Friday, December 30, 2011

Perfect Cube Dwellers' Contest -- Make some Change for Your Messy Workspace

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Contest Factory. All opinions are 100% mine.


I have to admit, I don't enter many contests. But this one caught my eye, so I went ahead and entered. Pimp My Cube is searching for the most pathetic, messy, disheveled office or cubicle. Have bad furniture, an organization problem, or work in a cave? This is your chance to capitalize on your own misfortune! 


PMC is looking for people to upload a video showing their cube, office or workspace, with details explaining how horrible it is, and why Contest Factory should stop by and "pimp" their cube! Pimp My Cube Contest


And you should enter, too, since it's easy to do, from your phone or your laptop. With so few uploaded this early in the game, your chances of winning (and mine) are high, right now. From what I've read, the funnier the video, the better chance of a win. 


Visit the PMC site now to upload, and spread the word so you (and I) have a better chance of getting our hands on a new high end PC system, a comfy chair, better desk, and the needed entertainment, er, productivity-enhancing tools, such as stereo and espresso machine. Contest runs from 12/5/11 until 1/31/12 at 12:00PM. 

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Win8 is good for the Cloud? Tom Calls BS!

In this article, Greg Pierce claims the Windows 8 tablet is the best solution to speed up cloud adoption... because... "Beneath the “shell” is a full-featured version of Windows." He goes on to state that "Several problems that have plagued tile versions of Windows in the past, including required hardware, power consumption and especially interface, have been addressed." That's a hoot... how is Microsoft supposed to police makers of Win tablets, to ensure hardware, power consumption and other integration problems truly are solved? I would be very surprised to see a single code base run across processors and platforms seamlessly. ;-)

Greg's focus is clearly MS-centric, as he claims not seeing someone's Exchange calendar on an iPad is a deficiency of that device. Only if you care about Exchange. Cloud adoption, by definition, ends vendor lock-n. If Exchange's proprietary calendar interface won't work with HTML 5, who is to blame? As my da used to say, it's a poor carpenter who blames his tools for crappy 'implementation' (last word is my version, sorry).

Greg makes his point clear: "Software providers will be given a tablet platform in which their full-featured applications will work out of the box. In order to tailor the app for Windows 8 tablets, there will be GUI changes to make the tactile experience easier – but the app does not need to be re-written." Don't re-write to leverage the platform, but stick with your old, hackney code.

No, thanks. Objective C development on the iPad and iPhone has yielded amazing new apps, not possible in the previous MS-centric world. Building true service-oriented enterprise solutions opens the door to platform flexibility. Few would argue that the iOS interface is the benchmark for touch on a mobile device; slapping some oversized icons on Windows is not a solution. Re-thinking your approach to integration of enterprise, mobile user needs, and freedom of data is a way forward... IMHO.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Gift Possibility - Steve's Car

No, not that Steve. A Porsche once owned by the "King of Cool," Steve McQueen, is being sold at auction this summer. The 1970 911 S was featured in the opening sequence of McQueen's epic, "Le Mans," used as the actor's personal car during the filming of the movie in France. Factoid: the Porsche is painted nearly the same shade of green as the car McQueen is better known for, the Ford Mustang that he drove crazily around San Francisco in the 1968 excellent film “Bullitt.”


Monday, December 26, 2011

Bike Share in the Suburbs

I recently returned from cycling in Dublin (and Connemara, briefly), happy to see a new bike sharing scheme in use. Even with the winter temperatures, there was palpable enthusiasm for the service. I'm a big fan of the Washington DC version, even though I tend to be self-reliant.

So now Montgomery County, Maryland is seeking funds to bring Capital Bikeshare to the area... awesome! Let's hope that traffic cooperates, since suburban drivers tend to move more quickly, with less bandwidth for attention to the road.

If you dress right, the winter can be a good time to free yourself of the chains of the automobile -- get in shape while saving money and time getting where you need to go. Just be visible, to avoid getting smooshed.

Snapdragon Stadium - for a limited time only!

This post brought to you by Snapdragon by Qualcomm. All opinions are 100% mine.

Since Dec 18 (yes, a special day for me, the day after the anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight), Qualcomm Stadium has been renamed Snapdragon Stadium. In the world of marketing, this type of campaign is an excellent way to draw attention to something that we take for granted -- Snapdragon processors are under the hood of some many cool mobile devices.

The San Diego wireless chip giant, which has held the naming rights on the Mission Valley stadium since the late 1990s, is temporarily changing the stadium's name to the brand name of the companies family of application processors that power smart phones -- Snapdragon processors by Qualcomm are the digital brains inside mobile devices made by Samsung, LG, HTC, and Nokia.

"System on a chip" architecture is a favorite of mine, offering up the engineering opportunity to enable higher performance multi-media (and other computationally intensive operations). Lower production costs, wide range of functionality, and leveraging embedded characteristics to attack specific computing tasks makes the Snapdragon architecture a winner, in my book.

If I were visiting my buddies in San Diego (best weather on the planet?!), I'd probably attend a game. During this time the stadium will play host to a Chargers Sunday night game against Baltimore along with two college bowl games: the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (Dec. 21) and the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (Dec. 28). Check out more about football and more here.

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Today, the Settling of Grievances

The day after Xmas (or perhaps, on Festivus itself), the airing of grievances is a regular event in the Termini household. This corresponds with Wren's Day (St Stephen's day), when kids mark betrayal by the tiny wren…

So I'm marking today with a list of tech issues I'd like to see addressed in the coming new year.

  • Apple TV. No, not this one, I mean a forthcoming Apple TV. Will I be speaking to my TV, instead of fumbling with remotes? In the Termini house, we use a Mac Mini connected to a Visio tv to get our info-tainment. I got to sample the above-mention AppleTV over Xmas, and mostly liked it. But still too limiting (filtered access to YouTube?? Really, Apple).
  • Kill off NetBooks already. As regular readers know, I did make an initial foray into the NetBook world while ago (well, ok, maybe I dabbled in Hakintosh). And quickly abandoned it (well, re-gifted to my daughter) when I started developing for the iPad. If you look at the apps available for iPad that are business-savvy (Pages, Keynote, Bento), the battery life, the form-factor, you'd agree. NetBooks are a dead-end branch of the PC tree.
  • Speaking of killing off, get rid of the wallet! In Japan, you pay for many things with your mobile phone. Google is in the forefront with their approach. I have attempted a kludge approach myself. Come on VISA and MasterCard, get on board to end the tyranny of plastic cards.
  • Cyber-criminals. Please, people, lock up your data! At least encrypt peoples' login/password or other vital data, so when the inevitable Chinese or Russian hacker snatches your data, they can't run up credit card bills.

