Category: "Computers and Internet"

Cotinuous Process and Code Improvement

We're constantly recreating our 6D™ project management methodology. It started with combining Clarise's software development and project management experience with my aerospace system engineering and program management experience to adopt strict project controls to modern business needs for responsive software development and system integration processes working through distributed personnel. Well, here's a quick thought... software development and deployment should move away from traditional release cycle concepts to one of continuous process/code improvement within SaaS and virtual appliance environments. No code is alpha nor beta nor production, but a continuum of changes and adaptations responding to fluctuating business needs; done within a well managed environment to prevent security errors, poor performance, "garbage out" and junk code. So as we're assuring that our 6D™ [six dimensions of a project] is in accord with the PMBoK, we'll be keeping this thought in mind as well, and let's think beyond Extreme and Agile programming and continuous process improvement for software quality.

Powercast Broadcasting Power

Powercast, which first came out of the closet at CES in January of this year, winning best Emerging Technology for 2007, has been getting some press this weekend [Engadget, CNN Money Business2.0, Ben Metcalfe - no not April's Fool].

While Philips was the first partner announced, the Business2.0 article states that over 100 companies have now signed-up. I'm hoping that one of these will come out with a cigarette lighter Powercast transmitter, filling the company car with energy giving rays of life for our cell phones, Palms and Bluetooth headsets. :>>

Powercast is the first [I think] commercial application of an idea that has been around for a very long time: beaming electrical power over radio waves. While existing in science fiction and comic books for as long as I can remember, the problem of efficiency and loss has prevented a practical product until now. Powercast technology uses a transmitter, small enough to be plugged in just about anywhere, and a very small, relatively inexpensive receiver suitable for wireless sensors, mobile devices, cell phones and computer peripherals, with the result being the transmission of 6 VDC over about 1 meter between transmitter and receiver, automatically "trickle charging" the device whenever it is in range. Using very low power [wattage] making the FCC happy, the receiver regulates the input, providing a constant voltage as required by the device. This would be much more convenient than inductive rechargers, such as from SpashPower or the eCoupled technology, which haven't seen much uptake as yet by the device industry. With the inductive charging technology, also around since before the turn of the century before last, you must place the device to be charged within the magnetic field of the charger - perhaps a few millimeters, essentially touching, hence the SpashPad. With Powercast, you only need to be within one meter, and you can keep using the device whatever device is being charged.

While Powercast isn't the dream of having your smart phone powered by the cell tower, it will

  • help road warriors trim down the number of power converters they need to carry about B)
  • encourage the use of both Bluetooth and may even help bring actual UWB and Zigbee devices to market :idea:
  • make life easier for medical implant users :)
  • help us aging, forgetful types :p
  • eliminate that old excuse "I can't talk right now, my battery is dying" &#59;)

One question that must always be asked is what health risks may be posed by such a device. Powercast has a series of FAQs available as PDFs, including one on health and safety. Be warned though, that after asking the standard identifying questions of name, email, company, phone number, and address, you are not brought to a download site; rather, the PDFs are emailed to you. Somewhat annoying [I hate the practice of forcing email to do file transfer], but it does force one to provide a valid email address if you want to get the information. While I can understand the desire of a company to understand who is gathering information on them, this seems to fly in the face of current open marketing practices. For example, there isn't a link to their corporate blog.

OK, rant over, back to health issues. According to their FAQ, which while somewhat generic, discussing RF hazards as a class, seems reasonable. Powercast uses RF and is no more dangerous than any other RF device, such as TV, radio, Bluetooth, etc. Their range of commercial devices seem to put out 0.5 watts for a USB transmitter, up to 2 watts for an unspecified application. Powercast claims that most devices are well below that 2 watt max, which is half of the 4 watts produced by a CB radio and on par with devices such as cordless phones and walkie-talkies. I guess this means that the tumor I'm [not] likely to get behind my ear from my Bluetooth headset will just a grow a wee bit faster. |-|

While no longer being frustrated by my Bluetooth mouse or cell phone dying at the worst possible moment would be great, I imagine that the real future for this technology will be empowering the ever increasing flow of data from wireless sensor networks, from active RFID and Zigbee to smartDust.

My take is that Powercast will be helping us live the TeleInterActive Lifestyle™ to its fullest, and fueling our data management consultancy as those terabytes become petabytes and the Googolplex of data being generated needs analyzing [no, not Googleplex, but almost].

OSCMS Summit 2007 Writing Joomla! Extensions

Writing Joomla! Extensions by Joseph LeBlanc

Joomla! extensions are easy to build and even easier to distribute. They're the ideal method for incorporating existing PHP code into the Joomla! framework or adding new functionality. This session will cover the differences between the three extension types and when to use each. We'll also discover how a component, module, and plugin come together to create the Podcast Suite: a Joomla! based platform for publishing podcasts.

Next, we'll delve into the Daily Message component, which has very basic functionality. We'll then see what happens when we attempt to install it on beta 1.5. We'll also take a look at some of the new framework features 1.5 has to offer.end quotation
-- Abstract for Writing Joomla! Extensions by Joseph LeBlanc

Joe has tutorials on his website.

