Daily links for 11/30/2011

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Daily links for 11/28/2011

  • “From JavaScript everywhere to everything on the JVM, the times and the tools are a-changing. So too is the way programmers work, thanks to the rise of frameworks and walled gardens, as well as a shift away from openness. Concerns around bandwidth, energy, and scalability are finding a place at the programming table, as are parallelism and the video card. There’s so much happening that you might find yourself thinking of going back to school, if only traditional education wasn’t fading from relevance.”

    tags: programming java

  • “The struggles of fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin to compete with real-life office-supply chains like Staples Inc. are a running joke on NBC’s “The Office.” Now, an online outlet owned by Staples is using the Dunder Mifflin name to try to sell more copy paper.”

    tags: staples dunder mifflin

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Daily links for 11/25/2011

  • “The pace of business is unrelenting and it falls to developers to deliver new applications and services as quickly as possible. In this first session of a two part series, learn how the new WebSphere Application Server V8 speeds development through broad choice and support of programming models and open standards including JEE 6, IBM Java SDK 6.0 (J92.6), OSGi, SCA, XML, CEA, SIP, Java Batch and Dynamic Scripting. Learn how you can also easily extend the reach of WebSphere Application Server applications from the desktop to mobile devices with the new Web 2.0 and Mobile feature pack.”

    tags: websphere ibm application server

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Daily links for 11/22/2011

  • “Just 8 percent of online shoppers own tablet devices, and retailers, on average, have spent an anemic $14,000 on tablet apps, according to Forrester Research. But 60 percent of tablet owners use them to shop and many, especially young people, say they prefer shopping on tablets to smartphones and even computers.”

    tags: retailers mobile

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Daily links for 11/20/2011

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Daily links for 11/19/2011

  • “In July, IBM developerWorks conducted a survey of over 4,000 IT professionals, faculty members and students from among the developerWorks community. We asked respondents about their view of the future of technology, including questions on business analytics, mobile computing, cloud computing, and social business.”

    tags: results tech trends mobile

  • “With the Amazon Kindle Fire creating a splash, it was almost inevitable that rumors would resurface of a smartphone from the retailer. In many ways this would be a backward step – a phone does not drive content consumption or online shopping, Amazon’s key drivers, to the same extent as a larger-screened tablet or e-reader. But research by Citigroup suggests the web giant does plan a handset next year, citing supply chain channel checks.”

    tags: amazon smartphone

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Daily links for 11/15/2011

  • “There are a number of factors coming together to fuel the growth of APIs. Without a doubt, one is the corresponding growth of mobile devices and the distribution of services across multiple platforms. An API is often required to create one native mobile application and becomes incredibly important when supporting many devices. Sometimes these private APIs are made public, sometimes they aren’t.”

    tags: mobile apis

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Getting started with mobile in the enterprise: The IBM Mobile Technology Preview

Over the last 15 years of my career, I’ve seen several ideas or technology trends capture a significant amount of customer, press, and analyst attention. There was Java, XML, web services, SOA, and cloud. In and around all those were standards and open source. To me, the unquestionably hot technology today is mobile.

To be clear, I’m not talking about what happens in cell phone towers or the so called machine-to-machine communication. I mean smartphones and tablets. Those other areas are important as well, but devices are so front of mind because so many people have them.

Apple is obviously playing a big role with its iPhone and iPad, not to mention the half million apps in their App Store. Google and the Android ecosystem have produced even more smartphones and a whole lot of apps as well. Then there’s been the drama around HP and webOS, plus RIM and the PlayBook and outages. So we’ve got competition, winners and losers, closed ecosystems, and sometimes open ones. What’s not to love about mobile?

It can get confusing, especially for people trying to figure out their enterprise mobile strategy. They are looking for strong statements, for “points of view,” that will help them take advantage of mobile quickly but also aid them in avoiding the biggest risks. This is made even more interesting by employees bringing their own devices to work, the “BYOD” movement.

Not every employee is issued an official company smartphone and the devices they buy themselves are often better than what the company might provide. So they are saying “I’ll pay for my phone and my contract, let me have access to work systems so I can do my job better.” The recent ComputerWorld article “IBM opens up smartphone, tablet support for its workers” discusses some of what’s happening in this space at IBM, my employer.

