Loosing the war while trying to win the battle (part1)

The BBC news today is full of articles about the extend and background to extensive spying the government does on private citizens personal communications such as Facebook, e-mails, phone calls, and so on. As a big data professional as well as a citizen of a democratic country there are a couple of angles worth taking. For one, what does commercially available software look like that gets sold to governments to achieve this sort of thing, and what can it do and how does a big data architecture like that do it. Secondly why is all this going on? Why does a government feel compelled to spy on its own citizens and non citizens.

When entities meet

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When did you hear for the first time about in memory systems? Today? Last year? 1982?
For me it was the latter. In 1982 I was invited to work with students at bremen university on developing a new type of computer programmes. We were still working with card readers, where a machine punches holes in cardboard strips to store binary information. The idea was to load data into a more permanent form of memory called EPROM (erasable programable read only memory). The issue was that at that time EPROM was used for permanent data to help a device start up correctly. Operating systems were to follow, but freely dipping in and out of that memory was not great ( as the name ReAd Only Memory indicated.

Simply not true (or why IT doesn’t help)

Things can get really complex in life. When I was modifying my guitar last week I was trying to create a wiring diagram to keep track of things (as is and to be views). Now a computer would be a great help in this, using things like visio or the like, right? Well it wasn’t and in the end it was simpler to draw the thing by hand. My incompetence combined with prohibitive costs and the poor tool capabilities illustrated yet again that IT has tools for intelligent people, plasters for not so intelligent people and games for the rest. But real help with daily complexities seem to be thin on the ground. (Anyone who knows of a wire diagram creation software that is free and has all components in it that guitars may house (including ghost pickups) should leave me a message, please!)

Let me upscale this to the business world using my pet-subject Master Data Management. We know that Master Data Management is a worthwhile exercise. We know that having complete and accurate product information (for example) helps consumers pick the right product for them, establishing in the process a reference model. In practice the issue is more complex. Poorly manufactured products like to hide behind a wall of missinformation and hearsay to hide the lesser quality and the apparent lack of features. But the market is even more complex than that. Lifestyle and budget availability may drive people to a cheaper product under certain circumstances even or especially because of the lack of features (think older citizens or handicapped people).o where does that lead to?

Indirect Line…

Sometimes we run into a roadblock that we just didn’t see coming. We are racing along, full speed ahead and some tiny insect from left field pulls out bolder weighing a couple of tons and brings our forward momentum to a shattering halt.

I recently had to switch car ensurers and that is the easiest thing in the world, right? You go to a few comparison websites and a couple of direct insurance companies and pick the best deal. Within minutes you are insured.

how come he is so good?

supernovaFirst off it needs to be made clear that the headline does not indicate a big headdedness  by the author (at least not this time!). Quite the opposite. I was privilege enough to work with one of these outstanding individuals that just makes you think: “I am running like mad, I am flat out, there are still more demands on me and the things I do I don’t do half as well as I could with a little more time. Yet here is this individual, calm as you please shining like the star he is in contracts to the black hole I am falling into.  Looking at the astronomical theme we have going here it is worth to note that black holes are made by imploding stars. But is it impossible to revert back to being a star?

Time to get through the dip (part 2)

helpIts been a while. We laid my father in law to rest over Christmas, I am starting a new job in March, its already been a very eventful 2010 for me. But life goes on, and we are all looking at part 2 of the “W” recession. Individuals and organisations need to get ready for it.

“So what are you doing? Changing jobs during a recession?” Well, I think you might have a point. A lot of personal reasons, but also one additional one for public consumption. Change and Innovation is how you get out of a recession, I believe this is true for individuals as well as companies. If you keep doing the same thing, you stand still, and evolutionary events favour adaption, not entrenchment. So practicing what I believe in makes sense.

