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A Fruity Sony Ad Parody

Remember the ad for the Sony Bravia with superballs bouncing down the street in San Francisco? Re-imagine it with fruit.
"Returning from church hall last Friday (17th) we witnessed the aftermath of a destructive TV commercial film crew. The damage (smashed windows, bent car aerials and broken garden ornaments) was caused when several tonnes of fruit was dumped."
If you haven't seen the Sony ad, watch it first: Sony Bravia ad

Then watch the Tango parody:

250 Years of History on a Single Chart

Busiest graph I've seen, depicting the history of major social and political trends over the past 250 years and projecting into the future. Interesting to see them overlaid at a high level like this.

Investigating the New Google Trends Tool

Google Trends is an interesting new item that lets you query Google's search volume and news terms, showing the results over time, by region / city and shows stories linked to the terms. You're seeing interest as measured by people searching, which isn't necessarily the best way to look at interest but it's good for some topics. One neat aspect is the ability to compare up to five different search terms at the same time. I used it to do some initial analysis. Here's what I learned.

The first experiment, before getting to serious BI and ETL topics, confirms my beliefs and says that yes, Google Trends is working as expected:

Stargate is the longest running and therefore the most popular, the new Dr Who is ramping up after the initial PR push, and BSG gets a sustained bump during the regular and repeat season as more people realize how good it is.

Looking at some real business, check out this graph of EAI (enterprise application integration) and ESB (enterprise service bus - where have you been hiding?):

Crossover. ESB = SOA reconceptualizing the EAI marketing terms. Hope the EAI vendors are changing all their marketing literature to "new and impoved with ESB!"

I really wanted to see what the data says about BI vendors:

BOb and Cognos lead by a significant margin over the others. The news references tells us something we laready know too: Cognos has always been better at getting their marketing message into the IT media than the other vendors. How about if we look at the top two compared to the best know open source BI projects:

Some interesting comparison notes. People seem to stop searching right around December and on weekends. A lot of people must search from work... But why are the OSS projects resistant to the December search crash and weekend lull? All those US-based volunteers who work on OSS during weekends and holidays?

Amazingly, India has the most active searchers for these BI product search terms. I would have thought the US would top out in these listings. International vendors pay attention!

One problem is that there is no scale to measure against. We could be looking at tiny numbers, or huge numbers. The delta of one relative to another is important. What's needed is a baseline to put the grpah results into perspective. The difficulty is that the baseline must be a lot higher than everything else, or you will lose it at the bottom. The question is "what is an appropriate baseline that will be higher than all other search terms?" Fortunately, Google provides tools with AdWords to help you find popular search terms.


From which we can conclude:
  1. I found a baseline, but it's too big for some items.
  2. Even with this baseline, Cognos manages to get the news out (look at the News references graph).
  3. Rating interest across categories, the SciFi channel lineup wins over BI.
  4. General interest in operating systems is declining, but Windows and Linux are still more popular.
  5. Google Trends is potentially useful for gauging interest based on popular search terms.
With this baseline choice, I can't help but wonder if Google Trends isn't a result of the "search engine subpoena" from the federal government that Google fought but Yahoo and MSN caved on. The feds said they wanted data for pedophile search trends. Now they have it, and Google didn't have to expose any search secrets. The feds need to learn how to ask politely instead of acting like Stasi. Works better than big public court cases that they lose. Hey, did Outlook just say "gesundheit" when I sneezed?

Reminder: Tomorrow (May 25) is Towel Day

I almost forgot. Carry your towel with you on May 25th. And don't panic.

Jamie Zawinksi: "Groupware Bad"

I don't know how I missed this rant on groupware, the fall of Netscape and what's wrong with enterprise software development. It's fantabulous.
Nat was in town, and he stopped by to say hi and chat, and he said, "So we've got this big pile of code we're going to release, and we're going to build an open source groupware system! It's going to be awesome!"

And I said, "Jesus Mother of Fuck, what are you thinking! Do not strap the 'Groupware' albatross around your neck! That's what killed Netscape, are you insane?" He looked at me like I'd just kicked his puppy.
It's more than a rant. He has some points about how commercial software isn't really user driven, and hence why it sucks. It aligns with why I think a lot of truly interesting things in software are happening more in the consumer-driven or small-team-driven markets than in big software firms (one Oracle post below excepted, the other vindicated :-)

Nice Description of Oracle's BI Offerings, Also Data Mining Inside a Query

Mark Rittman wrote a good article earlier this month explaining Oracle's BI offerings. WOrth reading through if you're at all interested in where they're going. Link.

While I'm at it, check out this extension to Oracle to allow data mining to be part of a query's WHERE clause:

Select all customers who have a high propensity to attrite (> 80% chance)
SQL Query:
      SELECT A.cust_name, A.contact_info
FROM customers A
USING A.*) > 0.8
Pretty powerful stuff. Read the full post to see where it goes from there. A few months back someone had done something similar with categorization as an Ingres/Postgres extension. Looks like the folks at Oracle were paying attention.

Oracle Marketing Cracks Me Up

I've always wondered how they manage to employ so many people, yet do such a poor job of getting good messages out. I could list dozens of things that Oracle had years before DB2, and which they do better, yet I've never once seen Oracle marketing actually use any of them. I even went so far as to supply them with a list, circa DB2 UDB version 7, and they didn't touch any of it. Would easily counter the "UDB is better for data warehousing" messages from Gartner and company (trust me, I lived in that world and it was Not Fun). But I digress.

Oracle Warehouse Builder 10g Release 2 (Paris) has finally been released. You can download the software now. But the official launch isn't until June 17. God only knows when the official release announcement will be. My guess is July. It's really not that hard to do this right. Here's a project plan to help the next time around:
  1. Announce official release, June 17
  2. Launch event, June 17
  3. Release software, June 17
That said, there's a lot to like in OWB 10gR2 (sounds like a Star Trek insignia, maybe marketing can change the name? It's actually broader than data warehousing, but they stuck with OWB as well, over the protests of product engineers from the rumors I've heard).

I rank some of Oracle's features ahead of the market leaders in ETL, mainly because they focus on the tasks ETL developers are trying to accomplish. The pit many vendors fall into is not looking at the higher-level tasks that people doing data integration must do, and designing features at that level. All you need to do is look at slowly changing dimension features across 3-4 vendors to see how bad it can be. Let's hope OWB can shake things up a little.

I'm mourning the loss of Nicholas Goodman from the Oracle/OWB community. He provided a lot of excellent technical details at his site and nobody is filling his shoes yet for OWB. I'm also cheering his joining the Open Source world since I spend a lot of time tracking Open Source in the BI/DW world. Pentaho is on a roll with acquisitions and recruitment.


Data warehousing, business intelligence, IT strategy and architecture, and occasional interesting bits.

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