Saturday, December 18, 2004


hm, a nice new buzzword...

But not so new after all. SAP was talking about "componentizing" R/3 many years ago.
First it was "modularization", then "componentization" and now SOA or "applistructure".

It has not happend yet.

I think web-based enterprise portals is indeed a step forward, because now we can "bind together" several applications that publish their UIs as "Webparts" / "Portlets" into the portal and let the portal manage the workflows across these applications.

While this may provide UI- and workflow integration across the different parts of the "applistructure", it does not provide data integration and you will end up with several non-integrated and non-consistent data silos.

Doing the data integration is complex and costly, and doesn't really fit with "on-demand".

So it depends finally on your business and the nature of your business processes. Can you live with data islands? Is flexibility more important than data integration and full automation? Then go for on-demand and "applistructure". If not, better stick with the big integrated system.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Microsoft Sharepoint Offline Access
Just 25 € per User, supports offline modification and re-sync. Unfortunately currently only available for US and UK operating system versions!
€12000 € for 50 User (240 € / User), does not just sync: the user has the same Sharepoint Browser-based user interface when he's offline like when he's online. e.g. full-text search.
Groove Virtual Office does support Sharepoint Synchronization and starts at 179$ per Client.

WirtschaftsWoche - Viele Manager suchen im Glauben Rueckhalt

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Pubcookie Home Page

Pubcookie: open-source software for intra-institutional web authentication

"Pubcookie consists of a standalone login server and modules for common web server platforms like Apache and Microsoft IIS. Together, these components can turn existing authentication services (like Kerberos, LDAP, or NIS) into a solution for single sign-on authentication to websites throughout an institution."

Google Suggest Beta

Very cool new feature from Google: a dropdown box with search term suggestions is populated while you type your search terms!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Enterprise Instant Messaging and Presence Information as "Trojan Horse" for Microsoft to enter (replace) the office PBX market ?

Microsoft Office Live Communication Server (LCS) provides enterprise instant messaging and presence information.

Once such a solution is deployed, it's not a too far step from there to integrate it with the existing PBX system via CTI. The typical scenario would be: I'm working on a problem and need advice from a collegue. I check out the presence information to see who's available. How I could either start a chat via the instant messaging (IM) functionality, or phone him. My IM client can find out the phone number of this collegue by retrieving it from Active Directory. Presence information for external contacts can be integrated with the corporate LCS via connectors. In that case the IM client receives the phone number information from the public IM system. Given that the IM client knows the phone number(s), by sending a simple CTI-Command to the exisiting PBX system the phone call could be established.

Once that is in place, turn the employee's PC into a VoIP endpoint by connecting a telephone receiver or headset to the soundcard, and add some software. Alternatively give him a dedicated VoIP phone connected to the LAN. Finally, add a VoIP gateway that routes VoIP calls between the corporate IM system on the LAN and a public VoIP gateway. This pretty much eliminates the need to have a conventional PBX, doesn't it? And Microsoft LCS, being this VoIP/SIP gateway, could play this replacement role.

Another interesting article:,17863,783501,00.html

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Edukators

Very good movie!

German Title: Die Fetten Jahre sind vorbei
English Title: The Edukators (or "you are too rich")

"The movie is essentially about three friends with seemingly no particular direction in life other than petty political activism now and then. But Peter and Jan have found a very clever way of subverting the socio-economic system they so despise. Calling themselves "the Edukators", they break into the homes of the fabulously wealthy only to make some absurd adjustments to the arrangement of their furniture and leave a simple note behind: "You have too much money."

Monday, November 22, 2004

Undoing the Industrial Revolution (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

"The last 200 years have driven centralization and changed the human experience in ways that conflict with evolution. The Internet will reestablish a more balanced, decentralized lifestyle."

Friday, November 19, 2004

ILOG Rules for .NET: Geschäftsregeln mit Office bearbeiten

könnte interessant sein:

(COMPUTERWOCHE) - Ilog bringt Anfang Dezember sein "Ilog Rules for .NET" auf den Markt. Dieses neue Paket zur Verwaltung von Business Rules setzt nach Angaben des Herstellers vollständig auf Microsofts .NET-Plattform und bietet darüber hinaus Integration mit Office, Visual Studio und SharePoint.

