Monday, March 13, 2006

Firefox Browser Share reaches 25 percent ... at

Just for the record ...

Using SiteMeter I've been tracking browser share (and other statistics) since putting up my web site four or five years ago: and later its mirror image

A couple of years ago Internet Explorer (IE), in its various versions, consistently represented more than 90 percent of site visits. For many months IE had around 97% to 98% of browser share.

It has been interesting to watch the steady growth of Firefox during the last year or two. It's the only other browser that has ever exceeded one or two percent of site visits.

My web site has a quite constant visit rate, even if not very high one compared with lots of others. I've found that for the last three or four months the Firefox visit share has been fluctuating quite a lot from week to week, ranging between 10% and 20% but tending more towards the latter. To illustrate, here are the figures for 13 March 2006:

Asia/Pacific Computer Services: browser statistics as at 13 March 2006
And what about two days later? Here is the breakdown for "the ides of March" (bad for Julius Caesar, bad for Firefox):

Asia/Pacific Computer Services: browser statistics as at 15 March 2006

These seems to correlate fairly well with statistics from sources such as Browser News, as per their report for today:

I wonder what the eventual impact of IE7 will be. It won't be for a year or so that we can assess IE7's popularity. (I've tried out the IE7 Beta2 and it seems quite nice, but with quite a functional and usability issues -- quite limited tailorability, shortcomings in tabbing capabilities, inconsistencies with keystroke binding, and more -- which I sincerely hope Microsoft will address before the final release.)

UPDATE - 22 April 2006:
Today, the Firefox share reached its highest ever, at very close to one quarter of visits to -- combined with its mirror at that is.

Firefox browser share at (and approaches 25 percent in late April 2006.
What with the release of Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) still months away -- perhaps late 2006 -- it looks as though Firefox will continue to gain an even healthier share in the renewed "battle of the browsers". Meanwhile Opera 9 Beta has just been announced, introducing Widgets, content blocker and integrated BitTorrent support.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Trio of Free Databases from Major Vendors

2005 and 2006 have certainly been good ones for those seeking inexpensive or free databases.

Not only were there already free open-source DBMSs such as MySQL as well as related toolkits like Hibernate, but most recently (in late 2005 and early 2006) the three major vendors in the DB arena themselves came out with no-charge versions of their key commercial database products.

Here's a summary of their new free products. This summary is also posted at (Australian server) and (U.S. server).

THE database phenomenon of 2005 / 2006 -- feature-laden, industrial-strength FREE versions from the leading DB vendors!

  • IBM DB2 Express-C for Linux and Windows (DB2 Express community edition) - a no-charge data server for use in development and deployment. Providing the same core data server features, development interfaces as well as system limits as DB2 Express in a smaller package, DB2 Express-C offers a solid base to build and deploy all applications including: C/C++, Java, .NET, PHP, and more. DB2 Express-C is available for Linux and Windows running on 32 or 64 bit hardware with up to two CPUs and 4GB of memory. Unlike other free databases, DB2 Express-C does not impose any database size limit, no limit on the number of instances or databases per server and no restriction on the number of users. ... Should you require a data server with more advanced features and 7x24 support from IBM, it can be seamlessly upgraded to DB2 Express, DB2 Workgroup and DB2 Enterprise Server Editions without modifying your database or your application

  • Oracle Database 10g Express Edition (Oracle Database XE) -- an entry-level, small-footprint database based on the Oracle Database 10g Release 2 code base that's free to develop, deploy, and distribute; fast to download; and simple to administer. "You can now develop and deploy applications with a powerful, proven, industry-leading infrastructure, and then upgrade when necessary without costly and complex migrations. ... It can be installed on any size host machine with any number of CPUs, but this free version of the world's leading database will store up to 4GB of user data, use up to 1GB of memory, and use one CPU on the host machine.

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition - an easy-to-use, lightweight version of SQL Server 2005. It is "free to download, free to redistribute, and easy for new developers to use immediately. Using Microsoft Visual Studio Express or the development tool of your choice, you can start building applications right away. ... Best of all, as your needs grow, your applications will seamlessly work with the rest of the SQL Server product family." It supports 1 CPU but can be installed on any server, 1 gigabyte (GB) addressable RAM, and 4 GB maximum database size.

It could be a while before I have the the time to install and try out any of these three well-respected DB products, but I'm really looking forward to doing so.

There are many things to be considered, and I merely note here that the IBM DB2 Express-C offering does not restrict a database's size to 4 GB and this alone would differentiate it as the product of choice for those databases which you expect will need to store more than 4 GB of data. (This could easily be the case, for example, when there are lots of BLOBs.)

Friday, March 03, 2006

"Web 2.0" and "Web Pi" -- Reject Reality and Substitute Your Own!

