Irregular Injection of Opinion
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 Monday, 01 June 2009
Who Exactly is the ODF Alliance a Lobbyist For? Or Against?

So with all the brouhaha over the past few weeks following the Office SP2 release that supports ODF I found myself reading a ‘Summary of initial test results’ from the ODF Alliance. It’s piqued my interest somewhat. Here’s why.

One generally expects test results to be presented in a very objective way: something about the scientific method and all that jazz. Yet this document from the ODF Alliance includes such paragraphs as:

Microsoft has a rich history of implementing down-level versions of open standards; e.g., Java
in  Internet  Explorer,  where Microsoft  pre-installed an  incompatible version with proprietary
extensions and then to let it languish, failing to update it as the Java technology evolved.

There are indeed test results in the document as well and I’m happy to take those on face value- I’ve no doubt that as a first cut implementation on a de-novo code base the Microsoft implementation isn’t perfect, though I do note that they’ve been reasonably open about some ‘by-design’ choices not to implement proprietary extensions.

But back to the ‘Test Results’. For an organization that “seeks to promote and advance the use of OpenDocument Format” I would have expected a greater degree of objectivity in such a technical report. Didn’t seem like cricket really. None of the other implementers seem to have been singled out for a special series of tests and certainly none of the other implementers appear to have been singled out for rebuke of the sort I pasted above.

Time for a little more digging then. Who exactly is this organization?

They’ve got a pretty long member list but I couldn’t find any details on either a constitution of the organization or any sort of governance structure. They do appear to have some local chapters but these appear to be even less objective and more hostile than the parent organization: take a look at for an example thereof. There are big names among the member list too; Sun, IBM and Google were all there so it’s definitely got some vendor backing there somewhere- but were these active members? Is there some sort of governance structure here? Is the above what the likes of De Bortoli Wines (makes of Australia’s most famous sticky) signed up to?

About the only thing to go on was the Contact page- But even that was limited to an email address and a phone number (area code 202 so Washington DC). Back to Google then.

I Googled ‘Marino Marcich’ and at the bottom of the page found a reference to the Software & Information Industry Association ironically in a mailing list post noting his removal from the OASIS ODF Mailing List. Past job maybe? A bit more Googling led me to the ODF Alliance Wikipedia page. Now I know you shouldn’t  believe everything you find on Wikipedia, but, it makes for Interesting reading: highly recommended to interested parties.

It looks to be closely related to the SIIA; Sharing offices (reportedly  but hard to confirm), sharing PR companies and indeed the SIIA is noted as one of the primary founders of the organization. But the Wikipedia article also notes, as I have above, the paucity of information about the actual governance of the organization.

The ODF Alliance was a key lobbyist against OpenXML (ECMA 376 now ratified as IS 29500) which I guess is fair enough in so far as that rather ‘robust’ process was concerned. But, I struggle to see why they should not now be taking a far more objective and constructive approach to the Microsoft implementation of ODF?

One has to wonder just what sort of Lobbyist the ODF Foundation actually is? A Lobbyist *for* ODF? Or a Lobbyist against Microsoft?

Rants|Monday, 01 June 2009 06:17:20 UTC|Comments [1]|    

Elasticity is the Key For Early Cloud Adopters

Originally post on the Intergen Blog

I’ve been spending a bunch of time of late thinking, working and talking about Cloud Computing platforms. There’s plenty of smoke and even a little fire too.

If you’ve been listening to the IT media for the past 12 months: Cloud Computing means many things to many different people but I tend to list 3 key attributes of most Cloud Platforms.

  1. Elasticity
    The ability to turn capacity on and off as and when required
  2. Infinite Scale (or the illusion thereof)
    The ability to scale up/out your solution as much as you want. It’s illusory in that Microsoft or Amazon do have a limited data centre resource, but it’s unlikely your application will be able to come even close to saturating it.
  3. Pay for what you use
    In the cloud you only pay for the user accounts, or processor hours, or gigabytes of storage/traffic that you actually use. To a degree this goes along with elasticity- though the level of granularity is key.

From the various vendors there are Cloud Platform offerings with differing degrees of what I tend to think of as vertical integration.

