Using Ipod and Iphone with your Ubuntu Laptop

If you love your  Apple iPhone / iPod, the latest release of Ubuntu from Canonical called Karmic Koala ( the counter part to Microsoft’s Windows 7) is totally compatible for USB connection

If you love your  Apple iPhone / iPod, the latest release of Ubuntu from Canonical called Karmic Koala ( the counter part to Microsoft’s Windows 7) is totally compatible for USB connection.

Ubuntu uses Rhythmbox for playing songs and uses FSpot and Gimp for images. The audio quality is excellent ( even if you are using very old hardware like I do) and Gimp is the best image manipulation software -comparable to ones from Adobe- intuitive and easy.

Interview Donald Farmer Microsoft

Here is an Interview with Donald Farmer of Microsoft talking about the passion for the exciting business intelligence projects at MS.

Q Describe your career from high school to your current job responsibilities at Microsoft. How can technology companies in America work together to grow the home pool of American science students ( irrespective of market share battles)

A My background is relatively unusual for a technology professional, although at Microsoft one meets people with a very wide range of backgrounds. I had little interest in studying Computer Science formally. For me, software was always a means to an end: a way of solving what were, for me, “more interesting” problems. Of course, I cannot deny that computer science is a compelling subject in itself, just not for me. Yet, from my early teens in Scotland, I had computers to try (starting with the justly famous Sinclair range) and I used them to store, classify and analyze the data I needed for my other work. So, as I studied philosophy and languages, and as I worked in history, archaeology, forestry, fish-farming and so on (through many variations) before I became more completely involved in Business Intelligence, I used database techniques extensively.

I spent some years as a consultant, building all sorts of applications, My first predictive application enabled fish-farmers with private water supplies to balance the needs of fish production and hydro-electric generation based on past, present and predicted rainfall. I believe that application is still in use today, 15 years later!

Later, I joined an excellent group of developers and analysts at AppsMart, building a data mart rapid-development application. That brought me into the Microsoft sphere, as we built on the SQL Server platform and were actively involved in the SQL Server Data Warehouse ecosystem.

With the dot-com bust of 2000, I happily found an opportunity to work with Microsoft. There I started working on Analysis Services, later leading a team of program managers in Integration Services. In that time, we did some really interesting work along with Zhaohui Tang’s team, integrating Data Mining capabilities with our ETL tool, to enable predictive analytics in the flow of data. The implications of this technique are still only being realized: we have used it for imputing missing data, and have an interesting patent on how to use this technique for detecting outliers in streaming data. In addition, we included fuzzy matching techniques from Surajit Chaudhuri’s team, to give even more flexibility.

More recently I have been working in Data Mining, with a marvelous and energetic team under Jamie MacLennan, and then in the last couple of years I have been managing a super team of Program Managers building the client interfaces for our new PowerPivot application.

My current role is not focused on a single product, but rather I look across all the business intelligence products to see how we can engage our engineering knowledge ever more effectively with customers, partners, analysts and, of course, with other teams across Microsoft.

So, as you can see my background is very varied. In some ways, that means that I am not well placed to speak to how the USA can better grow a pool of science students, as I was never one myself. Yet, I do think there are some lessons I can share. Firstly, we should not make the mistake of focusing only on science and technology as an end in itself. We do need to encourage the use of information science techniques in all appropriate fields, including liberal arts, and also “power professions” such as medicine and law. The USA provides wonderful educational opportunities in these fields, but all too often young people have to choose between science and arts. Many of the best talents I have met in the world of analytics have backgrounds which are very diverse.

Q) Describe the current status of SQL Server and Microsoft Data Mining. What are the areas in Business Intelligence we can see much more excitement and innovation in the coming few months from you guys.

A) Data Mining remains one of the most popular technologies in the SQL Server stack. I have presented recently in China, Germany, The Netherlands and the UK, and at every conference the data mining sessions were among the most popular and the most successful. This speaks volumes about the interest in this field. it also reflects how successfully Microsoft has broadened our user base by shipping the Excel Data Mining Add-ins.

Q) How is Microsoft’s cloud computing venture Azure going? How is Sharepoint doing? What do you personally feel on the remote sharing and computing model.

