Thursday, November 15, 2007

Elaine the Hacker Story

I can't wait to find out what will happen to Ellain and her mother. You can follow the story here...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Facebook Elastic Compute Cloud

Some ideas are just way too obvious and Joyent's Free Accelerator (on-demand infrastructure for Facebook application hosting) is one of them...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

IBM buying Cognos

This famous Data General advertisment (it actually never ran) is over 25 years old, but after a small update it can be used even today:

They Say IBM’s Entry Into On Demand BI Will Legitimize The Market. The Bastards Say, Welcome.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Good King Wenceslas

Today is a public holiday in the Czech Republic. Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia was killed by his brother Boleslaus on this day back in 936 (or possibly 929), yet it is still a good reason to enjoy a three day weekend. No wonder they call him Good King Wenceslas...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

On the Road Again

After a long wait I managed to get through the Heathrow Flight Disconnect and I landed safely in the US yesterday.

I plan to meet with the potential customers, VCs, analysts, advisers, partners and even some friends in Boston, New York and San Francisco. Overall almost forty meetings in one week. This trip reminds me the crazy travel schedule of Systinet days when I had to fly Prague - Tokyo - San Francisco - Los Angeles - Boston - London - Prague in one week (ever since I was a kid I knew from Jules Verne's book that this way around the globe I gain one working day).

I did not have to travel as much at HP but things are different here at GDC. And so I am on the road again...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It’s official!

The Flight Connection Centre at the Heathrow airport has been renamed to Heathrow Flight Disconnect. I think it’s a better name for a central security checkpoint that doesn’t scale to the increased security measures and the growth of traffic at Heathrow...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Apple's answer to Ubuntu

This is how Nelson Mandela once explained the meaning of Ubuntu: "Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to improve?" And here is a recent answer from Apple:

The latest iPods have a cryptographic "checksum" in their song databases that prevents third-party applications from synching with the portable music players. This means that iPods can no longer be used with operating systems where iTunes doesn't exist -- like Linux.

I don't think anybody needs Nelson Mandela to explain the meaning of this answer...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences

Nobel Prize winner Eugene Wigner published this classic paper almost fifty years ago but I was not aware of it until today. In case you are even remotely interested in mathematics or physics I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Notification of Potential Data Breach

Dear ... Employee,

We recently became aware of an incident involving information that may affect you. A laptop belonging to an ... director was lost during a business trip to Atlanta in late July. The laptop contained personal information on some employees, including you...The laptop was secured by a user name/password combination...

I received the letter above a few days ago from one of my former employers. It made me wonder what other sensitive data were on a laptop used by director of a large publicly traded company. And could this possibly happen if they used Software as a Service HR application?

SaaS will not make data on notebooks safer, but the chances are that this person would not need to download my personal information to his or her notebook. It is clear to me that incidents like this one prove that SaaS model is not inherently less secure...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

You say "Apple", I hear "control"

Ever since I came out as a Mac user little over a year ago I've been very happy with this choice. Unfortunately "choice" is not really word from Apple's vocabulary. Everything related to products, music, software, public relations, technical support and so on is very tightly controlled by Apple.

I do understand that control give us the fully integrated experience we get from Mac or iPod but sometimes it's simply overdone. One of many examples could be the famous Macbook Random Shutdown problem. It took Apple way too long to even acknowledge the existence of the problem and it really upset the community of users. Sometimes the control becomes completely counterproductive: you can't simply report a problem with iTunes to Apple. You have to pick from "I bought the wrong version of a song", "I bought the same song twice" and other pre-fabricated options that blame you, the user, before you can even send message to Apple.

Larry Lessig called me once a post-communist capitalist but I don't think he was correct. I am simply looking for more balanced relationship with my computer/music player/software/media supplier. And I guess this is why I am using Ubuntu more and more. At the end of the day Ubuntu means: "I am because we are, and since we are, therefore I am"...

