Advancing the nexus of viticulture and technology.

Disaster Recovery Plan?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Microsoft’s “Small Business Security Checklist” recommends various strategies to deal with the constant onslaught of viruses, the ever-present possibility of hardware failure (a hard-drive becoming damaged, for instance), and the permanent risk of hacker intrusion. In addition to a strong firewall and anti-malware software, all the files on your computer should have at least a weekly backup to a safe medium. But is this a realistic recommendation?

Honestly, when was the last time you backed up all the data on your computer or updated the virus definitions? If a thief were to break into your home or office and take everything, could you comfortably restore all your data? Would the “system restore” reflect your most recent advances? How much time would you have to dedicate to this activity to be back up and running? Most of us operate on the “auto pilot” provided by our system or trust that our IT department is on top of things – sometimes this works well, other times, it just doesn’t.

It is exactly these kinds of issues that occupy a lot of our time. Because some of world’s most distinguished winegrape growers trust us with their data, we’ve hosted the application and database with Hostway in Chicago, where our data is written simultaneously on redundant drives (if one stops working, the other kicks in seamlessly). We have the latest in virus detection and control; a state-of-the-art firewall, and work meticulously at username and password integrity. We do daily backups in Chicago and weekly/monthly back ups to multiple mediums (hard drives that are off line, DVDs, CD-ROMs) in multiple offsite locations.

Our users don’t have to worry about the latest virus or about a recent breakout of hacker activity; they don’t have to worry about natural or man-made disasters; they don’t have to install and maintain software on their computers to use our application all they need, as is the case with most on-demand software (aka webware), is an Internet browser like Internet Explorer, Safari or Firefox. Of course, they are still vulnerable to loosing or misplacing their username/password and responsible for protecting their machines from attack, but even if someone took over their computer, their data would still be safely ensconced in one of our multiple backups. Can you say that of your information?

Our users don’t even have to worry about updating their version of PremiereVision with the latest functionality or bug fixes – we do it for them on a continuous basis – this frees up their IT support staff to help them with real issues. Our philosophy is to liberate our users from technology so they can focus on growing great winegrapes, supported by the right information at the right time.

As an aside (it’s just begging to be said), reflecting the trust that has been deposited in us, we NEVER do anything with the data unless we receive a specific request to do so from the owners of said data. No exceptions.


RAM Upgrade

Thursday, March 29, 2007

El día de hoy aumentamos nuestra memoria RAM. El incremento a 4GB de RAM nos permite ofrecer servicios adicionales sin la preocupación de límites de memoria. Adicionalmente, nuestro equipo es veloz gracias a sus ocho procesadores.

Esta es una gran ventaja de utilizar un proveedor como Hostway. Nosotros evaluamos el performance de nuestros sistemas cuidadosamente, y cuando queremos mejorar la capacidad podemos hacerlo en cuestión de minutos... y económicamente.

En pocas palabras, si pensamos en los hamsters que corren en los sistemas, muchas empresas tratan de engordarlos y pedirles que corran rápidamente. Nuestra empresa utiliza conejos ágiles que se multiplican cuando lo necesitamos...



Cool People & Tools

I was pretty geeked when Steve Matthiasson, one of our “subject matter experts” in viticulture (he hates it when I call him a SME) graced our blog with a neat entry. One of Steve’s counterparts on the technology side is Alex Torres, a Java webware guru that has been doing magic for us since April of last year.

Naturally, I’ve been bugging him to blog about technology. He agreed… …on the condition that he’d write in Spanish, as this was most efficient.

So, with all the pomp and circumstance a blog is capable of, we are thrilled to announce Alex’ first blog… and the Google Translate utility we’re going to use for some posts…

Any risk of getting lost in translation? As long as Alex speaks in layman’s terms, the translation is pretty good.


SaaS => Webware

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Paul McNamara, from Coghead, raises an important point about the need to use new (accurate?) terminology to describe our exciting, web-native era. Put simply, the use of the term "software as a service" (SaaS) emphasizes the technology element (software) we want our clients to worry less about.