  • Software as a Service
    These are the likes of the Microsoft BPOS offerings or They’re fully packaged services- rock up with your credit card and you can have a seat of Salesforce or an Exchange mailbox. Your unit of scale is basically a user account- have as many user accounts as you want for as much scale as you want.
  • Infrastructure as a Service
    At the other end of the spectrum are the big virtual machine clouds run by people like (EC2) or Rackspace (Mosso). Your unit of scale here is a Virtual Machine (complete with operating system). I also group things like Amazon S3 and Azure Storage in here. You can have as many virtual machines as you want in EC2- but, remember that scale doesn’t come for free, you’re still going to be looking after your operating system; keeping it patched and so forth.
  • Platform as a Service
    This is the greyest of the categories. We’re talking here about platforms that provide you with some sort of abstraction atop multiple servers allowing you to scale out (elastically). The sorts of things that fall in here are Windows Azure Compute, Google Gears and Microsoft Live mesh. Arguably Salesforce, CRM Online and SharePoint Online fit in here to a degree too. The unit of scale here is a more abstract concept- these platforms generally require you to build a scale ready application from the outset; by taking this hit up front you get the benefits of not having to worry about things like the underlying operating system management.

So if that’s our taxonomy why do I say that elasticity is the key for early adopters?

Elasticity is the one thing that the cloud vendors can do that you can’t achieve in any other way. Being able to efficiently support users who want to turn things off an on all the time requires both scale and diversity. Scale, because you need to have a large enough customer base that a user turning off a hundred or so machines represents a mere fraction of your total capacity rather than the vast majority of it. Diversity, because you want to have different workloads with different peak demands running on your gear.

The parallels here with more traditional utilities should be obvious. The reason that the electricity system works is scale and diversity. Save for some very large industrial customers, who tend to have different contractual terms, dropping 90% of the demand for a given customer really doesn’t make a big difference to a utility. Their scale is such that individual customer load changes tend to wash each other out. Yes there are national changes in demand over the day but your power company turns capacity on and off in large (and relatively efficient to start/stop) generating units. One of the reasons that this model works is that the utility customers are a diverse bunch- if their entire customer base were residential customers, all of whom cooked roast lamb every night and all at 6pm exactly then the model wouldn’t work quite so well would it?

We’ve got a pretty nice data centre setup at Intergen. We can run applications very efficiently- we have a PUE of 1.62. We can run applications at great scale- need 1000 cores on a 12 month contract we can do that. We can keep you going 24/7/365- we’ve not had an outage since we moved to our new Terrace premises. What I can’t offer you though is 1000 cores for 4 hours one morning because you’ve got a big online sale happening- we simply don’t have the scale nor the customer diversity to make that happen. I’d hazard a guess that there isn’t an internal enterprise data centre in the world geared up for this sort of request. This is the sweet spot of the cloud vendors, particularly the Infrastructure/Platform as a Service people.

It basically comes down to your periodicity and differential of demand. If your application needs 100 cores during working hours and 10 outside working hours you’re a good candidate for the cloud but other options might suffice. If your application needs 10 cores for 360 days of the year and 100 cores for 5 days in that period then my submission is that cloud is your only sensible option here. Highly elastic workloads can only be cost effectively delivered through cloud computing.

Windows Azure|Monday, 01 June 2009 06:13:51 UTC|Comments [0]|    

Isolation Before Compound – A Good Upper Body Workout in Bangalore

So I got a great workout in this morning in Bangalore today. My key focus was to really blitz my upper body.

To achieve this I focussed on using an Isolatio9n exercise followed by a compound exercise for each body part. With the Isolation exercise I focussed really hard on exaggerating the movement of the muscles I was targeting and worked hard on  not using the muscles that tend to kick in if I’m being less concentrated.

So for example- for chest I used a simple Pec Deck followed my machine press. The key here was to really exaggerate squeezing my chest together. I should hurt tomorrow all things going to plan.


Really wishing I was in WLG so I could go running like @Pipssqueaks

Gettin Fit|Monday, 01 June 2009 06:06:28 UTC|Comments [0]|    

Bing. The Cool New Stuff is for US Eyes Only

Why oh Why oh Why.

All the cool stuff in Bing appears to be available in the US localized version only.

E.g. Here is the canonical ‘Ford Focus’ search

With Locale set to New Zealand

With Locale set to US. Note that the US version is a ‘preview’ and not a ‘beta’ and note the different links appearing on the left side of the page.

A few other gripes.

The travel feature doesn’t seem to be that discoverable yet.

