I came across Appcelerator this week (thanks Andy).
Appcelerator is an open source platform that provides everything you need to build rich web, mobile and desktop applications.
From what I saw Appcelerator is a thin layer on the Javascript API making it much easier to program. It also comes with a set of pre-defined effects that can provide some quick pop to your applications.

A great feature is the 'Appcelerator in 5 Minutes' demo. If you need 5 minutes with it to 'get' it, you're a little slow. You can pretty much learn the model in 60 seconds there. The rest is seeing the scope of functionality.

What I found even more interesting is the approach. Appcelerator views the browser as its deployment environment, and interacts with many different backends, including Java, .Net, Ruby, PHP, and more. This separation is an interesting approach and actually matches in concept what James Strachan was talking about in his post 'JAX-RS as the one Java web framework to rule them all?'. Developing web applications consists of two parts, the UI (HTML, JavaScript, CSS, Images), and the backend (Java, .Net, PHP, Ruby, accessed via JSON, REST, XML, etc). Why do we need to build them as one, or with a single technology?

As with anything, there are applications that this approach works well for (Gmail -> GWT takes an all in one approach, but does treat the browser as a 'real' deployment environment), and many it does not. If nothing else, Appcelerator is on my list to spend some more time with.


I use FeedBurner to track the subscribers to this blog. Google bought them a while back and are working though the 'digestion' process now. They are now starting to transition FeedBurner accounts to Google account so of course I tried it out. The transition was easy (but slow, took over an hour for the 4 feeds I track) and they suggested that the subscriber stats would take a few days to level out.

I checked my stats today (two days in) and only 1/2 of the subscribers are represented. Looking through the details, it looks like all the various feed readers are represented except for Google Reader! I guess it is comforting to know Google isn't 'cheating' in its integration of services. In fact, they seem to not work well together at all.

I assume this will resolve in the next few days, but I do find it odd that everything else is working except Google Reader.


Today is a day of transitions. I won't get into the politics of it, but from a technology side, the new administration is up and running.

A blog! (rss) President Obama, or at least his administration is already up and blogging on the Whitehouse website.

The details...
  • RSS - The rss feed is summary only, not full text. You will have to click through for details.
  • .Net - The website uses .Net. While the main URLs (correctly) keep the aspx extension out, the RSS feeds all have the .aspx extension. You can also tell by the tag ids: 'ctl09_rptNavigation_ctl02_rptNavigationItems_ctl01_hlSubNav'
  • JQuery - It looks like the Whitehouse site is using the JQuery JavaScript libraries
  • Webtrends - The government is watching you...
We'll see how the blog gets used over time. I will be disappointed if it is simply a channel for the press releases but I don't expect the President to be blogging or twittering constantly either. I think he'll stay plenty busy.

New Year, New Thoughts

Paul Kedrosky posts a list of things he's changed his mind about this year. Did you change your mind about anything this year?

I agree with several of his points: too big to fail, ignorance, blogs, AM radio, Hedge funds, Buffett, This time it is different, and oil.

While I'm not convinced that phones do not require keyboards, I've certainly softened on that point. My wife's new iPhone has my jealous of certain features, but I still love the easy one handed navigation of my Treo.

There is one recurring category that I found interesting: 'It works, until it doesn't'. He cited Technical Analysis and Wholesale funding model. I think this is an interesting idea in the broader context. There are a lot of 'things' that work, and work well, for a fixed period of time. Then something changes and they stop working. It is easy to get caught in that trap and not have the proper hedges in place (whether financial hedges or life hedges).

I'll take this as a lesson for 2009: There are a lot of things that work, until they don't.

Blogger Broken

I use Blogger to manage this blog. As someone who likes to be in control (but gets lazier over time) I use the FTP publishing option to have Blogger upload the appropriate HTML to my hosting provider so my blog uptime is not dependent on Blogger being up, and I can easily capture an HTML backup of my blog.

The one downfall to this approach is that when Blogger's FTP publishing service is down, I can't update my blog (without some non-trivial HTML editing). Unfortunately, the FTP publishing service has been broken/unreliable since before Christmas.

Of course, if you can read this post then it must be fixed. But for now, this post will just sit in my queue waiting to see the light of day.

EDIT: I did finally get it working. I changed from my DNS name to the IP address. Apparently, the change itself may be the key, more than using the IP or DNS. Obviously long term the DNS name is the right answer. This blog post was the best source I've found yet for info.

Lehman Aftermath

A friend of mine worked for Lehman Brothers when they imploded this fall. He recently posted a look back at his experience and frustration with how things went down. It is a great perspective to remember all the people working hard inside Lehman and other firms and companies that are caught up in larger events.

One thing I found interesting was the similarities to Enron in the number of people who had a significant portion of their net worth invested in a single firm. It is easy to sit on the outside wonder how someone could bet their entire financial future on one firm, but as he pointed out it can be very difficult to stay diversified when so much of your compensation is tied to the firm's stock.
Some of the guys were hit very hard. A lot of the bonus is paid in Lehman Stock, part of the 401K is in Lehman, the firm also promoted personal investing in the stock. All in all, if you were with the firm for 20 years, you have a major percent of your worth tied with the company, and then it's gone.
Again, it is easy to second guess when you are sitting outside a firm, safely away from to Kool-Aid pitcher. It should serve as a second warning to others though. Diversify, diversify, diversify.

I'm glad my friend landed in another job quickly, but it sounds like he's still dealing with the reverberations of the meltdown. I wish him the best.