Fast Takes

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Name: John McDowall
Location: Redwood City, California, US

Saturday, February 18, 2006


It has been a long time since I last posted. A combination of things, have caused this major case of blogger's block. Lack on interesting things to say or comment on, and working through some career decisions. Though I did have the chance to build a fairly extensive REST application interface that did illustrate (to me at least) the power and simplicity of REST. To design a well thought out REST application is hard, and is very dependant on defining the core resources and their granularity. Once they are defined the interfaces follow naturally.

However the changes mentioned in the title are not around a life changing conversion from upper case Web Services to lower case web services, I still believe they both still have their place and both could do with some improvements.

The changes are a little more extensive professional, after several years working in start-ups, I have made the change to work at a some what larger company. A few weeks ago I started working at Cisco Systems in the Application Orientated Networking (AON) group. It is challenging and exciting as we are working to make the network smarter and hence simplify how applications are developed.

Now that I am back working directly in the web services (both upper and lower case) and distributed computing space - I hope my blogger's block will be cured....

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Search: Depth, breadth and trust

This Yahoo Search vs. Google and Technorati: Link Counts and Analysis (by Jeremy Zawodny) prompted some thoughts about how search engines are going beyond a nice to have to a critical part of business and personal lives. With that comes a host of issues and makes that deciding on which search engine to use based on the number of pages it indexes and how fast it re-indexes them a secondary metric.

The most important metrics are going to become who can I trust most and who is less prone to manipulation either by inside advertisters or through extranal manipulation by sophisticated (and some not so sophisticated) linking schemes. How trust is propogated through a search engine is going to become the key differentiator (IMHO) over the next several years not the index size or refresh rate.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Tools and Artisans

This from Doug Tidwell: "They're afraid that if they open up their business processes, their customers will realize just how little value they add" via Mark Baker.

My feeling is that many organizations confuse have cool tools/software with having people that know how to use the output effectively. The goal of business processes is to deliver information to decision makers. The difference between a great artisan and the rest of us is not the tools they use it is in their native and acquired skills. The same is true in any organization - great people succeed no matter what - good tools merely help make their life easier.

and to Doug's other point - no The Specials were the coolest ;-)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Interesting technique for predicating trends

This from Tim O'Reilly via Tim Bray ongoing - The Java + Open Source Sweet Spot. When books were the primary vehicle for knowledge transfer I used to measure success/adoption by shelf inches at Stacy's (Great Technical bookstore in San Francisco). Tim O'Reilly now has a more scientific approach - and please increase the graph size, I need a magnifying glass to read the data.

However I am not sure this now tells the full story. I have noticed a substantial drop in my book buying habit, much to the relief of my wife who has had to navigate the piles around the house. It is not that I read less but rather the internet is more the source of up to date information rather than a book. I have mixed feelings about this, as I enjoy reading information from a book, especially sitting out on a warm sunny day. Laptops just do not cut it for reading outside or on the train etc. While the information junkie in me loves the immediacy of the internet and ability to research any problem quickly and easily. Hopefully tablet machines will get to the point where they are readable in all environments.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


I did a podcast last week with John Furrier of PodTech - fun way of having a live discussion InfoTalk? : A Podcasting Radio Show - "Fresh voices of Silicon Valley, Technology, and Media" He is looking for other CTOs for his series - so drop him a line.