Es besteht aus den vier Komponenten "Rule Solutions for Office" (integriert einen "Point-and-Click"-Editor mit natürlichsprachlicher Syntax für Geschäfsregeln in Microsofts Bürosuite), "Rule Studio for .NET" (Plug-in-Set, mit dem Visual-Studio-Entwickler Geschäftsregeln im IDE entwerfen, testen und in ihre Anwendungen integrieren können), "Rule Team Server for Sharepoint" (Repository für Geschäftsregeln, auf das Policy-Manager und Geschäftsanwender über Windows Sharepoint Services gemeinsam zugreifen können) sowie der "Rule Engine for .NET" (nativ für .NET entwickelte Regel-Engine zur nahtlosen Einbindung in Applikationen unabhängig von Architektur und Programmiersprache). (tc)

Monday, November 15, 2004

Warning Regarding Leased Lines from Deutsche Telekom Competitors in Germany

There are several competitors of Deutsche Telekom who offer leased lines throughout Germany.

The company I am working for is using leased lines from one of these providers to build a WAN between our sites in Germany. The provider is offering his service significantly cheaper than Deutsche Telekom does. However there's a downside we did not expect.

Our central site has a direct fiber connection to the provider network. At two other sites however this is not available, because the provider does not have his own network / fibre infrastructure in this city. Nevertheless he offered to connect this site to our central site.

How does he do it? He teams up with a local provider. However this local provider doesn't have a direct connection to our office in this city either - he needs to rent the "last mile" from Deutsche Telekom. This means that our WAN connection to this city is bought from one provider, but underneath its dependent on three providers.

First of all, going through three providers is of course adding several possible points of failures.

Those providers to not always talk to each other when it comes to maintenance. We've had outages that turned out to be "planned maintenance", however we were not informed and it happend in the midst of the day during our business hours.

Even worse, once we had an outage starting friday evening. Our provider did not even notice the outage. He monitors the connection to the local provider, but did not notice at all that the connection from the local provider to our office had failed. This is in spite he has an SLA that covers the end-to-end connection.

Not going with the Ex-monopolist Deutsche Telekom saves money, but it comes at additional risks.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

My current music favorites

How to Outsource-Proof Your IT Department - CIO Magazine Oct 15,2004

"IT is steadily moving from the IT 'ivory tower' to being embedded analysts within the business entity or department. These analysts know the business and do the process redesign, modeling and analysis up front. Later it is handed off to temp consultants or outsourced to be coded to spec. That embedded analyst is not a manager or even a project manager - he is an engineer and architect laying out the plans. The stereotypical introverted hacker/coder may be horrified by the idea of being embedded with the users or user reps and dealing with politics of requirements negotiation between stakeholders, but it is indeed the next step to be 'outsource proof"

Saturday, October 30, 2004

"Glauben darf man alles" - Freiheit, Fundamentalismus und Europäische Indentität

Auszüge aus einem Artikel in der dieswöchigen Ausgabe meiner Lieblingszeitung "Die ZEIT":

"Nicht der Fortschritt ist unser höchster Wert, es ist die Freiheit, und das schließt die Freiheit ein, konservativ, reaktionär oder vorsintflutlich zu sein.

Warum Europa nicht nur religionsfern, sondern in Religionsdingen so feindselig verkrampft
ist, warum das Religionsmisstrauen geradezu zum Identitätsmerkmal, zum Definitionskriterium des Europäertums wird – dafür gibt es im Augenblick noch einen besonderen Grund, und wie so vieles Europäische hat er mit Amerika zu tun: Frömmigkeit, das ist Bush, und wir sind Anti-Bush. Die EU will kein intoleranter »Christenclub « sein, das spricht für die Aufnahme der Türkei, aber prompt bekommen viele, besonders im laizistischen Frankreich, Furcht vor der Islamisierung. Das muslimische Kopftuch droht und lauert an jeder Ecke.