Finally, in concluding the tradition, I'll end with a happy thought, instead of a b*tch. I enjoy working in the tech field -- I get to meet lots of people, I feel like I'm frequently solving problems and making some small part of peoples' lives easier, and I get to tackle unusual problems. As much the above complaints might nag me, I am thankful to be in this field, making good use of my talents.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why bankruptcy is key to entrepreneurship

In the states, business incorporations are down, but the fact is, new businesses are started every year, no matter what the economy. One reason is that there is a culture of failure, and redemption, in the U.S. When small business fails, the owner may file bankruptcy. Many states offer exemptions for small business assets so they can continue to operate during and after personal bankruptcy.

In Ireland, unlike in many western countries, bankruptcy is not an option -- only 29 people were declared bankrupt in 2010 and 17 in 2009. It takes 12 years to be discharged from bankruptcy in Ireland compared to just one year in the UK.

Successive Irish governments have been advised to reform Ireland’s punitive bankruptcy laws, which business leaders say inhibit the development of an entrepreneurial culture. The EU-IMF has made reform of the bankruptcy and personal debt regime a condition of its €85bn bail-out and set a deadline of next March to draw up new legislation.

Matthew Elderfield, Ireland’s financial regulator, recently warned that too short a discharge period for people with mortgage debt could damage the banks, which have been recapitalized with €63bn in taxpayers’ money. “Any approach to restructuring needs to take account of the risk that it creates incentives for borrowers to cease meeting their obligations,” he said.

Funny how everyone is worried about the banks losing out -- when it is the underlying assets that are troubled. In the case of Ireland, those assets are made up of property securing the notes. Why not let people fail, let the banks take a hit, and wipe the slate clean? Starting over is the best way to jump-start the economy, on both side of the Atlantic.

Monday, December 19, 2011

App overload - why don't I use the 328 apps I've downloaded in the last year?

It seems I'm not alone -- while the App Store experience is one of the compelling reasons people love the iPhone, we get overloaded with impulse downloads. I don't even count the plethora of games I've snagged for my kids (on their own iPhones or on mine); often times I'll read a description of some cool sounding app, and want to try it for myself. Case in point, the "find me a left" app from Uber. A cool concept, one I hope helps drive down the cost of a taxi while increasing utilization of public transport. Yes, taxis are a form of public transport, leveraging the free market (to some extent, unless cities overly restrict licenses).

So my new year's resolution (ok, not my *only* one) is to slim down. Slim down my [ ] app inventory. And my waistline. Is there an app for that? This is an excellent summary of similar peoples' experiences, want to share yours in the comments below?

What's the best tool for the chronic multi-tasker?

This post brought to you by LG DoublePlay™. All opinions are 100% mine.


I'll admit it, I am a chronic multi-tasker. I am constantly reading my email, checking texts, talking to a vendor or client, and sometimes even taking a photo or two. I only have so many hours in the day, and I tend to think I can get everything done -- so I multitask some things in order to make up lost ground. 


I came across the LG DoublePlay, which has the features and functionality that makes it a weapon of choice for the Intellectual Capitalist looking for a leg up, multi-tasking-wise. Think about how many hour you spend Social Networking on your phone each month… how would a phone (running Android and with a fully QUERTY keyboard, with an innovative split style) increase my ability to interact? How many times have you found yourself taking a photo, uploading to FB or Twitter, and reading a text? Comments welcome on the vicissitudes of mutli-tasking, and how something like the LG DoublePlay might change your view of social networking and mobile communications.


About the device: the LG DoublePlay features Android (and the Android Market for apps, of course), interesting multiple messaging options such as Cloud Text and Group Text, which enables sending/receiving messages from multiple platforms (your PC or a tablet, for example). See more here at the only source for this device, T-Mobile.


Ok, have I waxed philosophically enough about the virtues of multi-tasking? Check out the LG DoublePlay™ at a T-Mobile store, if you think it would change the way you text or post to your FaceBook or Twitter accounts. Let me know (in the comments) how many hours you spend texting, or otherwise using your phone to connect to your ever-widening circle of fellow Intellectual Capitalists…


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Thursday, December 15, 2011

yikes… all tablets are not created equal

So you think one tablet is the same as another? I did get to pick up an HP tablet with WebOS a few months ago at fire-sale prices (mostly out of curiosity, but also to give my son a Flash-based platform for games). You know what -- he hated it. He said, "Da, I can do without the Flash games, I'd rather have an iPad." Well, Damon, maybe Santa will come through for you since your father dropped the ball.

Certainly others are finding that the Kindle is no iPad replacement. Can it be that the GUI on other tablets, designed by software people, just isn't up to snuff?

Some complaints:

...few of their many complaints: there is no external volume control. The off switch is easy to hit by accident. Web pages take a long time to load. There is no privacy on the device; a spouse or child who picks it up will instantly know everything you have been doing. The touch screen is frequently hesitant and sometimes downright balky…

So what does this mean? Well, getting the interface right is at least as important as the hardware platform that the operating system runs on. Seems intuitive, but obviously a substantial challenge, nevertheless.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New bicycle lanes - update

Following up my previous post on Chicago's new bike lanes, it looks like DC is planning more lanes. DC is regard by some as being cyclist-friendly already, so more lanes can only be a good thing.

Dublin is somewhat bike friendly, and has had good success with its bike share program.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Next city to embrace bicycles...

The next city (in the U.S., at least) to embrace the bike is... Chicago. The plan, apparently, is a wide deployment of so-called "protected" lanes, where traffic is segregated from cyclists. Such systems make safety a priority. (In case you need some tips on staying alive on your bike, check out this site.)

I wonder if they will plow these lanes for winter-time comfort?

Pay it forward, or your code will continue to accrue big debts

In undertaking performance re-engineering analysis for the US Department of Health and Human Services and another commercial client, I've come across several cases where code violates what would be considered good architectural practices -- resulting in something called "technical debt," a phrase gaining attention.

Fixing code -- especially Java -- costs a significant amount of money. In the cases I've been involved with lately, the applications were being slated to move to a cloud model, and so were being "bottom up" SOA enabled. APIs were identified to expose to the wider world, and, in some case because the existing code was just too broken, select processes were just being wrapped in new Java service layers.

Read more about the concept thought up by Ward Cunningham. No matter how important an application may be, the patches, cobbled-together fixes, and duct tape approach to keeping the lights on all add up to larger costs down the road. And maybe not too far down that road -- giving new meaning to "paying it forward" when your developers spend the effort to refractor code.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Corporations - should they be treated same as people are? Yes!

The argument against corporate personhood seems reasonable -- after all, corporations are legal entities, but how can they be treated the same as people? The word "corporation" comes from the Latin Corpus (body), a "body of people." That is, a group of people authorized to act as an individual (OED).

In the U.S. (and in some jurisdictions abroad, mostly who follow Scottish or English styles of lawmaking), corporations have been considered "artificial people" for a very long time. Certainly from a legal standpoint, corporations can do many of the same things that people do -- buy and sell property, hire / fire staff, sue and be sued, etc. After an important ruling in the 1880s, corporations' status became ensconced in case law, mostly through a bizarre set of circumstances.

