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Archive for June, 2009

Google : A company that transformed everyday life.

Posted by sureshkrishna on June 29, 2009

I would not have written this blog in the year 2000 and by now i am highly opiniated towards Google, of course in a good way. During my graduation years (1996-2000), i highly used Rediff and Yahoo search for my college projects, and ACM seminars. In the year 1996/1998, Google was known but to very few people. At the present day Google is not just a Internet search company but a World Wide phenomenon which changed the way everyone things. Google virtually got implanted in today’s life of everyone. I was quite amazed with the following news from Yahoo CEO in the annual share holder meeting.

When asked why Yahoo continues to lag Google in financial performance and employee productivity, Bartz said it was time to stop comparing the companies to each other because they have different business models. “Please, this direct comparison model to Google is not fair and is frankly not relevant,” she said.
While Google is purely a search-advertising company, search is only part of Yahoo’s business, she explained.

Source : http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_12688924

While i have all the due respect for the Internet Portal company “Yahoo“, i think Google is not simply “Search-Advertising Company”. Google is the company that revolutionized how people viewed e-mail, blogs, advertising, analysing the web sites and viewing the world with google maps. Of course i am sure others may have other favorite applications. But i personally feel these are the applications that every one uses daily. Everyone means really everyone… my parents use google for everything. Anything my parents want to learn, they just google it. I had difficulty in explaing when i said to my father that i would like to do Computer Science in my under graduation. I still have difficulty to explain the differences between C, C++, Java, Oracle, Windows, etc… but they just used almost all google technologies without any help. This is the amazing part for me.

Technology is one thing that i am extremely fond of with Google. But more than technology the amount of research that would have gone into designing intuitive applications is AWESOME! There is so much of Computer Interaction Design necessary for a company like Google. I don’t recall any technology or product from Google, which i had problem in understanding. All of them are so intelligent and intuitive that everyone feels ease to use the Google products.

Everyday many of us use Google in many ways. Some just use the Search, some use the e-mail, some use the Google’s Android technology to build application, some use GWT to build web applications and so on. The list probably is never ending and a matrix can be established to depict different technologies and users.

I am in no way different from any of the technology savvy guys out there. However, the affinity towards Google and Apple has been tremendous and I just can’t think a day without the help of the applications and gadgets from these companies.

Google and Apple in my Life : I wake up with a morning alarm in my iPhone and  look for any important mails. For me iPhone is the “world’s smallest computer” and does great things. While looking into my closet for the day, i look into the iPhone weather to get the right outfit. Because even though i live 40 miles from San Francisco, the weather dramatically changes there from Fremont. If i get little time before i am off to office, i would invariably open my google mails and connect with my friends, family and my old and new colleagues.  Of course, i don’t have the habit of the reader news paper but i open my google reader and start reading my technology and general news across the world. Google reader helps you to aggregate lot of great sites in the form of RSS feeds. The good thing is that i can share the news that i like with my friends and colleagues.

Mpst of my planning about my monthly expenses and small documents for my personal use happens with the Google Docs. This is a wonderful application  and i love it. The way Google built the Docs application with almost all the features of the Office and Open Office is amazing. The cool thing is the ability to collaborate with multiple people for editing a documents such as Word, Spread Sheet and recently i can save my PDFs and open them from Google itself. This is extremely useful feature for me. A year back, when i was working on a personal project, i collected requirements in Google Word and then shared it and gave the editing rights to my partner and view rights to developers. This was so cool… me and my partner could also do the real-time editing on documents by talking to each other with the google talk. I maintain my personal finances in Google Spread Sheet and my wife has the viewing rights on it (for this time :)).

Sitting in San Francisco, i could nicely see the image of my home in Hyderabad, India. I could see the arial view of the places that i wish and Google Earth made this possible. The great thing is you can search and tag all the places that you roured and share the content like photos. You could also get the historical content from Google Earth.

In the earlier days before iPhone, i had a real dumb mobile; no other features except call and receive. As long as i am hooked onto the Internet i got all the information that i am looking for in an area. Me and my wife are fond of the Italian and Chinese food. So where ever we went, we made sure that there are some good restaurants around. When we went to places like, Napa Valley, Monterey, Carmel-By-The-Sea, Los Angeles, San Deigo, San Francisco, Morrow Bay and many more places, we had to take a printout of the restaurants around or used to catch a local guy there and ask him for good restaurants. But with the invention of the GOOG-411, things have changed. It is so easy to find a local business and get connected in seconds. Just dial 1-800-GOOG-411 from any darn phone that you have and say waht you want, listen to the options and then get connected. Its that simple. After this peice of cake, i never had to bother about printing the restaurants, or addresses of any local businesses.

