Up and coming Web 2.0 Companies

Quote from Wired Magazine “Web 1.0 was about commerce, Web 2.0 is about people”

What does this mean for your business? At the ‘endless possbilities’ end of the scale Tim O’Reilly has a good diagram outlining what you can do with the possibilities Ajax, frequent releases, standard interfaces and interaction with your community (all features of Web 2.0) can give you.

What Web 2.0 can do for your business

On the other end of the scale, what are companies actually doing with the new possibilities? Since we tend to be about 6 months behind the curve here in Dublin, a couple of examples from the Bay area in the US are:

  • Rollyo.com – choose which sites you want to search (built on top of Yahoo)
  • Zimba - a web based collaboration suite in the same spaces as Microsoft Outlook and Exchange
  • Upcoming.org – a user driven event site
  • What all of these have in common is that they have both a community (free version to get people on board) and Enterprise (additional features worth paying for) editions. The Community edition acts as marketing and a driver for the Enterprise edition through what economists call ‘Network effects’ – the more people that use a tool , the more useful it is.

Let your PC do the Investing

Wired Magazine are running an interesting
article on day traders
that are using automated PC applications to carry out
their stock trades.

As a co-incidence, an article I wrote for O’Reilly shows just How to build
an automated Stock and FX trading system

If you’re looking for a system to make you millions playing the stock and
foreign exchange markets while you sleep, my contact details are above!

Ease the pain of project delivery

Many people I talk to still seem to regard delivering IT projects on time as something of a ‘black art’. No matter (or perhaps because of) how many Microsoft Project plans and Gant charts they have, they get stuck in the illusion of paper over reality where the project must being going well because the plan tells them so. Add to these unknown quantity of new (or new to the business) technologies and it seems only a matter of time before things go out of control.

Agile techniques are one response to this, but projects still need to be managed, hence the need for metrics – cold hard numbers that lets the big boss know that things are going ok. The Agile Blog has a good section on getting started with these metrics.

This topic also fits neatly with the news that the presentation slides for NoUnit at Fosdem are now live on the site.

NoUnit, an extension to JUnit the Java Unit testing tool, gives one of the key metrics that project managers need to see . These include

  • How many pieces of functionality have been delivered (as demonstrated by automated Unit test).
  • How many of the automated tests are working (should be 100%)
  • Are the important parts of your project being tested (this is where NoUnit steps in)
  • What is the quality of your project? (e.g. Sun Javadoc Quality Checker)

How to talk to your boss about Ajax

So you know what Ajax is and you need to convince your boss of the benefits that it would bring to your web project?

I’ve just put online two new whitepapers explaining what Ajax is, how to use it within your existing project and how to talk to your boss about it.

The first is in the current (December / January) edition of Business Plus Magazine, but for non Irish readers, is available for download here. It’s aimed at business readers and gives examples of a travel websites that are already using Ajax and Web 2.0 to increase Sales to customers.

The 2nd Article is more technical, and was previously published on Sun’s Java Website. It introduces Ajax and shows how to integrate it with older ‘legacy’ applications. In this case the ‘legacy’ technology is Java and the Struts web framework, but it would work equally well for PHP, ASP, .Net , Visual Basic and other technologies. This article is available for download on the main FirstPartners.net website.

Be nice to your System Administrator

Probably the toughest assignment of the Master’s course so far, but we made the deadline and have now learnt how to be nice to System Administrators. This did not involve us learning how to make them cups of tea, get them the newspaper etc. What it did involve is building systems that manage themselves.

To see what we’re talking about, take a look at the project we put together (links below). It’s a document share system running on 1, 10 or as many computers as you want. It uses Peer-2-Peer (p2p) technology so that even if you pull the plug the others take over and replicate the documents. Ok, it’s not quite ready for venture capital funding, but this idea of ‘self-management’ means that nobody get’s called out of
bed for something that the computer can learn to manage itself.


  1. Download Code as Zip
  2. Browse Code Online
  3. IBM Framework for Autonomic Computing (using Eclipse)

Autonomic Computing – what is it …

… and is it coming your way soon?

Autonomics is all about reducing the cost of owning a system by making them manage themselves. (Yes -the TCO – Total Cost of Ownership) buzzword rears it’s ugly head again.
Systems are getting more and more complex, the tools developers now have at their disposal have come on leaps and bounds in the last 10 years, but poor old sys-admins are still stuck with their log files …

Systems that manage themselves? Surely that’s all a bit Star-Trek ish and not really going to happen in the next 18 months …

On the plus side , IBM is pushing the concept , including the ‘Toolkit for Autonomic Computing’ that is availabe from the IBM Alphaworks site. At a basic level (such as email Administrator when problem occurs, or some of the Virus Checking toolkits that monitor network activity), autonomics is already with us. You could argue that JMX (Java Management Extensions), a key part of Sun’s Enterprise Java, is a foundation for this kind of self-awareness and self-management. Some of the tools for managing Server and Web Hosting farms could be seen in the ‘Autonomic Computing’ light.

On the down side, there is a lot of work to be done. For a start, there is as yet no standard toolkit (e.g. where would Object Orientated Programming be without Java). The 2nd problem is mindshare – it’s System administrators that feel the pain, not developers, so the momentum that produced Extreme and Agile programming is less likely to occur.

It’s all part of the the 1st part of the 2nd year of the MSC in Advanced Software Engineering at University College Dublin (UCD). Course Director is Dr Simon Dobson.

10 Things Small Tech Companies should know

10 Very simple Questions that Irish Tech Startups should ask themselves, posted on Rajest Settys Website.

Amoung the ‘Obvious but insightful questions’ are

  • Do you have a sound business model – you’d be surprised how many don’t.
  • Are you willing to change? (Because you’re going to need to)
  • Is your business Google/Yahoo/Microsoft proof?

Irish Systems Security Group

The December meeting of the ISSA (Information System Security Association) is being held today in the Burlington Hotel in Dublin.

Topics covered include SSH, PGP and whether to encrypt your network (and to what level).


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