Flights from BOI to SEA in NZ locale

Flights from BOI to SEA in US locale

The same search on Google makes the whole flight search feature visible immediately


By actually going to the travel feature you can access this really cool functionality.
But it’s implemented in Flash!

Rants|Monday, 01 June 2009 05:56:52 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Sunday, 31 May 2009
Back to Bangalore, Back to Work, Back to the Gym: A ‘Make Do’ workout

So I’ve been horribly slack over the past two weeks. First I was sick. Then I was on holiday.

I managed a measly 36 minutes of exercise week of the 18th and I’ve managed just 2hr this week (week of 25th). But, I am back in action again as of this morning.

I’m back in Bangalore running the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Business Action Training Tour event. I’d never been tin India before the start of this year- this is now my 4th trip. Gets a little exhausting, SQ502 (the flight SIN-BLR) has to be my least favourite flight in the entire world and last night they put me 4 rows from the back in a middle seat… I was not happy.

But, that was yesterday. Got back to the gym this morning. Staying at the Monarch Luxur hotel, which despite being a ‘Jewel in the crown’ of The Monarch Group is what can only be described as a ‘good value’ establishment. The rooms are not too bad, once you flush the Naphthalene balls they leave everywhere, but the gym is a bit average.

So my workout today was very much a make do sort of workout. So here are a few tips for a make-do workout.

  1. Don’t be afraid to try a new piece of cardio gear.
    I used the rather decrepit recumbent bike here to good effect today: in fact I think I’ll try for a full on Cardio session on Tuesday morning using this machine.
  2. If there’s not enough weight on a particular machine then go unilateral and explosive.
    Today was leg day and the legpress machine here (part of one of those all in one Gym things) had a very limited weight stack. So it was a case of racking the entire stack and then doing unilateral (one leg at a time), high pace (explosive), high rep (15 per side +) exercises. Makes for a hybrid cardio/strength workout. Wouldn’t want to do it every week as it’s liable to consume a bit of muscle mass but for a first week back it was great.
  3. Use body weight exercises
    As above, you can get a good cardio/strength hybrid by using body weight. In my case this was bench step-ups. The bench here was nice and high which made this a good challenge and it was a good balance test as well.

Polar screenshot for the day

Gettin Fit|Sunday, 31 May 2009 06:11:24 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Monday, 18 May 2009
Struggling to make time to exercise

So once again, travel is getting in the way of fitness. Was in Sydney over the weekend and while I managed to get an 8km walk (and a 50m swimming race) in with Adam Cogan over the weekend I’ve not done a decent road ride for a week.

Got back from Sydney last night at midnight and on the plane to Dunedin again this morning then Dunedin to Hamilton tomorrow. Oh happy joy!

I did get a morning boxing workout in with Scott @ Les Mills on the Terrace this morning. My 3rd since I got back into it and my fitness is definitely improving.


Gettin Fit|Monday, 18 May 2009 21:31:59 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Thursday, 14 May 2009
The Making of our 48 Hour Film – All shot on the Canon 5D MkII

Roger Wong one of the people on our 48 Hour Film Comp team has posted up some behind the scenes photos. One of the things about shooting a full film with 5D MkII cameras is you inevitably end up with some great photos too.

We’re not allowed to post the video online until the finalists are announced. But I promise I’ll get it up here ASAP after that. Currently we only have a Standard Definition (stupid rules) cut but we’re hoping to remaster it in full HD too.

You might recognize ‘Dr Phil’ from 22 seconds into the new Air New Zealand Advert. What a tough job!

Horst and Carlos, our erstwhile directors.

D. McG. who composed our original score.

Collaborative editing.

Intergen | Photography | Toy Box|Thursday, 14 May 2009 00:52:04 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Recovery Aerobic Session at the Gym

Did a recovery aerobic session at the gym today. On the RedEye SIN-SYD tonight so will probably try and bang out a decent length session on the spin bike tomorrow. Note to frequent travellers: The Intercontinental in Sydney has proper Spin bikes in their gym.


