CIO Symmetry


August 4, 2008  1:01 PM

MSM Monday Round-up

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

The big papers have been focusing on consumer technology a lot recently. The iPhone, Facebook, the ill-fated launch of Cuil. Sure, it’s The New York Times. General audience. I get that.

But still, there must be more to computers than friend lists and monthly data plans, right?

Hey, don’t try to tell John McCain that. Or anybody participating in the latest debate over whether it matters that McCain can’t use what Larry the Cable Guy would call a “come-poo-ter.”

The New York Times did weigh in yesterday, laying down a fair examination of whether it does matter. But the major problem with this debate is where the touchstones have been placed. Consensus seems to be that McCain is computer-savvy if he uses Facebook, MySpace, e-mail and Twitter.

Frankly, I don’t want a president who Twitters, but that’s beyond the point.

The major problem with this discussion is that computer has been defined as “social networking.” We shouldn’t care if McCain can best us at whatever version of Scrabble hit Facebook this week. We should be asking that our next president understand the IT outsourcing industry, H-1B visas and the concept of green computing.

This is not to downplay the importance or forward motion of social networking. If Barack Obama finds Facebook a useful tool to distribute his message and raise funds, then so be it. Good for him.

But where does the computing industry fit into his energy profile?

Of course, these topics are boring. At least to the general population. Besides, taking up H-1Bs in the greater presidential debate would require McCain, Obama, their staffs and the media to understand them in the first place.

Maybe they should all stick to Facebook.

August 1, 2008  12:28 PM

Weekly Wrapup

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

I just finished taking the SaaS quiz we put up on the site yesterday. I got eight of 10 questions right, which is pretty poor considering I wrote most of the stories the quiz is based on.

Can I fail at my own game?

Besides the quiz we ran a few stories on the site this week. One found Gartner basically saying “Cut it with the bellyaching. You really do have to take Vista.” I got a few emails after that one. People just can’t love that thing.

The other one had to do with finding a new spot to store your servers. There is no shortage of companies willing to lease you or sell you data center space. Our expert tells us to pay attention to the long-term tax deal and utility rates.

My editor, Kate Evans-Correia, often writes about Facebook. But this week she turned in a column about working during vacation. Know what else I guarantee you she did during vacation? I’ll give you a hint. It’s got a nice blue-and-white color scheme and Mark Zuckerberg invented it.

Honestly, though, all that work was nothing compared with sweating out the Manny Ramirez trade rumors.

Alright, weekend time. I’m catching Old 97’s at some roadhouse on Cape Cod right on the beach. May all of your weekends rock just as hard.


July 29, 2008  5:54 PM

Will Mobile mania go the way of the Marlboro Man?

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

This just in: Mobile phones may cause cancerous brain tumors.

How many times have we heard that? Over the years, as mobile phones became increasingly popular, studies have linked them to cancer and then further studies have extinguished the fear. Most recently Dr. Ronald Herberman, the University of Pittsburgh’s Cancer Institute director, has sent out a memo to his staff members warning them of the possible link between mobile phone use and brain cancer development.

Dr. Herberman has also compiled tips to help you limit your exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted from mobile phones. The list includes switching ears while talking and avoiding mobile phone use in public where you could possibly harm others (secondhand electromagnetic radiation?).

To those of you who scoff at the cancer possibility and were first in line for the new iPhone, take a second and think about it like this: Could this be another ‘Marlboro man’ situation?

Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be ditching my mobile link to the world anytime soon, and I wouldn’t expect you to. Even if we wanted to, how could we? We’re busy, we’re constantly on the go and so is everyone else. Plus, you’ve seen some of the newer phones (music, downloads, mirrors!). They’re cool and everybody’s doing it. What’s the problem?

Up until the second half of the 20th Century, the adverse health affects of cigarettes weren’t widely known. And even after the studies started rolling in (and continued plowing right over Joe Camel), people continue to smoke. Oh right, they have nicotine. They’re addictive. Isn’t it a stretch to compare them to mobile phones?

Have you ever heard the slang term crackberry? (crack cocaine+BlackBerry, you get the picture).

We all rely on our mobile phones so much, it would be almost impossible to remove them from our lives completely – cancer or no cancer.

Then again, it could be one of those “don’t sit so close to the TV” type deals. Either way, I’m sure Dr. Herberman will let us know. Or at least send it out in a memo to his staff.


July 28, 2008  1:00 PM

Weekly Round-up

Kristen Caretta Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Sunday is the last holdout of newspapers. Suffering under tight budgets and diminished staff sizes, papers of all sizes still seem to hold it together on the day of rest. Working on a “Sunday story” means a reporter is putting a little something extra into the job. Yesterday was one of those good Sundays.

