Browsers - so many to choose from, so little time

October 20th, 2008

In the last month, I’ve installed Chrome, Firefox 3, and the IE 8 Beta.  I never thought I’d say it, but I no longer have a clear favorite.  In the past, I’ve always preferred Firefox over IE, but Chrome won me over to a new browser.  And the new In-Private features of the IE 8 (and the surprising stability of the Beta) are really tempting me to use IE more frequently.

So I’ve settled on the following:  I’ll use all three:

  • Chrome for Google searches and default browsing (meaning it pops up when I click a link in my email or such).
  • Firefox for intentional browsing, meaning when I am visiting one of the sites I frequent often (such as wmusers.com, advantage.webmethods.com, aa.com, seatguru.com, etc).  In this case, the SpeedDial add-on is a real boon, as is the PDF Download add-on.
  • IE 8 Beta for fun.   The crossword on dictionary.com, for example.  Or the guilty pleasure of watching too much YouTube when I should be mowing the lawn.

I know offering an opinion on a browser can be as dangerous as offering an opinion on the ‘best’ OS, or the ‘best’ religion, but I offer it anyway.  Caveat emptor.

What’s happened to technology education?

October 10th, 2008

So I just got word that a long-time education services provider (to BEA, Oracle, etc) may be closing its doors, due to a lack of business.  I heard this from another education/consulting services provider, who is looking at having to reinvent themselves away from education.

It used to be that companies like BEA, Oracle, SAP, webMethods, TIBCO, etc. valued education as both an significant revenue stream for the organization and as a effective tool to meet the knowledge demands of their customers.  Since the education services business fluctuates due to seasonal demand and release schedules, the education services providers I mentioned above were used to help staff education projects (training delivery, course development) during peak times.

In the last three years, though, there has been a disturbing trend away from seeing education as an important offering.  As a result, technology companies are unwilling to pay decent rates for instructor/development resources, and as a secondary result, quality suffers.  Companies like the two I mentioned above employed certified staff with years of experience and hands-on implementation behind them - and with rates declining, those resources are too expensive to maintain.

So what does this mean to you and me?  It means that when we need training, or more importantly, the customers we consult to need training, the training we/they get will be provided by a low-cost, low-quality provider.  That means an instructor who reads the slides to the class, doesn’t bring real-world experience, and can’t answer off-the-cuff questions.

This will result in slower time-to-market on projects (as it takes customer project teams longer to learn the truly useful knowledge), reduced ROI (as it costs more time and resources to achieve project goals) and some failed implementations.  Failed implementations mean dissatisfied customers, which means no repeat sales, no add-on sales, no references, and no continued license maintenance.

What are technology firms thinking?

Working from home

October 9th, 2008

So in my role as owner of a small consultancy (and a hands-on architect and consultant), most of my work time has been away from home.  Normally I travel Monday through Friday, and average about 40 weeks a year on the road.

However, the last two years have been an anomaly.  I worked as a director in PS/ES for Software AG/webmethods for a little over a year, and during that time worked from my home office about 60% of the time.  After leaving that position, I have done a number of contracting engagements that have allowed me to be at or near my home in Dallas 100% of the time.

I am currently looking at two potential contracting jobs right now - both of which would require me to travel 100%.

A large part of me misses the travel and wants to get back on the road again.  Then my kids come home from school, run upstairs to my office, and simultaneously thrill and annoy me with their excitement… Ah, decisions.

Resistance was futile - I am one with the blog

October 9th, 2008

So I have successfully resisted blogging for years - until today.

Was it a critical thought I had to share that caused this reversal in position?  Sadly, no.  Instead it was an accidental discovery of Wordpress as part of my web hosting kit, and a little too much time on my hands between contracts.

Why did I resist for so long?  Some who have heard me rant about the inanity of most blogs (this particular post included) might think I was making a point, but most who know me well will point out the truth - I was just too lazy.

In any case, I’m turning over a new leaf.  At least weekly posts should appear here, most focused on the things that are of immediate interest to me:  technology (particularly webMethods and SAP), family, and travel.