David Norfolk

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David Norfolk, BSc, CEng, MBCS, CITP, ARPS is practice leader with responsibility for development and governance at Bloor Research International. He is on the committee of the BCS Configuration Management Specialist Group and you can find him on Linkedin.
The Register breaking news

HP eats Mercury

So, HP has paid a small fortune for “tarnished” Mercury Software, has it? Perhaps it has got a bargain, as Mercury's technology is excellent and it has a good reputation for "Business Technology Optimisation" (aka "testing", in the widest possible sense) in big companies. I was impressed recently by its latest change management …
David Norfolk, 28 Jul 2006
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Multivalue datatypes

Editors blog Mark Whitehorn's recent article on multivalue data types in Access (here) sure attracted some comments. No, multivalue fields (non-atomic fields or repeating groups as I think I remember them) are not new. I didn't like them when I was an IMS DBA back in the eighties - and I met most of the arguments in favour of them back then …
David Norfolk, 20 Jul 2006
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Filemaker 8.5: small but useful upgrade

Editor's Blog I’ve just been to the Filemaker Pro 8.5 launch – Filemaker is the desktop database owned by Apple and run as an independent software company. Actually, it'a bit more than just a desktop database, as it also has a server version. It targets SMEs up to about 256 users, but the basic engine was rewritten for Filemaker v7, so it is …
David Norfolk, 15 Jul 2006
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Defeating the hacker

Book review Who is responsible for security? Everybody is, not just the security officer and his/her team. But it's a technical issue, right? A matter of firewalls, applying patches, installing programs that detect and remove spyware and viruses... Wrong again! Security is largely (despite the efforts of vendors who want to sell you more " …
David Norfolk, 13 Jul 2006
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Beware, beware, the auditor's coming

Comment "Know thy enemy." For developers, try talking to an IT auditor sometime. For a start, your application increasingly risks being audited against regulatory requirements, governance good practice and the like (possibly requirements that weren't mentioned when you built the app) - and if it fails, your name will be mud and your …
David Norfolk, 10 Jul 2006
The Register breaking news

Beyond ALM

When I wrote about Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) recently a reader wondered why I hadn't mentioned MKS. Well, the truth was, I'd forgotten about it - and, while I knew it was an interesting and somewhat publicity-shy company with some good products, I didn't think they illustrated anything radical. But I was …
David Norfolk, 07 Jul 2006
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A postcard from Citrix iForum

Many of the attendees at Citrix iForum in Edinburgh had probably been aware of much of the content of Citrix CEO and president Mark Templeton's keynote already (Centralis had shared much of it with its customers a month or so back, for example, which makes its seminars good value). Photo of Mark Templeton, Citrix CEO. Citrix …
David Norfolk, 06 Jul 2006
The Register breaking news

JBoss does collaboration

MS Exchange – it's healthy, but missing something. That, at least, appears to be the opinion of Andrew Oliver, project lead on the JBoss Collaboration Server team. And he has a point. There's an Andrew Oliver podcast here. Microsoft has never really "got" collaboration. Back in the 1990s, in the days of Windows for Workgroups …
David Norfolk, 26 Jun 2006
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Structured data is boring and useless

Editor's blog We all know that structured data is boring and useless; while unstructured data is sexy and chock full of value. Well, only up to a point, Lord Copper. Genuinely unstructured data can be a real nuisance - imagine extracting the return address from an unstructured letter, without letterhead and any of the formatting usually …
David Norfolk, 23 Jun 2006
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Designing security into software

Editor's blog In previous lives I have worked in software QA and in internal control in a major bank, and I am convinced that security must be designed into software from the start. Bolting on security to an insecure design is fraught with problems (just ask Microsoft): You decide that making things secure needs a major rewrite of the …
David Norfolk, 23 Jun 2006
The Register breaking news

Of clustering patterns and JBoss

Editors' Blog It sometimes seems that everything lives in cache these days and I worry about the complexity of interacting cached systems built on hardware clusters. It could be all too easy to optimise throughput for a particular job mix and hardware configuration; such that if any of the assumptions changes slightly, throughput drops …
David Norfolk, 19 Jun 2006
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A postcard from JBoss World 2006

"A sigh of relief" is how Marc Fleury describes reaction to the purchase of JBoss by Red Hat. And this seems fair enough. As an exit strategy this one lets "JBoss, a division of Red Hat" continue on its way, but with more money and international support ("out of the gates", Red Hat is starting on translating JBoss material into …
David Norfolk, 15 Jun 2006
The Register breaking news

JBoss drops JMX architecture

JBoss World is a pretty calm place - even Marc Fleury is pretty laid back (I suppose he has cause to be). But there was a flurry of interest when a speaker announced that the next smoother, faster JBoss architecture would do without JMX (Java Management Extensions, which JBoss currently uses, not for management particularly, but …
David Norfolk, 14 Jun 2006
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Examples of good practice, or not...

