Erdinger and Bavarian Olympics

The dinner event last night at the conference I’m attending was a tour of the Erdinger Weissbräu facilities, followed by traditional Bavarian food and “Bavarian olympics.” Misgivings that conflated Bavarian olympics with Beer Olympics gave way when I learned that (here, anyway) Bavarian olympics meant finger-wrestling, sawing wood, hammering nails, holding a 10kg beer stein, and, um, milking a cow (not a real one, thank goodness, but a dummy like the one shown here). Our team won, for reasons having very little to do with me. (Lots of houseblog practice to the contrary, I still can’t hammer a nail quickly to save my life.)

Chris Baldwin hits the Big(ger) Times

Bruno artist Chris Baldwin reported on Friday (sorry no permalink) that his should-be-in-every-newspaper comic strip, Little Dee, will be available through, United Features Syndicate’s online comics portal, where it can be read alongside Peanuts, Doonesbury, and other greats. It’s not syndication but it’s a huge step. Wired picked up the news yesterday, so I think Chris has more friends in places of greatness than he realizes. Stop by Chris’s page and buy his book to show your support.

Unexpected gift from Mission of Burma

I’ve written in this space before about Mission of Burma—both about their recent limited edition singles and the live show where I saw them open for the Pixies. I got their new release, The Obliterati, last week, which came with a limited edition concert DVD. And damned if the show they filmed wasn’t from that December 2nd show at the Tsongas Arena, opening for the Pixies.

I haven’t really had the time to absorb the show in detail yet; hell, I haven’t finished listening to The Obliterati all the way through. But I did see enough of the DVD to note that yes, the live show was just as amazing as I remember it, and yes, the crowd was about as sessile as I wrote.

It’s a heckuva present to get a memento of that memory, though. Thanks, guys.

Hee hee hee hee… wipeout

So here I am in the airport hotel in Munich, my home for the next three days and nights, and I can hardly think.

It was kind of a whirlwind Memorial Day weekend. We spent the time dragging the last few waterlogged and moldering things out of the basement; demolishing some of our existing cabinetry and completing the installation of the first round of our new Ikea cabinets; and otherwise just kind of having fun. The Project is on the Us, with U2 completed shortly before I left for the airport yesterday. And now, after a quick direct flight (shout out to Lufthansa—yo, my homies), my brain is buzzing but my body is dragging dragging dragging. This is the weirdest jetlag ever.

I think a nap is in order before I head downtown. And before I destroy any more neurons trying to figure out the public transportation system.

Friday Random 10: getting the Project out of neutral edition

I was able to take a day off today—much needed. Didn’t do much of anything really—though I did move forward on The Great CD Project. (Incidentally, I ended up following a combination of the two approaches I outlined in my prior post. I made the new drive a standalone concatenated RAID array using the diskutil command, told iTunes to move the music files there (using the Advanced tab of the Preferences, then using Advanced | Consolidate Music Library to move all the files there), and then used diskutil to add the old external drive to the RAID array. I had to unmount both external drives first before diskutil would allow me to join the second disk to the RAID array. The final result: one 744.5 GB logical disk. Yeah.) Current Project status: 12,858 songs; 286.52 GB; 38 days, 22 hours, 22 minutes, and 23 seconds of music.

So today’s list is from the iTunes library…

  1. Herman’s Hermits, “White Wedding” (When Pigs Fly)
  2. Dock Boggs, “Pretty Polly” (Dock Boggs: His Folkways Years)
  3. Paul Chambers, “Omicron” (Whims of Chambers)
  4. Sex Pistols, “Pretty Vacant” (Never Mind the Bollocks)
  5. Big Star, “Way Out West” (Radio City)
  6. Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, “Er ging aus der Kammersein v. 4” (Michael Praetorius) (In Dulci Jubilo)
  7. Christian McBride, “Jayne” (Number Two Express)
  8. Hilliard Ensemble, “In III Nocturno, Responsorium 1” (Gesualdo) (Tenebrae)
  9. Material, “Ciquiri” (Secret Life)
  10. New Order, “Age of Consent” (Power, Corruption, and Lies)

BeerAdvocate advocacy

It’s good to see BeerAdvocate, the site that has consistently had the best and broadest selection of beer reviews and information about pubs, getting some recognition. On the heels of last week’s Top 100 Beers, this week they’re getting linkage from CNET for their list of the Top 50 Places to Have a Beer In America. (Sounds like a candidate for Lists of Bests, doesn’t it?)

