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Content Staging and Virtual Staging

I was just reading over at Gadgetopia the post by Deane Barker about Content Staging and the merits of Virtual Staging of content. i was impressed by Dean of exposing the disadvantages of the Virtual Staging methodology especially when arises the need to change Menu structure.
When i come to think about an Architecture like this i think there is a balance point that is better then virtual or actual. Since we have to consider other parameters to the equation such as redundancy stability and productivity my take on the staging is a bit complex.
A Decoupled CMS/WCM is the term you might use for the architecture but the nature of the implementation does not mandate the software to directly support this.
I will start with a diagram of the architecture and then dive into the water.
Publishing CMS architecture
As you can see i have quite a strong opinion in regards to the content staging and publishing. :)
The process i see is a decoupled CMS that is a hybrid approach of a single server with multiple endpoints, the content generation is done in the internal facing content management server and staged through the application and web server so that it can be examined when a workflow is informing the editor of an upcoming change or new content and enables the creator to examine his work in context, i am a supporter of the in-context editing.
This is not the pure Decoupled system with many to many relationship as i have not seen a successful implementation of such a system yet.
But now that we have separated the content editing from the live content we have some ease of use and the ability to do any thing we want on the content editing site and later publish it to the website.
The publishing method can be any set of things, it could be DB replication and having to work on the same SAN/NAS or it could be file sync and DB injections, any method that has the stability and is well maintained is a good method.
The DR of the system has much more to offer as the environments are unconnected and can be replicated to a Hot Cold or Hot Hot scenarios, the ability to push the content in several data centre’s is also natural to a system like this.
As for the direction of content and code, or the Backward Forward dance “Code moves forward. Content moves backward.” blog post by Seth Gottlieb, in this scenario the whole server farm is our production and the content moves from here down the glide path.
The separation is based on the ability to separate the core from the content editors UI, letting the application interact with the API (core) of the product away from the content editors server, in some products this separation exists in a natural form and you will not need to manipulate the product, in some cases you will have to create that separation in a more complex way, but it is possible in most products.

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Product Management and release cycles

I am a bit shocked from release processes in the last few weeks and cannot hold back the feeling.
I am a supporter of release fast release often but there is a bit of a stretch named “Within Reason”, if your application size is 30Mb and you release every 3 days the commitment is, how do i say it gently, over demanding.
release within a reason is a bit like resisting the developer urge to just throw all the new magnificent features that are hot out of the testing oven and giving them to the customer. its a noble thing to do, but it has its price.
Making a person update regularly is one thing but annoying them with multiple updates makes a regularly updating customer to a deferring update customer, its like a nagging kid, the more updates there are the less you feel they are important and deserver your attention.

Another thing i noticed lately is developers putting release notes, this harms the product and should be done by the product manager. why do i say this? look at the following example from prezi desktop.

Crop images and pdf’s by double clicking on them.
Draw straight lines, bend arrows, and manipulate them much easier.
Application starts much faster.

This is agonizingly not commercial and lacks the sales pitch, we need to make the client feel the love we spread. a person reading this will think, who is running this company? how is this allowed out? what does this reflect on my information security and the way things are managed?
Yes i know that these days with the Sony fiasco there are claims that even well managed companies are not that well managed. and security is just a matter of luck.

Looking at iTunes release notes you get the feeling they know what they are doing

iTunes 10.2.2 provides a number of important bug fixes, including:

• Addresses an issue where iTunes may become unresponsive when syncing an iPad.
• Resolves an issue which may cause syncing photos with iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to take longer than necessary.
• Fixes a problem where video previews on the iTunes Store may skip while playing.
• Addresses other issues that improve stability and performance.

iTunes 10.2 came with several new features and improvements, including:

• Sync with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.3.

• Improved Home Sharing. Browse and play from your iTunes libraries with Home Sharing on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.3.

This has the feel that i am in the centre, yes in the middle of the product they are thinking of me and not on themselves.
We have to get the feeling of been cared for while we use the product, this is the secret sauce of the big brands.

Yes i am claiming there is merit to the Product Manager other then just setting the tone of the product and making sure features get released, he has the job of communication to the crowd and mediating the products achievements.
Especially in a startup when we are probably the developer and the product manager we need to keep this in mind when we write the release notes, the client is in the middle of the product and we need to communicate that thought.
We need to remember that releases as importent as they are, unless you are apple and i have to use your bloated itunes, need to be incremental if possible and small if can. a full release of the product is not always necessary if the product is architecture in a way its achievable.
So to all my Startup buddies i call, learn from the mistakes and improve.