In one of his best statements on the fabulous Mythbusters television show, when as often happens (which is the real beauty of the series) one of the experiments doesn't turn out as expected, co-host Adam Savage says: "I reject your reality and substitute my own." Maybe they're moving into computer programming -- lots of myths there -- you can also see them here with "father of Java" James Gosling.

This could be a useful approach to adopt with the currently much-hyped "Web 2.0"with all the articles being written about it, all the claims being made by all and sundry, all the AJAX toolkits appearing out of the woodwork, and the lack of any real agreement about exactly what it all means. Mix that in with the "acronym soup" that we're faced with these days -- SOAP, WSDL, SOA and ESB, WSDL, BPEL, and a myriad others -- and it would be a brave person who claimed to understand what it all means.

CIOs and other IT management therefore have a really tough time ahead of them to make sense of it all and decide which parts of the jumble should be used to further the success of their organizations. An interesting recent article by Edward Cone at Ziff Davis' CIO Insight magazine discusses this: Web 2.0 Reality Check

I encourage you to read the entire article, but a few points made in it are:

  • CIOs in the services era will face their share of problems not only on the technology side but, just as importantly, in dealing with the cultural changes these services will bring to every organization.
  • The whole lengthy cycle of software projects is now on Internet time, and woe to the CIO who fails to keep up.
  • Of all the issues raised by the anticipated service wave ... none are more pressing than the changes in culture necessitated by the new regime.
  • Meeting this demand requires a new way of managing tech projects
  • A danger in this situation is that IT can lose its relationship with the business.
  • IT definitely needs to think differently, because the users want more with services. But if the users think they can do it without IT, they're crazy.
  • One of the biggest headaches with applications on demand is integration with other programs.
  • Tying everything together right also has implications for security, especially identity management.
  • Offline capability is still very important for users. They want productivity maintained if services go down. ... And go down they do.
Much food for thought here.

Joel Spolsky comments in his inimitable fashion that the Architecture Astronauts Are Back with their "meaningless stringing-together of new economy buzzwords in an attempt to sound erudite" and "The term Web 2.0 particularly bugs me. It's not a real concept. It has no meaning. It's a big, vague, nebulous cloud of pure architectural nothingness."

Today's environment is certainly a far cry from the overnight batch runs, fed by punched cards and generating boxes and boxes of printouts, which was still in vogue when I started with IBM in 1970. New-fangled IBM 3270 CRT "green screens" were starting to be introduced in early-adopter mainframe customer accounts, offering direct data entry and immediate display of results and being seen as the wave of the future. We didn't realize it then, but life really was simple in the good old days.

I've read opinion articles predicting "Web 3.0" -- even "Web 2.5" -- and ever onwards to "Web 4.0" and beyond.

I reckon that it's all actually heading asymptotically towards "Web Pi" or "Web π" -- you know,
Pi, the transcendental and irrational number (with a value of roughly 3.14159 26536 to a mere ten decimal places).

We're on our merry way towards "Web Pi in the sky" you could say! The decimal places go on endlessly -- which is what seems to be happening with all of the opinionating and soothsaying about the future of the Web and where information technology is heading. We'll never ever reach our target, but this will provide more opportunity for the technobabble to pour forth and inundate us all.

And if all the word traffic about "Web 2.0" isn't enough, there's another plethora of gobbledegook related to Web Services Architecture ... So many standards have arisen that they need to be referred to generically as WS-* (where the asterisk presumably represents an infinite number)!

- - - - - - - - - - -
STYLE NOTE: the above diatribe was inspired by the British TV series "Grumpy Old Men". I'm actually pretty positive about it all, at the broad level, but the nitty-gritty details get pretty painful at times. I see that the inventor of the Internet seems to be pretty happy where it's all heading too.
- - - - - - - - - - -

UPDATE [30 May 2006]:
Richard MacManus in his Read/WriteWeb weblog has recently commented about the Top Ten Underserved Web 2.0 Markets and in that article points out the following Web 2.0 catalogs: eConsultant's Web 2.0 Directory and Sacred Cow Dung - All Things Web 2.0 -- but nobody yet seems to have started on a Web 3.0 catalog, how bitterly disappointing!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Perchance to happen upon Serendipity

I just happened upon Scot Berinato's nice little piece In Praise of Serendipity and couldn't agree more:

"Turn off the BlackBerry for a while. Wander—literally or in our minds—with no particular destination. Embrace a little inefficiency and the possibility of greatness that comes with it. Let apples fall on our heads."
For example, five or six years ago, I had a chance meeting with an acquaintance which led to a long and fruitful consulting assignement. In contrast, several months of marketing had not come up with any significant assignments or sales. And like Kekulé I have sometimes woken from a dream with a great idea, have had an inspiration while taking a shower, and have come across key information while casually browsing a book or magazine or while surfing the Web.

How about you? How much has happenstance and serendipity benefited you in your life and work?

It's the old story of "perspiration versus inspiration" ... You must be ready to recognize the occasional serendipitous event when it occurs and welcome it with open arms!