Monthly Archives: May 2009

Kali-sthenics

Recently a business partner asked me how on Earth I make time to do so many things like writing applications in languages like Java, running my shop, caring for the security , etc.

My answer is today’s post: “I spent three years training my team of engineers to be my eight right hands. That gives me ample time to freely use my corporeal own two hands.”

Spread the knowledge. Giving pays back handsomely.

Dynomite economics

Anyone knows of the dynomite game? Two sugary cute dinosaurians hurl colored bubbles to a multi-hued sky comprised almost totally by blocks and impositions or other pretty bubbles. The aim is to bust ( note the word ) , coalesced groups of same colored balloons. If you miss too many times to match colors the sky falls down upon you in the shape of a huge saurian foot and Game Over.

Now lets do a gedanken experiment. Replace in your mind’s eye the dinosaurs with government functionaries or central bankers if you feel like going extreme. Replace the colored bubbles that are being hurled to the sky with measures to increase trade, safeguard jobs, business incentives etc. Replace finally the bubbly sky with your view of the global economy, say one bubble for the internet boom, one for the real estate, one for the e-security bubble, one for the telecoms bubble and so forth and so on. Add a few roadblocks to spice things up, say protectionism, racketeering, cronyism what have you. Now do you get the picture of the global economy? It is in a truly bubbly state and I am not talking about champagnial effervescence.

The dinosaurians together with various other orders of the reptilian phylum, are hard at work tossing up as many pearly textured balloons as they can, trying to bust bubbles at a controlled rate. The multi-billion dollar question is: do they have what it takes not to bring the firmament down on us all ?

Since I am on the subject, allow me to finish with this note. This current crisis that we are living, in the year two thousand and nine, is yet another bubble. This particular one is a nasty one. As it inflates and travels towards the cutesy bubbly sky, it pushes away people’s livelihoods and rights . It compresses adjacent bubbles of income and squeezes people out of breath and stamina. It crushes patience and humanity out of us and makes us all afraid , very afraid. It’s ultimate function as a fear inducer has exceeded its expectations by far, and as the Bene Gesserit say: Fear is the mind killer, fear is the little death …

LDAPsearch no more

I am impressed, no I really am, I mean it, really. I downloaded the Apache Directory Studio and was struck dumb. To understand why that was I have to take you to a drive down memory lane.

I have designed,developed and supported much of the structure of modern Greek e-mail systems. While at HOL, I designed at least three different customer e-mail subsystems all around an LDAP cluster, one for corporate customers, one for retail and a few for Virtual ISPs utilizing HOL as a platform. Currently at my work in Vivodi I have migrated the aging stand stand alone vpopmail system to a dynamic parallel system around an LDAP infrastructure. I even discovered that the way I created user accounts is now called two-stage commit.

All of the above work was done mostly by paper and pencil and typing at the command line of linux consoles. Anyone who has used a command like the following will appreciate my chagrin.
ldapsearch -x -h ldapserver -W -D cn=root,o=top -b o=top objectClass=qmailUser
No I am not a masochist, I did not enjoy this kind of work a single bit.Yet I learned so much from it that now I can use an ADS to do single sign on across all my data centers, but that is another story. I tried using some ready made tools like phpmyadmin and such , but they needed more hand holding than I did. Still the work was done and all was quiet once more.

Recently I was thinking along re-visiting the ldap designer issue when a colleague mentioned the Apache Directory Studio. One download later and I was dumbstruck. These people at the Apache Foundation deserve all the kudos they get. The application is seamless, transparent, easy to use and powerful. It has a bit too flamboyant an interface but beats the socks out of scrolling back your terminal to review base64 encoded ldap entries. I was so impressed that I have decided to review even my dislike for java. The application is written in java and it’s great. Who knows I just might sit down and learn that old language.

Kudos, congratulations, salutations and three cheers. Keep up the good work people.

Tireless Innovation sprach

There is so much hullaballoo about innovation, innovative approaches, innovation coaching, inno this , inno that, so much so that I get dizzy. PHD candidates and managers alike are trying to quantify and categorize what is this property called innovation.

Well it follows some of the footsteps of decades past in the quest for what quality is. Anyone of the old timers who has read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Pirsig, will probably understand what I am referring to.

There are elusive qualities in the software running between our ears. Sometimes we can box them up and sell them, so we become entrepreneurs or coaches. Sometimes we can just point at the way in which case we are termed gurus and teachers. One such teacher is Marvin Minsky of the famed MIT A.I. lab. I believe that he has captured the essence of innovation in an interview in a greek Magazine about twenty years ago.

Dr Misky said something like: “I enjoy surprising myself by the way I think of old problems“. And as far as I am concerned that is the true essence of innovation.