Archive for December, 2013

Doing nothing? Also not so easy in 2014.

December 26, 2013

Hello to all,

As I wrote in one of my first blogs, doing nothing is fairly impossible for me. I am really not good at it, although there is progress :-).

While it is still Christmas over here in Belgium, I finished my travel blog, I continue to read my tramway and train books I received for Christmas, I need to clean my car, I want to read and write on IT in 2014, I just finished again a good book, and I want to listen to the Top 2000 on the Radio. A cool day, in fact.

Travel

First of all, I just finalized my last blog post on the preparation of my trip to Australia. Only 1 week left from my departure. Just done, check it out here.

Books

I just read ‘Trams 2014‘, the yearly book on tramways. Europe is mostly described and sometimes also other parts of the world. The book is published since 1979, so 35 years of history on my bookshelf on tramways. I really appreciate the editor, Alk Uitgeverij  in The Netherlands for their support. Fantastic books for a reasonable price. And tramways in Europe are still going strong; much better than 35 years ago, especially in France.

I also just started to read the ‘Spoorwegen 2014‘ book (is Dutch for Railways). Also edited by De Alk and especially for those people who wish to know everything that happens on railways in Europe. As in the above mentioned book on trams, also this book has many good photos. But a bit too much pages this year. Too heavy. But still very complete.

I also just finished two good books (in Dutch): “Geloof je ogen” written by Linwood Barclay (in English “Trust your Eyes; not yet published ‘en français’). A very well written thriller with suspense, humor, action, and very important, a final plot which you discover on the last page of the book. Back to “old-fashioned” suspense, as thrillers should be. You should read this one.

The second book I read last week is “Alles wat overblijft‘ written by Elisabeth Haynes (in English “Human Remains”; not yet published ‘en français’). Also a thriller, although here you know the responsible almost from the beginning. The interesting thing from this book is that although many people die in this book, there are no murders as such. It is a different kind of book than you may read normally, but I found it interesting to read.

IT

Several of my previous colleagues know that I consider IT as an art: the art to make useful and reliable solutions for businesses and consumers for an acceptable price. The art itself is to bring hardware, software and people together at the right moment in a professional way. The year 2013 almost finished, I wish to “throw” some of these items forward for 2014.

For businesses we may expect many items popping up: big data, the internet of things (translated by for example google glass, iwatch, …), mobile apps and data, the cloud and 3D printing. Some of the solutions that will be brought forward by these techniques, and by the related startups, will again be a breakthrough and will bring changes to the way we act and live. For example, I expect the ibeacon solution pushed by Apple to become a valuable asset for businesses.

For consumers, let’s check if Snapshat will still be the big thing for the youngsters. The same for Tinder. Both apps allow for further and more intense social interaction. In Holland, the Hyves social site did not survive in 2013.

It will also be interesting to see what happens with Nokia and Microsoft. Or with Blackberry and Microsoft. Blackberry is ‘out’ for the youngsters, but many large companies still use Blackberry material and software solutions.

And finally, let’s see what the digital financial world will bring us. Will the Bitcoin be our new currency? I have some doubts. Will the banks make further steps towards digital banking ? They must.

All of this will bring IT again some steps further. Still a very fine art, but luckily for all of us more and more mature, and hugely interesting.

Music

During the Christmas period, and during the writing of this blog, I listen to the radio, and especially to the famous Top 2000.  I listen to the Dutch one, although I am convinced that every country has its own. In Holland, the top 2000 is on the air from December 25 to December 31. At the moment I write this text, they play number 1628 (“Koot en Bie: zoek jezelf“); a nice song from the seventies on “being yourselves”, only known in Holland :-).

On number 1 since years is the classical Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody. And a nice example of modern social media is that the full text was twittered a few days ago: check it here. A real interesting example. And I expect that the top 10 of 2013 will also be again in the top 10 of 2014.

