CIO Symmetry


May 13, 2008  5:26 PM

New Firefox browser nearing release

Roger Crawford Roger Crawford Profile: Roger Crawford

Mozilla has announced that Firefox 3 Release Candidate 1 (RC1) is scheduled for the end of May. A code freeze was implemented late last week, forcing programmers to scramble to make last-minute changes and stomp out any bugs that still exist.

Release candidates are typically the final stages of development before the new software is pushed out to users.

The latest beta version – Firefox Beta 3.5 – was released in early April and, in my experience, the results of that version weren’t exactly stellar.

Techworld notes that Mark Schroepfer, vice president of engineering, posted to Mozilla’s development blog this weekend, “The release candidates will move a little slower than beta.” The reason, according to Techworld, is because of “the need to account for more public feedback than with earlier builds.”

Or, as one friend posted succinctly to his Twitter stream: “Firefox 3 beta 5 = fail.”

I wonder if Schroepfer saw a lot of that and decided to urge his company into a more cautious route.

Personally, I’m still a Beta or two behind 5. But even the Firefox 3 beta that I use to surf the Interwebs daily is a little buggy. From time to time it freezes or just decides to shut down on its own. That said, I’m a lot happier with my latest version instead of Firefox 2, which routinely froze and forced me to reset my user preferences: Losing my bookmarks and history several times a day got old quickly.

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May 12, 2008  3:15 PM

Facebook CTO changes employment status on Facebook profile

Roger Crawford Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Facebook’s CTO is out the door. And, soon-to-come IPO goldmine aside, who could blame him?

The news broke last night, courtesy of blogs BoomTown and VentureBeat. Seems there are plenty of reasons for Adam D’Angelo to leave (or was he canned?). Let’s list them:

  1. He’s 23. With his talents and resumé, why should D’Angelo hang around Facebook if it isn’t the perfect job for him?
  2. He’s 23. Talent aside, he just might be too young for a job. Facebook Inc., by our measurements at least, is probably a midmarket company. But the popularity and tech needs of Facebook make it more of a large enterprise, at least from a CIO/CTO perspective. The company just took on another $100 million in debt to buy servers and other infrastructure. D’Angelo is talented. But some situations require experience. This is one of them. (So is being president of the United States, but don’t try to tell that to my Obama-fawning lib neighbors in Cambridge).
  3. Mark Zuckerberg. I don’t mean to make assumptions, but the general storyline with Facebook CEO Zuckerberg is he maybe, sorta, kinda is tough to work with. I know people were all over BusinessWeek reporter Sarah Lacy for bombing her South by Southwest interview of Zuckerberg in March. And, granted, I would have taken a different interview approach. But Zuckerberg decided to capitalize on Lacey’s downward spiral with an aloof, too-cool-for-school attitude that was more spoiled brat than legitimately successful CEO. The Twitter crowd at the interview was enthused, as Twitter users are almost exclusively spoiled brats.
  4. Mark Zuckerberg. Again, don’t know the guy, but the consistent meme about Facebook is “You do the work, Zuckerberg gets the glory.” Seeing as D’Angelo is really good at doing really good work, maybe that gets a bit frustrating.
  5. Facebook is renaming and redistributing the CTO role to vice president of engineering. What that means is unclear, but what it shows is that Facebook is a company in flux. Things are going to change, quickly. If Facebook isn’t the right fit for D’Angelo, now is the right time to leave.


May 12, 2008  3:10 PM

MSM Monday Roundup

Roger Crawford Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Commencements are under way. No hotel rooms in Boston. No bother, all we can think about is technology news: 

Programmer’s Guild psyched to teach American lawyers about the evils of H-1B.

Word’s getting around that the feds can’t just take data without a warrant. Bush counts days, couldn’t care less. 

Neil Young keynotes at JavaOne. Even dresses up for the occasion. 

Military accidentally buys $3.5 million in bogus networking equipment. Next, skimping on safety. Oh, wait… 


May 9, 2008  12:36 PM

Weekly Wrap-Up

Roger Crawford Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

What we did this week:

Offered to buy Business ByDesign if SAP pays us.

Tried to figure out why we should buy Business ByDesign if it just became cheaper and easier to buy Business All-in-One.

Scoured land records for our new data center location. Why don’t I own THAT one!?!

What we’re doing this weekend:

Reading The Shamrock Headband so we don’t sound stupid when talking about the Celtics.

Watching that guy from King of Queens do his standup thing.


May 7, 2008  6:53 PM

Will a Chief Blogging Officer get a Golden Parachute?

Roger Crawford Roger Crawford Profile: Roger Crawford

 Excellent little news blurb on HealthLeaders Media this morning: “Chief Blogging Officer title catching on with corporations.”


Chief Blogging Officer.

Ok, one more time: Chief Blogging Officer.

The press release notes that more than 11 percent of Fortune 500 companies have blogs. Some of those Fortune 500s – Coca-Cola, Marriott and Kodak are those mentioned by name – have chief bloggers. The main role of the King of The Blog (my name, not theirs) is to promote a brand voice and engage customers.