PS. Apparently the other possible meaning of Ubuntu is "I can’t configure Debian"...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Facebook Elastic Compute Cloud

I was never a big fan of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). I did not see a real need for it and it doesn't even fit into retailer's business model. Amazon EC2 "enables users to increase or decrease capacity within minutes, not hours or days". But the growth of majority of web applications can be handled by additional hardware and faster connectivity. And even though the occasional traffic spikes caused by Slashdot or Digg can turn any site inaccessible for a day or two I am not sure it can justify a paradigm shift in the hosting platform.

But after spending a few weeks on Facebook I've completely changed my mind. You don't need to build a user community on Facebook. Your users are already there and if you are lucky or smart (or both) enough to catch their attention with a new application you can see a dramatic increase in web traffic overnight. Being able to "obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction" may actually be your only option before the users go somewhere else.

Does it mean that Facebook should buy EC2 from and integrate it more tightly with the Facebook Platform? I believe so. It would make a lot of sense...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Kepler Dude

Thursday, September 6, 2007

4 miles in 350 years

Hiring in Europe is slightly more difficult than in the US because people are less willing to move for work. And some people don't move at all. A good example is my mother's side of my family:

My grand-grand-grand-grandfather Franta Fona was born in Lazinky in 1650. The news of Mayflower's voyage probably never reached Lazinky and so it must have been a big deal when Franta's grandson Jakub Placek moved 1 mile south to Vesce in 1740.

It was not until 1805 when Matous Placek made the biggest move in this "epic journey of miniature proportions". Matous moved 2 miles west to Laz and I am sure he was inspired by Napoleon's advance in the Battle of Austerlitz (the battle was fought 50 miles from Laz the same year).

The Eiffel Tower has not been built yet when the whole family trek was over in 1880: Pavel Placek moved 1 mile northwest to Nove Syrovice. And that's where my grandfather Josef Placek was born and where many of my cousins live until today...

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Only the best people can make Good Data

We are hiring staff that want to be challenged to the highest levels in building what we believe will fundamentally change the way data is analyzed and used to gain insights and make decisions. Despite the massive size of the industry today there has been a glaring lack of innovation that creates a large opportunity for us in a market where existing players all suffer from the innovators dilemma.

Today we are actively building the solution and are looking for best-in-class technical resources. Beyond simply meeting the requirements listed, applicants should be experienced in working in a demanding start-up environment where there is a minimum of wasted motion and corporate overhead.

More information about open positions here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

XP: new Mac OS shell?

According to Wikipedia the shell is a piece of software that provides an interface for users. The primary purpose of the shell is to invoke or "launch" another program, however, shells frequently have additional capabilities such as viewing the contents of directories.

And this is exactly how I am using Microsoft XP on my Mac. The new Parallels Desktop 3.0 turns XP into a piece of code that is almost invisible and that helps me to launch a few remaining apps that have not been ported to Mac OS X yet. I don't plan to upgrade to Vista ever. All I need is a small and stable shell. A piece of code...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

You read it here first ...

It looks like someone at The Economist magazine is reading this blog! They took two of my recent posts: Can Google be trusted? and MaaS - Money as a Service and combined them into one article called: Who's afraid of Google?:

Google is often compared to Microsoft (another enemy, incidentally); but its evolution is actually closer to that of the banking industry. Just as financial institutions grew to become repositories of people's money, and thus guardians of private information about their finances, Google is now turning into a custodian of a far wider and more intimate range of information about individuals.

It is a good article and it fully supports my belief that SaaS can be only successful if SaaS providers behave more like banks and less like software companies...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Gödel and Brno

I went to Brno yesterday to meet with Good Data's back-end engineering team. As I was driving past Gödel's childhood home I realized I did not know anything about his life in this city. And here is what I found on Wikipedia:

Kurt Friedrich Gödel was born April 28, 1906, in Brno (German: Brünn), Moravia, Austria-Hungary (now the Czech Republic) into the ethnic German family of Rudolf Gödel, the manager of a textile factory, and Marianne Gödel (born Handschuh). At the time of his birth the town had a slight German-speaking majority and this was the language of his parents.