The funny part is I’ve visited two of the places in the Top Five: Toronado in San Francisco (though my last visit was over a year ago) and our own Publick House. I was interested to see the large number of places in Massachusetts I haven’t visited, and astonished to see that there were so many in Virginia. Esta, you’ll have to check out the Capital Ale House and let us know how it is. But but but… no places in Seattle? I would have thought the Hilltop Ale House would rate at least a mention, but it doesn’t look like it’s even been reviewed.

MIT Sloan CIO Symposium: Googling your customer data

I’ve been working on the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium for the last few months, helping to pull together this annual conference that brings together CIOs from across corporate America with thought leadership and technologists from industry. This year’s topic is about maximizing the business value of IT, something that’s near and dear to my heart.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be blogging about some of the speakers and topics that we’ll cover at the conference. I welcome any input about the topics or questions for the speakers. Today’s post is about our keynote address.

One of the notes from the Gartner Symposium last week that I didn’t blog at the time was an analyst’s prediction that we’ll see increasing “consumerization” of corporate technology, as a generation that has gotten used to Google and Amazon looks at their own corporate IT and says, “why can’t you do that???” The speakers particularly pointed out that after Google’s search, looking for data across disparate systems is a frustrating experience. Our keynote speaker, Dave Girouard, who is the VP and General Manager of Google Enterprise, should be able to speak to that question—and if he doesn’t I’ll certainly ask him. Google Enterprise has rolled out some innovations in corporate search through their Google Search Appliance, including OneBox, which provides a unified search experience around both file server and intranet content and corporate information. The model that they’ve used for this is a partner plug-in model coupled with an API. The end result, in theory, is that you can type in a customer’s name in your internal search portal and get results from the file system together with sales data and forecasts, customer support issues, and other relevant data in a single, easy to read format.

The concept is great. What I’ll be interested to see is how well they avoid the pitfalls of corporate search: incompatible taxonomies, isolated data islands, customer information privacy barriers, and so on. At the very least it should be an interesting question and answer period.

Naturally, I’ll be shamelessly plugging the conference in each of these posts. You can register and get information about the speakers on the conference site. (Yes, I know it should have a blog and RSS. We’re working on it…)

How many iPod compatible music stores are there?

Dave points out a wonderfully lame Business 2.0 quotation, on a par with Steve Ballmer’s “most common form of music on an iPod is ‘stolen’”: “In an ideal digital world, we’d be able to buy copyrighted music and videos wherever we wanted, not just on a designated store. But that’s been the fate of iPod users, who can only buy content off of Apple’s iTunes Music Store.”

And the second paragraph makes the points that I would have: you can also use eMusic or your own CDs. But it’s dismissive of those two options. Why? Why is it journalistically acceptable to dis eMusic’s limited selection and limited market share while in the same breath complaining that iTunes users can’t experience restrictive DRM from a bunch of content producers with a vested interest? And who benefits from the type of reporting that makes these other music experiences sound desirable?

Well, Navio, for one. But I don’t think the customers win from yet another model to lock them into restrictive licensing of content that cares more about “protecting digital assets and maintaining brand control” than it does the rights of consumers.

Sony settlement approved

NY Times: Sony BMG Settles CD Case. Yesterday the final settlement approval was granted by the judge who was presiding over several of the class-action lawsuits against Sony BMG over the rootkit issue. Terms of the settlement are what was reported on SonySuit back in February: Sony must cease the manufacture of XCP and MediaMax protected CDs, and must compensate all members of the various class action suits who purchased XCP protected albums with a replacement CD, a download of MP3 of the same album, and either one free album download plus $7.50 or three free album downloads. People who purchased MediaMax protected albums will get an MP3 download of the album they purchased.

Various parties, including the EFF, are still trying to get attorney fees from Sony BMG, according to SonySuit, so the residual effects will drag on for a while.

Don’t forget, you have until the end of this year to file a claim.

The heaviest substance known to man

…is carpet and pad saturated with floodwater. On Saturday Lisa and I stripped the carpet out of the basement, where it got flooded last Sunday. It was a slow job. We had to gingerly move all the bookshelves, CD racks, and other furniture pieces, which fortunately kept all my media up, dry, and out of harm’s way; we opted to just kind of shift them fully loaded rather than try to unload them, since there was no dry surface to put anything. The carpet fibers were tenaciously holding onto the water they had absorbed—until you tilted a piece of the carpet, at which point everything ran down in streams onto the floor. And there is no better sponge than the miscellaneous processed lint pieces that constituted the carpet pad that was under that rug. All told it took about fifteen garbage bags, two utility knife blades, a few bandaids, and a lot of cursing and Advil. But it was worth it; except for one remaining utility room carpet, everything is now dry in the basement and garage. Do we wish we had gone with home oriental rug cleaning for our more delicate carpets? Maybe. We had no choice though with this floodwater, hopefully insurance will take care of us.

