Monthly Archives: September 2009

Here come the Mint.com “me-too” companies

Bloomberg has reported that Citi and Microsoft are working together to build an online money management site like Mint.com, which recently agreed to be acquired by Intuit.

Mint.com lets users monitor their accounts at banks and brokerages and keep track of their budget, spending and investing. The Citi/Microsoft version would do the same and is tentatively called Bundle, according to Bloomberg.

Citi recently shelved its myFi project, which was going to provide online investing for moderately wealthy brokerage clients. Microsoft ditched its Money personal finance website in June.

The Bloomberg article is posted on Microsoft’s website and it has generated several comments from apparent former Microsoft Money users there.

Dominick said, “If Quicken gets my MSMoney file converted successfully I am onto Quicken and never looking back. MS lost me as a customer on the MSMoney cancellation.”

RichT wrote: “What a crazy strategy — first they abandon a large customer base of existing Money users, then they try to set up some new online system. Why would anybody trust Microsoft with their data? How do we know that after a few years, once they realize that they can’t make money out of an online system, that they won’t just abandon that too?”

Even a poster whose title suggested he works for Microsoft had a negative comment: “There is no way I’d consider signing up for another financial package of any sort with Microsoft, not after I’ve been using Money for 14 years and they just pull the plug to try something new.”

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TEDxDetroit Invitation

Just received confirmation for attendance to TEDxDetroit – the area’s leading creators, catalysts, entrepreneurs, artists, technologists, designers, scientists, thinkers and doers which will gather on Wednesday, October 21st to share what they are most passionate about — positive ideas for the world from Detroit.

If you haven’t applied, better hurry up – this invitation only event is filling up fast!  More details can be found:

Much thanks the @Charlie, Curve Detroit and the whole crew for helping to bring this awesome event to Detroit!

SQL 2008 Deprecated Features

This is a quick tip to show you how to list the SQL Server 2008 deprecated features and how to tell if they are still being used in any of your databases.

A deprecated feature is one that will not be supported in a future version of SQL Server.

These old features can still be used, but you need to start modifying code now to ease the transition when you upgrade.

The list of deprecated features can be viewed in Books Online, where they are divided into those due to be removed in the next version, and those that will removed after that.

Microsoft have added a Performance Counter object to enable use of these features to be tracked, but using perfmon is not the most convenient way of doing it. Luckily, you can query a DMV:

select instance_name, cntr_value from sys.dm_os_performance_counters where [object_name] like ‘%Deprecated%’ and cntr_value > 0

This will return all SQL Server 2008 deprecated features that have been used since the last service restart, together the number of occurrences.

Bowers & Wilkins announces Zeppelin Mini

‘ve been a big fan for Bowers & Wilkins for years, having outfitted several rooms with their speakers.  I recently discovered they’ve announced a new iPod speaker system, as the baby brother of their award-winning Zeppelin speaker system.  The Zepplin mini seems interesting, as they’ve again lowered the price point to help put B&W quality into the hands of everyday consumers.  The speaker begins shipping October 20th, for $399 and I hope to pick one up shortly thereafter and will be sure to post a review.

Here’s the official B&W announcement – Posted on Monday, 14 September 2009 @ http://blog.bowers-wilkins.com/theinsider/?p=179

Bowers & Wilkins’ iconic Zeppelin redefined what could be expected from an iPod speaker system. Digital music needn’t be harsh, brash, or unpalatable – it can be delivered in glorious high-fidelity. Plus, the device that provided this amazing sound could be a thing of beauty. Two years and an unprecedented collection of glowing reviews and prestigious awards later, Zeppelin is joined by Zeppelin Mini.

Zeppelin Mini attains the same high standards in sound quality and design set by Zeppelin, but in a more compact form. It is reduced in size, not in sound, and has amazing volume levels for such a diminutive package.  It’s ideal for lounges just like its larger sibling, but it can easily be slotted into a bedroom, kitchen, or student digs.

