Richard D. Jenks Memorial Prize

Dick Jenks photoI had the honor of working for and with Dick Jenks for many years in IBM Research. With other computer scientists, he led the development of computer algebra systems like Scratchpad and AXIOM.

I’m very pleased to be on the selection committee for this year’s ACM/SIGSAM Richard D. Jenks Memorial Prize for Excellence in Computer Algebra Software Engineering. Please visit the link and read the description below for more information.

2011 Call for Nominations for the

ACM/SIGSAM
Richard D. Jenks Memorial Prize
for Excellence in Computer Algebra Software Engineering
http://www.sigsam.org/awards/jenks/index.html

The 4th Richard D. Jenks Memorial Prize for Excellence in Software Engineering for Computer Algebra will be awarded at ISSAC/SNC 2011 at the FCRC in San Jose on June 9, 2011. The Prize will consist of a plaque and a cash award of $1,000.

Nominations, including self nominations, for this Prize are hereby solicited. Each nomination should be accompanied by a carefully completed nomination form. Candidates (or their nominators) should arrange to have two to five confidential letters of recommendation submitted by persons who are familiar with the nominee’s software engineering achievements in computer algebra. The letters are an especially important part of the nomination packet.

Software engineering will be interpreted broadly, but it should be an important component in the work of any nominee. The nominee can be an individual or a team, when the latter is appropriate. Any questions about the suitability of a given body of work for the Prize should be directed to a Member of the 2011 Jenks Prize Committee listed below.

All nominations must be received by Friday April 15, 2011, 23:59pm EDT (+4 GMT)

Daily links for 01/29/2011

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A winter escape from New York

This is a not a story about leaving the City for a fun-filled winter vacation. Rather, it details how I managed to get home ahead of the sixth big snowstorm to hit the area this season.

This last week I was in New York City to speak on a panel at the SIIA Information Industry Summit. I flew down from Rochester, NY, on Tuesday and although there was a two hour delay on my flight, I got to my hotel in Times Square with no major problems.

New York City and many of the towns and cities along the US northeastern seaboard have been hard hit with snow storms this winter. These have caused quite a bit of travel disruption and loss of school for children in the Mid-Atlantic and New England States.

In contrast, where I live in northwest New York state, my son has not had any snow days off this winter, though some schools did take a day off when the temperature was below -10 F last week. This surprises some people, I believe, because they think Rochester, Syracuse, and Buffalo are just slightly below the Arctic Circle. (I jest.)

Map of 42nd StreetMy panel was late in the morning on Wednesday. When I awoke in the hotel it was clear that it was already snowing. Due to some confusion on my part, I had several long blocks to walk to the conference site, as my hotel was on West 42nd Street and the conference was at Cipriani on East 42nd Street, across from Grand Central Station.

It wasn’t worth trying to find a taxi during the morning rush hour and I figured it would be quicker to walk than getting stuck in the slow traffic. I still thought this was true even though I had a rollerboard suitcase and my backpack.

I got down to the street and immediately noticed that it was indeed snowing quite heavily. But, wait, look at all those silly people with umbrellas! Where I live, in the northern snow belt, real men and women don’t use umbrellas in the winter. So I walked half a block and got pretty much coated with wet sticky snow. I stopped under a store awning and pulled out and raised my umbrella.

It was a slippery walk for 15 minutes, made worse by my wearing dress shoes. I got to Cipriani without falling, gratefully checked by bag and coat, and settled in to the conference. The meeting was focused on the publishing industry and my panel dealt with some of the issues in moving to digital publishing for mobile devices. John Patrick put up a good summary over in his blog.

The panel ended around lunch and I called my assistant for the second or third time that morning to see what the travel situation was. I was due to fly out of La Guardia airport around 5:30 that afternoon. One of my options was to stay another night in New York and fly out the next morning when, presumably, travel would be less affected by the snow. There were already several canceled flights on Wednesday morning.

We decided that it would make sense for me to head out to La Guardia airport, so I grabbed a taxi out front of Cipriani, once again managing not to fall on my butt in the slippery snow. It was a slushy but easy ride out to the airport in Queens, helped a bit by our going through the Midtown Tunnel and so avoiding some of the snow on the road.

La Guardia was oddly unbusy since many people had checked on their flights, realized they were were canceled, and stayed away. Security was a breeze and I was through it in about 15 minutes.