Cars

Many new cars are expected in 2014. Next to the new Mini (partly build in Holland), we expect the new Mercedes C and GLA,  the BMW X4, i8,  2 coupé and CAT, Volkswagens new Golf Sportsvan, etcetera. And several new Japanese, French and Korean cars are also expected. Just to indicate that the era of normal cars (hatchback, sedan and van) is definitely over. Now almost every carmaker has SUV’s, SAV’s, and these also  in mini and maxi formats.

I expect also that cooperation modes will progress, such as the new Twingo from Renault and the new Smart from Mercedes, built on the same platform. And China will become more and more important for the European car manufacturers, as Europe in 2014 will still be in ‘regression mode’.

2014

2014 will be again a wonderful year to come. Many expectations, challenges, cities, ideas, solutions and emotions. Thus doing nothing will therefore still be difficult for me. That’s for sure. By the way: my next blog on “doing nothing” will be published after returning from my trip to Australia, so towards begin of February.

Ensure that also in 2014 you have fun and that you stay cool with 2 feet on the ground. I wish you a happy new year in good health,

Bas

Trams 2014

Spoorwegen 2014

Geloof je ogen

Alles wat overblijft

Top 2000

Big Data Landscape

Mini evolution

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Big Data and Hadoop explained

December 12, 2013

Hello to all,

In this blog, I will (try to) explain Big Data and Hadoop. It is quite a technical blog with some IT stuff.

Big Data is since some years a buzzword in IT. It is also mentioned by Gartner as one of the most important elements for IT in the next years. According to Wikipedia, Big Data is the term for a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications.

In my own words: how to analyze large datasets to reach useful information.

This trend to larger data sets is due to the additional information coming from analysis of a single large set of related data, allowing links and correlations to be found.

Especially with the growing available databases on the internet, and as well growing data at big corporations, such as Facebook, Apple, Google or any online store in the world, data analysis became important to analyze business trends or determine real-time roadway traffic conditions. But Big Data can be used in so many other ways, such as combat crime (think of the NSA discussions in 2013) or health information, just to mention some possibilities.

The usage of big data is also particularly important for marketing teams to understand customer behaviour, such as Google does to propose you the various advertisements on your website. To analyze all available data, and, even more important, to do this in real-time, the well-known existing databases, storage, servers and tools did not do the job anymore a few years ago.

At the same time, the internet allowed more and more the usage of distributed computing. As an answer to combine both elements, Big Data and distributed computing, the Apache foundation started developing the Hadoop project.

As explained on the Apache website, the Hadoop project develops open-source software for reliable, scalable, distributed computing and can be used for storage and large-scale processing of data-sets on clusters of commodity hardware.

The Hadoop project has various elements supporting this objective. I name here especially the following elements:

  • Hadoop Common – contains libraries and utilities needed by other Hadoop modules
  • Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) – a distributed file-system that stores data on the commodity machines, providing very high aggregate bandwidth across the cluster.
  • Hadoop YARN – a resource-management platform responsible for managing compute resources in clusters and using them for scheduling of users’ applications.
  • Hadoop MapReduce – a programming model for large-scale data processing.

But you may also notice that further subprojects exist for Hadoop, especially in the infrastructure world.

The last years, several companies jumped on the bandwagon to deliver value-added Hadoop distributions. These are startups (such as Talend with their Open Studio software), but also, as examples, HortonWorks, IBM and SAP (with their SAP HANA offering) are present on this market.

The interesting part of the various offerings is the possibility to have everything needed for Big Data in one place. For example, combining Business Process Management, Data Integration, Data Quality and cleansing, Enterprise Service Bus and Master Data Management solutions.

Available in the Open Source world, these distributions come with all their advantages and disadvantages. However, the benefit of Hadoop and these distributions is the ability to have the possibility to develop your own API’s allowing you to have easy connections to your own databases.

My personal opinion here is that some of the above mentioned solutions are still in its early stages. One can also notice (see here a very recent survey outcome) that there are still some issues found with reliability or security.