Key differentiating features include an updated docking arm. On the original this innovative solution worked incredibly well, allowing hassle-free mounting of any iPod, and easy access to Apple’s user-friendly interface. These qualities remain, but the addition of USB connectivity allows Zeppelin Mini to bypass the analogue output stage of any iPod, providing access to the very best digital sound an iPod has to offer.

From this beneficial acoustic starting point Bowers & Wilkins’ decades of experience producing the very best speakers for demanding customers such as Abbey Road Studios, and advanced Digital Signal Processing combine to create a sonic experience that belies the compact stature of Zeppelin Mini.

The recent work Bowers & Wilkins has undertaken in the area of DSP-intensive projects such as the in-car system for the new Jaguar XJ have provided knowledge and advances found in Zeppelin Mini, in the same way the legendary NautilusTM informs all Bowers & Wilkins current speakers. For example, a key Bowers & Wilkins technology such as FlowportTM combines with digital advances such as Digital EQ to provide a clean, room filling sound, with base levels that have to be heard to be believed.

But Zeppelin is about more than amazing sound – it has been hailed by many as a design classic – and the iconic design of the original is reflected in the Zeppelin Mini’s subtle curves. Add to this the attention to detail in terms of materials and construction that Bowers & Wilkins is justifiably famous for and it’s a worthy addition to the Zeppelin family.

There are major design advances, too, including an updated version of the docking arm. On Zeppelin Mini it rotates 90 degrees, allowing you even easier access to your music through the Cover Flow menu system. You can also watch videos and enhanced podcasts in this manner.

zeppelin mini office small 150x150 Bowers & Wilkins announces Zeppelin Mini
zeppelin mini small 150x150 Bowers & Wilkins announces Zeppelin Mini

The Zeppelin Mini also adds the ability to stream music direct from your PC or Mac via a dedicated USB socket. This allows you even more flexibility in terms of how you play your music, and any computer system will benefit from the improved sound quality and digital processing that Zeppelin Mini’s advanced Digital Signal Processing and drive unit technology offer. This USB connection also has the advantage of letting you synchronise your iPod or iPhone with your computer.

As Bowers & Wilkins has proved with Zeppelin, constant attention to iPod developments and customer demands through the medium of freely available firmware upgrades allows Zeppelin users to keep pace with new technology. This level of support will again be key to the continued success of Zeppelin Mini.

Zeppelin Mini boasts all the quality of the original Zeppelin, but in a more compact package perfect for smaller spaces.

Novell Releases First Solution to Build iPhone Applications Using C# and Microsoft .NET Languages

WALTHAM, Mass., Sept. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Novell today announced the availability of MonoTouch 1.0, the industry’s first solution for developing applications for the iPhone* and iPod* Touch using the Microsoft* .NET framework, including C# and other .NET programming languages. Until now, developers primarily built iPhone applications using C and Objective-C, putting iPhone development beyond the reach of most .NET developers. With MonoTouch, the creativity of millions of .NET developers worldwide can be unleashed to build a vast array of iPhone applications.

The incredible popularity of the iPhone and iPod Touch has created a huge market for iPhone applications. According to Scott Ellison, vice president of Mobile and Wireless at IDC, in the first year the Apple Apps Store has more than 50,000 available applications, and well over 1 billion downloads with an average of more than 140 new applications launched every day(1). However, developers previously used the more complex C and Objective-C programming languages to design iPhone applications.

Engineered by the Mono(R) Project, an open source initiative sponsored by Novell, MonoTouch simplifies iPhone development by allowing developers to utilize code and libraries written for the .NET development framework and programming languages such as C#. Individual .NET developers and independent software vendors (ISVs) can now sell their products into a massive new market, while corporate developers and IT organizations can deploy their applications in a new mobile computing environment.

“The iPhone has experienced tremendous adoption in both consumer and business markets,” said Al Hilwa, program director, Application Development Software at IDC. “Given that applications are a key reason for the iPhone’s success, a solution that allows .NET developers to use existing skills to build iPhone applications is an exciting and consequential milestone in the evolution of mobile platforms.”

