Bringing Content and Commerce Together

By |October 21st, 2013

This is a repost from CMS Wire.

Brands have traditionally built separate brand experiences and e-Commerce shops, hidden behind the familiar “shop” link. But this divide makes customers choose between content and commerce and creates one more hurdle to jump through. How many get lost on the way?

These scenarios reduce e-Commerce experiences to a minimal feature set: browsing the catalog, checking out and customer self-service, such as checking an order status. The fundamental issue with this approach is that it does not span the entire customer journey, which includes awareness, engagement, browsing to purchase, service and subsequent loyalty.

Added to this, too often the underlying technologies are poorly integrated, leaving consumers with inconsistent experiences across the buying journey. This is further aggravated by customer expectations of a cohesive experience across mobile, Web and other channels.

Brands now know that building rich content worlds works to engage customers and capture their attention. By fostering a dialog around the content and products, brands can build communities, encourage dialog and promote commenting regarding the topics which results in users spending more time on the brand experience. Separating this from the e-Commerce experience moves e-Commerce one step further away from the consumers’ attention.

Here are some best practices that avoid this divide, that build engaging experiences which bring rich content into the e-Commerce world, and vice versa. (more…)

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By |June 4th, 2013

This poor blog has seen sinfully neglect on my behalf in the last four years. But it’s another year, I have another job, I live on another continent. And to anyone who wants to attempt an international move after 8 years of living in another country, let me just say that it gets infinitely more complicated when you’ve got a  house, cats, kids, and everything that goes with it.

Going through the blog posts, I deleted a lot of junk but left a few “interesting” ones behind, all the pages about the JCR stayed of course as well – they’ve kept this site afloat ever since CQ5 got some traction.

Shall this be the first post of many more of my musings.

Connecting Multiple AVR/Arduinos via I2C/TWI

By |December 30th, 2009

Since my RF receivers require a full hardware-based UART to function reliably, I decided to opt for adding a simple attiny2313 as a controller connected to an Arduino. Ready to build a simple protocol, I decided to do a little more research into I2C — the inter-integrated-circuit protocol which puts multiple digital micro-controllers on a low-speed bus. As it turns out, the attiny controllers actually implement the full protocol, even if Atmel calls it TWI (two-wire-interface). The protocol defines a master device as well as up to 127 slave devices (7-bit addressing).


iPhone Garage Door Opener

By |December 24th, 2009

You keep forgetting your keys but would never let your precious iPhone out of sight? Then nothing should seem more obvious than the need to open your garage door with your iPhone. An Arduino and a few microcontrollers, relays, rf link transmitters and receivers and some firmware later, it’s now reality. Check out the prototype (and excuse the slightly shaky video, it was bitter cold outside):

Read more about the setup and software here.

Remote Controlled Arduinos

By |November 5th, 2009

I got a pair of these extremely cheap RF Link receiver and transmitter pairs for under $5 each. They operate at 434 MHz and supposedly can transmit at up to 2400bps. I was hoping to be able to build some nifty firmware which allowed these things to flawlessly communicate bidirectionally (well, one at a time), essentially making them into a cheap variant of the XBees. It turns out, these little devices are not quite as stable as I hoped they would be. But there’s still a lot of cool stuff that can be done with them.

The Hardware

434 MHz Transmitter

434 MHz Receiver

They can easily be hooked up to the Arduino data pins. If you want to boost the transmitter’s power, hook the third pin (Vcc) to more than 5V. It can take up to 12V and the more juice you give it the more power it has to transmit, the less dropped data.

The Software

Here is where all the fun started. Hooking it up was easy, using the Arduino software serial library to establish the communication is also a no-brainer. Yet if the receiver finds no signal for 10ms, it automatically turns itself into an auto-sensing mode in which is cranks up the antenna gain and starts just outputting noise. This is not only annoying, but also very counterproductive when trying to get a clean transmission. Also keep in mind that these modules are really bare-bones. They send and receive data. There’s no automatic receipt acknowledgement, no automatic resending of packets, nothing. That’s especially hard considering that these devices only provide a one-way communication path.

