Month: September 2008

Cross Platform Cloudware


For a while there has been a flurry of very proprietary application solution development platforms rolled out from salesforce (apex), intuit (quickbase), amazon (a few), google (appengine) and it was only a matter of time before people stopped talking about data portability and though once again about app portability.

It seems dreamfactory have started down that route and their stuff looks really sweet – I bet there are more out there too.

With so many opportunities for app platform providers to get it wrong (over charging, poor service levels, changing APIs, aggressive legal terms just to name a few) this trend is very very welcome.

Next I expect we will once again be talking about language and other standards in the cloud just like we did over the last 20 years with others e.g. C, C+, C++, SQL, Basic (various), Java, Javascript, XML for specific verticals … and so many more.

Everything old is new again.

The Appstore Appstore

With so many application stores popping up from zoho, apple, salesforce.com, valve and more – all with millions of users supposedly – it seemed time to build a definitive list. So here it is the app exchange for appexchanges or appstore for appstores or what ever you want to call it marketplace for marketplaces.

Tweet me at twiter.com/pc0 if you have more you would like to see added.

Malicious Markets (and nasty shorts)

It is nice to be able to say I told you so after the predicting the recent crash on Sept 5th.

Probably nicer now though is taking a step back and seeing others do the same – such as Germany’s Merkel who asked the US and UK to pull short selling a while ago – which they have just done. You could say they where quite short with one another

Lots of others have followed this short selling ban with limited impact though, in Australia it is just naked shorts that are banned (like a 70s beach side holiday), you can still work around it with borrowing.

And of course the Swiss have a decidedly unique way of communicating it too. Banning shorting and reminding people to play nice with no malicious rumours in the same announcement.

Had a bit of a chuckle at that one I must say.

Transliteration – the Babel fish is here


One of the more intriguing developments this year to hit the front line is the dynamic conversion of languages.

Imagine your local global mega bank sets up a discussion forum for small businesses (as Bank of America and others have successfully done). No long do they need to work on a long gradual roll out for each country.

Thanks to the new Google ‘Babel Fish’.

It is not actually called that, I suspect because other people hold the rights to that term (all credit to Douglas Adams for popularising it though).

The new Google AJAX APIs allow corporate web deveopers to provide dynamic language conversion in as little as 10 lines of code.

So if you have a blog with comments in a other languages they can be dynamically converted.

More on the Google Code site for the AJAX Language APIs

Club Penguin Day in the market – Had a (really) bad day


Health Warning: Bearish view follows.

Big reshuffle lately in the global power game of market caps. The persistent record volumes on the LSE and others are just the beginning but market value is headed south.

For global banks and tech stocks in particular it is really remarkable (see table). I hope investors can hold on to their smile for the duration of this blog while we look at an emerging group of analysis that looks at banks, financial technology firms and the leading exchanges (the latter are co-dependent on both of the former).

Only a year ago Disney paid something like $700m (snatched from under Sony’s nose) for the online kids massively parallel game called Club Penguin. Going from my kid’s passion for Club Penguin, I think the Daniel Powter song ‘Had a bad day‘ is one of their theme songs and the animated cartoon penguins sometimes dance to in the game. It was a good move in hindsight, they are looking like one of the few left standing making money (with 12m+ users).

Disney is now worth just a tad more than Morgan Stanley and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).

Well today was one of those really bad days for the market and it is hard not to argue this week is another turning point to show just how bad things are going to get.

Table courtesy of google finance portfolios…check the % fall just for today (remember this is after an already pretty bad few months) and the latest market caps on the right hand side.

I have been saying for nearly a year now that this is going to get really ugly and we could be in for the same sort of mess our parents and grandparents saw in 1929 and today’s falls add more fuel to the fire. This time I think the slide will be long and slow, call it a boiling frog market, and the investors are the ones who will pay.

We are mainly cash right now and just taking exceptional opportunities, will be interesting to see if that pays or hurts. Meanwhile the pressure keeps building to the downside for example here down under in AU we just managed a huge national deficit after seemingly unending surpluses (digging stuff out of the ground is easy money or so we thought) and have had a complete government change in our biggest state mainly due to power and the economy not to mention 66% of the state in drought.

This is just the beginning, find a safe bank now (if there are any left).

Chrome performance lead sustainable ? What about android

The recent launch of Google Chrome is nothing short of genius. Not original thinking but excellence in execution by any measure.

