17 Aug

Geopolitical Tectonic Movements: Watch the Mediterranean & Beyond

Note: this entry was originally published in February 2015, with ongoing updates and edits since then. Though the daily ebbs and flows of the news cycle may make it seem like some of these issues – like the Greek debt crisis – have been resolved, in reality these are deep-seated problems that continue to simmer under the surface.

Italians have become very concerned [Corriere della Sera] about ISIS’ recent inroads into Libya, adding a new twist to a humanitarian crisis that has been going on for years [The Migrants Files]. Deutche Welle summarizes the situation in Lampedusa:

“The residents of the island are waiting and hoping that no war breaks out right at their doorstep. There are frightening new rumors that have found their way across the Mediterranean. Read More

13 Aug

Integrating Judo and BJJ for Effective, Holistic Grappling [2016 Olympics Update]

JUDO-BJJ

When I was learning judo as a kid while growing up in France in the early 80s, ground work (aka newaza) was a significant component of the art, especially as it was taught to children. We didn’t call it Kosen Judo, but it was pretty close to it in spirit and purpose. (For the semantically inclined, Kosen Judo is pretty much a varsity ruleset, not some special handshake secret form of judo, and it’s now called Nanatei Judo.)

Fast forward 30 years, and when I wanted to practice again, I found that judo had to some extent devolved into a standing-focused sport because of how official competition rules changed over the past decades. I heard about brazilian jiu jitsu and instantly fell in love with its intricate ground game and focus on submissions (as opposed to pins). But again it turns out sports competition took its toll to undermine the essence of the underlying martial art. Read More

24 Jul

Ideas to Improve Software Documentation, Raise Productivity of Mere Mortals

July 2016 update: I’m resurfacing this entry, first posted in March 2014, in light of StackOverflow’s launch of their Documentation hub. They’re one of the best-positioned companies to tackle at scale the challenges I explain below. One of their key areas of focus is code examples, which is exactly what the doctor ordered.

The explosion in the quantity and quality of both commercial APIs and open source projects is a huge enabler for digital start-ups and small businesses. Instead of painfully rolling your own version of, say, sending email newsletters or displaying a media gallery, in many cases “there’s an app for that.” However, behind the numbers, the very uneven quality of the documentation made available with said APIs, plugins, and packages, is a serious impediment to fully realizing the productivity gains promised by these vibrant ecosystems. (Wow this sounds way too much like an enterprise software whitepaper!)

Typically documentation takes shortcuts by implying bits of knowledge that the reader may not have, skipping necessary steps, leaving out important nuances, or providing incomplete and obtuse examples. These issues are compounded because of today’s development by integration more than pure coding. I’ve been thinking about how this could be alleviated. Read More

15 Jul

Website Hosting Tech: Shared, Dedicated, Cloud – What to Choose and Why?

If your head is spinning from the deluge of tech product announcements that make you feel like you’re always trying to catch up, no matter how close you stick to technology developments – breathe deeply, you’re not alone. Here are a few pointers to frame how to think about the costs and benefits of various types of web hosting.

In short, there is no silver bullet, and like most things it’s all about cost-benefit trade-offs. Yes, “the cloud” is becoming better and new solutions seem to crop up like mushrooms after rain, but you can spend days researching vendors that in the end, are pretty close to each other and won’t impact much how your business is doing. To remain sane, ask yourself these key questions: Read More

14 Jul

Web Services and APIs Need to Advertise Their Health Status

It seems everything is now being turned into an off-the-cloud service, and as a case in point StatusPage.io launched in 2013 to let companies outsource their availability dashboards. They already have lined up a nice customer roster, with a monthly runrate now above $30K. It is rewarding to see best practices becoming so obvious and prevalent that they turn into products in their own right, though it often takes a bit longer than you might first expect for things to bloom to full maturity.

This entry started with a 2004 post, and spans more than a decade since I started advocating for API and web service providers to provide transparency into their operations. Check out how things propagated, starting with the latest developments:

Read More

28 Jun

Smartphones: Time to Go Direct

The likes of Dell and Gateway exploded on the PC scene in the late 80s/early 90s by streamlining their supply chain, thinking of themselves as OEM assemblers rather than manufacturers, and selling direct to customers, at the time mostly by phone (we’re talking pre-web era here!). This became known as the Wintel model, where you don’t buy an IBM computer as much as you buy an OS/CPU combo at the best value, the PC brand being a commodity.

25 years later, some players are taking a somewhat similar approach in the smartphone world. And it’s high time this happened. Read More

21 Jun

Turbo-Made in China

I first posted here in 2007 about Andrew Shane Huang’s great coverage of manufacturing and technology in China, especially the street availability of electronics components. I hadn’t kept close tabs on him, and I see that he’s kept going strong for the past decade. He’s recently crowdfunded the printing of a sourcing book, as well as appeared in well-made videos by Wired UK, embedded below. Well worth checking him out, see also What $50 Buys You at Huaqiangbei, the World’s Most Fascinating Electronic Market. Read More

21 Jun

Out-of-Left-Field Idea of the Day: Google Broadband

Over the past decade, the headline of this entry, first published in October 2004, seemed less and less outlandish. By March 2014, Larry Page had made that a very explicit goal, echoing Bill Gates’ earlier promise of a computer on every desk and in every home. Here is how the idea that Google would get into the internet access business – as a fundamental enabler to bigger things, not in a Comcast incumbentish (hereby a word) way – turned into reality over the years: Read More