Gettin Fit|Tuesday, 12 May 2009 00:09:28 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Sunday, 10 May 2009
Upper Body Workout Today: Isolateral Cable Exercises the Key

So I did upper body this morning at the Gym here in Singapore:


10 Min on the Elliptical and then into it.

Tried the old trick of pre-exhaustion through isolation exercises; namely  dumbell chest flys to start. As the heart rate chart shows, not the best. So instead I did a chest pre-exhaustion using isolateral cable flys (those are the BIG peaks in the first bit of my weights routine on the chart). An all together much better idea- the reason, cable machines give you resistance throughout the movement whereas in a standard chest fly the last part of the movement is basically at full extension and the weights just doing nothing.

An easy session on the bike again tonight.

Gettin Fit|Sunday, 10 May 2009 23:15:48 UTC|Comments [0]|    

Travel Essentials: The Hotel Area Network

All hotels these days will give you an Internet connection of some sort. ironically the most expensive hotels will charge you an arm and a leg for it and the cheapest with often throw it in for free.

For uber-tech-geek travellers there is a bit of a problem though- it’s often hard to use the hotel internet when you’ve got multiple devices. Often they’ll lock your ‘purchase’ to a single MAC address and this means one machine and one machine only. Not ideal and the workar9unds such as MAC address spoofing are equally shitty- you can’t have more than one machine connected at a time.

My solution is to take a Wireless Travel router.


I have a Linksys WRT54GC.

Really useful and well worth doing. I can now run multiple laptops either wired or wireless and my iPhone all off the one hotel internet purchase.

Toy Box | Travel|Sunday, 10 May 2009 00:02:40 UTC|Comments [1]|    

 Saturday, 09 May 2009
Solid Session on the Lifecycle in Singapore

Arrived in Singapore last night. Here for a few days running the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Business Action Training Tour.

I ummed and ahhed about bringing my road bike this time… But in the end I couldn’t be bothered.

Nevertheless I needed to get some miles into the legs this morning so it was onto the Lifecycle for an hour. I did a Training Effect of 4.8 out of 5 on my Suunto T3c which was the highest I’ve had it yet. I decided to leave getting to 5.0 for another day. 34% in my top zone was all good. Obviously the Lifecycle doesn’t give me enough data to feed to WKO+. The stats I worked to were approx 270 Watts at 110-120 RPM.

image  image

Gettin Fit|Saturday, 09 May 2009 23:42:48 UTC|Comments [0]|    

My Blog Ro9ll as an OPML File

So I needed to get this onto my iPhone. Thought the best way was to stick it up here and then others can take a look at it too if they want.

Blog Roll

Rambles|Saturday, 09 May 2009 21:16:14 UTC|Comments [0]|    

 Tuesday, 05 May 2009
Morning Masochism – Braving the rain on the Road Bike

So my morning bike ride today was an on again off again affair. An early morning tweet from @nathanm kinda leant me towards going to the gym instead. But looking outside (despite the thunderstorm) it didn’t look too bad.

Headed out around the bays but it was a nasty southerly. In the end I just ended up doing some hill repeats on Mt Victoria. Forgot to change my Polar x625x to bike mode so no power/speed/cadence in my chart today which is a bit annoying.

image   image

Gettin Fit|Tuesday, 05 May 2009 21:38:22 UTC|Comments [2]|    

Hmmm…. Jade 6.3 looks to have better .NET Support

I’ve always found Jade to be an interesting beast- though admittedly only ever from afar. Object databases always showed some promise yet never really went uber-mainstream- whether that was a result of any inherent weakness, lack of appropriate developer skills or bully boy behaviour by big RDBMS players who knows. Jade would certainly be one one the the bigger players in the space though and as a Kiwi tech guy it’s always nice to see local firms doing well. I’ve certainly come up against Jade systems in previous bids and I know a number of our customers have Jade applications running in-house.

The announcement (for all it's technical brevity) looks to indicate that it’s going to be a bunch easier for those of us in the .NET world to wire up our applications into a Jade system. I’m picking in the past we probably had to thunk through something nasty like either an unmanaged API or an ODBC layer which, given the idea of an OODBMS doesn’t really deliver the ideal experience.

It’s certainly something that’s going to be interesting to discuss with some of our existing customers. Being able to wire up Jade based back end (I hesitate to call them ‘legacy’ even though I want to) systems to next gen front end apps written in WPF and.or Silverlight could make for some exciting projects.

Pity that their developer license doesn’t really let it compete with SQL Express in the ‘no-cost’ end of the market. The license does not allow any commercial use.

Human Aggregation|Tuesday, 05 May 2009 00:15:47 UTC|Comments [4]|