Remember ASP???


do you remember ASP or Application Service Providing? It was one of those hype topics in IT before SOA, IaaS, or the thing you are just thinking about came into the headlines. The idea was to host your applications no longer on your local box but to put it in the cloud (which was not named that way back then). On your local machine you would only see the UI. So, all data and installation efforts would recide on the hosters side.

Well, it never came to real popularity. I guess the technology was simply to clunky, the network bandwidths to shallow. I know quite a selection of companies founded around this which died off againi or do something completely different now.

All of sudden, our architect Richard Droscher mentioned Amazon Work Spaces ( I had a kind of a deja vu. But it all makes sense now. If you combine it with Intel’s announcement to support Chrome OS with every fiber of its heart (at least sounds like And the Android robot (which looks like a swing top recycling bin – sorry) is present at any Intel booth between here and Alpha Centaury. Sometimes my impression was that not Google but Intel owns Android.

Combining a workplace for US$ 280 as the Dell Chromebook 11 with this Amazon offer sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Those devices are actually cheap and rigid enough to be used in nearly any environment – not only as a PC replacement. Say goodbye to cash registers and what not.

They also have a bit of local storage to let them survive some network glitches in a single usage scenario…

Will we see the revival of ASP??




Software Design Lessons from my Diving Computer

As I started my new hobby diving, I was told that the first gear should be an individual mask because it would contain prescriptive lenses. Well, why having a mask when you could have a new computer?? So, I invested in a Suunto Vyper dive computer.
Obviously, it is ruggedized and has touch points that can be operated with gloves and under water. But no touchscreen, no colorful display, only a few, very basic animations. Still, there is a more or less complex algorithm running inside. While playing around with it, I found some interesting aspects.
User interface is about simplicity. Suunto uses a menu working with up/down and a select buttons. When a sub-menu is selected, it shows that you are now a level deeper in the menu tree but it keeps showing the parent menu name. Idea is to ensure you where you are. If you have understood this strategy, you are fine. Besides diving, no more functions. Everything is focused. For me, this reflects a philosophy which apps should follow: Being focused on their task.
The UI needs to work in its environment. The UI of the computer is a simple LCD which can be illuminated in the dark. Because of the LCD, there cannot be two different things in the same place if the computer is in different status. You always know where to expect what. If you go deeper in water, you lose colors down to the point where only blue is left. Without an active light source, colors play no role. Therefore, a LCD black and white display is fine. Think about the environment in which your app is used. How much of what makes sense when? Colors and strengths of ambient light, think about it. Sound and vibration, think about it.
UI should mean user guidance. One thing I am missing (and here a richer display would be a great help) is user guidance. The computer expects you to be an expert. It comes with secure defaults, so normally nothing should go wrong. But whenever you change the percentage of oxygen for a Nitrox dive, it asks you about the partial pressure of oxygen you would like to go for (the secure default is 1.4 bar). I am pretty sure that most people diving in the summer then storing the gear for the rest of the year will need a short guidance to remember the details. Here, additional interface power and the opportunity to get a short lesson would be nice.

On the Cult of Innovation


I just saw another cartoon on LinkedIn about innovation.

One thing that is terribly wrong in the public perception of innovation is that it is so totally obvious. It is easy to smile about the cartoon here because the two guys simply do not do the obvious. But sorry, reality is most of the times totally different.
In retrospective it is always so obvious that this or that innovation had to revolutionize the world. The same will happen to us. Because we will miss to explore an innovation which later is so obviously changing the world. Why does this happen?? Because there is not only one guy with the right idea, there are millions of ideas. Some obviously do not work, some might, some go beyond imagination. You simply cannot try them all. You run in the risk to totally waste your resources. The tail of the innovator who starved is a seldomly told story. But how many of those guys we have for one successful innovator can easily be imagined.

So we play safe. Do things we know that work. Run into Innovator’s Dilemmas. Well, obviously that will not help either. What we need is a little bit of both…

I apply for 20% of time, efforts, resources to destroy what you currently do and think of different ways. If you can invest 20% into rethinking what you do, how you do it, experiment, fail and experiment again, it should prevent you from burning all your midnight oil in a senseless manner. But should keep you away from trying to roll with cubes when you could have wheels.

So, the comic above should show 4 more guys (maybe with triangles, drums, an air-cushion…)




60 days into it…


Exactly 60 days ago I started my new life as VP Engineering in the Dun Karm Street. Maybe it is time to talk a bit about what we did so far.

