If you're already using a Feed Reader, go ahead and skip this post. But if you're a fan of a lot of different websites and it's becoming too much of a hassle to constantly check them, then RSS subscriptions may be your answer.
A feed reader helps you out by checking your subscriptions for you and displaying the stuff you haven't seen yet. For those familiar with TiVo, it's like having a "Season Pass" (with subscriptions to web content) and viewing your new stuff in a sort of "Now Playing" list.
Getting started is extremely easy. You start by choosing a Feed Reader. There's a lot of good choices out there: some of them are standalone apps, some are Firefox browser extensions, but I like the Google Reader, which is a web-based feed reader.
Logging into this site lets it keep track of your personal set of subscriptions so you can get to them from different computers. You can also share your subscriptions with friends (this is the Social Networking aspect) or import / export your list.
If this is your first time, you need to start adding subscriptions. You are looking for some variation of this click-able orange square icon:
You'll find one at the top of the developerWorks page on which this blog resides. If you click it, you'll see the actual feed. Firefox will put a helpful "Subscribe to this feed using..." link at the top. If you want to add it to Google, just select Google from the drop-down list and click "Subscribe Now". That's it! You've added your first subscription.
Happy 2010 to everyone! Since it's a new year, I thought it would be a good time to showcase a new emerging technology from the IBM Emerging Technologies team. The technology is called Big Sheets and it is an insight engine for line of business professionals that allows you to get insights from web-scale data (really large data sets.) The "Big Sheets" name was derived from the thought that users can use a "spreadsheet metaphor" in a browser to analyze large sets of data. In essence, it provides a big data worksheet and thus the name "Big Sheets" came about for this project.
The web is exploding with data and business professionals want to access that data to get better insights to their business. Customers have lots of structured data stored within their enterprise, but customers also have the desire to access unstructured information on the web. By building on top of the Hadoop infrastructure, Big Sheets is able to process large amounts of data quickly and efficiently. Here's a video which provides you with a closer look at the Big Sheets technology.
John Feller IBM jStart Emerging Technologies Development Manager
A lot of enterprise information exists in mainframe applications thatare currently accessed using 3270 or 5250 consoles. If this mainframedata could be available in a format that allows it to be easilycombined with other data, either within the enterprise or available onthe Internet, business users could have the ability to harness thisdata to help solve business issues using a feature-rich, modern browserinterface
So wouldn't it be great to have a way to take some of your legacy "green screen" 3270 mainframe applications such as
and convert that data into a data feed which can be used within a loan officer dashboard like the following:
John Feller IBM jStart Emerging Technologies DevelopmentManager
For those of you attending the Web 2.0 Expo this week, I highly recommend you attend Rod Smith's session on "Mashing Up Business Value With Web 2.0". You'll hear about how there's a need within the enterprise to have a "mashup eco-system" comprising of data sources (mashup widgets, feeds) along with tooling (such as IBM's enterprise mashup maker-QEDwiki). What's the business value of Web 2.0 mashups within the enterprise? You'll hear from one of IBM's key customers about their view of Web 2.0 mashups and how it can help attract new customers for their business. Rod always puts on an entertaining presentation so stop by his session if you're at the Expo on Monday morning!
Everybody's favorite technology guru, David Barnes, is back with another installment of his popular YouTube video series, where he explains and demystifies cool new web technologies. In this case, he demonstrates using BigSheets to sort through 300,000 Twitter posts.
IBM jStart Emerging Technologies Development
Recently, the IBM jStart Emerging technologies team created a mashup application which highlights how services from StrikeIron can be easily added to web-based applications.
This IBM Mashup Center mashup application enables a call center representative to capture a sales lead from an incoming call, enrich the information provided by the call with data obtained from a series of StrikeIron web services, then communicate information about the lead to a sales rep or business partner that is located close to the call using StrikeIron's SMS or IVR voice web services.
Even though your company might already have an existing call center application, how difficult or expensive would it be to modify that application to add additional content? By having an application built within IBM Mashup Center or by having services available in widget format, it is a fairly simple process to add widgets to a Mashup Center application or to an existing web page. For example, I can add the StrikeIron service widgets which provide Gale Web Domain or Midnight Trader Financial news to an existing web based application. These widgets would provide an application user with additional insight into a particular customer's company.
The mashup application implements the following scenario: 1. The call center rep enters some information captured from the user (his/her name, his/her company, his/her company's stock ticker symbol and main web site URL and clicks the "Submit" button.