However, if you within your company have large databases and/or you wish to develop further the Big Data concepts, I strongly suggest that you already take some time to look into the Hadoop project and have a first read on available solutions.

I am convinced that the Hadoop basic concepts will become part of many IT departments in the near future. And Big Data will be Big Business very soon.

And for those who really want to know more, the dates and places for 2014 Hadoop summits are known (Europe and USA. Check it here, as this may help you to move further in the Big Data domain.

Have fun,

Bas

Keep the customer satisfied

December 8, 2013

This morning I happened to listen to the radio, and one of my old favourites ‘The Boxer’ by Simon and Garfunkel was played.

It took me away to memories when I was finishing high-school in the Netherlands, and we were on a trip with several school camerades in Luxemburg, 1977. Many Simon and Garfunkel songs were played on the guitar by one of my friends, and we had a real nice time that summer.

That reminded me also how music has impact on memories. I imagine that many studies have been done on the effects of music on our lives: how the music puts us back to that period, or that we suddenly remember specific items we had forgotten over time. Some people do remember perfectly the texts, others do remember the music. It learns us also that we still do not know everything on how our memory works.

I jumped to iTunes and listened again to The Boxer song. And of course I listened also to all the other songs on the related album ‘Bridge over troubled water‘. Still fantastic songs: El Condor Pasa, The Bridge itself, Cecilia, you name them.

And of course also the song ‘Keep the customer satisfied’, because this is since ages the most important element for me when doing business. In all companies I’ve worked until now, and also in all departments I’ve worked, there is one element which is most important: keep the customer satisified. If it is in a bank, a telecom company, a logistics company, or in accounting, or in IT: it is the customer, external or internal, who is most important for us and pays for your job.

I am not sure if Simon and Garfunkel meant their song in the same way (check lyrics here) as all the marketing guys sell it to us in 2013. But to Simon and Garfunkel, their customers were you and me, the listeners to their songs.

And for sure, I am a satisfied customer of their music. And happy to be so, even after 40 years.

Take care,

Bas

Bridge over troubled water

New post on the preparation for my trip to Australia

December 8, 2013

I added a new post on the preparation for my trip to Australia.

Click here to check my latest post on the preparation for my trip to Australia.

Het Rosie Project : A nice Christmas gift

December 8, 2013

Hello to all,

Today a book review of ‘Het Rosie Project’. The book is written by Graeme Simsion, an author from Australia. The book became a huge success after it was published in 2012, and is already translated in many languages. Enthousiastic reviews everywhere. The original english title is ‘The Rosie Project’, and in Germany it is titled ‘Das Rosie Projekt’. Le livre sera publié en français par les éditions Robert Laffont en 2014.

The story is about an autistic professor, Don Tillman, teaching genetics. He is very well-organized, intelligent, adorable, but socially quite handicapped as he can not express his feelings in a way that others are used to. The professor is looking for a woman and for love, however due to his extremely scheduled way of life, this is a huge challenge. He decides to create a 16-page questionnaire asking all possible questions to find the right partner.

When having met Susie, a young lady working in a bar, he wishes to help her finding her father, but he has to learn new techniques to bring this to a success. This creates many situations not foreseen in his well-organized way of living. Ultimately he falls in love with her without realizing this, and the story finishes with a happy end.

The story is hilarious, well written and the book made me smile. I liked it because it is different. One can argue that it is again a love story, which is true, but it is a very funny love story. I liked for example the fact that every specific action is organized by the professor, such as the ‘Wife project’, or ‘Coat incident’.

The book is very easy to read, so I suggest it as a perfect gift for the Christmas tree: a gift to someone or for yourselves. You will see people smile during the reading of the book, and be happy at the end. And it learns us something about people and the way we think and act.

So why not just read this ?

Take care,

Bas

Het Rosie Project

Het Rosie Project

The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project

Das Rosie Projekt

Das Rosie Projekt