Overheard: Word of the Day


May 22, 2009  6:18 PM

Terabyte – two terabytes in the news

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
The National Archives lost a terabyte disk drive filled with sensitive data from the Clinton administration, including Social Security numbers and Secret Service procedures.  Had this data been on a self-encrypting drive, we would not have heard of its loss.

Pete Steege, The National Archives lose a terabyte drive filled with sensitive data

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is terabyte. A terabyte (one trillion bytes) is in the news today for two reasons — a terabyte of data of data from the Clinton administration is missing from the National Archives and Amazon has announced a new cloud service called Import/Export for moving terabytes of data to the cloud.

The interesting thing about missing data from the Clinton administration is that it was on a 2-terabyte hard drive that was left sitting on a shelf for a couple of months. And guess what? The data on it was not encrypted. What the heck???

The Amazon announcement is another WTH.  The Import/Export service is being promoted as a way to move large datasets to and from the cloud (meaning Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).)

A terabyte is a lot of data and trying to push it up to Amazon over the Internet takes a lot of bandwidth.  With Amazon Import/Export, you can move the data by off-loading it to a portable storage device and then shipping the device to Amazon.  Amazon has a handy-dandy calculator for estimating the cost of service.  They will charge you $80 for moving the data from the portable device to the storage you’ve purchased at Amazon (along with a $2.49 per data-loading-hour surcharge) and then they’ll ship the device back to you.  It might sound pricey until you consider that uploading a terabyte of data over the Internet with your T1 line is likely to take 82 days.

And oh yeah,  you may want to take a lesson from the National Archives and encrypt that data before you ship it out.

May 21, 2009  5:00 PM

Hadoop – just a storage and batch data processing system

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
hadoop “Hadoop is a massively scalable storage and batch data processing system.”

Christophe Bisciglia, 5 Common Questions About Hadoop


May 13, 2009  5:36 PM

PCI DSS – protecting your credit and debit cards

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
The poker game continues. Get set for an all-nighter.

David Taylor, Raising the Bet: A National Payment Security Standard

Friday’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, better known as PCI DSS. If you’ve ever had your debit card replaced without your asking, you’ve been affected by PCI DSS. The standard is managed by a consortium of credit card companies. David Taylor explains how (and why) merchants are hooking up to promote a new standard.

From its humble beginnings as an effort to rationalize and harmonize the Visa, MasterCard and AMEX security guidelines and turn them into a single standard, the PCI SSC continues to raise the bet by launching more and more standards to address different aspects of the payment security business: Payment application security (PA-DSS), PIN entry device security (PCI-PED), Hardware security modules (PCI HSM), Kiosk and ATM security (PCI UPT), etc.

Even though these standards are emerging through a participatory process, some merchants and vendors clearly see this game as “rigged” – run by the card networks, enforced by the card networks, with fines imposed by the card networks. The merchants and vendors may be allowed to offer advice; they are not “players” in the game. But now this could be changing.


May 13, 2009  2:33 PM

Open textbook and open content — two names for low-hanging fruit

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has an ambitious plan to reduce the cost of education in California. He intends for the state to develop digital open source textbooks for high school math and science classes. The books will be available for free and will be used at public schools across the state.  Schwarzenegger has tasked California Secretary of Education Glen Thomas with making sure that the new textbooks are ready for deployment in fall 2009.”

Ryan Paul, California open source digital textbook plan faces barriers

There’s a fair amount of buzz about how California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is leading a state-wide initiative to put open content in classrooms by providing students with free digital open source textbooks for high school math and science.

I’ve read through the California Open Source Textbook Project (COSTP) website and have learned that open source digital textbooks are intended to supplement printed textbooks (not replace them, cough cough) and that sometime down the road, the open source textbooks could provide a revenue stream because the state could license the textbooks to educational organizations outside the state.

According to COSTP, the benefits of open source textbooks are:

1) The complete elimination of the current $400M+ line item for California’s K-12 textbooks
2) A significant increase in the range of content afforded to California’s K-12 textbooks
3) A permanent end to California’s textbook shortages
4) Creation of fully portable content holdings database that scales with classroom technologies as they are introduced.

The COSTP website says that they have begun a pilot program — in cooperation with Wikipedia — for a World History textbook for 9th graders.  The book will be tied to California State Curriculum Standards.

This is brilliant — the state of California is tired of paying out money to textbook publishers, tired of quibbling over whether or not publisher textbooks meet state standards, so the state of California has decided to publish the books they need themselves!

