June 2008 Archives

The consequences of freedom

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for thumb_chapman_pincher.gif Has the Web/Net created a greater sense of unease in us all? Virus infection, spam attacks and identity theft are the consequences of the lack of security of the internetworked computer. We're now so brainwashed to the risk that something could happen every time you connect to the net that safety is now an invaluable promise for the consumer. Is the trend with locked down devices like the iPhone (a product born of fashion and fear) one that will see a future of fewer applications that aren't centrally controlled and authorised by the big vendors?

It must be a thin news day

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thumb_white.gifThe BBC is running the Bill Gates is leaving Microsoft story AGAIN

C'mon guys there is so much more going on!

Foundations and IBM, The Empire strikes back!

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thumb_white.gifIBM reckons Microsoft has had it to easy in the Small to Mid Market sector. Back in January they bought Nitix, a small Canadian outfit, that have built a self propelling server (Lotus Foundations) around a customised Linux disti. The Nitix box does everything (and more) that the corresponding MS product does:
  • Full featured software appliance 
  • Self-managing, self-healing system 
  • Email and advanced webmail 
  • Office productivity tools 
  • Network level firewall, antispam & antivirus protection 
  • Remote connectivity and VPN 
  • File and print services 
  • Central file management 
  • Automated disk backup 
  • Disaster recovery
IBM pronounce that the whole think can be up and running in 30 mins via a Web UI and can support up to 500 individuals. Good stuff. My colleague Gareth is blogging on this so it will be interesting to see through him how it progresses. 

I don't think MS will be quaking in their boots, however it does offer small businesses a fully featured offering that hangs together as a logical entity rather than the mish-mash of services they are struggling with at the moment.

A key do this will for someone to to some realistic comparative pricing, the wallet is a great motivator for most small companies. 

Lastly, if IBM can do a deal with Dell then the show will truly be on the road.

He's not Obama or McCain, but David Davis is Twittering from Haltemprice

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thumb_white.gifI think Haltemprice and Howden will be the first significant British election where web 2.0 technology will have any significant impact. David Davis is twittering and it is going to be really interesting if he can establish a dialogue with the electorate in his constituency and with the rest of the UK using this medium. 

I am going to be following the campaign using Summize (query here). We here in the UK need to 'get with this' as much of the political battleground over the next 22 months will be fought in this space we head towards the next general election. 

I wonder if 'Dave' tweets?

Internet overhaul wins approval - or is it only a lick of paint

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thumb_white.gifAccording to this BBC news story it is going to become open season for TLDs. Although this will really release some of the pent up demand for innovative branding I expect it will give a new lease of life to cyber-squatters. 

With IPv6 still not widely deployed and the end-haul to homes lagging in speed compared to enterprising countries in the far east I hope this is more that a bit of tokenism.


Go get the evidence

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for thumb_chapman_pincher.gifToo often we implement solutions based on urban myth, out of date information or hype. So every time a change is suggested, ask for evidence of its success and look for the logic behind the evidence. In particular look for the bear traps sprung by the law of unintended consequences. That way you will build up knowledge of what does and doesn't work when deploying collaboration technologies. Evidence makes the case! 

IT is boring say UK graduates - wow they are soooo perceptive these days!

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According to a recent Career Development Organisation (CDO) study of 2000 undergraduate respondents,  'over 60% of non-computing students do not wish to enter the sector because they think it will be boring.' The article in Computer Weekly goes on to state: "IT is at the heart of business these days and there are real opportunities now to have a career in IT which will ultimately lead to a position on the board." - yeah, as if.

Slashdot has an active thread on this right now with the usual mix of views from 'its all Bill's fault' to 'I don't like capitalism' type entries - highly amusing.

For the uninitiated - most jobs are boring - the objective is to find yourself in one that is less boring than others. Rockstars, Neurosurgeons and Royalty all find their jobs boring, just less often than most. 

I am off to become King now....