So what do businesses do to change. So I put together a list of 10 things worth working on:

why we are here

I have been running around a technology event for a while now, and as anyone who has been to one of these knows, they can drain you of all energy. Water is your friend. The reason why we go is to meet people, share experiences and learn from others. Of course I am wrong if I think that. I am here to be in awe of companies predigious tallent showing off. And they do. They do stunning stuff with characters, mouse pointers, pretty pictures emerge and most of the audience is drifting off to look at the pretty AV assistent. Sentences like “the third point is the pool of trained expert users will have difficulties retaining ambigues knowledge and so modelling rules by the business will enable to give control and an insight into behaviour streams” drift through the air with no-one paying real attention.
So why do we still come? The answer is simple, because we hope something changed. The same old story has not just had a facelift while the heart ageing. The funny thing is we want things to be revolutionary, but somehow packaged so we get.
Well, the revolution is on, but it was well hidden.
1) The clasic databased application is on its way to the scrap heap.
2) In memory is the new nirvana – true!
3) Collaboration has reached business properly
4) Documents, rules and process description can make a legally acceptable process

putting Retail to bed

Monster_underbedWhen I woke up this morning and went groggily downstairs I came across my daughter curled up on the living room sofa fast asleep. I expected her to be upstairs in her bedroom with her stuffed toys and gymnastics medals so I ended up waking her by the noise I had made.

She:”morning daddy”
Me:”morning honey. Are you ok?”
She: “sure, why are you asking”
Me:”well, you have a nice bed upstairs, so why sleep on the sofa”
She:”I haven’t”
Me:”what?” – clearly I was not awake yet, but my pulse started to quicken.
She:”my bed is lumpy”
Me: “lumpy?”
She:”it’s always been lumpy. I can count the springs, dad!”

Now that is about as clear a buying signal you get as a parent. So that afternoon we went out to buy two mattresses (turns out my son wasn’t too happy with his either). The first choice of bed buying is that you have to lie on them. So we went from shop to shop (about 7 of them) and as the day progressed general misery set in. My children had enough after 3 stores, my wife was therefore fed up after 5 (g children around when they don’t want to is sole destroying) and by shop 7 we almost bought the first bed we lay on. So during the day I started to wonder what was going on and why.

Hey, Nano Nano!

_Image_Area of NanotechnologyWhen things get so small that we can’t see it anymore, it somehow challenges the believe system. Think of a machine that can float in your blood and repair stuff as it goes along…sounds scary, great, unbelievable – all those things and more. (Turns out that you need to drill through blood since at the nano level it gets similar to rock, so the best way though it seems to be a tiny drill bit, that is rotated using magnets :O) – Anyway, the point is I have to admit I am hooked.

At the chemistry level we seem to discover more and more ways to cheat normal physics, in medicine terms we can reasonably hope fro great changes in the way medicine works, and in terms of physics the whole thing has gone very weired. All of which are great reasons to be interested in the stuff. So over the next year I will start reading up on the matter, not from a technology point of view (since that is a closed book) but more from an impact on IT and Business point of view.

Nanotechnology has changed some businesses already, significantly (medical, manufacturing, automotive,…) but non of it seems to explicitly hit us (exclude the self-wiping glass for now) – or has it. It turns out that that stuff is pretty much in all areas of innovation (one of my physics friend called it “Nano” is the new “Big”.

So time to catch up. I recon it would be good to find a classification first that is relevant to my investigation. As a definition I might not include micro machines, but restrict the source to the core definition of Nano patents:
1) whose subject matter is in the scale of approximately 1-100 nanometers in at least one dimension; and
2) that involve materials, structures, devices or systems that have novel properties and functions because of their nano-scale size.

So far I have found 56 distinct areas of nano research – well here is hoping there will be some structure emrging soon.

Have fun!

Cloudy computing…

peopletogetherI keep pictures of my children. I think I am not alone in this. But since my children were born in the digital age, so most of the pictures of them are in digital format. Now who do I trust with keeping them. Well, I could put them on google, trust Apple, maybe Yahoo / Flickr, but ultimately I don’t trust anyone with them. I have them on DVDs, back-up HDs and memory sticks as well as printed out. There is just no way that it is acceptable that I lose a single one of them.

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