It was then around 1:00 and there was a delayed flight to Rochester leaving at 1:20. My flight at 5:30 still showed up as on time, but that really only meant that it was too far in the future to show an accurate schedule. At least it had not been canceled, yet.

To me it is oddly excited to get to an airport and find out that you might be able to take an earlier flight, especially if you are homeward bound. I went to the gate for the 1:20 and learned that the plane was going to be coming from Portland, Maine, but it had not yet left. There were, however, plenty of empty seats and the gate attendant put me on that flight in addition to the one at 5:30.

Time went by and the gate attendant to whom I had spoken left when her shift ended around 3:00. I decided to doublecheck on my dual seat reservations and so went back up to the desk. It turned out that I had not been put on the correct earlier flight at all.

The gate person offered to move me to that flight but warned that I might be bumped if they had weight restrictions. This happens in bad weather when the planes have to put on extra fuel to allow for takeoff or landing delays, or if their flight paths are changed.

If I did shift to the earlier flight, maybe I could get back on the 5:30 if I was bumped. I asked how it was that I had gone from having two seats to possibly having none, but she just shrugged. So my choice was to wait and see if I could grab a seat on the late 1:20 or, failing that, just take the 5:30 home. Meanwhile, it was still snowing.

La Guardia to Buffalo to RochesterA third option then presented itself. A flight to Buffalo started boarding from that same gate. I asked if I could have a seat on that, and I snagged one. I ran back, got all my bags and coat, and got on the plane. My seat was 13A, that coveted last row window seat opposite the bathroom, but it was a seat!

We went through normal de-icing, took off after a little delay, and landed in Buffalo 5o minutes later. By 5:00 I was driving out of the airport in a rental car. At 6:15 I was returning the rental car and getting my car from the parking lot. By 7:00 I was home, earlier than I would have been if I had taken that 5:30 plane.

Well, much earlier, it turns out. The 5:30 was canceled as the weather got worse. The delayed 1:20 did eventually fly but I have no idea if I would have had a seat on it. At that point, I didn’t care. I was home.

The snow picked up in New York City and along the northeastern seaboard overnight and many places had 10 to 20 inches of snow by Thursday morning. Almost all flights out of La Guardia were canceled until Thursday afternoon. Had I waited, I would have been in far worse shape than if I were aggressive to find some way to get close to home on Wednesday evening. It worked out this time, but that wasn’t completely an accident.

Daily links for 01/27/2011

  • “I like Honeycomb’s new features. They sound great. I just object to Google to turning Android into two separate but unequal platforms Sure, the hardware was never going to be the same, but did Google really need to make two platforms? Apple seems to be doing OK with iOS for everything from iPad Touch devices to iPad. For Android developers the bottom line is going to mean more work because they’ll need to write two different versions of every single application. Like I said at the top: “Ack!””

    tags: google android iPhone iPad

  • “Government agencies in Australia should actively participate in open source communities and will be required to consider open source options equally when going to tender, under new policy announced Wednesday.”

    tags: australia Open Source

  • “Developers from RedHat, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, openSUSE, Mandriva and Mageia got together last week at the SUSE office in Nürnberg to discuss how they might implement a universal application installer they are referring to as an Application Store. This is in response to the belief that end users aren’t interested in libraries, dependencies, compatibility, and other technical details. They think users only care about screenshots, basic descriptions, ratings, user reviews, and such. The idea is to define and write a tool to find and install applications.”

    tags: linux package manager

  • “OStatic reports on the rather massive undertaking. Last week, at the SUSE offices in Nürnberg, developers from RedHat, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, openSUSE, Mandriva and Mageia convened to talk about creating a universal installer and application store for all these various Linux distributions, bringing together various established technologies.”

    tags: linux

  • “One of the most common mistakes new desktop Linux users make is to give up too easily, often citing the frequently heard myth that “It’s too hard.” The truth, however, is that it’s just different. It may be difficult to remember at this point, but Windows took some getting used to, too.”

    tags: linux switching desktop

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Daily links for 01/22/2011

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Daily links for 01/19/2011

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Daily links for 01/18/2011

  • “So perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise that the company’s first mobile application to use Alpha was similarly tailored for a refined audience and came with a correspondingly expensive price tag of $50. No doubt displeased with the response, Wolfram shortly after decided to “focus on ubiquity” and cut the price to $2. Now Wolfram is showing signs that indicate a deeper understanding of consumer sensibilities, announcing new iOS applications called Wolfram Course Assistants to help students with algebra, calculus, and music theory. They tap into Alpha’s Mathematica abilities behind the scenes, but they’re focused, packaged, and reasonably priced at $2 for algebra and music theory and $3 for calculus.”

