6.27.2009

I've been recognized as a Senior Member of the ACM

I have been recognized by the Association for Computing Machinery as a Senior Member. (I've belonged to the ACM since my college days.)

The ACM Senior Member Grade is described as:

The Senior Member Grade recognizes those ACM members with at least 10 years of professional experience and 5 years of continuous Professional Membership who have demonstrated performance that sets them apart from their peers.

There were 395 recipients of this honor in 2009, 162 in 2008, 149 in 2007, and 142 in the award's inaugural year, 2006.

Looking at the other names and credentials of the other Senior Members, I am humbled. While I belong to several professional societies, the ACM is the one that truly represents my roots as a computer scientist. (I'm also delighted to serve as a columnist for one of the ACM's publications, netWorker Magazine.)

What do I get? A new membership card, a nice certificate for framing, and a lapel pin. And a very, very warm feeling inside.

6.19.2009

Saving money with a Garmin GTM-20 lifetime traffic subscription

I love to save money, but this deal still seems too good to be true.

My GPS is a Garmin StreetPilot c550, which is an excellent (though now discontinued) unit purchased in mid-2006. (See some comments I blogged about it.) Though bulkier than newer GPS units, the c550 has everything I want, including turn-by-turn directions and an integrated Bluetooth speakerphone. (It also has things I don't want or care about, like an MP3 player.)

One of the key features of the c550 is its Garmin GTM-20 traffic receiver. It's a cable that combines the 12V auto power adapter with a Navteq traffic receiver. The receiver, bundled in the box with the c550, came with a one-year subscription to traffic updates.

In the summer of 2007, and again in the summer of 2008, I purchased 12-month renewals of the traffic subscription for $60 each time. Earlier this week, the GPS told me that it was time to renew the subscription again. I like the traffic delay alerts, and so continuing the subscription was an easy decision.

Poking around the Garmin site, I found two options. I could renew the subscription again for 12 months for $60. Or I could purchase a new GTM-20 receiver with "lifetime traffic" from Garmin for $119.99.

That sounded a bit odd, but indeed, Garmin tech support confirmed that I could purchase that lifetime subscription — and get a whole new traffic radio — for twice the price of a 12-month subscription-only update, and that it'll work with my c550. (Not only that, but the old traffic-less GTM-20 can serve as a spare 12V power cord.)

But wait, it gets better.

Just before I went to order the new GTM-20 from Garmin, I decided to check online retailers "just in case." And yes, you can buy the "Garmin GTM 20 Lifetime Traffic Receiver for Select Garmin GPS" from Amazon for $85.

Amazing, eh?

Update June 25: The new GTM-20 arrived while I was away at SPTechCon. It looks different — instead of having an oversized 12v plug with an integrated receiver, as pictured above, the new GTM-20 has a standard plug and the receiver is in a bulge half-way down the cord.

The downside is that there aren't any more indicator lights to show that the receiver is working. It does work just fine, though! The upside is that the bulge has a jack to for an external traffic-receiver antenna, which would be good for a vehicle with a shielded cab.

What about those SD Times 100 categories?

Question:

I just caught your post-SD Times 100 wrap-up. I actually have a general question about the awards — do you pare down the entries and combine then into like categories? It seems like there were many more categories listed on the nomination form than final categories with winners.

I hate to toss another question into the mix, but noticed this the past few years and didn’t know if it was from lack of entries or something different.

I look forward to the SD Times 100 every year — it’s always the surprise names that make it the most fun.

Answer:

Every year, we use the previous year's categories to solicit reader nominations. However, we almost always revise them (and then revise them again and again and again) during the judging discussions.

The categories are fluid, sometimes changing from one judging meeting to the next as we discuss trends and areas of innovation. We never quite know how it's going to come out until the end of the process.

6.17.2009

Galileo and the future of Eclipse

Galileo is coming. That’s the name of this year’s Eclipse release train, scheduled for Wednesday, June 24. Given the Eclipse Foundation’s reputation, I expect the train to arrive at the station on schedule.

There’s a lot of goodness in the Galileo toolchain, as you can read in Alex Handy’s story. The simultaneous release is centered around the Eclipse 3.5 integrated development environment, but has many new and updated companion tools, plug-ins and add-ons.

Some of the noteworthy additions include support for PHP 5.3, a new memory analyzer, and upgrades to the plug-in development environment. As a Mac user, I’m happy about Galileo’s use of Cocoa as an optional windowing library.

As the years roll on, Eclipse has become the dominent alternative to Microsoft’s Visual Studio. Yes, Sun’s NetBeans and Apple’s Xcode IDEs are technically excellent – and NetBeans has a strong following in the open-source world. However, neither has the breadth and reach of Eclipse.

