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Si Chen

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Top Stories by Si Chen

Has online shopping become boring? Every website shows you grids of categories and products, with cross-sells and up-sells. Scroll down and you might see a few reviews. Somewhere are the same add coupons, sign up for our emails, and free shipping offers you’ve probably seen a hundred times already. The sad truth is that there has been very little innovation in e-commerce. Online retailers seem content being electronic catalogs of products, competing with each other on pricing and fulfillment. (Save an additional 5% and get free next day shipping!) In other words, we’re all stuck imitating Amazon.com. Does it have to be like this? May be not: there are actually other reasons why retailers exist in the first place. Imagine you just invented The Cool Gadget ™. Here are some good reasons for signing up resellers: 1. Distribution. Retailers get your product to the end c... (more)

Android vs iPhone: A User-Happiness War

A recent GigaOM post about iPhone’s momentum vs Android was interesting, because it suggests that the Laws of Software may have been overturned. Since the early days of the PC, the software industry has operated according to a pattern described in Michael Cusumano’s classic The Business of Software: The successful software companies are the ones which gathered the largest number of users.  The best practitioners were Microsoft and, later, Google.  Both followed similar strategies: lower costs, add distribution partners, add users, and branch into related products. Apple was the o... (more)

Mail Merge in Google Apps, Javascript, and Open Source

I followed this tutorial on how to do mail merge in Google Apps, and it taught me a lot about Javascript and the future for open source applications. Doing mail merge in Google Apps was a lot of fun!  With a little copy and paste and about 15 minutes, I had was sending emails attached with customized letters as PDF’s.  Could programming always be this easy? I think so: Javascript is easy, fast, and flexible.  It’s great for implementing single-task automations.  It’s great for copy-paste-customize development.  If we can provide Javascript developers with a domain-friendly API th... (more)

Beware of the Noise in our Age of Big Data

Think that Big Data will solve the world’s problems?  Read The Signal and The Noise first.  This interesting books talks in detail about forecasting, including the good (baseball and weather), the bad (econonmics, politics, and earthquakes), and the very difficult (long-term climate change, terrorism.)  In the end there is a warning to all of us: with the explosion of data has come an explosion of noise, of spurious correlations which are not grounded in sound theories.  Think twice before you believe something because of “The Data.” ... (more)

Opening Up Enterprise Software: Key Trends and Opportunities for Open Source Applications

In this presentation, Si Chen will discuss the key trends in the enterprise software sector, including vendor consolidation, on-demand delivery, and the transition to a Service Oriented Architecture, and how they are creating opportunities for open source applications.  He will then showcase opentaps, the Open Source Enterprise Applications Suite (www.opentaps.org).  opentaps is a Java open source application suite with ERP, CRM, Manufacturing, eCommerce, and Supply Chain Management features which is built around SOA and can be deployed on any database or platform.  The presentat... (more)