Does this really matter? Yes! We should not think of our amazing web capability in terms associated with stodgy technology. In Paul's words...

"When technology changes the patterns of consumption in a fundamental way, then something very important is happening. A new era is dawning and new terminology is needed. Words matter.

People are able to do things with web-based applications and information services that they simply can’t do with software that’s installed on a local machine or running in a client-server environment. And because of this, web-based applications will reach market segments that have been beyond the reach of software apps."

His analogy to the paradigm shift of phonograph records to radio is right on. Although radio enabled us to hear phonograph records over the air, to describe it as "Phonograph as a Service" (PaaS?) undermines the fundamental shift in content consumption brought on by the radio era.

So what do we call the "paradigm formerly known as software as a service"? WEBWARE (a term coined by Rafe Needleman at cnet).

Long live webware!


Web 2.0 | Use & Learn

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I continue to field the ocassional question about "this web 2.0 thing" --so I thought I'd share a silly suggestion: watch a teenager use the internet. Yeah, I know you're busy... but take the time to discover how things have changed since you were a teenager (or twentysomething).

Ready for more discovery? Sign up for a youtube account...

Feeling daring? Sign up for myspace.

Whatever you do, do not keep your head in the sand for too long. Most of us will have to work with the new generation of internet users. More importantly, think of what our children will be exposed to... my kids (three children under five years) are already avid joost-watchers...


Visit Sicily via Russia

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I enjoy coming across real examples that the World is Flat… like this great website,, which promotes the Trapani wine region on Sicily's western coast. The valley's 2,460 square kilometres contain approximately 166,000 acres of vineyards and over one hundred wineries. The website does a wonderful job of guiding you through the wineries within the regions of Marsala, Erice, Alcamo, Pantelleria, and Salaparuta.

The fact that one of the curators of your virtual tour is located in Moscow is quite remarkable. Alberto Maiorana, Co-Founder and Managing Director of, recently moved to Russia.

That might explain the impressive photographs; it gives Alberto a piece of "home" whenever he needs it.


mini Y2K

Monday, March 12, 2007

Remember the fear that computers would interpret the year 2000 as 1900?

I am happy to report that yesterday's switch to Daylight savings has gone smoothly (aside from our family's mad-dash to get the kids to school on time), and we survived what has been dubbed, "mini Y2K."

In 2005, Congress thought more early evening daylight would result in energy savings, and decided to mandate Daylight savings for the first Sunday in April -not the second Sunday in March. In some cases, some software and computer systems do not accomodate the change, and you may see manifestations of it this week (it is a good idea to confirm your appointments).

Luckily, our "software on-demand" world allowed us to verify our systems last week, and you will see everything working fine with PremiereVision. Now if only I could adjust my kids' internal clocks that easily...


Innovation process

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I was recently reading up on project management and came across this interesting post by Dave Garrett in which he argues that innovation should follow Whirlpool's example, using the innovation pyramid that Harvard Business School Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter talks about in this interview. For us at Grow Smarter, the base of the pyramid (Product Replacement) happens almost daily, as we improve functionality to PremiereVision. The second tier (Marketable Innovation) requires a bit more effort as we add features following our users' suggestions. The third and fourth tier (New Products and New Business) is something we're also actively involved in - our recent development of a Grape Exchange for the Napa Valley Grapegrowers falls into this category as does some work we're doing with friends from California and Australia. Based on some of the kinds of insight that Dave Garrett highlights, we're rearranging our activities to follow a more top-down approach (as projected in the innovation pyramid, of course). Our New Business vision will help us assign resources to New Products development and Marketable Innovations, which, in turn, will help us better focus our efforts in the Product Replacement. I can hardly wait to have this conversation with our Zen viticulturist...


March Newsletter

Friday, March 02, 2007

With budbreak upon us soon, we thought of a few suggestions for you.

See our March 2007 Newsletter.


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