CIO Symmetry

September 18, 2008  3:02 PM

The Wall Street Journal embraces Web 2.0

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

The Wall Street Journal launched a redesigned site Tuesday featuring Web 2.0 – but you have to pay to be a member.

Web 2.0, the user-generated content explosion, has changed the Internet. Social networking sites, blogs and wikis are everywhere, allowing users to create their own spaces and connect with people across the globe. Few social networking sites, however, charge a fee. I certainly would not have joined Facebook (at least initially) if I had to sign up for a paid subscription. But then again, the only purpose Facebook serves me is a social one. Once you start examining your professional social networking options – the cost may be worth it.

For a CIO looking to make contacts and be privy to a host of subscription-only media, may be the way to go.

The paid subscription includes some enticing extras. The self-guided tour (albeit a bit campy — inviting you to “stop by and discover” with “more content to uncover”) provides brief descriptions of the new site additions.

Overall, the redesign boasts an updated look and feel with enhanced story pages (video, audio and interactive graphics), news highlights (which can also be managed as a direct feed to Facebook, My Space, your desktop or even your blog), subscriber-exclusive content, a member community, Mobile Reader (a service for your BlackBerry so you can access your account on the go) and Journal Women (featuring women in business, politics, science, the arts and the world).

There is certainly a lot going on in the new and improved – and a lot of mixed reviews surrounding it.

On one side, some reviewers found the paid subscription to be a deterrent to new readers. Being blocked behind a pay wall could discourage casual browsers and they might look for news elsewhere. On the other side, satisfied reviewers were drawn to the exclusivity factor – developing contacts within, what some have referred to as, an elite group.

Do CIOs see the benefits of paid social networking subscriptions when so many of them are offered for free? Or has The Wall Street Journal missed the Web 2.0 boat?

September 16, 2008  9:00 PM

LinkedIn to cash in, but at what cost to you?

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

LinkedIn, a social networking site for business professionals, has been in such high demand amongst advertisers that it will be launching its own advertising network. What made LinkedIn such a sought-after site? The registered users.

According to LinkedIn’s June 2008 demographic data, the site’s registered users seem to be an advertiser’s dream. The data claims that the average household income of its members is $110,000, 49% are business decision makers and the average age is 41.

Facebook, another popular social networking site, has 90 million active users (who have returned to the site in the last 30 days) and is the second-most-trafficked PHP site in the world, according to the site. Facebook ads are targeted to users based on their preferences, status (employment, marital, etc.) and general information (age, gender, etc.). But Facebook began as a college networking site back in 2004 that was extended to high schools, and then later to the general population. That’s a lot of users, but the users can be just about anyone – not necessarily decision makers, the employed or people interested in spending money.

OK, so maybe comparing LinkedIn to Facebook is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

In LinkedIn’s claim to have “a younger, more affluent, more influential and harder-to-find audience than the leading business sites” it included statistics for and For users, the average household income is $93,896, 38% are decision makers and the average age is 47. users average a household income of $95,668, 42% are decision makers and the average age is 48.

With such a desirable audience, LinkedIn’s ad network could be raking in the dough – but what does this mean for the users? Well, whenever someone visits LinkedIn, a cookie will be placed on his or her browser identifying the user as a LinkedIn member when he or she visits partner sites. Opting out is possible, but unless you’re familiar with the changes, would anyone even know to opt out?

In 2007 when Facebook announced it would open user profiles to search engines, traffic to the Facebook privacy page spiked. But since then, traffic to the page has been relatively flat. Obviously, people care about their privacy – but they may be unaware of what they can do.

For CIOs (and any business professional, for that matter), being part of a social networking site like LinkedIn is beneficial. LinkedIn boasts 24 million users representing 150 industries around the world. With such an expansive network of people to connect to, you’re able to make connections, see where people have moved in their careers and even market yourself for a new job or position. But is being sold as a “desirable audience” a fair trade? Is privacy becoming more of a privilege on the Web, as opposed to a right?

September 12, 2008  1:25 PM

Are CIOs finding Apple’s sex-appeal, appealing?

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

How important is it, as a CIO, to have a fashion-accessory phone? What about if said phone is sexy – unlike some of the more boring models?

Windows Mobile is boring. According to Mikael Nerde, head of the accessory and developer program for Sony Ericsson, “Win Mobile has so many great functions, but it just looks really, really boring.”

Efficient and well-known, but boring nonetheless. Just look at how Apple represents Windows in the Mac commercials – pocket-protector clad, bumbling, nervous Windows up against a younger, more confident Mac.

What is the Apple appeal? Apple showed the world it’s entirely possible to be smart and sexy with their “sexed up smartphone”—the iPhone. What makes the iPhone such a hit? A Handango Inc.- sponsored panel discussion decided it’s a “mixture of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ marketing ‘mojo,’ the success of its App Store, integrated functionality and more.”

Smart, sexy and functional? Sounds great. But is sexiness necessary for those using their phone primarily for business purposes?

Well, for the mobile competitors, sexiness is necessary. That is, if they want to compete with the “one to beat” iPhone in the mobile world.

Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) introduced a new member to the BlackBerry family — the BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220. Available later in the year, the “not just for business users” model is smaller, more stylish and still retains the features you would expect in a BlackBerry.

Sprint Nextel Corp. is also releasing new phones later this year. Three of the five new consumer phones will have a new user interface called Sprint One Click. One Click is similar to Apple’s carousel functionality; it allows users to drop the icons of commonly-used applications on their home screen for one-click access.

OK so Win Mobile is boring and Apple is sexy – but do CIOs really care about how sexy their mobile device is? I don’t know, you tell me.

All in all, it seems mobile phones are bringing sexy back – and using the iPhone as a benchmark.

September 11, 2008  6:09 PM

Weekly wrap-up

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

What we did this week:

Suggested CIOs have a little mercy on their overworked security experts and data architects.

Imagined a world without microsoft.

Wondered why on earth CIOs would take themselves out of disaster recovery planning.

Seriously, get on that whole disaster recovery thing. The planning takes longer than you think.

You can’t really stop the government from hacking your phones. But you can try to stop everyone else.

September 11, 2008  6:01 PM

In a world without Microsoft…

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Earlier this week on I wrote about IBM’s pitch (with partners) for a “Microsoft-free desktop.”

It seems a little far-fetched. Then again, we got an email yesterday from an IT director outlining how he very much is trying this, albeit not necessarily using IBM.

All said, it got us to thinking here: What if Microsoft never existed? You know, like in It’s A Wonderful Life. How would the world be different?

A few ideas (thank you to Colin Steele at for pitching in here):

Steve Ballmer would be a used-car salesman.

Justin Long wouldn’t be famous (thank God).

Redmond, Wash., would be best known as the bicycle capital of the Northwest.

South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut would be missing its best joke. We won’t link to it here (it’s pretty violent, for a cartoon), but it has to do with Windows and there’s this cool little video site called YouTube.…

Antitrust would still be most synonymous with Standard Oil.

Failures (who think they are actually geniuses) wouldn’t say things like “Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard.”

We wouldn’t have Xbox. (Wait. So what?)

No lame “hot male” jokes.

Oh, who am I kidding? We’d probably all be out of a job.

September 9, 2008  8:01 PM

Google steps up to preserve the nuances of American history

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

I used to write for newspapers. Which is a bit like saying I was a telegraph operator, in that both jobs carry a certain romanticism linked to their glory years and are widely considered irrelevant today.

As Nelson on The Simpsons once pointed out: “Ha ha. Your medium is dying.”

But as news gathering shifts to a more affordable, more equitable and more easily distributed medium, a part of me worries people don’t realize the value of newspapers – that is, the value of physical newspapers that have already been printed.

I recognize that a huge part of master data management is about knowing what not to keep. I also recognize the “Big Brother” fears that come with the Internet’s relentless cataloging of information.

But, anecdotally, this country is losing its history. Like I said, I’ve worked in newspapers. I can personally assure you that community papers – arguably the most important newspapers, historically speaking – are not properly cataloging and safeguarding their physical archives.

Once something is gone – it’s gone. Which says a lot about being sure your IT department has a comprehensive and clear data storage scheme.

So thank-freaking-God for Google on this one. In its quest to index all of the world’s information, the decade-old behemoth has started to scan and catalog newspaper archives.

Admittedly, newspapers, especially those written by 21-year-olds in small Vermont towns with little editor oversight (here’s looking at me) are often wrong or not completely informed. And much of the information becomes seemingly irrelevant by the next morning.

But you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone, and you often don’t know what you need until you need it.

Imagine, for a moment, that your governor or potential vice president came up in a small town that largely escaped blog watchers and the city pages of the major metro papers. Wouldn’t it be great to have universal, uninterrupted access to the pages of the local weekly, allowing anyone in the world to dig into this person’s public history?

And, as The New York Times article points out, obituaries, birth announcements, wedding announcements and the like are invaluable when tracking family lineage – a tedious task under any circumstances.

Certainly, piecemeal cataloging is occurring. An otherwise dismissible trend story I once wrote about vandalism to city property has been sourced on the Wikipedia entry for “street sign theft,” for example.

But that’s just one story. I would be thrilled if I could use Google to access images of everything I’ve ever written. (Not everyone would be so excited — I covered crime and criminal courts and printed the names of alleged criminal offenders daily.)

Again, I know for a fact that some small newspapers in this country are one building fire away from losing their entire archive. Sure, most small papers have an extra set of microfilm stored away in a second location. Still … things go neglected and missing. That would be a travesty.

Google stands to make money here, of course, but our nation will benefit by having the folks in Mountain View contract to preserve our history free of charge.

September 8, 2008  4:19 PM

MSM Monday Round-up

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Happy Monday. Here’s some stuff:

The Jerry Seinfeld/Bill Gates Microsoft commercial is out.

The New York Times has a nice look at what Google has grown into as the company hits its 10-year anniversary.

In other news, cable and Internet providers seek to become the robber barons of the 21st century. Comcast seeks to overturn a completely reasonable FCC ruling. And phone companies don’t see why they should have to follow completely reasonable reporting rules.

