Thursday Jul 30, 2009

Workbench 5.2 Alpha

In case you have not already noticed, Workbench 5.2 alpha / preview release of MySQL's premier development and design tool, has been announced.

For an independent preview, you can also see here

Wednesday Apr 08, 2009

Double Free

MySQL Workbench has already received some great accolades this year and there is more to come!

Now, those attending the MySQL Users Conference will have a chance to become a MySQL schema design expert.

The Conference will include a free MySQL Workbench workshop called “Introduction to Data Modeling with MySQL Workbench” on Thursday (April 23, 2009) 3 - 4:30 PM in the Santa Clara Ballroom. According to Mike Zinner, MySQL Workbench development lead, "We are also offering a full tutorial on this topic on Monday that will have even more advanced content. Learn more about this here."

The Tuesday workshop will cover general concepts from basics of database schema design to performance-tuning of your schemata as well as more specific topics such as MySQL Workbench basics to WB add-ons and more will all be covered. This will also be a great chance to get introduced and plugged into the MySQL Workbench community. 

Last but not least, everybody attending the Tuesday Workshop will receive a 12-month MySQL Workbench Standard Edition subscription for free. (In case you're wondering, Workbench SE is the commercial edition of Workbench.)

There will be a limited number of seats. So register as soon as you can. 

Finally, Mike Hillyer will be giving the Monday tutorial on "Introduction to Data Modeling with MySQL Workbench".

Friday Mar 28, 2008

Experimenting with New Ink

Experimenting with New Ink

Once, when I was 7 or 8, I received two lessons from a master Persian calligrapher, a Mr. Foradi, in Tehran.

Mr. Foradi used to be on contract at my fathers' advertising and design firm. In the first lesson, he taught me how to hold the pen, how to ink its tip, and how to cushion the thin calligraphy paper. He then asked me to write, 100 times in a neat row: "A Man's Virtue is Far Better than His Post and Wealth"—a piece from a 1000 year old Persian poem.

  ادب مرد به ز دولت اوست. 

It is hard to find expert Persian calligraphers and the right equipment and training in the U.S. 

My father bought me the Persian calligraphy pen shown in this photo from The Persian Calligraphy Institute in Tehran, Iran, in August of 2006. 

I used the pen and the special ink, which my father had also purchased for me, to write "Traditional Music" on a piece of printer paper. (I should say here that I didn't think much of Persian traditional music when I first arrived in the U.S. as a teenager. Now, I have learned to appreciate enough of its subtleties to enjoy it.) 

Once, when I was 7 or 8, I received two lessons from a master Persian calligrapher, a Mr. Foradi, in Tehran. Mr. Foradi used to be on contract at my fathers' advertising and design firm. In the first lesson, he taught me how to hold the pen, how to cushion the paper and asked me to write, 100 times, that "A Man's Virtue is Far Better than His Post"—a piece from a 1000 year old Persian poem.

 

Tuesday Oct 09, 2007

The Radical vs. The Conservative

The system-originating inventions can be labeled radical, the system-improving ones conservative.

Thomas P. Hughes (2004), American Genesis: A Century of Inventions and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870-1970 

James Gosling's Java was a radical invention. It was based on a radical design born out of several grueling decades of industry experiments in software languages and software development. Relational databases are implementations of a radical design formulated decades ago.

By Hughes' definition, a radical invention originates new systems.  You cannot have a radical invention without a system. An invention that neither originates a system nor improves it, may simply be called an experiment, or an exploratory idea.

Radical inventions come rarely and they are based on a radical design which answers to a multitude of converging needs. 

A major grouping of today's radical inventions are based on environmental and ecological designs that create intelligent contact with the environment. I like to call them intelligent scaffoldings, whether of networks, buildings, devices or whatever else it is that we live in or live with---customization to contain and to be contained.

What will attract the attention of system-builders of this and next decade? Given the ravages of war and militarism, only human concerns can be the center of such radical system building.  The best inventions are those that bring peace and prosperity, save us time and economize energy---they are inventions that allow us to focus our attentions on what matters most in life.

Friday Mar 16, 2007

The Largest Carpet in the World

 

One record for largest carpet in the world is being outweaved by another.

 

Tuesday Feb 27, 2007

Design Advice for The Wall Street Journal Editors

Dear WSJ Editors,

Selectivity is the key to productive media consumption in the electronic age.

Since you already use HTML when sending the daily "IN TODAY'S PAPER from The Wall Street Journal Online" e-mail to subscribers like me, why not use the same variety of font types and sizes as the one appearing in the print edition.

The font size and type variety provide the readers with immediate visual evidence of what mattered to the editors, helping them select what they want to read. 

