MIcrosoft could increase search share overnight with Name change, says branding experts

A group of Linguists and Brand Equity analysts have determined after conducting an extensive survey, that Microsoft could increase its search market share in the Mature user Populations by changing the name of its search engine, from “Bing”, to “Bingle”. The lead scientist on the project, Dr. Moshe ben-Maimon, of the University of Tel Aviv, says that, “the older populations are more prone to trust two syllable on-line brands that end in “…le”.

The Japanese researchers contributing to the project concur with a set of targeted cultural adjustment for Asian demographics.

MIcrosoft should change Bing to BIngle. The Nice young lady, that social networking researcher who cries at conferences…..declined to comment for this report. Danah Boyd, that’s it, she has never written anything on this phenomenon.


What do you do, anyway?

I realized of late that when people asked what I do professionally, my fast repartee was not clear enough. This is all fine when the tech sector is booming and the referrals are flying in. However, when things slow down, like now, we can’t take any chances. So what do I do, exactly? A review of all of my on-line professional profiles showed a ghastly mishmash.

This is what I do:

I currently work for Product Managers as a strategic sector helper.

I evaluate vertical and technical B2B sectors prior to my client PM’s pulling the development trigger. I provide specific steering (mid dev timeline) on what features need to be tweaked, what market approaches need sector-specific massaging, and all that trade org liaison work that few want to do.

I spot hot trends where consumer web app waves might cross over into a profitable vertical where the users pay for the service.

I make the right calls at the right time, delivering cogent written and oral advice to your management; I almost never miss when creating value, fostering partnerships, and creating the groundwork for new products and innovation.

My rates are more than reasonable considering the stakes, and I never drag a contract out, usually wrapping in less than 6 months.

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The Strategist: Certification Services for the Cloud – Reliability, Continuity, and Indemnification Against Outages

The Strategist: Certification Services for the Cloud – Reliability, Continuity, and Indemnification Against Outages

Fog envelops the Golden Gate Bridge and approa...Image via Wikipedia

I am going to write about a project that got stranded on my research pile when a well funded client decided that they did not wish to complete the contractual research allocation. The research directives encompassed finding a preliminary business model for underwriting business continuity risk within the rubric of cloud applications and hosting services. A concomitant directive was to research new and existing technological models that would offset the risk of such underwriting programs.

So there was an insurance underwriting and actuarial side, and a real systems side. I was to uncover the insurance industry‘s perspective on underwriting SAAS /PAAS / Cloud, etc. I was to bring to the partner underwriters technical proposals that would offset the risk. The project was on a roll and then still birthed. I think it still has merit. I think that the failure of several VC funded net storage start ups points to this, and that even recent hours-long outages in the ‘clouds of the mighty’, should indicate that this analysis was not a complete waste of time. I certainly uncovered gaping holes in the standard insurance industry lines when underwriting business interruptions and continuity for advanced hosting and SAAS.

I am under NDA as to the identity and specific plans of the client, but what I learned, and the contacts I made, cannot encumber my portfolio of analysis and career endeavors. I have that in writing, and the former client, admitting to the invocation of an early termination clause,  is cool with that – bigger crises on the home front and all.

We analysts wouldn’t be worth much if we couldn’t (at least sometimes) feel things coming ’round the bend. Before the words “economic crisis” became a meme for all subsequent business failures, many esteemed colleagues felt there was excess capital flowing into redundant business models (YASN and YAVSS, for the initiated). This was an evil wind with bad portents. Too much VC cake was handed over to the ‘Valley Undertakers”, i.e., entrepreneurs who had fostered serial failures, break-evens, and maybe one or two small M&A’s, but who in the big picture had no business getting that much access to capital. So that’s the tableaux we have set at around 3/07.

I was working for an R&D lab in South San Francisco when my self-billed services (product strategy under contract) started softening. I was counting on an implied renewal to extend a six month term to 18-24 months. Well, they said they loved me.I was not alone in the exodus from Gateway Blvd. Continue reading

Chrome is not an Operating System

A number of dilettante tech journalists and bloggers are proclaiming Google’s Chrome browser “a new OS!!!!”; by doing this they are displaying an incredible ignorance of what an OS is and does.I realize that we are increasingly a society that has no idea of how things actually work, and that SillyClone Valley is a place where even EE’s can’t fix their own appliances.

I’m not sure I want to spew out a tutorial here; I am semi-retired from RTOS kernel writing for data acquisition, I know what an OS is.

The Google Chrome browser needs an OS. It needs the hardware initialized and it needs native file system services to place its persistent storage, whether as files or as objects in the Gears Database.