He automatically became a Czechoslovak citizen at age 12 when the Austro-Hungarian empire broke up at the end of World War I. He later told his biographer John D. Dawson that he felt like an "exiled Austrian in Czechoslovakia" ("ein österreichischer Verbannter in Tschechoslowakien") during this time. He was never able to speak Czech and refused to learn it at school. He became an Austrian citizen by choice at age 23. When Nazi Germany annexed Austria, Gödel automatically became a German citizen at age 32. After World War II, at the age of 42, he became an American citizen.

In his family, young Kurt was known as Der Herr Warum ("Mr. Why") because of his insatiable curiosity. According to his brother Rudolf, at the age of six or seven Kurt suffered from rheumatic fever; he completely recovered, but for the rest of his life he remained convinced that his heart had suffered permanent damage.

He attended German language primary and secondary school in Brno and completed them with honors in 1923. Although Kurt had first excelled in languages, he later became more interested in history and mathematics. His interest in mathematics increased when in 1920 his older brother Rudolf (born 1902) left for Vienna to go to medical school at the University of Vienna (UV). During his teens, Kurt studied Gabelsberger shorthand, Goethe's Theory of Colours and criticisms of Isaac Newton, and the writings of Immanuel Kant.

For those who want to read more about Kurt Gödel I recommend these two books: Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid and A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy Of Godel And Einstein

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Diary of a private investor

Two of Bear Stearns hedge funds filed for bankruptcy protection on August 1st. Goldman Sachs had to put additional $3 billion into their hedge fund on August 12th. This development got me a little worried about my sub-prime loan portfolio. But then in the middle of the financial meltdown, on August 13th, Motor Taxi Service has made a scheduled repayment of $25! So far the sub-prime lending crisis avoided me...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Will I Remember the Milk?

I recently received some vaccination and the vaccine regimen requires re-vaccination in three years' time. I don't want to miss it but how do I schedule a task that is three years out?

I keep my to-do list on Remember The Milk and I am a huge fan of the service. I can access it from my Mac and phone, I get reminders via Skype and my to-do list is integrated with Google Calendar. On the other hand I am fully aware of the limitations of Chatswood, Australia based Remember The Milk Pty Ltd. The company can go out of business or I will switch to better to-do list management service (which is different from calendaring service).

RTM is great for my next week's or next month's tasks but will I trust it with my next vaccination? Given that RTM exists for last three years and they have a great track record so far I think I will take the risk. But will I remember it in three years?

Monday, August 20, 2007

MaaS - Money as a Service

Money as a Service (a.k.a. banks) exists for more than a thousand years but we still experience occasional hiccups like the current credit crunch. And so we should not expect SaaS to be perfect in the first few years of existence. But I believe that it is the right model for software. And as nobody would keep their money at home stuffed in a mattress anymore, I don't expect users to go through the pains of installs, upgrades, re-installs and maintenance of complex software products. And possibly in a near future more companies will operate fully in a cloud. You can read more about the transition to SaaS in this article (free registration required).

Friday, August 3, 2007

Can Google be trusted?

Stefan asked the following question earlier today: "I couldn't imagine keeping my company's internal/confidential information on Google's servers. What are your reasons for not caring about this?"

I do care about confidentiality of our internal information. On the other hand I don't see a big difference between keeping the files securely on our internal servers or with a service provider. In the first case I trust our IT staff not to leave any doors open for hackers or any other intrusion and in the second case I trust Google to deliver the service as specified in the Service Level Agreement. I also read carefully the Google Apps security whitepaper.

But even if our internal systems are completely secure it doesn't prevent information leaks. Here are some Systinet examples:

- within five years of Systinet existence we had more than six notebooks full of confidential information stolen
- most of our internal emails were exchanged at some point with partners, legal counsels and external consultants over unsecured network
- we pitched our business plan and financial information to several VCs who ended up funding competing startups
- the first Systinet CTO came from a large computer company and even bigger software company claimed that our internal emails contain important information relevant to a lawsuit between these two giants. So we ended up printing most of our internal emails and delivering them on a silver plate to our biggest competitors...

