Book review of a flawed hagiography of RFK. Are there any definitive books on the last campaign that are a little less one-sided?
A review of the ending of Hillary’s campaign and its implication on the vote in the fall.
What a realistic “Heroes” would look like.
Deconstructing the .Mac –> MobileMe branding change.
To upgrade or not? Based on John Gruber’s article, I’ll be waiting at least one more iPhone rev — for a better battery.
I didn’t think FSJ could be topped, but FJY is pretty damned funny too. Although he’s doomed.
Assessment of Obama as manager.
The first version of this headline said “Yanks Lose Their Wang.” I was wondering how that slipped past the editors.
Handy use of lsof to figure out what’s keeping my iPod connected and busy…
Day: June 16, 2008
What does “beta” mean for Software as a Service?
Steve Johnson at Pragmatic Marketing points to an interesting article on five different types of betas. One of Steve’s commenters suggests there is a sixth kind, the SaaS beta:
…ratchet up your release cycles to monthly, then you can call it a ‘release’ or a ‘beta.’ Either way customers get their hands on the new functionality. If they don’t like what they get you’ll hear about it.
The good news about SaaS is that, by eliminating concerns about customer migration and installation costs, you can truly embrace the frequent releases recommended by most agile methodologies. The bad news is that four to six week release cycles don’t leave much time for customer feedback, and so most of it comes after the update has been pushed, when sales and customers start pushing back on some of the changes (or asking for more).
One way around this is inherent in the agile model itself. By breaking down new functionality into small chunks for release, you can take customer feedback as each chunk is delivered. You may be wrong with every release, but you won’t be as dramatically wrong as if you waited six months before getting customer feedback, and you’ll be able to quickly find and correct the areas where you were wrong with each new functional push.
In the meantime, you can take your overall plan for the functionality that you hope to have completely delivered over three to four releases, whether in the form of a design prototype or even a set of slides, in front of your key customers and get their feedback, and prioritize any changes into upcoming releases.
Piece of the past
While I was in Pennsylvania, I helped my uncle move some junk out of the storage unit where we put some of my grandfather’s things. A few items held memories for me (I never could get comfortable on that fold-up metal cot, and was glad to see it go), but others were remnants: the boxes for his stereo, a piece of old demolished kitchen cabinets that was being used as a laundry table.
I happened to open one of the drawers in the aforementioned kitchen cabinets, and found an odd artifact: a hand drill, but looking like none I had ever seen. I asked my uncle about it, and he said he remembered using it with my grandfather on the farm back in the 1950s and 1960s. He said I could take it, so I brought it home.
The lettering on the gear handle said “Millers Falls Company, Greenfield, Mass.” A little searching turned up a history of the Millers Falls company and an illustration, description and photograph of our drill: a number 308, the so called “Buck Rogers” drill. The drill as manufactured featured red plastic grips and a fully enclosed gear, which had the benefit of keeping the mechanism working smoothly even after many years in a drawer. My grandfather’s was missing the box, and had white paint on both handles, but otherwise was intact. The handle still had some of the drill bits inside, though I haven’t looked closely to see if they are the originals.
It was oddly evocative to have this palmsize memento of my grandfather, who was so much bigger, whose hands fixed and built, fed and sheltered his family, until he couldn’t any more.
Waiting for a phone call
I came home from Pennsylvania on Saturday, which stands as one of the harder things that I’ve had to do. My aunt’s condition has been up and down. While I was there she was lucid, eating and drinking a little, watching the Phillies beat up St. Louis, and ornery (she complained to the nurses that while they had temporarily rolled her away from the TV, the Phillies got their first three runs of the game). But she’s in a lot of pain and keeps getting more and more health complications, and our guess as to how long she’ll be with us keeps spinning around to longer and shorter numbers.
I wish I could just have stayed there. A good part of my mind is still there. Now all I can do is wait for a phone call. My connection to my aunt and her status now comes in drips and drops over a long distance wire.