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