Is this status as an "artificial person" really that bad? After all, the concept of corporate democracy is a key aspect of the form of capitalism practiced in the U.S. (and other places, like the Republic of Ireland). Corporations, like it or not, are an integral aspect of the economic (and broader) world we live in. If the notion of this personhood were dispelled, would there be negative impacts? I heartily say, yes!

When (not if, but when) artificial intelligence becomes viable, and robotics, married with the computing power of quantum computing, yields autonomous artificial people (be they androids or other forms of robots), will we not see a huge legal (and possibly physical) fight to deny or confirm such artificial persons' rights? What about clones? Would they become second class citizens? Laugh now, these Star Trek scenarios may not be so far off…

So let's refine the concept of corporate personhood -- it is probably the model for how we treat our robot/belly-buttonless brethren in the future -- and not throw the "artificial" baby out with the bath water.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Germany needs the euro, UK doesn't

It should have been obvious when the UK went its own way with the (non)adoption of the euro more than 12 years ago. Germany (and to some extent, France) wants to off-set inflationary pressures in its export-heavy, manufacturing-based economy -- largest in Europe and probably 4th largest world-wide.

David Cameron made an easy move declining to accept the larger European pact on granting the European Central Bank more control. What is interesting to me is the gradual move towards a model similar to the US model. Rhetoric from the recent meeting indicates many value an independent central bank; clearly the influence of Germany belays this. I am unclear how the EU will ensure the independence of the ECB when the Germans continue to obsess over austerity controls Europe-wide.

Unfortunately, this leaves Ireland to be buffeted by the gale-force winds of monetary policy managed elsewhere. Is this really a bad thing? If you view Ireland as a sovereign state within the EU maybe not. The greater size/influence of the EU, as projected through the ECB, will only come when the ECB is accepted by all members as governing monetary policy -- the way US states eventually gave in to a central banking model. When the Bank of the US folded, it was because too many foreign interests controlled the flow of money. The central bank model championed in the US early assisted in evolving America's economy into a more unified one.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tablets have been in the sights of futurists for awhile

In 1994, publisher Knight-Ridder produced a video showing a tablet device with many of the elements embodied in the iPad (and, well, the World Wide Web). Some of the functionality -- like flagging items of interest -- appear in app such as Flipboard or Zite. However, Knight Ridder did nothing to make this vision a reality.

On the other hand, Apple had a clear idea a long time ago...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why an iPad is in your (enterprise) future

When considering how your workforce will be more productive in the coming years, the iPad should be on your list of 'must have' technologies. Why? First off, it's purpose built to have a responsive interface and a lightweight form factor. This exceptional portability means the tool will be easily carted around, and the instant accessibility (no boot time) encourages the use of this tablet. This will open the door to making more information -- say, from an executive information system -- accessible, converting enterprise data into easily digestible information. Think about the fuel gauge in your car -- glance at it, and you know how much remains in the tank to get you where you are going.

Another consideration that makes the iPad tablet a must-have tool is the concept of Collaboration Two-Point-Oh. While the meeting, and the virtual meet enabled by video conference or Skype, is the go-to collaboration tool, social collaboration (think "FaceBook for Business") is fast becoming the avenue of choice to facilitate team work. Of course, Bluedog's Workbench "Always on the Job!" fills this need nicely, and its iPad client app works well to demonstrate the value of Collaboration Two-Point-Oh. Clearly technology won't replace human interaction, but think of this platform as the graphite lubricant to the gears of business.

Monday, December 5, 2011

How big a phenom is social media? For the short-attention-span, watch this video

Interesting video from a Dutch firm, Video Infographs, showing the major statistics for social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Youtube, LinkedIn and others. This paints a picture of how social media is expanding -- think of Youtube reaching 700 billion playbacks in the last 12 months! This is amazing, and, coupled with mobile browsing, I am convinced the untethering of the internet only spells good things...

Social media, is, ahem, already in the mainstream. And, let's face it, mobile platforms are the way people *want* to interact via this conduit. Sharing content via a mobile device (ok, let's just say it, iPhone or iPad) is a growing trend. Location-based interactions are increasingly the way to monetize or realize the potential of this model.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Microsoft Surface? How about a desk that does the same thing?

I have fantasies of the Minority Report style interface, for a totally immersive computing experience. And awesome gaming! This desk, sort of like MS's Surface concept, might be the closest thing. (If I'm liking a Microsoft technology, you gotta know it is cool....)

Think "giant iPad" -- the EXOdesk looks like desktop, which will apparently cost $1,299, includes the ability to drag and drop content around the surface as well as pulling in data such as RSS feeds and latest tweets. Oh joy.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Fed, in the midst of this crisis

To quote the Bloomberg article:

On September 16, 2008, Morgan Stanley owed $21.5 billion to the Fed. The next day, that number doubled, to $40.5 billion. And eight working days later, on the 29th, the bank’s total borrowings from the Fed reached $107 billion. The Fed didn’t blink: it kept on lending, as much as it could, to any bank which needed the money, because, in a crisis, that’s its job.

Haters might think the Fed is part of the conspiracy, but, as a former Fed staffer, I have a different perspective. And this article sums up why we are lucky to have this model.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What's the most practical way to start a move to the cloud? The same approach as for any SOA undertaking

When moving to a cloud-based model, one of the first activities I recommend to my clients is to deconstruct the target business processes of the organization, much in the vein of a solution architect's approach to functional decomposition. Consider the Wikipedia definition: "…the process of decomposition is undertaken either for the purpose of gaining insight into the identity of the constituent components… or for the purpose of obtaining a compressed representation of the global function, a task which is feasible only when the constituent processes possess a certain level of modularity (i.e., independence or non-interaction).

This identification and compartmentalization -- breaking the problem down into smaller bits -- is derived from the Kaizen approach that promotes the decomposition of a larger problem into smaller chunks, from which corresponding solution logic can be realized. A larger problem (for sample, the execution of a client induction business process) can be better addressed when 'chunked' into smaller parts. Each component (web service) that is built exists as a separate tool responsible for solving one or more of the identified, smaller steps in a process. This SOA-derived approach forms the basis for a distributed model.

To achieve this, I've adopted -- as part of the Bluedog Unified Process -- a business process modeling approach that addresses a comprehensive approach to architecture, enables modeling of processes with an economic model, and addresses other important enterprise-level issues. This means an enterprise may undertake software projects to successfully address modern requirements of flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

Friday, November 25, 2011

How do you make the Cloud Work? IMHO, with the same governance as for SOA

If you read my book, you'd know that I advocate for the position that service oriented architecture (SOA) enables an enterprise to be adaptive -- by committing to the agile approach to service-enabling business processes, an organization exposes IT infrastructure with shared/reusable web services.