A) Azure and Sharepoint are, of course, very different beasts. Windows Azure, and especially SQL Azure which we launched at PDC in November, are proving to be very popular. In particular SQL Server Azure is really succeeding with it’s strong development and management story – you design and manage cloud databases with the same tools and techniques as you do for on-premise databases. There has been a fabntastic response to this, especially from emerging economies where the idea of having Microsoft manage your data infrastructure at any scale is very attractive. At TechEd South Africa, for example, David Robinson from the SQL Azure team got a tremendous reception. However, there are difficulties in emerging economies because of poor bandwidth. Shortly after David and I were in South Africa, local businesses held a race: they tied a usb stick with files to the leg of a carrier pigeon and set it off home from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, simultaneously trying to download the same files between the same locations online. The pigeon won!

So, I do think the cloud offers tremendous opportunities for business to scale and manage their resources effectively, but it’s early days.

Q And when can I start do data mining from within my Excel workbook- I remember working on a SQL Server Analysis Plugin for an cloud Excel prototype last year.

A You should be using Excel for data mining right now. Just go to and look for the links, on the right hand side of the page. These are released products. You can also go to to try an experimental cloud service – but it is only experimental and could be up or down at any time.

For more conventional, OLAP-like, analytics you should also try out PowerPivot in beta. See . PowerPivot is an application that plugs into Excel and enables business users to build quite complex models, over basically unlimited data volumes, quickly and easily. It’s proving to be hugely popular already. I am sure it will dominate much of the BI news in 2010.

Q) What are the risks, and challenges in creating new technology when working for an Industry leader like Microsoft where the spotlight is on every step you take and the competition is brutal.

A) I simply don’t think about brutal competition. Even in nature I see far more symbiosis than competition. I personally think competition is a very negative mindset although the term “competitor” is the common shorthand for another vendor in the space and I do use it that way myself – but more from habit than conviction.

In the database world, you might say Oracle are our competitors. Yet most of the Oracle customers I know (and I was an Oracle customer myself once) are also SQL Server customers. Often they use Reporting Services, or Analysis Services. Integration Services had to ship a fast-loading Oracle destination, because so many customers want to use SQL Server tools to load Oracle databases. I see far more cases like that, where the picture is complex and symbiotic, than I do of outright competition.

In the analytic space, almost every tool out there has one feature in common – one feature which everyone uses. Export to Excel.

I genuinely love working with our partners, and I am lucky to have good friends throughout the industry: at SAP, Oracle, IBM, SAS … you name it. We all benefit from empowering businesses with better tools. As the old saying goes, “the rising tide lifts all boats.”

Q) In terms of Lines of Code, Microsoft may have given the maximum number of shared libraries and code away- yet sometimes comes from a perception problem because of vintage. Do you think all cool tech companies become not so cool after some years, even if they dont fundamentally change.

A) I think the idea of a company being “cool” is itself just a phase we’re going through as an industry as we’re growing up. As the tech industry matures, you’ll see more emphasis on value, and net contributution. In many ways, Microsoft, and IBM I think, are ahead of the curve, as companies which are valued for their stability, resources and our ability to continually provide compelling new solutions and services. I travel a lot, and I see classrooms in western China, and emerging businesses in Africa, and women starting to work in new careers in the Middle East, and I don’t see them prioritizing cool. But I do see them doing amazing things with Microsoft technology.

Q) Describe your blogging style and what best tips would you give to technology bloggers.

A) I don’t blog enough, sadly, although I do try.

I have two blogs. One, at is a shared “SQL Server Experts” blog. It’s very focussed on Microsoft technologies, of course. I especially like to blog about trends that I am seeing in my work with customers. My other blog, at is more personal, and includes gleanings from my other interests. I especially like doing my first blog of April there – that’s always fun.

My advice to bloggers should probably be “do what I say, not what I do.” However, most important I think, is to be authentic in your voice. My business intelligence bloggers are Jill Dyche, Evan Levy, David Loshin, William McKnight and Neil Raden – all of them blog quite regularly and are always great to read. There are others out there who are just as interesting, but don’t quite have the same rhythm to their blogging. I admire, but sadly fail to emulate, those who blog regularly and effectively.

Q) What do you do when not at work.

A) My wife is an artist, and she keeps me busy helping out with events and projects. We live on a wild couple of acres in Washington and caring for that is a lot of fun too. Otherwise, I mostly read, cook and play the piano. I love cooking, although I’m not sure how good I am – my son is now a professional chef, so perhaps I had some influence. I play the piano badly, but I can lose myself in that. I read very well. I love to read poetry – and I struggle to read Chinese poetry in the original. It’s such a fascinating language, and the poetry is so complex and yet so simple. That will be a lifetime study.