The easiest way to go around this is to just have the transmitter continuously transmit data, even if it’s just empty bytes. […]

Connecting Relays to Arduinos

By |November 3rd, 2009

Finally having re-submerged from project chaos, I finally have a little time to spend playing with circuits again. While I’m toying with pieces to ultimately automate the entire house, like an RFID-based garage door opener. I figured I might as well post about individual pieces along the way.

The first one is a relay driving circuit. The goal is to simply drive a single relay (for now) from one of the Arduino data pins. Since I want to use the built-in 5V power, I opted for a simple 5V relay. It’s powerful enough to drive 5 amps on 220V, so that should be enough for most applications. I can’t recommend you hooking up 110V or 220V to a breadboard though! Getting circuit boards printed for this will be my next undertaking, but let’s dive into the circuit a little first.

Part List

A 5V Relay like the Omron G5SB ($1.95 at Sparkfun)
470Ω, 1kΩ, 10kΩ resistors (one each)
A NPN resistor capable of driving the relay (2n2222 or these do the trick)
A diode such as a 1N4001 or 1N4148 (like this one or this one)
An LED (every circuit needs LEDs!)
A breadboard and some cables

The Circuit

The circuit itself is fairly simple. The signal from the Arduino data pin goes into pin 4 via the resistor R1 to the transistor which switches the relay on and off. Notice R3 which is pulls the data line to ground (reduces unwanted triggering of the Relay while the Arduino is not initialized). The diode is also required as it protects the circuit and ultimately the Arduino from so-called back EMF current.


Arduino LED Driver from Jochen Toppe on Vimeo.

Fun stuff, but all it really does it go click-click-click. But it is controlled via C-code! I […]

Oracle buying Sun

By |April 20th, 2009

Oracle just announced to buy Sun for a wee bit over $7b. I think this is a brilliant move, by far better than the previous offer by IBM.

On a side note, it is almost impossible to type on an iPhone on a moving train.

Why Grails really matters for Java developers

By |March 24th, 2009

I came across this nice article which makes yet another case for Grails. I’ve been a fan for a long time now, and there’s still my demo which I did last year in case you haven’t seen it yet.

After the success of RoR, the problems of the JEE platform became clear to everyone. Even if Grails or RoR suddenly disappear, from now on the new frameworks that will emerge will be following this “new” philosophy. And taking into consideration that Grails was developed since it’s begining focusing on the Java developer, it’s an undeniable fact that it will have a huge influence over all the new developments on this area from now on.


“JCR or RDBMS” Whitepaper

By |January 28th, 2009

One of my coworkers found this great paper by Bertil Chapuis and Day software comparing JCR and RDBMS. The paper outlines the theoretical approaches of each technology in details and provides an excellent foundation to make a more educated decision about which technology to use for a specific problem.

Day Software AG (Day) led the development of a JAVA specification which defines a uniform application programming interface (API) to manage content. This specification is called content repository API for java (JCR) and is part of the java community process. Implementations of this specification are actually provided by well known companies such as Oracle, Day or Alfresco.

JCR implementations are often used to build high level content management systems and collaborative applications. Day also provides an open source implementation of the specification which is called Jackrabbit and which is used as a shell for some of its products.

This diploma thesis takes place in this context. Day wants to clarify some points which relate to the data model promoted by their specification. The basic idea is to compare their approach to managing content with the approach promoted by competitors at different levels. The following sections will clarify the approach adopted to do this and give an overview of the content developed in this report.

As explained, the purpose is to locate JCR in the database world. This work will be done by comparing the relational model and the model promoted by JCR. The relational model defined by Codd in the 70’s is actually the most widely used data model. The unstructured or semi-structured model subtended by the JCR specification encounter a growing success in the content management area. These two models will be described and analyzed in this report.

Read […]

Interwoven Acquired

By |January 22nd, 2009

Interwoven announced to be acquired by Autonomy today. I’m not sure I really care, unless this means they finally they get rid of Perl scripts in their product. The interesting thing is that most of the big CMS vendors now got absorbed by larger companies, which should — in my eyes — hopefully open up the market for smaller and more interesting niche and open source vendors.