Light blogging today

Traveling back from Germany today, so not much blogging. It’s been a rough week, I flew out on Tuesday for some meetings yesterday, which means I went right from the airport to my afternoon schedule and turned around this morning to come back.

I had a really interesting day yesterday, which made my brutal travel schedule worth it, talking about the 3 things that I care most about (professionally): web 2.0, open source, and social media. I have been critical of SAP for a little while now because we don’t seem to be grasping the significance of the first 2 topics on a broad scale, but I have been encouraged to see some changes in attitude lately. Just yesterday we explored, as a rather large group of 40+ people, the significance of scripting languages in our future competitive landscape and then for a bonus we installed and dived into Sugar as an example of how business applications are embodying both open source and new development tools. We also looked at the cultural shift that is occurring with salesforce’s appexchange, which ended up being a pretty lively discussion.

Dabble DB

I’ve been hearing a lot about Dabble DB lately, with some calling their application development capability lightning fast and rich while others have pointed to the data modeling as an example of a truly next generation web 2 development ideology. Whatever the reasons this company has captured the imagination of some people who see these innovative companies on a regular basis. Ismael has a post about Dabble that is worth reading because it has not only a historical footnote to it, but details of a sample application he built with the service.

I would love to see this generation of tool start to make inroads into enterprise markets for the simple reason that current generation platforms (all of them) are throwbacks to earlier toolsets. At some point you have to break from the past and create something new otherwise somebody else without your baggage will and smoke you. That’s exactly what is happening with startups who are building on LAMP today.

There is too much surface tension in enterprise software and that greatly limits the ability for innovative groups within large companies to break free from what has been done before them. Perhaps this is the innovator’s dilemma that Christensen writes about, but maybe it’s as simply explained by saying that technology companies overvalue what they have already built rather than looking at old code as worthy of replacement by something simpler and better; maybe this helps explain why Microsoft is having such a hard time getting Vista out. This inability to innovate without a box also limits the ability of these companies to attract the kind of engineering talent that the consumer internet technology market does.

Speaking of innovation, how many developers coming out of school today are working in open source tools and consider the community driven approach of open source to be normal? I’d wager that the majority of these future engineering leaders fall into that category, but we’re trying to stuff them in the NetWeaver or Fusion or Websphere box like the proverbial round peg in a square hole… and then we wonder why attracting rockstar engineers is so difficult.

I realize that what started out as a post about Dabble DB has turned into a rant about some other issues that aren’t even related, but thinking about this company made me reflect back to the early 1990’s when the successors to Cobol (the dominant business application language) looked a lot like Cobol with better controls and a graphical developer environment, and then Visual Basic came along and fundamentally disrupted these tools because it did not try to be like them. VB was not destined to become a language that major enterprise business applications were written in, but it served as a model for tools that ultimately did, like Peopletools, Blyth, and Gupta.

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What the hell is this?

I was at Stanford and saw this driving around. I’m pretty sure it was a motorcycle mated to a car suspension up front and a custom made body (obviously). It sounded like a motorcycle. Pretty cool, although the F-117 cockpit and the “fast-and-the-furious” wing in back are a bit much.

UPDATE: okay, the back wing had a url for and CMGi decals (which caught attention cuz you don’t hear about them that often anymore!).


SAP Voices: too much plumbing…

This is from a new blog that I have on my internal SAP network (sorry, behind the firewall use only) for SAP “voices” to take advantage of. It’s something new and quite honestly not for everyone, but I have some really strong internal personalities that are blogging on on it and I’m excited to see what conversations we can have.

UPDATE: fixed the link.

SAP Voices: too much plumbing…:

“If we keep talking about the plumbing we’re going to lose the attention of business leaders. And that would be a shame.” – Andre McAfee at Harvard on Enterprise 2.0, but I think it applies to SAP in an equal measure.