The best way to learn about google chrome is to read their comic book explanation (in a google book of course) the link is at the end of this article but here is a taste.

The fact that the glass ceiling on Java Script performance has been removed – correction – raised substantially will firmly place JS back on the agenda for web developers as a core part of their arsenal.

I ran the benchmarks on my old Windows XP clunker under the Firefox browser v3.01 and got 127 (google set the baseline at 100) and under chrome got 1276. Nice tenfold improvement! The iMac 2.8G running OSX 10.5.4 with Firefox 3.01 scored 203.

Google Chrome has not been released for Mac/OSX yet.

JS performance is an industry wide issue. As an aside the guys at Saasu and I did some work recently to tweak their JS intensive pages and the result was fantastic, if we now add chrome it looks like they really will have the fastest (or most efficient since speed also includes how much hardware you throw at it) business apps around for invoicing and the stuff that is hard to do well on the web like payment list allocations and complex combo inventory. Back to topic…

This is not just a topic for geeks. It will fundamentally alter the richness of apps every one of us get to use. Swifter more powerful apps will be the end result of these wonderful new speeds that are ten times faster in areas and of course the new features. Full Bloomberg or Reuters dealing room style capabilities on the average browser is looking more and more achievable with complex financial modelling and visualisation.

All congratulations to the Google team behind chrome and her new engines.

The main new engine inside Chrome driving the JS performance is called V8, arguably because it is big and powerful but ironically it is small and efficient and written in C++

However, having just read the google design docs on V8 which they have generously shared for good reason (world wide focus and contribution to the project and embedding of V8 in other apps will get developer mind share). Most of the three techniques appear clearly non-unique in that they can be replicated by the other browser producers. This is good for all of us and while it is sad that chrome won’t have a sustainable advantage of more than a few months I expect they knew this well in advance.

They have kept a few things less than clear but since we can dig around in the code the secrets will be out in hours or days not weeks to be replicated by competitors.

But what about android?

If this new engine is written the way it appears to be written, there is no doubt that v8 and other parts of chrome if not most of it will end up on mobile phones in the new google android platform, their answer to the apple iphone.

Best of all, Google know that being open with this stuff will give them long term strategic advatange even though time to market might be a little slower initially.

I love competition.

So what is under the covers, of interest here is the languages used to develop chrome and v8 is c++ and it uses techniques derived from early smalltalk work. Next time a snotty young 12 yo web programmer gives you cheek about old languages being dead remind them of this day 🙂

The open source project behind chrome is not surprisingly called chromium and it is worth seeing the video with the development team to see the pretty sweet good intentions that they have really deliver on.

The world will remember the 3d of September 2008 for many many years to come. Well done.

PS: I’ll do a another blog another time on the strategic design trends they are setting with their new features, new architecture and new automated quality control processes in the interim you should read the google chrome comic book it is pretty neat.

Cracking PSN Two Million (or making Linkedin better)


I have been intrigued in recent years to watch the PSN (professional social networking) sites develop, particularly the three degrees of separation or six degrees in Kevin Bacon’s case.

If you don’t know what I mean about KB, best to google it.

Anyway, I have a SHORT contact list, less than 400. Many people these days are in the thousands.

But somehow I recently topped 2m people in my network. I am sure this is not unique but it does create an opportunity for insight.

Who are the best global networkers? Who is central to the best networker’s network? Is there a ring of Decision Making Influencers(DMI) under the networks that drive relationships?

It is similar to some analysis we did years ago on the best real-time analysis tools for government bodies to catch bad guys (insider trading and money laundering for example). A topic for another blog perhaps but the network visualisation tools were sensational.

I’d love to see Linkedin.com deliver a bunch of smarter info such as an index league table (globally and in my network only) of the individuals with the BEST ratio of contacts (under 400 in my case) to network size (> 2m for me).

This would provide an index of connectedness (or Connections Index CI) not of the person but of their contacts through degrees of separation.

Even better to analyse this in rings (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th degree would be plenty) and the ratio of 1st:2nd:3rd because it would give an indication of how central they were to the middle of all the connections of their network. This MI (Middle Index) or HI (Hub Index) would be able to be tied back to date of relationships (not the date is was recorded).

Finally, how do we know they are unique, are they just piggy backing on a mate who has an almost identical network? That one is harder but I have a bunch of ideas I’d like to patent first before posting them 🙂