PS. Stefan's comment is for some strange reason half blocked by Blogger/Google (see the link). Is it intentional? Can Google really be trusted?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Google Apps for

Here at Good Data we use the premier edition of Google Apps and we get email, calendar, IM, docs and spreadsheets for $50 / user / year. The quality and availability of this software as a service is very good and after being a subject of a large company's crappy rigid IT infrastructure this is a very refreshing experience.

The problem starts when I use Google applications that are NOT provided as part of Google Apps - such as Blogger, Reader, iGoogle or private Gmail. Since Google tries to "personalize my Google experience" it will sign me off automatically from my Good Data account and sign me into my private account with everything that comes with it: private email, files and calendar. Going back to business calendar requires signing back into the business account. Checking blogs will take me back to the private account. And so on and so on...

At one point I got so tired from this "virtual hide and seek" that I decided to use two different browsers - Safari and Firefox - to keep my two work contexts completely isolated. At the same time I hope that Google will work on the account management - it's the only part of Google Apps that I am not happy with.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Name of the Next Startup

One of the main advantages of starting a new company in Eastern Europe is the natural affinity of this part of the world with Web 2.0. More specifically the complete lack of vowels. While most start-ups struggle to find a catchy name, I can open some local newspaper and pick one.

I guess this is why so many entrepreneurs opt for Czech names: Dopplr (the new social network for frequent travelers) stands for "Your flight will be delayed" in Czech and wdgtbldr (Peter Yared's new company) translates as "JRad 3.0" in Czech (and Polish, Slovak and Croatian).

I thought long and hard about the name for my next company and I was not sure whether to call it or But then I came up with a non-Web 2.0 name with plenty of vowels. And therefore as of today I've become the Founder and CEO of Good Data Corporation.

Monday, July 30, 2007

My last day at Idoox/Systinet/Mercury/HP

I said, “No, I’m never going to leave Hewlett-Packard. It’s my job for life. It’s the best company because it’s so good to engineers.” It really treated us like we were a community and family, and everyone cared about everyone else. Engineers—bottom of the org chart people—could come up with the ideas that would be the next hot products for the company. Everything was open to thought, discussion and innovation. So I would never leave Hewlett-Packard. I was going to be an engineer for life there.
Interview: Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder, Apple Computer

My feelings are very similar - Systinet (now part of HP) was the best company I ever worked for. But it's time to move on and tomorrow will be my last day at Hewlett-Packard...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dynamics of Bubbles...

I am member of Linkedin, Plaxo, Facebook and Flickr. I was member of Friendster but I never joined Orkut. I was invited to join Quechup but I don't plan to join Bebo, MySpace or Unizr. There is no point for me to join WorkItMom! or YummyFriend but I could possibly join - the Lifestyle and Social Network for Baby Boomers and Generation Jones.

The market segmentation of social networks is happening very quickly. And very soon there will be one social network for every living person on the earth. I guess it's the right time to re-read one of my favorite books: Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

Vuth Sem, Entrepreneur

A few weeks ago I became a banker and I started to loan money to a group of young entrepreneurs. And Vuth Sem is one of them.
I never met Vuth and I don't think I will ever have a chance to meet him. But I hope my $25 will help him to buy a piece of a new motorcycle. And the new motorcycle will make enough money to repay my loan. And make even more money for Vuth and his family. And if you want to see more people like Vuth to succeed and get out of poverty please join me at Kiva...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The ATM Mile

Flying involves very little exercise and this is probably why the Prague airport arranged for us - frequent travelers - the following run: the ATM Mile.

