Alpha Software is focused on enabling developers to create robust, data-driven business applications that run on any PC, Tablet or Smartphone in the fastest, most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

All puns intended

A friend forwarded me this witty little e-mail recently, and I thought it would be great to share a chuckle with you before everyone's long weekend.

1. Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was excellent.

2. A set of jump leads walk into a bar. The bartender says, "I'll serve you, but don't start anything."

3. Two peanuts walk into a bar, and one was a salted.

4. A dyslexic man walks into a bra.

5. A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm, and says, "A beer please, and one for the road."

6. Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other, "Does this taste funny to you?"

7. "Doc, I can't stop singing 'The Green, Green Grass of Home.'"

"That sounds like Tom Jones Syndrome."

"Is it common?"

"Well, It's Not Unusual."

8. Two cows are standing next to each other in a field. Daisy says to Dolly, "I was artificially inseminated this morning."

"I don't believe you," says Dolly.

"It's true; no bull!" exclaims Daisy.

9. An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.

10. Deja Moo: The feeling that you've heard this bull before.

11. I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day, but I couldn't find any.

12. A man woke up in a hospital after a serious accident. He shouted, "Doctor, doctor, I can't feel my legs!"

The doctor replied, "I know you can't -- I've cut off your arms!"

13. I went to a seafood disco last week ... and pulled a mussel.

14. What do you call a fish with no eyes?

A fsh.

15. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says, "Dam!"

16. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were a bit cold, so they lit a fire in the craft. It sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

17. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel, and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office, and asked them to disperse.

"But why," they asked, as they moved off.

"Because," he said, "I can't stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer."

18. A woman has twins, and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt, and is named "Ahmal." The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him "Juan."

Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."

19. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail, and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath.

This made him (Oh, man, this is so bad, it's good) ... a super-calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

20. And finally, there was the person who sent twenty different puns to his friends, with the hope that at least ten of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cloud computing in Top Tech News

Back in September, Jeff Kalwerisky took the time to talk to Top Tech News's Barbara Brynko about cloud computing and its associated risks. Brynko's story hit the Web yesterday, and in it you'll find some good security advice about computing in the cloud from our chief security evangelist.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Build great-looking reports with Alpha Five

Reports are a fundamental aspect of many applications. I've recently seen an increasing number of requests from Alpha customers for a little guidance in creating reporting and distributing via the Web. While Alpha Five is an easy tool to use, sometimes beginners gets stuck trying to figure out how to use all the features to create exactly the application they want.

Dave McCormick put this Alpha Five report writer video tutorial together not too long ago, and I thought it would be worth sharing with you. Over the course of 45 minutes, Dave shows you how to build great-looking reports with Alpha Five.

Customer testimonials: Mexico Mike

Every day I get phone calls and e-mails from customers raving about Alpha Five. For me, there's nothing better. And as our PR reps will tell you, I'm often quick to offer these e-mails up for the blog.

To avoid coming off as "marketing-y," we've kept most of these letters to ourselves. I think, however, that many of these e-mails could be valuable tools for our potential customers who are weighing Alpha Five as an option for their database needs.

So beginning today, I'm going to choose a customer testimonial to be featured on the blog every week or so. We want to be completely transparent at Alpha, and this is a great way to show you what other developers are saying about Alpha Five, verbatim.

Without further ado, here's an e-mail from "Mexico" Mike Nelson, creator of the everything-you-need-to-know-about-Mexico site, Mexico Mike:

I am one of the most cautious purchasers you can imagine. I investigate, research and sleep on it before spending a dime. I looked at Alpha Five a long time, downloaded the trail and also kept researching before making my decision to buy. What clinched the deal for me was the customer service before the sale. Although I got a lot of help from the bulletin board, there were still a few questions I had. The Alpha team was willing to talk to me, offer me solutions and help me to make a decision without pressuring me, like so many software companies do. I had been a Filemaker fan for desktop use for years, but they would not spend the time to help me install their trail, so I abandoned even considering them. There is nothing that compares to Alpha Five in terms of features, extensive abilities and ease of use. But, in the long run, customer service and an active bulletin board are the two items that swayed me to purchase. Of course the reasonable price for what you get didn't hurt either. - Mike Nelson.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Break out of database lock-in: a comment for ZDNet

The folks at ZDNet did a short write-up of Ingres' new version of its open-source, enterprise-class database. In her post, Dana Blankenhorn raises the question that we've been answering at Alpha Software for more than 20 years: Can database lock-in be broken?