Google Mail is one of the cool things i like about Google. As i remember Google was the first email provider that gave 1GB of space free for your mails. Till that time people used to struggle with low space and used to create multiple accounts on the same provider to safeguard the data. At the time of writing this article when i looked my gmail account it shows “You are currently using 955 MB (13%) of your 7342 MB“. Of course over the time the cost of hardware has dramatically reduced. However, the credit of providing the premium service goes to Google in the early days. The idea of a “conversation” is so cool and intuitive than the emails sorted by the date or size.

Youtube revolutionized the way people viewed the video content and sharing. A simple concept of being able to upload your videos on to Internet and billions of people can view the quality content is amazing. The ability to share to public or to specific users is the cool thing that everyone liked. There are videos that we wanted to share with world, and some only with family an friends. Youtube is the only reliable solution as i see till now.When my father got cardiac arrest early this year, it was the Youtube that i could get so much of information about a heart surgery. My in-laws who are doctors get so much of information on the Youtube about the surgeries and medical interviews, etc…Of course this product is not the brain child of Google as i know. Google acquired Youtube.

Orkut probably redefined the way friends used to communicate and the way people got connected. Even though i don’t use it now, i was a great fan of it during the year 2003/2004. The purpose of the Orkut by the founders probably is little different. However, it re-united all our school and college friends in a matter of 6 months. Though initially privacy issues was a serious matter, looks like they worked on it now. Orkut was also acquired by Google.

Where ever i go, i make it a point that i get some memories along with me in the form of photos. I take great pictures of the nature, historical buildings and people (i am not a big fan of pets or animals). It used to be a pain to upload on to the Yahoo Photos and then came the Flickr. However, Picasa was so easy and loaded with features, that Picasa actually overpowered the Flickr. I dont use Flickr anymore and all my iPhone and digital photo pictures goes straight into Picasa Desktop to Picasa Web. The recent features of being able to make a movie, colleage, and edit pictures are really really great. Of course we may have Adobe PhotoShop for couple of hundreds of dollars, but Google gives it for free.

With so many applications that i use from Google and iPhone, i just can’t imagine my life without these gadgets. If i plan for a vacation, this starts from using the Google Search to research the places and use Google Docs to store the information then use the Google Maps to look fot the driving directions to that place (could also select multi-route), look for the beautiful pictures uploaded on to  Google Maps then send a Google Calender invitation to my family members about the vacation planning and information.

All the above features from Google are only from a Technology USER perspective. One should remember that i never wore the hat of a technologist. Till now i am only a home user of Google.Though all these applications till now are great and does a great job, i do have some complaints.

Google Talk is one application that i liked initially but not anymore. Google Talk used to be a dll installed and i could see it in the process explorer all the time. I dont like Dlls. However, i am happy user of Skype. Skype i great for messaging, video conferencing and such.

Google Chrome is a sweet thing but i had several problems with major banking and financial web sites. I could not use it after a week and reverted to my good old friend FireFox.

Google Toobar and Google Desktop Search are 2 applications that i would definitely avoid. The Google Update Manger that gets installed and runs in the processes all the time is a bug pain. I just done want Google to update it. I know when to update and I will update.

I am sure many technology an software developers are earning their life on the technology inventions like Google Android, Google Web Toolkit, Custom Search for Google and other things.

Of course, the great thing is that almost all the things that i mentioned above are possible with iPhone :). So, as of now Google, iPhone, Twitter and Facebook seems to be inseparable.

Do you also think that modern technologies are helpful for us ? Do you think we are dependant on these technologies and we are slaves to these technologies ?

Posted in Technology, WebTools | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

IT Strategy @ GM

Posted by sureshkrishna on June 17, 2009

GM is in bad economic shape now and selling it’s some of the famous brands.  Looks like Pontiac, Hummer , Saab and Saturn are officially dead now. So, GM probably has the other 4 great brands – Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick. GM has enjoyed the supremacy of No 1 Car  manufacturer for more than 70 years and now the moment of truth has come and its pretty hard for GM to take it.

One of the challenges for the executives at GM is not only to stay where they are but also to put efforts to regain their No 1 position, sooner or the later. There is an immense challenge ahead of GM’s CTO Fred Killeen to make sure that the GM stays in control of the IT costs.  According to a recent article in the eWeek, GM is doing a variety of things in IT to achieve it’s financial goals.

I really liked a statement of Killeen that “If you don’t invest in future of company, you won’t have one“.

Looks like before Killeen took over as CTO, there used to be thousands of applications at GM and now they are trying to consolidate and standardize the applications. Following software stack is core for GM…

VM Ware ESX and Sun’s virtualization technologies are implemented at its data centers. GM is not yet into the band wagon of the Cloud Computing. Perhaps GM may be skeptical about the reliability of the cloud computing from Google, Amazon and Salesforce.