Almost everybody who lands in a foreign and non-Euro country needs some cash. But in Prague you should bring your sneakers as well. All four ATM machines (see picture below) are clustered in the far-flung and deserted corner of the airport. So if you don't want to waste your time put the running shoes on and run. The benefits are clear - you will get stamina and cash at the same time. I am doing this exercise a few times a week and it really helped me to get in shape!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Anyone see a trend?

Java -> J2EE -> SOA

Chai -> Espeak -> BTO


Friday, June 29, 2007

WOW: It is Facebook and not Vista that makes me speechless

I joined Facebook a few days ago and I am currently "searching for words". Here are some of the reasons why:

- Networks: HP network has close to 9000 members. Facebook maybe already more useful and user friendly than the internal HP employee portal.
- Platform: There are 1,200 applications in the Application directory.
- Content: Facebook has "community first, content second" approach but it will very likely become a serious competitor to YouTube soon (there is 8.5 million photos uploaded daily...)

There are other reasons why I like Facebook and I am sure I will write more about my experience with this social networking site.

PS. Here is link to may Facebook profile:

Saturday, June 23, 2007


I am very happy with my new compact digital camera: Canon G7. The last one I was this happy with was actually my first digital camera - Canon S40. And since then I tried multiple compacts from Casio, Sony and Canon but I got rid of all of them very quickly. The problem was either high noise, low sensitivity or other issues like purple fringe.

So far I don't have these problems with G7 (here are some of my pictures) and I really like the the retro look and compact size. Some people complain about the lack of RAW format and vari-angle screen. I don't miss either one: I use this camera to complement my Canon 5D and I plan to do very little of post-processing anyway. And I would always trade the rotating LCD display for the smaller size. And so it looks like this one is a keeper...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mario the Terrorist?

I fly so much that only very few things surprise me any more. But I was shocked to find out that Alitalia allows only non digital music players (Walkman) to be used on the board of its aircrafts during the flight and it specifically bans Nintendo GameBoy! I wonder who is the real villain here: Mario or Luigi?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Dissident or Don Quixote?

Six years ago Scientific American published this fairly short and more/less negative article about Peter Duesberg's hypotesis (initially published in 1997) that aneuploidy of tumor cells is the cause and not result of cancer. This could be easily the end of the story if the same magazine did not publish last month a feature article written by controversial scientist Duesberg himself called: Chromosomal Chaos and Cancer.

It is actually a very convincing story even for somebody who reads about aneuploidy for the first time and I wonder when we will actually know whether Duesberg is right or wrong. I guess I am not alone - here is a quote from the Scientific American editorial: "Thus, as wrong as Duesberg surely is about HIV, there is at least a chance that he is significantly right about cancer...

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Lunches at Gresham Palace

As I was having lunch in the beautiful Gresham Palace here in Budapest, Hungary earlier today it occurred to me that it is more less the same place I had lunch some twenty years ago. But I did not eat in the Four Seasons hotel then:

(If you click on the picture you will see a tin-can of sausages getting ready...)

Monday, June 4, 2007

Revenge of Tongue Twisters

I am in Helsinki, Finland today and I have to say I am struggling with the local language a little bit. Google offers a Finnish version of Blogger only and so I am not 100% sure if Tämän blogitekstin luokkatunnisteet is the same as tags selection or what Ohjausnäkymä actually means.

But then I went to a local bar and I saw a name of a Czech beer written on the black board: Velkopopovicky Kozel! I really wonder how the local people manage to order one...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Czech Air Flight 0104

I am glad I did not take this flight on my way to the US last week.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

European success at last (.fm)

Look here if you want to see a successful European startup...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Lovely stuff

No more Skoda jokes please...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Three reasons why HP should join NetBeans

1) Competition is good and with the upcoming 6.0 release it is clear that NetBeans is a viable competitor to Eclipse (maybe the only real long term competitor). Support from HP would give NetBeans project more credibility and this open source software would become less dependent on Sun Microsystems.

