Jul 23, 2007

Safari maks the iPhone the Smartphone of Choice

You've probably heard the hubbub about Apple choosing to only allow web based applications to be developed for the iPhone. A lot of developers are up in arms about this. I don't get it. Yes, there are some limitations. But in the long run, this was the right decision for Apple to make.

Take this article, Will Safari Make iPhone The Smartphone Of Choice In Business?, for instance. It points out that Business Intelligence developers need only build a web front-end for their systems to provide analytics to the iPhone. Imagine what a relief this is to the code-lazy BI world. They only have to hire a bunch of cheap web-developers and POOF they can now add analytics for mobile users.

It's a good point. Imagine how long it would take for the BI industry to offer mobile analytics if it had to develop their own Object-C applications for the iPhone. It would probably never happen.

Jul 19, 2007

Hint: Using Google for Spelling

I had a brain freeze today and couldn't, for the life of me, spell the word "alley". So I opened up my OS X dictionary and and started to type "al". Nothing that looked right. I tried ally but that wasn't what I wanted either.

After some thinking I wondered if I put the phrase, "in a dark ally" into Google if it would suggest the correct spelling. Sure enough, it did. So, if you can't figure out how to spell a word, but can put it in a phrase or sentance, then try Google for a spell dictionary.

Rich Internet Apps Offline: What a Concept | The Intelligent Enterprise Blog

On the Intelligent Enterprise Weblog, Nelson King has a post entitled Rich Internet Apps Offline: What a Concept | The Intelligent Enterprise Blog.

The main topic is really about how Google Gears is making it possible to take web content offline. Why is this important? It's simple. Even though access to the world wide web is easier now than it's ever been, there are still times when it's impossible for the mobile traveler to get to their favorite sites. For example, while attending BYU-I, I cannot get certain sites because of the firewall restrictions. Another example, when I travel on the road, I would like to be able to catch up on my reading through Google Reader. This is now possible because of Google Gears.

Lets take this to the world of Family History. Recently I was in Salt Lake at the Family History Library. I could not get internet access on my laptop there. Now imagine that I used FamilyLink as my primary genealogy database. I would be out of luck to do updates and the sort. But if my FamilyLink data were available to me offline through Google Gears, I would still be able to access, edit, and save my data as if I were online. That would be a significant feature.

I hope that FamilyLink figures this out and works toward this in a 1.0 or 2.0 release.

Jul 18, 2007

Record time installing Oracle 10g

Last night I set a personal record. I was able to install Oracle 10g on Ubuntu server and have it completely running and configured to start upon bootup in about 20 minutes.


So what happened?  Well, the first time I installed Oracle I only installed the Standard Edition.  I then realized that Standard does not support Query Rewrite for Materialized Views and it does not support partioning tables.  So I wiped out my installation and installed Enterprise Edition.

How did I do it so fast?  Well, it's the 3rd time I've installed it in the last week.  :)

Jul 17, 2007

MacUser: SuperDrive firmware update may have killer feature

MacUser: SuperDrive firmware update may have killer feature

It's true and it hurts. I'm one of those that was affected by this. I didn't know it until I tried to put a CD in the drive last night and noticed that it was dead. I then realized that it's been some time since I heard the CD drive warm up when I wake my MacBook Pro out of sleep.

I really hope a simple update will fix this, but I'm skeptical. Maybe Apple will replace my drive for free. Let's hope so.

Before You Build That Data Warehouse, Try Plug-and-Play Real-Time BI - DMReview

I'm sorry, but does this really look like plug-and-play to you?

Before You Build That Data Warehouse, Try Plug-and-Play Real-Time BI - DMReview

DMReview is full of this kind of stuff. In my opinion, unless I'm a > 500 million dollar company this just isn't helpful.

Social Networking Update

Ok, so I've been social networking now for just over a week. I have been avoiding it for some time because of the time and the offensive material that I've found at many social networking sites. Well, as you know, I've given in and created a Facebook profile and started connecting with my friends. Here are some of my observations so far.