Do you know anyone with asthma????

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thumb_white.gifIf you do and you want to help them just pop along to channelswim4asthmauk where an old IBM friend is doing her bit by doggie-paddling across the English Channel (for my French friends, La Manche). Well I expect it will be a bit better than the doggie paddle. 

I know all donations will be gratefully received no matter what size.

Hey, make it your good deed for today!

ps this is Social Networking at its most 'social'

Come back later - Twhirl just has to go

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Its not all rosy in the Web 2.0 world. Some of my colleagues have been waxing lyrical about the value of Twhirl. This tool describes itself as follows:

'twhirl is a desktop twitter client, based on the Adobe AIR platform.

Some of twhirl's features:

  • runs on both Windows (2000/XP/Vista) and Mac OSX
  • connects to multiple Twitter and Friendfeed accounts
  • notifications on new tweets
  • shorten long URLs (using snurltwurl or is.gd)
  • cross-post updates to Pownce and Jaiku'
plus, plus, plus

I have noted that my MacBook Pro has taken a hit recently and it turns out that twhirl is taking up a constant 10% of my CPU usage. BAD. According to Seesmic:

'The constant CPU usage is a problem of Adobe AIR on OSX, unfortunately. We have contacted Adobe about this, and they have confirmed that they are aware of it and working on a solution.
 
indifferent I'm sorry to tell you
Sprite_screen The company says this solves the problem'

No its does not solve the problem, it just passes the buck elsewhere. I wonder what the Adobe response to this would be?

IT staff wasted on non-strategic 'chores'

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thumb_white.gifSponsor of this blog, Computer Weekly, are reporting that CIOs are moaning that IT staff are doing the equivalent of vacuuming, rather than something 'strategic'. The quote that goes along with this states: 

"I do not suppose for one minute the CEO of these companies runs around with a vacuum cleaner, while the CFO collects dirty plates and mugs from people's desks at the end of the day."

"So why are well-paid and well-skilled IT professionals still losing sleep over patching and upgrades, which should be pushed out centrally."

The article then goes on to say that:

'The top irritations were:
1. Password resets
2. E-mail management
3. End-users in general
4. Fixing broken printer and photocopiers
5. Support of remote and mobile working
6. Upgrade cycles and applying patches''

By my reckoning only one of the above fits the non-strategic chore (6) and (4) is a fact of life, all of the others are a result of a poorly implemented strategy - go figure


Savaged by a dead sheep

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thumb_white.gifThe Register has just reported on a Salesforce.com  'attack' on the Notes installed base. If this was coming from SAP, Oracle or even Microsoft (again) then it might have some credence. But its the typical ' yeah, we'll just convert the applications' crapola. 

Many have tried, few have succeeded and I really do not believe Salesforce are going to be the ones to deliver a Notes coup de grace.

IBM has many problems protecting its Notes/Domino market but this is 2008 and I remember having a breakfast meeting with Steve Ballmer in 1995 when a group of us were told that Exchange (4.0!) was going to kill Notes. We have all passed much water since then and like ol' man river, Notes keeps rolling along. 

Death will not be announced, it will be sudden, swift and from an unexpected direction - but not from Salesforce.com


With this tweet I thee wed

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thumb_white.gifI went to a wedding on Saturday, it was fabulous, very English country - all of the guys in penguin suits and ladies with fascinators. The service struck me as a blend of the old and new, a bit of the King James prayer book juxtaposed with more modern translations of scripture and hymns. 

As I sat and enjoyed the formalities I considered that the modern wedding has evolved over time from cavemen dragging their intended partners (male or female, we are not sexist here) by the hair to their lairs as their mating ritual. This has moved on to today's church, registry office or other suitable location for this special event.

With a further evolution of the process I wondered what a web 2.0 wedding would look like?

Would guests be gathered in a Second Life place of worship? 
Could vows be exchanged through Twitter?
What about rings being replaced with the exchange of digital certificates?