It's always an issue, when publishing tutorials, as to how much care you take about "good practice" peripheral to the main tutorial subject. What's appropriate when knocking up a quick demo to illustrate the capabilities of a new technology isn't appropriate when the new technology might end up in a business production …
David Norfolk, 09 Jun 2006
globalisation

Microsoft HPC set to take over the world, allegedly

Comment If our English readers need an ego boost, Microsoft has just chosen the UK for the worldwide launch of Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, its HPC (High Performance Computing) offering. This is because high performance and technical computing is a growth market in the UK and a lot of the basic work on it was done at places …
David Norfolk, 09 Jun 2006
The Register breaking news

More thoughts on identity

Reg Developer contributor Mary Branscombe has some thoughts on the Microsoft Identity Management Workshop (see blog here) - she fell foul of our seven day limit for replies. So, here is her view: Couldn't resist commenting myself! Identity and rights management; you can't manage who is allowed to view/change/print etc a …
David Norfolk, 07 Jun 2006
The Register breaking news

Developer silos considered harmful

So, developer silos are a bad thing, are they, according to IBM/Rational (see story here)? Well, yes they are. I remember architect customers of Autodesk describing the normal, dysfunctional, process of putting up a building to me (see story here). After every stage, handover documents were prepared, all the knowledge that …
David Norfolk, 07 Jun 2006
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The art of software testing

Book review I've had a soft spot for Myers' book ever since it first gave me an insight into the economics of testing some 25 years ago. Its essential thesis is that you can't test everything, in practice; so you have to allocate the limited resources you always have to maximise the defects found per euro. There's no point in wasting …
David Norfolk, 02 Jun 2006
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Compensating for SOA errors

John Schlesinger is director of integration Solutions for iWay Software (part of Information Builders Inc) and has a long history in our business. He’s been working on developing middleware since 1985, both at IBM (he worked on the CICS development team) and at iWay Software, where he’s now responsible for the iWay Business …
David Norfolk, 01 Jun 2006
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Microsoft Identity workshop

I've just been at a Microsoft Identity Workshop - Exploring Digital Identity. It was a good rough and tumble session, with a lot of the (pretty well-informed) attendees asking some searching questions. As a result, I remain unconvinced by Microsoft's Digital Rights Management - for business documents, at least (I'm also not …
David Norfolk, 26 May 2006
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The future starts here...or does it?

Watching demos of Microsoft's Expression tools and XAML-based presentation experience at this event, I was left somewhat unmoved. Very slick, and the User Experience merits more attention of course, but haven't I seen this all before – OS/2 Workplace Shell (updated Presentation Manager) and OpenDoc, perhaps? Workplace Shell …
David Norfolk, 18 May 2006
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Performance dashboards

Business Intelligence (BI) is a very popular idea, but it has its problems in practice. Forrester has pointed out that BI initiatives frequently only reach five per cent of the potential userbase, and many implementations aimed at delivering decision support to everyone end up being used by a few power users for a limited …
David Norfolk, 16 May 2006
The Register breaking news

Refactoring and Smalltalk

Steve Taylor has emailed us with some interesting remarks on Pan Pantziarka’s review of Ken Pugh’s Prefactoring book: “Your book review of 'Prefactoring' (pre-factoring? Isn't that what we used to call 'design'?) credits Martin Fowler's 1999 book with coining the term 'Refactoring'.” Good point about "design", Steve, but if …
David Norfolk, 15 May 2006
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Struggling to attend Borland's Developer Studio Roadshow

I was over half an hour late for Borland's Developer Studio Roadshow, despite leaving plenty of time (I thought) for the trip across London - signal failure outside Slough; more signal failures on the Underground at Baker St. This is getting so normal that I start to suspect process failure. A process which might regard symptoms …
David Norfolk, 10 May 2006

Video systems in an IT environment

Book review Everything is software. Increasingly, the devices we live by (whether routers and switches, or just DVD recorders and music systems) are computers running specialised embedded software. This is generally known as "convergence", which is a term usually used in the context of VoIP telephony, although this is just a small part of …
David Norfolk, 10 May 2006
The Register breaking news

Sonic ESB chosen for BT Integrate

Sonic Software has just had a rather nice endorsement for its ESB (Enterprise Service Bus): BT Global Services is using it in its BT Integrate distributed integration appliance. This seems to be a practical realisation of an idea I first saw mooted (and demo’d) by Data General last century – a smart box in the corner of your …
David Norfolk, 04 May 2006
channel

IT: – Still the Black Hole of the Balance Sheet?