In my experience, a big benefit of cloud computing (for example, the cloud model for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' implementation of the Federal health care exchange, as I envisioned while on task at MITRE) is how that approach minimizes capital investment, keeping costs proportional to traffic/usage. The additional benefit of ubiquitous services (including automatic hot site / failover, and load balancing across geographically dispersed data centers) means purveyors of cloud infrastructure provide a large component of the tools needed to achieve, well, the Zen of SOA.

Think about this scenario: using Amazon or Google, an enterprise may provision and deploy onto the cloud infrastructure new or additional instances of both a platform (CentOS, for example) and software on an as-needed basis. As new users subscribe/access, the cloud platform addresses increased provisioning needs. In the case of AWS or Google, this underlying platform expands quickly and cheaply. Oh, and also contracts when not needed.

When I've developed policies and procedures for a service-enable enterprise, I've witnessed how that governance can provide controls to manage web service life cycles. With the SOA approach (read about it here), CIOs can track modifications to services, and place controls over who can change or update such services. With my kaizen-modeled philosophy, this occurs in a repeatable fashion, when governance policies are enforced. From this vantage point, a service-enabled enterprise can leverage the benefits of a cloud model, almost from the get-go.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Is there anything tea cannot do?

Here's an article [ How-a-chain-of-tea-shops-kickstarted-the-computer-age ] talking about the anniversary of The Lyons Electronic Office (LEO I), the first major enterprise computer business system, utilized at a chain of tea shops (and other business divisions). As a Lyons man (my choice of black tea, as opposed to Barry's), I'm suitable impressed with their foresight. On that cold (perfect for a cuppa) the day in 1951, we can hail the opening of the age of business computing.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A few thoughts on OWS

From an economics and sociology discussion -- under the right circumstances, conservatives and libertarians were as likely as anyone on the left to give wrong answers to economic questions. The proper inference from our work is not that one group is more enlightened, or less. It’s that “myside bias”—the tendency to judge a statement according to how conveniently it fits with one’s settled position—is pervasive among all of America’s political groups.

And, on a somewhat related note -- the top 1% are a killin us! [ read more ]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mobile and cloud go together like turkey and gravy

With such tools as HTML5 and web services making mobile apps connected to cloud platforms a reality, B2C-facing applications still are the most frequently developed mobile apps. But why is the cloud such an important component? Look at Apple's iCloud… this offers users the ability to move to a network computing model -- with the iPad and iPhone being so-called "thin clients." The "fat" part of the workload is at the core of the computer network paradigm (in this case, Apple's big honkin' data center).

Here's a quote from this BusinessDay article, "Bandwidth is an important factor in utilising cloud services effectively… Most decision makers are, as a result, weighing up the benefits of cloud-based services," Mr Reed says. And research firm Gartner points to cloud computing as the potential for a broad, long-term impact in most industries.

Manufacturers such as computer hardware and consumer electronics firms, are most likely to deploy applications to the cloud (according to a Forrester study), although services firms are also aggressive adopters. Developers at health care companies are lagging in use the cloud, at the moment.

Amazon Web Services has launched a pair of cloud software development kits (SDKs) for Google Android and iOS that the company said will make it easier for developers to build mobile applications and services that leverage AWS cloud services. This is good for government, a growing consumer of Cloud services.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

As DC installs more shared bikes, will the city adopt NYC's progressive stance?

It appears, according to Michael Kimmelman, that New York City is ripe for a revolution: "Decades ago the architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown wrote about how we see cities differently at different speeds… On a bike time bends. Space expands and contracts… it may sound a little crazy to talk about meditating on urban scenery when the issue is crashing into double-parked cars, abruptly opened taxi doors and reckless riders, which is where properly designed and enforced bike lanes come in, or increasingly will, as their network grows." He goes on to write that the ciry has installed 260 miles of bike lanes in the last four years, and is setting up a bike-share system.

In DC, the Capital Bikeshare is expanding. The planned expansion of the Capital Bikeshare program is underway this month with more docking stations being added at the most popular locations where riders pick up and leave bikes in the District. Thirty-six docks, which keep bikes securely locked between uses, were added to four stations Monday. Four other stations were expanded Friday, and a total of 18 stations will have the capacity to handle more of the red bikes when the expansion is complete.

This bodes well for the bicycle as an alternative to bus, train and car (oh, and walking). While the weather may be turning nippy, rest assured you can find me out on the streets and trails…

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Has A.I. made its way to the consumer world? iYes

The iPhone 4s is mostly the same as the 4 (hardware-wise), but with an improved "smart" dual antenna configuration, cool higher-res camera, and a few other tweaks. But the main draw of the new Apple mobile platform (calling the iPhone "just a phone" is an injustice) is the so-called voice recognition built in, called Siri.

Siri traces its lineage directly back to the largest artificial intelligence project in history, the Pentagon’s CALO project -- “Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes” -- a project that involved hundreds of the world’s top researchers in various aspects of A.I. This happened at a DoD-sponsored effort. Siri is not “voice recognition,” it’s an app linked to a cloud-based artificial intelligence at Apple's spiffy new data center.

Siri uses Vlingo Nuance for speech recognition and as such, the speech recognition component is modular. Theoretically, if a better speech recognition comes along (or Apple buys one), they could likely replace Nuance without too much trouble.

A.I. is the science (and application) of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs -- using computers to understand humans, and, perhaps, go beyond mere computational capabilities.

Learn more about our coming computer overlords here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Three minimalist things that should be more popular than they are...

Spork. I don't know why a titanium spork is such a fun thing to own but it is.
Maybe it is because what you have is the idealized form of a piece of technology, the derivation of one of human's oldest tools. In this iteration the spork is as tough as steel, light, non-toxic, manages hot food without a problem, scoops up yogurt, soup, stew. Heck, you could dig an escape tunnel with it. Did I mention it is made out of the same material as the SR-71?

Zippo. When the hardcore dick is interviewing the busty blonde for an exciting case, he lights his filterless Lucky Strike with a Zippo. Of course, if eating utensils are old, fire is human's oldest tool. What better way to get that campfire going, or light the Molotov to toss at the surging zombie hordes, than a shiny cool lighter. Bonus: learn some tricks.

Esperanto. Ok, this isn't a "thing" per se, but a language. Well, an invented language. In 1887 a linguist named Zamenhof came up with the idea that humanity should all speak a common tongue, and from his efforts was born Esperanto (his first impetus was to revive Latin, but nobody was keen on that). While there are many people who study and practice Esperanto, my guess is, there are more speakers of Klingon.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Peer-to-peer ubiquity

BitTorrent has made arrangements for an "always on" client to be pre-installed on Buffula's network attached storage devices. BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol used for distributing large amounts of data over the Internet. BitTorrent is one of the most common protocols for transferring large files, and it has been estimated that it accounted for roughly up to 70% of all Internet traffic. Interestingly, some feel bit torrent offers an alternate to the cloud model. “Cloud computing is a harkening back to centralizing everything,” BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker said, “...that’s just not the model that made the Internet so powerful.” His company, confusingly, is named after the protocol.