Physical consummation might be a bit more challenging but there would certainly be a good audience! On the downside the party 2.0 will not be as much fun as today's, with only virtual booze for consumption :-(

Well technology can only go so far!

Dislocated from your purpose

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for thumb_chapman_pincher.gifPeter Day's In Business programme is on the radio, It's all about happiness at work, i.e. businees now want focussed, committed and creative people while people want to work for ethical companies with a good work//life balance. The conclusion is that we're building up inflated expectations about what work can deliver -- all I want is a job :-)

Its all getting a bit much

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thumb_white.gif(Today is Friday and I thought Mickey would post). 

Here is a catalogue of web 2.0 tools I am using:

Is this normal, expectational or light-weight for a 21 century dude?

My thoughts are that the 13 above are about the maximum any sane individual can cope with, the idea of adding more that (might) improve my day to day activities seems counter-intuative. 

How do you feel about this, have I gone over the top or should I be adding more. Is knowledge power or in this case just confusion?

And now the news....

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thumb_white.gifIt is Bill's last day at Microsoft tomorrow. The BBC has negotiated (over two years it is rumoured) an exclusive with Mr Gates on the long established Money Programme

Love or loathe him we cannot ignore him, it will make interesting watching, it better not be too sycophantic. It would be nice if it is available on BBC World as well as BBC 2. I am sure it will pop up somewhere on the Interweb - oh and yes Top Gear is about to start again, this Sunday! 

Maybe Jeremy Clarkson will get Bill into a 'Star in reasonably priced car' in an episode?

Have you got the 'invisible blog'?

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thumb_white.gifThere are many tools around the web that validate and suggest improvements to web pages and blogs. 

I ran into Websitegrader yesterday and was suitably impressed. I think this makes a good addition to my 'unloved blog' post from a couple of days ago.

Its free.

Tower of Babel 2.0?

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I have been wondering about the viability of the plethora of social communication tools that seems are emerging at a rate that is frankly un-supportable in all but the short term. 

The desire to communicate is fabulous however are we really achieving any fundamental ideals?

After the flood the people tried to reach the heavens and then:

Genesis 11:4. God seeing what the people were doing, confused their languages and scattered the people throughout the earth.

I wonder if in a non-spiritual way we are descending into a confusion of communication out of our own technical hubris and being slaves to the medium, not masters of it?

Colour me wonderful

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for thumb_chapman_pincher.gifMy blogging buddy Ian White has made a bob of two out of consulting. One of his skills is turning complex business issues into understandable graphics (Powerpoint). Sometimes his colouring pallet is ice cream extreme but this useful graphic on Enterprise 2.0 by R. Todd Stephens puts him in the shade. Todd covers off:

  • Business drivers for investing in Web 2.0 technology
  • The actors or people involved with the effort
  • The technologies within the Web 2.0 domain as well as related ones
  • The methods of deployment; the how the technologies are being used
  • The impact to the employee, the department and the business

I'm a tag cloud

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thumb_white.gifAdam Gartenberg has just brought my attention to a great site for generating tag clouds. Wordle.net is just fun, simply paste some text or link to a del.icio.us user name and see what pops out. I thought I would put my CV/Resume through as did Adam and see what come out.


Smaller is better

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for thumb_white.gifNo need to feel threatened any more !. The new Firefox 3.0 is going to be available for download today. 

With:
  • A new UI
  • Smaller memory footprint
  • New password manager
  • New download manager
  • New address bar
  • Improved security
  • Faster engine (they claim to be the fastest browser now)
  • and more
All of which should make web 2.0 sites a much more pleasant experience.

And they are attempting to gain the world record for the number of downloads in a single day

Making IBM / Microsoft licensing look easy

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for thumb_white.gifIf you have ever found IBM / Microsoft / SUN etc licensing a bit opaque then take a read of this BBC news posting.

All is clear now???

