CIO Symmetry


September 2, 2008  2:33 PM

Weekly MSM Round-up

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Summer isn’t over…technically. But since we’re past Labor Day, maybe people will go back to work and news will pick up? Maybe?

A few things did happen and slipped their way into the big papers these past few days:

Google is the little brat Microsoft babysat. Then Google grew up and started dating all of Microsoft’s girlfriends – search, office apps, etc. This time, the search giant has built a browser.

Fresh off losing the gold medal count, America is put on notice that we’re falling behind on innovation as well.

Reports of data theft are way up. Have you been robbed lately?

Newspapers will never stop writing stories about how the Nintendo Wii is good for you, as if you could replace a fitness program with a freaking video game. Now we have Tiger Woods involved. For profit. Imagine that.

August 29, 2008  1:34 PM

Be kind to your blogger

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

Bloggers are showing up everywhere now. Every event, every topic, everything is being blogged about. BlogWorld reports over 57 million Americans read blogs and 22 of the 100 most popular websites in the world are blogs.That’s a lot of blogging.

Politicians are tapping into the power of the blog by inviting bloggers to their big events – and treating them very well once they’re there. During the Democratic National Convention (DNC), bloggers got respect , great seats (as well as a “bloggers lounge”) and a chance to have their voices heard… or rather, read.

CNN recently reported on the appearance and importance of bloggers at the DNC in Denver, stating, “…there’s a hunger for personalized information tailored to specific audiences.” Obviously the Democrats noticed this too because they issued 120 credentials for bloggers at the event. Especially when it comes to voting for the next president, people want to feel a connection to the cause. And comfortable.Reading a blog post that interests you (if done correctly) kind of makes you feel like you’re catching up with a witty, knowledgeable friend. It’s like a conversation, in some ways.

OK, I know what you’re thinking: blogs are important to relay news and current events, but why should blogs matter to me?

As you probably know, business blogs are popping up everywhere. Companies of all shapes and sizes have started blogging. From Microsoft to Kodak, from large corporations to small businesses — they’ve become an important part of the business landscape.

Why?

Well, aside from reaching out to millions of readers around the world, business blogs do a lot of good for the company. You have the opportunity to build customer relationships, test out new ideas and products, promote these new products and share your “guru-like” company knowledge. And, blogs also provide a little bit of healthy competition amongst your employees (Who has the best blog? Who looks the most knowledgeable? You get the picture…)

On top of all that, it seems blogs are here to stay. We were first introduced to blogs in 2005 and in three years they’ve gone from personal to professional. We’ve been able to weave them into practically every facet of our lives (go to Google and search for just about any topic and I can almost guarantee there’s a blog for it). From a business perspective, they’re a way to reach out from within the company without necessarily involving marketing or public relations. And they allow a little bit of your personality to shine through – a valuable aspect as human interaction falls to the wayside in our total techno-world.

It’s a good time to blog. Don’t have your own blog? Try your hand at one and let me know how it goes (may I recommend IT Knowledge Exchange (ITKE)?)

Questions/comments on it? Let me know! I’m always looking for something to blog about…


August 29, 2008  12:53 PM

IE 8 brings Web-surfing privacy and peace of mind (for users, anyway)

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

 

Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) will have a new privacy setting. The new setting, dubbed “porn mode” by bloggers because it effectively erases all evidence of sites you’ve visited, was officially confirmed earlier in the week by Microsofts’s program manager, Andy Zeigler.

Zeigler sums up the change as one that gives users the choice to disclose private information, as opposed to being forced to through browser settings that save cookies, browsing history and the like. He mentions a few specific cases for needing the added privacy, such as purchasing a gift for a loved one online without ruining the surprise or feeling comfortable enough at a public Internet kiosk to do your personal banking.

Zeigler states in his blog that when developing IE 8, Microsoft took a look at the concerns users had with IE 7. Privacy stood out as a main concern – “the so-called, ‘over-the-shoulder privacy,’ or the ability to control what their spouses, friends, kids and co-workers might see” as well as the “so-called ‘3rd-party’ content on websites, some of which can gather data about how you browse the web.” People just didn’t want others seeing which sites they visited.

When enabled, Microsoft’s “InPrivate Browsing” tool will switch off cookies, browsing and search history and will automatically clear the cache at the end of the browser session. It also eliminates auto-complete and the storing of other form data.

How different is this really from Apple’s Safari browser and Mozilla Firefox’s security features? Microsoft may be just stepping up its game a bit, considering Mozilla now holds 19% market share. But there are some differences worth mentioning. When activated, the “InPrivate” icon is more obvious than similar privacy tabs and icons in Mozilla and Safari and IE 8 brings better support for W3 Web standards.

For those of us who are looking for more privacy, it sounds like a great thing. No longer tracked by cookies! But what about the companies who use these tracking devices to improve ad-targeting? Well, click-throughs may see a drop. And the specifically-tailored ads directed towards you and based on your Web-searching habits will also be diminished — possibly hurting sales. This may not sound too pertinent as of now, but it makes me curious. How will marketers be able to target Web surfers? I can’t help but wonder what they’ll be forced to come out with next. Will it be more invasive than what we’re faced with now?

