Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Microsoft and SAP - ERP First joint product is due out later this year 

SAP AG and Microsoft Corp. plan to deliver a jointly developed product later this year that links SAP's enterprise resource planning software and Microsoft's Office products, the companies announced today. The product, code-named Mendocino, is the first joint product from SAP and Microsoft and will be demonstrated at SAP's Sapphire customer event here this week.

"We're joining forces to bridge a gap with our first joint product, which we will develop, support and market together," said SAP CEO Henning Kagermann in a keynote speech at the start of Sapphire.

The joint product stems from an agreement that SAP and Microsoft struck last year to integrate their respective NetWeaver and .Net software platforms, Kagermann said. He didn't mention what other joint products the two companies plan.

Microsoft and SAP have been partners for many years and have even discussed a merger (see story). The joint product is one of the most significant results of that partnership since the merger talks broke off last year, and it could help SAP and Microsoft compete better against Oracle Corp. and IBM.

Desktop and enterprise applications are "almost seen as being disconnected," Jeff Raikes, group vice president of information worker business at Microsoft, told users at Sapphire. Much of the information stored in desktops does not find its way into enterprise applications because it has to be rekeyed, he said.

As a result, workers waste time looking for information. The aim of Mendocino is to provide the "right information at the right time" and to make tasks transparent and simple, Raikes said.

By linking SAP's software with Office, users will get a familiar user interface to ERP applications that are often more complex. "We think this is another opportunity to expose our products to a broader range of users inside a corporation. There are a lot of users who don't use SAP functionality today," said Bill Wohl, an SAP spokesman.

Mendocino will connect Office 2003 and the current version of MySAP ERP. Users in a consulting firm, for example, will be able to instantly book time against a specific client in the SAP time tracking system when they schedule an appointment in Microsoft's Outlook, Wohl said.

The joint product will integrate SAP's time management, budget monitoring, organizational management, and travel and expense management directly into Office, the companies said in a statement. With the new product, information workers will be able to use extended application menus and select process options and information in the SAP smart panel, synchronize information between Microsoft Exchange Server and SAP, retrieve SAP information in Microsoft Excel, and submit data via Microsoft Office InfoPath forms, they said.

Mendocino and some underlying SAP technology it is being built on will be sold by both SAP and Microsoft. The product will be "easy to configure and easy to put in place," according to Wohl. Pricing has yet to be determined.

Mendocino is the name of a town in California located midway between SAP's office in Palo Alto, Calif., and Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Wash., Wohl said.

At Sapphire, SAP also announced a deal with Macromedia Inc., which, like the Microsoft partnership, aims at enhancing end-user interfaces.

Under the deal, SAP will combine its NetWeaver integration platform and NetWeaver Visual Composer with Macromedia's Flex presentation system, allowing developers to visually design application logic and process flows to make Internet applications easier to use.

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Sunday, April 24, 2005


FIA Formula One San Marino Grand Prix 2005

Ferrari F2005 - optical engine inspection

Ferrari, with technical partners Olympus, have developed a system to inspect inside the 055 engine without stripping it down. The spark plug cover is removed (B) and an optical probe (A) inserted with a miniaturised camera. This sends images to a screen with resolution 1.5 times that of a plasma or LCD unit, providing highly-detailed pictures of the V10's inner workings. This tool is especially useful this year, now that engines must last two race weekends.

FIA - rear wing flexibility test

After complaints about illegal use of flexible rear wings in the first rounds of the season the FIA has brought in more stringent testing in time for the San Marino race. With a 50 kilo traction (horizontal) load applied at three different points of the wing, an identical vertical load is now also applied at the same points to check whether the wing would flex up and down at speed - a tough test given the thinness of the wing at this point.

Minardi PS05 - double-plane winglets

Imola sees the debut of Minardi's new car, totally different in concept to its PS04 predecessor. The lower sections of its sidepods are very narrow, as is the car's rear end, making it resemble the 2005 McLaren and Renault. The aerodynamics behind the project look strong and include these double plane winglets, completely new to Formula One.