Are your blogs languishing unloved - Collaboration 2.0 to the rescue

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for thumb_white.gifIs your Blog languishing unloved? - well fix it! Thanks to Chris Brogan who has just blogged a great entry that has come up with a list of 100 things you can do to help your efforts and scribblings reach a wider audience.

I found his blog via a link posted by (the always observant) David Peacock via FriendFeed and Twhirl. David and I are going to have to take these points to heart and set up a shared Evernote to put them into action.

This is Collaboration 2.0 in action


Effective Collaboration

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for thumb_chapman_pincher.gifCollaboration is not without its challenges particularly when working in a distributed team. Here are a few tips to help. Webworker Daily also has some advice if you work on-line

  • Know what is expected of you. 
  • Stay up to date on what is to be done.
  • Start working on the project at the earliest.
  • If you have issues, voice them.
  • Ask for clarification when in doubt. 
  • Know and resect your team members.
  • Help yourself before you offer to help others.
  • Communicate with them regularly.

 

Top 5 tips for home working (what not to do)

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The following is a list of what not to do / have / think about when working from home. In the interests of full disclosure I will rate myself for each one:

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1) Do not have chocolate biscuits (cookies) at home - fail

When working on projects, chocolate makes you feel good and increases your girth thus both distracting you from reality and making your clothes shrink at the same time.

2) Respond to unsolicited messages of love arriving via IM - fail

If you want a relationship with a 69 year old from the former Soviet Union go ahead - on the other hand it might be a scam.

3) Own a radio and listen to talk stations - fail

The desire to shout at an ignorant presenter or participant is often overwhelming and is often a source of distraction to the task in hand

4) Look up something in Google - fail

You may find the answer to your query but the likelihood is that you will be distracted by an entry on narrow gauge steam locomotives in the the Andes (or similar)

5) Click on 'Update my Computer now'  (or similar message) - fail

At best you will lose two hours of valuable work time, at worst you will need to rebuild your system from a backup you should have taken last night.

Disturbed data

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for thumb_chapman_pincher.gifGood news for libertarians has come out of the recent loss by HMG agencies of personal data. It seems that the whole objective of the eGovernment strategy is being compromised due to the now overcautious approach to internal and external communications between departments. It's time for organisations, both public and private, to clearly understand the difference between providing data and providing information. That way we can all sleep soundly in our beds.

Is Apple screwing IBM over? - check the cold cuts

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Sorry for the language but in this case is seems entirely appropriate. 

It is alleged that Steve J. switched his allegiance from IBM Power PC processors to Intel after Big Blue failed to produce a suitable G5 chip for portables that had been promised. SJs temper is legendary and he is known to hold a grudge. That grudge may now be, like chickens, coming home to roost. 

Back in January it was widely expected that that a mobile mail client closely integrated with the Lotus Notes/Domino platform would be announced, instead the Lotus cognesenti were stunned by the cozying up between Microsoft and Apple. 

On Monday of this week Apple announced further deeper, strategic support for the Microsoft Exchange platform with the iPhone 2.0. 

Is this a case of Apple serving IBM a cold dish of revenge?

This announcement puts IBM under severe pressure. Lotus maven, Ed Brill is valiantly defending the line, but with the iPhone now becoming a legitimate Enterprise device some of the bastions of Notes will come under pressure from senior Executives to deliver an 'integrated' messaging solution.

I can feel many Notes and Domino stalwarts frustration at what this alliance of strange bedfellows (Apple and MS) is doing to threaten their beloved platform. Unless IBM gets it act together really soon trouble will be heading into town. 

This is not just bad news for IBM though, folks at RIM are going to be looking at this and noting that really will have to up their game.  

The trouble with all of this is that its not just about technology, cost, security, architecture or the 101 other things that make alternate solutions better. The iPhone is 'cool' and all other contenders are not - period.

Sparks are going to fly - no point in predicting what will give, other than waiting for the fun to start.