September 5, 2008  3:29 PM

Don’t ignore internal security (and don’t write passwords on Post-it’s)

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

Last year 8% of the IT budget went towards security. This year? 10%.

Khalid Kark, principal analyst at Forrester Research, Inc., presented security statistics at Forrester’s Security Forum 2008. For the past four years, CIOs said security was their top priority and despite the economy, three out of four said they would continue to spend ten percent of their IT budget on security. But how much of the budget is allotted for security against internal threats? Have we forgotten about the situation in San Francisco? Administrators were locked out of the system by one of their own — a top IT guy. And according to Forrester, the majority of security breaches involve internal employees.

Knowing that, I suppose I should have been prepared for the results of Cyber-Ark’s new survey. After polling 300 security professionals, the Cyber-Ark results claimed that 88% of IT administrators would steal valuable and sensitive company information if they were fired tomorrow. This isn’t like Jerry Maguire snagging the company goldfish on the way out – this is valuable company information! I’d like to know what’s going on to protect against that.

The Cyber-Ark survey also showed that “a quarter of the companies polled admitted to suffering from internal sabotage and security fraud in their workplace. One third said they believe industrial espionage and data leakage is occurring within their company.” Cyber-Ark CEO, Udi Mokady did offer some protection advice, suggesting securing privileged passwords, changing them often and managing them. And even though Cyber-Ark sells products that do just that (a teeny bit of a marketing pitch?) the results are difficult to ignore.

It’s not just malicious acts that threaten your companies security – employees who lose their laptop (or have it stolen from an office and then replaced…) also pose a security threat. IT sloppiness is also dangerous. The survey showed a third of the most powerful passwords are still being put on post-it notes. No comment necessary.

So how can you increase your security? Kark says it’s important to embrace change when it comes to security. He also provided three points to live by: have an open mind, educate yourself on new technologies and developments and utilize this education to solve the problems of today. Just because you updated your security system last year, don’t assume you’re as protected as you’d like to be today. As technologies change, so do the threats against them.

On a lighter note, Dr. Gary McGraw, CTO of Cigital, talked to us about software exploitation and EULAs (end user licence agreements). Apparently, the EULA you accept to access Microsoft’s Frontpage, disallows negative comments about Microsoft to be posted. Just a little tid-bit of information for you.

September 5, 2008  1:10 AM

Google’s Chrome: Not your average Web browser?

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

Microsoft’s IE is facing some serious competition. With Mozilla’s Firefox, Apple’s Safari and Opera Software ASA’s Opera and recently Google’s Chrome, it seems Microsoft is falling back a bit. Computerworld reported Microsoft lost almost a full percentage point in the market share during the month of August. Recently launched Chrome, has already picked up one percent of the market in 24 hours.

Chrome has a privacy mode and a combination address-and-search bar. It also runs each tab as a separate process to prevent a single site to crash the browser. But what makes it special? Firefox and Safari have privacy modes (IE 8 Beta 2 also boasts a privacy setting dubbed “porn mode” by bloggers) and the address-and-search bar is nothing new… so what’s the appeal?

Chrome could turn into far more than a Web browser.

Designed to improve upon the way browsers handle JavaScript (used by Google’s spreadsheet and word processing programs), Chrome may turn into a much stronger platform – incorporating word processing, e-mail and photo editing. An all-in-one browser!

But being chock-full of all these added goodies is making Chrome look a little gluttonous. According to Craig Barth, chief technology officer at Devil Mountain Software Inc., Chrome is a pig. A memory hog, to be exact.

Researchers say Chrome uses more memory than IE 8. Pair that with an older PC and you can expect some slow performance. But can you blame a snail for being slow if he’s carrying his house on his back? Chrome is carrying quite a load (segregated-tab capabilities? JavaScript equipped?) so memory consumption is no surprise. But at this point, what’s more important for the user seeking a solid Web browser?

With so many companies using IE, will they be ready and willing to switch to Chrome? Chrome is raw and pure—built from scratch by Google (and not the descendent of an ancient Microsoft design… what was it, again? Mosaic?). But IE is well-known, understood and pretty much everyone knows how to use it. Because so few ready to retrain their staff and test their application compatibility, IE may remain on top of the business browser world.

But who knows? The shiny newbie may win out. After all, Chrome was just launched! Let’s see where they stand after a month – at least.

September 4, 2008  7:16 PM

Weekly Wrap-up

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Oh my. Taking a look at our output this week, we can’t help but worry the summer good times are over. Brace yourself, scary news ahead.

Face it, you’re probably going to use your disaster recovery plan some day (if you have one). Attorney Jeffrey Ritter advises us on how to keep out of legal trouble when it happens.

In another “it can/will happen to you” scenario, we looked at exactly how bad your life will get if you’re not prepared for a software license audit.

Sorry to continue with the bad news, but we put out our CIO salary special report and it turns out this isn’t a good year for getting paid.

The good news is that the best band in the world plays Montreal Friday night and we’ll be there. May your weekend be as rocktastic as ours.

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