The Dyson Airblade is impressive

If you live in the UK (I’m not sure how far these little beasties have travelled) then you’ve almost certainly encountered one of Dyson’s Airblades in a toilet or rest room near you. In the past, not that many years ago, hand dryers were weak and wimpy affairs, which seemed designed to do little more than push the water up your arms so that the sleeves of your shirt or jersey would absorb the moisture. No real drying went on. Then came Dyson, with his big engine and novel “no rubbing” design.

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Oracle versus Google

James Gosling clearly joins the wider development community in condemning Oracle’s decision to pursue Google over alleged wilful patent violation. It’s hard to argue with such esteemed commentators, and I do share an aversion to software patents, though less so to closed source (and I do understand they’re linked). However, I do think that most of the arguments reflect a particular world view, and it’s definitely not one that Oracle shares.

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Does the BCS meet the needs of its members?

I’ve been a member of the BCS for a long time, and attended the meetings of some of the special interest groups over the years. My company has spent some time with SFIA and SFIAplus models as a potential basis for staff development and CPD. Incidentally, the abbreviation SFIA stands for Skills Framework for the Information Age, and I think you’d get extra points if you identified when the Information Age began (I’m not sure, but it’s possible that it may already be over?). Through all that, I’ve steadfastly maintained my belief that standards in the software industry have to improve, that CPD is essential, and that there’s a value in establishing something like a chartered status for those who demonstrate attainment of appropriate experience and expertise. I also maintained the thought that the BCS was the best vehicle we had for delivering all of this. Sadly, I’ve been consistently disappointed.

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High Court ban on BA strike is disturbing

I am due to fly to Aberdeen this weekend, so I was initially delighted that the High Court had ruled that the planned strike by flight attendants at BA could not go ahead. In addition, based on his regular presentations on the Today programme on Radio 4, I am not a big fan of Unite’s joint leader, Tony Woodley. However, with the caveat that I have not read the complete judgement, I feel concerned given the reports that the basis of the injunction was the failure to adequately notify union members of the results of the ballot.

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The impact of Software as a Service on oil and gas

During a meeting with representatives from our press relations company we were discussing (again) the impact of what we’re doing in bringing production reporting and hydrocarbon allocation online and delivering it as a hosted service. The fact is, I believe that this is not just an interesting alternative approach to software acquisition, but a radical departure that will transform our industry. I realised that the most important point is that we are driving costs down and dramatically enhancing quality, simultaneously and at a rate unequalled in the history of IT systems provision.

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Will you buy an iPad without a camera?

With the release of the iPad this week, Apple demonstrated their ability to do two things: build desirable products and generate unbelievable hype. Arguably, the second frequently acts to the detriment of the first, in that nothing can match the frenzy of speculation reported by the various rumour sites. However, it seems clear, even at this stage, that the iPad is likely to be a huge success, representing as it does a media device that people really will use in their living rooms for surfing, listening to music, watching movies and TV, and sending email. Unlike netbooks or laptops, it will feel much more natural and available. Even though it does so much less than the speculation considered likely, it does appear to do what it does brilliantly, and given the success of the iPhone it’s clear that people are drawn to the experience of a true computing appliance, without the file systems and the Start menu or whatever.

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Oracle and Sun Strategy Webcast

The Oracle Sun webcast is going now, and I thought I’d blog what was interesting (for me, at least) as it goes. I’m not going to post this live, but I’ll have a go at capturing the key ideas as it goes.

First up is Charles Phillips, President of Oracle.

The new “red blocks” picture for the Oracle stack adds the Operating System, the Virtual Machine, the server and the storage, so it’s no longer just Applications, Middleware and Database. They want to be the IBM of the 1960s, but building on open standards.

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Oracle and Sun: Predicting the Future

It’s done, and the takeover of Sun by Oracle will go ahead. Now the speculation on the future can begin, though we should learn some of the likely strategy during a web conference this evening. I’ll post on that when it’s done. However, I thought it might be fun to speculate ahead of the news, not least because I don’t expect there to be complete clarity even after the call. The topics reflect my own interests, rather than any attempt to be comprehensive.

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Reducing the costs of IT in oil and gas

The ways that oil and gas companies address IT, outside core disciplines such as geology and geophysics, are marked by an unrelenting enthusiasm for cost cutting. However, it’s often the case that the methods employed, including outsourcing or offshoring, end up forcing a difficult choice between quality of service and cost. In the short term it’s easy to cut costs, but when you discover the things that don’t work because they’re outside scope or ill-defined, and the costs of putting them right, some options can be less appealing.

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