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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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...