Europa leidet unter Fundamentalismusangst: In seiner nahöstlichen Nachbarschaft, und bis hinein in die eigenen Städte, sieht es die islamischen Fanatiker am Werk, und in Texas (bis mindestens zum kommenden Dienstag auch noch in Washington) die christlichen. Der Glaube und die Gläubigen erscheinen als Gefahr für das zivile, aufgeklärte, postideologische europäische Projekt.

Doch steckt in dieser Religionsphobie ein Denkfehler. Fundamentalismus heißt nicht, dass einer glaubt, und sei es noch so fest oder noch so anachronistisches Zeug. Fundamentalismus heißt, dass er seine Überzeugungen den Un- und Andersgläubigen aufzwingen will. Worauf es ankommt, ist die Grenzziehung: zwischen Religion und Politik, Kirche und Staat, geistlich und
weltlich, Moral und Recht, Gesinnung und Handeln. Das eine vom andern zu trennen ist seit den mittelalterlichen Kämpfen zwischen Papst und Kaiser westliche, abendländische Tradition geworden. Man könnte sie auch europäisch nennen. "

"Mosh" - der Songtext: "Wir werden kämpfen" - Kultur - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Rap als Agitation und das vom HipHop-Rabauken Eminem: eine wortmächtige Veranstaltung. Hier der Text des Anti-Bush-Hits - als Übersetzung und im Original.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Open Source Software can lead to outsourcing

In several areas there are excellent open source solutions. Two of these areas are Network /Host / Service Monitoring and Intrusion Detection (IDS). We are using Nagios for Network Monitoring, and its very powerful. It does a number of things we could not have done with proprietary monitoring software like WhatUp Gold or ipMonitor.

However, the amount of time it took to get it up and running, to customize it, add required 3rd party modules etc was enormous - two man months at least. And you need at least 2 or 3 admins who acquire the required knowledge.

For a small IT department with just 2-3 network admins running a complex network with around 50 servers, 3 man months is a big investment of time, because usually besides daily work they can spend just a few hours a day on doing something new.

Economically, this makes the most sense if the acquired knowledge and experience can be applied several times, i.e. for several networks. This is why I chose the headline "Open Source Software can lead to outsourcing".

Commercial software vendors make a significant investment into "productizing" their software solution, i.e. documentation, streamlined setup process for quick deployment, wizards etc. With open source software, this is missing and instead of paying for the license you have to pay for the specialist to get the solution quickly up and running. Of course you can also do it yourself, but that is even more expensive except if your labour cost is very low or if you are a very large organization where you can reuse the acquired knowledge many times. This might be an explanation why open source software is so popular in developing countries, universities, government institutions, and non-profit sectors in general. On the other side, ASP is the logical evolution of commercial packaged software.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Social Network Software

I'm starting to investigate social network software. The idea is to help people getting to know each other in my church. The following is just a first collection of interesting links and ressources.


Why Social Software is "bottom up" instead of "top-down":

Some of the more popular examples of social network platforms: and allows to create your own network, e.g. for a sports club or church.

Commercial Software for creating Online Social Networks (only in English unfortunately):

"Vizster": Software for visualizing social networks:

And finally there's even an add-on to the Open Source CMS "Mambo" that provides community functionality:

Microsoft: Dividing to Conquer

"Windows XP Call Center Edition" or "Windows XP Healthcare Edition". Interesting Idea ...

Next Development Wave: Software Factories from Microsoft

Sunday, September 26, 2004

How to Optimize Google Ranking

I recently helped re-launch a website and soon we noticed that we are ranked first in Google when you search for the name of the organization, which is equal to the domain name and also found in the title text of each page of our website ("CZF"). However when you search for other terms that are related to this organization (e.g. search for: christliche gemeinde in frankfurt), then the site is not even among the first 100 hits. What to do ?