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I Fixed my iPad

About a month ago my son managed to reach the limits of elasticity as far as the digitizer was concerned. it smashed into so many little pieces that i was glad we had the screen protector, it held them in place and left the iPad operational.

So i decided to fix the iPad on my own, as an adventure, so i hopped online to look for the parts i will need. i looked around and everybody is fixing a non broken ipad with a complete digitizer. This was not very useful as i figured out later.

I ordered a new digitizer and waited to get it in the post. it reached quickly after a few days, so i started the gruesome task of opening the iPad. since i never did it before i expected it to be simple as the people explaining the process on iFixit, it isn’t so simple. my recommendations are to start with the LHS near the top or bottom corner with 2 metal openers as the plastic ones wont handle the force of the clips. also be aware that the bottom LHS is a very delicate plastic that will squish when force is applied. my take was shatter the frame just be careful of the LCD.

Another thing i noticed when trying to get the digitizer off the plastic frame was that its not easy to remove shattered glass even when heated out of a plastic frame. so be prepared to get a new frame, its better and so i did. i was ooo so exited getting the new frame out of the box, i had an open iPad with all the parts waiting to be assembled and i even bought a set of clips to put to the frame as the ones that were on the old frame just bent and broke. alas the screws are too small for the holes the frame has, something was missing.

After a short look around the internet i found 2 things that are important for the final assembly, screw nuts that go in the frame and the adhesive that holds the digitizer to it. order that and wait a week to get it.

Yesterday it all came to be, all the parts are ready and i am about to put it together with my son, and i realize the nuts are not fitting they are very hard to press in. i decided the brutal way is just what the doctor ordered and took a hammer and an elan bit to push the nuts in, it was the right way.

From that moment onwards it was just an assembly game screw the LCD then the clips and then put the adhesive in the right order stick it all up and you got the screen assembly done. the next phase is to put it all together and here comes iPad back to life.

After a month of lacking the iPads presence i have it back. it is such a nice feeling.

So what is are my lessons?

The biggest is don’t mess with apple, the way everything is tightly positioned into the packaging and the way it is assembled is to prevent you from dealing with the internals of the thing seems to be well thought out. though it is much better then an iPhone 4 situation it is still not the easiest thing to open and close.

If you are going to fix it yourself either buy all the items in one go, list below, or but a fully assembled digitizer and frame with the clips and all as it is available these days from some places.

List of items to buy:
Digitizer
Frame
Nuts
Clips
Digitizer adhesive strips
T4 screw driver
Metal opening tool (expensive but worth it)

I hope you will have a quicker and easier fixing experience then i did after reading this.

Good luck

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Requiem to comments

We all like reading posts on blogs, news sites and media. we like to see videos and pictures. some of us like to comment on them too. but those comments are not social, they are local and isolated. who saw this in his twitter feed?

i commented on _____ blog post http://bit.ly____

This is a hack with a hint to the future.

Comments are a social thing, an interaction of the reader with the blogger. Why should it not be a part of the social fabric?
There are a few first trials to weave the social tools to website, like the cmswire.com  reactions driven by disqus, but comments are still available. No one was bald enough to take the plunge yet and remove comments all together.

The Facbook social plugin gives another platform to replace the comments while adding the facebook aspect to it.

The risk as with all cloud services is the locking of the data to a third party and with the last Amazon EC3 shutdown, as with all risks the mitigation and the value it offers should be assessed, my view is that an integration of a twitter/facebook feed to your articles is much more engaging then the current comments structure. The value and exposure in the social networks will beat the search value, yes i think that search will crumble against the mighty social network information structure, information is ranked better in a social network to my oppinion but that is a huge article i have no time to deal with at the moment.

So what do you think about the comments death? is it inevitable?

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The ICQ lesson

The other day I went, uninvited, to the hive in Sydney, again thank you Michel Williams (@mia_will) it was great! Thanks again Michel. I was talking to some of the guys and we started discussing business plans. It was amazing how we were all in under the same opinion that there are too many startups who are based on thin air with no real solution to the monetization problem. There is a general feeling of lack of ideas on how to monetize the plentiful ideas out there. Many of the ventures get an idea and think that they do not have to have a way of making money from day one.

Some people talk about Google’s early days and not having a plan on how to make money, it’s a nice example but they were selling their search services in the early days and made the money to survive. But mostly you see niche markets been explored with the plan on becoming the next Twitter, Gwella, Facebook or Google’s apps. It is possible to do so but on a short-term basis. Lets go back to the hay days of Internet entrepreneurs and the time before the bubble burst of 2000.

wowowowoowowwowo (time machine sound)

We were all racing to get users. The equation then was Users=Money. We didn’t know how we do the conversion but the general assumption was from either adverts or some other form of monetisation that no one thought about yet. It was a race for the best base of users. And why users you ask? That was the investors way to calculate how good you are. In those days it was not even how many active users you have but how many registered users, no one thought about monitoring what are the users really doing.