I really like Facebook. It's clean and the material I've seen so far hasn't been offensive. I'm sure there is offensive material out there, but some sites force it on you (ahem YouTube). Facebook is nice because if I don't want to see it, I don't have to.

Another thing I've noticed about Facebook is that it really doesn't take that much time to be involved. I spent several hours getting it setup and browsing the applications, but now I just check it about once a day to see what's changed and what my friends are doing.

So what do I wish Facebook had that it doesn't. Ok, I'm really going to get labeled a flip-flopper here, but I wish it had more of my real friends on it. So that being said, Kelly (my one and only blog reader / commenter) please join up and add me to your friends list. It would be great to have you out there. I would be happy to add any others that read my blog to my friends list as well.

So why all the attention to social networking and blogging lately? Well, I'm getting ready to start a series of posts on some ideas that I've been having about agile data warehousing. I know what you're thinking -- oxymoron. You're right. That's precisely what I think too. Stay tuned...

Advertising my Blog

I'm doing everything I can think of to advertise my blog. I have posted it all over my social networking sites including:

I hope the new attention gets new people reading. If not, oh well, I still have fun blogging. What other ways can I advertise my blog?

Jul 16, 2007

Another Semester Comes To A Close

Well, another semester at BYU-I comes to a close today. I am finishing my Microeconomics course and a religion course on Building and Eternal Marriage. This morning was my comprehensive final for Econ and it was rough. I spent much of the weekend studying for it and I believe I did well, but I'm glad it's over.

I really enjoyed Econ though. I don't think I want to be an economist, but I really see the value of that role in our modern day businesses and government. I have also really really enjoyed my instructor Dr. Allan Wallburger. If there are any out there that are, by any chance, considering taking an Economics class at BYU-I, I whole-heartedly encourage you to consider taking a class from Dr. Wallburger. It will be tough, but you'll walk away with an appreciation and excitement for the topic.

I am glad to have the next 8 weeks off. I plan to do some much needed yard work, finish my basement office, and spend some much needed time with the family.

Jul 10, 2007

Now that we have Google Gears, it's time...

It's time for someone to make a really really good family history site and enable it with Google Gears. I am dumb founded by the dearth of good Family History software out there. This is an area that needs some attention.

In the past, the problem has been to build a cross-platform application for the masses. Now that Google Gears is here, someone needs to build a very cool Web 2.0 Family History site that is Google Gears enabled so that people can work offline if needed. Cross-platform issue solved.

Value of Education & Tacit Knowledge

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked whether I use any of the stuff I learn in school. Usually I am asked by people that haven't attended any higher education and have made it "just fine" in their life without it. They don't see how taking an English, Economics, or Stats could have helped them in any way.

My response to them is always that I use the knowledge I gain from school every day. Their follow-up question is usually a variation on the following, "How can you possibly remember and apply everything you learn in school on a daily basis?" This one is a little bit more tough to answer.

As I finish up my Econ 112 (micro economics) class this semester and start studying for the final, I am overwhelmed by the amount of information that we have covered over the semester. I don't remember it all. In fact, I'm finding I don't remember much of it at all. So what value did the class bring to me and how does it help me? The answer is newly acquired tacit knowledge.

I recently read a post by Phil Windley about some difficulty he had troubleshooting an issue with his Mac. He posted a follow-up post that touched on the tacit knowledge needed to utilize troubleshooting tools like Google Search. His follow-up post was a response to a riff that was done by Jon Udell on troubleshooting for normal folks. (I recommend reading both Jon and Phil's posts on the subject.)

