The Right Problem

I’ve started a new job, I’m really enjoying it at the moment, a good fun group of people, good working environment and good coffee. Anyway, we write web pages in predominately Cold Fusion of which I have no experience (to date, this is definitely changing). Now from having a look at it over the past few days, I’m not particularly endeared to it as a language. However, I’m willing to give it a go and at least become fluent in it.

In any case, the thing most often brought up is the fact that we should be using PHP over ColdFusion. I haven’t voiced my opinion on this either way (basically because I don’t know ColdFusion) but I don’t think the solution being proposed is the solution to the correct problem.

The problem in this case is not that we are using the wrong language or a poor language, it is to develop websites, fast and effectively (meaning no problems). These websites should in turn be maintainable, now and into the future for this group of developers and the future crop. Other parts of this problem include the necessity for new technologies to be able to be utilised and existing technology be supported.

I’m not going to even try to propose a solution to this problem because the picture is always bigger than you think and people have been trying to solve this particular problem it since the early 90s with no golden bullet in sight. But as software developers, it is a perfect example of making sure that we define the problem effectively before trying to state how to solve it.

The Pasta Delight

The pasta delight is a delicious meal perfect for someone on a budget. You can add mushrooms, capsicum or olives to add to the flavour and excitement.

  • Cook at a medium heat, a generous amount of garlic, italian herbs and chili flakes (optional) in a good amount of extra-virgin olive oil until garlic is brown.
  • (Optionally) Add a tin of tuna or diced bacon and cook until done
  • Add a 350g tin of smashed, diced or whole tomatoes and continue cooking over a medium heat.
  • Keep sauce simmering while you cook 400g of pasta until al-dente.
  • Combine the pasta and sauce and enjoy with cracked pepper, parmesan cheese and cabernet sauvignon

Stocked iPod’s and DRM

Yesterday in Wired, an article talked about the two Apple’s new contract, which allows Apple Inc (nee Computers) to start selling ipods with music preloaded. Today, Steve Jobs writes an open letter to the record labels telling them to remove DRM because it doesn’t work anyway, (commentary is everywhere) while it may seem like a coincidence, I don’t think all of things are falling together at the same time is due to God’s dice game with the universe.

Due to the non-proliferation of music that Apple has agreed to, there is no way to transfer music from an ipod directly into iTunes (I know you can get it off but it isn’t really by design). This seems to put a bit of a spanner in the works of the suggested preloaded iPods. Why would I buy an iPod full of music if I can’t get it off and put it on my computer?

I don’t mean to be a conspiracy theorist, but I would suggest that this is the exact same reason you won’t be able to download music and videos straight to the iPhone. Surely Jobs has seen the economics of the mobile downloading market and knows how much money really could be in it for him, but at the moment the agreements with the labels would prevent it.

Recently there has been a huge noise in the media about DRM being dead, and that the only way to break the Apple hold on the digital music market would be to ditch it altogether and I think Jobs is using this to push the Labels in his own direction. He wants it to be dead as well, because it allows him to start using iPods as sharing devices and sell more iPods.

Gmail and Docs & Spreadsheets Integration

A few days ago there was an article over at Read/Write Web regarding Google’s Gmail/Docs and Spreadsheets integration which pointed out an apparent flaw in their strategy. It was suggested that because of Gmail’s low number of subscribers it may not be as effective at attacking Microsoft’s Office monopoly. It’s true that even if this small number of people all ditched Microsoft Office right now Redmond would not even notice a bump in it’s bottom line, but I think the strategy is far more deeply seated.

My belief is that often Gmail is to some extent a testing ground for Google’s Business and Enterprise products and that in the next 6-12 months, we will see Google ramping up the featureset and integration of Google Apps for your Domain and pushing it as a product to customers. This will be done through Adsense referrals and possibly a more indepth affiliate program like that of Analytics. It is hard to say how many companies are using Google Apps, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there are quite a few. I know that PodTech does (link) there are a number of Universities who also use it.

It has been well documented that people are unsure about having their data hosted remotely, especially with the recent experience of data-loss at Google. It seems certain, that as the full integration of Google Talk, Gmail and Docs & Spreadsheets is complete, there will be a rack-mountable server that enables it on a local lan and integrates with their existing search appliances.