I've brought up our white paper on the risks of application development a number of times recently, because I continue to see developers struggle after either being locked in or abandoned by their application development platform.

Of course, I commented on the article, and you can read it here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Like money?

To reiterate the point I made yesterday about today's economic conditions being the perfect environment for new entrepreneurs, scoot your eyes over to this story about Steve Demeter, the developer who just struck it rich with a new iPhone game that he developed in his spare time.

With a little help, you can "Trism" your way to your big break too!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Are you a wannabe entrepreneur?

There's been a lot of talk recently about today's shabby economy being the perfect environment to start a business, and even I've been chiming in. It sounds crazy, but if you've ever dreamed of becoming on entrepreneur, there's no better time than now.

Amidst all the chatter, I came across this article from USA TODAY by Steve Strauss. It's an old article, but the message remains the same.

As Strauss points out, unemployed and under-employed individuals have a tendency to become more entrepreneurial during recessionary times (along with lower costs for goods and services). And new businesses that begin during a recession create the jobs to help move the economy back on track.

Even more appealing in today's times is the power of the Internet. The Web is changing the game. It enables people to take their ideas and start new businesses more easily than ever before.


  • It offers powerful, versatile, and low-cost ways to connect people, companies, customers, prospects, and suppliers to one another in real time.
  • It allows for secure transactions to take place between the above groups.
  • You can sell products and services at low cost, without being limited by geography 24x7.
  • You can broadcast video (the most powerful medium to promote your service) without a TV studio or government licenses to any PC or video-equipped mobile phone. (Today there are 3.5 billion phones, and soon most will be able to display video.)
  • You can target and reach very specific audiences through search engine optimization, blogging, and other techniques at very low cost
Is that drool coming from your mouth? Then what are you waiting for? Get out there!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Picking up where Tim Bray left off

Tim Anderson wrote a post for the ITJOBBLOG (say it five times fast) about Sun's Tim Bray's presentation at last week's Future of Web Apps (FOWA) conference in London. Bray's talk focused on surviving the tech downturn, a topic that I've seen popping up in discussions and IT blogs rather frequently recently, to no surprise.

Bray had some great advice in his recipe for survival, but there were some realities he might not have considered. Of course, I had to weigh in with my opinion in Anderson's comments section. And, of course, I'm sharing them with you here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How to discover the faces behind your clicks

In October, Janet Park and I gave a presentation at the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit in Washington, D.C. We titled our talk, How to Discover the Faces Behind your Clicks, and spoke about how your business's success isn't necessarily based on how many people are visiting your site, but rather who. We also demonstrated some pretty cool ways to find out exactly who is doing the clicking.

Conference attendees had a real interest in our topic, so I thought it would be worthwhile to share our presentation with you here on the blog. Take a look at the Power Point, and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Alpha Five meets AJAX 2009

There's an interesting article from Martin Heller in the current issue of AJAX World Magazine, where Martin takes a look at the big trends of AJAX. We were fortunate enough that he covered us. Thanks, Martin!

Guess who's coming to dinner

This Thursday evening, I'll be giving a presentation for the Independent Computer Consultant Association (ICCA), entitled Advantages of Building Desktop and Web-Based Business Applications using Alpha Five. If anyone is in the San Francisco Bay Area, come on down.

I'll be demonstrating some live examples for about half of the presentation. The other half will be spent showing Alpha Five developer features, and presenting slides about why my business customers chose Alpha (and then hired a consultant).