    tags: education wolfram iPad math

  • “The World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has unveiled a new logo for HTML5 — and along with it, a new way of framing the conversation about newer web development technologies. The topic of HTML5 has been one of great debate and no small amount of confusion over the past year or so. With the ardent support of companies such as Google and a great deal of enthusiasm from developers in all areas of work, HTML5 has taken its place in popular conversation as the magic-bullet antidote for everything that’s wrong with web development (we’re looking at you, Flash).”

    tags: html5 w3c logo

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Daily links for 01/17/2011

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GNOME Foundation is searching for a new Executive Director

GNOME logoI’m on the search committee for the next Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation, and this is a reminder that applications are still being accepted.

The announcement details what the Foundation is looking for:

The Gnome Foundation is currently recruiting an Executive Director to run and grow The GNOME Foundation and project by engaging volunteers, governments, partners, companies and independent organizations. The Executive Director will work to develop and maintain programs to further GNOME’s goals, to promote the benefits of the GNOME platform, and encourage contribution and collaboration within the GNOME ecosphere. Applicants for this job would be able to work effectively on their own, with little oversight, while possessing clear communications and persuasion skills so as to be comfortable talking about GNOME in front of large crowds at conferences, executives in boardrooms, one-on-one with heads of state, and with the GNOME volunteer community.

Following this is a list of the job requirements for potential applicants. They are all important, but in my opinion the one that states

Able to lead in a distributed volunteer, open source non-profit.

is especially significant.

Those with whom the ED must work are distributed around the world and are volunteers. This is very different from directing a local staff of paid workers.

The GNOME culture is open source through and through, and the ED must be in tune with that.

Finally, non-profit experience is very important because, again, the money to support the important work of the Foundation must come from somewhere, and the ED must drive the fund raising.

Though not stated in this requirement, strong communication skills are important for anyone in this position.

I encourage you to think about whether this position might be right for you or someone you know. I believe it is a great opportunity for the right person. Directions for applying are in the announcement.

Daily links for 01/16/2011

  • “Linux users enjoy a rich choice of applications in every area, but particularly for office tasks. That choice is so extensive that finding apps that meet your needs can be time consuming. So I thought I would save you the legwork and highlight 10 applications that you may be unaware of and which actually could prove extremely useful in your workplace. Each of these tools differs in scope and purpose, but they all offer an obvious business value.”

    tags: linux desktop office

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2011 SIIA Information Industry Summit

I’ll be speaking on a panel hosted by John Patrick at the 2011 SIIA Information Industry Summit on Wednesday, January 26 in New York City.

conference logo

The panel is

Top Mobile Technology Trends – A Moving Target

Mobile devices—iphones and ipads—look to be the dominant information devices of the future. Will they radically reshape the market, Darwin style? Can one “predict the future by inventing it” as computer pioneer Alan Kay said? A panel of tech leaders will focus on the four sectors that drive the next generation of innovation.

Joining John and me will be Bill Godfrey, Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer and Head of Global Electronic Product Development, Elsevier; Oke Okaro, General Manager and Global Head of Mobile, Multimedia, Bloomberg L.P.; and John Paris, Sr. Director, Mobile Strategy, Time, Inc..

Daily links for 01/15/2011

  • “When is Hadoop justified? For a petabyte workloads, certainly. But the versatility of tool makes it appropriate for a variety of workloads beyond quote unquote big data. It’s not going to replace your database, but your database isn’t likely to replace Hadoop either. Different tools for different jobs, as ever.”

    tags: redmonk hadoop

  • “A few hundred words from Google Product Manager Mike Jazayeri announcing that Google would be supporting WebM and Ogg Theroa instead of the H.264 video codec in Google Chrome for the HTML5 video tag has lead to enormous controversy in browser and video circles. Now, Google has explained in more detail what’s its trying to do, and ends up defining the sides in the HTML5 video fight.”

    tags: google video h264

  • “Several European newspapers have been informed that they will not able to offer paid print subscribers free access to an iPad edition, according to Apple Insider. The problem – from Apple’s point of view that is – is that this subscription strategy is an end run around the 30% cut Apple takes.”