The main objective with cloud computing is to create a centralized system where organizations and people place their content or IT infrastructure in a handful of companies and services, but the Internet was built on a distributed model, rather than this centralized one.

Instead, a different model of the Internet’s future growth would to re-focus on the distributed model of file sharing, in effect, " crowd sourcing" infrastructure,in a distributed fashion.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

HTML5 - followup

Well, it occurred to me, understanding HTML5 might require further details. Luckily, this does a great job of laying out the convospectraspects of the standard. The good thing is, the (pending) standard really accomplishes a lot, in terms of how the presentation layer ends up "rich," like a traditional thick client.

EDIT: Another dead link, so try this...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Techie post - useful HTML5 reference

This is a really clever way to summarize HTML5. Note, the table shows the 100+ elements currently in the HTML5 working draft and a couple of proposed elements. When the "V" in Model-View-Controller should work well with mobile clients, widespread (and muli-vendor) browsers, and perhaps event TVs. Is HTML5 the final nail in the Flash coffin? I don't like predicting, but I do like open standards.

This fellow collects some interesting web apps that leverage the standard (use a modern browser, natch).

EDIT: Link updated to different version, courtesy of Robert Mening, Web developer & designer from Sweden, Malmö.

Monday, October 31, 2011


I'm disappointed the Congress even would consider bicycling (and pedestrians) as an urban problem. How can alternatives to congestion, pollution, and accident-rate-increasing road traffic be vilified?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Apps as News Channels

I've used the NY Times and WSJ apps a bit on the iPad and iPhone, but I consistently return to the browser-based versions. I'm not sure why - creature of habit, convenience, etc. I guess I am not alone, as the Pew Center's research shows.

Using apps to re-purpose web-based content seems to make sense when there's real value-add. Clearly apps do well for workflow or automation, or leveraging the iOS interface.

It seems apps are gaining ground, but for news consumption, they have a ways to go...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cloud services in the government arena

By now I'm sure I've talked enough about my sabbatical at MITRE, providing cloud computing architecture and expertise on SOA to certain agencies. Some of the issues I and others at that learned organization wrestle with include concerns about the security and interoperability of data (with the tremendous cost savings, this is quickly being addressed), the portability of apps, and dependency on the internet itself -- if the information at rest in an agency's data center, where is it and who else has access? Concerning multi-tenancy, who are your neighbors in the cloud?

Read more

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Who is using software-as-a-service in the US government?

With FedRAMP and (from General Services Administration), there seems to be plenty of options for government agencies to utilize SAAS. Besides Google, of course. One common complaint: the services listed as available on lack specifics about what is provided. According to GSA Portfolio Management Division Director Bill Lewis, GSA aims to reduce transaction time and the complexity of purchasing cloud solutions in the future, an endeavor that may involve the development of online tools for agencies that allow for on-demand self-service or the ability to increase or decrease the size of their purchase.

Bluedog has some success with Treasury, NIH, DoJ and a few other agencies using Workbench, but it has been a slow slog getting adoption rates to go up.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What I learned starting my first software company, post #1

When I sold Enigma more than a decade ago, I knew I didn't want to be H.R. director anymore, but I did like the software development process. As time has progressed, my goal as been to find (well, really, evolve) a process and stick with it. I am convinced that an iterative/Agile approach is superior, and I've spend the better part of the last ten years applying my own Kaizen modifications to what has become an industry common practice. That makes it challenging to provide training for the team/organization on the process, but funny how process documentation and the needed training materials/agenda match up pretty well.

Of course the team is key to success -- a good blend of skills works well and makes a cohesive team, but a degree of passion, experience, consistency, creativity, aptitude, and humor are all needed. I try to remind myself that everybody brings something different. There is no one person that can do it all, and understanding personality differences, human nature, and having a little compassion for individual circumstances helps greatly. I am not a big advocate of tests, but ascertaining how people will work together is important. Sometimes, I've found, a pint together at my local works. In other cases, you just have to hire someone, and see if they work out, in 30 days or less!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Knowledge workers continue to evolve -- and demand tools that are evolving with them

In my experience, those in the general workforce are, increasingly, engaged in so-called "knowledge work." But this model is not seen as business critical in other businesses, particularly services. I have found that many knowledge workers have had to put up with weakly designed enterprise application. Many decision-makers have found that getting by with legacy tools is just not good enough when it comes to social collaboration for enterprise use.

Clearly (and in hindsight, with Steve Jobs now gone) the Mac and the iPhone/iPad have not only had a profound impact on the uptake of smart phones, the mass dissemination of PC technology to the masses, and a huge impact on knowledge workers, who are increasingly mobile and teleworking. In fact, the PC and phone industries are now converging as a result of the iPhone.

My mantra -- simplicity invites adoption -- supports social collaboration. A "simplified" tool is one that is suited for its purpose -- it has all the properties that are needed, but no more, no less. Attaining simplicity is not just a matter of reduction, but rather about obtaining maximum effect with minimum means.

You can't go wrong absorbing what the master of simplicity has to say.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interfaces - command line, desktop, gestures, voice

Apple's iPhone 4s is about, well, the guts of the platform -- a significant upgrade to iOS in the form of message handling, cloud integration, and Siri, the AI-based voice recognition.

Moving from command lines (which required memorization) to the desktop metaphor (icons work well with humans' ability to 'recognize'), we've now got a gesture-based interface. Apple's introduction of Siri means, perhaps, that voice control will move to the forefront of interface interaction.

Read John's viewpoint, over at AllThingsD

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another Reason to Choose the iPhone

Why choose iPhone over Blackberry for enterprise email...

With RIM's recent blackout, vendor lock-in is again shown to be problematic. Relying on their platform has caused numerous problems -- including having RIM decide if your sensitive data should be accessible to a potentially hostile Foriegn governments.

And with options such as AT&T's 'toggle service,' staff can even use their own iPhones for business.
"Rather than forcing employees to carry multiple devices for personal and corporate usage, Toggle will enable users to create a personal account on their device that allows them to freely browse the internet, send SMS messages to friends and consume multimedia content including music and videos.
A second, more secure account that can be managed by a company’s IT department will enable users to run company business apps and send and receive company documents. Companies signing up for the service will be able to selectively allow employees with access to corporate data depending on their responsibilities. They will also be able to add, update or delete business applications on their employees’ personal devices and remotely wipe corporate information on the device if it is lost or stolen."

Having the iPhone/iPad connect to *your* email server gives the enterprise total control over this important communications channel.