"In the past , search engine optimization was synonymous with adding meta tags. These tags provide a web page’s description and associated keywords ... Current ranking methods take many more factors into consideration, with meta tags being only a very small part of the equation. Many search engines (Google, AltaVista, Lycos, etc.) rank web pages according to their link popularity, which is determined by the number and quality of other sites linking to a certain site." (quoted from

Another hint given by the same author is adding your site to the directory (the website acutally is not yet in this directory at the time of writing this). The directory powers many other directories and search engines (AOL Search, AltaVista, HotBot, Google, Lycos, Netscape Search). has more information on search engine ranking, however they make money from search engine optimization and I have some doubts that everything is true what they are saying.

Comment added 29 Oct 04: More than one month went by and I still have not heard from DMOZ, i.e. they still have not included my website :-(

Comment added 01 Feb 05: Finally the website can now be found in DMOZ :-)

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

BEA’s Alchemy makes browser based applications work offline

The ability to work "offline" is one of the last bastions of rich clients. Alchemy is an initiative to overcome this limitation.

CNET article with more information

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

Since I was a child, every time I've read or heard about Nazi history I wondered how the German people at this time could be so blinded to believe what the Nazi government told them.

During the last 3 years since September 9/11 2001 I was contemporary witness how the president of the United States took his own country and to some extent the whole world for a ride. I never agreed with Bush's anti-terror policy and his Iraq war. However, to be honest, initially I was not really sure about my opposition and e.g. would not have taken part in a anti-war demonstration. Today I wish I had. When the German and French government opposed the war, I was worried that we are isolating ourselves and are putting our friendship with the US on the line - a country that significantly helped liberating Europe from Nazism. Today I am proud of the stableness of the German government in the Iraq war question (although I am not really sure how pure the motives were ...).

What has happend during the past 3 years is hard to believe, its scaring.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Email Newsletter Science

Managing email newsletters is not as simple as one might think ...

The most simple approach is doing it manually: maintain the list of recipients manually, manually add or remove subscribers upon request and send out the email with a normal email client using the BCC field. There are several problems with this approach:

  • Limited to small number of recipients: the number of emails accepted in the TO or BCC field is limited of course.
  • Newsletter might get rated as spam and might help virus spread: if you use the BCC field, your email might be killed by spam filters. You shouldn't put all recipients into the TO field as well, because then every recipient sees the email addresses of all the other recipients and could send a newsletter himself via "reply all". And today's viruses are actually looking for emails with many recipients in the email archive of infected PCs and spreading viruses between the list of recipients.
  • Implementing a double-opt-in policy is difficult: The motivation for double-opt-in is typically legal reasons. You want to make sure that the person who adds an email address to the list is really the owner of this email. This requires sending the subscriber a "secret link" which is unique for each subscriber. Only after the subscriber has sent this secret and unique information back, he is activated as newsletter subscriber.
  • handling bounced email: the larger the mailing list becomes, the more important is automated bounced email handling. Recently I sent out a 300-recipient newsletter. I got about 30 bounce messages back: 12x "unknown user", 5x "mailbox quota exceeded", 3x "unknown domain", 3x "invalid email address", 3x "email delivery delayed, 1x "invalid data in message", etc ... Now imagine this with a 3000 recipient newsletter or even larger ones.
Most problems mentioned above can be solved quite easily by using database-driven mailmerge and mailing list management functionality, either on the webserver or as a special email marketing software installed on your PC. However, not all of those products provide double-opt-in, and even less of them provide a good solution to the bounced mail problem.

I have been using Yahoo Groups for managing the 300-recipient mailing list for a long time. Yahoo Groups handle automated list management (subscribe/unsubscribe), however did not provide double-opt-in. Yahoo Groups also completely automated bounced email handling. The mailmerge engine of Yahoo Groups puts a special "return-path" information into each mail, so all bounced email is not sent to the newsletter sender, but to the Yahoo Groups system where it is processed automatically: "Return-Path: [unique-mailing-code]". The Yahoo Groups system automatically detects the bounce reason and reacts accordingly, i.e. either retries several times to deliver the email, remove the recipient from the list, etc. When the newsletter recipient is using the "Reply" button in his email client, this reply email will still go directly to the sender of the newsletter. Very nice!