The New York Times finally got around to reviewing – and panning – Sarah Lacy’s Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0. Reviewer Katie Hafner has at Lacy, essentially calling her book out for a lack of seriousness and for writing incomplete sentences.

I didn’t love Lacy’s book by any means, and said as much when it was released in May. But Hafner’s review shoots low. Not as low as The New Yorker saying Mamma Mia! could legally be considered torture. But low enough that we wonder where Hafner picked up that chip on her shoulder.

Also in the Times, tech reporter Joe Nocera makes a pretty good case for why Apple should say whether or not Steve Jobs is deathly ill. Then, all the way at the end, Nocera breaks the news that Jobs isn’t kicking off anytime soon. Best part: Jobs personally calling Nocera to say the reporter is “a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong.” It’s not entirely clear if he is joking.

Over at the San Francisco Chronicle, Jaxon Van Derbeken digs in for a look at Terry Childs, the city network administrator accused of locking his bosses and colleagues out of the city’s wide area network. Turns out Childs is some sort of Cisco all-star. And he has some ammunition that he shouldn’t have, being a convicted felon and all, prosecutors say.

Not sure if this is supposed to be open to the public, but Boston Globe business reporter Hiawatha Bray has set up a Facebook group for Globe employees to trade tech tips. So far Bray is the only contributor, urging his fellow reporters to find sources through StumbleUpon. The real fun here is perusing Globe reporters’ Facebook pages.

Lastly and bestly, here’s an old clip of Andy Rooney going OFF about Windows. You tell ‘em Andy!

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/9XwD5cc5niQ" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


July 28, 2008  12:58 PM

Microsoft: Kicking SaaS and changing names

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

I brushed up on SaaS (Software as a Service) knowledge today.

After reading through all the SaaS articles on my site, I continued on to Google. Amongst the many pages of SaaS, there was a Microsoft site introducing something a little different.

Microsoft had changed the way it spoke of SaaS. It was no longer “Software as a Service.” It had delved into “Software-plus-Services.”

Hmmm … intriguing.

Already on a mission to become well-versed in the world of SaaS, I followed the link. But before I could even view the information on the Microsoft site I had to install Microsoft Silverlight.

Easy and quick, but I didn’t necessarily want it. I didn’t even know what it was when I was asked to install it. Sure, Microsoft provided a brief blurb on it, but nothing explaining why I would want this feature on my computer or what it did. And it really only gave me two options: “install” or “read more” (and then install). Needless to say, I begrudgingly installed a new program on my computer and lost 15 minutes of my time (I spent a good 14 minutes trying to find a way around it). And I still couldn’t read the information. I was prompted to close my browser and start again.

Enough was enough. I called my friend Paul Walsh at Microsoft UK.

After a quick rant about the Silverlight debacle (He explained it was a Web browser plug-in and assured me I would like it. We’ll see about that…) I asked him what Software-plus-Services was. He told me it was Microsoft’s slant on SaaS – just bigger and better.

According to Paul, Software-plus-Services combines SaaS, SOA and Web 2.0 in a brand-new user experience. This includes options for managing and accessing the software – they can be Web-based, on-site or a combination of both, depending on the needs of the company.

Cheers, Paul.

Human interaction – all the facts, no plug-in required.


July 24, 2008  11:18 PM

Weekly wrapup

Kristen Caretta Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

I think the “things that tick us off” theme of this blog is rubbing off on one of our contributors. Just yesterday, The Real Niel gave us a killer column about how bad your business will look if you don’t put some real heart into business intelligence.

Niel takes issue with one of his software vendors and a car rental service. Both lacked quality BI and failed in customer service as a result. Niel, who travels frequently, took his car rental needs elsewhere. A highly recommended read.

What else did we do this week?

Took a look at data deduplication tools and pointed a load of air conditioning units at our new blade servers. Those things are on fire. Literally.

Started spying on our IT guys. Oh, I mean, “Built trusting relationships so they won’t lock us out of our own network.”


July 24, 2008  2:48 PM

“Are you serious?” or: Dumb things press flaks say

Kristen Caretta Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

“What we’re doing is providing an enterprise-level product at a price point that’s affordable to the midmarket.”

Or something like that.

This is my life. I take these phone calls all the time. If you’re a CIO or IT manager in the midmarket, you probably do, too.

Sometimes it gets really out of control, as if it can get any more inane that using a phrase like price point instead of the much better option: Price.

