Frank's Blog

French Cuisine 

Last week I stayed in Nancy, France for a conference on Business Process Management. While the city is a nice location to hang out long into the night (45.000 students from about 300.000 citizens), half of the restaurants are indeed italian-style. As far as I tried it out, the Pizza is very well in several locations at the old town. But what about the world-famous French cuisine? After paying the lump-sum of 500 euros for the conference I was waiting for outré lunch and dinner. Unfortunately, all we got all day long looked like this:

The nice thing about the "gala-dinner" on Wednesday was the location: The hotel de ville! Still they served the same raw meats...

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Holiday Impressions 

With a little delay I'm back again with some impressions from the last two weeks. Our holidays started with some nice looking clouds and warm breezes:

The sky returned the same every once a while, however in between heavy cloudbursts appeared. Of course we were on vacation by tent:

That made us finally gave in and we returned home. Then we had some time to explore our capital Berlin. Here is a nice little picture from somewhere in the center for you to guess what it is about:

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State of Workflow Part II: The Shifting Environment 

Still out there? Are you ready to continue the theoretical discussions? This time I want to talk about the State of Workflow Part II: The Shifting Environment.

While in the good old days the environment in which a workflow was enacted was quite static and manageable (e.g. a department, a single company) one can easily recognize a shift this time. All major players praying the support for change today. Some even sell you change! (If you don't believe take a closer look at SAP. They sell you a product called SAP NetWeaver that is "Providing the Foundation to Enable and Manage Change". An ever closer look reveals: "Can your company adapt quickly enough to respond to new challenges or seize new opportunities? With SAP NetWeaver, it can.". Wow!)

But where does the need for change arise from (besides making money)? One major point is a shift from closed to open environments. This requires the fast adaption of workflows, or nowadays called "service orchestrations". In a service orchestration, tasks are executed by services and the routing between the services is then called orchestration. In my observation there are four major shifts in the environment that lead to this situation:

  1. The environment is shifting from an accessible to an inaccessible one. In an inaccessible environment, there is no complete, accurate and up-to-date information available. If we expand the environment to the whole internet, there is much to be left in the dark which could be useful for our business, however we are simply unable to find and incorporate it.
  2. Executing a task in an open environment is more uncertain then in a closed one. There are way more possibilities to foresee and handle. However, if the environment is complex enough you can't enforce everything.
  3. Open environment tend to be constantly changing, in large parts regardless of our actions. However, our actions depend on some states of the environment.
  4. Furthermore, the number of services which can be invoked to perform a certain task is rising fast as the environment opens to the world. Even the decisions on which we base the selection of a certain service have way more input data to compute.

Think a bit about closed environments - your department, a workflow inside a company - and then about open environments. Interactions between several companies in the real world. Interactions between companies in the virtual world of the internet. Interactions between virtual companies in a virtual world?
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Flying Pumpkins 

Today I saw something that made me grab my camera - unfortunately just the one included in my mobile phone. Here it goes:

Usually pumpkins are lying and growing on the ground:

But sometimes they even grow on the garden fence - almost flying around:

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Old New Apples 

Finally Apple did it. After a long, long, long, endless long wait, new iBooks and Mac minis are out. So what were the first voices at the Heise Newsticker?


This one was from a reader nicknamed atari_vcs. What a holy sh*t! For those of you who prefer English: "I WAITED 2 MONTH, 2 DAMN MONTH, 2 MONTH I'M SICK AND TIRED OF MY PC, TWO SHITTY MONTH, FOR THAT I CAN PAY AT THE END 40 EURO - 40 GODDAMNED EURO - 80 GERMAN MARKS - MORE. THANKS APPLE!".

What made this man (and many others) so annoyed? To understand the deeper feelings we have to dive a bit into the psyche of a typical apple fanatics (or wannabe switchers): Apple is just about a hype-company. Its all about marketing. This guy Steve tells you that they sell the best - the very best and only - computers you can buy for money. Of course the price is almost unimportant after Steve's product promotion hypnosis has washed your brain away. But then you simply want to belong to the hype - become a part of it. Still, however, some people managed to wait a bit after the big show was over (however they did this - likely they had no more creditworthiness), others bought immediately. Both kind of Apple fanatics then have no other things to do then check for hardware updates - hourly. The first one to look out when it is the right time to swap his money to Steve, the second one to see how ugly his Mac will look like when something new arrives.

And - Apple managed - for the first time in IT history (at least for as last as I can remember) - to basically change the default configuration for a seven month old product (the Mac mini), rises the entry price above a psychological border (over 500 Euro, before 499 Euro, at least in Germany) and sells this as a new computer for the next months to come. Besides, the hardware inside the Mac mini was already quite outdated the day it was introduced...

The iBook was updated with a little more care - but why Apple didn't managed to build a wide screen into the 14 inch model - only God - uh I mean - Steve - knows (at least he should know). So while the iBook is still a nice bargain for an entry level laptop (especially the 12 inch one), the Mac mini engineers should be ashamed - at least for this update.

What did I learn from this story? Well, at least my immediately bought Mac mini is still the top-of-the-line computer - now proudly called "Superdrive Mac mini" (but time is ticking):

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