Dabble DB – WOW

Back in June, Tom the Architect posted about something called Dabble DB that he said was pretty impressive. He described it as “collaborative data management, authoring, and publishing web application”. I made mental note to check it out (Tom doesn’t normally recommend stuff on his blog unless its exceptionally cool) but as most mental notes go, I forgot about it. That is, until I saw Tim Brays post from yesterday talking about how he invested in the company.

After reading this, I remembered Tom’s post and went over to check it out. I watched the seven minute demo and was completely blown away.

As you watch the demo think about the amount of data in any large corporation that is managed in spreadsheets. I had recently made a comment to someone that Excel seems to be the largest Enterprise Data Management tool used after seeing the number of extremely large spreadsheets in a meeting we were attending together. All of this data is passed here and there, modified, forwarded on, until there are so many versions of it you have no idea which one is correct anymore.

That is the beauty of Dabble DB. It allows you to pull this data into a centralized repository, refactor it into a normalized format on the fly, and even calendar the data if you have timestamps in the data model. The benefits of unifying all of that data tracked in spreadsheets is just too much to even comprehend given the pricing model that the company is offering the service for.

I do see one small problem though. Everyone talks about “software as a service” as the next “big thing” and I agree – in an ideal world. However, in the “not so ideal world” that most large corporations live in I see this model (or, more specifically, providing this model only) as a huge detriment to adoption in large companies who do not like to have their data hosted by a third party vendor. Given the volume of data tracked in spreadsheets of a confidential nature, I see this as a huge barrier for adoption. Until large businesses go through a major cultural shift in which they understand that they do not have to own and maintain all of the systems that their data resides, the audience that Dabble can have a huge effect on is limited to those “new companies” who get the “Web 2.0” thing (or whatever we are calling it these days) – and quite frankly, this is not the audience that needs them the most.

The fact that Dabble does not offer an option to host the application internally for a customer (that I could find on their web site anyway), in my opinion, may be the one thing that keeps them from actually providing the huge benefit they could provide to the user base that needs them most.

All that rambling aside though, this is one cool application. I think to really appreciate it you need to see it. Check out the demo and tell me this isn’t one of the coolest things you’ve ever seen!

Vienna – An Open Source NewsReader For The Macintosh

Screenshot of Vienna News Reader

I had mentioned in a post earlier this year that I have outsourced many of the tools that I use to third party vendors. Google Reader was one of the applications that I started using.

Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of the “river of news” type of newsreaders, and would rather see a list of sites that I can categorize under folders that I can check conveniently. When I was on Windows, I used FeedDemon after hearing about it from Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and I really liked the application a lot. It was perfect for me.

Since moving to the Mac though, I’ve been unable to find something as easy for me to use as FeedDemon, so I’ve just made due with Google Reader.

That is, until I found Vienna.

Vienna is an open source RSS news reader for the Apple Macintosh. It has a feature set comparable to Feed Demon. It also supports “Smart Folders”, which are a way of defining search criteria to automagically group posts based on filter criteria.

The reader also supports tabbed browsing, using WebKit – really nice if you are looking for “continuity of experience” – not having to jump from app to app in order to finish a unit of work.

I was able to pull my current subscriptions from Google Reader as an OPML file and import them straight into Vienna. No muss, no fuss. The application is very stable, I’ve found no bugs or issues that have gotten in my way since starting to use it a couple of weeks ago – and I find it much more to my liking than Google Reader was. I can look for specific site updates without scrolling all over the place or trying to figure out keyboard shortcuts. There are too many features to list here without being redundant, but their site has a list of the features included in the application, so check it out if your curious.

The best part about Vienna is that the source code is available. If you don’t like something, you can tweak it.

I’ve had a very positive experience with this news reader and recommend it highly to anyone looking for a news reader for Mac OS X.

17 Year Old Creates Flickr Competitor

Aside

From Slashdot: “Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch has an article up on a new Flickr competitor called Zooomr. The interesting thing about all of this that it was developed in only three months by a 17 year old and to top it all off, the site is currently localized in 16 languages”. The site is “experiencing high volumes” since appearing on Slashdot and is being moved to a larger data center. I’m looking forward to seeing it.