== update 13 Oct 2011 ==

The Blackberry outage continues, and frustration is leading customers to consider alternatives.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Come home to Ireland, build success globally

With Google, Amazon's cloud infrastructure, Microsoft and others basing Euro operations in Ireland, I feel validated that the Emerald Isle is the best launch point for western hemisphere tech businesses. Of course, it helps that the Internet's Atlantic crossing runs right through Dublin's back garden. An aggressive corporate tax rate, derided by anti-business types, obviously strongly influences companies' decision to locate where Guinness comes from. But the highly educated, motivated youth help -- it's the workforce [read, download], at the end of the day, that makes a business successful.

Check the WSJ's article on the Irish coming home to build business...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Icon deleted.

I (and perhaps you) work in an industry, a business, reliant on the design of solutions. Air traffic control, medical tools, all sorts of information technology need good design to spare lives. But there's more to info tech -- in the 21st century, it is part of our culture. One man, Steve Jobs, helped propel technology from the back office to our front pockets. His death, punctuated by his Buddhist beliefs, should be mourned. But his legacy should be praised.

Without Steve, I would never have gotten the 'communicate effectively' message. I would not have found my calling, solving problems in creative ways for others. Using tools that just plain work.

Thanks, Steve, and goodbye.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Applying agile development in an incremental approach to SOA

I've talked previously about Bluedog's process for identifying business processes that are suitable for web-services-enablement. This follows an "agile" approach, of course. The main component of this is to do a proof of concept or some other kind of “Pilot” Run to prove the selected solution works. As a customer, a standard demo that will show how to “manage or distribute documents” is not relevant (unless you are magazine publisher). With the knowledge worker technology Bluedog builds and employs, a modern service oriented architecture allows for quick data conversion and has to be used in the process of building and deploying a system. It is very important to see which solutions can provide best for the organization. And that is much easier if business customers are presented their own data during the demo, if possible. This will reveal a clearer picture of system features and additional functionality required. At the same time, by learning the data, we get a much better understanding of the business of the organization.

Lorraine Lawson's Take on SOA and the Cloud - Good Advice Offered

Lorraine Lawson has a brief but informative post about integration of SOA concepts with Cloud efforts. Sounds familiar if you read IC regularly. While on sabbatical at MITRE, I participated in several cloud-based efforts. As a not-for-profit advisor to the U.S. government, MITRE offers impartial views, and this report is an excellent example, providing insight into considerations why the cloud is compelling (for many organizations, not just government agencies. Ms Lawson's article discusses how the cloud is more than just virtualization in some far-off data center.

Read her full article here

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Another Bluedog iPhone app gets good reviews

Using the asset management capabilities of Workbench, Bluedog built an application for looking up eircom (the largest mobile carrier) wifi hotspots in Dublin and around the Republic of Ireland. This app provides administrative information on infrastructure, as well as anchors location based services for eircom customers. Listen to the full interview...

See the business case for location-based services for Bluedog's customer here

Bluedog on GSA Schedule...

Bluedog won a Government-wide GSA Schedule contract vehicle... a Schedule 70 for IT services. And Workbench, the company's software-as-a-service (SAAS), became the second offering of that ilk... under a Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contract GS-35F-0114V to provide its innovative Workbench “Always on the Job!”© Software-as-a-Service (Saas) and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) consulting services (specifically, Software Licenses, Maintenance of Software, Server Appliance, and Professional Services) to the federal government and other qualifying organizations.

Bluedog is listed on the GSA Advantage!® online shopping and ordering site, and accepts government credit cards via Bluedog’s website.

Bluedog’ Workbench “Always on the Job!” combines best-in-class Balanced Scorecard and Earned Value Management capabilities with document and content management, workflow management, and team collaboration functionality to provide a holistic view of business performance and facilitate continuous improvement toward strategic goals. Workbench “Always on the Job!”© is a web-based solution available on a per-user basis as a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS).

Read more

Friday, September 30, 2011

Cloud Security - What to consider

Multi-tenancy is the most popular model to support multiple customers with a single (shared) application environment. To further exploit economy of scale, we frequently see SaaS applications utilizing a shared cloud delivery platform. I've seen how architecting access and authorization impacts this -- enforcing security constraints between applications and between application tenants is a critical requirement for our customers.

My approach in architecting our own SAAS offerings -- and the cloud platforms at commercial and government organizations -- involves a few key considerations:

  • Employing a security proxy component that ensures access to web servers and manages this infrastructure centrally. The result is linking the servers into one logical platform.
  • Use the web server (Apache) as a reverse proxy, and a means to distribute the load from incoming requests to applications. A re-written URL for each incoming request matches the relevant internal location of the requested resource.
  • In my architectures, I've endeavored to cluster application servers specific to each SaaS application.
  • Virtually all architectures I've come up with have used a directory server that stores information about authorized users and what privileges each user has (less and less, Exchange/Active Directory, more and more LDAP - Lightweight Directory Access Protocol).
  • Working with the customers to develop policies and security administration based on global policies. For example, setting reasonable password rules and session timeouts.
  • Finally, creating templates for firewall considerations. Yes, firewalls are still present in cloud platforms such as Amazon's AWS. But these demilitarized zones (DMZs) are intended to maintain additional IP level access control. Using a template approach ensures uniformity, depending on the type of service.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

DoD Contract Vehicle Win for Bluedog

Bluedog, as a team member of Sotera, won a coveted spot on the Technology and Systems Engineering (TSE) contract -- a maximum five-year, multiple-award, Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract for the development, operation, maintenance, and transition of information technology and communications infrastructure, tools, and capabilities to support the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) Counter-IED Operations Integration Center (COIC).

Read more at Sotera's site, here

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lessons learned from the FTC SOA/portal effort

This eWeek article captures the lessons learned from Bluedog's FTC SOA project. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) retained Bluedog in the role of systems integrator and software architects, to upgrade the ID Theft and Do Not call systems, which distributes fraud and identity theft information to a broad range of users and applications. It was the vision of FTC chief information officer Stephen Warren who was technology-savvy enough to have an idea for how he wanted SOA to be implemented and articulate that vision to his customers, the FTC commissioners.

Bluedog had worked on projects to SOA-enable systems at several government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department, so the company was prepared for the FTC project. We
had about nine months to complete the job. A lesson learned from previous work with the Justice Department was the need to talk with business customers to find out exactly what their pain points were; we then picked a half-dozen areas to tackle those issues using SOA-based technologies.

Government Computing News reports on Bluedog's SOA Efforts

When Bluedog built out service oriented architectures at Federal Trade Commission, National Institutes of Health, the US Dept of Justice, and the Environmental Protection Agency, I helped devise a methodology ("Bluedog Unified Process") that standardizes selection of business process that should be enabled with web services. Government Computing News wrote about it here...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bluedog is now a SBA-certified HubZone firm...

Bluedog has been certified as a HUBZone firm, for U.S. federal government contracting opportunities. HUBZone is a United States Small Business Administration (SBA) program for small companies that operate and employ people in Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZones). Agencies of the U.S. federal government are required by the HUBZone Empowerment Act to contract with HUBZone certified small businesses for more than 3% of their budget in the form of prime contracts to HUBZone firms.

