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Monday, April 12, 2010

Golden ratios, collapse of complex business models, time debt and GM (GM?)

JEXL version 2, the Apache Expression Language is out. It may be slower than MVEL (very likely) or Spring EL (don't know for sure) but JEXL is from Apache and that deserves a special mention. The v2 API looks good with facilities to plug in/customize many aspects of parsing and evaluation.

Need to sort gigabytes of text but don't have Hadoop or Unix "sort" handy? Not to worry. External sorting is a remarkably simple concept that does chunk-wise sorting and merging. Isn't that MapReduce without the pain of a Hadoop cluster setup?

Clay Shirky's note on the collapse of complex business models - after reading this I couldn't help thinking about the Innovator's dilemma and how some big companies need some kind of rebooting at some point (negative marginal value). And how open source is a disruptive model employed by many small companies to compete with larger software companies. For a long time their documentation and feature set is poor compared to more established companies but eventually they catch up. But during "awkward teenager" period, some customers are willing to use it, which is perplexing. Good enough is perfectly ok for some purposes I suppose.

Much like GM and its endless problems which eventually led to the closure of their Fremont plant (among other things). This in spite of a collaboration with their arch nemesis Toyota! Speaking of quality, this is a painful reminder of how bad quality has to be addressed ASAP. Not fixing quality in time (before release) is in effect giving yourself a time debt. Time debt? This guy defines it as - "Basically, time debt is anything that you do which will commit you to doing unavoidable work in the future." If you don't fix the problem before it leaves the assembly line like that Fremont plant, after the release you/Engineering, Support, Product management will spend hours identifying and fixing something that could've been fixed for much less cost before the release, with interest. Duh! Think of your customer's loss of faith too.

Oh, I almost forgot, here are some UI tips that require Math. I especially liked the Golden ratio. Very elegant.

Until next time..