    tags: apple ipad

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Daily links for 01/14/2011

  • “In November 2010, Red Hat released a new major version of its operating platform with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6. Though Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 is available for customers with extensive new features and enablements, we continue to update our Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 platform through its seven-year lifecycle that extends to 2014. We recognize that many of our customers are still utilizing the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 platform and we continue to enhance this version, as well as earlier versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, to continue providing leading technology and choice to our customers through the full lifecycle of each release.”

    tags: Linux Red Hat

  • Fedora Board members have been working for quite some time to etch their vision and long-term goals for the Fedora project in stone. A Vision statement came together last year, but more specific goals were still desired. Well, after a lot of discussion some long-term goals have been proposed.”

    tags: fedora Linux

  • ““I’ll take evil, science-fiction computers for $2,000,” Alex. OK, we’re not quite there yet, but in the early going, IBM’s Watson supercomputer beat Jeopardy super-champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in a practice round. And, what is Watson running? Linux, of course.”

    tags: IBM watson Jeopardy Linux

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Daily links for 01/13/2011

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Daily links for 01/12/2011

  • “The worldwide Drupal community, along with the Drupal Association, has announced the availability of Drupal 7, the latest version of the open-source content-management system.”

    tags: drupal

  • “One important area where expensive, downloadable software is losing ground, especially among users with limited needs, is in image editing. Though the power of Photoshop is still undeniable, casual users without specific needs have long since been taking up free alternatives such as Paint.net. But now bloggers have another alternative. Web apps have been increasing in power, speed and usability, making them a more and more appealing alternative to downloadable software.”

    tags: photos editing online

  • “This year, developers have two new choices: adopt Unity 3, the third version of Unity Technologies’ increasingly popular Unity 3D development platform, recently launched in September, or utilize Molehill, the new 3D version of Flash, now in beta and scheduled for a Q2 release. It’s not a simple choice, to be sure, say game makers who must weigh the overwhelming popularity of the near-ubiquitous Flash against the support they receive from the developer-friendly Unity.”

    tags: adobe unity games

  • “An emerging virtual world platform is the destination of droves of emigrant avatars, as a price hike and the shutdown of the teen-only grid have prompted an educator exodus away from Second Life.”

    tags: opensim virtual-world

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What should an iPad/tablet math app look like?

Math apps for tablet devices like the iPad should teach you how to structure a problem and its solution so you become better organized and capable of learning more advanced topics.

As I continue to ponder math software for tablet devices like the Apple iPad, I keeping coming back to the core problem of what the user interface (UI) should be. For the record, I’m not thinking about early education math apps, so no counting leaping frogs or dancing princesses in my UI.

Rather, I’m thinking about the type of homework my 8th grade son does in math, with a continuation on up into high school and college. The work is not just computation with numbers and symbols, but can also include graphs. It needs to allow text so the student can explain what it going on and what the solution is.

For many years, students have used very sophisticated calculators from TI and others. Therefore, some apps try to emulate that UI model.

Classical computer algebra systems looked much like operating system console windows where the user would type in an expression or command, press enter/return, and the result would be displayed. So the process is: read an expression, evaluate it, print the result. Repeat. And so on.

Systems like this eventually evolved into ones where popup windows contained graphs and text could be included. The most sophisticated systems included notebook interfaces where all sorts of information could be placed on pages organized into sections. One page might look like a piece of graph paper while another could resemble a legal pad.

There are also dependencies among computations and graphs. For example, I might say “take the result from step 3, square it, and add 2″. You could also build a spreadsheet-like model where these dependencies are made much more explicit and the functions available go far beyond the floating point functions most spreadsheets provide.

So my model of the ideal math UI for a tablet is closest to a notebook that allows easy and flexible formatting of text, computations, graphs, and tables. Also, the math output should be displayed beautifully with subscripts, superscripts, integral signs, matrices, and so forth. If you know TeX, that’s what I mean.

You need to have some way of saving the contents to disk or for export, and be able to load documents that you or someone else worked on previously. Here you might be a teacher and a “someone else” might be one of your students. So the interface should allow the sharing of documents with others. For extra credit, tie this into a learning management system like Moodle or Sakai.

So we can think of lots of functionality this fancy interface could or should have, but the primary purpose is to help students or those doing the work structure and organize what they are doing and how they are doing it. It’s to get the problem solved but also to learn a logical way of doing it.