However Yahoo Groups had a huge security problem: the list owner can post a message to the list simply by sending an email to the list's email address ([mailing-list-name] The Yahoo Groups system would only check if the "From" address equals the list owners' email address. Someone of my 300 recipients got infected with one of those viruses that replicates itself by sending emails with forged "From" addresses, and so his virus was distributed to the 300 recipients of my mailing list. Not very funny. This was the last day I ever used Yahoo Groups.

So, I switched over to the mailmerge function of the CMS I am using for the website (Peachtree WebsiteCreator). Unfortunately this one neither has double-opt-in, nor does it have automated bounce handling... (at least not yet).

For another website I am currently working on I use the open source CMS "Mambo", and there is also a newsletter and mailing list management component available ("YANC") which does support double-opt-in. YANC has no automated bounce-processing (it does not use the Return-Path header field), however, it does something I would call "bounce prevention". Its SMTP engine (PHPMailer) first checks if the recipient's email server exists. If not, the email is not sent, a non-delivery-report is not created. If the recipients email server is available but refuses to accept the recipient email address, YANC will immediately abort this email transfer. Again no bounce / non-delivery email is created. Finally, if the email gateway of the recipient does accept the email, and then forwards it to the recipients email server and then this email server detects that the recipient address is unknown, generation of a bounce email is still prevented because YANC has added the "Precedence: bulk" field to the envelope of the email. This does also suppress "Out-Of-Office" replies and "mailbox quota exceeded" bounce messages.

So in summary, there are two approaches:
  1. Adding "Precedence: bulk" to the email envelope to suppress any bounce email
  2. Adding "Return-Path: ..." to the email envelope to direct any bounce email to a special mailbox where all bounced email is processed by an intelligent algorithm that will automatically purge dead email addresses from the mailing list

I think the first option is the perfect solution for mailing lists up to several 1000 recipients - several 100 dead email addresses just don't matter in this case. If you get beyond 10000 recipients it starts making sense to purge dead email addresses from the list because of processing time / bandwidth cost.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Lookout email search for Microsoft Outlook - Lookout Software

Lookout is lightning-fast fulltext search for Outlook email archives and files. Works as Outlook plugin. The version 1.1 is still free.

Sub-second fulltext search in my 3 years - 1.5 GB email archive. And the index is as small as 40MB.

Friday, June 18, 2004

The IT spend time bomb | The Register

There are companies who are operating legacy systems for which the associated expertise has all but disappeared. The functions delivered and the design therein may no longer be recorded and understood. Even trying to construct a replacement and migration strategy alone may incur significant costs to just reach a point where the scope and consequences are understood.

Joel on Software - How Microsoft Lost the API War

Monday, June 14, 2004

IT still matters - It's what you do with it...

Interesting article about Nicolas Carr's Harvard Business Review article, the current trend to "utility computing" - i.e. commoditizing of the "lower layers of IT" - coming up with a result I fully agree with it: It's what you do with it...

What 2007 means to your data center | The Register

This article questions today's blade server technology and suggests that multi-core chip technology will have the potential to dramatically change the datacenter architecture by 2007. I agree - so far I never really understood the benefit of blade servers, not just because of their surprisingly high cost, but because faster multi-core processors and virtual server technology might make blade servers obsolete.

Rockin' on without Microsoft

How Microsoft sometimes treats its customers ...

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Learnings: Dont buy stuff for an IT project from different suppliers

Recently I've been purchasing a SAN including Datacore storage routers. This includes HP Servers, storage enclosures, fibre channel equipment and the storage router software. The project leading supplier is someone having special knowledge in the type of SAN and storage router we wanted, not our standard supplier for server hardware.

I thought: lets buy the HP server and storage enclosures including disks from our standard supplier: so we have a bigger volume which may lead to getting better discounts in the future; and also we would always know that all HP equipment is from this single supplier. Therefore I decided to get only the fibre channel stuff and the Datacore software from the project leading supplier.

