Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Search engine

I recently learned about Cuil, a search engine founded by Google spin off employees. The hype about having the biggest online catalog, outperforming Google any time.

I tried it

Searched for my name, I received one result page with approximately 7 teasers. Over all the page claims to have found 2.806 results (as opposed to Googles 840).
1 Teaser had nothing whatsoever to do with me, the rest was pretty mundane stuff. I could not browse the promised 2.806 results, had to stick to the 6 correct references. Googles results immediately were relevant and pointed to material that referred to me as a person or my work.


Cuil is simply not worth the effort (this is why there is no link to the page)

Later I learned that Cuil was seed funded. This explains why there is so much hype about it. They have to earn their money the hard way. Hopefully this is not the start of another dotCom bubble.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

FreeMiCals 6000th download

So far, more than 6000 users have benefited from FreeMiCal. It even supports migrating from Outlook 2000 (at least most of the entries).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The end of the Domain concept?

Late 1999 I held a presentation about future developments in computer security. By then, there was an overwhelming hipe in firewall installations. During my speech I was asked about my personal opinion about how firewalls will develop in the future.

My response was quite surprising to the audience.
Firewalls and Virus protection are as protective as a perforated condom works for saver sex.
The audience was not happy. They came for support in their next major investment. Speakers before and after me were praising the techology as a panacea for any sorts of protection.

After my presentation a professor of the local university approached me. He congratuated me on the overall speach but commented, that I was completely wrong on my deduction that firewalls would be unnecessary devices in the future.

9 years after

The Dot.Com bubble was building up, Application Service Provisioning was on the verge, it was clear by then that most communication in the future would traverse through three ports only: HTTP/HTTPS and SMTP (well, there still are some more around).

If so, every communication channel would be redirected in the future to use one of these channel (it proved correct as we see large scale spam and web site attacks and only a few successful expliots).

9 years from now

Where's the point?

Systems cannot be protected at the perimeter any more. Protection schemes have to be introduced into every software service and application. With the increasing offerings of Web Services, boundaries between companies vanish (yet the title). Our carefully crafted computer domains will erode. As soon as they are consolidated (after mergers and company consolidations) they will be obsolete.

We have to use services and data across company boundaries. Small companies have to share information in order to withstand the pressure introduced by large multination enterprises.

If so, this raises the question of who has and who owns information (in the form of data).

DRM becomes DARM

What we see in the music industry is an absurde effort to protect rights. DRM, Digital Rights Management (or restriction of rights of the owner) is a technological approach to manifest control over the use of data.

DARM, Data Access Rigths Management (sorry, I did not come across any suitable term so far), will be the next development. What ACLs are to the operating system, DARM will be to information.

DARM will not only cover the rights to access information, but also timing information and environmental parameters that allow for viewing the content (similar to cascaded style sheets on steroids).
In this future, the concept of computer domains makes no sense.
Notebook users (especially those using Microsoft Windows) have trouble traversing domains. Trusts on the domain level have to be set up or the user will not be able to access any peripherals or services provided by the local domain.

With the concept of Service Oriented Architecture carried on, the IT of the company of the future will pretty much look like an encapsulated ISP. Services will be offered to anyone subscribing to it.
  • Questions about ownership of data and services have to answered.
  • Issues of multi cultural access and presentation have to be solved.
  • Problems relating to the timely validity will arise.
  • Censorship and circumvention of it will be on the agenda.
But I doubt that in 9 years from now we will see a logon dialog that offeres the domain as third parameter to authentication.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Time to celebrate 4000th download of FreeMiCal

When I started the project I was expecting 500 to (optimistic) 1000 downloads. I did not ever expect anything like the 4000 downloads and the overwhelming positive feedback I got. Lets see if this will continue.

There is one feature request I would like to discuss:
A user requested a feature to select certain categories. This can be achieved using a simple text editor. However, I understand that it would be more convenient to select a category from the interface.

Any comments about pros and cons?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

3000th download of FreeMiCal

November 12th the 3000th user downloaded FreeMiCal. I hope you folks are happy with the tool.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I'm not reading mags

I stopped reading magazines years ago for several reasons:
  1. they distract from the issue
  2. their net ratio of information transferred is bad
  3. cost per page of information is beyond acceptable ranges
Let me elaborate on this.

Magazines usually cover just one or two subjects that interest you or that are helpful to your current situation. The rest is either unsolicited input or, worse still, advertisement. I don't need advertisement. Who wants to learn about the n-th version of a charting package that can be embedded into your source code or the umpteenth version management with pink color coding of source files ending with the letter x. Take away cover, index, imprint, the info per pages ratio lies somewhere around 3%.

Even if an article covers an issue right in your focus, usually the issue is large enough to be broken into several articles. Publishers do not want articles to extend two pages and they want to sell the next issue as well. So, the article consists of 30% intro and repitition, 60% information and 10% links to supportive web pages, half of them not online otherwise you would have found them in previous web searches. So the info per space ratio lies around 60%.

Your average magazine costs about € 10,- for around 60 pages. This makes 17 cent / page.

Compared to a book with 1.000 pages (e.g. O'Reilly JavaScript Reference, € 46,99) the price of a magazine is about 3,5 times as high.

All that said, I found a magazine and an aspiring magazine that are worth reading:

dotnetpro is a magazine that concentrates on .NET software development. Much to my surprise it also covers Mono (in those much-hated multi-issued never-ending article-threads). On average, I can read 4 to 8 articles in it that interest me and the quality of code is more than acceptable.

pythonmagazine is an effort to get a Python developer magazine up and running. Issue 1 can be downloaded in PDF and offers an interesting blend of Python issues.

I am not going to change my mind: I read books, no magazines.

But I will keep an eye on the two.

Monday, May 14, 2007

First steps in Python

In my blog Python demystified I reflected on some thoughts about computer programming and the language in particular.

Ever since then I was aware and interested in this language. Remember I said:
Without any decent IDE (like Netbeans for Java) that allows for graphical programming and UI-design, I strongly doubt that Python will ever gain momentum.
Well, I found a decent IDE: ActiveState Komodo IDE.

Except for GUI it has everything, a decent IDE needs: Syntax highlighting, code completion and code folding, integration into version control (subversion), debugging and profiling.

So just as I was to change my attitude and general opinion on Python the snakes ugly head rose from the depth of my notebooks core:

(Briefly): Python allows for object oriented programming. Objects can be created and instanciated. When going out of scope they are subjected to the garbage collector for destruction. So far so good.

I tried on example program from a popular python book - it worked.

I tried to extend the program (for better understanding) - it crashed.

Well, it terminated with an exception.

Further investigation revealed:
Python stores class definition and object instances in a globally accessible list. When program flow exits the current scope, all objects within scope are subjected to garbage collection according to this global list (and in the exact order of appearance within it).

So there is the possibility that an instance "wol" may be destructed before the class definition "Person". Changing the object name to "wolf" brings it after the "Person" identifier in the globals list and thus there is an object still in memory and valid, where the class definition is destroyed. Any following destructor of the objects instance cannot be called. The code is not there any more.

Is it just me that I find these things on my first day with the language?

Other than that I am fascinated by this elegant and slim language. Worth a try.