Overheard: Word of the Day


June 24, 2009  12:46 AM

Overheard: Memristor is the missing link of integrated circuitry

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

Electronic theorists have been using the wrong pair of variables all these years–voltage and charge. The missing part of electronic theory was that the fundamental pair of variables is flux and charge.Leon Chua as quoted in ‘Missing link’ memristor created: Rewrite the textbooks?

A memristor can be thought of as a resistor that changes its resistance depending on the amount of current that’s sent through it — and the big deal is that it retains its resistance even after the power is turned off.  Memristors are in the news again because engineers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed flexible memristor-like electronic memory chips.  It could be big news for consumer electronics because it opens up the possibility that memory chips can be printed just as simply and inexpensively as overhead transparencies.

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June 23, 2009  4:57 PM

Overheard – Is IT insourcing just a temporary solution?

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
overheard Only 9% of CIOs said they planned to increase IT outsourcing this year, according to the latest update to Gartner Inc.’s 2009 CIO Agenda survey, and many are considering insourcing previously outsourced functions.

IT insourcing can bring jobs, cost savings back in-house, experts say

The survey, which ranked CIOs’ top priorities, found that “improving business processes” topped the list once again this year, with 57% naming it as a top concern. Following that was “reducing enterprise costs” with 51% and “improving enterprise workforce effectiveness,” which was up three spots from last year and garnered 37%.


June 22, 2009  2:35 PM

Overheard – Speech-to-text software

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“My wife once clocked me at 120 words a minute, and that’s including making corrections. It’s just insanely fast (providing, of course, you know what you want to say).”

David Pogue, Pogue’s Productivity Secrets Revealed

David Pogue says he uses Dragon Naturally Speaking!

The funny thing about using Dragon Naturally Speaking is that it’s tempting to look at the screen as you’re dictating to make sure the software is typing what you’re actually saying.

There’s something mesmerizing about seeing what you say appear magically on the screen as text. And of course you don’t want the Dragon to put down gibberish or make so small mistakes that it appears you’ve been drinking something stronger than coffee all day. So when you start using Dragon, it’s kind of natural that to want to supervise the software.

If you keep looking, though, you’ll probably negate any advantage the software offers. It’s too tempting to spend time self-correcting and self-editing and not enough time talking out ideas. And just like Narcissus, the guy who was fascinated with his own reflection, you’ll perish.

When you’re riding the dragon, you need to focus on flying ahead. My advice? Don’t look down till the trip is over.


June 18, 2009  9:27 PM

Overheard – IT MOOSE management

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“What we’re seeing is CIOs are working very hard to reduce the cost of their operations on a per-transaction basis. They’ve done a lot of that with virtualization and data-center consolidation.”

Mark McDonald, as quoted in IT After The Recession

IT demand is very strong. Companies have had to work harder than ever to make money in this environment and also to be able to drive the types of innovation that will keep customers interested in new things they’re offering. But CIOs are meeting that demand with existing IT assets rather than buying new assets.

In other words, they’re managing the IT MOOSE and they like their MOOSE lean.

Mark points out that the number of IT transactions are increasing — but not all those transactions can be directly tied to revenue.  (That reminds me. I need to log on and check my bank balance.) As the number of transactions to support $1 in revenue continue to go up, Mark predicts that CIOs will be taking a hard look at infrastructure again.

The question is…whose infrastructure will they be looking at?  Their own — or Amazon’s or EMC’s or some other cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider?


June 18, 2009  7:09 PM

Overheard – TV over Ethernet

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
LG is shipping ‘broadband HDTVs’ that have embedded software for streaming movies and shows directly from Netflix over an Internet connection.

Jeff Caruso, TV over Ethernet part of larger trend

Goodbye Roku!


June 17, 2009  5:35 PM

Gesture control – using kinesics to create the uber-perceptual user interface

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“The challenge with gesture control, as one panelist put it, is that we don’t have any universal body language for a lot of the actions we’d want gesture control to accomplish. For example, there’s no widely shared gesture that means ‘turn it off,’ so programmers would need to invent one, and then hope users would be willing to learn it.”

