Google Launches new trend tool

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Google has launched a new tool from Google Labs. The tool is Google trends and I cna see it may come in very handing for investigating trends on the Internet. I’m pretty sure the statistics where taken from Google’s database which should give a good representation of the types of searches people are doing throughout the net since Google pretty much owns the search engine market.

I’ve been playing with this for a while and I thought I would find out how popular the term DNN was for searching for DotNetNuke related information. People tend to search more for DotNetNuke than they do for DNN, but the terms are fairly consistent.And you can see from the graph how one relates to the other as they both have the same peaks and valleys

Comparing the searches for DNN and DotNetNuke may suggest that the open source application may be losing some it its steam. The graph goes back until 2004 and you can even see when the term DNN was coined for referring to DotNetNuke. The search terms have receive an ever growing percentage of searches with a huge spike in 2005 around the time DNN 2.0 came on the scene. This would lend credibility that the skinning features introduced in this version improved DotNetNuke’s market position.

The application is still growing in searches, but it has tapered off since around the end of the third quarter in 2005 and it is showing a steady search percentage for the terms but it is not growing as it once was.

I also ran comparisons between DotNetNuke and Community Server and DNN does still seem to be outpacing Community Server in the amount of people searching for information. This is not really a good test since Community Server only has search terms going back to the first part of 2005 and it is considerably less than DNN was at that time. If we had the data for when DNN was first launched, I would not be surprised if we had similar results for DotNetNuke as what CS is showing now.

Anyway this is a pretty cool little app and I’m sure many people will find all sorts of uses for it. you can view searches by regions and my personal favorite you can link news stories to searches. I was comparing as many things as I could so I decided to look for the term avian bird flu. Google’s trending application showed me the trend of searches for Bird flu, but it also showed me related news stories on the subject. You can see a definite correlation between when a news story on this subject breaks and the amount of searches on the subject. Many times there was a spike when a news story breaks just to see the searches tailor off in the days after the story.You can find the application at http://www.google.com/trends

Core Competencies in Open Source Projects

I recently decided to go to grad school and obtain my masters in MIS with an emphasis in security. Securing systems has always been a passion of mine and there was probably even a time when I wanted to see if I could break them. It just seems like some fun knowledge to have and with the current climate in the Information technology industry security training will be a skill to have and will make me more marketable.

Well I just completed my first series of classes and it was very stressful since I took two classes and they where pushed into an eight week time frame. Couple this with the fact that I still go to work every day it makes for some very full weeks, when both professors expected me to read 5 or 6 chapters every week and write at least one paper. Well I made it through and even managed to pull two A’s out of the classes. One of the classes turned out to be very interesting even though I did not see eye to eye with the professor, he did disseminate some very useful information. This class was Strategic Management of Technology and the majority of the course dealt with determining the core competencies of an organization and encouraging innovation around those core competencies. For clarity a core competency is defined as:

  • Something that provides access to a wide variety of markets.
  • Something that provides a perceived value to the customers of a product
  • It must be difficult for competitors to imitate.

Now all through the class the professor kept telling us to define what our core competencies where to build up those competencies. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately and he is absolutely correct, I need to build up my competencies and use those competencies to compete in my everyday life. That’s is one reason I decided to start working on this blog and capture my thoughts on a daily basis. Hopefully it will help me to define where I want to go next. I’ve definitely determined it is not to continue to work a 9-5 job every day as I have done through out my entire career.

Well enough of me, I started looking at the various projects available in Asp.Net and I am have been trying to determine the competencies for the various open source projects. I first thought of the Rainbow project. I would think their core competencies is in their localization of their framework as it is probably one of the most complete implementations of localization of any of the open source or shared source projects available in the .Net community ( at least of the ones I’ve seen). Now Rainbow is not one of the most popular projects by a long ways so either their core competency is not really a great competency as it does not provide them with a broad range of markets, but it is a needed feature and they have done it very well, but maybe that is not the most important feature to the developers in the Asp.Net community.