Next there is the whole web vs. hybrid vs. native discussion regarding how to build apps on the device itself. Should you write it to the core SDK on the device (native), stick to developing standards for continuity and interoperability reasons (web), or something in between (hybrid)? Which is faster and for what kinds of apps? Does the app cause a lot of network traffic or does it require great graphics? Are you willing to bet that HTML5 will get better and better? I’ve started discussing this in a series of blog entries called “Mobile app development: Native vs. hybrid vs. HTML5″ (part 1 and part 2). Your choice will involve tradeoffs among expense, time to market, reuse of web skills, portability, and maintainability.

What about management? If I bring my own device to work, how do the company’s apps get onto it in the first place and then get updated? Is there an enterprise app store? If I leave the company, do they zap my whole phone or just the apps they put on it? There are differences between Mobile Application Management (MAM?) and Mobile Device Management (MDM) that you need to understand.

Let’s not forget security, as if we could. A colleague of mine, Nataraj Nagaratnam, CTO of IBM Security Systems, told me the way to start thinking about that for mobile is that “a secure device is a managed device.” That doesn’t mean that all security falls under management, but rather you need to have device management to have a complete mobile security strategy. You also need to be handle identity management, authorization and authentication, single sign-on across apps, data loss protection, and all the things you need to worry about with the web today such as phishing, viruses, worms, social networking, VPN, etc. Security must be there but it also needs to be unobtrusive. Most mobile users will not know what a certificate is nor whether they should accept it.

Fundamental to managing and securing mobile devices compared to laptops is that people tend to lose their phones a lot more often than they lose their laptops. That’s a good starting point for thinking about the differences.

With that as prolog, let me introduce you to the IBM Mobile Technology Preview on IBM developerWorks at http://ibm.co/ibmmobile.

The Mobile Technology Preview encapsulates several technologies we’ve been working on in the labs. We’re making it available for you to experiment with it, comment on it, share your requirements for your mobile platform, discuss the pros and cons of different approaches to mobile app development on both the device and server side, and join the community to make it better.

We plan to update the Technology Preview as we add or change the feature set, ideally because of your stated requirements. In this release we’ve included

  • an application server runtime that uses the WebSphere Liberty Profile of the WebSphere Application Server 8.5 Alpha (runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows)
  • a notification framework
  • a hybrid app development model using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • basic management functions
  • location-based security
  • several samples featuring notifications, Dojo, PhoneGap, and a starter insurance app for handling car accidents.

The Mobile Technology Preview is available for Android devices.

I plan to use the tech preview from time to time to illustrate some of my discussions of mobile in my blog. I encourage you to try it out, track its progress, and influence its roadmap.

Daily links for 11/12/2011

  • “After a few weeks of the experiment, it was clear that the telecommuters were performing better than their counterparts in the office. They took more calls (it was quieter and there were fewer distractions at home) and worked more hours (they lost less time to late arrivals and sick breaks) and more days (fewer sick days). This translated into greater profits for the company because more calls equaled more sales. The telecommuters were also less likely to quit their jobs, which meant less turnover for the company.”

    tags: telecommuting

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Daily links for 11/11/2011

  • Google overnight sent out e-mails reminding users of its expiring App Inventor that it will no longer support the project on Dec. 31, 2011. As you’ll recall, App Inventor was a tool that allowed anyone with arguably no programming skills to create Android apps, though it certainly wasn’t quite as easy as that sounds. Google’s shutting things down but open-sourcing the project to MIT, and you can migrate your projects over if you want to keep them. Head to App Inventor and hit the “Download all projects” button and you’ll get a handy zip file.”

    tags: mobile google android

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Employee mobile device + work = potential security problem

Employee: “I lost my iPad.”

Corporate security: “Why are you telling me?”

“I had company documents on it.”

“But you had the mobile security package installed, right?”

“Err, no.”

“I would have thought the company president would have known better …”

With the BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device to work, movement rapidly picking up steam, more and more employees are taking their smartphones and tablets to the office. This can be a boon to the CIO’s office if it no longer needs to foot the bill for those fancy new devices, but opens up all sorts of security problems.

The great thing about the current generation of phones and tablets is that they are so usable. Even forgetting apps, having mobile browser access wherever you are gives you access to information and processes that can help you do your work more efficiently and in a more time sensitive way.

Of course, being so convenient and light, it is also easy to lose them. This is why you can’t just tell your people to use their phones for work. You need to manage the access and resources they have, and be able to shut it down or delete them if the case arises. This could because because of a lost or stolen phone, but also because the employee should no longer be able to get to company data. There are levels of security access and people who are former employees should have no access at all.