We did make an interesting discovery: a pit covered with a few boards toward the front of the house concealed the original cleanout for the house’s drainage line. A plumber who was looking at the cleanouts on Saturday reported that the cleanout couldn’t be shifted any more, but cheerfully pointed out that we had multiple other entry points into the line if it ever needed to be snaked. The good news about the pit is that it might be a good location to place a sump pump.

Friday Random 10: Better late than never edition

I got back from San Francisco at 10 am this morning and spent the rest of the day catching up on email. But now I can breathe again, and it’s time for a special Random 10—since I’m sitting at my Mac, this will be an iTunes driven list rather than off my poor little iPod.

  1. Smashing Pumpkins, “Shame” (Adore)
  2. G Love and Special Sauce, “Stepping Stones” (Yeah It’s That Easy)
  3. Liz Phair, “Whitechocolatespaceegg” (Whitechocolatespaceegg)
  4. Miles Davis, “Introduction by Mort Fega” (The Complete Concert 1964)
  5. Radiohead, “I Am a Wicked Child” (Go to Sleep, Pt 2)
  6. Frank Sinatra, “The Gal That Got Away” (The Complete Capitol Singles Collection)
  7. U2, “Some Days Are Better Than Others” (Zooropa)
  8. Chris Isaak, “South of the Border (Down Mexico Way)” (Baja Sessions)
  9. R.E.M., “I Believe” (Life’s Rich Pageant)
  10. Bono, “Never Let Me Go” (Million Dollar Hotel)

Zuni Cafe: oh yeah

How was it that I missed the Zuni Cafe the last two times I was in San Francisco? Oh my goodness. Oysters. Pappardelle with duck sauce. Goat cheese with fennel. Oh yeah.

I consciously split the oysters across species lines this time— Pacific oysters, kumamotos, and Virginicas. You know, the Virginicas? Really really good. In fact, they tasted a little like home. I seriously had one of those Proustian moments; tears came to my eyes. There was something about the taste that brought back the Atlantic to me (if not the Chesapeake). Had really nice discussions with the waitress about fennel, about appropriate wines to go with pappardelle with duck sauce…

San Francisco is for foodies

In addition to a good conference week, it has been a great food week here. Monday night I went to the Thirsty Bear, which had moderately interesting beer (the ESB and Maibock were quite good, but the Märzen was weak) and good tapas (marinated anchovies and small portions of hangar steak).

I took a quiet night on Tuesday, but last night George took me to a neighborhood sushi restaurant that was to die for. The proprietor served us three rounds of sushi, each more special than the last—flying fish, butterfish, yellowtail, and “pencil fish” sashimi, followed by a round of unusual nigiri (the Japanese suzuki particularly was excellent), wrapped up with a round of phenomenal inventions. The two outstanding options here were the Alaskan King Crab Remix, a bundle of crab in a thin wrapper topped with salmon (I think), and nigiri-style Kobe beef that was seared under a blowtorch and that simply melted in the mouth. George, if you can remind me of the name of the place I’ll be eternally indebted.

Afterwards we tried a few glasses of wine at the California Wine Merchant, including a surprising Rhone blend from one of the Sonoma wineries and a Zin/cab sauv/merlot/cab franc blend called Paraduxx that was just outstanding. We ran into an old friend, Chris McCall, there and had a relaxed, civilized time. (In fact, it’s been Old Home Week here, what with my Microsoft friends and Wahoo Kurt Daniel, who now works for SWSoft on their virtualization product, on the expo floor.)

Tonight: I’ll try the Zuni Cafe, a food institution I’ve meant to visit for a long time, then head to the airport for my red-eye, which should be a rude awakening. Maybe I can con United into upgrading me for free again.

ITXpo Wrap Up

I spent the day today bouncing back and forth between sessions that were a little closer to our product’s core functionality (service desk, asset management) and actually doing product demo. I had a demo via Webex that ended just twenty minutes before I had to check out of my hotel room.