2. Other widgets located within tabs on the page are invoked to gather additional information about the caller's company. Below is a screen shot of Gale Web Domain and Midnight Trader Financial News widgets. These financial information services are available from StrikeIron's web services catalog.
3. The location of the caller's company and the call center firm's sales reps and business partners who are located in the state are shown on a map. The user clicks one of the sales rep or business partner map icons to get more detailed information about the sales rep or the business partner. At this point, all the information is now available in order for the call center rep needs to make a decision such as "assigning" the sales lead to a business partner or one of the firm's reps by sending them an SMS message or by sending them a voice message using the StrikeIron IVR web service.
Here's a video which shows the entire demo in action:
If you want to know more about how to utilize the StrikeIron widgets that have been built for IBM Mashup Center, please contact the IBM jStart team.
John Feller IBM jStart Emerging Technologies Development Manager
IBM and Cisco worked together to create a video surveillance mashup application using IBM Mashup Center. This demo shows how a custom application can be easily created to satisfy the needs of security staff member. The mashup shows how video feeds from Cisco hardware can be integrated with other data within an enterprise. A video is available to show how a member of the security staff can manuiplate video feeds, chat via IBM Lotus Sametime, and send security personell SMS messages all within an integrated desktop view. A video of the Web 2.0 Summit presentation can be found here: Part 1 and Part 2. John Feller IBM jStart Emerging Technologies Development Manager
Here's Part 1 of the Web2.0 Summit Demo: Live Video & Mashups:
Announcing a IBM jStart Webinar -- Mashup Business Scenarios and Patterns Holt Adams, a member of the IBM jStart Emerging Technologies team, will discuss how Mashups are being used to address various needs within an enterprise.
Here's details about the Mashup Business Scenarios and Patterns Webinar:
The use of Mashups to address enterprise needs has progressed in the adoption curve where the growth rate is becoming exponential. The technology is being leveraged with many industries to address unique business scenarios utilizing common “usage” and “architectural” patterns. More times than not, a solution for one industry can be deployed horizontally to cover other industries with similar needs. The differences in the mashup solutions are the roles of the users and the data sets being aggregated to create unique value. In many cases the usage patterns (e.g. capturing of search criteria, rendering of data within the UI, updating of secondary tables based on primary data selection, manipulation of data, and communicating with others) are similar, but the business goals and objectives being addressed are distinctive for each customer. The design and architectural options of mashups are determined by the mashup platform chosen for implementation.
Business scenarios that leverage a large set of common usage patterns can be implemented using a small set of design/architectural patterns (e.g. Use of RSS/ATOM feeds, invocation of REST services, widget communications via pub/sub model, aggregation of data sources through centralized hubs, data filtering at data/service sources). This webinar will discuss the relationship of usage patterns and architectural patterns that can be used today for deploying enterprise mashups to address business needs.
Update: The webinar was successfully held on December 11, 2008. If you wish to see the charts and audio reply, go to the Lotus Greenhouse Webcast web site. Note: You will need to register on Greenhouse in order to access the webinar charts.
This webinar is part of the Lotus Greenhouse webcast series. If you are interested in receiving more notices of upcoming webcasts, please register on the Lotus Greenhouse web site. Hope you can make it!
John Feller IBM jStart Emerging Technologies Development Manager
Those of you who read this space regularly may recall some referencesI've made to a project underway in my organization called QEDWiki. Unfortunately, I've not been able to say much about it because therehasn't been much made public (internally or externally) for me toreference. But that's beginning to change now and hopefully soon I'llbe able to provide links to places where you can play with andlearn more about our little toy. But in the mean time, here's apointer to a short interview of my VP and IBM Fellow, Rod Smith on QEDWiki, situational applications and programming for the masses. Here's my favorite quote:
"It's hard for me to say 'end-user programming' without cracking a smile. It's been overhyped and overpromised,"
WithQED, we've got a chance of actually getting it right. Watch thisspace for announcements and news regarding QED as it occurs.
David Barnes released a new You Tubevideo which shows how Boeing used IBM Mashup Center to create a emergency response situational application. Boeing wanted to utilize existing data sources to improve rapid response capabilities for the FAA. With assistance from IBM's jStart team, Boeing was able to show the FAA a "Usable Airport Search Mashup". This mashup application could be used to enable government officials, in response to local or widespread emergency, to quickly identify the nearest airport that can safely handle an incoming aircraft based on aircraft’s performance characteristics such as Airport location, Airport status, Runway length , and Local weather. All this information is spread out among different government agencies, government contractors, as well as from other companies. This Boeing Mashup shows how all this information can come together to create a intergrated dashboard for an emergercy responder.
