February 2, 2017

Politics and policy in the age of Trump

The United States presidency was recently assumed by an Orwellian lunatic.* Sadly, this is not an exaggeration. The dangers — both of authoritarianism and of general mis-governance — are massive. Everybody needs in some way to respond.

*”Orwellian lunatic” is by no means an oxymoron. Indeed, many of the most successful tyrants in modern history have been delusional; notable examples include Hitler, Stalin, Mao and, more recently, Erdogan. (By way of contrast, I view most other Soviet/Russian leaders and most jumped-up-colonel coup leaders as having been basically sane.)

There are many candidates for what to focus on, including:

But please don’t just go on with your life and leave the politics to others. Those “others” you’d like to rely on haven’t been doing a very good job.

What I’ve chosen to do personally includes: Read more

July 19, 2016

Notes from a long trip, July 19, 2016

For starters:

A running list of recent posts is:

Subjects I’d like to add to that list include:

Read more

May 18, 2016

I’m having issues with comment spam

My blogs are having a bad time with comment spam. While Akismet and other safeguards are intercepting almost all of the ~5000 attempted spam comments per day, the small fraction that get through are still a large absolute number to deal with.

There’s some danger I’ll need to restrict comments here to combat it. (At the moment they’ve been turned off almost entirely on Text Technologies, which may be awkward if I want to put a post up there rather than here.) If I do, I’ll say so in a separate post. I apologize in advance for any inconvenience.

March 10, 2015

Some stuff on my mind, March 10, 2015

I found yesterday’s news quite unpleasant.

And by the way, a guy died a few day ago snorkeling at the same resort I like to go to, evidently doing less risky things than I on occasion have.

So I want to unclutter my mind a bit. Here goes.

1. There are a couple of stories involving Sam Simon and me that are too juvenile to tell on myself, even now. But I’ll say that I ran for senior class president, in a high school where the main way to campaign was via a single large poster, against a guy with enough cartoon-drawing talent to be one of the creators of the Simpsons. Oops.

2. If one suffers from ulcerative colitis as my mother did, one is at high risk of getting colon cancer, as she also did. Mine isn’t as bad as hers was, due to better tolerance for medication controlling the disease. Still, I’ve already had a double-digit number of colonoscopies in my life. They’re not fun. I need another one soon; in fact, I canceled one due to the blizzards.

Pro-tip — never, ever have a colonoscopy without some kind of anesthesia or sedation. Besides the unpleasantness, the lack of meds increases the risk that the colonoscopy will tear you open and make things worse. I learned that the hard way in New York in the early 1980s.

3. Five years ago I wrote optimistically about the evolution of the information ecosystem, specifically using the example of the IT sector. One could argue that I was right. After all:  Read more

November 30, 2014

Thoughts and notes, Thanksgiving weekend 2014

I’m taking a few weeks defocused from work, as a kind of grandpaternity leave. That said, the venue for my Dances of Infant Calming is a small-but-nice apartment in San Francisco, so a certain amount of thinking about tech industries is inevitable. I even found time last Tuesday to meet or speak with my clients at WibiData, MemSQL, Cloudera, Citus Data, and MongoDB. And thus:

1. I’ve been sloppy in my terminology around “geo-distribution”, in that I don’t always make it easy to distinguish between:

The latter case can be subdivided further depending on whether multiple copies of the data can accept first writes (aka active-active, multi-master, or multi-active), or whether there’s a clear single master for each part of the database.

What made me think of this was a phone call with MongoDB in which I learned that the limit on number of replicas had been raised from 12 to 50, to support the full-replication/latency-reduction use case.

2. Three years ago I posted about agile (predictive) analytics. One of the points was:

… if you change your offers, prices, ad placement, ad text, ad appearance, call center scripts, or anything else, you immediately gain new information that isn’t well-reflected in your previous models.

Subsequently I’ve been hearing more about predictive experimentation such as bandit testing. WibiData, whose views are influenced by a couple of Very Famous Department Store clients (one of which is Macy’s), thinks experimentation is quite important. And it could be argued that experimentation is one of the simplest and most direct ways to increase the value of your data.

3. I’d further say that a number of developments, trends or possibilities I’m seeing are or could be connected. These include agile and experimental predictive analytics in general, as noted in the previous point, along with:  Read more

March 23, 2014

DBMS2 revisited

The name of this blog comes from an August, 2005 column. 8 1/2 years later, that analysis holds up pretty well. Indeed, I’d keep the first two precepts exactly as I proposed back then:

I’d also keep the general sense of the third precept, namely appropriately-capable data integration, but for that one the specifics do need some serious rework.

For starters, let me say: Read more

July 2, 2013

Notes and comments, July 2, 2013

I’m not having a productive week, part of the reason being a hard drive crash that took out early drafts of what were to be last weekend’s blog posts. Now I’m operating from a laptop, rather than my preferred dual-monitor set-up. So please pardon me if I’m concise even by comparison to my usual standards.

*Basic and unavoidable ETL (Extract/Transform/Load) of course excepted.

**I could call that ABC (Always Be Comparing) or ABT (Always Be Testing), but they each sound like – well, like The Glove and the Lions.

May 3, 2013

It’s time to change around Monash Research’s mailing lists

Email delivery of posts has been screwed up; multiple people tell me they haven’t gotten their email for months. (In the future, please tell me of such difficulties!) So it’s time for a change, and I’m asking for your advice as to what you’d suggest for our mailing list.

Yes, I’m asking via a blog post, even thought the core problem is that people who want to see my posts via e-mail aren’t getting them. Please work with me on this anyway. :)

My two basic questions are:

1. The nightly scheduling has been an artifact of an RSS-to-email link that no longer seems stable. So I’m thinking of just manually pasting each post into a list email, in which case:

It’s a bit more work for me, but probably nothing dire. Does lower latency sound good to everybody? :)

2. The main technical options seem to be: Read more

October 6, 2012

Analyzing big companies is hard

Analyzing companies of any size is hard. Analyzing large ones, however, is harder yet.

Such limitations should be borne in mind in connection with anything I write about, for example, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, or SAP.

There are many reasons for large companies to communicate less usefully with analysts than smaller ones do. Some of the biggest are:

Read more

September 27, 2012


Please disregard any intentions I expressed of traveling in October, in particular a trip to visit 20 or so California clients. I’m under doctor’s orders not to fly for several weeks, and also don’t feel like driving (or walking) any significant distances. Any meetings I have in the very near future will either be telephonic, or else within a few minute’s drive of my home office in Acton, MA.

The story behind this is:

Fortunately, that’s all it is — no fracture, and the sprain per se is mild. But about 4 doctors and nurses have told me this is really unusual bruising. Nobody has offered a precise opinion as to how soon it will clear up, but I gather the good case is 2-4 weeks and the bad case is twice that.

I should have plenty of opportunity to blog.

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