Friday, July 27, 2007

My Broadband Speed

Thought I would test my home broadband connection at DSL Reports (

I have Comcast and I have to say since they increased the upload speed (from 200Kbps), the internet is much snappier..better dns resolution speed, server queries, etc.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

SaaS Customer “Bill of Rights”

I know a lot of people are talking about SaaS (Software as a Service) offerings like and Google Apps. Have the hundreds of thousands (dare I say millions) of people jumping onto these platforms ever stop and think of the big picture? Have they forgotten of the data they are entrusting these service providers?

I noticed R "Ray" Wang did a paper at Forester research on LBoR (Licensee Bill of Rights) for people using SaaS at the enterprise level. I’ve been thinking about these issues for the last year or so and have finally had the time to document my top ten thoughts:

1. Open Data. The provider will guarantee access to the customer data. Customer owns the data and can extract the data in a standard format (XML, CSV, etc.) when necessary.

2. Controlled Upgrades. The provider will announce upgrades ahead of time and thought should be made to minimize the impact to various customizations that may have been implemented by the customer.

3. Guaranteed uptime. Customers should expect five nines (or better) reliability of any SaaS product.

4. 24/7 support staff. Phone / email available with 1 hour or less response time.

5. Import export Features. Ability to import and export specific data sets easily.

6. Guaranteed backup. Extra bonus for the additional ability to backup directly to the customer backup system.

7. Exit strategy? Guaranteed availability of product if the SaaS provider is bought or goes out of business. OK, if the provider is going out of business, at least offer a backup of data and some warning or offer one of the servers for a reasonable price. I’m not sure how to handle that part of the equation, any ideas?

8. Data rights. All data entered by the customer is exclusively owned by the customer and no third parties shall have access to ANY of this data.

9. Security. System should be secure.

10. Ads. Specify to the customer if there are ads. Also specify if these ads will be linked to the customer data. (Google Ad Sense?) Security Issues?

I geared this list to enterprise level customers who usually pay big monthly dues for software...some of them still apply to small companies and individuals. My thought, if there are no guarantees for even a few of these ten items then maybe the benefit of using SaaS is not a big as it seems. Remember that in most cases the data is worth more than the application!

Does anyone have other ideas?

Friday, April 6, 2007

Jamesburg Earth Station

I've been involved with a project the last few months and have not posted anything. This project is really cool. I'm helping to restore an old earth station that was owned by AT&T between 1967 and ~2003. This facility (see Jamesburg Dish ) was the primary phone and video link to Asia during the 1960's-1980's.

It received via satellite the first moon landing video from Australia, Nixon's trip to china and the video most americans saw of the Tienaman square uprising. The dish is over 95' in diameter and is located a few miles south of Carmel Valley.

I've posted some interesting videos here: Jamesburg videos for more info...

I've been working on the computer real time tracking systems which have had some issues after being mothballed for several years. In any case, really fun working on such a large machine...check back for future posts.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Samsung Rebate - Is it a Scam?

Several Months ago I purchased a Samsung 20" SyncMaster 204B monitor for one of my workstations. I looked at several monitors with roughly the same specifications so the final decision was based mainly on price – including rebate. OK, I know $50 is not a ton of money but it was roughly 20-30% of the monitor cost. So I went with the rebate option. I followed the instructions perfectly and sent everything in as requested but as of yet, no check. Calling the rebate "support" center netted the response of "you did not include the UPC code" yet I know for a fact that I did. Hmm, I wonder how many of those UPC Codes are "lost" each year. Sounds like a total scam to me. I’ve sent another copy of the “required information” so we will see where this leads.

I understand the mentality of the rebate for retailers / product companies - Most people won't spend the time to send in the information or bother with instructions so it's a larger net for the company. Of course these companies make you jump through hoops to send in a rebate but outright fraud is a bit ridiculous. How many billions of rebates are refused? Anyone know? Why can't this be done honestly?

The next time I see a Samsung product, I'll make sure to evaluate another product instead, if the Samsung product is better, I may purchase it but will disregard the rebate.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Microsoft vs. Apple, Does it matter?

