Saturday, 26 January 2013

Clouds - nothing new under the Sun?

I have had it confirmed by Microsoft (in a round about way) that we are returning to the age of the mainframe!

I attended a talk on 'Cloud computing' this week which was very informative but illustrated to me that we are indeed returning to the age of mainframe computing. Bring it on I say!

The talk was run by a Microsoft Partner organisation and the aim was to present the advantages of using Cloud computing in a business environment. Of course - the talk focussed on a Microsoft infrastructure that enables the 'Cloud' for you - and its very slick!

However, there were echo's from the past throughout;

  • The description of the Cloud server end of things sounded very much like an old mainframe computing centre to me. Stand alone building containing a mass of computing power being cooled by some enormous plant. Looking to position these centres in places like Iceland to aid the cooling! Who remember the Cray cooling iceberg,
  • The description of the IT support provided with the Cloud services. They load your  applications and manage data allocation for users. Sounds suspiciously like Job Control Language wording to me.
  • You only pay for the Cloud service as you use it - well on a monthly basis anyway - and only for what you need. Paying for access was part of mainframe datacentre life - you couldn't afford to do anything else. Better make sure your code was as clear of bug's as possible or your allocated hour of use would go in a flash!
  • On the Cloud data side - loads of the stuff produced 'big data'. There was lots of big data produced in the mainframe era - this was stored on dinner plate sized data discs - piles of them - if that isn't big data I don't know what is! All your data stored remotely and safe of course - just like in the Cloud!
  • And finally, the Cloud is accessed by a 'dumb client' that sounded exactly like a 'green screen' monitor.

There is hope yet then. Onward and upward ....

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Google v Microsoft ..... GvM

Just when I thought Google was taking over the world (last post), I have now come across - via my new personal business computing advisor (PBA) - that it will actually be Microsoft!

"What," I hear you say, thought they'd given up with the dinosaurs, Word and that hacker-prone Excel package.

Note to advisor's: I am getting worried I'm turning into a bit of a product salesman for all these companies and feel that I have gone down some rabbit hole of computing from which I will never return, but, one more post as the addict would say ....

The new word in the house this week was 'CRM' - conversation initiated by the PBA - followed by comments like 'what the hell is CRM'. So there was a bit of a struggle to get heads around what this was. CRM of course (thanks to Google!) was defined for the team as Customer Relationship Management. Wonderful. That's not computing that's management baloney, (actually we don't use the word baloney but we do use another 'b' word), which then resulted in diverting the conversation into discussing the difference between leadership and management, but that's another story? However, this did started me on a trail of finding out what Microsoft was up to!

And, low and behold, they are trying to take over by stealth. Hoovering up the bit of the market between social networking and business building - brilliant positioning! This is an extract from their CRM site;

"The surging popularity of social networking sites is indisputableYet many organizations still struggle to translate it into real business benefits. By acquiring tools that let them manage their social networking initiatives alongside traditional marketing, sales, and service activities, organizations can take advantage of social networking without losing focus on their core business. Ultimately, success will lie with those businesses that can integrate social networking’s wealth of customer dataunfiltered feedback, and informal conversations into existing customer management initiatives and processesMicrosoft helps our customers achieve this goal through the Social Networking Accelerator for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This solution equips organizations with the capabilities to better listen, respond, and analyze social network activities. By applying that insightMicrosoft Dynamics CRM allows organizations to better integrate this emerging channel into existing business processes for a more holistic and effective customer management approach something that will continue to be paramount for success."


Couldn't have said it better myself. I will obviously need to have a deeper dive into this the site basically says but this and all your problems are solved social to money connected in er. 10 easy steps. I've been there before though! With a little bit of digging it looks like the tools needs some 'configuration' for use in your business - oh yes - past experience has told me this usually means you will need to undertake a PhD in Process Mapping to get it engineered to your business properly - I am thinking SAP here though (Google it)!

Anyway, I remain intrigued and await further enlightenment in the coming weeks.

For the record; I do like the new Microsoft Windows 8 panes!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Cloudy management!

