll go the same way as the US car industry...

Saturday, 6 January 2007

The logic of privacy

This is an interesting approach to establishing a social/legal precedent on information rights. I suppose if technology creates the problem, it should help to alleviate it. What next, though? A 'legal rules' computer??