Ning’s redesign makes creating social Web sites much easier

I was pretty skeptical of Ning when they first launched, mostly because of my contrarian reflex to dismiss anything that is hyped up to be better than sliced bread. However, over the last couple of months I have had an opportunity to re-evaluate my initial position and am gradually becoming a fan. If anything the potential for anyone to have a toolset that they can use to build applications is a pretty compelling goal.

SiliconBeat: Ning’s redesign makes creating social Web sites much easier:

Each created application stays within Ning, another reason you get the feeling there’s a lot of action. You can search any application with a new search bar. You can also see who is using each Ning app, and can add them as friends in your address book, from within the app. Your profile follows you around as you jump from app to app. A space on your profile lets you connect with friends (see partial screen shot below). Also new are ways to bookmark and build and share new applications.

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10 years after Khobar Towers

Reading this op-ed from former FBI chief Louis Freeh just made me mad.

It soon became clear that Mr. Clinton and his national security adviser, Sandy Berger, had no interest in confronting the fact that Iran had blown up the towers. This is astounding, considering that the Saudi Security Service had arrested six of the bombers after the attack. As FBI agents sifted through the remains of Building 131 in 115-degree heat, the bombers admitted they had been trained by the Iranian external security service (IRGC) in Lebanon’s Beka Valley and received their passports at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Syria, along with $250,000 cash for the operation from IRGC Gen. Ahmad Sharifi.

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Microsoft abandons the idea of a standalone WinFS

It’s really too bad that MS has dropped WinFS, to be more specific they have opted to return it to being a database technology. To me the most interesting aspect of WinFS was the promise of have a user defined meta layer (tagging) on top of the file system. This would have created great opportunity for new applications to be developed on top of Windows and realized the goal of having the most innovative applications on your platform come from companies other than your own.

Microsoft abandons the idea of a standalone WinFS:
So if end users won’t notice any difference in Vista’s abilities, what has been lost by WinFS’s repositioning? The people most impacted are developers who were hoping to create new applications that utilized WinFS technology across multiple applications.

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Boeing has the right service and the wrong strategy for Connexion

It’s really a shame if Boeing pulls the plug on their inflight internet service. Here’s where I think they made a significant error, the service is only available on long haul flights because conventional thinking is that only on a long duration flight would you pay the access fee and only when people are paying for the service do the carriers achieve a payback on the infrastructure. Where I think Boeing has also failed is in putting forward a system that is an expensive upgrade to the physical airplane and then trying to sell it to bankrupt U.S. carriers; what Boeing should have done is subsidized the cost of upgrading airplanes and looked at it as a loss leader expense much like cell phone companies do when they subsidize the cost of a handset.

Boeing should developed a tiered pricing system based on the duration or the flight and sold it heavily to airlines offering flights of 3-5 hours, which is dominated by business travelers who expense costs like this. Another opportunity would have been to do a deal with T-Mobile and tie it in to their pay-for-access wifi service. If I could buy internet time on a SFO to JFK flight and simply add it on to my T-Mobile account, done.

In a way I do hope that Boeing sells this service to a satellite company because maybe then it will become a service that is available more broadly than just on airplanes. I also think that GM’s OnStar group should look at this for the purposes of having a more extensive in-vehicle data service than what they currently use. Not only would OnStar benefit from having more consumer services, but the system-to-system vehicle services could be dramatic.

Boeing evaluating outlook for in-flight Internet – Yahoo! News:

If a suitable deal could not be reached, Boeing would be prepared to shut Connexion down, even though the service works as advertised and is used by a handful of international airlines on long-haul flights, one of the sources said.

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Saddam hunger strike doesn’t last long

Seems to me that one would have to miss more meals than just lunch in order to have a legitimate “hunger strike”.

Saddam hunger strike doesn’t last long – Conflict in Iraq –
Saddam Hussein ended a brief hunger strike after missing just one meal in his U.S.-run prison, a U.S. military spokesman said on Friday.

I think we are in need of a Hunger Strike Man Law…