All of this is on top of the security problems we already recognize and handle on laptops, such as phishing, viruses, and data loss protection.

And now a word from my sponsor …

IBM is today announcing the Hosted Mobile Device Security Management service. Capabilities in the new mobile security service include:

  • Configuring employee devices to comply with security policies and actively monitoring to help ensure compliance over time
  • Securing data in the event that a device is lost or stolen
  • Helping to find a lost or stolen device – wherever it is
  • Protecting against spyware and viruses
  • Detecting and removing malicious and unapproved applications
  • Monitoring and tracking user activity
  • Enabling more secure connectivity

And now back to me …

Seriously, this is a big but I believe containable problem if you take the necessary steps to understand the security exposures of employee devices in the enterprise and take steps now to provide the necessary security. Many people are familiar with the security and management capabilities of RIM and Blackberries, and they are now asking for the same level of comfort for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.

If you don’t have a security policy in place for mobile devices in your company, you should start putting one together and implementing it now. Think about how many devices will need to be supported, what kinds, to what they will need access in terms of processes and data, and what you need to do when something goes wrong.

An employee need to understand that if he or she wants to use that cool new tablet for company work then he or she will need to live by the rules and policies set down to protect the organization’s assets. There’s a spectrum of possibilities between “you can’t use your own to device” to “you can do whatever you want.”

As an industry we’re trying to help companies move from the first situation to something in the balanced middle that provides the right level of security while maintaining the convenience, usability, and power of the devices.

Also see:

Daily links for 11/09/2011

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Daily links for 11/08/2011

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Daily links for 11/07/2011

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Daily links for 11/04/2011

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Heathrow, more and less

This morning I’m returning to the US after several days in the UK, specifically IBM‘s Hursley Labs near Winchester. It’s been a good trip but as it wound to a close I began to turn my attention, and my anxiety, to the flights home.

I’m not afraid of flying, that’s not the source of stress. Rather, I hate dealing with long lines at the airport and the people ahead of me who are seemingly rebooking travel for 50 of their relatives. Because of this, I like to get to the airport early.

My first flight today leaves out of Heathrow Terminal 3 and goes to Chicago. When I can, I try to stay near Heathrow the night before flying so I don’t have to worry about travel problems on the roads or trains due to accidents or strikes. So last evening I checked into a new-to-me hotel, the Heathrow Hilton, near Terminal 4. This is a very nice, very modern hotel, though I was shocked that they still allow smoking in some of the rooms. My room was designated as non-smoking, but that familiar acrid and nasty smell wafted down the hallway as I got to the door.

The Chinese restaurant in the lobby was quite good and I turned in relatively early after doing some email and reading (Mercury Falls by Robert Kroese). My flight leaves at 1:15 pm so I left the hotel a few minutes after 9. In the past, I’ve taken the Hotel Hopper from my hotel to the terminal, but there was a walkway from the Hilton directly to Terminal 4. So I walked, and I walked, and I walked. The walkway is an enclosed elevated tunnel with occasional windows that give you a peek at all the traffic below you.

I arrived at Terminal 4, got on the elevator to take me down to the train that would take me to Terminal 3 (or on into London had I not been paying attention). I got off, realized I was on the wrong floor, smelled yet more cigarettes, and finally made it to Floor -1.

I then started moving swiftly toward the trains since the next one was to leave in 4 minutes. Perhaps I was too swift, because I got caught up somehow in the luggage barriers about 40 feet from the train. I went splat on all fours, banging my knees on the ground. After thinking “ouch” my next thought was how I was going to maintain some level of dignity as I got myself up, dusted off, and onto the train. Some very helpful security guards asked if I was ok, which I was, if a bit sore, and I got myself to Terminal 3.

In the old days I was Executive Platinum on American Airlines which gave me all sorts of perqs including being able to check in at the Business and First Class counter. Alas, I am only a lowly Gold member now having not travelled enough in the last year. So it was with great pleasure that I saw that I could check in at a kiosk and skip the long line with the 50 relatives who needed rebooking. That took two minutes.

Then it was on to security which used up 10 more minutes. So all in all, it took me less that 45 minutes to get from my hotel to where I am now, having breakfast in a restaurant (Eggs Benedict, Diet Coke) inside the terminal. Perhaps my anxiety was misplaced, though my back does feel a bit sore from my spill.