An aside to the Gartner folks: please try not to stack the ITXpo on the same week as JavaOne again. There weren’t any non-smoking rooms available in any hotels, and my congestion is killing me after three nights (and one two-hour demo) in the sour stale smoke in my room at the Renaissance.

ITXpo: Jonathan Schwarz keynote

Below is a partial transcript of new Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwarz’s Q and A at the Gartner Symposium.

Q: Let’s talk about StorageTek — loyal following but what’s next?

A: Talked to a board member who lost their tapes. I said, “What’s the big deal? The tapes are encrypted, right?” But tape data isn’t encrypted. So the new StorageTek products support encryption, tie into the public key infrastructure…that seems like a simple requirement, a great synergy.

Q: Thumper (codename) is the best and worst of Sun. There are so many platforms in Sun that do what Thumper does.

A: Three weeks ago we moved into a new set of opportunities. the thing about Thumper is it runs across all Sun’s R&D. and we want to see that happen over and over again–look at Southwest. They’re the most successful airline because among other things they run only one airplane, the 737.

Q: What about your other businesses? Sparc and x86 and … A: We have to meet our customers where they are.

Q: How do you characterize your customers? A: Developers don’t buy things, they join things. They love creative disruption. It’s like social experiment. IT has some of that too, but the difference between them and you is that you have money. Developers love free. You guys hear free and think “free puppy.”

Q: If developers love free, how does that affect your business? A: Developers are the leading indicator. Java started with developers. Now it’s in the enterprise.

Q: But how do you move from a billion handsets with Java and 5 million Solaris downloads to revenue? A: We will add value. The amount of value that Sun receives is directly tied to how many of you use our customers’ services.

Q: What’s the value of Java to Sun? A: What’s the value of a standard plug in the wall to the generator business? Q: Oh but what about investment in R&D? A: GE doesn’t have to worry about someone plugging in a vacuum cleaner that won’t let its electricity expand. And Java is fundamentally the Internet, which drives all our business. Java is about modular architecture on millions of devices. The more handsets with Java, the more the Internet is important and the more they need our support to build the architecture. It’s hard for the Street to understand, but revenue is a lagging indicator of the developer’s adoption of Java. Q: How lagging? A: Well, the day someone starts using Java, Sun is relevant to you. Q: But how much will they pay you for Java?

A: There is a division in the world–those for whom IT is a competitive weapon and those for whom IT is THE competitive weapon. We want the latter, and they will pay to support the infrastructure that underlies that competitive weapon. Q: What about your former customers, those who are running Java but not on Solaris or Sparc? What is attractive about that to you?

A: If you look at the numbers for middleware and servers, we are the leading performance, the best reference platforms for Java. We can deliver a better developer environment. Secondly, OS consolidation. Every large enterprise has cats and dogs. we can offer Solaris that runs on every major platform and is remarkably scalable. Third, we can offer the systems infrastructure (Opteron and Niagara) to affect the productivity and efficiency of their data centers.

Lots of argument about whether Sun is giving away too much value. Q: How do you translate the value from Java into people writing checks? How do you translate the technology lead into marketing? A: You have to understand that while I am deeply focused on financial performance–I need to be focused on the long run.

Q: But Sun lingers too long on Solaris, on Linux… A: Do I get to play the new guy card now or later? Let’s think about mainframes. I went to talk to a now-bankrupt large airline one time about their mainframe, and the guy said, “Son, we installed the mainframe before you were born and will retire it after you die.” Infrastructure sticks around.

Q: But how does Sun manage to exploit its innovation? A: You look at the airplane industry. The engine makers mint money, the airplane manufacturers sometimes make money, and the carriers never make money. Money accrues to fundamental R&D.

So ZFS is a 128 bit file system–do you need 128 bits? Maybe not but you might need the 65th bit. Solaris with ZFS eliminates the need for RAID controllers…

Q: So let’s talk about open sourcing Java. Why is open sourcing Java without forking so hard? A: Look at the history of standards. Volume is the primary driver and standards bodies are secondary. And Microsoft is the biggest platform out there and Java on Microsoft is rife with litigation. So we have to be concerned about forking if we open source. Interoperability is hugely important to our customers.

Q: Top three reasons that Sun will be more successful in two years? A: 1. Leading indicators–lots of new customer interest. 2. Market opportunity–the need for reliable scalable infrastructure and solid development platforms isn’t going away. 3. Management team. And we have boomerangs coming back all over the place. I talked to Ed Zander yesterday on stage at JavaOne and asked if he wanted to come back, and he said, “You got a job for me?” Now I don’t know if he was serious…