Back then there were no Instant messaging platforms so ICQ guys invented that. They got great traction and many users.  Soon after them came Odigo and other competitors to the space and they were making nice traction, not the same as ICQ but nice. When AOL bought ICQ all the other players in the IM field were all praying to do the same fate, not just the IM field, we were all praying. The sole survivor for the years to come was ICQ, none of the other independent ones survived. The bubble burst and they had to show how they monetised the service, they tried with adverts but the market was too young, some took money for the service but ICQ was free. None of them started with the idea of having a source of income.

The same happened to a startup I was in, TreeWay – we made some thing like homestead, it was competing in a market where the major player was in and had considerable amount of users, when investors stopped funding we were not in a position to continue but Homestead was. They were offering premium services and collected money from 15% of their users at that time.

wowowowowowowwo

We all hope to stumble upon Twitter or Facebook with our ventures, it’s a great dream! But it is quite rare and mostly unlikely. We are in a business environment and we need to play the business game.

When going to the market these days you need to have a plan on how to make money, not huge amounts in the starting point but enough to show investors that people give money to get your product. You should also plan on how to make lots more when the time comes, it can be a simple plan since that is not set in stone.

As a sidenote I personally hate integrate advertisements and think they don’t make the point of people paying for a service, but that does not disqualify them as part of a business plan, the only problem with them is that they don’t scale very well and you will need to be Google to really make something substantial.

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The way Tim Wu is presenting the internet’s future is quite daunting, an internet that is no longer open and free for all but controlled by commercial entities like Google, AT&T or even Steve Jobs. This a truly grim picture of our future.

His book The Master Switch starts with a description of the “Miracle” of wireless phone, an invention made by AT&T in the 1960 and brought them the market dominance for years to come. it also stands out that the way communication was handled in america those days was in the spirit of UFO and Spaceships, less in the spirit of technology and achievement that we have today.

Fears expressed in his book are partially intimidating, when our recent history shows us how governments just shut the internet down partially or fully as in Egypt and China. This is a fear inspiring book to read which raised a question in my mind, is the future of the internet to be controlled in this way? are we stepping in the verge of the end of information flow and freedom of speech?

I believe not.

I have a feeling that the Author is abusing our innate fear of technology and big companies to instill fear into us. he also abuses the lack of knowledge about the internet structure, making people think it is that easy to just shut it down in places where there is no single point of entry controlled by a single entity. The case of China, Egypt, Libia, Syria and Yemen is the latter one where the backbone connection is through a single junction controlled by the national company of telecommunication.

But the trut is that when you are aware of initiatives like http://buythissatellite.org/ making the access to the internet pat of your basic rights, you get the picture that this Master Switch is nowhere to be found and that information accessibility is becoming that basic human right.

No i am not covering my head in the sand screaming your wrong. i am just opening my mind and looking at the world with the highest resolution i can get. the way it looks in the more modern world it seems that with the rate of adoption of network technology the future is open and may i dare to say free. We will institute the internet as part of the basic human necessities, as education should be, some where in the future.

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Enterprise collaboration

When Enterprises are faced with the need to maintain knowledge the jolt action is to call the Knowledge Manager, get some practices in place and buy some expensive Collaboration environment with all the bells and whistles and send emails to all employees with incentives to put information on it, usually some form of a long term competition.

This is great! but only if you get the people on board after the competition is over. most cases you get a half updated system with some information there.

But how do you solve the problem oh lord of the data? he has no answers.

I call darwin! lo and behold people do transfer knowledge in the current environment, they use some mediators like email groups or some other web tools that existed or were in place long ago. some time it could be missing all together and then you need to see how the individual gets his share of the guru. the idea is first to observe the company, it made it up to here some how.

From this point you have some pattern of behaviour, some form of information flow patterns that match the culture of the company.

Here we have another jolt, lets mechanise it and use some tool that they will need to use to do the same form of pattern but through the tool. this will destroy the pattern and will eventually create a new pattern so the whole observation period will be repeated.

The trick is to eavesdrop, do the FBI thing and tap the phone. yes it is easier said then done and it will be some times even impossible.

When it is possible, for example when most of the communication is done via email groups we need a way to capture and retain the groups content, representing the threads in a meaningful way and indexing the content in an extensive manner.

This method of eavesdropping will keep the information flow intact and create a knowledge base containing the real live companies information.

