Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Large-scale data warehouse rankings

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

It looks like 2005 smashed several database records according to Winter Corp’s 2005 winners for the largest databases in the world. The big winners continue to be UNIX and Oracle, but Linux is making some serious inroads along with Microsoft Windows/SQL Server.Yahoo operates the largest commercial data warehouse with over 100 terabytes of data – and it runs on UNIX. This monster relies on the Oracle Database, Fujitsu Siemens PrimePower system, and EMC storage. But at number 6 is with 24 terabytes running on Linux and Oracle. The largest commercial Windows/SQL server database runs at Unisys and is #8 on the list.

If you’re looking for a really huge database, the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology runs a massive 222.8 terabyte system. Technically, it’s not a data warehouse, but in this case, size does matter. And how do they do it? Linux and Oracle!

Five questions for your web designer

Thursday, September 15th, 2005

Do the pages validate?
Is the HTML or CSS valid? The W3C provides a free validation services online at and Valid HTML and CSS goes a long way towards ensuring your website will look right on various browsers.

Which browsers do you test on?
You want to make sure you audience is as wide as possible right? How does you website look on different browsers? According to, the top 4 browsers were Microsoft IE 6.x, Firefox, IE 5.x and Safari – for over 97% of the market. Will your site look good on them all?

What’s your layout, CSS or tables?
Since the introduction of Cascading Style Sheets, CSS, there has been movement away from table based designs. The standards bodies have stated that HTML tables should be used for tabular data only – not for layout. Layout should be separated from the content using style sheets. There are many advantages here: CSS sites load quicker, take up less bandwidth, are more accessible to handicapped visitors and are easier to print.

Are the pages search engine friendly?
Looking for information on the web? Where do you go first? If you answered google, yahoo, or msn then you’ve visited a major search engine. Search engines crawl and index the web so when we type phrases like “hobby shop raleigh” we get results instantly. To index the internet, these engines employ sophisticated algorithms to “rank” the results. The algorithms are proprietary and closely guarded trade secrets, but some information is available to the page designer. Use of page titles, heading tags, emphasis and keyword links all improve your chances of getting a higher ranking. Of course content is king, so don’t forget that!

What about the details?
Yes, there are a myriad of details that differentiate a professional website from an amateur one. Does you designer provide custom error pages or do you get the default 404 page? What about alt-tags on your images? If an image can’t load for some reason, the alt-tag will be visible. Hover-over help text – sometimes called “tool-tips” – can make your site more user friendly. A very small detail – in fact 16×16 bytes – is the favicon.ico. This icon associated with your site that appears in the browser’s address bar or next to your site name in a visitor’s bookmarks.

JetsetJr in the news…

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

On Sunday, August 14th, the Raleigh News & Observer ran an interview with JetsetJr co-founder Doug Griswold.

The Project Management Triangle

Sunday, August 21st, 2005

Project ManagementHas your project hit a bump in the road? Are the project results diverging from the plan? Are you starting to think something might be wrong? How do you get back on track?If you have looked for answers in all the usual places, it might be useful to review the project management triangle.

The project triangle is a simple triangle with each edge labeled Scope, Time and Money. As a project manager, it’s your responsibility to control at least one side of the triangle. Without control of at least one side, you won’t be able to regain control of your project. If all three sides are fixed, the project will fail.

Time – often the first choice of Engineering, just add more time to the schedule. Let’s be honest, estimating dates is difficult. Sometimes people make mistakes. Sometimes dates are coerced. Whatever the case, if you are going to ask for more time, be sure you ask for enough time. Nobody wants to continuously slip a schedule. It’s bad for business and it’s bad for moral.

Money – people or equipment. In The Mythical Man Month, Fred Brooks cautions against adding more people to an already late project, but if the project is truly short staffed the addition of “value-add” players may be the solution. Some projects are constrained by their tools – slow computers, limited disk space, etc. Buy, rent, or borrow what you need to get the job done.

Scope – often this edge remains fixed when in fact it can be the easiest to manipulate. By postponing commitments we remain fluid and agile. Is it better to complete 5 features on time or slip the schedule to get 7? That depends on how committed you and your customers are to those 2 features. In Lean Software Development, Mary and Tom Poppendieck advocate postponing decisions until the “Last Responsible Moment.” Many projects try to nail down too much up front. Mary and Tom make some great arguments in favor of waiting.

One final note: smooth running project strive to balance the triangle. Extremely short or long sides make for an unstable project. Next time your project starts to lean, adjust one of the three sides.

Visit Llamawerx solutions to learn more — or contact us today.

The tasks of leaders

Tuesday, August 16th, 2005

In the May/June issue of Consulting magazine, David Morrison summarizes the tasks of leaders.

  • Invest where value is flowing in, which is relatively easy
  • Disinvest where value is flowing out, which is difficult because of the human and organizational implications
  • Find the next winning business design, which is the most difficult

I’ve had a copy of his article pinned to my bulletin board. This is simple enough for even an engineer like me to understand. To me, this distills what business is all about.