Chrome needs a graphics system to draw, and frame buffer primitives for it’s rendering engine. It needs all the drivers to attach AV devices so you can VOIP. All browsers need this.

The newfangled and impressive WebTop, instant booting, ROM-based mini OS provides these minimal services, extracted from a full Linux, to allow web surfing and Skype without a boot from a full, disk-based OS. WebTop is an OS.

Now then, could a browser be an OS? Yes. As we see with the BEA Applications Server side of things, one may write a set of minimal services to take over after the BIOS, hand over to the Hypervisor, and provide a JVM with extended OS services. They are doing this now, you can buy a BEA Java Application server that does not require a server OS.

If the browser companies want to support the devices, to license drivers, or to use open source distros for the support of post BIOS housekeeping, then by all means, the browser could replace what we now know  as the Operating System.

One caveat – even the best Linux distributions, after all these years, and after great and astounding progress, still struggle with device support. Chew on that.

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The new BigTouch by Apple

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I was briefly quoted in Guy Kewney‘s wireless blog. It was a good catch, as I have zero profile as a blogger – like we are talking Z List. Anyhow, I had dropped a bit of personal inside info on a potential Apple product from a seemingly credible source. Guy correctly pointed out that if I believed the rumor, I would have blogged it.

Hmmm. The tip concerned the rampant speculation of an impending Apple tablet. The source was one of Apple’s in-house IP line attorneys. A line attorney is a lower level person for filing and doing the drudge work of licensing, creating contracts, and dealing with USPTO (some have engineering and law degrees, like this gent). He was not a friend of mine, he was a young man that owned me a big favor. I had bailed him out of the San Jose lockup when he got pinched for D&D, indecent exposure (public urination), and resisting arrest. This happened in Feb 2007. I am sure that if he reads this, despite my not revealing his identity, he will be chagrined. Burn that bridge. Sorry dude, when you go out partying, behave.

The young man had previously met me in Cupertino, where I had commented in the parking lot on his maxi-scooter (a Suzuki Burgman), and he on mine ( an Aprilia Scarabeo 500), we talked about Apple, scooters, jobs (I was there pitching myself as a contractor), and his (Low-Level IP lawyer). I gave him my card. Done.

Nice looking young man, thirties, presentable. Figured I would never hear from him again, professionally. Continue reading

Raw milk and SAAS for small business

A glass of milkImage via Wikipedia

“Hmmmm…this tastes different, grassy, is it safe?”. Hey, it was my first time sampling certified raw milk. I was a little wary.

The guy at the farmer’s market reassured me, “well, it’s only good for a day or two, in my opinion, if you keep it cold. Some people try to keep it too long, drink it, get a little tummy ache, and never come back”.

It made me think about some of the small and mid businesses that I advise on SAAS. We are talking here about companies with 10-300 employees, 5M-50M per year in total revenues. I have been slowly building this client portfolio as more of these small operators in technical verticals are being screwed by enterprise software companies. These folks need alternatives.

Some went the SAAS route before I came around to help them. Raw milk baby – get a bad cup and you may never try again. SAAS. Shame. Some of these folks, despite being really fine IT professionals, really didn’t understand the difference between a hosted solution, a managed server, a grid service, and a platform as a service.

Now, I’m no savior, no magician. I just try and use my head to carefully think through what services will work, what the trade offs are, and if these projects will align with the client’s long goals.

One prospective client that had my bid in their maybe box had just gone through the very recent S3 outage. Another vendor, really just a glorified Web Developer (no flies on them), set up a proxy to S3 to back stop this very client’s POS gateway storage. For archived credit receipts, it was really quite clever and economical (for the price) and it did what the jobber said it would – save them from having to maintain and continuously  update a SAN, for a while. (BTW, their old SAN never had a minute downtime but was a headache to operate).

They just didn’t think it through, they pulled the plug on the aging, local storage array, tested the S3 proxy, and went live. They could easily have created another proxy or some kind of sync client for the EDI data on the old array that would have caught up the data in the slack periods, but the vendor was in a hurry and told the client that S3 was, “an invulnerable service”.

Well, I don’t have to tell you what the fallout was. My older quote had some SAAS services and I got a call right away from the client. They asked me if there was a strategy for using these services safely.

I referenced that section of my quote (it was always there!), and we talked about Raw Milk, how good it was (lower cost, better average reliability), how you gotta keep it cold (always have failure scenario), and how one bad dairy shouldn’t color your experiences going forward.

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The Problem of Wanna

Scott Karp is a famous blogger. I am not. But, his post on the struggles of the newspaper industry, and how this relates to GM‘s last ditch effort to innovate with their Volt project, is very good reading.