Friday, September 23, 2011

This is typical project charter for a prototype

For a client, this prototype was proposed (in the form of a project charter):

This project is to develop a prototype 3-tiered application to provide back-office support for the processing of incoming letters and accompanying payments. for this project, BlueDog will convert the existing FileMaker 5.5 database to a SQL version (deployed under FrontBase but the SLQ code will generate the entities in any SQL92 compliant database such as Oracle or MySQL).
Further, we will develop an HTML interface for data entry, data management, and reporting purposes. With Bob Kelley’s input, we will modify the current work flow to accommodate anticipated work process changes.
BlueDog will incorporate its pre-built libraries for interface, security, and report writing. the customer shall own the MySQL database, the SQL code to generate the entities, and any SQL scripts for populating the tables once we are ready for data migration. If this pilot is deemed successful, BlueDog will endeavor to enter into a long term relationship to provide further application development, technical evaluations of hosting vs. in-house services, and other services as requested.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Data behind lock-n-key

Reason enough to use a BlueDog solution, because ALL important data -- custoemr, product, transaction -- are well out-of-reach of prying eyes. All information in BlueDog-deployed applications are behind firewalls within secure database servers. Even the content visitors see on a BlueDog-powered website is generated by compiled applications.

Small Business Computing Magazine - Online Shops Expose Customer Order Data Several small online shops are exposing their customer order data, including credit card numbers, because of improperly installed online shopping cart software.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cycling in America...not for the feint of heart

In this Economist article, the perils of being a cyclist in America are delineated. In Dublin, cyclists are even more reviled. Too bad -- bicycles relieve congestion, reduce pollution and encourage fitness.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Incremental - slow and steady wins the race

Services oriented architecture (SOA) done incrementally -- that's the gist of this article on Government Computer News. They quote me (tom termini) on some efforts Bluedog has been instrumental on, as architects and developers.

According to the author,
"SOA can help with all that, but if you’re getting started on it, experts have two words of advice: Start small. Incremental change and gradual improvements are better than trying to SOA-enable your entire IT infrastructure.

SOA is a design approach that integrates business and IT strategies to provide users with common services that leverage existing and new functionality. A key goal is the development of a business and technology architecture that can support changing regulatory, business and customer needs."

Full article:


Of course, they mention some good stuff, like the FTC SOA effort.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cloud and SOA - ways of thinking

“SOA is something you do,” while cloud “is a computing model or a way of leveraging computing resources where those resources can be provisioned and released as required from a set of resources pooled locally in a private cloud or remotely in a public cloud.”

Is SOA a vendor-driven fad? What isn't? Sound architectural philosophy is not a throw-away.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Avoiding 'groupthink' -- decision making for teams

There are three main components to consider in consulting a group for decision making:

• Sharing knowledge and related content
• Discussing and overlaying knowledge on the data at hand
• Collectively deciding the best course of action from the choices that are presented.

There are several alternatives to consider:
• Should the leader make the decision?
• Should the leader delegate the decision to some other member of the group?
• Will the group make the decision through some form of majority vote?
• Should all decisions involving the group be made by consensus?
Even when a consensus approach is used, there is a danger that the decision may represent a false consensus.  A false consensus occurs when members of a group appear to accept a proposed course of action but actually have private reservations which, for whatever reason, they choose not to share with the other members of the group.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

LEED ratings and Green

An example of applying entrepreneurial thinking in small-scale construction, I've been thinking about my efforts to have a high LEED rating for our house and its data center. I’ve participated in various discussions where the cost benefit analysis is done for LEED points. I would imagine the conversations at Bluedog's customers might be along the lines of, “We want to berated platinum. Figure out how to make it cost effective." Very different than my approach: what is the highest rating I can garner, with the resources at hand?

Benefits of a LEED Home from U.S. Green Building Council on Vimeo.

">intro to LEED in new home construction.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Taking a punch - what do do when your SAAS gets DOSed

Even Bluedog has come under fire, albeit years ago and by a so-called 'script-kiddy' (luckily, not a Denial-of-Service DOS attack), but malicious attacks can afflict anyone with a presence on the WWW. Luckily, we have hardened our permitter, have fail-overs in place, multi-faceted/multi0layered security, and monitor our exposed systems. Here's an excellent white paper on absorbing a cyber-attack, a means of triaging when your systems are under assault...

Software services that are essential for mission success must not only withstand normal wear and tear, stresses and accidental failures, they also must endure the stresses and failures caused by malicious activities and continue to remain usable.

The concept of entrapping / encasing the intruder is not new -- think of the castle barbican murder-hole set-up: the enemy breaches the gate, portcullis, etc., and runs into the narrow hall leading to the castle courtyard. Except, bowmen are waiting to shower arrows upon them from narrow slits high up on the walls.

Get the white paper here...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Zombie popularity in pop culture, part 1

Zombies are everywhere... a totally different threat from the ones we were afraid of in the 80s and 90s

Of course, Walking Dead is an awesome comic and tv show, but even the creators acknowledge there's a popular meme driving the public's interest in fighting off the unstoppable menace.

Zombies are the perfect embodiment of the troubles of our times... they come from nowhere, are relentless in their encroaching march, and eventually will overwhelm, no matter what we do.

But there is always hope, because humans in general, and western civilization in particular, are resilient. So don't fret over the current state of affairs, but remember, it pays to think ahead.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Five Men and a Little Shady

So anger must be managed.  And if you can't manage it yourself, someone will step in to manage it for you.  For instance, say you're just super-pissed.  And you punch a wall.  No worries, that's why we have sheetrock, drywall or gypsum.  Right?  But if someone *see's* you punch the wall.  And you're standing anywhere near your spouse, you're looking at a few weeks of anger management training.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's on my radar?

There's a host of technologies I am watching... 'cause that is how you stay ahead of the curve.


While server and even data center virtualization are moving mainstream, other aspects of infrastructure management are now evolving. Specifically, I/O virtualization is an essential complement to server virtualization. When running many VMs (virtual machines) on a server, each needs its own input/output, but if you satisfy that need with hardware, you eat up space for network and storage interfaces fast.

Semantic web

Web 2.0 is about collaboration. The next evolution of the WWW is already happening -- the semantic web is about building information *about* information. Meta data that describes web sites and other aspects of the "dark" web (data buried in databases). Unlocking the full potential of interlinked information would result in a Global Electronic Library that could combine all the available knowledge on the planet -- all books, periodicals, newsletters, journals, newspapers, web pages, video, audio broadcasts, spoken word, and more -- into a single, searchable resource available to everyone.

Solid state drives

A solid-state drive (SSD) is a data storage device that uses solid-state memory to store persistent data with the intention of providing access in the same manner of a traditional block i/o hard disk drive. SSDs are distinguished from traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), which are electromechanical devices containing spinning disks and movable read/write heads. SSDs, in contrast, use microchips which retain data in non-volatile memory chips and contain no moving parts. SSDs are typically less susceptible to physical shock, quieter, and have lower access time and latency, and use the same interface as hard disk drives, thus easily replacing them in most applications.