John Feller IBMjStart Emerging TechnologiesDevelopment Manager
David Barnes does a great job explaining QEDWiki on this YouTube video. For anyone interested in QEDWiki, this video is a must-see, especially for the demo of data mashup using a StrikeIron web service to do SMS text messaging. I also liked how he dragged the EditGrid online spreadsheet directly from ProgrammableWeb into QEDWiki.
Now that that NCAA College Basketball Tournament is underway, I thought I'd share a demo showing how a NCAA College Basketball fan could create his or her own "mashup" situational application to help decide what restaurant to go to after the basketball game. This demo utilizes the Lotus Mashups environment to combine data from StrikeIron's Men's College Basketball Web Service with data from Yahoo! Maps Service, Yahoo! Local Service, and AccuWeather. By combining these data sources into a mashup application, a fan of a college basketball team easily find restaurants and weather at the basketball arena site. By accessing other information such as local hotels and bars, this Lotus Mashups application can be modified to fit the specific interests of the user.
I came to IBM from the world of Mac Development, mostly multi-mediatitles for National Geographic. Before the Internet took off and the NGbrand was fought for by every designer on the planet. Powerbooks,G-3s and G-4s, stuck with OS 7 forever. Even endured thehumiliation of Scully-Spindler-Amelio-Hancock before Steve Jobsreturned. Thought that H-P would buy Apple just after the episodeof spontaneously combusting Powerbook batteries. JoinedIBM, issued my slab with 95, bid farewell to ease-of-use and welcomedthe Windows world of 'where is that file?'
Don't let anyone tell you that the OS 10 and XP are the same. I did more exploring with my Mac in the first weekend than I did withmy Windows boxes over the past 8 years. Ya gotta have a Windowsbox; you want to have a Mac. As our team is tasked to explore thesuitability of Web 2.0 technologies to our enterprise customers - whatcan we learn from the success of YouTube, MySpace, 2nd Life etc - Ifeel that using the Windows OS constrains one's thinking about Web 2.0because you have to do it the Windows way, like it or not. With aMac, I have a sense, real or imagined, that on my MacBook, I'm doing itmy way or creating my own web experience with this tool. This isthe way that it should be.
Like many, I was drawn back to the Mac by my family's thrills withtheir iPods (original, Nano, and Video). What put my Mac purchasein automatic was the recent IBM announcement to support Linux andMacs. This plus the incredible Mac community within IBM - http://ehngsa.ibm.com/~mlowry/public/mac-at-ibm.html (probably only accessible from within IBM)
What if our customers could deliver on their sites a web-basedexperience like shopping on the iTunes store: fast, easy to navigate,inclusive, friendly, simple to buy, know who you are.
There's been some recent articles about how to create mashups that I've have found interesting. For instance, David Storm wrote an article about the seven steps toward creating your first enterprise mashup. Of the steps he listed, Step #2 "Pick your data sources", I feel is the most important. Actually, it's really a matter of finding and determining whether you can actually access various data sources in the format you need them in. Within an enterprise, data is stored in a variety of locations and in different formats. A lot of data is not even accessible by other users. In many cases, data is not even under the control of a corporate IT shop. For example, some mission critical data resides on individual's computer hard drives. Think of all the spreadsheets that are being used. When people need to share this data, they usually just send them to each other via email. In this case, people have to figure out who has the most recent copy and then the email them around and the cycle continues over and over again.
IBM's Mashup Center , a product which has been recently announced, addresses some of these concerns. The InfoSphere MashupHub component of this product provides a catalog as well as a way to retrieve data from departmental, personal, and enterprise information. For example, data can be uploaded from a spreadsheet and then be transformed into a feed that can be used within a Mashup Application. This data can be easily found by searching the catalog and by subscribing to the feed, business users can retrieve the most recent data. Social networking and community ratings help users find "quality" data sources rather because other people can provide comments and point to other mashup examples that use the data sources. The enterprise IT shop can also regulate who gets control of the data feed and start to provide a culture that people don't always store mission critical data on their personal hard drive. Data from various sources such as DB2, IMS, LDAP, pureXML, SAP, Web Services, Excel, RSS feeds, Access, and Domino can be retrieved, manipulated into various formats the users needs, and then cataloged for other people to use and share.
You'll be hearing more about the IBM Mashup Center with a series of future articles on the IBM developerWorks site. Stay tuned...