That’s a long sentence. I’m not a good general writer, I’m more of a technical marketing and research type. The article, however, grabbed me, because I once worked in the electric vehicle industry. My experiences at a small, secretive Israeli EV startup, was very similar to my misadventures in trying to raise capital in Sillyclone Valley for a faltering independent mobile dispatch venture called, ThruDispatch.

Mr. Karp conjoins GM’s monumental myopia (ignoring anything having to do with advanced drive trains) with the newspaper business’ total lack of a new media game plan. I see the common thread – It’s called, “Wanna“.

Over the past 10 years, a parade of inventors and young alternative drive train companies signed NDA’s with GM, hoping to get a foothold. They came from all sectors of the component, engine, and fuels industry, with patents galore, and some of them were indeed astounding; hopefully one day a book will be written. One company had a a fully tested AC drive train that could also power your house or sell back excess power to the utility grid. But we never heard about them, because GM didn’t wanna.

In the midst of the Web20 semi-bubble of 2005-06, I wrapped up a six month contract at a Sillyclone Valley R&D lab, and took to the road to pitch a plan for a really innovative, user driven, mobile dispatch venture for independent automotive servicers. Thousands of potential Nextel subscribers were surveyed, all had agreed to pay a decent monthly fee, and a prototype had been in place for a while.

But, if the business plan or pitch didn’t have the words “social network, video, or Facebook App”, there was no getting past the gates of Sandhill road. They didn’t wanna.

Now that we are on the threshold of what will surely be a blood bath of failed, ad-supported YAVSS and YASN ventures, in the midst of an IPO desert, will the equity come around to wanna?

Will they wanna invest in services that working people of the middle class will pay to use, rather than the chimera of free and ad supported services that are doomed?

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High Hopes Part-Two. Did Anyone talk to Myrna?

High Hopes Part-Two. Did Anyone talk to Myrna?

Part Two in the series, “High Hopes. IT Salad and the Fiascoes that Follow” by Alan Wilensky

Evil eye. Stink eye. Jaundiced eye. The SAP VAR did not like interlopers second guessing; they didn’t get this far billing seven figure accounts with a 150% margin by having guys like me analyze plumbing and operational issues which they never accounted for in their wildest dreams. Not on this job, anyway.

They don’t do that kind of specialized, introspective examination of processes, and why should they? They make a system that is a slightly bad to ghastly fit for 90% of the faceless installs they complete. The other 10%, they take the money and run. Client’s either need an IT department with the policies and labor muscle to counter the juggernaut of an ERP worst practices program or a CIO (IT manager for the SME) who knows what strategic alignment is (is this project fulfilling a mission?).

They didn’t like that I was invited; that I was there at the client’s behest cut no ice whatsoever. I was like a card counter in a Vegas Casino – the house wanted to ALWAYS win, even though they make oodles. Well, tough cookies. I’ve been doing this for years, and in addition to my role as a contract product manager, I am an advocate for the client first, last, and always.

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Empty and vacuous: iPhone line people

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A writer at the Washington Post has a piece on the wisdom of waiting a week or so to get your iPhone, due to the inevitable activation snafus of the new in store process.

I will do him one better: What’s wrong with you! Standing in line, for hours, for a crappy gadget. I’m ashamed of myself for even taking time to shame you. Are you empty, void of purpose, stupid? Don’t you work or contribute to the economy or some civic activity? Who can afford to sit around like that? And for what? It’s not like a sporting event or concert seat with a limited run – it’s a device, they are slated to make 50 million of them.

Stop it now, get out of line, go home. Collect your old clothes and donate them, volunteer, or just go back to the job that you called in sick for – argh. Get a life.

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High Hopes Part-One. IT Salad and the Fiascoes that Follow

This is part one of a two part series by Alan Wilensky.

“I had high hopes for that Tuna Salad“, said the IT director, “It didn’t really deliver”.

I was thinking about his IT problems, but in the middle of lunch with him, I thought I would respond by conjoining the two issues:

I said, “It’s full of heavy metals, they have signs at Whole Foods that you shouldn’t eat too much, and certainly not if pregnant”.

He was not thinking about his IT problems at that precise moment, and why should he? Lunchtime was his one daytime hour away from the nightmare that had been plaguing him for months; unless I could convince him to take drastic action, the issue would continue to fester until the budget was spent, he was fired, or a decision to undertake a complete roll-back to the formerly reliable processes was made. They had certainly left  the realm of the familiar and functional for a stinking pile of ERP.

He continued: “Well, everyone here gets the Tuna Salad, and I’m not pregnant!” Continue reading