While Mac developers favor Xcode, and Sun-centric Java developers use NetBeans, the rest of the industry has converged on Eclipse and Visual Studio. That’s it, end of story. (Even so, Apple’s support for Xcode is strong. We have no idea about Oracle’s commitment to continue investing in the NetBeans community, which is currently dominated by developers employed by Sun.)

Of course, there are many, many developers who don’t use any IDE at all, and cobble together their own toolchains. In many cases, though, their standalone tools are actually based on Eclipse, whether they know it or not. Similarly, there are branded toolchains from companies like IBM that are also based on Eclipse.

What does that mean? Potentially, as Eclipse cements its leadership role in both mindshare and market share as the platform for anyone not using Visual Studio, there is a risk of that the Eclipse team might become less competitive, or have a reduced drive for innovation. I hope that’s not the case.

A bigger concern is that the major corporate sponsors of Eclipse (whose employees make up many of its top Committers) might scale back their investment. It might be due to the economic downturn; senior architects and programmers are expensive, after all, and some might see donating so much developer time to Eclipse projects as a luxury they can’t currently afford. Also, as the Eclipse projects evolve and mature, the sponsors might require fewer new features worthy of corporate developers’ attention.

This year, the Eclipse Foundation is strong, and the Galileo release train continues a string of annual success stories. About next year: Let’s hope that the train continues to run on time.

Great advice for high school graduates

I am very impressed with the June 10 "Conversations" column in the New York Times, "Advice for High School Graduates." David Brooks and Gail Collins offer genuine insights.

You should read the entire column, but I wish to quote three points made by Gail Collins, because she's 100% on the mark.

• The most important decision any of us make is who we marry.

• The most important talent any person can possess is the ability to make and keep friends.

• The most important skill a person can possess is the ability to control one’s impulses.

Wonderful.

The post-SD Times 100 week

The awards are over, and now it's time to deal with the post-award clean-up.

We began disclosing the 2009 SD Times 100 last Thursday, June 11, via Twitter; that was good fun. The official announcement was on Monday, June 15. You can read the story, Such the Drama, and complete list of winners, on SDTimes.com.

What comes next? Vendor conversations. These fall into four categories:

1. Chats with winners, who are seeking resources to help them publicize their recognition in the SD Times 100. Those queries, like all others, are generally funneled to me. We have stock messages to share with them, including a press release quote, boilerplate about BZ Media and SD Times, a permanent link to the story, and a link to the award logos. Easy.

2. Chats with winners, who are seeking more information about why they won. Those conversations are generally brief, since as a rule, we don't provide a list of reasons why the judges chose a particular company for recognition, beyond our belief that the company demonstrated clear leadership (as defined by "buzz" about them in the broader industry), or demonstrated stand-out innovation (as defined by what they did in the previous calendar year), or both. Easy.

3. Chats with non-winners, who seek specifics about why they didn't win. Those conversations take the longest time, because generally the company representative wants details, details, details (which we don't have and won't provide). In most cases, they want to know what to do to "ensure" that they win next year. We don't have a recipe for them. Sometimes easy, sometimes hard.

4. Chats with non-winners, who try to muscle us into changing the results by threatening to cancel their advertising contracts to "punish" SD Times, or who cite their past advertising history as a reason why they should be given the award, or who talk about the lavish advertising plans that were about to go to SD Times, but are now regretfully being placed on hold while they "reevaluate" the suitability of our publication, our audience, etc. Always hard.

The Category 4 conversations, often steered to me by our ad-sales team (who received the initial attempt at strong-arming by the vendor) are nearly always unpleasant, and are ultimately frustrating for all parties, because the tactic doesn't work.


Yes, we have lost advertising contracts because we didn't give big-spenders a juicy thank-you gift, or give potential advertisers a bribe. No, I'm not happy about the threats. But that's just how it works. Fortunately, there haven't been any Category 4 conversations this year.

Here's an example of an easy Category 3 conversation from a public-relations agency executive.

Hi Alan,

I had a quick question about the SD Times 100 and in particular about (client). For full disclosure, I’m a PR guy for (client). I have read all I could find about the 100 and the vetting process, but I was hoping to get a bit more insight about why (client) wasn’t included among the list of its peers (lists some competitors) in the (client's) category. Any feedback would be much appreciated.

My response:

Thanks for your note, and I'm sure that your client is disappointed — as is every company that wasn't named to the list.

I'm sorry, but I can't get into a discussion of why a certain company wasn't named to the SD Times 100. It's like asking, "Why didn't my actor win the Oscar?" In the extensive discussions about the companies in the (client's category) industry, we don't create an enumerated list of reasons why each non-winning company isn't chosen for the list. There's no, "If only (client) had done such-and-such they'd have won, but they didn't do that so cross 'em off" that I can share with you.