2) HP Software is focused on the lifecycle approach to automation of IT processes (a.k.a. BTO) and a Java IDE would make the application and service development and testing stages of the lifecycle more developer friendly. NetBeans extensions for quality, SOA, diagnostics and other parts of HP software would fit nicely into this picture.

3) It would make me happy to see the NetBeans and Systinet teams to work together. And I understand that this is not a real reason but it would feel really good...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Who is the Powersoft of the SOA era?

Dennis Byron asks "Who is the Powersoft of the SOA era?" here. Many companies claim that their tool is the PowerBuilder for SOA (BEA WebLogic Workshop, Above All Studio and others). And VCs would love to find and fund the next Powersoft. This means that Powersoft remains an iconic company 13 years after it disappeared. And since I worked with and for Powersoft since 1992 I feel I should write here my version of how Powersoft Corporation became the leader of client/server tools market:

Right time, right place

There were three megatrends happening at the same time in the early nineties:

• PC with MS Windows 3.1,
• Local Area Networks,
• SQL Databases

and Powersoft happened to be right in the middle of these three trends. Several other companies were building c/s development tools at the same time but only Powersoft got it right. It may sound strange from today’s perspective but while the competitive products supported MS Windows as only one of the client operating systems PowerBuilder supported Windows natively. And as the result it was visibly more user friendly.


The key component of PowerBuilder was an object called DataWindow. DataWindow allowed developers to generate screens and reports quickly without deep understanding of SQL. But the fact that the finished application had to be deployed on every single client machine quickly became a management nightmare - so called "DLL Hell". Powersoft tried to solve some of the problems with the server-side version of PowerBuilder but it was a proprietary solution and the EJB standard did not appear until 1997.

DataWindow was also able to search systables of SQL databases for simple metadata. It was fairly trivial but it worked really well in demo applications. The demo presenter was able to connect to the target database and to build a simple form in the matter of minutes. To the audience that was used to COBOL programming it was “indistinguishable from magic”.

Business model

The biggest weakness of Powersoft was its business model. The company was selling development licenses of PowerBuilder and there were not enough developers in the world to sustain the initial sales growth. And PowerBuilder based application did not generate any runtime revenues at all. Database vendors have much sounder business model - Oracle and Sybase can give away development tools as a loss leader and charge for the deployment of their database. And so it was only a matter of time before one of these companies would acquire Powersoft:

In a surprise announcement officially released at 7:30 a.m., EST, on November 14, 1994, Sybase revealed its plans to acquire Powersoft in an exchange-of-stock deal. With a cash equivalent valuation of approximately $945 million.


The initial focus on MS Windows that helped the company so much initially became a liability by 1995 when Netscape went public and application developers started to move to the web. There was an attempt to build a Netscape DataWindow plug-in but it was obvious that Powersoft days are over. Only 10 months after Sybase spent over $900M! Some of the people behind PowerBuilder tried to repeat the success at SilverStream. I happened to be one of the early investors in SilverStream but I did not like what I saw and I decided to build NetBeans instead.


I don’t believe there will be a Powersoft of SOA era - company worth a billion dollar based on $3,000 development tool. And the main reason may be the need for standardization that makes the differentiation much more difficult these days. But who wouldn't want to build the next Powersoft?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Q&A: SOA and BPM

I will be speaking in London on Tuesday about SOA @ HP to a group of 20+ European journalists and I am getting ready for some potential questions. One of the questions in my Q&A document is this one: What is the relationship between SOA and BPM?

I've heard this question many times before and every big SOA vendor has the same answer:

  1. SOA creates a set of services (ESB, network, fabric...) and these services are orchestrated by some clever BPM tool.
  2. BPM is for business people, SOA is for techies.

I absolutely disagree and this is why I was happy to read these two posts from Steve Jones yesterday. Here is a quote: "for most Services the concept of "Goals" will be more useful than the concept of "Process" ". It really brought back the memories of Radovan's controversial business process blogging in 2003 and 2004.

So I know how I want to answer the BPM question on Tuesday and I can move on to the next potential question: What is HP's acquisition strategy in the SOA area? Hmmm, I don't think I will be blogging about this one...