If we have not eavesdropped we would create an interference, assuming all communication is done by email and we mandate a requirement of adding a certain email manually (i know we can automate most of this and even capture it but i am making an example) you will get slippedge and thus only partial information will be stored in the email.

But if we want to entice people to stop using word and email as their main way of transferring information and move them to a collaborative environment, some place where you post your documents and have wiki pages that enable you to edit information as a group, what will be the means to drive the workers to that place?

In my experience it takes time to change the habit unless you create a physical limitation for the other communication way, lets say you block word documents on internal emails, and give the same security that a personal email gives.

Solution should always keep the same capabilities that make it the preferred choice or else it is doomed to be useless, if the security in personal email is not kept in our document management system no one will use it as they will feel expose.

The way to judge the solution is the same as any software solution which is purchased to enhance the organisation, we need to look at the benefits each feature brings to the organisation and not who has more, matching these behaviors and features to the organisation’s will produce the best result. If you can POC the solutions from the companies then do that for a couple of months and even do a face-off between the final candidates.

Social Media is proving to be a useful tool to companies when interacting with the world, make it a great tool for internal communication.

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enterprise focused startups?

I find myself gazing at the headline above and thinking, man this is impossible!

Why would i have such a thought? i am suppose to be positive! bright future! look at the full glass! but alas, i giggle at the thought. its not that i think this space is not potentially loaded. its just that enterprises way of carrying business will probably kill any cash starving startup, signing a contract and paying isnt always the top priority and they know it. Enterprise conglomerates use big companies because they know they wont be able to do business with a startup unless it is a small running business with some cashflow.

The cases i hear about tend to be in the Social space where its all experimental and there are only now some companies that are marching in with social offerings. look at the collaboration space and the story of Atlassian. it took them quite a long time to make the big jump to the real enterprise size companies.

But i see it more as a david and goliath story where they need to work together, not rock each other to death, and david’s agility gives a great value to the goliath needs. its just a matter of trust, will goliath ever trust david to survive the starvation and the hardships of the way? if you can only make goliath believe in you…

Even Larry Dignan is under the impression that the startups for enterprises are not the best bet from the IT personal in the enterprise

But a lot of the stuff you’ve seen this week either has little enterprise use, is too raw or would get you fired if you seriously pitched buying anything from said startup.

Any thought on how to become the next Yammer?

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As i mentioned in my previous post there is a vacuum out there, the vacuum is getting sites in trouble and will have to be solved soon.

The latest news about a class action against TripAdvisor just strengthen the sense of that void. since the hotel owners are suspicious over the legitimacy of the reviews they get, especially the vicious ones, they are left to speculate about the reviewers authenticity and if the person behind the user has ever stayed in their premise.

Its true that if a person is going to be pointed out to a bad review he will not make the same review, but there could be mechanisms to allow for him to be anonymus while digitally authenticating its existence.

In a perfect world, of course, anonymous reviews like those on TripAdvisor are honest and true and insightful.

Combine this anonymity with the value of a review, if you are anonymus your less valued then if you are not,  with the knowledge that the person is real and you got a better grasp of the reviewed venu.

The problem is that we still dont have any organization/company to enable this identification, yes you can hook the Facebook API and get some half breed. But Facebook or any other organization do not state that every login has a real person behind it, this is the missing link.

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Rumor or not, google is going to fight the social network market. its not an obvious reason of why they are doing it for the third time. The value of the social networks is only starting to emerge in Facebook and that is also debatable over what is the next phase there. it seems the fight here is not about the social network side of things, nor it is over the direct monetary value though its growing and can become huge.

The way Facebook is distributing its resources in login API, restore identities to the rightful owner and expanding the identity attributes and security settings, makes me ponder what is the value in that?

Looking at the WWW space there is some thing missing, some thing that no government will be happy to expose. its the identity management system, there is no way i can prove online who i am through any government institute. they give me my identity card and that is it. though in some countries you are needed to use your ID when making a transaction with a credit card over the internet it is still not a very robust way to achieve identification.

Facebook is attempting to get to the status of WWW Land identity management company/organisation, something only governments do in the real world. this indicates to me that the real social network value is not short term capitalization like advertisement or social marketplace but in the identity management of the WWW Land.

The firm that will rule the social network of today will rule the WWW identity management market of tomorrow.

But wait!! what is the value in that? well, ask AMEX/VISA or any other identity theft fighting company that will tell you how much they spend a year figuring out who is a legit person. How about making that donation on every transaction to Google or Facebook?

Google probably know this and are making their efforts to create an easy to adopt alternative to Facebook, that said they have not been ultra-successful in doing such and are losing ground, and people, to Facebook’s new buzz words like Social Marketplace (did i hear ebay and amazon?).

What do you think?

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