How the public sector can profit from the blockchain via Java and IBM Bluemix

Wonderful colleagues and I wrote a brand new article for the current JavaSPEKTRUM 03/2017: “Kontrolle ist gut, Vertrauen ist besser – So könnte der öffentliche Sektor von Blockchain profitieren” (article extract link).

First, we look at possible use cases for Blockchain in the public sector and walk through them. Then we will tell how to decide wheter a use case is suitable or not. In the end we will describe how to implement it using Java and IBM Bluemix – of course with code snippets.

If you have questions or want to discuss about it – send me a message via email or Twitter.

Make elections sexy again: How the blockchain can digitalize our elections

For my company – Capgemini – I wrote a guest article for the IT-Trends Blog. It is about how we can use the blockchain technology to improve our elections. To digitalize them, make them more transparent and securer and: sexy.

Read it and tell me what you think. I will gladly discuss it with you: Capgemini IT-Trends Blog Artikle “Blockchain: Die Wundertechnologie für Wahlen?”

Reference Architecture Aviation in cooperation with Lufthansa

Over the past months wonderful colleagues and I were working on a reference architecture for the aviation sector. We did this in cooperation with Lufthansa working after TOGAF.

Almost before handing it over to The Open Group we released a article in the current NEWSolutions magazine about our work. There we described how we created this reference architecture and gave examples from the work output.

NEWSolutions Cover 2016 Nr 6

This will helps the aviation sector to standardize products with vendors and interested people or students to study how an architecture in the aviation sector looks like. Check it out.

The correct usage of Blockchain to avoid any hype usage

Blockchain is a hype technology nowadays. The financial sector is shaking and fearing the last years of their existance and what comes with every hype technology is hype use cases which were created by companies in order to sell it to customers who do not understand the technology but somehow want to be “up-to-date”.

To get a better knowledge about Blockchain you have to dive deep into it to truly understand it. It is not an easy technology to get within seconds. My thoughts: Most of the videos and articles google gives you can not describe what Blockchain is.

Simplifying it: Blockchain is a sort of a database. It can store data in a special “Blockchain-way”. And this is where it gets tricky: Just to store data, it is easier to store data in a SQL database, NoSQL database or other. They are faster and get stuff easier done.

A good use case for Blockchain is one where data needs to get verified by peers. So the only reason to use Blockchain to save data is to gain trust.

Three use cases:

Use case one is a bank. By transfering x money from one bank account to another, the bank takes care that one side has x money less and the other side has x money more. And they might be charging you for it or it takes some time (maybe a day or two or even more). Technology can leverage this by minimizing costs and doing it almost just in time. A bank here is some sort of a trust center. Both parties trust their bank to do this in the right way. To eliminate the third party – everybody needs to trust the technology.

Use case two is an election. Ultimatively the counting of votes are done by the government. But who takes care that they do it right? Who can observe it? With technology the counting can be automated and investigated by everyone afterwards. Trust again is the major driver.

Use case three is notary. Buying a house in Germany needs a notary to verify it. Technology can verify it too and everyone can check who owns this house or property. This speeds processes up and minimizes costs.

All of this is done with the decentralization of datasets which are connected. Not one person, organization or similar holds the data sovereignty, but as many people can save this data when they just want to do it. If someone manipulates a dataset in one blockchain on their local environment, all the other peers have an unmanipulated version of it and can therefore prove what is wrong and what is right.

Just to store data in a modern way, Blockchain is not a solution. There are way better options which are simpler and faster.

Blockchain is for gaining trust where normally a third party will guarantee trust. This third party trust costs and the process is slower and more complicated. Blockchain is not just for saving data.

Social media is challenged by traditional media responsibilities

The case of Trump winning the US election is surprising. No polling institute could have predicted this result. There are many articles with attemps to explain how this could happen. And the felt truth is that if you search long enough you will find every reason, from it was Hillarys fault, over Trump using “the art of war” principles (not kidding), up to a systematic failure of social media.

Nowadays, social media is playing a major role. This was the case in the last two Obama elections, it was the case in this election and it will be more and more in the future. What is new, is the discussion about how a failure in the system of social media could lead to a “wrong” outcome. More specifically: How can fake news influence voters in thinking wrong statements are fact and therefore voting for a wrong candidate they never wanted to vote for.

I think about this almost everytime I am using Spotify. Based on what it thinks I like, it will recommend me and show me music I should like. I hate it. I want to discover new music and just hear random songs which I do not know and find out if I like it. Maybe I like Schranz but I would never discover it if Spotify just shows me what it thinks I like based on what I hear? (Spoiler: I do not like it)

Without actively countersteering against these algorithms, it will be a neverending circle downwards in what the algorithm thinks you like, but you do only to a certain degree. And you get tired countersteering against it. After a while you just let it happen, because the algorithm never gets tired. And this is how “news” showing up works on Facebook.

