Archive for the ‘technology’ Category


Google AdWords gets partial HTML5 makeover

It’s been a while since I’ve posted but I saw something this evening that I thought was worth posting.  I’ve been spending a lot of my free time lately developing and promoting an iPhone app.  I’ve got a second in process so this whole process has been a great learning experience.  Part of my mobile obsession extends to browser based apps (i.e. not App Store downloads) that utilize some of the advancements in the HTML5 specification (I use the word ‘specification’ loosely as I’ll include local storage, geolocation, etc under the same umbrella on this site).

HTML5 has it’s pro’s and con’s that each developer needs to weigh (we won’t get into that here) but web storage and web database are great advances.  The packaged modern mobile browsers (Safari, Android browser, etc) all support the specification which allows applications to store information from within their application that persists from session to session.  It can be very powerful…but it is definitely open for exploitation.  A common example is Gmail which utilizes the storage feature (along with App Cache) to allow you to work within the Gmail web-app while you are not connected to a network.  It also speeds up the entire user experience.

All that being said, I logged into AdWords this evening to begin preparing my campaign for this weekend and noticed they’ve begun utilizing local storage.  The great thing about it is that they request your approval rather than doing it behind the scenes.  Given that any website can create a ‘database’ on your local machine for storing information, I think that all user-agents (think Safari, Firefox, Chrome, etc) should force the user to authorize each use of local storage – i.e. one approval for

In short, it’s really cool that more and more sites are beginning to implement these features as browsers roll-out support but I’m more impressed that AdWords asks for permission.  I think more web-apps should follow the AdWords lead!

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12Sprints – My take on SAPs Google Wave competitor

A couple weeks ago I was given access to the Beta program (thanks @12sprints for listening).  12Sprints is SAPs answer to Google Wave for the enterprise that they’ve deemed a “Virtual War Room”.  It seems to be part of the Business Objects division (based on information from emails I’ve received).  In short, I’m VERY impressed with the service and opportunities I see it leading to.

I’ve held off publishing my review to ensure I gave my self ample time to review the different aspects of the service.  I will say that my final experiment (before publishing my review, that is) was performed on a Mac in the Google Chrome browser. I was greeted by a warning message that was essentially ‘browser not supported, proceed at your own risk’ but found no significant issues.  There were a few overflow errors (likely just CSS) but the service worked splendidly which excited me since Chrome is my browser of choice.

How I’m Looking at 12Sprints

So, I entered the experiment with limited exposure to Google Wave (I have an account but haven’t been that active) looking at 12Sprints purely from an enterprise operations standpoint.  How can the average enterprise use 12Sprints to succeed or make themselves better?  Four areas immediately popped into my mind with instant thoughts of SAP backend integration – purchasing, customer service, engineering and, of course, the executive suite.

Purchasing and customer service is probably at the top of everyone’s list.  The ability to collaborate across a multi-national corporation on large purchasing decisions or bounce a customers complaint around to different people in an organization with ease has incredible potential for the business and the consumer.  Combine the collaboration aspect of 12Sprints with integration to SAPs backend and the possibilities for process improvement are endless.  Ideally, I see purchasing and customer service being integrated with SAPs Records Management and Case Management solutions.

Engineering is something that may not make it to the typical list of use-cases but I think it’s important to call out.  An organizations ability to design products and reduce the overall time to market is a competitive advantage that I see 12Sprints impacting for the better.  Couple the collaborative nature 12Sprints with SAPs cFolders solution and I think you have a very interesting solution that will help reduce the time it takes for companies to hit the market introduction stage of a product.

Feature Set

12Sprints came loaded with a solid set of features for the typical enterprise.  Actions within 12Sprints are organized into what is called an ‘activity’.  Each activity can have any number of ‘tools’ such as agenda’s, responsibility matrices (ARCI, RACI, DACI and RASIC), Cost/Benefit and SWOT analysis, Pro’s and Con’s and even a decision tool that requires that you ‘lock in’ what was decided.

I think one of the really cool features is 12Sprints integration of the online note tool Evernote.  The process of adding content from my Evernote account was seemless and a huge draw for me personally.  I question it’s reach at the enterprise level right now (none of my clients are currently using Evernote) but at an individual user level I find it very useful.  User’s can also post content from their computers such as Excel spreadsheets,  PowerPoint presentations or that recently completed White Paper.

Missing Features

I think the biggest feature missing was the ability to chat with other members of an activity or your organization.  Collaboration on documents, decisions and the like is key (the major use-case here) so I don’t understand exactly why an embedded chat feature was left off the list.  My guess (hope) is that it is in the works for a future release.

Another feature that I’d like to see made more prominent is the services integration with various SAPs services.  Understandably, 12Sprints is still in beta (and I don’t have an SAP environment linked) but I couldn’t find any clues of it’s potential integration with an SAP backend system.

They do, however, have a call for developers looking to partner on the product so perhaps they’re attempting to build that ‘app store’ ecosystem where enterprises can purchase miscellaneous extensions to enhance the service.  I think it would be a great move to drive innovation and reduce the time it takes for 12Sprints to exit Beta.  It’s obviously too early to tell but given that the apps are the flavor of the day for platform roadmaps I wouldn’t be surprised.

All-in-all – two thumbs up so far and expect additional reviews as the 12Sprints team continues to enhance the service.

