The Long Tail of Application Usage

A long tail is a distribution of some data point where a few data point have a high value, but most of the data points have a much lower value. When sorting the data points by value, there will be a large “head” and a long “tail”.

Application usage displays the “long tail” characteristic: A few screens are used much more than others.

Long tail of app usage

If you are re-developing your application, for example moving from Oracle Forms (more...)

ADF Mastery newsletter is out

The February issue of the ADF Mastery newsletter just went out. If you are not on the list, you can sign up here.

This month, I’m covering the following topics:

  • Which version should I use?
  • A learning plan for the ADF basics
  • Best practice for good user experience

The first topic is often a matter of some debate. I recommend using JDeveloper for now – this is the stable version that (more...)

Nine Agrees and a Signature

If you have ever rented a car in the US, you will be familiar with the little LCD device on the counter where you sign your rental contract with a plastic stylus. On the same device, you’re also obliged to acknowledge other things. Since the text is written in 6-point font on a low-quality LCD device, it is for all practical purposes illegible. I assume I’m agreeing to things like that it’s not the rental (more...)

Use vs. Usability

Until this month, I’ve never had to interact directly with the user interface of an SAP system. But now I understand painfully well what users mean when they complain about the usability of enterprise software.

There is an inflection point where usability gets so bad that people will actively try to avoid using the system. You do not want your system to be on the left side of this curve.

Use vs Usability

Measure how much your systems (more...)

Dead Giraffe Syndrome

Last Sunday, the Copenhagen Zoo put down one of its giraffes. The did not have room for it and its genes were already well represented in the giraffe gene pool by several siblings. In cooperation with the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), it was decided that the space in the one zoo that could take it would be better used for a giraffe with a different genetic makeup.

I’ve discussed this with otherwise (more...)

The Day We Fight Back

If you are worried about internet surveillance by NSA and others, today is an international action day with demonstrations and events worldwide. See for more information.


The IT museum

My son had finished his web application. He had actually thought about the hardware his users would be using and wanted to test it right. Dad, do we have an old Windows machine? Yes. First generation iPad? Yes. Old iPhone? Yes. I realized that I am unwittingly creating an IT museum in the basement…

What I also realized is how much harder testing has become over the last few years. We used to test our (more...)

The Balance of Business

In every business, there is a balance between business goals and various impediments.

The Balance of Business

You need to make sure that you don’t allow legal, QA, security and other internally-focused concerns tip the scale towards paralysis. There is more in this week’s edition of my newsletter “Technology That Fits” – sign up here.

You don’t know what happens

Suddenly, our offshore colleagues could not access the database. We scrambled to find a solution, and and it soon transpired that the central security function had rolled out out a security policy upgrade the night before. Unfortunately, our offshore colleagues were connected to the network in an uncommon way, so the new security policy cut them off.

You don’t know what will happen when you change a system. Enterprise IT landscapes have reached a complexity (more...)

New publication for Oracle professionals

OTech Magazine Winter 2014If you are working with Oracle software as a developer, DBA or application server administrator, you should read the new OTech Magazine.

The Winter 2014 issue is almost a book: 136 pages of high-quality technology articles by some of the leading experts in their respective fields.  My contribution is the article “From Requirements to Tool Choice” about how to choose the right Oracle development tools (ADF, APEX, or Forms).

And did I mention it (more...)

The death grip of Enterprise vendors

I’ve just been comparing a number of online Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. In this project, I had the opportunity to sign up to the free trial for various services as well as cancelling these demo accounts.

Modern CRM systems like Highrise, CapsuleCRM, and Batchbook all had a button or a link to cancel or delete an account, with appropriate warnings. But the 800-pound gorilla of CRM, Salesforce, did not. In fact, (more...)

Technical Debt

As a system grows, it accumulates technical debt – improvements and cleanup that your really ought to get around to doing. However, no-one ever budgets time for this kind of refactoring and cleanup.

The consequence is that any major change opens a Pandora’s box of interrelated problems. I’m involved in a project where we thought we could simply make a minor change to all 2768 tables, but due various historical design decisions over the year (more...)

January diet for IT departments

January is almost over, which means that most people have already given up their New Year’s resolution to become leaner in 2014.

However, your IT organization should become leaner – in January as in every other month. The application of “Lean” methodologies in IT (Lean IT) is well understood, but most organizations still have a lot of waste to eliminate.

When working as a consultant, I get to experience the provisioning process of (more...)

Unwarrented Programmer Power

I’ve recently been involved with helping a customer decide on their strategic IT development direction for the next decade.

It never ceases to amaze me how much power programmers have. A decision that will affect the whole organization for years and years ends up being determined by which tool the developers like best.

And which tool do they like best? The one where you get to write a lot of code. No wizards, no assistance, (more...)

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The first issue of my ADF Mastery newsletter has just been published (sign up here if you missed it). In this issue, I discuss Oracle ADF skill levels.

If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.

Gerald Weinberg, Weinberg’s Second Law

Too many programmers simply Google for a code snippet that seems like it might solve the problem at hand, and use it (more...)

Dont Glass and Drive

A Google Glass user was just charged with ‘driving with a monitor visible in violation of California Vehicle Code 27602.’ While the judge dismissed the case because it could not be proven that the Glass was on while the motorist was driving, he did state that activating Google Glass while driving is illegal according to the above section of the California Vehicle code.

Maybe that’s why Google is also into self-driving cars…


Disruptive doctors

In Copenhagen, our medical system has just been changed. Now, if you get sick or injured (non-life-threatening) outside normal hours for your own doctor, you call a nurse who will advise you. Before, you were always (sometimes after a long wait) connected with a doctor.

The system did not work as advertised and users experienced long wait times.

It now transpires that some doctors were actively sabotaging the system, placing nuisance calls to the new (more...)

Big Data? Start with Right Data

I’m wearing a Nike Fuelband – one of those fitness/activity tracker gizmos. Nike is offering both a website and an app showing my daily activity. As a customer, I am expecting these two to contain the same data. After all, my bank balance is the same in my mobile banking app, in an ATM or in a web browser.

Unfortunately, Nike does not have a proper infrastructure behind their gadget, so the numbers do not (more...)

Some thinking required

The tech press is full of the latest gizmos from the Consumer Electronics Show, held, appropriately, in Las Vegas.

Looking at the reports, I’m overwhelmed by a feeling of solutions looking for problems. I mean, it’s clever to have a smart bed sheet that can measure how many times you toss and turn during a night, but does it really fill a need?

Much more inspiring was the story in Wired where the magazine commissioned (more...)

Winning the game by changing it

There was an interesting article and graph on Business Insider on how Apple has beaten the Microsoft monopoly.

In 2008, 28% of Windows users had an Apple product. In 2013, that number was up to 70%. Seven out of every ten Windows users have an Apple product today. Apple could not beat the incumbent monopolist in the operating system game, so they changed the game. And now Apple is worth around 500 billion and Microsoft (more...)