Bad idea. What happend: the HP servers arrived from our HP supplier way too late only for us to discover that one of them has a hardware defect. Took HP several days to fix it (is this called "next business day" service?) because the replacement motherboard was also broken... This screwed up of course the schedule of our Datacore supplier because he had already reserved staff to do the installation. Furthermore, in case of a project failure, I can return the Datacore and fibre channel stuff to the project leading supplier, but I'm stuck with the HP equipment (ok, this would be not too bad in this case because we could still use it).

Anyhow, in the future, if I have a project like this, I will make sure to get all parts from a single supplier.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Thinking about PDAs and mobile communication solution

1. Why a Pocket-PC based PDA

So far I was quite happy without a PDA - my small Siemens S55 phone did most what I needed - triband phone functionality, bluetooth headset, syncing the phonebook with my Outlook contacts at work, and syncing my Outlook calendar and notes.

While looking for my next car, most likely a BMW 3series again, I noticed the steep price of the "Navigationssystem Professional" of 3230 (!) Euros. The light version "Navigationssystem Business" is still 2300 Euros, does not have a map display and is not even able to receive and process information about current traffic jams ("TMC").

I actually need a navigation system only occasionally because I am not doing much business travel by car. I'm commuting to work every day, and visiting friends and parents often involves already well-known routes. Anyhow, a navigation system would still be very nice and helpful from time to time.

So, I'm looking for a car navigation system but without the steep price of the BMW one.

There is currently a lot of innovation going on with navigation systems: speed improvements, 3D view, point-of-interest overlays (e.g. gas stations), point-of-interest alerts (e.g. traffic speed control ...). Innovation on a standard plattform like MS-PocketPC is always much more dynamic than innovation on proprietary systems like the BMW one. Bundles consisting of a PocketPC-PDA, navigation software+map and GPS module are available for less than 1000 €. Navigation software is almost exclusively available on PocketPC-based PDAs - not for Linux or Blackberry and only rarely for PalmOS based devices. Finally, with a PDA, you actually have much more than just a navigation system: some PDAs have phone functionality and the PDA can provide mobile email, calendar and web access too - for less than a 3rd of the price of the BMW navigation system.

Short summary: to get a reasonably priced car navigation system, I would need to get a MS PocketPC based PDA!

2. Mobile Email and Web

I keep private and business contact and calendar information in my Exchange Server account at work. Additionally I have a private email account on a shared hosted Exchange Server at 1und1. I dont use the private account for calender information. From time to time I import the contacts folder of my company Exchange account into my private Exchange account (via .PST export and import).

With my current Siemens S55 mobile phone I do not use remote email access or email sync, although there would be different options to make this work:
- wireless via S55 built in POP3/IMAP client
- wireless via S55 built in SyncML client (would require an agent on the Exchange server which we dont have and actually I'm not sure if SyncML already does email sync - it used to be contacts and calendar only)
- in the sync cradle via the included XTND connect software

Areas where I would like to see an improvement are:

1) I often forget to sync the S55 with my Outlook calendar because the sync needs to be initiated manually on my PC.

2) It is not possible to do the sync at all without my notebook and a LAN/VPN connection to the Exchange Server at work. This would require a SyncML gateway on the Exchange
Server at work, which we do not have (available from

3) It would be nice to have mobile access to private and work email both on my notebook and on a PDA. The S55 is too small for reading and writing email

4) Blackberry-like "always-up-to-date" or "push" functionality regarding the sync of email and calendar on the PDA would be nice, but I think this is not a must have for me.

Once I have a PDA, I think I will sync only the addressbook of the S55 mobile phone, which does not change so often. Issues (1) and (2) would therefore obsolete for the S55 then.

Exchange 2003 comes with "ActiveSync", which allows a PDA to sync contacts, calendar and email e.g. via a GPRS connection. I'm not sure if a PocketPC-PDA can manage and sync two different profiles (private+work) via ActiveSync, I need to find out.

