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Showing posts from 2008

So what is this Twitter you keep going on about?

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Twitter is the one social networking / micro-blogging / status update service that I fully embraced this year and used extensively. At Web 2.0 Summit in October 2007, there was a lot of talk about Twitter, so I thought I really should give it a go, and once I got into it I was hooked.

I often describe Twitter as being like the status update feature on Facebook and you can choose to follow other people's or companies status updates and to restrict who sees yours (if you want). I, in fact, also have my status update in Facebook automatically whenever I update it in Twitter (except for when I am replying to somebody else).

First off, Twitter is FREE to use. They are looking at various Revenue models, but the base service is expected to be free for the foreseeable future.


Twitter is based around the simple question of "What are you going?". In response to this you can only use 140 characters. Whilst you can just answer this question, most people use it as a way to distrib…

Keeping up with what's happening in the world

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The world of technology (in particular) is moving very fast. I used to surf the web looking for what was new on key sites, but then decided that I would rather have the information come to me rather than me having to stumble across it. I then subscribed to lots of mailing lists, but once RSS feeds arrived this enabled access to even more information in a manner that meant I wasn't drowning my Inbox (or having to set up numerous auto-filter rules), so I stopped subscribing to the vast majority of mailing lists. For the past year I have been using Twitter and RSS feeds as key methods for keeping up with what's going on. I now wonder what next year will bring and how Semantic Web technologies will change relevant information makes its way to me.

The key methods I recall adopting for the past few years in terms of keeping up with what's going on:

2006
2007
2008
Daily
Surfing the Web, in particular:ComputerworldSlashdotAardvarkTheServerSide.comTheServerSide.NETMailing List subscrip…

Clarity of Roles & Responsibilities is Essential

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I have observed numerous times that a number of the key challenges encountered by many projects often boil down to one key root issue: Lack of Clarity around Roles & Responsibilities.

There are many facets of Roles & Responsibilities, each of which need to be clearly communicated, including:
People - who is responsible for what, and what deliverables are they tasked with. This may be an individual, group or project.
Technology - what is the responsibility of a particular technology component (or sub component) that is to be delivered as part of the solution. This needs to be addressed from a logical component (e.g. CRM) and a system perspective (e.g. Siebel).
Process - From a project delivery perspective, who is doing what tasks and what are the dependencies and constraints. In terms of implementing business processes or activities, what technology component(s) will be realising this.Of the above, I have found that People and Technology are the key areas that need to be focussed …

Yammer & Laconi.ca: Enterprise Status Updates / Microblogging

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Within the last week I have started using Yammer, a version of Twitter designed for companies. Yammer is based around the question of “What are you working on?” and the concept of only allowing users from the company's domain (e.g. domain.co.nz) to signup. This provides for an interesting closed community where people are willing to ask questions and have discussions that would not be appropriate to a public community (e.g. "Simon and I are hitting the ABC requirements hard this month... any suggestions/recommendations?").



It has been interesting to watch the viral infiltration of Yammer throughout the company. As people register they are prompted to enter in who they work with @domain ; an email is then sent to these people requesting them to register. Similarly a user can add Org Chart information such as boss, staff, assistant and these people will be sent an invitation to register. Unfortunately the invites are currently marked as Spam by our email system so many…

Adobe AIR development (from a rusty developer)

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Platforms such as Adobe AIR are making the Operating System less important; as I articulated previously in "Operating Systems are becoming less important to Consumers". I decided to have a bit of a play to see how easy it was to build an Adobe AIR application.

Getting the basics going

My first stop was the very useful Adobe AIR Developer Center, which contains lots of really good information (docs, videos, downloads, ...). I had already noted from a previous search that Aptana Studio (which I had installed) had an Adobe AIR plugin, so I installed that directly from the tool. That was nice and easy and I therefore had a working IDE up and running in minutes.

Information about the features of the Adobe AIR plugin for Aptana Studio can be found here.

I simply started a new Project, went with all the standard defaults, including the incorporation of a Sandbox application. Once the Project was created, I clicked the Play button in Aptana and it worked fine. It was just too easy…

OpenSocial as an alternative to JSR 168

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OpenSocial came onto the scene at the end of 2007 but until now I hadn't got around to delving into it and I thought it was about time.

My first observation was that its name is actually a bit of a misnomer. I expected data portability for social data, but in fact this is not what OpenSocial is about, it is instead more akin to "OpenWidget" or "OpenGadget" (as many others have pointed out). This however is not a bad thing, it is just different than what I was expecting.

OpenSocial is the expansion of Google Gadgets across platforms, with the view being that once an OpenSocial Gadget had been developed once and used on one site that it would be able to run on another social networking site and easily access friends lists and other social information on that site due to the common API that OpenSocial mandates. If this all sounds very similar to JSR 168 / 286 and the concept of Portlets then you would not be mistaken (for more on JSR 168 see my earlier post titled &…

Don't change too much at once!