The iPhone developer program license restricts developers from distributing scripting engines or Just-In-Time (JIT) compilers, which are required by managed runtimes such as .NET for code execution. As a result, the world of iPhone applications had been previously closed to .NET and Mono developers. Developers can now use MonoTouch while fully complying with these license terms because MonoTouch delivers only native code.

“Developing our award-winning mobile forms solution on multiple platforms before MonoTouch from Novell was time-consuming due to the diverse technology platforms,” said Simon Guindon, mobile solution developer at TrueContext. “With MonoTouch, we can now optimize development for the future and enrich the Pronto Forms product offering at a faster pace.”

MonoTouch from Novell is a software development kit that contains a suite of compilers, libraries and tools for integrating with Apple’s iPhone SDK. Microsoft .NET base class libraries are included, along with managed libraries for taking advantage of native iPhone APIs. Also included is a cross-compiler that can be used for turning .NET executable files and libraries directly into native applications for distribution on the Apple Apps* Store or for deployment to enterprise iPhone users. In addition, Xcode integration enables application developers to test on the device or in Apple’s iPhone Simulator and ship applications to the Apple Apps Store for distribution.

“The vast majority of Windows-centric developers, ISVs and IT organizations have chosen the C# language and .NET for development,” said Miguel de Icaza, Mono project founder and Developer Platform vice president at Novell. “As such we have seen tremendous demand for tools to build .NET-based iPhone applications. We developed MonoTouch in response to this demand, giving both individual developers and businesses a solution that breaks down the barriers to iPhone application development.”

MonoTouch Pricing and Availability

MonoTouch Personal and Enterprise Editions are available now through http://shop.novell.com. MonoTouch Enterprise Edition is available for US $999 per developer for a one-year subscription, which includes maintenance and updates. A five-developer Enterprise license supports five concurrent developers and is available for US $3,999 per year. For individuals only building applications for the Apple Apps Store, MonoTouch Personal Edition is available for $399 per developer for a one-year subscription. For more information about MonoTouch visit www.novell.com/products/monotouch. To learn more about the Mono Project visit http://www.mono-project.com.

Detroit CIO Executive Summit Recap

Whew!  Where to begin?  I spent the day out in Dearborn, MI attending a CIO Executive Summit  organized by Evanta and the CIO Leadership Network and I must admit, I was very impressed.  As the CIO of Billhighway.com I tend to participate in a number of local and national events, conferences, workshops, you name it – but the quality of content today was just superb.

The opening keynote by Ed Ruggero, Former U.S. Army Office, Author and Military Historian re: A Winning Culture: Leadership as Competitive Advantage set the stage for a very productive day.  Mr. Ruggero is a great story teller and excellent speaker – making countless comparisons between the military and IT leadership.  The CIO Leadership Network will be publishing videos of each presentation soon, and I’ll be sure to post a link once its available.

After a short break, Phillip Bertolini, Deputy County Executive & CIO of Oakland County along with L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County Executive had a unique presentation about the “marriage” between the CEO and CIO, which was very well done.  They touched on the typical stages leading up to and into a successful marriage; courting, building trust, communication and partnership.  A couple noteworthy highlights:

  • CEO Vision + CIO Tools = ROI
  • CEO must have some understanding of Technology
  • CIO must have some understanding of Business
  • To gain the trust of the CEO, the CIO must build and delivery dependable, predictable, repeatable strategic technology solutions

At 11am there were several break out sessions, in which I attended “Achieving Higher Performance in your Current Role and How to Successfully Transition into Your Next Role.”  A couple of the takeways I found here were:

  • Have executive/leadership presence (this is something I’ve been hearing alot lately)
  • Be inspirational, captivate, motivate and lead by example
  • Handle touch situations with confidence
  • Build Relationships
  • Enhance Collaboration
  • Integration your Personal Values

Lastly, a couple book recommendations: Why CEOs Fail & What got you here, won’t get you there.