However, I’ve travelled enough to know that each positive experience only partially offsets the negative ones. So my fingers are crossed that the remainder of the trip goes reasonably well and I get home safely around 1 am.

Daily links for 11/03/2011

  • “In the month of November, the Eclipse community is celebrating 10 years since the start of the Eclipse open source project. In November 2001, the Eclipse IDE and platform were first made available under an open source software license. IBM made the initial $40 million contribution of technology to start the Eclipse project that has now grown to technology commons with an estimated value of over $800 million. The Eclipse community has also emerged as the leading place for individuals and organizations to collaborate on innovative technology development.”

    tags: eclipse

  • “It’s hard to believe, but it has been a decade since the Eclipse platform was first made available under an open source software license. In November 2001, IBM open sourced an internal project focused on creating a common component framework for developers (and coughed up $40 million to get the ball rolling).”

    tags: eclipse

  • “The slim volume bound in vivid red cloth also includes reproductions of maps, photographs, telegrams, and letters on the battle, all from the LOC’s archives. In addition to the original text by the LOC’s David D. Mearns and Lloyd A. Dunlap, this new edition features commentary by Lincoln historian Douglas L. Wilson and retired LOC curator John R. Sellers, who discusses his experiences working with the Lincoln documents in the library’s manuscript division.”

    tags: lincoln

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

So the gas meter said to the thermostat, ‘We should talk’

In the last few weeks I’ve published several blog entries about mobile, but all of them have had to do with smartphones and tablets. There’s more to mobile than just that.

For a recent strategy presentation, my colleagues and I initially thought about how to segment the mobile marketspace and we came up with four categories:

  • Consumer: The apps and the infrastructure that support them
  • Enterprise: Again, the apps and the infrastructure that suport them, this time for companies to interact with their employees, suppliers, partners, and sometimes clients (when they are not viewed as consumers)
  • Network: What happens to support mobile in cell towers and on back
  • Wireless: The so-called Internet of Things and machine-to-machine communication

It didn’t take us long to decide that that Consumer and Enterprise should be merged since many of the features offered, problems to be solved, and technology used were the same. What you are seeing around the whole Bring Your Own Device to work movement further strengthens the idea that they should be considered together.

I’m going to discuss the last area around mobile that is listed above: wireless. Amazingly, this corresponds to an announcement made today that IBM and Eurotech have teamed up to donate software to and start a working group in Eclipse.org around MQTT, the Message Queueing Telemetry Transport protocol.

Admittedly, Message Queueing Telemetry Transport is a mouthful, and it’s no surprise that the acronym MQTT is used more frequently. Whether you like the short form or long form, I and many others think it will be very significant.

If you look around your house or apartment, you see a lot of devices that are very useful but pretty dumb. My thermostat has a modicum of intelligence in that it can learn how long it takes the house to reach a certain temperature and then plan ahead, but there is no way for me to access that over the web: I can’t remotely (Greek: tele) find out what temperature it is measuring (Greek: metron).

Even worse, I can’t remotely measure the gas or electricity use and compare that to the temperature to understand the efficiency of the furnace, optimize my energy use, or alert anyone if a significant problem is detected.

For example, in a seasonal house I might combine this information to respond before the pipes freeze on a particularly cold night.

Now there ways of doing this, especially in the last example. The problem is, when devices like thermostats, fire alarms, carbon monoxide level alarms, flood monitors, clothes dryers, and even refrigerators can convey information about their state, they do it in completely different languages and formats. As they become Things on the Internet, they need to communicate effectively with each other as well as systems that can take in all the varied information and make decisions.

The web works so well because we have the HTTP, the Hypertext Transport Protocol, to move data back and forth between servers and browsers. The hope is that MQTT will do the same for machine to machine communication.

In the example above, we may have smarter houses than 10 years ago, but MQTT could help turn them into actual Smart Houses.

Another example comes from the press release:

For instance, today’s smarter cities allow existing systems to alert operators of a broken water main and report the extent of flooding in streets and subways. However they are often closed systems. An open messaging protocol can be used to openly publish these events, enabling public and private transit systems to share and monitor these critical alerts. As a result, agencies would be able to adjust traffic signals, change routes, and notify commuters of alternative routes, transportation, lodging and meals on their mobile devices.