The only criteria I can share with you is what we wrote in http://www.sdtimes.com/content/about-sdtimes100.aspx, and in the FAQ in http://bzmedia.com/sdtimes100/sdtimes100_faq.htm.

The PR guy's reply indicated that my message got through:

Hi Alan,

I appreciate the reply. I was indeed hoping for some silver bullet reason why (client) didn’t make the list. I’d love the opportunity to put forth my argument for why I think (client) should be included, but I realize it’s too late. Thanks very much for your time today. We’ll focus on impressing you in the coming year.

The thread closed with my response,

Thanks. As you can imagine, if every vendor can turn around and "appeal the ruling," trying to do an annual awards program would be a complete nightmare. :)

And now, we wait for next year.

6.16.2009

A gift diop by any other name would still be a scam

This one is just charming. Don't respond, don't be fooled into providing any bank information to scammers.

From: Gift Diop
Subject: GOOD DAY MY LOVE

Good day,

How are you doing today? my name is Miss gift diop a citizen of Kenya living in Dakar Senegal,i'm 24 years old girl still single, please i need your help, I inherited the sum of US$7M(Seven Million United States Dollars) from my late Father which he deposited in Bank before he died, he was a very rich and wealthy Limestone,soda Merchant in our Capital City Nairobi Kenya also a business Man before his Death,

I am looking for a reliable and honest foreign partner who can assist me to retrieve and invest this money into a profitable venture. l am living as a refugee l cannot transfer this money myself and this is why I needed a trust worthy partner to help me out.

l am willing to give you 30% commission out of the total money once you assist me transfer the money from the bank in abroad.this is a very serious matter,

l will want you to be honest with me please that is all l need from you,

please kindly forward your full contact Details to me like your full Name Address your Phone and Fax No your Bank Account Details l am waiting for your responses. contact me back through my Email address for more details

Thanks,
gift diop

Another bank wants to give me money

Another spam scam! If I ask for the debit card, there will be either a large fee, or they'll say that there's a problem (due to the large sum) and thus they'll need to do the wire transfer. Hmm. Should I send them my bank info? I don't think so!

This scam was sent from an Gmail account; I can't trace the actual ISP or country of origin.

Don't reply, don't be fooled.

From: Beatrice Jimoh
Subject: Re: Your Payment Approval From the Federal Ministry of Finance, FMF

Accounts Section,
Foreign Operations Unit,
United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc,
UBA HOUSE:
57, Marina, Lagos-Nigeria

Dear Client,

Re: Your Payment Approval From the Federal Ministry of Finance, FMF

From the recently released First Quarter (January-April) 2009 Periodic Gazette from the Federal Ministry of Finance FMF, Abuja-Nigeria, your outstanding US$7,500,000 payment is on serial number 25 on this payment Voucher; and has been designated to be paid to through our bank, the United Bank Africa Plc according to the ministerial directive.

Go ahead and therefore indicate your choice of mode of payment either by:

1.) Preloaded ATM (debit) Card or
2.) Telegraphic (Bank-to-Bank) Wire Transfer

If you choose payment by ATM Debit Card, send us your valid delivery address. Or the later, furnish us with: Your Bank Name and Address, Routing Number, Account Number & Swift Code for immediate commencement of transfer of your fund.

Sincerely yours,
Beatrice Jimoh (Mrs.)
Accounts Section, Foreign Operations Unit,
UBA

6.15.2009

And the winners are...

It’s June 15, the day when SD Times announces the 2009 SD Times 100. Well, this year we did something different and “leaked” the winners last Thursday using Twitter. (Look for the hashtag #sdtimes100.) But today’s the official announcement.

The SD Times 100 judging process literally begins in January, when the editors start their deliberations about which companies and organizations were the most innovative, and demonstrated the most industry leadership, of the past year. The process continues through the winter, fueled by caffeine, passionate debate, large quantities of sarcasm, and frantic research. We’re helped by valuable input from readers (who have an opportunity to submit their own nominations).

Finally, it’s over. You can read the entire list of winners here.

Every year, we tweak and tune the categories to reflect the areas of broad innovation. This year, new categories included Cloud Computing, Rich Internet Applications and Mashups. We also dropped some categories that appeared in the 2008 SD Times 100. Easy come, easy go.

My favorite category in the SD Times 100 is the Influencers. There are companies and organizations whose influence extended far, far beyond a single category to have a broad effect on the software development industry. Whether pushing platforms or standards, the Influencers stand apart. Most are household names. Some aren’t, but their effects are widely felt.

Every year, I always wander back down Memory Lane to the debut 2003 SD Times 100. While many of the winners there stood the test of time, others did not. You’ll get a kick out of seeing some long-gone names on that list. (Yes, yes, someday we’ll get around to doing a better job of formatting that old article.)

