Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Desktop on Demand

In Desktop on Demand Concept looks to quash privacy issues Desire Athow presents a new service as a solution to a privacy issue associated with web browsing...
Desktop on Demand, a remote desktop service launched by Security Firm De Futuro, aims at providing IT and document management teams with a full office suite, enhanced privacy and file sharing functionality.

The additional privacy inherent in the product is the result of a remotely hosted Web browser, which eliminates the possibility of the user's usage habits being tracked by the ISP.

"Our users surf from behind the curtain of our domain," explained Paresh Morjaria, managing director of De Futuro. "As a result, web browsing is once more anonymous. This is a huge benefit for users concerned about Big Brother peeping into their Web usage records. From here information can be derived that could negatively impact on their employment opportunities, insurance prospects or relationship with current employers.
Apart from replacing one potential Big Brother with one, the mere use of such a service could be regarded as a black mark against the individual ... if you use this you must have something to hide about your web traffic ... leaking sensitive info, porn, money laundering.

Stored-value card for Wellington transport

Vikram reflects on the 'new' payment method for transport in Wellington.
With this innovation you pay in advance for the discount, pay for the snapper, pay for reloading, pay for reloader device on your computer. I am tempted to move back to Christchurch where they have had the free metrocard and larger discount for years. That is without worrying about the leakage facilitated by unproven security of the card.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Process, process, process!

James McGovern comes right to the point on the project management overhead which is currently embraced as the way to do everything from opening a can of beans to putting a man on Mars.
Why on earth is so much process present? Why does it take three documents and six meetings to write six lines of Java? There are twice as many pages of documentation as lines of code! Well, having worked with the people involved on these documents, plus the development, and the testing, not just on this project but several others, I think I've figured out the purpose: process is being used as a substitute for competence. The funny thing is that I too am losing my sense of humor and are starting to become borgified and believe that CMMi is the perfect way to use process as a substitute for competence. With enough steps, documents, design reviews, and test plans, I think that the proverbial 1,000 monkeys with typewriters really could produce a functional IT system. The incredible amount of mutual reinforcement breaks the task down into such minute pieces that each piece is comprehensible and completable by anyone with even the slightest modicum of coding or testing ability. The added advantage is that no one is required to think let alone understand. It even helps project managers to a pretty good degree of accuracy how long each minute task will take, and can thus do a pretty good job coming up with a (obscenely long) timeline for a project in any stage of development.
Things that are worth five minutes conversation between principals involve battalions of portfolio, programme, project managers and their panoply of governance police without consideration of the competence of the few people that actually do the creative stuff or the fact that the individual commissioning the work has the authority and responsibility to do just that. To move on from the 1970's waterfall, we need clear but much shorter chains of commands along the lines of Jean Luc-Picard "Make it, so!" to a small team of competent players responding "Yes, sir"

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Parsing calendar entries

John Udell raises the challenge of translating the human formats of a calendar entry into a machine format. Google Calendars quick add feature does make a fair effort and responds as the human intended in most cases.
From the examples given by John
Tue, 4/1/08ok
2 Apr - Wed 10:00AM-10:45AMGets date wrong (time of day ok)
Weekdays 8:30am-4:30pmok
Thu, 11/15/07 - Fri, 4/11/08ok

Every Tuesday of the month from 10:00-11:00 a.m

Sat., Apr. 05, 9:00 AM Registration/Preview, 10:00 AM Live Auctionok
2nd Saturday of every other month, 10:00 am-12:00 pmok
The API seems to provide a neat packaging of the requirement as a service which could be used in many ways. Problems that are encountered, like the example above, might eventually be dealt with by the team at Google but seem tractable through pre-processing.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Intalio offering BPMS as a service

Intalio has announced availability of its novel approach to running BPMS as a service

The Intalio|On Demand servers are powerful enough to run hundreds of thousands of process instances concurrently. Each server has the equivalent of 1.7 GB of memory, 160 GB of storage, CPU capacity of a 32-bit 1.0-1.2 GHz 2007 Opteron or 2007 Xeon processor.

The underlying operating system is rPath Linux, following the Just enough Operating System (JeOS) principle. "This makes the appliance more efficient, smaller, more secure and higher performing than an application running under a full general purpose OS (Wikipedia, JeOS)". The Intalio|On Demand software appliance contains a bare minimal Java 1.5, Open SSH, and Intalio|Server.

The compute power comes from the Amazon Web Services Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) which gives a fair amount of assurance that capacity and connectivity will be there when you need it.

An organisation using this as a production solution will need to consider its exposure to

  • failure in the cloud removing access to fundamental business process engine and related dashboard information
  • privacy and security of data passing through a commercial computing host in a jurisdiction that may not have the same legislative protections as your business domicile
But at the extreme, you can develop and test a fully functional BPMS and integration solution on a laptop and then deploy it across the cloud to a worldwide collection of services.