Donald Farmer is the Principal Program Manager, SQL Server Data Mining, at Microsoft Corp.

Google stuck on Gears

Google has launched support for Droid the mobile operating system but forgot to include support for their own browser- Chromium. Atleast if you can support Windows Explorer and Firefox for Gears, surely you can add support for Gears for Chromium.Maybe with an Ad or two 😉 .Since Al Gore invented the internet and he sits as a consultant for the California boys, maybe he can advise them as well on the anti trust investigations with Apple (cough).

Twitter Cloud and a note on Cloud Computing

That’s what I use twitter for. If you have a twitter account you can follow me here

A couple of weeks ago I accidentally deleted many followers using a Twitter App called Refollow- I was trying to clean up people I follow and checked the wrong tick box-

so please if you feel I unfollowed you- it was a mistake. Seriously.














On Cloud Computing- and Google- rumours ( 🙂 ) are emerging that Google’s push for cloud computing is to turn desktop computing to IBM like mainframe computing .  Except that there are too many players this time. Where is the Department of Justice and anti trust – does Amazon qualify for being too big in cloud computing currently.

Or the rumours could be spread by Microsoft/ Apple / Amazon competitors etc. Geeks are like that sometimes.

Interview Thomas C. Redman Author Data Driven

Here is an interview with Tom Redman, author of Data Driven. Among the first to recognize the need for high-quality data in the information age, Dr. Redman established the AT&T Bell Laboratories Data Quality Lab in 1987 and led it until 1995. He is the author of four books, two patents and leads his own consulting group. In many respects the “Data Doc’ as his nickname is- is also the father of Data Quality Evangelism.

tom redman

Ajay- Describe your career as a science student to an author of science and strategy books.
Redman: I took the usual biology, chemistry, and physics classes in college.  And I worked closely with oceanographers in graduate school.  More importantly, I learned directly from two masters.  First, was Dr. Basu, who was at Florida State when I was.  He thought more deeply and clearly about the nature of data and what we can learn from them than anyone I’ve met since.  And second is people in the Bell Labs’ community who were passionate about making communications better. What I learned there was you don’t always need “scientific proof” to mover forward.

Ajay- What kind of bailout do you think the Government can give to the importance of science education in this country.

Redman: I don’t think the government should bail science education per se. Science departments should compete for students just like the English and anthropology departments do.  At the same time, I do think the government should support some audacious goals, such as slowing global warming or energy independence.  These could well have the effect of increasing demand for scientists and science education.

Ajay- Describe your motivations for writing your book Data Driven-Profiting from your most important business asset.

Redman: Frankly I was frustrated.  I’ve spent the last twenty years on data quality and organizations that improve gain enormous benefit.  But so few do.  I set out to figure out why that was and what to do about it.

Ajay- What can various segments of readers learn from this book-
a college student, a manager, a CTO, a financial investor and a business intelligence vendor.

Redman: I narrowed my focus to the business leader and I want him or her to take away three points.  First, data should be managed as aggressively and professionally as your other assets.  Second, they are unlike other assets in some really important ways and you’ll have to learn how to manage them.  Third, improving quality is a great place to start.

Ajay- Garbage in Garbage out- How much money and time do you believe is given to data quality in data projects.

Redman:   By this I assume you mean data warehouse, BI, and other tech projects.  And the answer is “not near enough.”  And it shows in the low success rate of those projects.

Ajay-Consider a hypothetical scenario- Instead of creating and selling fancy algorithms , a business intelligence vendor uses simple Pareto principle to focus on data quality and design during data projects. How successful do you think that would be?

Redman: I can’t speak to the market, but I do know that if organizations are loaded with problems and opportunities.  They could make great progress on most important ones if could clearly state the problem and bring high-quality data and simple techniques to bear.  But there are a few that require high-powered algorithms.  Unfortunately those require high-quality data as well.

Ajay- How and when did you first earn the nickname “Data Doc”. Who gave it to you and would you rather be known by some other names.

Redman: One of my clients started calling me that about a dozen years ago.  But I felt uncomfortable and didn’t put it on my business card until about five years ago.  I’ve grown to really like it.