I think, one of the major additions to the daily life in Uniblue that I was able to do, are the fancy project names. I will talk about some of them but not all. We started some research projects which I cannot unveil here (sorry). But I will some time later when things matured to a certain state…

Project AngryBirds: Following the future vision of Uniblue, we started to lay out a backend system that will carry this vision. It will contain of a messaging mechanism able to push messages as well as offering a polling interface. It also offers a central mechanism to collect customer feedback, usage and statistical data. The third step will be to detach the website from the processes and data persistence by means of a RESTful API. Yes, you could call this big data and yes, we will use NoSQL and stuff. Within this project we can rely on the enormous knowledge Uniblue has in the backend arena. As usual, the complexity of the system in place to supply an integrated e-commerce experience over a multitude of markets, languages, partners etc. is not seen on the surface. We are currently in the phase of architectural design of the first two parts.

Project  Gravity: Just as gravity is one of the four basic forces of nature, Gravity will provide a very important part of our future. Uniblue already relies on Python, HTML/CSS, JavaScript for its products. Ten years ago, this was a very brave decision. In the light of today, it looks like more than prophetic. So already build our product pretty much in a hybrid way for a decade. But we need to expand and react on new currents on the market. So, Gravity will build the base of our client infrastructure. Gravity has its requirements collected and sees now the phase of looking into different implementation options.

Everything we do needs to support the long term vision that our company has. It also needs to align to the bullhead of VP asking for cloud thinking: Loosely coupling, atomic small parts that can grow and shrink dynamically, ability to survive the chaos monkey…

So much for today while I could talk on for hours sometimes doing things is more interesting than talk about it 😉 Only one more thing: If you would like to be part of this, shoot me a line 😉




Redefinition of Operating System


if you would ask a consumer about the tasks an operating system has, she would pretty much argue from her own point of view. Problably, it would burn down to three major things:

  • Storing and providing access to my data such as pictures, music, e-mails, documents…
  • Providing access to the internet via hosting a browser…
  • Maybe some fun activities like a game or two…

If we follow this definition – which for sure is a non-CS-ish – we see where companies like Google with Chrome or Firefox with Firefox OS are heading to. And we also understand imediately why Microsoft still fights for the Internet Explorer.

Today, the browser becomes the UI framework of your operating system. The storage is pretty much in the internet. There is no real need to store anything locally, it might even be more interesting to store in the cloud. Because the connection between you and cyberspace is no longer the PC alone. You certainly do not want to lock your life into the PC at home.

If you now introduce a layer like Google Chrome or Firefox OS which is pretty much device independent, it can become your default way of interacting with your new operating system.

And by the way, sooner or later, Apple will follow Microsoft in panic …




Innovation in Konzernen vs Startup


Was man sich klarmachen muss, wenn man über Innovation in Konzernen versus Innovation im Startup nachdenkt, ist das Framing.

Wenn ich ein Spiel angeboten bekomme, in dem ich mit 10% Chance 100 Millionen verdienen kann, aber mit 90% Chance 5 Millionen Verlust mache, dann redet man hier wohl von Risiko-Kapital-Anlage. Das meiner Volksbank zu verkaufen wird schwierig und auch meine Lebensgefährtin wird mich seltsam ansehen (es sei denn, es war ihre Idee). Mit 5 Mille im Minus wird das weitere Leben sehr schwer oder man muss seine Seele alle halbe Jahre an RTL verkaufen.

Jetzt begeben wir uns in die Schuhe eines Konzern-CEOs. Vor ihm stehen 10 Manager, die alle dieses Spiel spielen können im Auftrag des Konzern. Ziemlich sicher werden 9 davon 5 Millionen minus machen, also 45 Millionen. Ebenfalls ziemlich sicher wird einer 100 Millionen verdienen. Aus Sicht des Konzernlenkers ein gutes Geschäft mit überschaubarem Risiko.

Sicherlich vereinfacht dieses Model extrem und ich habe es einem Buch entnommen („Schnelles Denken, langsames Denken“ von Kahneman , aber es zeigt wie VCs oder Konzerne funktionieren.

Warum gibt es aber dann so wenig intrinsische Innovation in Konzernen? Weil man lernen muss, dass Scheitern Teil des Geschäfts ist. Nicht alles wird funktionieren, eher im Gegenteil, das Meiste wird nicht funktionieren. Man braucht aber mutige Intrapreneure, die trotzdem den Einsatz wagen. Leider feiern wir zu gerne, die zufällig erfolgreichen und bemitleiden die zufällig nicht erfolgreichen. Aber das ist so Baby-Boomer und so nicht mehr Generation Y ( Hoffe ich wenigstens…