Google is taking over - think I'll give in! This is going to sound like a sales pitch but believe me, it isn't - I'm just interested in the cheapest quickest and most functional way to operate ;)

This weeks missive was prompted again by one of my trusted advisor's - Bambofy - who is dragging me back up the computing learning curve (as well as now beating me at table football). "Have you seen the new Chromebook" was the start of it. Given that this was from a Mac user I immediately though of a slick chrome looking thing that would cost at least a 1000 somethings. However, I have done some learning and then realised Chrome - ah - Google - OK let me have a look. Long story short is that this machine, I am convinced, has signalled the future.

Here is why.

The unit for a start only costs £199 in the UK - for us that's mega-cheap (Brownie Point no. 1) - all those wanting access to the internet line up now. Plus its fast (Brownie Point no. 2) and it looks sleek - we checked one out in PC World like you do. There's also a desktop 'Chromebox' too - now that just looks cool and is also cheap at £279! Definitely sounding like a sales pitch I know!

So what - aren't there are lots of other cheap machines around I hear you ask - yes - but this one opens up a World of Google to you. Now here for me is the interesting bit. I stated toting up what I do with my laptop/internet time. Here's my typical startup sequence;

  1. Power up laptop (Toshiba) - now looking old and battered
  2. Fire up Chrome browser (Google)
  3. Fire up +Gary (Google)
  4. Fire up gmail (Google)
  5. Fire up Blogger (Google) 
  6. Check my web site (Google sites)
  7. Check the site statistics (Google Analytics)
  8. Fire up LinkedIn 
  9. Fire up Twitter
  10. Check news feeds (Google Reader)
  11. Share any interesting items with +Add This (Google app I think for Chrome toolbar)
  12. Any interesting files I store on my G-Drive (Google) 
  13. Edit any files with Google Docs, Spreadsheet (Google - obviously)

So I am Dr Google - by default - without even realising! (Brownie Points 3 to 10)

Not to mention the rest;

  • YouTube - my music and entertainment site,
  • Maps - can't find anything without that these days, and
  • Chrome itself - which is light years ahead of the rest of them.

(Brownie Points 11 to 13)

So is this cloud computing made easy - if so then the Chromebook is geared to opening the door for you?

Maybe it is - for more thoughts on the subject check the following link?

Onward and upward......

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Not much action ....


Life took over - so not a great deal went on over Christmas on the programming re-entry front! Much to my disappointment I must add. So just have a couple of musings from the various discussions and events that went on - we are a family of nerds so end up talking about this stuff for fun you see.

Social networking discussion topic - do you really need a web-presence as an individual?
Well this topic really polarised people - not being visible was preferable by half the group while - fully visibility was the call from the other half. Which is best though? Is there a best? I of-course fell in the full visibility group.  We are talking about a group of people who are experts when it comes to computing by the way - so no Luddite's here. Anyway, we ended up drinking too much and not coming to any conclusion, though  I still believe there is something a bit suss about not having a profile. However, it did start me thinking - could I remove my internet presence if I wanted to? Bit like those credit card companies who cancel all your cards for you from one call (usually just before you find your wallet again) - could you zero your profile and start again? I don't think I could. What if your 'personal brand' (oh yes - you do have one), is not what you want it to be - can you correct it? I know of one person who exited LinkedIn, closed his account, and then started again just because he wanted to lose all of the recruitment agents and ne'er-do-wells from his profile - bit extreme, but it worked - wrong or re-branding?!

Apple relia-maintaina -usa-bility discussion topic - Apple Computers taking a beating. 
Discussion sparked by the 3rd failure of my mates MacBook Pro hard drive while he was in the middle of writing up a crucial scientific deliverable due on 31st December(!) - a date not set by him he was at pains to point out.  So Apple took a beating - given that this was the 3rd one in the last 3 months - er my old Tosh-laptop has been more reliable than that and I've dropped it a couple of times! This also initiated comments on the programming of iOS front from my personal experts, who informed us that its a pain in the neck and to be avoided at all costs! Only the prevalence of iThings makes it something you have to do - otherwise come back Microsoft all is forgiven was the cry.

So - the thought for the New Year is - "things ain't what they used to be"

Have a good one ;)