I have a couple questions for these companies, though: Is this a legit C-level job? How far would the parking spot be from the door? What’s the number on the golden parachute you’re prepared to offer? And, most importantly, are you using WordPress or Blogger?

What kind of negotiation leverage does a potential Chief Blogging Officer have at a company like Coca-Cola? Would the number of days he or she be allowed to wear sandals and shorts in the office have to be predetermined? Would there be a discount on Coke bottle glasses? How would Coke feel about the copious amounts of Mountain Dew the King of the Blog would likely drink?

And what about Kodak? Would the KotB’s Flikr stream or Photobucket account have to be shut down? And, besides, who uses film anymore these days? I certainly wouldn’t trade in my point-and-shoot digital for film. Please. I don’t care if I’m capturing the Moments of Your Life if I have to wait for them to be developed – I’m the King of the Blog; I’ve got a deadline to meet. And the only thing that is going to bring this Kodak-branded blogpost together is a picture of a monkey smoking a cigarette!

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Marriott. Oh, Marriott. You might have the biggest bargaining chip on the table:

Marriot: We’re a hotel chain, you know.

Potential King of the Blog: OK. So you want to know about my experience with hotels?

M: No. What we’re offering you is a place to live for free that isn’t in your parents’ basement.

PKotB: Deal!

In the interest of journalistic integrity, I decided to check out these corporate-sponsored blogs. The Coca-Cola blog’s latest story focuses on finding the Coke logo on postcards. Gee, all this logo hunting sure is making me thirsty…

The Kodak blog isn’t quite as straightforward in pushing its agenda. One of the most recent posts is a story written by Steve DiLullo, and he chats about a recent cruise he took. Throughout, there are some pretty sharp-looking images that Steve, apparently, took on his own. But, lo and behold, the digital camera Steve brought is pretty “hydrophobic.” Fortunately, Kodak makes a waterproof disposable!

Bill Marriott himself wrote the most recent post for the hotel chain. Bill Marriot? CEO and KoTB? There’s got to be some sort of conflict of interest going on there. His May 1 post talks about how awesome the Marriott hotels are because of the history that’s occurred in them. Well, FDR didn’t actually have his inaugural ball in a Marriott in the 1930s, but the company did purchase the hotel that happened in. That’s got to count for something, right?

These blogs are accomplishing the goals they set out with: promote the brand, establish a voice and engage customers. In fact, Mr. Marriott’s blog (that’s how the commenters address Bill) garners between three and five thoughts and comments per post. Not bad, especially when you consider that all of them talk about how great his hotels are.

(Apparently the people who frequent these sites don’t realize that comments on blogs are supposed to be inflammatory and debasing. But that’d never happen on a huge corporation’s site since everyone in the world loves big companies.)

What Coca-Cola, Kodak and Marriott are failing to realize – or maybe they realize it and just plow on ahead anyway – is that these posts are as transparent as my ex-girlfriend. When you’re trying to establish yourself in a Web 2.0 or social networking environment, the question readers and users are first going to ask is: What is this new person bringing to the table? If you’ve got an idea to share, a story to tell or an insightful comment to make, chances are good you’ll be accepted there. But if the aim is to pushing a product or mine users for market research, you’ll get sniffed out pretty quickly.

That is, of course, the exact opposite from our mission here at CIO Symmetry. (By the way, for the latest news and trends happening in the midmarket, check out SearchCIO-Midmarket.com!)

 


May 6, 2008  4:42 PM

CIO blogs lift us up where we belong…

Roger Crawford Roger Crawford Profile: Roger Crawford

We often kick around the idea here whether or not CIOs are reading blogs. It’s a friendly argument, but we haven’t been able to come to a conclusive decision yet. So, as I surf through my Google News updates and through my RSS readers, I always keep looking for those elusive CIO blogs that’ll prove the point that, yes, you are reading – and even writing – blogs.

This morning I happened onto a real gem. CTO/CIO perspectives is written by Peter Kretzman. Kretzman describes himself as an information technology and online industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience in the business.

His blog, his about me page notes, covers “broad topics of interest to senior executives, giving the CTO/CIO perspective on such things as working as a member of a company’s executive team, how to focus product and application development, enhance and maintain world-class operations, and the care and feeding of technical staff.”

Yesterday as I was surfing the vast Interwebs for any and everything CIO related, I came across Joel Dehlin’s blog. Dehlin is the CIO for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also maintains, what seems to be, an active and popular blog. While Dehlin doesn’t confine his blog space to just the latest and greatest CIO news – he does tell personal anecdotes, but I haven’t found any pictures of his pets on the site, yet – he does touch on CIO issues from time to time.

What most interests me about Dehlin’s and Kretzman’s writing is that both obviously have technical experience and could easily get mired down by the nuts-and-bolts type of discussions that may be relevant to only a handful of people. Instead, both made the conscious decision to write about common information technology issues and offer real-life antecdotes to make the whole a little easier to swallow and have a more general appeal. Their writing styles are straightforward and charming in their desire to help their fellow readers.