Ajay- The pioneering work at AT & T Bell laboratories and at Palo Alto laboratory- who do you think are the 21st century successors of these laboratories. Do you think lab work has become too commercialized even in respected laboratories like Microsoft Research and Google’s research in mathematics.

Redman: I don’t know.  It may be that the circumstances of the 20th century were conducive to such labs and they’ll never happen again.  You have to remember two things about Bell Labs.  First, was the cross-fertilization that stemmed from having leading-edge work in dozens of areas.  Second, the goal is not just invention, but innovation, the end-to-end process which starts with invention and ends with products in the market.  AT&T, Bell Labs’ parent, was quite good at turning invention to product.  These points lead me to think that the commercial aspect of laboratory work is so much the better.

Ajay-What does ” The Data Doc” do to relax and maintain a work life balance. How important do you think is work-life balance for creative people and researchers.

Redman: I think everyone needs a balance, not just creative people.  Two things have made this easier for me.  First, I like what I do.  A lot of days it is hard to distinguish “work” from “play.”  Second is my bride of thirty-three years, Nancy.  She doesn’t let me go overboard too often.


Dr. Thomas C. Redman is President of Navesink Consulting Group, based in Little Silver, NJ.  Known by many as “the Data Doc” (though “Tom” works too), Dr. Redman was the first to extend quality principles to data and information.  By advancing the body of knowledge, his innovations have raised the standard of data quality in today’s information-based economy.

Dr. Redman conceived the Data Quality Lab at AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1987 and led it until 1995.  There he and his team developed the first methods for improving data quality and applied them to important business problems, saving AT&T tens of millions of dollars. He started Navesink Consulting Group in 1996 to help other organizations improve their data, while simultaneously lowering operating costs, increasing revenues, and improving customer satisfaction and business relationships.

Since then – armed with proven, repeatable tools, techniques and practical advice – Dr. Redman has helped clients in fields ranging from telecommunications, financial services, and dot coms, to logistics, consumer goods, and government agencies. His work has helped organizations understand the importance of high-quality data, start their data quality programs, and also save millions of dollars per year.

Dr. Redman holds a Ph.D. in statistics from Florida State University.  He is an internationally renowned lecturer and the author of numerous papers, including “Data Quality for Competitive Advantage” (Sloan Management Review, Winter 1995) and “Data as a Resource: Properties, Implications, and Prescriptions” (Sloan Management Review, Fall 1998). He has written four books: Data Driven (Harvard Business School Press, 2008), Data Quality: The Field Guide (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2001), Data Quality for the Information Age (Artech, 1996) and Data Quality: Management and Technology (Bantam, 1992). He was also invited to contribute two chapters to Juran’s Quality Handbook, Fifth Edition (McGraw Hill, 1999). Dr. Redman holds two patents.

About Navesink Consulting Group ( )

Navesink Consulting Group was formed in 1996 and was the first company to focus on data quality.  Led by Dr. Thomas Redman, “the Data Doc” and former AT&T Bell Labs director, we have helped clients understand the importance of high-quality data, start their data quality programs, and save millions of dollars per year.

Our approach is not a cobbling together of ill-fitting ideas and assertions – it is based on rigorous scientific principles that have been field-tested in many industries, including financial services (see more under “Our clients”).  We offer no silver bullets; we don’t even offer shortcuts. Improving data quality is hard work.

But with a dedicated effort, you should expect order-of-magnitude improvements and, as a direct result, an enormous boost in your ability to manage risk, steer a course through the crisis, and get back on the growth curve.

Ultimately, Navesink Consulting brings tangible, sustainable improvement in your business performance as a result of superior quality data.

MS Smacks Google Docs with Slideshare

Our favorite drop outs from the Phd Program just learned that they should not moon the giant. The company founded in Paul Allen building at Stanford, also known as Gogol /Google announced they would create a Cloud OS with much fan fare. Only to find their own cloud prodocutivity offering Google Docs bested by Slideshare.

Now you can import your Gmail attachments Google docs into slideshare, for much better professional sharing within your office.

Here is an embedded SlideShare ppt called Google Hacks, note the much better visual appeal in this vis a vis your Google Docs.

Well as for the Stanford dropouts this is what happens when you dont complete your Phd education.