“It’s like buying an Audi at Honda prices,” a press flak once told me about the product she was pitching. Alright, I can’t remember the exact car brands, but you see what I mean? Please tell me where this mythical Honda-priced Audi dealership is.

But maybe they’re catching on. The other day I had a briefing with James Thomas, vice president of business intelligence tools at Business Objects, which is “an SAP company.”

Thomas would like all of you to know that Business Objects is ready to go with Edge 3.0, the latest release in its Edge business intelligence product line. Crystal Reports Server 2008, a report management server, is also out.

“So what’s new?” I ask Thomas. This is the part where he’s supposed to tell me about how these products are going to revolutionize business management for the midmarket.

Except he doesn’t. Thomas explains some of the new features. Crystal Reports now lets users embed reports directly into Microsoft Office documents. Nice idea. Makes sense. And certain mobile device applications can now be used to view Edge reports. Reasonable. Intuitive. Simple.

This is by no means an endorsement of these products. For a good rundown of the features and price, check out my colleague Courtney Bjorlin’s report at SearchSAP.com.

So, no, it’s not for me to say if you should buy Business Objects’ new toys. But I can say that I appreciate Thomas not trying to convince me his company just changed the IT world. He’s got a product. He just wanted to talk about it for a minute.

And that, I must say, is a call I don’t mind taking.


July 23, 2008  7:32 PM

Gartner: Governments should consider electronic health records now

Kristen Caretta Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Earlier this year I wrote about the field of landmines confronting health care CIOs as electronic personal health record programs like Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault make inroads into the market (well, as far as free programs can).

It’s a field worth crossing – carefully. For all the privacy concerns and for all the programming hassles to achieve interoperability, EPHRs (as they are known) offer patients a previously unheard of level of insight and control of their own health information.

I can think of few SaaS and on-demand applications that could so significantly improve our lives the way EPHRs could if properly built, used and implemented.

Gartner agrees. The analyst firm yesterday issued a press release detailing the potential benefits of EPHRs and urging government officials and IT executives to begin developing policies – and, I suppose, laws — to prepare for the inevitable uptake of these programs by patients.

Anybody interested in EPHR developments and the broader questions about use and implementation would be remiss not to keep tabs on Life as a Healthcare CIO, the relatively active blog kept by Dr. John Halamka, CIO at Harvard Medical School and CareGroup Inc. in Boston.


July 22, 2008  5:11 PM

When it comes to the Internet, Senator McCain McCain’t

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

CNN’s top technology story Monday highlighted a little-known fact about Senator John McCain — he doesn’t use the Internet (he does have several Facebook pages, though. Funny how that works…) This may or may not come as a surprise to you. Honestly, I never really thought about whether or not McCain was Internet savvy, but maybe that’s the result of my generation being consistently plugged in. A friend once told me, “You aren’t real friends until you’re Facebook friends.” Yes, I immediately Facebooked her from my BlackBerry, but do you have to be online to be on top of things?

According to the article, “Unlike McCain, many seniors surf the Web,” 35% of Americans over the age of 65 are online for things like emailing, driving directions and finding out useful information. Moreover, the project director, Susannah Fox, says “about three-quarters of white, college-educated men age over 65 use the Internet.” McCain falls right into this demographic, so why the lack in tech skills?

I can’t answer that for you. But I can tell you he’s not completely in the dark. At the Personal Democracy Forum in New York back in June, one of Senator McCain’s aides, Mark Soohoo, told the panel that, in fact, “John McCain is aware of the Internet.” Umm … I should hope so, Mark. How many people do you know who aren’t aware of the Internet?

He may not be able to use the Internet, but don’t worry, he’s aware of it existing. Phew. Just in time for the al-Qaida newscasts on the Web.


July 21, 2008  7:49 PM

Fighting for a Vista rebate. Because somebody has to.

Kristen Caretta Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Some people suffer the insufferable for piece of mind and for the good of all of us who want to live safe, comfortable lives.

The mysterious uncle_benji is one of those people.

Ben, as I’ll call him here, has endured some sort of special hell to wrestle a $200 refund from Hewlett-Packard after deciding he would downgrade Windows Vista to XP on his new laptop (purchased at Best Buy).

The customer service nightmare is detailed here, and I strongly suggest you read it in its entirety. Ben actually lived this. Feel his pain.

My favorite part of this is when an HP senior case manager writes Ben that “Microsoft has stopped issuing licenses for HP as they are going to stay with Vista.”

Wait? “Stay with Vista?” So, what, Microsoft almost gave up? Cat’s out of the bag, folks.


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