At lunch, Andre Mendes, SVP, Strategic Planning & Global CIO of the Special Olympics International gave a talk on Crisis-Driven Innovation: The Ultimate Change Agent, which I found very uplifting.  Not only is Mr Mendes extremely intelligent, but a great speaker – very TED esq. touching on a broad spectrum of topics, where we’ve been, where we’re going and the speed of change, often unrealized by industry that’s so closely engaged in the day-to-day business affairs.  This will be another great talk to catch online, once it’s available.  A few takeaways here, for a CIO’s to-do list:

  • Build abstraction layers
  • Consolidate – streamline line of business applications, investigate SaaS
  • Virtualize – reduce hardware footprint, increase manageability
  • Co-locate – ping, power, pipe are commodities, leave this to the pro’s
  • Cloud IT – have the applications you want, without any of the headaches

Lastly, Mr. Mendes challenged CIOs to get out of your comfort zone, expose yourself to the unknown and take [managed] risks.  Abstract technology, focus on the business.  Scalability, availability and security all have their place – in the abstraction layer; don’t let them choke innovation.  To me, this means if you’re spending any respectable amount of time here, GET OUT OF THE WEEDS – you, as the CIO are not allowing your business to realize the value of your role.  Oh yea, and don’t be a “NO” man, as we get older and more experienced, it’s natural to become complacent – not embracing “change”, however if/when opportunities get presented to improve X, you might be better served by giving it a try.

The day closed out for me with a session about eight simple rules for Survival, by Greg Schwem, president of Comedy with a Byte who was very entertaining, keeping things on the lighter side and some pointing out some (often overlooked) examples of Do’s & Don’ts.  Closing keynote was by Kevin Summers, Corporate VP & Global CIO of Whirlpool Corporation who shared some rare insight into the operational aspects of overhauling a nearly 100 year old, multinational organization.  His 10 Transformational best-practices were:

  1. Create a strategic roadmap
  2. Implement a formal change management program (and team)
  3. Adopt (and standardize) an Enterprise Architecture early
  4. Invest time/energy into Value Chain Integration (it works)
  5. Align vision/strategy with business partners
  6. Leverage strategic partners (reduce key vendors where possible)
  7. Manage IT like a business
  8. Talent management is key (yet more about Top-Grading, if you’re not familiar with it, take time to read up!)
  9. Ensure stable operational practices exist
  10. Markets (and opportunities) will return – so be ready!

That about summarizes it, overall GREAT day, packed with invaluable content, excellent speakers and thought-provoking subjects.  I literally took pages of notes, but this should suffice for those that couldn’t make it.  If you get the opportunity to attend this event next year, or in another city, I highly recommend it!  For more information visit: http://www.bycios.com/

TiECon 2009

What is TiE Midwest 20?

TiE Midwest 20 is a new program at the TiECon Midwest annual conference. TiE Midwest 20 acknowledges excellence among 20 startups within five industry tracks including Software, Wireless, Cleantech, media, Life Sciences. TiE Midwest 20

TiECon Midwest 2009 is an entrepreneurial conference , attracting Hundreds of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other professionals. TiECon Midwest has been running from 2008 in Detroit with well known keynote speakers. This year TiECon Midwest is being held on Oct 23-24, 2009 at The Ritz-Carlton, Dearborn.

Selection process:
TiE Midwest 20 finalists will be selected by a combination of public opinion polls and an experienced panel of industry judges. Last date for Nominations Sep 21th 2009.

The Benefits:
TiE Midwest 20 winners will be honored with awards of excellence in front of hundreds of entrepreneurs, Venture Capitalists and other professionals at TiECon Midwest 2009. Additionally, the TiE Midwest 20 winners will get special invitations to PowerConnect premium networking sessions at TiECon and will be part of ongoing recognition from TiE Detroit throughout the year.