Self-registering, self-managing records, a reality or just a pipe-dream?

by Frank 28. September 2011 01:15

The records management process has been a bothersome burden since primitive man first began cutting notches in sticks and tying knots in string to record things. You can just imagine the excuses for bad record-keeping a few hundred thousand years ago.

“The dog ate the string.”

“The stick caught fire.”

Unfortunately, modern man has millions more things to manage than his ancestor and no more time (I imagine our ancestors were pretty busy just staying alive and catching food). In fact our ancestors had a few advantages. It is pretty easy and very fast to tie a knot or cut a notch and no training is required. Additionally, notches and knots are naturally multi-lingual and multi-cultural and avoid all the language difficulties we are faced with today. Knots and notches are also pretty durable (if kept away from the fire and the dog) and lend themselves to long term preservation. We on the other hand struggle with the need for initial and ongoing training and overcomplicated software and processes and paper and cardboard that disintegrates after the first serious storm cause leaks to appear in the roof.

Basically, modern man has a much more difficult job to do with harder-to-use tools. Is this what we call progress?

So, is the solution fully-automatic, self-registering, self-classifying, self-managing records? Is it possible? Do we have the technology? Do we really want to rid ourselves of this burdensome task?

In my mind the answer to all of the above questions is yes but then I do have an active imagination. I really do envision a world where the records manage themselves and all we have to do is search and find what we need. In fact, the next phase should really include some really very clever ‘push’ algorithms such that we no longer even need to search, the system correctly anticipates what we need before we need it, “Bacon and eggs for breakfast sir with a little wholemeal toast and the files on the Clark-Deakin case?”

Unfortunately I am also a software designer and developer of records management systems so when I say silly things like the above I eventually have to follow rhetoric with product.

I already have most of the core components and technology and algorithms and most are already in use, in various stages of development, in our current product range. The ‘fully-automatic’ part of the process is already evident with products like RecCapture and GEM but market acceptance of the fully-automatic paradigm is still a major problem so we have been reluctant to get too far ahead of the curve. I am prone to the disease of designing products about five years before people are ready to use them because I often let my enthusiasm and imagination over-rule a more conservative view of what the market is actually ready to accept. This is probably because:

a)      I am the owner of the company; and

b)      Designing and developing application software is still fun and exciting and even more so if you use your imagination to its full.

In subsequent blogs I will further elaborate on how this abolition of the records management burden is not only possible but probable in the near term barring a total collapse of the world financial system because Greeks don’t pay their taxes and banks give money to anyone in good times all the time hoping that the government will bail them out if it all goes belly up.



Will Developers, Corporates and Government upgrade to Windows 8?

by Frank 19. September 2011 18:05

Why would developers model their applications around the new Windows 8 platform? Wouldn’t it be much smarter for Windows developers to plan a future based on a browser platform and HTML5 (if and when the HTML5 spec is finalised and agreed?). Why sign up for more cost and more pain?

Why would any large corporate or government agency plan a future based on the Windows 8 platform? Wouldn’t it be much smarter for customers to stick with the proven XP or Windows 7 OS and make the decision to move slowly and orderly to a future web based application environment?

What is Microsoft’s value proposition with Windows 8? Why should corporates and big government stick with Windows? Why should they upgrade to Windows 8? Just because it is faster to load (and we have heard that before) or prettier is hardly enough.

It will cost corporates and government all around the world billions of dollars to upgrade to Windows 8. Has Microsoft looked at the stock market lately or the health (or otherwise) of economies all around the world? Does it think the US government or Greek government or Italian or Irish governments will be increasing their massive debts to buy and roll-out Windows 8?

With state and local government all over America laying off government workers how can they possibly justify allocating scarce funds to Microsoft instead of employees?

How about big corporates like Bank of America (about to lay off some 30,000 staff)? What about the 25 million unemployed people in the USA; where will they get the money to upgrade to Windows 8? Where is the Return On Investment (ROI)? What do the powerful US unions think about Windows 8 instead of jobs?

Maybe the fact that Microsoft is hedging its bets with HTML5 and JavaScript tells you a lot – maybe they aren’t too confident about the future of Windows either. Maybe Microsoft fully expects a paradigm shift to web-based applications and away from Windows?

Vista may well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back but the GFC will certainly be the major catalyst for decisions against Windows 8.


Information Management

Windows 8 Comments after Microsoft Conference in Anaheim

by Frank 19. September 2011 00:35

As expected, there are definitely some interesting things happening with the next version of windows.  One of the first things they addressed was the concern about the next version being slower and bloated.  They showed some stats of the same device running Windows 7 and then upgraded to Windows 8.  When it was running Windows 7 it was using 32 processes and over 400 MB of memory just after booting up.  When Windows 8 was installed, the processes went down to 29 and the memory down to 280 MB.

Overall, I like the way it looks.  They are trying to imitate apple, but also trying to address a lot of the shortcomings developers currently have with iOS devices.

Microsoft have said that any application that works on Windows 7 will still run on Windows 8.  However, for future development, Microsoft is moving from .NET to a new API called WinRT.  This is basically an API that is built into windows 8, so no more Frameworks to install.  I’m not sure how similar the calls will be between the two, but I’m guessing it would be considerable work to migrate.  Also, if we want to stick with VB, C#, or C++, we would have to change from using WinForms to the new XAML UI language, which basically allows you to scale for the different form factors.

However, they also are supporting App development using HTML5 and javascript which can integrate with the WinRT API on Windows 8.  I think this would be the wisest development language, as it would be consistent with Apple, Google, etc.

So we are back to the beginning. All our early Windows applications were programmed strictly to the Windows API . Then Microsoft came up with .NET and moved stuff outside of the API. Made it more complex, more difficult and expensive to program, support and maintain. Plus, lots of organizations refused to implement and roll-out and maintain the .NET Framework. Let’s not forget all the weird security and compatibility problems caused by .NET, yet another security layer for Windows networks and another headache for network administrators.

From our viewpoint, dropping the requirement for the .NET Framework can only be a good thing. However, this new Windows 8 architecture means we will have to rewrite a whole bunch of code in  our existing .NET applications. Multiple that effort by hundreds of thousands (the number of Windows .NET developers all around the world) or even millions and you have billions of dollars earmarked for code redesign/rewrite, not new features or new products. Money we wouldn’t have to spend if all of our applications were web based instead of being .NET and Windows based. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

We applaud Microsoft for investing in a better version of Windows but wonder if it ever considers the massive costs it inflicts on its partners and customers?


Information Technology

Month List