Now thinking of DotNetNuke, I can think of several competencies. The first one that comes to mind is the multiple portal feature where you can have hundreds of web sites on a single installation of DNN this is definitely the killer feature that allowed DNN to gain its foothold in the community and has also allowed it to become the most popular asp.net project by a long shot. But I don’t really think this could be described as a core competency for DNN, but it probably was one at one time. DNN’s true core competency is in the community around the project. The community is what gives DNN its position and without the strength of the community, I would think DNN would have faltered long ago and would now be only a memory or have numerous forks all working towards different goals. Its getting late so I will need to finish these thoughts later, but I just find it interesting that a competency of a open source project probably has less to do with the cool code it contains than it does with the people who support it. I would say this it probably true of any successful open source endeavor. The community is what creates value in open source an not really the code. So for all the people who says if a web application is not built utilizing LAMP, then its not true open source maybe they should think again and consider open source is about a lot more than the platform that runs or creates the application. I personally think its more about the community and sharing and not just whether it runs as platform independent.

Real World DotNetnuke Part II

This is the second article in Dwayne Baldwin’s series on Real World DotNetNuke:

Real World DotNetNuke – Part II

But we have always done it that way.

Yesterday has gone.

Today we have all sorts of ways to accomplish what we need. There are many stories about how things have always worked, but here are my two favorites from the U.S. Army.

The first involves a brand new warship with a fancy gunning system that could target anything in real time. The problem was that the fire button wouldn’t work for 15 seconds.

It turned out that this long practiced rule of thumb was implemented during the days of the horse and canon. The operator was supposed to wait 15 seconds after aiming the canon in order to let the horse settle down and not jerk the canon.

So they have this multi-million dollar, top of the line, technically superior gun that has a 15 second lockout feature because that was the way it had been done for nearly a hundred years!

The second story involves the Army procurement process. They needed a dependable supply of llama dung, as required by the specifications for treating leather used in airplane seats and jackets. Due to unreliable shipping methods at the time, the Army attempted to establish a herd a llamas in New Jersey. No one suspected anything until someone had trouble filling the request

It turned out that the US Army had copied the specifications from the British Army, dating back to Great Britain’s era of colonial expansion. New leather on saddles made the horses skittish and unmanageable. Treating the leather with llama dung created a different odor that calmed the horses. The treatment became part of the leather’s specification, which remained unchanged for a century

I’m sure you can look around your organization and find similar stories. Many people do not like change, and use the best excuses to keep things as they are. Because it has always been done that way does not mean that it cannot be done in a different way. The trick here is to look for rote procedures and discover ways to improve the process

In order to use the right tool for the job, sometimes you have to understand the job itself. Is this mass importing of data something that needs to be done at the end of the month? Why do we have an end of day process? Why does this batch process have to run at night? Should the console to operate these jobs be on a web server?

I prefer to know about the exceptions rather then the things that work. I do not want to be notified of every order processed today; I am only interested in the totals and the ones that experienced problems. Of course I can look up an audit trail to see what occurred, but I rarely need to watch successful processes

Should I develop some fancy progress bar that displays naked women (or men) on my browser while I wait for a job to run? I have to ask – why do I have to login and click on something to launch this job from a web browser in the first place

That is an example of the wrong tool for the job.

Another system I developed uses SQL Reporting Services to display an invoice on the screen. That got me thinking… how am I going to display this invoice in a DotNetNuke HTML module?

The right tool is Reporting Services.

So I wrote a module to render the invoice using Reporting Services and display it within the DotNetNuke application. I can choose to render a Windows metafile, a PDF or an Excel spreadsheet, simply by changing a single parameter in the call to Reporting Services. The payoff is that now a customer can login to the company portal, and view their invoice online. What they see in their browser is *exactly* what was printed on the invoice

Now I ask, is there any reason to print the invoice in the first place

Why not email the invoice as a file directly to the customer? Or email a link directly to the invoice and they can use the print module contents built into DotNetNuke. The customer can ultimately decide whether or not to print the invoice. Best idea yet?

Allow the customer to edit their online profile, and they can choose how they want to handle the process!

In any business process there are steps from start to finish. The best designed systems allow you to hook any process (i.e: pre-render, page_load, shipping, invoicing,) to add functionality. For example, if an application allowed you to add a call to your .net code after printing an invoice, you could call a web service to update a dissimilar system anywhere in the world.

I love the commercial where they guy pays for his coffee with his bank card and waits for the debit to appear on his PDA. That is the way people want to work – in real-time. Jobs should not be batched because that’s the way it has always been done.

Customer statements are another example of a wasteful process.

Not only is your organization wasting money printing and mailing the statements, they are always inaccurate and out of date by the time they are received. Put customer statements on line, and allow the customer to view it at any time.

Depending on your company, if you had a customer on watch, you can be notified that they just looked at their statement. So why not phone them while your statement is on their screen. (Slightly nasty, but very effective.)

Look around your organization to see how you can make more things happen in real time.