It's funny how much heat Jim Allchin of Microsoft has received for the e-mail to Gate's and Ballmer stating "I would buy a Mac today if I was not working at Microsoft." Groklaw has more details of this e-mail here.

I'd say the guy was on-target and understood the problems facing his company. He states "I'm not sure how the company lost sight of what matters to our customers, both business and home, the most, but in my view we lost our way.” and goes on to state “I see lots of random features and some great vision, but that does not translate into great products" If only more executives would put things in perspective the way Jim Allchin did.

What actually grabbed my attention here is how many people still believe “Windows vs. Apple” matters!

I believe the sun is setting on desktop computer use for the majority of “daily use” applications. This would include Word Processing, spreadsheets, e-mail, calendaring and collaboration. Even entire development platforms are now available on-line. Build your web 2.0 app with no local software required! So why care about the OS or computer hardware used? Really, it will come down to browser quality. In theory a decent “diskless” workstation with only a browser should be enough to run daily apps. Maybe not today, but within five years I believe this will be in the realm of possibilities.

The question I still have: Is the fully featured desktop computer w/desktop apps going to be irrelevant in the Future or is this move to the internet just a fad?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tesla Roadster

I've been watching this cool car the last 6 months or so, it's called the Tesla Roadster and it’s made by a Silicon Valley Startup called Tesla Motors ( All I can say is that it's the best all electric vehicle I've ever seen.

If you remember the Saturn EV1, star of the Summer Movie "Who Killed the Electric Car" (MSNBC article: ), then you'll remember the egg shaped, lead acid powered, limited range prototype being leased to consumers during the late 90's. These cars were eventually returned and for some unknown reason destroyed by GM.

The Tesla Roadster is NOT an EV1! This car does 0-60 in 4.0 seconds. Top Speed: 130mph. Range: 250 miles. Brakes and Handles like a Lotus. Why, because it is a Lotus! A Lotus Elise to be exact, already renowned as a decent light weight sports car, the Elise is now the basis for the new Tesla Roaster Electric car.

Technologies have changes since the development of the EV1. Lithium-Ion batteries have better power storage to weight ratios. Electronic controllers and A/C Motors are better. Leveraging new CAD and design technique saves weight. Additionally, by basing the car on a proven platform, Tesla motors does not have to invest in body, frame, suspension and other components of the car. The engineers can focus on developing the electric power train components which should reduce the expense of the vehicle.

About the expense, the totally bad thing is that all this cool stuff cost money. Pricing starts at $92K to be exact. As production ramps up, expect pricing to go down somewhat - the $80K range is my expectation. The other downside is that product is still not expected until 2008.

Tesla also plans to develop a four door sedan at some point. They hope to keep the price lower than the sports car, perhaps under $60K, which may make it more desirable for people with the need for a larger vehicle.

All I can say is that I want one. Also, if they need services of a Software guy, contact me! I'd go work there in a heartbeat!


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Motorola Q

OK, my old phone, a Treo 600 finally wore out its second battery. I'm tired of doing open heart surgery to replace the battery (it is not removable) and I decided to get a new phone. Although I was very tempted to get another Treo as it is the best cell phone I ever had, Verizon had a decent upgrade on the Motorola Q so I picked it instead.

I received the phone on Friday and have started to put it though its paces. I like the screen and the keyboard size with the exception that the return key is located at the same position as the backspace key on the Treo was. This is very frustrating when entering data. I also don't like the calculator, the Treo calculator was much better.

The number one downside with this phone is that there is no touch screen. I thought it would be OK not to have one but once you've had one, you can't go back.

I think I'm going to return this for a Treo 700P. Not that this is a bad phone, it's perfect for someone "moving up" from a regular flip phone. The Sync with outlook works well, the interface is pretty good. The internet access is very fast with good screen rendering. But once I had the power of the Treo, even my two year old model, I find it difficult to move back.

So to summarize:
If you’ve got a Treo or other advanced smart phone and don’t find it overwhelming, you won’t like the Q.
If you have a regular cell phone and want better internet and Outlook Synchronization, this might be the phone for you.

Now if manufactures would post this information on their web sites…..