So, at least for today, I win this argument. CIOs are writing blogs. And you’re reading them, too, as the comments on these blogs can attest. Well done, my midmarket CIOs. It’s like an unexpected gift or a lollypop at the end of a doctor’s appointment.

Since you’ve exceeded my expectations today, I give you Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes:

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May 5, 2008  1:01 PM

MSM Monday RoundUp

Roger Crawford Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

So this is the mainstream media Monday roundup. And Fridays, that’s when we post the weekly wrapup. See what I did there?

Shipping out from Boston:

All this year he looks at it! Finally he should come to his senses!

Some dude in Nigeria celebrates 30 years of ripping off the elderly.

Security experts might want to polish up their resumes.

HP geniuses discover new computing element. Will Hunting somehow not involved.

Castro’s brother lets everyone in on his Minesweeper addiction.


May 2, 2008  12:23 PM

Weekly Wrap-Up

Roger Crawford Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

What we did this week:

Dug in on mobile computing and pretty much freaked out that iPhone might go down to $199.

Brought our laptops to the Masters.

Watched Congress do what they do best. Nothing.

Finally returned that copy of Tropic of Cancer we checked out 37 years ago.

What we’re doing this weekend:

Playing final Jeopardy to our heart’s content.

Brushing up on our Mint Julep recipes.


May 1, 2008  5:31 PM

Please don’t be like Buzz

Roger Crawford Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger, Pulitzer Prize winner and sports scribe for the ages, has become irrelevant. And insane.

The author of the phenomenal Friday Night Lights, an outstanding book about life and football in a Texas oil town, pretty much lost his mind on HBO’s CostasNow the other night. You know that first rant in Network, when our angry messiah spouts off from a news desk? It was like that, only instead of speaking for the general population, Bissinger was piping up for a handful of angry, aging sportswriters.

His target: Will Leitch, editor of sports blog Deadspin.com. And blogging in general.

Bissinger in a nutshell: Blogs are bad, cruel, unprofessional and useless. Professional sportswriters work hard and deserve to be read on that basis alone. I’ve spent years working to “perfect the craft” (gag!), and you and your Interweb come in here and take my readers away and pick on me.

Look, I know the frustration. The newspaper industry is tanking. Jobs are gone, wages won’t go up and papers are getting smaller. I love, love, love newspapers, and this crushes me.

But I get something the great Bissinger doesn’t. We can’t stop it. There is an organic aspect to industry change that can be resisted and shouted at but not halted. The cycles vary, but every industry will at some point shuffle, shake up and be spit out, looking quite a bit different on the other side.

Bissinger’s idiocy here is that he treats Leitch like some guy who just got out of bed and decided to start posting on the Internet one day. You would think a journalist would have taken a few minutes to look Leitch up and find out that he’s sort of a, you know, professional writer.

So don’t be like Buzz. When things start to change and they don’t look like the IT you used to know, keep an open mind. Listen to your staff members, ask them for help and ideas. Do NOT become a raving lunatic. Do NOT batten down the hatches unless you have a damn good reason. Do start reading Deadspin. It is so much more fun than your newspaper sports section (minus the fact that your local paper will obviously focus on your local teams).

Leitch should be commended for keeping his cool while Bissinger rants. He saved his best comments for his site. Instead of exploding on air, he went back to the Internet and picked up exactly where he left off. That makes him smarter than a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Here’s a link to this catastrophe, as hosted by Gawker Media, which owns Deadspin. I should warn you that it is loaded with foul language and bad, cruel, unprofessional and useless comment. It all comes from Bissinger.


April 29, 2008  7:42 PM

Fencing for recognition: Sword fight your way to the executive table

Roger Crawford Roger Crawford Profile: Roger Crawford

Normally, I’d take a pass on commenting on a report like the one EDS recently published entitled “CIO at the Table.” But today I feel like this could be a useful read for you, my midmarket CIOs.

As with most of the reports I come across, there isn’t anything entirely earthshaking or world changing about this. The main thrust of the article is about including CIOs at the decision-making table at any given company.

“In either case, technology isn’t something you can ignore in the 21st century. No matter what your industry, IT is at the center of the action… Yet many organizations continue to misstep, not quite understanding the role of the CIO, the part that IT technicians should play in daily operations, how to make investment decisions, set sequence and priority, or even the best way to capitalize on the latest innovations to expand and change the products and services they are taking to market … What most senior leaders fail to grasp along the way is that making IT work has as much to do with business as it does with technology itself … But you have to do more than invest in good infrastructure and applications. You have to integrate and align IT with the enterprise’s overarching goals.”

I just went ahead and grabbed the most salient points of the article. But, by all means, you should read the whole report, even though it’s aimed more directly at your CEO than it is at you.

It does, however, provide some insight into the way your boss is trying to wrap his or her mind around what you do on a daily basis and why a good CIO is vital to the company.

Maybe I should say the way your CEO isn’t thinking about your job. EDS suggests an expanded role for the CIO with a more strategic vision for the whole company and IT governance in general. It’s a decent argument and could provide a few thrusts and ripostes for your next performance review.

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