Exchange 2003 and Outlook 2003 together provide a whole bunch of great features for mobile email/calender access from a mobile notebook. Outlook will automatically detect if a online connection to the Exchange Server is present or not and will even detect the bandwidth and quality and automaticall adjust its download behavior (headers only, full message, etc.). It will do so not at launch time only (like previous Outlook versions did) but continously. An interrupted sync can be resumed. Sync traffic is optimized and compressed. Does not even require a VPN connection because it works via https - this is a great advantage since mobile VPN clients are a hughe security risk.
See this Word document for details on mobile access to Exchange 2003.

So this solves issues (1) - (3), but not yet (4). Microsoft claims to have "push" synchronization in Exchange 2003: Exchange sends a SMS message to the mobile client which then in turn initiates the sync via ActiveSync. Given the pricing of SMS messages, this does not seem to be practical in Germany. See also this article.

But there are solutions coming in the near future which will provide push sync both for PocketPC-PDA and Smartphones:

Press Release April 2004: Blackberry client for future Siemens Mobile Phones
Press Release March 2004: Blackberry client for T-Mobile MDA II

Unfortunately, since these press releases have been published, it became quiet regarding these promises. So far no release dates have been published.

A Blackberry device would be an option as well of course. Its great advantages are "push-synchronization", end-to-end security, its keyboard and its battery life of up to a week, while a PocketPC PDA battery lasts just for a day. This article has a comparison between Blackberry and PDAs. However because of its proprietary operating system I do not expect GPS navigation on Blackberry in the near future.

3. GPS Navigation Software for PDAs

Apparently there are three main products: TomTom (currently Version 3), Navigon Mobile Navigator 4 and Falk Navigator 4. Falk is a new entrant in the market, so TomTom and Navigon are really the major players. Navigon is the only product that is processing the free TMC traffic information. The TMC radio signal is received by the GPS device. TomTom offers traffic information as a subscription service via GPRS ("TT Traffic"), which means you have to pay for the subscription and also for the GPRS traffic.

This German article has some very interesting recommendations regarding the assembly of the full solution (PDA, Memory-Card, GPS-Hardware, Navigation Software, Accessories).

Another article describing the combination of T-Mobile MDA II + Navigon Mobile Navigato 4 + Bluetooth GPS Module.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Transforming yourself into a good leader

Paul Glen writes in a ComputerWorld article on April 5th:

"Great leaders start out somewhere else and have to move into leadership roles. Becoming a leader poses transitional challenges that can be met only with emotional flexibility. One of the great challenges for a new manager is to transform his view of himself, to change how he measures himself and his success. Early life and career work is judged by personal productivity. In school, we're judged by the quality and quantity of our papers, tests and quizzes. Young workers are judged by the quality, quantity and speed of task completion. Our self-images become tied to our personal productivity. Moving into management requires a fundamental shift in how we view ourselves, a shift in the emotions about self and work. Leaders are judged not by their personal productivity but by their effect on the productivity, morale and effectiveness of others. Managers must be able to derive their personal satisfaction from helping others be productive rather than being productive themselves. This is a difficult transformation that's poorly understood and rarely discussed.

The ability to adopt a new self-image is critical to the transition into a successful leadership role.

Comfort with ambiguity: Beyond mastering their emotions, leaders must be able to cope with the chaos and confusion of reality. The world is a complex place filled with facts, provisional facts, lies, opinions and emotions. A large part of the leader's role is to help interpret the turmoil and bring order, sense and meaning to daily work. Successful leaders must transform ambiguity into clarity and create compelling narratives out of complexity.

They also bring a high tolerance for the continuing existence of confusion. They're able to hold contradictory ideas in their heads simultaneously without experiencing undue stress. Strong leaders aren't impervious to new facts and information but are comfortable revising their interpretations to meet changing times.

Ability to communicate: The ability to cope with ambiguity means nothing without the ability to communicate. If leaders and managers deliver value through their effect on others, communication is their primary tool. Whether leaders communicate verbally, in writing or through their actions, their ability to connect with those they lead is of prime importance."

