Prototyping applications with Airtable

Gotta say: using spreadsheet as poor-man’s database makes me feel poor every time. Google Sheets is so convenient that everybody starts a new sheet to hold some information in a table. The problem is, sheets are so convenient that some sheets keep on starting again, and again. Soon the company has 20 sheets holding bad information. It’s the tragedy of the corporate wikis all over again.

Instead I’m one of the few who used to love Microsoft Access: I know, it’s bad as a database but to rapidly prototyping small applications it was awesome. As a poor-mans database, Access was at least credit-worthy compared to spreadsheets.

Unfortunately Google doesn’t have something similar to MS Access so when I discovered Airtable, I got really happy. I’ve prototyped a small application to keep track of conferences and call for papers. Finally I don’t have to keep entering the same data every year in a new sheet and I can keep tables in fairly normalized form. Nice stuff. I wish Google Apps buys it … and the cynical in me says: “so we can have dozens of similar databases instead of hundreds of similar spreadsheets (the same tragedy, at a smaller scale).”

How is your OpenStack team organized?

I’ve been collecting a lot of good insights talking to directors and managers about how their companies are organized to contribute to OpenStack. For geographic reasons I have mostly gathered comments from people between San Francisco and Silicon Valley and I’d like to expand the research.

I’m especially interested in learning about internal processes, system of incentives, things that impact performance evaluation for engineers contributing to OpenStack.

To expand the research I’m asking the OpenStack community to fill in this brief survey or contact me directly (stefano openstack.org) for a quick interview.

Another standards war starring Microsoft

Microsoft and Mozilla have engaged a fight over the future of’  JavaScript (better called ECMAScript): Microsoft prefers to abandon it and start anew with another language based on its .NET script, while Mozilla prefers to evolve JS to a new version, ECMAScript4.

Leaving the technical details aside, I think once again that Microsoft needs to develop a different culture in the organization.’  Chris Wilson could even be technically right, but the perception out there is that Microsoft is a big evil company that wants to control the web with its own proprietary formats.’  History and experience of many developers provides plenty of evidence, so any suggestion from Microsoft is not judged easily on its merits but on (mostly bad) feelings it provokes.

Please smart guys@Microsoft, do something to develop a culture of collaboration between peers and eradicate this MS centric view.

BetaNews | Microsoft, Mozilla Disagree Over JavaScript’s Future