As per Cloud Computing and Office productivity goes,

Harvard Dropouts (Microsoft) 1- Stanford Dropouts ( Google) 0

Unless Google creates a cloud version of Open Office- but who needs that anyway?

who needs search- just ctrl F

Google Hacks

View more documents from rickdog.
Disclaimer- The author uses Google Docs extensively. If you are from Google. Please do not block his Gmail id , guys.
Academic Disclaimer-The author intends to complete his Phd. these are his personal views only.

Buying SAS Institute

At risk of annoying a lot of friendly people, I am going to ask an old question and try and answer it quantitatively.

Who can buy SAS institute?

Graph from-


As you can see from the graph (note the post 2001-2004 period) – which is a nice smoothed curve, textbook normal distribution on the left side, SAS Institute grew during the tough economic year of 2008 to show slowed but firm revenue growth. However if you use the same price/revenue multiple as for the SPSS acquisition ( 1.2 billion/ 300 million (2008) revenues) – that would put a price of 9.2 USD billion on SAS Institute.

Who has that kind of money? Well it seems the usual suspects are-

1) HP- from


Click to access HewlettPackard_2008_AR.pdf

Cash and cash equivalents on 12.851 Billion USD as on April 30, 2009.

2) Oracle- Oracle would be hard pressed to integrate both Sun and SAS in the same year, but may have financial leverage to do both.


Fiscal year 2009
GAAP revenues were up 4% to $23.3 billion, while annual GAAP net income was up 1% to $5.6
billion.  Total GAAP new software license revenues for the year were down 5% to $7.1 billion.
GAAP software license updates and product support revenues were up 14% to $11.8 billion.
GAAP operating income was up 6% to $8.3 billion, and GAAP operating margins were up 80
basis points to 36% in fiscal year 2009.

3) IBM -from

Cash on hand was 12.7 Billion USD as on 31 Dec 2008, and the company repurchased it’s own stock in 2008

In the current economic environment growth can come through acquisitions of newer clients ( not much) or new companies. IBM has capabilities to acquire BOTH SPSS and SAS Institute and merge the strong R and D facilities.

IBM 2008

4) SAP – from

various sources of loan capital:

profit after income taxes for 2008 was slightly lower than for the previous year, we increased cash flows from operating activities 12% to € 2,158 million (2007: € 1,932 million) through efficient management of working capital.

  • To finance the acquisition of Business Objects, we entered into an agreement for a credit facility that was originally for € 5 billion and is repayable by December 31, 2009 (amount outstanding on December 31, 2008: € 2.3 billion). We did not draw the full € 5 billion available under the facility because we paid part of the purchase price from available cash.
  • To increase financial flexibility, in November 2004 we obtained a € 1 billion syndicated credit facility through an international group of banks. We already had other lines of credit in place; the new line was arranged to provide additional financial flexibility. As in the previous year, we did not draw on this facility during the year.
  • At the end of 2008, the other, bilateral lines of credit available to SAP AG totaled approximately € 597 million (2007: € 599 million). We did not draw on these facilities during 2008 or 2007. Several subsidiaries in the SAP Group had credit lines in their local currency. These totaled € 52 million (2007: € 44 million), for which SAP AG was guarantor. At the end of the year, the subsidiaries had drawn € 21 million under these facilities (2007: € 27 million).

Given these cash positions it seems that almost everyone can buy SAS Institute if and this is a big IF- someone sells it. Microsoft which some years allegedly tried and lost at acquiring Yahoo ( only to realize huge savings!) and SAS, would be also another suitor for SAS- and Google also has the financial and operating synergies with the best text mining capabilities could also act as a white knight in merging it’s Google Applications and Enterprise solutions ( especially the cloud based OS and cloud based productivity suite) with SAS Institute. I personally would favor a Google- SAS Institute joint venture on enterprise software solely based on the common history and shared values ( Note Google has dual ownership stock including class A and class B shares)

Who is John Galt ?

Another option could be using the Google Way and for SAS Institute to go for dual ownership IPO, with class A shares for the common public and class B shares for the founders and executives. A substantial endowment to colleges and universities can also be expected in the future, given the philanthropic tradition of SAS Institute owners and executives. Also could SAS try and buy SPSS- it would lead to synergies in both software ( with the SPSS GUI) as well as new clients. At the very minimum it would boost the valuation of other stock in this sector as well make SPSS more realistic valued.

So who will buy SAS Institute?

I don’ know 🙂 and I am just brushing off my half a decade old financial valuation skills here

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