Math homework should not look like chicken tracks on a page. Those pages have lines on them for a reason. Text and lettering should be neat. Students should be able to explain in English (or their own language) what is going on at each step. The environment should help and encourage the student to answer the question that is asked. Where units like feet, quarts, meters, or km/sec2 are needed, the UI and system should allow them and enforce their correct use in computation.

Math is not about solving one particular problem enough to get credit and then moving on to something else. It is about learning how to think and recognize patterns. There are computational skills involved and those must be mastered, perhaps with help from calculators or apps, but the goal is getting to the moment of clarity where a problem and its solution makes perfect sense. The system should not do all the work for you, but it should train you in the techniques and how to avoid stupid mistakes.

Different UIs may be better for different people, but the best ones help you master the material in an organized way and enable you to synthesize the new material with what you already know. This then becomes part of the foundation on which you will layer more math, physics, engineering, economics, or perhaps just life.

Also see:

Daily links for 01/11/2011

  • “At a press conference in New York City today, Verizon said it will soon begin selling Apple‘s iPhone. The device will be available on its network starting in early February, COO Lowell McAdam said to a gathering of press at Lincoln Center. It’s the same model iPhone 4 that AT&T and international carriers currently sell except that it connects to the CDMA network instead of GSM.”

    tags: iphone verizon

  • “Of course, for any given organization these numbers may vary.  Some are 100% on the XML formats.  Some are 0% on them.   If you look at just “gov” internet domains, the percentage today is only 0.7%.  If you look at only “edu” domains, the number is 4.5%.  No doubt, within organizations, non-public work documents might have a different distribution.  But clearly the large number of existing legacy binary documents on government web sites alone is sufficient to prove my point.  DOC is not going away.”

    tags: microsoft

  • “Now come the iPadversaries. Here is what companies have to look forward to in their competition with Apple’s iPad. First, there will be a new iPad out sometime this spring. Anything introduced before this will be viewed in light of whatever Apple will have on iPad 2. One of Apple’s internal mantras is to always stay at least two years ahead of the competition. While that may not always be true at the pure technology level, the combination of an innovative device, coupled with its apps and services almost always keeps it many steps ahead of what any competitor can throw at it.”

    tags: tablets iPad

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Daily links for 01/06/2011

  • “NOFA-NY members are a living tribute to the importance of diversity; from gardeners to farmers, from cut flowers to grass-raised beef, our membership includes commercial producers, homesteaders, backyard gardeners, food justice activists, eaters, and countless others. It’s as important in our movement as it is in our fields, which is why we’ve chosen Diggin’ Diversity as the theme for our 2011 Conference.”

    tags: organic farming gardenng ny

  • “It seems that Amazon will employ a mechanism similar to that used to set book prices, where sellers set an initial list price which later fluctuates over time, discounts are offered to attract buyers, all in an attempt to maximize profits. For developers, Amazon’s most attractive selling point, beside reaching tens of millions of customers, is its methods for tracking what customers are interested in, offering them products that are likely to be bought.”

    tags: amazon android appstore

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Daily links for 01/05/2011

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Read this: ‘Open Source community building: a guide to getting it right’

Normally I just post links to interesting news or articles on the web, but this piece deserves special attention.

Dave Neary has written an article called ‘Open Source community building: a guide to getting it right’ that talks about open source communities and how and why companies get involved. It’s a very good roadmap for doing the right thing and also points out some pitfalls to avoid.

I haven’t read all the articles to which he links and may have some quibbles with them, but Dave is spot on with his analysis and advice. He offers this toward the end of the article:

After embracing open development practices, investing resources wisely, and growing your reputation over time, you can cultivate healthy give-and-take relationships, where everyone ends up a winner. The key to success is considering communities as partners in your product development.

Daily links for 01/04/2011

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Thinking about restaurant software and online services

I predict that in the future more restaurants will be managed via online services that not only help with the accounting of revenue and expenses, but assist in predicting what menu items will do well for a given profit.

Two weeks ago I posted a blog entry about the basic ideas behind predictive analytics. One of the examples I used was a restaurant on Main Street in the college town in which I live. I wondered how data about the weather and the college calendar might be used to predict sales and therefore help in setting menus and ordering supplies.