These posts got me thinking about that eternally nagging question that I am constantly asked by my well-meaning friends about school. It dawned on me that although I don't remember everything I learned in my Economics class, I gained tacit knowledge that will help me solve problems down the road. The nice thing about tacit knowledge is that it's not particular. I can apply the tacit knowledge gained from Micro Economics to my personal and professional life. I also know that if I ever need to delve deeper into a problem, that there is an Economist out there that has the tools to solve the problem. Had I not taken this course, I would have no clue that someone had already figured out the solutions to the problems that may be vexing me at any given time.

The point here is that the value gained from education, especially undergraduate study, isn't the ability to solve certain equations or understand the supply and demand curves for an oligopoly. The point is that because I took the time to try to understand these concepts at some point in my life I now have another tool in my tacit knowledge toolbox that I can use to my advantage. Attending a College or University is a prime opportunity to acquire this knowledge. It isn't any wonder to me that those with degrees from higher education are more valuable to their employers and to the world in general. I'm not saying that tacit knowledge can't be gained elsewhere, I'm just saying that time in school is not wasted regardless of how pointless the current subject may be.

Jul 6, 2007

Giving In to Peer Pressure

I can't take it. I had to do it. I'm now on FaceBook. I know, I know... I'm a hypocrite. But this is what I learned.

  1. I've wasted a ton of time getting my profile setup
  2. It wasn't nearly as simple as I thought it would be
  3. No one I know very well is there
  4. Most of the people I found were students who I have nothing in common with
Ok, so now that I've ranted a little on my experience. I would like to state why I went ahead and setup an account. First, peer pressure. I want to be cool like Phil and Paul and Robert (see previous post).

Second, I noticed a dearth of technology representation from Eastern Idaho. I know what you're thinking. There isn't any technology in Eastern Idaho. Well, you're only mostly right. One of the biggest employers in Idaho Falls is the Idaho National Laboratory. This is a place full of scientists and techies. There are also several small firms here that do technology related things (ML Technologies & Docutech to name a couple). The thing I don't understand is how there isn't any technology community. The only thing I can think of is that there isn't any leadership. I've seen some attempts to get this going, but nothing has really come out of it. Well, I thought it would be fun to try to start up a group on FaceBook to see what kind of response I could get.

Third, I wanted to validate my claims from the previous post. How much time would it take? Is it worth my time? Those are questions I want to validate before I go out claiming whimsically. I plan to share my experience here and let you know what I think.

Social Networks Are Not for Me

To use the cliche, they are taking the internet by storm. Social Networks such as YouTube, FaceBook, MySpace, Ning, and etc are being discussed all over the net as the next big thing. I recently read a blog post by Paul Allen wherein he states that FaceBook will be the largest social network in the world. He points out a number of things that I had never thought of in regard to a social network. My first inclination after reading his post was to run over to FaceBook and create an account.

But then I got to thinking about my recent experience with Twitter. Twitter was an interesting idea, but I failed to see how it could benefit me all that much. To me, Twitter seemed like an awful amount of work for so little return. But after reading about it from Phil Windley and Robert Scoble I thought I would give it another try.

After about a day of adding my tweets to the massive online network I gave up. I just couldn't justify the time spent. The opportunity costs were way too high for me. I look at it this way. What would I need a virtual social network for when I am perfectly happy with my real world social network? How could I spend time trying to build relationships with people I don't know or really care about when I so desperately need to be giving time to my family, friends, and church groups? To me, the latter groups constitute a greater sense of community and personal benefit.

That being said, it is interesting to me to see Internet icons like Windley, Scoble, and Allen really embrace these networks as a means to stay on top of their "game" and to spread their influence and ideas. I really enjoy reading their prospectives and views. I just don't see a place in my life (be it professional or personal) for these networks.

Am I wrong? Should I spend more time on FaceBook / Twitter? Am I really missing out on the next big thing? Let me pose those questions to the people I care about most, my wife and my children, and the resounding response will be that they would rather have me spending my time with them, focused on their needs, concerns, and life than having me SMS messaging my tweets to the world constantly. To me, it's a no brainer.