September 2006 Archives

SAP Announces Enterprise Search

SAP Announces Enterprise Search

Where SAP has the edge with building its own search engine—and where Enterprise Search takes advantage of this fact—is that it is able to consider the enterprise schema and data model as well as the role, preferences and intentions of the person conducting the search to provide context. (Presumably other business applications vendors would have the same leg up with their own search engines tapping data stored in their systems.)

While SAP's (or Oracle's, or IBM's, or Microsoft's) strength is in understanding the data model, I wonder if Google's mastery of the "search fabric" (as they call it) might trump any specific insight into the guts of a given data model or information architecture, especially as knowledge from other applications gets woven into the results.

Attention Artists: Brushes and Paint are now Free | A Whole Lotta Nothing

The tools to deliver your creations are finally free. I am already seeing profound changes in how students can create and share their work but I bet in a couple years from now it'll be even more dramatic. We'll look back at the days when you were charged by the downloaded megabyte as quaint and laugh and wonder what things were like before YouTube and Flickr (and others, of course) took away those limits.

Quibble if you will about whether YouTube and Flickr are the brushes or the canvas (I would have gone with canvas), but the posting's point remains true: these services aloow for very rich creative expression, in a similar way to how Google's Blogger service does for text.

In fact, the use of these services' widgets—the ability for YouTube and Flickr users to propagate their own or favorite examples on their sites—takes these canvasses one step further, leveraging the free infrastructure you can find elsewhere (such as in Blogger, or a university's gratis web space) to create powerful yet inexpensive publishing possibilities across multiple media.

And "free" is an excellent price point for student artists.

This all raises the interesting question of whether the other tools for media capture and creation, will also, someday, be free. In a way, some of them are close to free, or very heavily subsidized. Apple, for instance, bundles iLife, including iMovie HD, GarageBand, and iPhoto, with every computer sold. You can get a very capable iMac starting at just under $1,000, and the entry-level MacBook is just $100 more. The ultra cheap might look to the Mac mini at $599. With a nominal retail price of $79, the iLife suite is 13% of the total cost of that Mac mini.

But will media creation always be tethered to the desktop? 9Rules' Mike Rundle says "yes," but in a rejoinder, Paul Kedrosky says "no." I think they're both right.

The very heaviest lifting will require a lot of computation on large data sets. When you're rendering frames of a digital movie for output, then the asynchronism of shipping that data over the network to a render farm is fine, but when you're touching up a large image, you want the response to be as close to immediate as possible. But is there any reason that changes in application architecture couldn't allow for hybrid applications to pull more of the heavy lifting network-side? This would allow for traditional desktop app developers to enjoy some of the benefits of providing their software as a service.

Kung Fu Monkey

Kung Fu Monkey

What do you get when you cross a physicist with a stand-up and a writer, then marinate in a political rage? An excellent blog.

27B Stroke 6

A federal magistrate today dismissed with prejudice a disgraceful DMCA prosecution against three young Texas men who bought a lot of cell phones while looking Arab.

Adham Othman, 21, his brother Louai Othman, 23, and their cousin Maruan Muhareb, 18, were cleared of money laundering and conspiracy charges after a day-long preliminary hearing.

The three were rousted by local law enforcement in Michigan last month after they were spotted driving from Wal-Mart to Wal-Mart buying as many low-cost pre-paid cell phones as they could get their hands on.

Tuscola County authorities arrested them as suspected terrorists and made a lot of noise. Then when the case didn't pan out the feds stepped in with charges that the men conspired to violate the DMCA.

A coda to the depressing case of three Arab-Americans arrested on terrorism charges because they had a van full of prepaid cell phones. After the terror charges were dropped, the bogus DMCA charges were thrown out, too.

NYC to YTO, uh oh

USATODAY.com - Today In the Sky: Archives

Canadian low-cost carrier CanJet announced Tuesday that it would suspend all of its commercial service after Sept. 10. The airline, which had grown to become Canada’s third largest, blamed high fuel costs, stiff competition and rising airport landing fees, Reuters reports. CanJet says it still will operate charter services, but the company’s decision to end scheduled commercial flights “stunned” the industry, the Canadian Press (CP) says. "There was no hint of this," says Rick Erickson, a Calgary-based airline analyst. CanJet expanded rapidly since its current incarnation was born out of the Canada 3000 bankruptcy four years ago, according to the CP. But Erickson told the news agency that he thinks CanJet’s viability as a commercial airline may have been hampered by its reliance on in its main routes in its Atlantic Canada base.

In addition to Canada losing its third-largest domestic airline (after Air Canada and WestJet) that means there are now exactly zero low cost carriers operating on the New York-Toronto route. Jetsgo went bankrupt in May 2005, WestJet pulled out of LaGuardia in July of that same year, and now CanJet is shuttering its scheduled service.

That means the market has been left to the network carriers, and we know what that means. Let me give you a hint: In December 2005, Air Canada's "Tango" fare for a Friday morning, post-Christmas flight between YYZ-LGA was US$124. Today, that same fare class for the same flight is US$194, a 36% increase.

The price of crude, incidentally, has increased roughly 15% since December 2005.

Update: A friend of mine pointed out that the price of jet fuel has actually increased 35% between the end of November '05 and the end of July '06, so there's clearly a strong case that the network carriers are only pricing in the cost of fuel.

I'll concede this fact, irritating though it is to do so.

Both CanJet and Jetsgo undercut Air Canada significantly when they operated on the New York-Toronto route; CanJet's prices for the upcoming Christmas holidays were around 45% cheaper. Now, clearly they were doing something wrong as they both went out of business, but the failure can't be isolated to their New York-Toronto route. WestJet's fares were never as cheap, but, as a major, established, and profitable competitor to Air Canada, AC took them seriously enough to sharpen their pencils. This had a ripple effect on the other network carriers on the route.

Bottom line? The lack of low-fare competition on what appears to be a pretty good short-haul route isn't going to help leisure travelers this December. Jet fuel prices be damned.