Every once in a while I look at the hits I get on the site and noticed that someone had landed on that blog entry looking for “restaurant predictive analytics” in Google. I just repeated that search and my entry was number #2 in the listing. That’s nice, but I didn’t actually say how to do the predictions based on the data analysis.

That got me wondering about software for restaurants in general. It’s a Sunday afternoon so I poked around the web a bit. A good place to start to see what is out there is RestaurantSoftware.com. Much of what is there has to do with POS (point of sale), staff scheduling, and accounting. It makes a big difference whether you are running a small restaurant or a chain of a few hundred locations in determining what software you need, want, and can afford.

In theory what you want is a great big model of the restaurant taking into account all the expenses and all the money generated. The idea is to generate a profit, and probably the bigger the better. If you own the restaurant, you need to pay yourself as well.

An interesting article to read is “How to Price Your Restaurant Menu” by Lorri Mealey at About.com. This is a good place to start because for a restaurant, food and drinks are your primary revenue makers and you better get that pricing right. Mealey states that in general the cost of the food ingredients should be about 30-35% of the price of the dish on the menu.

Let me assume 33% and we’ll look at this two ways:

  1. If the total food cost is $1 then the menu price should be $1 / .33 = $3.03. You might round this down to $2.99 but you’ll make more money if you round it up to $3.25.
  2. On the other hand, if you know a dish should cost no more than $10 because of local prices (e.g., the restaurant across the street), then your cost of ingredients should be no more that $3.30. If your food cost is more, you lose money, if you can spend a bit less, then you can make money.

This is Business 101: you make more profit if you charge the most you can and spend the least you can. Note that you don’t have to be 100% capitalist about this as you can donate part of your profits to local charities or you can voluntarily increase your expenses to pay your workers better wages or provide better benefits.

For a restaurant, the expenses are not just for food. You have to factor in what you are paying for your people, the expense associated with customers paying by credit card, the rent or mortgage on the property, taxes, water, heat, gas, electricity, non-food supplies, IT equipment and services, and any payments you make to service other debt you incurred to start the restaurant. You may have done some construction, installed new furniture, upgraded the kitchen, etc.

So when all is said and done, if you charge too little for the food you sell, you will not be able to pay all your expenses, and you may eventually go out of business. If you run the business well, charge the right amount, drive enough traffic through the restaurant, you should do well. Good luck.

This blog entry is supposed to be about software, so the key question is what software can you run to help you with all the above? Note you can do this by hand or with a spreadsheet, though it might be a lot of work.

For many restaurants the center of the IT infrastructure is the POS, or point of sale, terminal. Basically, this is a fancy electronic cash register that is connected to a back office database. It allows the cashier or wait staff to enter exactly what was ordered and what was paid. Whatever else it does, it lets you know how much food of what type was sold and how much money you made. (It can also help you understand, for example, the relative sales efficiency of different members of your wait staff.)

Given that you know how much money you made on a given day, you need to connect that to how much you spent on food inventory. Did you buy too much of the wrong ingredients because people did not order those menu items? Could you have made a lot more money on a highly profitable special if you hadn’t run out of the ingredients? Should you have known that on days where the temperature is below freezing that customers usually buy more chili?

So looking at the complete picture of the software you might want, you not only need something that looks at all your expenses and revenue and helps you manage those, but you then also want to mine this data to make smart decisions for the future.

The system should tell you what menu items to drop because they aren’t selling or are unprofitable, rather just a hunch by someone on your staff. The system should tell you what menu items are likely to sell more on what days and how many supplies to order to handle the expected demand.

If this software (and the hardware on which to run it) is too expensive, you might be better off with the spreadsheets and the guessing. I think the future here will be similar to what is happening elsewhere: more and more restaurants will be using online services where all transactions are done through a browser. The complete service will do everything I spoke of above, handle payroll and accounting, help in ordering inventory, assist in making menus, and schedule your employees.

This assumes that you have an internet connection, of course, and that the cost of the service matches your budget. Indeed, the service should help you manage all your expenses, including that of the service itself.

P.S. Don’t even think about starting a restaurant until you have read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential Updated Edition: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. You are not a good restauranteur candidate because you like to cook for friends.

P.P.S. When I was a teenager I worked bussing tables and then as a short order cook at Maggie Muffet’s Country Kitchen in Carmel, NY. That restaurant is long gone, which is exactly the way it should be.

Daily links for 01/02/2011

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Daily links for 01/01/2011

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