28 Feb

Microsoft to keep track of instant messages

CNN:

"Aiming to further legitimize real-time communications, Microsoft announced a licensing agreement with IMlogic to embed IM (instant messaging) archiving technology into future versions of its enterprise-level IM products."

I don’t think the guys at Cordant are opening bottles of champagne right now. Seems a tale of former Microsoft employees (Cordant’s Sonu Aggarwal and IMLogic’s Francis deSouza) basically creating similar products after leaving. No, it’s even worse, the two guys had co-founded and sold Flash Communications to Microsoft, and are both MIT alumni! Either one took the other by speed, or there are differences between the two products that I don’t see.
Cordant: "IMScribe is a comprehensive solution for Exchange 2000 IM compliance requirements, encompassing logging, archiving, reviewing, reporting, etc."
IMLogic: "IMlog 2000 allows enterprises that use Exchange 2000 IM Server to parse, filter, store, query, retrieve and generate reports on IM traffic."
Ok, how many IM logging tools for Exchange Server can be sustained in the marketplace? Looks like the former CEO and group manager comes again on top of his former COO and lead program manager.
11/12/02 update: Microsoft to launch corporate IM.
01/13/03 update: IMLogic raises $14M.

27 Feb

This Suit Makes No Sense

Stewart Alsop:

"Couldn’t these AOL Time Warner execs just bury Netscape and get on with their lives? Couldn’t they focus on the future and on competing aggressively in today’s landscape, rather than trying to extract a pound of flesh from Microsoft through the court system? Instead of fighting back with great products and technological genius, this company is choosing to fight in the courts. And that bodes ill for the future of AOL Time Warner."

27 Feb

Jason Kottke rents a car online

Jason Kottke:

"Ecommerce sites that are slow, time out a lot, throw bad errors, and are generally not very pleasant to use tend to have URLs containing "jsp", "servlet", or ".jhtml". Perhaps that’s an unfair generalization to make because sites using Java on the back-end can be implemented and designed properly, just like with any other programming language, but there seems to be a strong correlation nonetheless."

Absolutely. These sites fall in the "overly complex and expensive, what’s a user again?" category. Application servers are back-office systems, and if you directly expose their output to users you’re begging for trouble. Usage of extremely complex URLs and sessions for anonymous visitors are the most visible symptoms.
Anytime I hear a site was done on stuff such as Broadvision or other J2EE thingamagics, I’m thinking the decision process was probably done on pseudo tech-terms, such as Java is "The Standard" (only as much as ASP or PERL or PHP or half a dozen other tools that are standard because, well, lots of people use them). Then the project is launched regardless of cost-effectiveness (and is the project actually doable?), let alone usability.
By the way, hint to experts in newspeak, on the real meaning of "standard": "Widely recognized or employed […] Commonly used or supplied". "Standard by decree" is an oxymoron unless people start embracing it (in acts, not words).
In fact I think these sites come from a parallel universe where the Internet has been inented in the USSR. Clunky, unnecessarily intricate, manpower-hungry, top-to-bottom tech that should work but, well not quite, and is used regardless of the people the system is supposedly made for. There must even be a hidden relationship of some sort between these two acronyms, J2EE and USSR.
I don’t have the expertise to judget the technology platform itself. But the catastrophic way it’s often used is plain to see. Is there a lack of high-traffic, successful and well done J2EE sites (that don’t require hundreds of techies to maintain and millions in Sun hardware to scale)?

26 Feb

Microsoft Announces New Customer Relationship Management Solution

Press release:

"Microsoft Customer Relationship Management will be available as a standalone product as well as an integrated solution to Microsoft Great Plains Dynamics, Solomon and eEnterprise. Its expected availability in North America is in the fourth quarter of 2002. Availability outside of North America will be phased and is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2003. It will be sold and implemented through Microsoft Great Plains’ reselling partner channel".

Microsoft wants to leave no TLA untouched: ERP, CMS, now CRM, and SAN is coming as well. Probably won’t be as easy for them in Europe, where I don’t think they have any Great Plains presence to start from.
02/28/02 update: as an example, the French market is served from the UK. Market for enterprise software sold in France from the UK = 0.
05/08/02 update: Microsoft Expands in Europe With Navision Deal.

25 Feb

Web will lose if Google hunts for big bucks

Seattle Times:

"[C]an Google avoid the hubris and greed that turned Netscape essentially into a money play, Apple into a niche player and Microsoft into a global monopoly? It’s a significant question. If Google sells out to monied or powerful interests, it could easily be turned into a subtle but pernicious Web marketing vehicle, forcing unwanted information on users while filtering out alternative news and opinion. That would be a waste of its transforming technology and leave the Internet a poorer place for learning and enlightenment."

25 Feb

Robot Exclusion Protocol

Ftrain:

"I am Google! I find many good things. I find that pair of underwear with the little dice printed all over them. And I watch the tape of you with the life-sized Stallman puppet. These are good unique things. Many keywords and links! My masters will say ‘much good job, little robot!’ Many searchers will find happy links of Stallman puppet see you! Ahhhh."

23 Feb

A glimpse into the state of musical metadata (circa 2010)

Ok, so we’re having cool tools to handle our digital music collections, but here’s why we’re only scratching the surface. The id3tags we get are mainly about the physical media our music comes from: album, band, track, … We’re just starting to get more interesting stuff such as lyrics or classification by genre and tempo, but this is not enough if you’re interested in the music itself, where it comes from, and how it’s played.
I want musical metadata that helps me learn music, starting with the score of all the instruments that are being played and links to information about the instruments themselves (name, history, usage, set-up…). I want rhythm pattern recognition, so that I can navigate from a mid-90’s Drum & Bass loop to its original early-70’s “Funky Drummer” structure [*], to the first Jazz drummer who played poom tchak poom poom-tchak sometime in the late 50’s. Throw in melodic paternity as well, in order to track where samples, covers, derivation and imitation come from.
We’re starting to see pieces of that in various databases, but it’s not yet included in the music itself. We’ll need a format that is both structural (like MIDI) and more or less faithful to the original sound (like good mp3).

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23 Feb

Amazon’s dot-com investments continue to haunt

Seattle PI:

"Even though the online retailer was burned badly playing the venture game, [Amazon.com] is still on the prowl for investment opportunities. But this time the deals are nowhere near as high-profile (in some cases Amazon.com doesn’t even announce them). And they also don’t come with hefty price tags. In the past three months, Amazon.com has bought assets of failed e-tailers such a Egghead.com and OurHouse.com. Last week, it signed an agreement to receive visitor traffic from San Francisco-based Switchouse, a defunct online swapping service for consumer goods."

22 Feb

Some Yahoo sellers splitting personalities

CNet:

"Some Yahoo merchants are using a trick to boost their presence in the company’s shopping search results. Instead of opening one store in the company’s shopping mall, they are opening multiple stores, all under different names, but offering mostly the same inventory at almost the same prices. The result is that a customer who searches for a product on Yahoo Shopping may find that they get multiple results from the same merchant without knowing it."