Sincerely,
M.M.

P.S. The same problem exists in the online edition of the WSJ: Little or no font size and type variety that would parallel the paper edition's. Is this a design puzzle or is there something else behind it? A look at the online edition of The Washington Post makes it clear that they have understood this problem and taken some serious steps towards solving it.
 

Tuesday Jan 02, 2007

Breaking The Symmetry

The new design of the paper edition of The Wall Street Journal debuted today, January 2, 2007.  (See L. Gordon Crovitz, "Annual Letter from the Publisher: A Report to Our Readers," WSJ, Jan 2, 2007.) The video report of this change including commentary by Crovitz, managing editor Paul E. Steiger and design consultant Mario Garcia can be found here. These changes may save costs and capture greater readership for The Wall Street Journal.

The editors and publishers have written a whole section defending the new design and font on the paper edition.  They note that the new design comes in response to readers' feedback and the realities of online information distribution, including the evolving role of the online edition of the Journal itself. In fact, the Journal has also published a Readers Guide to explain the changes and various venues for getting the content it publishes.

While some readers may find advantages in the information lay-out on the Journal and some of the new services, including the free online Markets Data Center (in lieu of printed market data) and the printing of major economic and financial indexes on top of the front page, the narrower format of the new paper edition of the Journal is a real setback. It breaks the symmetry of the paper, which used to have 6 columns. It now has 5 columns, with an absent left column, and folding the paper in the middle renders one of the columns (the middle column) totally unreadable.

In short, something as mundane as the narrower format used for the new print edition of The Wall Street Journal seems to break the basic rules of using paper as technology.

The Wall Street Journal, despite the controversies and usual biases of its opinion and editorial pages which are to be expected, has published some of the best works American journalism has had to offer.  Some of this work has appeared on the "infamous" left column of the Journal, which will now be harder to find and read than it used to be simply because it is no longer there, on the left, at the top of the front page. While the online Journal has continually improved, the new paper edition seems to have some room for further "evolutionary" improvements.

By contrast, the paper edition of Financial Times (as distributed in the U.S.) continues with the (folding) symmetry of 8 columns in 2007. This symmetry preserves the resizing (i.e. folding) capabilities of the viewing platform the paper edition offers.

In the meantime and somewhat relevant to the Journal's change, Aline van Duyn of Financial Times reports the following surprising fact ("Media groups are grappling with a drift of revenue to the web," FT, Jan 2, 2007):

An analysis by Bain & Company, a consultancy, illustrates the problem. For an average US newspaper, a subscriber generates about $1,000 a year from advertising. For those newspapers that base their internet strategy around being a content destination, each viewer generates an average of $5.50 of advertising revenue. Losing one print subscriber can therefore be hard to recoup in terms of advertising, even as advertising dollars shift online.

Capturing online viewers do not seem to be keeping up with loss of print readers. So many analysts believe that traditional media need to deploy new business models for capturing revenue from online advertising, perhaps by taking a cut from transactions initiated through the online ads. On the other hand, there are ways to improve the number of print readers. Anyone traveling internationally will have noticed the wide availability of free papers for travelers. There are of course other means for improving print readership. Successful traditional media will probably emphasize both modes of reaching their audience.

It is of interest to note that The Wall Street Journal has actually added print subscribers at a rate of 10% last year.

Perhaps, the next evolutionary change in the print edition should be a reduction of the columnn width so that 6 columns can still fit on the Journal's page. FT's columns now are much narrower than the Journal's. So, this change should not be too disturbing although font size might have to be reduced a bit.

Saturday Dec 23, 2006

Multi-Lot Auction Design

Here is another academic presentation from my Haas years. It describes "Multi-Lot Auction Design: Applied to 3G Spectrum Auctions." I hope you can follow it. Like the previous paper I just posted, it needs some editing and work to bring it up to par. It is definitely worth a separate paper of its own if only time would allow.

Put together originally as a presentation for a game theory seminar, it distinguishes auctions involving multiple lots (items) of potentially complementary value from auctions involving identical lots (items). An example would be if you would participate in an auction involving pieces of adjacent properties of various sizes as opposed to auctions involving instances of the same object. Another example of the first kind, discussed in this paper, are spectrum auctions because these auctions are national and span multiple, but separate, municipalities and regions with value complementarities having to do with costs of maintaining a mobile network on a particular topography of auction licenses.

Tuesday Dec 12, 2006

Marsh's Harsh Review

Rob Marsh writes a harsh review of Paul Arden's Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite. I did read the book last week and found it had some redeeming qualities. Marsh may be expecting too much, and Arden may be delivering on something other than what Marsh seems to be expecting.
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