Rethinking The Concept of Throwing a Body at The Problem: Web Services And The Weather Channel

I was having a cup of coffee with a friend the other day talking about a possible Web application to help solve an ongoing problem at their company.  The problem involved multiple excel Spread Sheets of Phone Orders complied by in-house and out-house Ticketmasters.

Due to the in-house and out-house nature of the Tickmasters the company could not give an actual seat number to the person ordering the tickets over the phone, and could only specify a section the person would be seated.

At the end of the day the Phone Order spread sheets would be sent to another person who compiled all the spread sheets and booked/reserves the seats.  Once the seats were booked a Printable Ticket, was then sent to the person who Ordered the tickets.

Once a show was Sold Out, an Email would go out to all the in-house and out-house Ticketmasters to not accept anymore Phone Orders.

What initially struck me about the process was that it sounded as though it worked pretty well, but over the course of the conversation it dawned on me how completely inefficient this process was and how many people were involved to produce a single phone order.

I explained to my friend, how the Weather Channel uses Web Services to handle things like this.  Example: When you go online to look at the weather  in your area, you are not getting in touch with a Meteorologist you are actually just connecting and interacting with the Data the Meteorologist produced.  By entering in your ZIP code a Web Service takes that information and pairs it up with Data and spits out the Weather for your area.  It does this without any human intervention.

In the scenario of the Weather Channel a Web Service is taking care of having many people getting and receiving information and puts the focus on a single entry point with  infinite exit points of the information without creating more work.  Where as the solution of putting more people on the task to accommodate volume, Production,Costs and Human Error expand exponentially.

In this case the Solution for my friend was to build a Secure Web Site that contained a Form and Web Service.  The Form allowed in-house and out-house Ticketmasters to enter the information received over the phone, which automatically updated records in a Database which solved having to compile two Spreadsheets and allowed real-time seat booking/ registration.  The Web Service like the weather channel when queried with the show title in this case “The Red Dress” gives how many seats are still open, and the show time, which they can give to potential customers and to other company employees outside the realm of the ticket process. Giving my friend’s company a neat Web 2.0 tool to hand out to customers.

It’s No Wonder Why There Are Always Compatibility Issues Using Open Source, Working Inside Microsoft Infrastructures. Scare Crow and the Wizard of Oz

Does anyone remember the part in the Wizard of Oz when the Scare Crow is explaining to Dorthy what the flying monkeys did with his body parts?

When listening to Open Source developers talk about how they built their dynamic applications, it sounds like the Scare Crow… “and then I took my php file and put it over there” “and then I took my JQuery script and did this over here” ” and then i took the div layer and shoved it over there” ” Well all you have to do now is alter this giant config.php file and…”

With that said, the time hassle and pain of building a project once completed you will probably be looking at a 1 dimensional use.  If it was built for the web, then for the web it will stay.  If you built it for a desktop, chances are it’s stuck being a desktop app.  With Open Source think of it in terms of having to develop a Web Application, then having to find another Programming Language to build a Desktop Application, then having to find another Programming Language to build a Mobile Application.  With Microsoft’s .Net platform you build 1 Project and you can compile it into all of those different uses…. Sound’s Pretty Smart right?

With that it marvels me; is that developers can give Microsoft a bad rap when the only thing they focus on is infrastructure integration.

Create A User And Data Gathering Tool Out Of Every Project- If you don’t the other guy’s will.

I was passing through an Open Pantry the other day and noticed a kiosk. This kiosk wasn’t built to distribute high level information, it wasn’t built to show the powerful new product. It was built to register users to get a free pizza or beef jerky.

It quickly made me think of larger and more complex projects I’ve worked on that were missing, even the simpilest form of user generation. With the advent of social media and trying connect with the web 2.0 populous these are simple project aspects that cannot be ignored.

It’s a smart business model bending efforts of each project big or small to collect data, and you can bet that if your not offering data and user gathering on a digital level someone else will quickly setup a kiosk at Open Pantry.

Ideas have to come quick and be executed rapidly- In the world of web 2.0

remember the days of the company article section. So many hands had to touch the copy, the manager who wrote it, the proofer who proofed it, the uploader who uploades it.

In todays Web 2.0 environment everything is light speed, hot and the corporate think tanks have already begun building your original idea. You can update the correctly built web site from a pda, write a blog with your cell phone, and high-school kids know how to wield technology way beond most people we know in our Rolodex of savvy people.

In this brave new world ideas need to be looked at, analyzed and executed as though they are hot coals

this doesn’t meant to sack quality over quantity but that the ideas will snow ball into more ideas some more profound some less profound making quality vs quantity irrelavant.

The Space Shuttle Uses Old Technology – mixed with new ideas.

When NASA sends the space shuttle into orbit on missions, most of the technology used on the shuttle is about 15 years old. It sounds rediculous but the reason is that the technology is tried tested and true. If you think about it all the technology we are using right now we use for web development; it’s the same situation. Take RSS feeds. the technology has finally made it into modern web browsers as a built in function. Take the concept of Web Services, again old technology but with new ideas it fuels just about every iPhone application available.

So if all the new ideas of today are fueled by old tools of yesterday, what is really new?

To answer that you would have to know the tools of yesterday enough to reconfigure them in a way that is unique enough to constitute new…

Quest to Find Great Mobile Applications

One of the greatest accomplishments the iPhone acheived was to show the world how important useful mobile applications are when used in the right context.  Pocket PC has existed for years now and so have PDA Phones.  But up until now the general public has looked at them as something only IT professionals or corporate CEOs used for world domination.  I found myself the other day using the yellow pages on my phone, in the same walk I then called the number I found ordered the so called HD antennae I was looking for and then got directions with Google Maps to go pick it up.  It was right out of a commercial, but I think what struck me the most was that, I had been doing things like this for years with my PDA, but only until now did I receive sort of a mental validation  that what I have been doing was in fact mainstream.

So I gave myself a little pat on the back, realized that I was no longer a dork, but that the whole mainstream population has now become “dorks” LOL.

or have we all just become one step closer to the Borg…