Super-fast access speeds, low power consumption, and increased capacity (and corollary smaller space requirements) points to the wide adoption of SSDs. But computer forensics implications include the inability to retrieve erased data and other issues not encountered with current technology hard drives.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is a style of computing in which virtualized and standard resources are provided as a service over the Internet. It conceptualize Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Virtualization to provide services for business applications online that are accessed from a web browser, while the software and data are stored in one or more data centers of unknown location to the end user.

Computing hardware has already become heavily commoditized, but, up to a few years ago software was still the realm of high priests With the emergence of cloud computing delivery models -- IaaS, PaaS and SaaS -- information technology professionals now have value-based vehicles to select from to support their various computing needs from do-it-yourself (DIY with infrastructure and platform as a service) to do-it-for-you (in the form of software-as-a-service).

Mobile apps

The realization of Global Positioning in new applications can be seen in mobile apps -- for smart phones, tablets and other venues. The proliferation of these platforms and a vibrant app ecosystems such as the ones around the iPhone/iPad and Android devices are revolutionizing the internet. This shift will arrive through a new wave of innovation that links cloud-based services, smart computing, and app-enabled devices, including cars, appliances, and entertainment systems. Location-aware means more data, resulting in further changes in how we operate in our world. Focused-use applications, aimed at addressing discrete computing needs, and enabled with user experience will extend the reach of these powerful platforms.

DC hardware power management

One solution to power system optimization is DC power. Since utility AC power must ultimately be converted to DC power for use by all silicon chip-based IT equipment and because stored energy systems (batteries, flywheels, etc.) provide DC power for backup, a DC power architecture requires fewer total conversions from grid to chip, creating the opportunity to reduce costs and increase efficiency. It also eliminates the need to de-rate usable capacity due to unbalanced loads, eliminating the concept of stranded power and allowing full utilization of power infrastructure. At the moment, power-over-ethernet is one application of DC power utilization on a small scale; converting entire data center infrastructure to Direct Current as part of a "green data center" movement (including cooling and energy efficiency and reclamation) would result in significant environmental, utility and other money savings.

"NoSQL" databases

Since the 1980s the relational database (RDBMS) has been the dominant model for database management. But, today, non-relational, “cloud,” or “NoSQL” databases are gaining ground as an alternative model for persistent data management. These type of data stores permit elastic scaling, handle large volumes of data with aplomb, require less administration (and help move business logic into the application tier, where it belongs), and support flexible data models.

Large-scale Business Intelligence

MapReduce is a patented software framework introduced by Google to support distributed computing on large data sets on clusters of computers. MapReduce enables something entirely new: the ability to crunch petabytes of data in a fraction of the time it would normally take -- on commodity hardware, no less. Apache Hadoop, now available via Amazon Web Services in the form of Amazon Elastic MapReduce, is the best-known implementation, but MapReduce is also being incorporated into mainstream solutions from IBM, Oracle, and others. As a framework that allows developers to write functions that process data, MapReduce enables fast analysis of large data sets.

Biofeedback or thought-control of electronics

A number of companies and research institutions have shown how brain waves, captured using sensors on a skull cap or head-set, can be used to control computer systems. The applications are medical — giving communications and control of the environment to heavily disabled people — military and, increasingly, in consumer and computer games control interfaces. This may seem like science fiction but the thought-control human-computer interface is here now

Printed electronics

The possibility of the rapid printing of multiple conductive, insulating and semiconductive layers to form electronic circuits holds out the prospect of much lower cost ICs than those prepared by conventional fabrication methods. Printing semiconductors usually implies the use of organic materials (although see below) with very different performance to silicon. It is also implies much larger minimum geometries than can be attained in silicon. But there are applications that can benefit from modest performance on flexible subtrates at low cost; the RFID tag is one and the active-matrix backplane for displays is another.

Energy harvesting

Energy harvesting is not a new idea. We have had the motion-powered wristwatch for many years. But as electronic circuits move from consuming milliwatts to consuming microwatts an interesting thing happens. It becomes possible to contemplate drawing power for those circuits, not from the electricity grid or from a battery but from a variety of ambient phenomena. And this is expected to have far-reaching impact.
One of the early applications is to have vibration-powered, wireless sensors in place on machinery, in vehicles. The battery-less aspect of such sensors removes the need for maintenance.

Resistive RAM or the memristor

Using conductive metal oxide (CMOx) technology to enable two-terminal devices that display a memory-effect in their resistance characteristic would effectively implement research championed by Hewlett-Packard Labs, on the memristor, often described as the fourth passive circuit element after resistors, capacitors and inductors.

Battery technologies

on nickel- and lithium-based battery chemistries, such as nickel oxyhydroxide, olivine-type lithium iron phosphate and nanowires, are gunning to displace the venerable but problematic alkaline-manganese dioxide formulations.

Hydrogen-based economy

By shifting to a hydrogen economy, we will simultaneously solve a long list of problems tied to the oil economy (pollution, limited resources, global warming, etc.) while creating new opportunities with hydrogen (clean, renewable, plentiful energy).

Applications for hydrogen are widespread: automotive (hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles), industrial (hydrogen powered factories), municipal (powering cities with large-scale hydrogen power plants) and residential (home-based hydrogen power plants that convert natural gas to electricity).

Augmented reality

Augmented reality layers information on top of video on mobile platforms, combining related data in ways geographic information systems (GIS) do for two-dimensional information. Applying geo-tagged information enhances what the user is looking at. For example, using GPS and a smart phone’s compass, the app can guess what the user is seeing and then provides information about points of interest in the line of sight that are then overlaid on the camera screen.

Nanotech-based medical diagnostics, targeted drug delivery

Applications in drug delivery, in vitro and in vivo diagnostics and implant technology are currently being exploited with nanotechnology. A promising area is using nanofibers obtained through electrospinning. These fibers may serve as stable or biodegradable scaffolds in bioreactors, as reinforcing structures for blood vessels, biodegradable compounds for wound healing or as a coverage for otherwise bioincompatible materials such as stainless steel for drug-eluting stents.

Miniature drug delivery that targets specific tumors is another area, or the use of micro-robots that swim in a patient's blood stream, transmitting real time data to monitoring medical devices.

Quantum computing

The evolution of miniaturized computing continues with quantum computing, opening the door to a new realm of computational power. Related, scientists have developed a new way to manipulate atoms inside diamond crystals so that they store information long enough to function as quantum memory, which encodes information not as the 0s and 1s crunched by conventional computers but in states that are both 0 and 1 at the same time. Physicists use such quantum data to send information securely, and hope to eventually build quantum computers capable of solving problems beyond the reach of today’s technology.