And what does this mean for you and your employees? If you don’t employ web filtering so employees are free to visit sites all over the web, are you going to be more concerned over what the guy in the corner desk is really looking at when you’re assuming he’s getting his work done?

 

Will it have an effect on office culture? Even if employees are free to browse the Web, will their YouTube downloads or (or whatever it is they may download!) hog noticeable amounts of bandwidth and get the bandwidth police after them? One more thing to constantly be looking out for?

As if that’s the biggest worry…


August 29, 2008  12:25 PM

Weekly Wrap-up (Labor Day edition)

Kristen Caretta Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Dear people in the IT industry:

Please don’t all go on vacation at once, like you did this week. We’ve been trying very hard to reach you for comment on stories. Won’t anybody look out for the journalists?

We still did manage to get some work done and post some stories, of course. A wrap-up:

You all hate your boss, or have hated your boss at one point or another. You hate your boss so much that you’re looking for another job.

Late August, an exciting time for sports. Baseball is coming to the wire. Football, football, football. And this year we had the Olympics, as well. In honor, we took a look at all the sports-themed IT stories we’ve written recently.

The Real Niel laughs in the face of your antiquated cost-benefit analysis. (Side note: Niel would never laugh in anything’s face. He’s a totally nice guy.)

Ok, weekend time. Labor Day weekend time. We’re going to Cape Cod, along with everybody else in Massachusetts. One final blowout before the darkness descends.


August 26, 2008  3:07 PM

Joe Biden: RIAA stooge

Kristen Caretta Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Joe Biden, huh? Talk about strike three.

2000: Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Lieberman “loses” election. Flash forward to 2008 and this stuffy jerk – who spent part of his career going after Marilyn Manson – is plowing in fried tilapia at Olive Garden with John McCain.

2004: Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards loses election. Flash forward to 2008 and Edwards is admitting to having an affair (possibly a love child too!) while his wife was recovering from the cancer.

2008: Now we get Joe Biden? Please.

Biden’s tech voting record has gotten a bit of attention over the last few days, primarily because it exposes him as a close ally of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), two industry groups that spent decades bilking their customers before Napster showed up and set things right. Let’s not forget the Payola scandals. This industry has long been about telling you what to like and selling it to you at an exorbitant price.

Paidcontent.org reported on Sunday that Biden last year proposed a $1 billion program to monitor p2p networks. That’s right: $1 billion of your tax money to ensure nobody steals the new Metallica album.

Biden also “sponsored an RIAA bill” that would “restrict recording and playback of individual songs from satellite and Internet radio stations,” according to paidcontent.org. Again, that’s all about the RIAA deciding what you listen to – and what you buy – as well as helping maintain a grip on radio advertising.

I know what some of you are thinking: “It’s only $1 billion. The Iraq War alone costs about $2 billion every week.” You’re also thinking: “But file sharing is illegal.” Yes, it is. But I still remember the nearly $20 list price on Dr. Dre’s Chronic 2001. Napster broke soon after, ultimately helping to drive costs to $9.99 an album on iTunes. The RIAA’s thievery, legal as it was, was shameful. That Biden would play along with an industry that profited so disgustingly from its near-monopoly on popular music says a lot about where his priorities lie.

It also says a lot about his grasp of technology issues, especially when you also consider the fact that he once “sounded skeptical” about the need for net neutrality legislation, according to paidcontent.org.

Biden apparently missed the talking point that the proliferation of the Internet has changed the game for media distribution. He apparently doesn’t understand that it offers a once-in-a-century chance to provide something approaching equality of opportunity in this country. Don’t look for any post-Baby Boomer forward thinking from this guy.

Oh, and don’t even bother stealing the new Metallica album. It will be horrible. This band hasn’t put out a decent album since 1991 and show no signs of understanding why they were worthwhile in the 1980s. Their last four albums were so bad that it might even be possible to mathematically prove that Metallica has been terrible for more than a decade now.


August 25, 2008  7:18 PM

Oracle wins the cash war, but SAP is way more punk

Kristen Caretta Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

The Oracle vs. SAP war has been a long and vicious one. The ERP giants battle constantly for market share and big-time customers. Meanwhile, their CEOs – Oracle’s Larry Ellison and SAP’s Henning Kagermann (who holds a co-CEO role) – have lived outsized personalities on the tech world stage. For every clash between the companies comes another reminder that they are led by two very different men.

Both men have made the news in the last few days. The Associated Press has declared Ellison the highest-paid CEO in America, with an estimated Fiscal Year 2008 take of $84.6 million.

And a New York Times profile on Kagermann points out that SAP had only a 26.7% profit margin last year, paling when compared to the stunning 35% Oracle pulled off.

It has been a tough year product-wise for SAP, especially in the midmarket, where the company’s Business ByDesign, an on-demand ERP, has failed to take off. And the German company’s acquisition of TomorrowNow turned into a complete disaster.