Friday, May 18, 2007

What Happened to Flexibility?

Peter Yared posted a very good article called "What Happened to LAMP?". He identifies the hidden cost of the new infrastructure software as one of the reasons why LAMP is not penetrating the enterprise.

I believe that it is the inability of current enterprise IT to support any change that makes any additions/replacements to infrastructure software so difficult. Last week I visited one of the largest global banks to talk about their plans for the new infrastructure software. And this bank has a policy in place that restricts the number of changes to their IT infrastructure - they can only deploy changes once a quarter and every such release breaks something and sometimes the damage is substantial. They actually showed me a report of emergency IT changes over last one year. It looked like this:

So every time they bring a new system in or change an old one the number of fixes goes dramatically up.

And until we solve the problem of sustainability of the current enterprise IT we can only dream about any new software infrastructure. And in the meantime we will be limited to four changes a year so that we have enough time to fix what broke...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Skype needs you

Let me be more precise: Skype needs you in Prague and only if you are a great software developer... The company plans to hire about 20 percent of the product-engineering workforce in Prague and I've learned about it from a huge Skype job advertisement that is posted next to the HP's sales office.

I am really happy to see companies to open their development centers in Prague. On one hand it creates more competition for the talent but on the other hand it produces more and more experienced people with global skills. So while Skype needs us we need even more companies like Skype...

Saturday, May 5, 2007

We love to print

A few weeks ago I had 100 of my Flickr pictures printed by Big MOO, Print Machine. Big MOO works for Moo Prints (more about the company here) and my pictures were printed on MiniCards - small cards approximately half the size of a normal business card. MiniCards are fun to look at, the website is well integrated with Flickr and the print service worked flawlessly. Little MOO, Print Robot did a really good job:

Hello Roman

I'm Little MOO - the bit of software that will be managing your order
with us. It will shortly be sent to Big MOO, our print machine who will
print it for you in the next few days. I'll let you know when it's done
and on its way to you.

In the meantime you can track and manage your order at:

Remember, I'm just a bit of software. So, if you have any questions
regarding your order please contact customer services (who are real
people) at:


Little MOO, Print Robot

MOO "We love to print"

Friday, May 4, 2007

South Park Mac vs. PC

This is what happens when you combine Get a Mac and the South Park:

The Economics of Abundance

Back in the nineties I worked for Powersoft and from time to time I had to go to Moscow for a business trip. And there you could have bought CDs full of software on a corner for a few bucks. I was very upset to see Borland, Inprise, Borland, CodeGear Delphi and not PowerBuilder on those CDs. It was obvious to me that once you take the price out of the price/performance equation it is only performance that matters. Nobody will copy an inferior product that is free and so the superior product can gain a big piece of a market share very quickly.

What I did not know then is that this one of the aspects of digital goods and it is called the economics of abundance. You can read more about it here and here.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The New Czech National Library

One of my friends once told me that she prefers to stay in the Four Seasons Hotel in Prague. Apparently it is the only place in the city where the view of the castle is not spoiled by - the Four Seasons Hotel. In a few years she will have to read a book in the new library reading room (picture below) to enjoy an unspoiled view of Prague castle.

As you can see on the following pictures the new library building (in case it will be actually built) will be visible from everywhere else...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Does innovation matter?

Older and more experienced Radovan complains about enterprise IT that SUCKS. His point is that years of commoditization and vendor consolidation brought the costs down but it did not increase the business/IT alignment. Solution may come from a completely unexpected direction: startups. Read more about it in this Infoworld article.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Apple TV - Not impressed

I've been using the Apple troika (iMac, iPod and Apple TV) for a few weeks now and I have to say I am not really impressed by the new toy: Apple TV. I am not bothered by the low quality or a small hard disk. The former is the result of limited bitrate and the latter will probably increase with the next version.