OSCMS Summit 2007 Localization and Multilingual Content

The next talk that I attended was (Joomla!) How do manage multilingual content within a CMS by Alex Kempkens.

"The topic of multilingual content within websites is getting more and more important. Most of the existing OS CMS solutions provide full UTF-8 support and a list of translations for the general static text used. A implementation of the multilingual dynamic content is far more complex and needs quite some knowledge from the developers. Joomla! found a solution which supports all dynamic extensions and simplify the integration for the 3rd developers.

"How this approach is implemented and can be used is part of the session. The possible concepts of versioning or generic content handling is described. In general the aproach to tag a version with a language flag works quite well but leaves the whole responsibility of handling the translations within the developers hand. As Joomla! is a project that has a huge number of extensions and a framework that is very much focused on this possibility to extend the core it would mean that all of the developers in the community must understand what is important in handling languages and different versions. To solve this problem a centralized concept which is extending the Joomla! database layer was implemented. This concept helps to achieve a kind of automatic translation for all Joomla! extensions using the standard DB-Klasses. The whole translation is still focused on manual translations and managing those different versions but the concept is captable to translate any dynamic content which is stored in the database.

"I like to present the concept of this approach during the session and discuss the pro and cons. May be there are some good suggestions how the concept can be improved and may be even generalized to be used in other systems as well."end quotation
-- Abstract for (Joomla!) How do manage multilingual content within a CMS by Alex Kempkens

Multilingual content does not stop at text, but must extend into all aspects of managing and presenting the information, text, images, help, etc. etc. Joomla! has been translated into over 70 languages. Localization goes beyond language, and includes formatting, date and currency standards, cultural allowances and the like.

Content dependencies, such as between an article and comments to that article poses problems in assuring the relationship, as well as assuring that the content at all levels remains relevant and accessible to the site audience.

Solutions include automated translators like

  1. Babelfish [chuckles all around the room],
  2. local database driven repository for text snippets, and
  3. generic translations through use of an highly integrated translation extension between the presentation and the database layers.

There were some discussion of Alfresco and Plone methods of handling localization. Alfresco, being more of an enterprise document manager relies on different instances of a document, and the core services provides the correct instance of the document for a given version to match the language of the user; Alfresco has been working with the European Commission on this capability to server their member nation citizens. Plone relies more on developer oriented solutions.

Each of these possible solutions have advantages, but none are complete. Any can make administration of the content easier, but none resolve all the complexities nor take away all the manual effort.

Alex then provided a demonstration of how Joomla! 1.5 implements the generic translator solution. One very nice thing, is that once the user has selected elements to be translated, one can then click on a member of that element [e.g. an article from the content element] and Joomla! provides the original content, with the translation provided in the editor, below the original.

OSCMS Summit 2007 Authentication in Joomla 1.5

Authentication in Joomla! 1.5 by Jason Kendall (CoolAcid) - Joomla! Development Work Group member.

Discussion on the evolution of authentication schemes within Joomla! v 1.5. The session focuses on the structure and details of Joomla! v 1.5 plugins, including developed solutions for Gmail, LDAP and OpenID, and a roadmap to build new schemes. An overview of several challenges and resolutions encountered during development will be discussed. It is of great interest to hear of real life experiences from other OSCMS projects. Those experienced or interested in authentication schemes are encouraged to please attend.

One can use multiple authentication schemes, both internal and external, such as LDAP and OpenID, and other plug-ins. Joomla! 1.5 will lstep through each scheme you're using to return successful access or prevent access if no authentication works; log provides an administrator with messages on why any authentication schemes couldn't be reached..

The "HELLO" "WORLD" and GMAIL samples showed the simplicity of the authentication scheme.

OpenID was the hardest to implement.

Other Schemes include:

  1. Radius
  2. RSA SecurID
  3. WikID - mobile authentication
  4. Extendable External Databases
  5. Google Account Authentication
  6. Kerberos
  7. IMAP/POP3

Discussion of ACL approaches for integration and bridging with other plug-ins and applications.

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The TeleInterActive Lifestyle is about the business processes, life choices, management challenges and technical issues facing organizations and individuals as individuals and organizations adopt the Internet of Things, Mixed Reality, wireless networks of all levels, mobile devices, long-distance collaboration, social networks, digital transformation, and adjust to growing urbanization.

Sensor Analytics Ecosystems for the Internet of Things (SAEIoT) brings value from emerging technologies through data management and analytics, advances in data science, as the IoT matures through the 5Cs: Connection, Communication, Contextualization, Collaboration and Cognition. The socialization of machines will allow for Privacy, Transparency, Security and Convenience to be flexibly provided with two-way accountability to build Trust among Humans and Machines.

AsDataArchon, we have evolved our consulting data scientist work from learning how to incorporate sensor analytics into data warehouses, business intelligence and analytics to focusing on IoT data management and forming sensor analytics ecosystems.

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Our current thinking on sensor analytics ecosystems (SAE) bringing together critical solution spaces best addressed by Internet of Things (IoT) and advances in Data Management and Analytics (DMA) is here.

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