Blog Clippings #5

This one has been a long time coming so it is long, but hopefully I’ve found some interesting stuff:

  • I always start by clipping with the anti-Microsoft blogs (well, not so much anti, but more just-not-pro-microsoft). Anyway, on Friday I found this post on the Graceful Flavor blog that really resonated with me. The subject was the madness of marketing around enterprise software. If you read down some of the sample collateral you get the feel for the level of crap that gets produced to justify a piece of software. In my opinion software that is _needed_ doesn’t need any explaination because the customers will queue up to buy it. One of the things that strikes me about the good examples he used (37signals, Apple and WordPress) is that even if you decide not to buy – you walk away with the respect for the finish that has been put on the product.
  • An interesting link on the hardware section of Slashdot about a family that drove an RV across the US on about $47 dollars worth of diesel fuel by preferring to use waste grease from fast food stores.
  • It looks like triple head displays are getting more popular, and Jeff Atwood has posted up two articles about it. I like the idea of having a space at home that I can walk in, plug in my computer and have the entire wall come alive as a high resolution display.
  • Dave Lemphers reports back on the Robot Olympiad held on the Gold Coast. One interesting link in his post was to the Robotics Genome projects. Actually I’ve got this interesting theory about producing UAV systems that involves teaching a robot how to fly – you would drop it out of the sky (initially in a simulation environment) with one simple reflex, if it is falling it doesn’t “feel good” and it starts randomly firing its systems. I figure that the altimeter would provide the right feedback mechanism for a neural net. Eventually it might find the right pathways to support flight (even if it was a bad ride).
  • An awesome ATARI laptop (thats right – a laptop) modification via Engadget.
  • I still can’t crack level four for the Zune competition (note: I won’t give you the answers I have got to date).
  • Andrew Matthews links to an article about how the University of Texas at Dallas is producing nanotube muscles that are 100 times stronger than human muscles. Combine this with what the UoW folks are doing with mind control robots and we are on the verge of an exciting new era.
  • It looks like the WPF3D has managed to figure out how to make 2D objects inside 3D scenes able to be interacted with. Wow!
  • Dave Lemphers with an interesting post again, this time he is slapping the Web 2.0 space with a reality check about what their longer term intentions are. I agree with a lot of what he says, although I think that one valid business strategy for a Web 2.0 business is selling up to another technology company. Sometimes you just need to “make meaning” by proving that something is possible then hand it over to a more experienced hand to take it to the masses – it just depends on whether you just want to make money, or whether you actually want your idea to succeed.
  • An interesting article on APC by Ashton Mills about how the Linux Kernel is getting some genetic algorithm treatment to provide automatic tuning. Self optimising software is not new, in fact products like SQL Server have been doing it for years, however this might be the first time it has been applied this deep down in the system. I wonder how this plays out on virtualised hardware.
  • I want one of these.
  • When Bill Gates says go down to the record store to buy your music and avoid DRM because it has problems then you really have to wonder how much the tech industry is starting to get fed up of the record and film industries. In Australia and apparently in New Zealand too, it looks like the practice for format shifting is going to be legal so it could be sound advice. Unfortunately I think that the behaviour of the recording industry is the last dying throws of a pre-Internet industry that only saw a challenge rather than an opportunity with the birth of the emergence of the Internet.
  • Keyvan Nayyeri posts up a good read on how events work in Windows Presentation Foundation.

Phew! There was more – but I had to rule a line under it.

8 thoughts on “Blog Clippings #5

  1. Jeff Ventura

    Wow…my post was truncated.

    Anyway, I was saying that I actually wondered what you, personally, would make of the enterprise software bit, because I have visited your blog before.

    Thanks for the pingback!

    Jeff
    Graceful Flavor

  2. Kevin Daly

    I’ve ranted about the Cult of the Enterprise before, but I think much of the problem referred to in the first point comes down to the fact that the sad the people who vomit this stuff forth are mentally and verbally wearing suits: they suffer from the sad delusion that anyone who doesn’t use this kind of gibberish isn’t being sufficiently Enterprise-y. It’s the same phenomenon that leads the semi-literate to believe that in a formal document you have to replace normal words like “before” with clumsy abortions such as “prior to”…and quite possibly contributes (along with fear of litigation) to Microsoft’s custom of replacing cool code names with pompous and unwieldy product names.
    Enterprisiness will be the death (mental death at least) of us all.

    Let’s all remove the ties from our tongues while we still can.

  3. Kevin Daly

    PS. Apologies for the somewhat garbled nature of the first sentence in my previous response. A reminder of the importance of proof-reading before clicking that button…

  4. Mitch Denny

    Hi Jeff,

    I am actually all in favour of software which is more human orientated. The number of systems that I’ve been involved in building where the UX sucked is unbelievable – and when challenged on it the software designers dismiss it as if it is not important. I believe the UX begins all the way back at the purchase. If you have all that crap you are having a bad user experience.

    Of course – in the enterprise space you don’t just buy one unit of package X, you buy 1,000 and the task is usually delegated to the procurement department so you need to make the software sound “bigger” than it really is.

  5. Mitch Denny

    Hi Kevin,

    I think as software developers we have a great advantage because we can be more effective in smaller organisations than in bigger ones. It is fairly common for small three man teams to run rings around teams of thirty developers. So how does this relate to enterprise marketing?

    Well – with a lot of this stuff they try to sell the perception that it is the production of a gazzillion programmers, but often the best products come from the small teams. Microsoft is an abnormality here because their teams are huge, but when it comes to the people actually cutting the code – it is a relatively small number.

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