It is easy to let Facebook influence you in only one direction. And you pull friends into it, too. Additionally it is very easy to just isolate yourself against other opinions. In the past this was not even possible. Reading news without seeing other headlines is almost impossible. Also talking and discussing about events and opinions is mostly enrichened by a even just a few other opinions. To block those opinions was not that easy. It is now. Just a few clicks ahead.

An opinion should not only base on one opinion or one side of the medal. But actually on hearing every side, thinking about what is right for yourself and then decide what your opinion really is. With social media this is not the case. What it lacks is an editor service like traditional newspapers have. Give readers a distinguished picture of what happens, what “facts” are right and wrong and also expose lies and wrong stories.

Facebook has seen itself for many years as just a platform where people can share content. But to only distancing itself from the responsibility of what is shared is not an option. Facebook realized this by making a decision of not showing nipples on the platform, they realized it by having lawsuits against themselfes in Germany because of demagoguery and they realized it now. What lacks is a solution to the problem. And firing all human editors and trusting only AI is maybe not the right solution, because there is often a large context to consider. Is a nipple porn? What about breast cancer awareness campaign? (Fun fact: In Germany there is a fixed degree a penis can stand without being porn (I think it was 45°))

For Spotify and Amazon this decision is an easy one. They add the degree of showing products which they think the user likely likes and compares it with an A/B-test based on usage and revenue. For Facebook it is more complicated – it is not just about how much revenue they generate and how long users stay on facebook, it is about how much they care about their users and about how much they care about them, that they get fact-checked distinguished opinions to make their own decisions.

“On the dark art of software estimation”

Found a great article about software estimation. Something in software development that still bothers me somehow. Nevertheless we all know it is somehow essential.

Love this one:

Let’s take a hike on the coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles to visit our friends in Newport Beach. I’ll whip out my map and draw our route down the coast … The line is about 400 miles long; we can walk 4 miles per hour for 10 hours per day, so we’ll be there in 10 days. We call our friends and book dinner for next Sunday night, when we will roll in triumphantly at 6 p.m.

On the dark art of software estimation still asks if you want to read mobile


Just took this screenshot with my Android smartphone (up-to-date version). notices that I am using a Smartphone to look at it and is still asking me if I really want to use the mobile view. This was common a few years ago. Still I do not know why this even was a thing.

One of the most common plus points of mobile views for websites is the decreased size to load faster. Thanks to, you have to load the website two times.

But I am still really curious about why the website notices that the user is using a smartphone to look at the website and still loads the desktop version with an option to switch over to a view for smartphones. Every technology is there, they just do not redirect to the mobile page, but instead implemented something completely new. Even neglecting the technological part, this is a logical disaster.

Android and the Custom UI Problem a.k.a. why the Google Pixel is a success

Do not get me wrong: I love Android and I am a big fan of it. But Android has a problem. And if you ask me, the problem is the customization of the Android interface by hardware manufacturer such as Samsung, HTC and Sony. And also that’s why the Google Pixel will be a huge success.

A while ago I decided, that my old Nexus phone needs a replacement. It’s old, used and has not enough space anymore. However, I was looking for a new Android phone and excessively reviewing the existing Android flagship phones. There are some good phones out there. HTC, Samsung, Sony, even OnePlus, whatever. But in my sense not a single complete great phone, from software, to camera and built-quality, which is horrible for the market and the competition with Apple. I found not a single great phone on the market.

The UI customization looks good on the first hand, because the phone gets even “better”, more unique, blabla, but if you take a second close look it is just a big lie:

  • Customizations are often not consequent on the complete interface. Here and there you see the original Android. This is just ugly.
  • Security lacks, because with new updates, new customizations need to be done or at least the older ones checked if they still work. Updates will be delayed.
  • Often bloatware (Samsung as an example) will poison the OS.
  • In the end it is still a question if it solves more problems than it creates.

I know, I know. They want to be unique, give a great user experience, want to be even better etc. etc. But I think it is time to question this.

Why do PCs have an untouched OS and Smartphones do not? I never got it, I still don’t. It costs so much money to customize it and it blurres the focus of the company. If a company does not create the OS, why even bother with customizing it? Use the resources to create a great device, a great piece of hardware and just put the blank Android on it. No more bothering with updates or security, no more bothering with the UI at all and normally: Better hardware!

So much resources are spent on something the company is not specialized in doing so: OS UI modification.

Thats why the Google Pixel will be a success. A hardware specialized phone manufacturer (HTC) focused on creating a great piece of hardware and Google just put a blank unmodified OS on it, another department and company created. As simple as that. And I hope other companies will realize it – or Google continues in doing so.