For more information about today’s announcement see:

P.S.: A very happy 10th birthday to Eclipse.org. From a $40M software donation by IBM, the organization has grown to encompass “273 open source projects at Eclipse.org; 1057 committers located around the world, more than half in Europe; 50+ million lines of code across all Eclipse projects; 174 member companies of the Eclipse Foundation.”

Eclipse is one of the most important open source organizations and has radically changed the nature and economics of the software development world. May their second decade be as productive the first.

Daily links for 11/02/2011

  • “But at mobile application developer Big Nerd Ranch, President Aaron Hillegass has seen mobile Linux efforts before and stressed the need for a viable ecosystem. “It isn’t enough for Canonical to announce that it is making the OS available — what makes the [Apple] iOS platform so compelling is the entire ecosystem: the OS, the devices, the iTunes store, iCloud, and the iTunes application. When that ecosystem exists for Ubuntu, we will be developing apps for it and offering the relevant training and consulting to our clients.””

    tags: ubuntu mobile

  • “There’s a growing list of venues and dates, for events starting 7th November and spanning the rest of the month, but the biggest party is no doubt the one to be held at  EclipseCon Europe that opens today, 2nd November. This evening’s  keynote for the conference, is being delivered by John Swainson who will talk about the events that led to IBM’s 2001 decision to sponsor the creation of Eclipse with a donation of the people, code, and intellectual property. The creation of Eclipse marked the first time that a major IT vendor had open-sourced a strategic piece of technology and Swainson, who was the general manager of the Application Integration and Middleware Group at IBM at the time, will tell the delegates about why IBM made such a risky decision.”

    tags: eclipse birthday

  • “Internet Explorer still retains a majority of the desktop browser market share, at 52.63 percent, a substantial 1.76 point drop from September. However, desktop browsing makes up only about 94 percent of Web traffic; the rest comes from phones and tablets, both markets in which Internet Explorer is all but unrepresented. As a share of the whole browser market, Internet Explorer has only 49.58 percent of users. Microsoft‘s browser first achieved a majority share in—depending on which numbers you look at—1998 or 1999. It reached its peak of about 95 percent share in 2004, and has been declining ever since.”

    tags: browser

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A browser to resolve mobile app development confusion?

I read with interest the recent announcement by AppMobi that they are producing a browser for Apple iOS and eventually Android that will go beyond the basic HTML5 capabilities.

Typically, browser-based apps cannot access all the native capabilities of the device such as the camera and the address book. HTML5 does provide geolocation, local storage, and some other features, but that doesn’t come close to what a pure native app can give you. This has caused the growth of so called hybrid applications that use a library to provide JavaScript APIs and hence access to the native capabilities.

Hybrid apps are not pure native and not pure web, but bridge the gap in between. There are several ways of doing hybrid. PhoneGap is a popular open source technology for building hybrid apps, but there are others as well. You get to have all the display capabilities of a browser with the functionality of the underlying device.

Hybrid apps are not for every application design, but can do very well if there is a lot of network interaction, not too much necessary graphic performance, and whatever UI design you can handle in a browser with widgets coming from Dojo, jQuery, Sencha, or similar technologies.

The idea of this new browser is to include the PhoneGap and other APIs so you can write enhanced HTML5 apps with more access to the underlying features.

Is this interesting? Yes.

Does it cause people to think through the implications of native vs. hybrid vs. web? Yes.

Will people rethink app stores and how you can collect and manage apps that run in a browser? Yes.

Will it speed up development of HTML5 and mainline browser support for additional device features? Maybe.

Will this be the browser we are all using in 2 years? I really doubt it.

The web became successful because browsers became standardized. In the early days we had different browser functionality as Microsoft Internet Explorer tried to set de facto standards and Netscape tried to use real ones. Eventually Firefox, Chrome, and Safari all supported web standards, more or less, and competed on speed and quality of rendering. IE eventually caught up though it is losing share as we speak.

So I applaud AppMobi’s attempt to push the envelope here on what can be done in a mobile browser, but I think the mainline mobile browsers will eventually set the standard for how HTML5 and agreed upon extensions work.

We don’t need certain apps to require particular browsers to work. Check out this story from 2005 where the US Federal Emergency Response Agency required people to use IE to apply for aid after Hurricane Katrina.

Also see: Ars Technica – “The end of an era: Internet Explorer drops below 50% of Web usage”

Daily links for 11/01/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.