The event is open to all ICCA members, as well as non-members. And it's a dinner meeting, so come hungry. If not for what I've got to say, then at least for the food.

Date: Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008
Time: 6 p.m. registration, light supper, and networking; 7 p.m. chapter business and news; 7:30 p.m. presentation
Location: Cafe de la Paz
1600 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, Calif. 94709
Phone: 510-843-0662
Cost: $25 members with reservations by Monday
$35 members who do not pre-register, and all others
If you have any questions, feel free to contact the ICCA.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Microsoft's decision grid of death

Coincidentally, after writing my post on Monday about developers' risks of being locked in or abandoned by their development platform -- something that we've seen time and again -- I came across this post on one of Microsoft's Visual Basic blogs.

It seems Microsoft believes this decision grid, rewrite vs. migrate vs. reuse vs. replace, is a normal part of application development. Well, guess what? It's not. Rather, it's a statement of their failure to support their developers and their customers. At Alpha, our developers never have to consider a grid like that.

As I've said so many times before, developers often choose platforms such as Microsoft's because they feel it's the safest bet. But over the past few years, Microsoft's Visual Basic and Visual FoxPro developers (among others) had to throw out 100 percent of their code, and rewrite their apps from scratch, in order to take advantage of a newer platform.

For those who didn't see our white paper on application development risks on Monday, I'm putting it out here again today, because I think it's such an important topic. Unless, of course, writing the same code you already wrote again from scratch is something you like to do. We're not judging.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Alpha Software ahora en Espanol!

We're slicing the limes and passing the tequila here at Alpha Software today in honor of our newest Mexican partner, Serco Commercial. Just kidding, I'm just sitting alone in my office wearing a Sombrero eating a taco. Kidding again, I'm just alone in my office. But I am really excited!

Headquartered in Monterrey, Mexico, with branches throughout the country, Serco has been in the software biz for more than 15 years. They specialize in designing, programming, and implementing desktop and Web-based software solutions tailored to their customers' needs.

We recently sat down with Luis Rodriguez, software engineer and president of Serco Commercial, to talk about our promising new partnership. Please welcome Luis and his team to the Alpha community, and enjoy this introduction we put together.

Y ahora, una version en espanol. You like that? I've been practicing.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Alpha Software: Because writing code from scratch once is enough

Last week we demoed the as-yet-pre-beta Alpha Five Version 10 for Tech Republic's Justin James. Justin seemed to like what he saw. But he also brought up a constant concern he hears from developers, which is what we call the "anyone but Microsoft" problem.

What this means is developers are comfortable committing to platforms such as Microsoft's, Sun's, or Oracle's, etc., because they believe -- in our view, incorrectly -- that these are a safe bet, because they are provided by the big guys. And that means, in developers' minds, that they will not be making a commitment to a platform that will lock them in or abandon them.

Add to that the fact that Alpha can be viewed by developers as a "proprietary" platform, because it's an all-in-one solution that you build, debug, and deploy in. (Forget the fact, for a moment, that all commercial platforms can be deemed proprietary.)

Fortunately, we have what we think is a rational answer to this conundrum, which we shared with Justin. It starts with this argument: We've been around for over two decades, and our developers have never been in a situation where they couldn't upgrade from one version to the next, or had to write their code from scratch because we made their version obsolete.

Compare that to Microsoft, for example, which over the past few years forced its Visual Basic and Visual FoxPro developers to throw out 100 percent of their code, and rewrite their apps from scratch, in order to take advantage of a newer platform.

Microsoft isn't the first dev tools company that's done this. It won't be the last. It happens again and again in our industry. In fact, we wrote a white paper on the topic to counter the flawed notion that you don't get fired for buying Microsoft (or some other big player's appdev platform).

The demo with Justin reminded me that it's probably a good time to bring the white paper to the forefront again. I encourage anyone who's concerned about Alpha being a proprietary platform to take a few minutes and review it.

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