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

write yourself a letter to be delivered at a later date. it's sorta cool to receive a letter from yourself about where you thought you'd be a year (two years? more?) later.

Sunday, March 21, 2004


This software is amazing - phone calls over the internet suddenly work. Forgotten are those times where the voice quality was awful, and it did not work with firewalls, especially with NAT on both sides. Skype simply works, and the voice quality will blow you away.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Ansturm auf Jesus-Schocker-Film. Die Passion Christi von Mel Gibson

"das seit Monaten heiss erwartete Leinwandepos über die letzten Stunden im Leben Jesus Christus verzeichnet in den USA die grösste Startkopienanzahl aller Zeiten und übertrifft die bisherigen Spitzenreiter „Herr der Ringe“ und Harry Potter“ deutlich. Trotz immenser Vorverkaufszahlen bildeten sich landesweit lange Schlangen an den Kinokassen.

Filmstart in Deutschland: 18. März 2004

Die Passion Christi - deutsche Website
The Passion of the Christ - english website
"He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself." --Thomas Paine

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Certified email with delivery receipts, silent tracking, proof-of-opening history, security and timestamps.

This is a very interesting service:

- reliably find out when your email gets opened, how long it gets read for, whether or not it gets forwarded to someone else or published on the internet, where the reader is located

- Certified Proof of posting, delivery, and opening. Get digitally signed certificates to prove when you posted an email, when it got delivered, and when it was opened and read.

- Send self-destructing emails or use ensured-delivery messages, both of which guarantee that you will always get a notification when your email gets read, and both of which will allow you to retract your email after you have sent it.

Comment: while these are impressing features, they rely on questionable technology: embedding hidden objects in html email. This is the same stuff thats used by spammers to track if their email was read by the recipient. In Outlook 2003 this does not work any more ...

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
--Mark Twain

Saturday, January 03, 2004

The IT industry is shifting away from Microsoft

I'm not sure if this is really true, but this article has some good points:

- last quarter was the first in Microsoft history where earnings were flat

- Microsoft slashed price for MS SQL Developer Edition by 80% to compete with MySQL

- a discounted "Student & Teacher Version" of MS Office is now available - buyers do not have to prove they are students or teachers

- still, home users switch to OpenOffice/StarOffice. One of the reasons is Microsofts Product Activation.

- Licensing 6.0 was unsuccessful, far from 100% of Microsoft customers signed up. Microsoft added free training, home-use-licenses etc. to make it more appealing. But it still does not work. The Thai government now gets a 95% discount on Windows+Office list price: 36$. There are probably many other similar deals. What will this do to Microsofts profit in the medium/long term?

- "The fact is, if you are negotiating with Microsoft, and you pull out a SuSE or Redhat box, prices drop 25 per cent from the best deal you could negotiate. Pull out a detailed ROI study, and another 25 per cent drops off, miraculously. Want more? Tell Microsoft the pilot phase of the trials went exceedingly well, and the Java Desktop from Sun is looking really spectacular on the Gnome desktop custom built for your enterprise, while training costs are almost nil. It isn't hard to put the boot in to Microsoft again and again these days -- being a Microsoft rep must be a tough job. And whatever it does, people are still jumping ship."

- despite its announcements a year ago, Microsoft has not managed to make its products more secure: Blaster, DCOM/RPC etc. The fact remains that security has been getting worse every year since Windows 95 was released. One hell of a track record. The fact remains that Microsoft's entire infrastructure is based on fundamentally flawed designs, not buggy code. These designs can't be changed. To change them, Microsoft would have to dump all existing APIs and break compatibility with everything up till now. Microsoft and its customer are addicted to backwards compatibility in a way that makes a heroin addict look silly.

These are interesting point. However, how many home users are really shifting to Open/StarOffice? How many companies that had an expiring software assurance contract have not renewed under licensing 6.0?

If Microsofts profits start to erode significantly, this could mean they stop playing in fields where they make huge losses - like ERP, XBox, etc. It could also mean they are getting even more agressive especially in the ERP field, because this area has not yet been significantly impacted by open source software.