IT: – Still the Black Hole of the Balance Sheet?” was the title of an interesting media roundtable organised by Managed Objects. Photo showing attendants at the Managed Objects IT: Still the black hole in the balance sheet? roundtable. It discussed measuring the cost/benefit of IT in the business, although a research survey …
David Norfolk, 03 May 2006
The Register breaking news

Postcard from Orlando

Florida upside down house - Photo: David Norfolk Hello, from the Information Builders (IBI) summit in Orlando! Some interesting new ideas here, from people who've been in large-scale BI for some 30 years - how about BI embedded in workflow applications written in BPEL (when you receive an order, you can fire off a BI report on …
David Norfolk, 27 Apr 2006
The Register breaking news

CASE becomes ALM and consolidates

Comment Ever since Rational got three development automation gurus in the same room to agree on UML (Unified Modelling Language) and put an end to those pointless arguments about what shape the boxes in an analysis/design model should be, what used to be called CASE (Computer Aided Software Engineering) has been on a bit of a roll. …
David Norfolk, 21 Apr 2006
The Register breaking news

Subversion on Demand

Selling open source software is a bit of a problem, Bas Nijjer of CollabNet UK has just told me. Seems this guy comes up to him at a show and says: “So, you’re selling Subversion…” “No, not exactly,” Bas replies, “it’s open source…” “So, what exactly are you selling?” Similar questions must come up for everyone commercially …
David Norfolk, 21 Apr 2006
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Of privately-held firms (and why they are such bad press fodder)

Why don't the big companies like SAS and Information Builders Inc (IBI) you might actually use at work get the press coverage of, say, Microsoft? It could be because all journalists are on the Microsoft payroll (but just check out the sort of car most full-time journos – without a day job – drive, compared to those driven by …
David Norfolk, 20 Apr 2006
The Register breaking news

More on databases in academia

Well, my (this is David Norfolk writing) Blog on Databases in Academia excited some robust comment – and, strangely, it didn’t come from the Intelligent Design people I was expecting to upset. As the implications of some of the comments were pretty personal, I felt I should give my main informant, Mark Whitehorn, the “right to …
David Norfolk, 12 Apr 2006
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Databases in academia

Last week I was at Cambridge, learning what Henslow taught Darwin (Kohn, Murrell, Parker and Whitehorn, Nature, vol. 436, 4 August 2005, p643 – available online if you subscribe/register). Henslow, elected Professor of Botany at Cambridge in 1825, was a careful scientist, the first university lecturer to illustrate his lectures …
David Norfolk, 10 Apr 2006
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Subversion v. Perforce. Collabnet replies

Having allowed Perforce to comment on Tim’s review of SCM tools, we have to extend the courtesy to CollabNet, his other victim, as well. Bas Nijjer, director of UK sales at CollabNet, points out that “the BerkleyDB database wedging problem noted by Tim has been addressed by Sleepycat and the enhancement will come with the next …
David Norfolk, 07 Apr 2006
The Register breaking news

New style reviews

We’re experimenting with various new review styles. One is to compare two products, both good of their type, and look at the different purposes each is fit for – there’s an example (for Perforce and Subversion) here. We think this makes it easier to get a feel for the products in context and moves away from the “this product is …
David Norfolk, 05 Apr 2006
The Register breaking news

ILOG launches JRules 6

According to Pierre Haren, CEO of ILOG, we are at the start of a new “Industrial Revolution” - based on rules processing, an ILOG speciality, of course, together with Business Process Modelling. The Business Rule Management System (BRMS) an ILOG specialisation, along with optimisation and visualisation, and the recently- …
David Norfolk, 31 Mar 2006
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Reports of death of MS Passport exaggerated

Another hare started from Mary Branscombe’s InfoCard piece. Chris Overd emails to point out that its first sentence "is rather misleading. InfoCard is not, in any shape or form, a replacement for Microsoft Passport". In support, he points at a blog posting from Trevin Chow here. Well, that seems fair enough, but all I can say …
David Norfolk, 30 Mar 2006
The Register breaking news

Of Infocard: Who keeps an eye on the guardians?