I have recently been working on a large Architectural diagram that a significant number of people have been looking at on a regular basis and have followed through its evolution. I have been doing some large changes to this diagram, but rather than making them all at once I have staggered the changes across a number of versions of the diagram. There are a number of reasons I have done this, including:
People often get overwhelmed if there is too much that has changed. The validity of the diagram as being a trusted reference is undermined if it is significantly changed with each release. People are often much happier if they are taken on the journey.Less noise. Fewer changes reduces the areas for debate and allows them to be rapidly addressed without the confusion of other changes.
Change can be good, but too much at once is often not a good thing. I have been treating the aforementioned diagram like a brand, whereby whilst it is possible to completely overhaul it, if you make small chan…

Barcamp Auckland 2 Synopsis

Yesterday I attended my first barcamp / unconference; Barcamp Auckland 2. Ludwig and his team did a superb job arranging this event. It was well organised and there were lots of great sessions that stimulated lots of thought provoking discussions.

A key aspect of barcamps is participation and it is not about 1 person presenting, but more about having discussions and debates. The agenda is created on the day with people putting topics up on the board they are keen to talk about and facilitate and it just flows from there.

For further information about barcamps / unconferences, check out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconferencehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcamp
I attended a variety of different sessions which covered topics such as IE8, OpenId, Social Graph API, Privacy, Productivity, Mobile, Predictive Markets, ...

I used Twitter as my journal for the day, and my slightly edited synopsis of each session is:

Tech ProductivityMusic can help to focus but can also distract; familiarity plays…

Operating Systems are becoming less important to Consumers

Even a few years ago when buying a computer I was only concerned that it would run a Microsoft OS and that I could put a small Linux partition on it too. The thought of buying an Apple Mac never even crossed by mind.
A key consideration used to always be that there were lots of applications I wanted to run and that in general they were only built to run on the Microsoft OS. In today's world however I no longer think this is the case. Sure there are some apps that are only built to run on one Operating System, but with more and more services moving into the cloud, the Web browser is increasingly becoming the key application many people use.
For servers the Operating System has a larger role to play, but for standard consumer computing it is less important.
Platforms such as Adobe AIR and JRE are also aiding this shift away from the Operating System being so important. These platforms are enabling the ability for applications to be written once and run easily on multiple Operating …

Are Portal Servers dead?

Several years ago I was a big fan of Portal Servers (in particular for internal use), and I thought that were going to take off as the standard for public-facing sites (in particular with the release of JSR 168). This however has never eventuated.

I have therefore been asking the question for the past few years of whether the use of Portal Server technologies for public-facing sites is worthwhile, and if so for what sites (or subsets thereof). I am not questioning that the business concept of B2C, B2B, B2E, etc. portals is required, but rather whether the technology platform of Portal Servers for public-facing sites is overkill.

Portal Servers typically perform a number of primary functions (but there are other alternatives), some of which an organisation may not care about:
Integration with Authentication / Authorisation frameworkTemplatingPersonalisation Facilitate application/portlet reuse In-context content management Analytics & Reporting Search Ability to delegate control over …

Cultural differences

Understanding how people work and what motivates them is important to getting the most out of them and having a good working relationship.

I have been working with an offshore company for the past 6 months in New Zealand, with whom we have partnered to do some work to build a technology solution. Over these past 6 months I have observed some differences in the way they operate than what I have previously experienced working with New Zealand companies, and once I had identified these differences this has made it easier to communicate.

Having different cultures brings different dynamics to a project, which is great in terms of having people who look at a problem space from a different perspetive; these are my observations with this particular company and the people we have on the ground in New Zealand.

1. Safety in numbers.
In general, with many of the people I am dealing with (in particular the technical people, not so much with the Business Analysts), I have observed that they are not wi…

Facebook Chat has the potential to disrupt the current IM landscape

I have used Facebook Chat a few times now and think it is only an update away from disrupting the incumbent Instant Messaging products (MSN, Yahoo!, GTalk, ...).

With the introduction of Facebook Chat I have found myself in discussions with people that I do not currently have on any of my IM clients and haven't chatted to in years other than very asynchronous messages now and then. Due to the large community of Facebook I think this has the potential to therefore really be useful to many.

Facebook Chat currently relies on a user having Facebook up and this being the current focus, but as soon as:
a) the web client is unleashed from this constraint, b) Facebook provides an alternative desktop client and/or message alert, or better yet c) Facebook opens up the API for all then I think we will see a decline in IM client use or IM client vendors rapidly trying to provide a frontend for Facebook.

With Microsoft's investment in Facebook, perhaps there is already work going on behind th…

First blog post

I thought it was about time that I created a blog to ramble on about technology, trends in the Online space, Social Media, and anything else I felt worthy of writing about. Yeah, yeah, I know I've been a bit slow off the mark to create a blog, but I'm finally here!

I've written a couple of posts over at http://sinnjoy.blogspot.com previously and will continue to use that for my postings on Food & Wine.