McLaren MP4-20 - brakes

Imola is tough on brakes, so power and cooling is paramount, leading many teams to adopt McLaren's solution of radial, square-section channels to improve bite. These increase friction between disc and pad, improving stopping power in the first part of the braking procedure. This initial power is crucial, because as the car slows further, decreasing downforce cuts braking efficiency.

Renault R25 - front wing

An interesting change for Imola. Two large horizontal flaps have been placed over the main wing profiles, with the inner edge connected by a thin pillar and the outer edge joined to revised endplates. This provides a huge amount of additional downforce, but adds surprisingly little drag - important at this circuit, with its high speeds and heavy braking zones.

Ferrari F2005 - modified rear wing endplates

For Imola these sport a square cut on their top rearmost edge, so as to reduce drag at high speeds. The design resembles closely that on the Renault R25, even though the concept is completely different, with the Renault one believed to rely more on clever use of the wing material's elasticity.

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Dot Pi Dot Mai 

Salman (bukan nama betul) pulang dari kerja satu petang dan terdengar suara isterinya dalam bilik mengerang. Dia berlari naik ke bilik dan melihat isterinya terlantar di katil berpeluh tanpa pakaian.

"Kenapa ni sayang?" tanya Salman. "I diserang sakit jantung", jawab isterinya. Salman berlari ke bawah untuk menelefon doktor tapi belum sempat dia call, anaknya yang berumur 5 tahun berlari datang dan berkata,"Papa, acik Lan ada bawah katil ayah tak pakai suar."

Salman mula naik angin dan naik semula ke biliknya. Memang betul Mazlan (bukan nama sebenar) jiran mereka ada di bawah katil tanpa pakaian. Salman menarik Mazlan keluar dan berkata,"Lahanat kau Lan, isteri aku kena sakit jantung. Kau pulak cuba menakutkan anak aku ye?"

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Sunday, April 03, 2005


FIA Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix 2005

Renault R25 - front barge boards

A very complex design for Bahrain. Three elements are kept together by two horizontal edges and are separated from eachother by vertical gills that split the airflow into three portions, all directed outwards to reduce the turbulence generated by the front wheels and to increase the airflow, and hence downforce, underneath the car. The result is a very aerodynamically stable Renault R25.

Ferrari F2005 - additional wing

For Bahrain, Ferrari have added a small wing on top of the rear light support, similar to the solution introduced by Williams in Australia. It provides some highly effective additional downforce over the rear axle, improving the traction of the car. Sauber too have adopted a similar design here, now that it has passed the mandatory FIA crash tests.

Ferrari F2005 - cooling chimneys

Another obvious change on the F2005 for Bahrain is the chimneys on top of the sidepods. These have replaced the tiny vertical fins seen on the launch car. Of course, the main function of these is to improve the car's cooling capabilities in the desert heat, but they also have an aerodynamic function, diverting airflow and acting in conjunction with the small winglets that have been added behind them, in a similar fashion to on the old (F2004 M) car.

Ferrari F2005 - barge boards

Some changes to the new Ferrari for Bahrain from the launch version. At the bottom of the barge boards a horizontal fin added (1), similar to that on the Renault R25, creating a sort of splitter for the outermost portion of the airflow, part of which it directs under the floor of the car to maximise the downforce generated. The saw-tooth profile on the bottom of the barge boards has been retained.

Sauber C24 - engine air filter

The sand didn't prove as big a problem as expected at last year's inaugural Bahrain race, but the teams are still taking some additional filtering measures. A thicker air filter than normal features more layers and more lies to each layer, reducing its permeability and protect the precious V10 from even the tiniest grains, which can be just a few microns wide.

Williams FW27 - front wing modifications

The evolution of the FW27's front wing continues in Bahrain with the small winglets inside the endplates reduced in section (previously they curved upwards on their inside edge). This small change is hugely important to the front-end balance of the car and hence to improved tyre wear and cornering. The reduced winglet width reflects the higher top speed at this track, where it is not necessary to increase the downforce level under braking.

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