It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun too. Enjoy the 2009 SD Times 100.

6.12.2009

The G20 Spam Scam Relief Bill?

Oh, yes, I'm really going to believe that the G20's "Office of the Management and Payment Bureau" in London wants to happily send me £500,000.

And what are the odds that if you opt for the cheque, you'll be told that there's a problem and they'll need your bank information for a wire transfer?

Don't respond, don't be fooled.

From: "MANAGEMENT BUREAU FOREIGN"
Subject: MANAGEMENT BUREAU FOREIGN NOTIFICATION

GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS RELIEF AID

FROM THE OFFICE OF THE MANAGEMENT AND PAYMENT BUREAU FOREIGN/COMMONWEALTH

King Charles Street London SW1A United Kingdom

RECESSION RELIEF PROGRAM FOR GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS VICTIMS

As part of ways to assist victims of the global economic recession and also in accordance with the just concluded G20 meeting held over here in London, England, I wish to happily inform you that you have been issued a payout sum of 500,000.00 pounds Only (£500,000.00) Five hundred thousand British Pounds only as you are one of the first beneficiaries of this recession relief program jointly organized and funded by all nations of the G20 and the Commonwealth.

Having gone through our records, we discovered that you have in one way or the other in the past contributed to the welfare of your local environment and community at large.

You are therefore advised to contact the officer immediately as stated below;

Contact Person: SHAMIR RANDY Funds Disbursement Officer RECESSION RELIEF PROGRAM FOR GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS VICTIMS.

Please provide them with the under listed information’s below as soon as possible as the method of disbursement are thus: CHEQUE ISSUED IN YOUR NAME OR BANK TO BANK TRANSFER

1: Full Names
2: Delivery Address
3: Nationality
4: Phone Number(s)

Please do indicate the method of disbursement of your fund

Thank you
Kind Regards,
Mr. Philip England
G20 Secretary

6.02.2009

What's that beep-beep-beep sound?

"Dad, what's this sound?"

My teenager has been using the telephone for most of his life. A few days ago, he went to call some family friends, who had left us a message offering to let us use their S.F. Giants tickets. (They're really good friends.)

After he dialed, he wandered over with a puzzled look, and handed me the phone. Thinking that he was hearing one of the infrequent error tones, I listened, and then laughed. "That, my son, is called a busy signal."

Believe it or not, this was the first time he'd called someone who was already on the phone — and who didn't have a server-based voicemail system.

Amazing, eh? How fast things change these days.

(Considering that none of our landlines or mobiles have rotary dials, saying that he dialed is itself a dated expression. What's more current? Should we say that he punched in a number? Or just called a number?)

6.01.2009

Google keeps redefining everything

Earlier this morning, I was cleaning up someone’s blog post. Not because they wrote something bad, but because they committed the ultimate faux pas: They pasted directly from Microsoft Word into the blog engine. The bizarre HTML tags output from Word resulted in goofy output as well as a polluted RSS stream.

Many people have written about the strange HTML output from Microsoft Word. But that’s what happens when a company decides that it knows better than everyone else and insists on doing things its own way.

Google, like Microsoft, likes to do things its own way. As you can read on SDTimes.com, Google has recently bet heavily on HTML 5. In a keynote at the Google I/O conference, reports Alex Handy, HTML 5 will be at the forefront of the forthcoming Google Web Toolkit 2.0 and the new Google Web Elements.

That’s not all coming from the Googlers, who seem to be fighting every battle at once. The company continues to move forward with Android, its operating system for netbooks and smartphones, for example. This puts it into conflict with many, many companies, including Apple, Microsoft and RIM (makers of the BlackBerry).

The big new thing, however, is the new Wave platform and its set of APIs. What is Wave? It’s hard to describe. Google says:

Google Wave is a product that helps users communicate and collaborate on the web. A "wave" is equal parts conversation and document, where users can almost instantly communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more. Google Wave is also a platform with a rich set of open APIs that allow developers to embed waves in other web services and to build extensions that work inside waves.


Good luck with that.

Google’s creativity is commendable. My big worry is that the company never seems to finish anything. Gmail is still considered to be in beta, for heaven’s sake! Let’s hope that Google doesn’t morph into Microsoft: having lots of interesting ideas, which are implemented in a way that drive people crazy.

About Me

My Photo
Co-founder and editorial director of BZ Media, which publishes SD Times, the leading magazine for the software development industry. Founder of SPTechCon: The SharePoint Technology Conference, AnDevCon: The Android Developer Conference, and Big Data TechCon. Also president and principal analyst of Camden Associates, an IT consulting and analyst firm.