Colorado Software Summit 2007 – Day 1

High 40ºF – Low 22ºF (The resort provides helpful weather cards)

Opening Keynote
The keynote was given my IBM services VP John Soyring. He gave a summary of the standard “IBM strategic research”.

  • Healthcare is a growth market, with a growing customer base, lots of cost pressures, and room for IT improvements.
  • Offshore cost arbitrage opportunities are fading. The big Indian player are starting to outsource themselves, and facing wage growth of 7%-11% vs. 3-4% for NA. Great news for my mortgage!
  • Inventory management and traceability are growing in importance.

Mr. Soyring added a nuance to traceability that was new to me: As margins per unit shrink, inventory shrinkage becomes more painful. E.g. Lloblaws is hurt more by spoiled fruit than Holt Renfrew is by stolen mink coats. The fat margins on luxury items covers all kinds of inventory sins, which is why luxury retailers are so blasé about returns. This means that the pressure to introduce measures like RFID _grow_ as margins shrink.

Google Gears
Dion Almaer gave a nice introduction to Google Gears. Gears is a collection of three independent technologies:

  • a client side SQL database (SQLite) with full text search
  • a local web server to act as an application controlled resource cache
  • a worker pool implementation for javascript to move compute load off the browser event loop

The first two items enable off-line webapps. The last allows you to keep your app snappy even while doing lots of JS work. My project definitely suffered from the lack of javascript threading in our first mapping prototype.

Sadly, Gears is currently delivered by a browser plug-in. New versions of Firefox and Safari will include some of this, but public web-sites will only be able to use this as an add-on for the next while.

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