ConsumerReports.org blog, Gesture control: Is it the next big thing?

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is gesture recognition.


June 12, 2009  4:28 PM

Release management – the IT equivalent of herding cats

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
Studies have shown us that a large majority of IT projects fail either in part or outright for non-technical reasons that could have been prevented with proper planning.

George Spafford, Release policies set standards for rollouts

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is release management.

As part of a webcast on Understanding the ITIL Trinity of Configuration Change and Release Management, George says that:

  • 29% of projects deliver on-time with expected features
  • 53% are challenged (are delivered on-time without expected features)
  • 18% outright fail outright

It’s not surprising that George attributes these dismal numbers to non-technical factors, including lack of project planning, poor requirements definition, not getting the right stakeholders involved,  poor communication and insufficient management oversight .

I’m frankly surprised that the number of projects that deliver on-time with expected features is so high.  I would have guessed…3%.


June 11, 2009  4:16 PM

Personality profile – Are you an ISTJ too?

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
If you work in an IT job, then you’re probably an ISTJ.

Sherrie Haynie, as reported in Why Layoffs Hit IT Professionals So Hard

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is personality profile.  It’s getting some buzz this week because of an article on CIO.com where Sherrie Haynie, an organizational consultant with CPP Inc. (an HR consultancy and the publisher of the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator assessment) was quoted as saying that about 60 percent of technology professionals who’ve taken a Myers-Briggs assessment with CPP are ISTJs.

I’m a big fan of having a team take the Myers-Briggs test together.  Sitting around discussing the results and learning to appreciate the talents of your co-workers is a valuable experience for any group of co-workers.


June 10, 2009  2:57 PM

Pen testing – poking around a sauna to find holes

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
Most security assessments follow a structured methodology in that an initial meeting is held, an agreement is reached, and the assessment is performed. The assessment typically runs from three days to two weeks. Afterwards, a report is written and a meeting is held with the client to discuss the finding or findings.

Michael Gregg, as quoted in Ethical hacking and countermeasures: Network penetration testing intro

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is pen testing.  It’s short for penetration testing, a strategy for finding security vulnerabilities.

Ironically, when I was a kid we used to play a game that involved pen testing.  We called the game “spys.” A guy named Luke Reed and I would team up against our younger sisters and try to break in to each other’s forts.  One of the forts was a sauna and the other one was a garage, but that didn’t really matter. What mattered was doing reconnaissance to try and discover the enemy’s vulnerabilities so we could infiltrate their fort, get their valuable information (find out what they were talking about) and get out undetected. We played this game for entire summers.

If the enemy was getting too good at spying, we’d set up a pen test. Basically that meant talking Luke’s little brother into being a double-agent. He’d join our sisters’ team and pretend to be on their side so he could see how they were exploiting our own vulnerabilities and report back to us.

There was almost always a security hole. Literally. A hole between the garage and the sauna where the electrical wires ran.  It let you pretty much hear everything that got said on the other side.

Ahh…the summers of youth.  The times when “playing” meant “learning” and valuable life skills were being developed through intricate games filled with double-agents, treachery and lots of sneaking around between swims.

You know what Luke grew up to be?

A security director.  For real.  :-)


June 9, 2009  6:03 PM

Skunkworks – Make it so

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“Security consultants believe that the ongoing economic malaise is prompting many businesses to rush skunkworks server virtualization projects into production without thoroughly considering how these deployments might affect their overall security posture.”

Heather Clancy, Tech Watch: Security pros want strong policy for virtualization

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is skunkworks.  A skunkworks is a small team that’s given magical powers (think “all the stuff they need”) to get a task done.   The good thing about a skunkworks is that nobody tells them “you can’t do that” or “we’ve never done it like that before.”  The bad thing about a skunkworks is that because they operate out there on their own, they may accidently break something that’s associated peripherally.

The term got its start at Lockheed.


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