So Ellison must be kicking back in his absurd, Japanese village-themed mansion feeling pretty good about himself right now.

But wait. This round goes to Kagermann by a long shot. Why? Four good reasons. Continued »


August 25, 2008  1:16 PM

MSM Monday Round-up

Kristen Caretta Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

A few worthwhile tech reads in the big papers over the last few days:

The Washington Post reports on the good deals tech companies are finding by moving out of the metropolis to Prince William County in Virginia. We recently wrote a similar story about Virginia drawing in data center business. It’s on SearchCIO-Midmarket.com.

The Post also reports on efforts to snapshot federal government web pages before Bush leaves office. Now we can show our children and grandchildren what the Web looked like without civil liberties.

The San Francisco Chronicle speculates that the new Palm Treo Pro could help the market-share-losing smartphone manufacturer regain some ground. Of course, recent Forrester research suggests otherwise.

Haven’t really digested this long piece yet, but author Jonathan Franzen is going off about cell phones and technology in the MIT Technology Review. Whatever Franzen is on about, he probably doesn’t like all the dopey shopping gadgets The Boston Globe cheerfully reported on. Isn’t there a point where going to the grocery store is as efficient a process as we need it to be?


August 22, 2008  1:13 PM

Weekly Wrapup

Kristen Caretta Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Things we did this week:

Considered that master data management might just be
asking a bit too much
of midmarket companies.

Took all our servers outside and trashed them.

Dealt with the fact that nobody, and especially CIOs, is getting a big raise this year.

Two summer weekends left. Have a good one.


August 21, 2008  6:49 PM

Seinfeld vs. Justin Long? Please, let’s get someone with some funny.

Kristen Caretta Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

 

Can we all agree that Jerry Seinfeld was never the funny one?

For all his quirks and humorous relationships, Jerry was always the straight man to his consistently hilarious compatriots. Good at standup without being great and seemingly averse to ruining his image in movies, Seinfeld got himself a load of cash and has played it safe ever since.

So why does Microsoft think Jerry will be the pitchman to take down those pesky Apple ads that portray Microsoft as old, square and malfunctioning.

Never mind for a minute that Justin Long – who plays the Mac in those commercials – is not funny or cool at all. Never mind that John Hodgman – who portrays the PC – is actually quite hip, at least by hipster standards.

Mind for a minute that Seinfeld isn’t going to fix Microsoft’s woes. Especially if he actually appears in commercials with, get this, Bill Gates, as The Wall Street Journal is reporting.

So who should be Microsoft’s pitchman? Not that he’s much younger, but I suggest long-gone MTV VJ Jesse Camp. Or maybe Ted Nugent. Or, since he already showed Justin Long up, how about John Mayer?

Really, Microsoft should hire anybody who can convincingly look in a camera and say: “Seriously folks, Justin Long is a dweeb. Buy Microsoft.”


August 21, 2008  4:43 PM

Google Reader has my vote

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

You may have noticed the new feature on the Google homepage. It reads: “New! Read what Barack Obama and John McCain are reading with Google Reader.”

Yes, now you too can see what Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama are reading online!

First thought: shock. McCain is using the Internet?

Second thought: interesting…

According to Computerworld.com, the new Google project allows users to see the news stories and blog posts our candidates are reading. This is all launched with the cooperation of the campaign, of course, so I would suspect there is a bit of monitoring and “planning” surrounding which stories get read and when. Let’s face it, everything we see as the voter has been perfectly laid out for us. From what politicians say to what they wear, nothing is supposed to be random. Of course, a few things fall through the cracks… (President Bush’s comment about how “Wall Street got drunk?”)

I was so intrigued I went right over to see what the presidential hopefuls had on their reading lists. In case you haven’t already checked it out, McCain’s reading list includes the Wall Street Journal, Arizona Republic, Drudge Report, ESPN, Forbes and Fox News. Obama’s includes Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, ESPN, Talking Points Memo, Barack Obama Blog, and the Daily Show. There were also journalists’ blogs and news from both campaigns — a lot of interesting reading in one place.

What a great idea, Google. Pull in readership and get more people involved in following, what may prove to be, a history-making election. And as a user, why stop there? Add them as a Facebook friend.

In some ways, the entire campaign trail has made history already–as the most technologically-advanced campaigning ever. Google Reader has developed a feature highlighting both candidates and Obama has started text messaging his supporters.

The New York Times reported “the Obama campaign said that anyone who sent a text message of “VP” to a dedicated phone number would be among the first to learn the identity of his running mate.” Rather than announcing it at a news conference, the Obama campaign will send out the much anticipated running-mate news via text message. Not only that, NY Times also reported that a University of Michigan study done by graduate students found, “that those who received a reminder in a text message one day before an election were 4.2% more likely to vote.”

So maybe over-use of email and text messaging cuts back on human interaction. But I think this new wave of tech-campaigning will reach out to a broader audience, hopefully reminding (inspiring?) people to go out and vote.

At the very least, maybe all these tech upgrades will prevent future punch card voting problems.


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