In any case i am very surprised that GM is not adapting any of the open source solutions in the area of the Virtualization, Communication and Team Collaboration. I am sure many of the GM’s current strategy is falling into the expensive category and i believe GM can definitely benefit from the open source strategy. Of course, if i were Kelleen things may have been different ;) .

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Geek Poll – 2

Posted by sureshkrishna on June 14, 2009

In the series of the Geek Poll, it is the search for the most subjective query… which is about the Most used Programming language for the enterprise tools, enterprise software and application software. If i missed out any famous language, please do let me know. I would want to add.

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Proactive Maintenance is crucial in all industries !!!

Posted by sureshkrishna on June 7, 2009

During the start of my career as a Software Engineer, my first assignment was to maintain a COBOL system that used to transact approximately 5000 records per hour. It was very huge and challenging system with web and AS 400 system integration. During the start of the career, the general idea for me as a Computer Engineering student was to build software framework and systems with fancy programming languages and databases. Once i was thrown in to the COBOL maintenance, i was kind of dejected for initial few weeks. Luckily, my manager noticed this and made me understand why is it important to maintain software systems and what can one learn from it.

I am writing this article to remind all the developers and designers of the software/hardware systems in all industries about the maintenance of the critical systems. A problem, which everyone thinks small could become big or crucial or critical in certain circumstances. All the industries face the same problem that any system can not be tested with all the real time scenarios. The test data or test cases for any system are limited and time bound, So can not be trusted for 100% test coverage and safety of system.

Very often we encounter the “refactoring” dilemma in the software industry. The question that comes to everyone’s mind is should we refactor “NOW” or put it off for later “trigger” ? All projects are faced with the following challenges, which makes a project to decide if a “refactoring” is necessary at that time.

  • short time
  • limited budget
  • non-availability of resources
  • pressure from sales and marketing and
  • finally pressure to deliver

We always tend to postpone and procrastinate the code, design and architecture refactoring. Very often “shit happens” and the cost of refactoring is sky rocketing. Customer is angry, development team gets demotivated and project stakeholders are unhappy with the system performance. Some of these problems are addressed by the agile methodology (TDD, SCRUM, XP, RUP, etc…) and some are addressed by the timely act of “experienced” leaders in the industry. However good is a methodology or a process, finally everything depends on the people who implement it. So many times i get “upset” when big organizations talk about “people independant” process ???

Finally, i was moved by the recent incident of the Air France flight (Rio de Janeiro to Paris) havoc, which probably seems to be a problem with some failed hardware. The news seems to be that the hardware sensors had to be replaced some months back and for some reason they did not do it. Irrespective of whether this is a hardware failure, it calls for everyone to be more attentive, proactive  and creative when building the critical applications and systems. Following is an excerpt of the news from internet.

Air France issued a statement with details about the monitors hours after the French agency investigating the disaster of Flight 447 said the instruments were not replaced on that aircraft – an A330 – before it crashed last week into the Atlantic Ocean en route from Air France issued a statement with details about the monitors hours after the French agency investigating the disaster of Flight 447 said the instruments were not replaced on that aircraft – an A330 – before it crashed last week into the Atlantic Ocean en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

Air France said it began replacing the monitors on the Airbus A330 model on April 27 after an improved version became available.

Pitot tubes, located on the exterior of the aircraft, are used to help measure aerodynamic speed.

Aviation officials have said the crash investigation is increasingly focused on whether external instruments may have iced over, confusing speed sensors and possibly leading computers to set the plane’s speed too fast or slow – a potentially deadly mistake in severe turbulence.

An Air France statement said that icing of the monitors at high altitude has led at times to loss of needed flying information.

However, the Air France statement stressed the recommendation to change the monitor “allows the operator full freedom to totally, partially or not at all apply it.” When safety is at issue the aircraft maker issues, rather than a recommendation, a mandatory service bulletin followed up by an airworthiness directive..

Air France said it began replacing the monitors on the Airbus A330 model on April 27 after an improved version became available.

Pitot tubes, located on the exterior of the aircraft, are used to help measure aerodynamic speed.

Aviation officials have said the crash investigation is increasingly focused on whether external instruments may have iced over, confusing speed sensors and possibly leading computers to set the plane’s speed too fast or slow – a potentially deadly mistake in severe turbulence.

An Air France statement said that icing of the monitors at high altitude has led at times to loss of needed flying information.

However, the Air France statement stressed the recommendation to change the monitor “allows the operator full freedom to totally, partially or not at all apply it.” When safety is at issue the aircraft maker issues, rather than a recommendation, a mandatory service bulletin followed up by an airworthiness directive.

Posted in News, Process, Quality, Reviews, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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