What really doesn't work for me is the extension of personal music management (iTunes/iPod) to the home entertainment. What I am missing is some form of video/music back-end. Here is why:

At this moment I can either stream videos to Apple TV from multiple computers or sync it with one of our iTunes libraries. But streaming requires to log-in into a computer and run iTunes. It is not really convenient since nobody else can be using that computer. And syncing is not good either. I have a large NAS in our basement and I don't want to keep copy of the music and video library in the living room.

In the ideal world I would be able to point Apple TV to my NAS and access the files directly. Or there would be a server side component (something like SlimServer) that would stream files to the Apple TV. Unfortunately SlimServer was acquired by Logitech recently. That's too bad since Apple buing SlimDevices would get very close to an ideal world for me...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Quote of the Day

Digital photography is slowly being accepted by photographers for some applications, and we at Leica AG believe that by the year 2025, even many consumers will have digital cameras in their houses.

Leica's Chairman, Hanns-Peter Cohn, 2/24/2002

Friday, April 27, 2007

From Java to SportsTalk

I usually speak to journalists about Java, WSDL and other computer languages. But a recent interview with USA Today was very different. Here is the story...

Thursday, April 26, 2007


My friend Jerry needs to remind himself of some very basic activities. He puts a “Eat me!" Stick-It note on an apple that he plans to eat, “Take me home!” on a PDA and “Switch me off” on his computer screen. I feel like Jerry these days. Every time I go to my office there is this logo next to the office door:

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Czech fugitive nabbed at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg

When I landed on Saturday afternoon at OR Tambo Airport I didn't have any idea what was happening over there...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pictures from Cape Town

I posted some of my pictures from Cape Town on Flickr earlier today. And here is the link.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

No good Vistas?

I am waiting for my flight from Johannesburg to London and I came across this very interesting article/discussion: Dell's Move Raises Question: Will Windows XP Compete With Vista?

I was really disappointed by Apple's decision to focus on iPhone and delay OS X Leopard but this article made me to think again. What if Apple is right? What if big OS upgrades like Vista don't deliver any real benefits to the users. It is actually quite ironic - Microsoft worked so hard and for so many years to deliver a system that nobody seems to need. Features like GUI and DRM must have been considered so critical a few years ago and now they seem to be too intrusive and overdone. It is difficult to manage product with such a long time-frame and still adapt to a changing landscape - such as DRM-free music from EMI.

So maybe Steve Jobs is right at the end. iPhone might bring more value to Apple and that's where the resources should be spent. It would also mean no good vistas for Microsoft...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Strategy tax

Working for or with a large company involves so called "Strategy tax" (see definition here). I came across a nice example recently in the field of photography. Here is the story:

Back panel of a high-end camera is a very expensive real estate. There are so many camera functions and so few buttons available. And that's why only the most important functionality of the camera is accessible directly via buttons and the rest of camera is operated by complex and slow on-screen menu system.

If you look at the picture above you will see a back panel of Canon 5D. It has only 10 buttons but one of them (left of the viewfinder) is reserved for printing. Who would ever print directly from this camera? Every serious photographer has built some picture processing workflow and printing is usually the last step of this workflow.

It would be much better to associate this button with some more useful function of the camera. But given that Canon wants to sell printers to photographers the ability to print directly from a camera was given a very precious piece of the camera back panel. And this is what is called a strategy tax...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

South Africa Trip

I am in Johannesburg today and in the Cape Town for the rest of the week and I am enjoying this trip very much. And the best part of my travel over here is that there no time difference between Prague and SAR and so I have no jetlag!

I've been traveling between Europe and the US for the last 10 year almost every month and every single time I cross the ocean I feel tired and exhausted. But not today. I landed at 7am after 10 hours flight from London and I feel great. I did not even need to change my clock! Maybe I should be spending more of my time in this part of the world...

Monday, April 16, 2007

First ever

This is my fist post ever written in English. So far I published my thoughts in Czech and it was fun. Reaching a wider audience should be even more fun. So let's push the button...