Facebook Not So Useful as a Business Tool

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for thumb_chapman_pincher.gifFacebook is trying to make itself more attractive to business users by, among other things, allowing users to segregate their business contacts from their strictly social ones. 

While this is useful it doesn't make Facebook a business tool. According to a new study from Flowing Data, just a few of Facebook's 23,000 plus applications are business-oriented. Nearly half of them are "just for fun" while the "gaming" and "sports" categories include more than 2,000 applications each.

Twitter - how far is too far

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for thumb_white.gifTwitter service levels over the last few weeks have been appalling, as I write Instant Messaging service is AWOL. The core service has been famously unreliable for months mostly due to runaway success combined with issues associated with scaling  of the chosen platform, to the extent that this rather amusing web site have been created istwitterdown.com (which itself is fairly slow). 

But has it gone too far? Has the reputation of the service diminished to a level to which other service will be able to a take advantage of  user unhappiness such as Plurk?

Running one's mouth

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Thumbnail image for thumb_chapman_pincher.gif Ian wrote yesterday about the departure of Bill Gates.

In the early day of Windows 3.0 I met Bill several times. Once, at a journalist's dinner, he and I both went to the men's room at the same time.  While Bill was doing the business I was struggling. To my embarrassment I discovered I had put my boxer shorts on back to front.

"Having trouble with your underwear, Michael?" quipped Bill.

"Not as much trouble as your having with your software," I retorted.

We never spoke again.

Bill Gates to leave Microsoft

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for thumb_white.gifWell its not exactly news, but considering the fuss made about the initial announcement it is a bit surprising that he has not left yet. Believe it or not it is nearly the second anniversary since Microsoft made the momentous press release. I wonder who has the record for the longest departure gap in the world? Any ideas?

On another tack - What effect will the (eventual) departure of such an important force of nature such as Bill have on the organisation he leaves behind? Has the 'long good-bye' created a smooth transition or stalled new ideas and initiatives coming into effect?

Lastly, should his MS executive contemporaries move on as well? Would Microsoft benefit from a complete change at the top?

Your thoughts welcomed.

Get your creative & common sense juices flowing

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thumb_chapman_pincher.gifIn these tricky times you can not outgrow your competitors unless you out-innovate them. With many new ideas strangled at birth by legislation and R&D belt-tightening, you have to squeeze as much innovation out of your company as possible. This is the time to launch low-cost in-house experiments. It's time for the return of the corporate suggestion box. An idea central -- backed up by tangible incentives -- to get your staff's creative and common sense juices flowing. This is one of collaboration technologies best applications. Be careful though; you need to carefully gauge an idea's potential commercial value and explore its ramifications to avoid expensive risk-taking.

Refrigerator blindness

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It happens to us all (especially men), you open the fridge, take a good, hard look and then ask all and sundry 'where's the butter' only to have a smug partner or off-spring point out that the butter is right in front of you! 

'But its on the third shelf and its normally on the second shelf so that explains it all (not)'

I suffer from this affliction, especially when typing - I can read and re-read a document (or blog entry) many times and miss some of the most blindingly obvious spelling and grammatical howlers. 

I have found that is takes me around 48 hours between writing a document and then reviewing it to reach the point where I am mentally disconnected from its contents and therefore able to 'see' all of the errors scattered around its contents.

I wrote this document yesterday and I hope that after I have looked over it a few times prior to its escape that I will have been able to expurgate the horrors.

It would not surprise me that the more grammatically capable of you will still be able to find some nits to pick.

Three edits so far:
1 missing word
1 paragraph restructure
1 word removed
2 words added

Collaboration 2:0: your secret Weapon

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Disclaimer

The opinions expressed herein are the personal opinions of the authors and do not represent either of our employer's views in any way. All postings and code samples are provided 'AS IS' with no warranties, and confer no rights.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Ian White published on July 8, 2008 10:00 AM.

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