Nick Kew has raised an interesting point re: Mary Branscombe’s InfoCard piece. It touches on “quis custodiet ipsos custodies” - who will keep an eye on the guardians? Do you have to have an unblemished reputation in order to manage identity and security? Probably not, in theory – but I bet you won’t get much buy-in from the …
David Norfolk, 30 Mar 2006
The Register breaking news

BizTalk - yet another launch

BizTalk Server 2006 was half-launched last year. Yesterday it had a proper launch (with general availability etc.) at the London Stock Exchange. As it has already been in production use for some time with favoured customers, so why have a launch at all? It's a chance to discover how paranoid the London Stock Exchange is about …
David Norfolk, 29 Mar 2006
The Register breaking news

Wither Rational?

I was talking to an ex-Rational manager a week or so ago, who obviously believed that IBM’s enthusiasm for Rational was waning in the face of its success with Eclipse and who also thought that the morale of ex-Rational employees inside IBM was waning. Well, that POV seemed to come as a surprise to Roger Oberg (Vice President, …
David Norfolk, 29 Mar 2006
The Register breaking news

COBOL Resartus

Comment COBOL, the Common Business-Oriented Language, was one of the first signs (somewhat after LEO, the world’s first business computer in 1951) of the acceptance of computers as a routine business, as opposed to scientific or engineering, tool. The design of COBOL was strongly influenced by FlowMatic, developed through the 1950s by …
David Norfolk, 20 Mar 2006
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Colossus: Bletchley Park’s greatest secret

Book review One reader wrote in to complain that my recent review of Frauenfelder’s The Computer, an illustrated history missed the fact that it “yankified” history – didn’t adequately recognise British contributions. On the contrary, when I checked against other sources, Frauenfelder’s is a very cosmopolitan account - it even points out …
David Norfolk, 10 Mar 2006
The Register breaking news

Managing the RFID opportunity

The use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags is becoming a hot topic for developers and business (visit the independent - sponsored by both the UK Government and commercial organisations - UK RFID Centre here). IT vendors, who've been suffering fairly flat sales recently, are also honing in on the opportunites it …
David Norfolk, 01 Mar 2006
The Computer

The Computer - An Illustrated History

Book review Remember coffee table books? Glossy, well-produced art books that are never actually read, but left lying around to show how cultured you are. This illustrated history of computing is such a book (it could make you look both techie and cultured, a good trick if you can pull it off), and it's almost big and solid enough to make …
David Norfolk, 27 Feb 2006
The Register breaking news

Over the Waterfall

Comment Let's throw some rocks at Waterfall development. You know, the development method which says that you have to produce about 10kg of specification document (there’s a standard, usually, for the weight of paper appropriate to different project types). You put this on the shelf to gather dust, as some sort of protective talisman, …
David Norfolk, 23 Feb 2006
The Register breaking news

Music to code to

Well, Microsoft loves its developers and wants to know what makes them tick. So it asks them what music they like to code to - apparently, the "winner" was something by Coldplay (whoever they are - and what will this do to their street cred, anyway). And HMV Digital have made a radio station specifically for UK developers, ' …
David Norfolk, 23 Feb 2006

A new breed of network-aware developer

HP is very much number two in networking after Cisco (which, according to IDC, has over 50 per cent market share), but its market share is growing rather than falling, and Gartner is moving it upwards and rightwards in its magic Quadrant. Some competition for Cisco is healthy. Now, as part of an assault on Cisco, HP has …
David Norfolk, 17 Feb 2006
The Register breaking news

Moving to SQL Server

Dmitry Balin of Microsoft has been telling me about Microsoft's new Oracle migration toolset. Oh, BTW, I think it only works one way - from Oracle to SQL Server. Who'd have thought it? Nevertheless, it sounds pretty good. And, I'm promised some real migration case studies (ie, not from SQL Server 2000 to 2005) Any Day Now. But …
David Norfolk, 16 Feb 2006
The Register breaking news

The Scandal of BI

It's been a busy week. On Tuesday Christian Smyth of ICS told me about the scandal of BI (Business Intelligence) - the likes of Cognos and Business Objects holding business to ransom when cheap BI was available from Microsoft. In fact, it appeared, that was just to get my attention. If there is a BI scandal, it is merely that …
David Norfolk, 16 Feb 2006
The Register breaking news

Borland IDE segues off stage left…

Comment So, Borland is selling its IDE business (see El Reg passim; links at bottom of article) and buying Segue, a well-respected “quality optimisation” and software testing company (as well as a currently trendy verb: segue: \SEG-way; SAYG-way\, intransitive verb 1. To proceed without interruption; to make a smooth transition). I …
David Norfolk, 16 Feb 2006