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GrandCentral Forgot to Renew Their Certificate

It seems GrandCentral, the Google owned phone number consolidation service, has failed to renew their security certificate.  According to the Firefox connection message displayed when I tried to login, the certificate expired yesterday afternoon.  Maybe they renewed it but the configuration hasn’t hit the server yet?!?

GrandCentral Certificate Expires

GrandCentral Certificate Expires

January appears to be a rough month for the internet behemoth.  Last January, around the same time (January 23rd actually), someone at Google failed to renew the domain which brought it down for several hours after someone else registered it.

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No Built-in XML support for Google Chrome

For anyone that reads this regularly, you know I’m a pretty big fan of Google products.  So, when they announced the launch of Chrome, their web browser, I was quick to install and start browsing with it.  It has since become my default browser (other than when testing webpage rendering) on both my personal and business computers.

Chrome got rid of the ‘fat’ around the browser giving me the tools/options I use the most and increasing my viewing area.  Another great feature is the fact that each tab runs independently so if one crashes it doesn’t destroy your entire browser session.  Just that one tab!  One thing I do wish they had though, ALT+F+C/X to close a tab.  However, that’s a discussion for another day.

Anyways, I’ve been using Chrome extensively the last few weeks and was disappointed when I discovered that there doesn’t appear to be any built-in XML/RSS rendering support.  I already use Google Reader so I’m not looking for an IE approach (feed in the browser – I don’t even use the browser), but something similar to Firefox would be nice if I happen to land on a page that is XML/RSS.  Not only does it not offer a way for me to subscribe to the document, it just displays raw text.  Here are some screenshots for comparison.

I’m disappointed but I’ll continue use Chrome.  It just makes it more difficult to subscribe to things than it was with Firefox.

RSS feed in Google Chrome

RSS feed in Google Chrome

RSS feed in Firefox

RSS feed in Firefox

RSS feed in IE7

RSS feed in IE7

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Gmail Adds Mail Goggles Lab Feature

Gmail just launched a new labs feature by the name of ‘Mail Goggles’.  Yes, you read that right…Mail Goggles.  It’s tasked with the job of making it more difficult to actually send those embarrassing emails when you’re sitting behind your monitor inebriated.  I don’t know about you but if I’m out enjoying a beverage (or few) I’m not carrying a computer with me and as far as I know the Labs features don’t work with IMAP.

I guess for those few (maybe there is actually a lot) that have problems with drunk-mailing this could be a good fix but I’d much prefer Gmail spend the time to come up with ‘mailbox rules’ similar to Outlook.  Before people start screaming, yes, I know you can use Outlook with Gmail but I don’t want to have to use it.  With rules, I can easily setup a 1 minute delay on outbound emails.  This allows me to catch that last sentence or add that last recipient that may have slipped my mind as I clicked ‘send’.

You can configure the settings on the ‘general’ tab after enabling the feature.  It’s a pretty quick configuration and let’s you tell Google when your preferred drinking times are and allows you to make it as easy or as difficult as you want.

As I found while I was testing, once you ‘pass the test’ once you can send as many emails as you want without being prompted to take the quiz again.  Apparently, you have to logout and then login again to re-prompt the ‘Mail Goggles’.  At least I had to logout, even when I tried sending messages to a different address.  Maybe it only asks you to verify once every set amount of time?!?

Verdict: Leave this one disabled.


Gmail Adds Mail Goggles - Settings

Gmail Adds Mail Goggles - Settings


Gmail Mail Goggles Easy Settings

Gmail Mail Goggles Easy Settings




Gmail Mail Goggles Difficult Settings

Gmail Mail Goggles Difficult Settings

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Amazon Brings Enterprise Databases to the Cloud

The people over at Amazon Web Services have been busy at work the last couple weeks. The Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) team has rolled out two significant computing options over that will really help pave the way for more enterprise adoption of their services.

Last Tuesday, Amazon announced that it plans to unveil the ability to run Microsoft Windows Server and Microsoft SQL Server on the EC2 platform later this fall.  This announcement is a huge step and will allow customers to deploy ASP.NET applications using a host of database options as well as other Windows-based applications such as Windows Media transcoding.  This advancement in cloud computing will really ease the transition for potential enterprise clients which still tend to be very Windows heavy – ASP.NET portals still seem to be rather popular in my experience.

Last week, in an email to developers, they also announced that Oracle has certified EC2 as “the first cloud computing platform that has been authorized to run supported Oracle databases” which also increases the database options for enterprises and developers alike.  According to the announcement, customers will be able to run Oracle 11g, Oracle Fusion Middleware and the Oracle Enterprise Manager on AWS.  Oracle is really taking an interest in the project and has delivered a set of free images to help make deployment easier.

I don’t claim to know how many ‘enterprise’ clients Amazon Web Services has on its roster but I think this is really a step in the right direction.  I know enterprise security executives are still wary about throwing their proprietary data in the ‘cloud’ but who wouldn’t enjoy a little extra cushion for those PR heavy days when your site gets overloaded.  I can only imagine how busy the Bear Sterns intranet was the day their employees found out it was over.

This will also continue to lower the barrier of entry for web-based start-ups.  The language of choice these days tends to be PHP, but that isn’t normally a part of the university curriculum.  Now, students can continue to expand on those class projects and turn them into successful (hopefully…) start-ups.  Of course, that’s only for those few that aren’t programming before they hit high school.

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