When it comes to cutting something out of the budget, textbooks are low-hanging fruit. They are expensive and they need to be replaced fairly often.  It’d be much cheaper to appoint a state “Board of Textbooks” and pay teachers and administrators already in the educational system to build the books digitally.  (They should pick another name though; I just realized it sounds a lot like “bored of textbooks.”)

The idea of having a closed community use a wiki or some other type of collaborative software to create a textbook isn’t even new.  What’s new is the idea that a state-level Department of Education is trying this out!

It makes perfect sense. The state has the resources to gather the right people from around the state together (in person or virtually) and pay them for their contributions.  The state has the resources  to be able to publish and distribute the textbooks digitally and if need be, in printed form.  The state has the clout to set standards for the content and for the formatting (maybe this will end the format wars) AND the state has powerful motivation to make an initiative like this happen.  Money.

But as Ryan Paul points out, there are a lot of ways State Ed could mess this up.

I think the first way is by not taking the time to educate taxpayers about how the books are being built.  If people start thinking that an open source textbook means that every teacher — or heaven forbid  — every student — has the power to edit his or her textbooks, they’ll be a lot of push back.  But if the state stops and takes time over the next three months to teach the public about how the books will be built and everyone knows which parts can be edited or annotated and which parts can’t, what’s not to love about the idea?

P.S.  I keep wondering if we should call this type of textbook build “open source.”  Maybe going back to David Wiley’s idea of “open content” might be a better fit.  Or maybe we should just drop the “open” altogether and replace it with collaborative or just plain old “digital.”  That way the focus is taken off how the books are built.


May 13, 2009  12:56 PM

Open source – When free is really not free

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
“It might look cheaper on paper, but if you look at what you want to do with it and it requires a substantial engineering effort rather than a commercial product, then it’s not necessarily the most effective solution.”

Adam Honoré,  as quoted in Wall Street Opens Doors to Open Source Technologies

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is open source.  Open source describes a software program whose source code is made freely available for use or modification.

The poor economic climate has given the open source movement a boost as budget cuts force IT departments to look around for the most cost-effective way to get projects done.  You might think that “freely available” is the same thing as “free” — but most of us don’t know how to use that free code.  We’d either end up paying a distributor like Red Hat to help us out — or we’d need to keep people in house that can work with the source code.  Either way,  we’d be shelling out money.


May 12, 2009  1:42 PM

Voice dialing – coming to an iPhone near you

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
Sources speaking to Ars have discovered evidence of new voice control features coming to iPhone OS 3.0. Apparently going by the code name “Jibbler,” it looks like it will provide not just voice synthesis, but also voice recognition for the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0.

Chris Foresman, iPhone OS 3.0 to feature voice control and feedback

I can’t wait for the 3.0 upgrade!!!


May 7, 2009  8:22 PM

Neuromarketing – Voodoo, 2009-style

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
The neuromarketing research Lindstrom conducted also debunked some popular advertising myths. Perhaps the most surprising insight was that, contrary to popular opinion, sex does not sell.

Nancy Pekala, Why Buy? The Role of Neuromarketing in Understanding Consumer Behavior


May 6, 2009  2:06 PM

Shareware – a demonstration of faith

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
My wife said I was “a foolish old man” if I thought even one person would voluntarily send me money for the program. I was more optimistic. I suspected that enough voluntary payments would come to help pay for expansions to my personal computer hobby – perhaps several hundred dollars. Maybe even a thousand dollars (in my wildest dreams!) But my tiny post office box was too small to receive the responses from a wildly enthusiastic public.

Jim Knopf, The Origin of Shareware

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is shareware. Jim Knopf, a man who’s widely recognized as “the father of shareware” is retired now.  Lucky for us, he’s posted his story.

Is shareware dead? No. You might know it by other names though — crippleware, demo-ware, trialware.  They all describe a distribution model where the software is given out for free with the understanding that if the user likes the software, he will eventually pay the developer for it.

Shareware’s in the news again because of Microsoft’s Windows 7 Release Candidate.  From now until July 2010, you can get a pretty-close-to-final version of Windows 7 for free. The  understanding is that if you like it, you’ll pay for the upgrade when the trial period runs out.


May 5, 2009  6:53 PM

Location-based service – SMS text ads coming to a cell phone near you

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
Google has been teaming up with hardware makers to build cellphones with the Mountain View, Calif., company’s Android software, part of its strategy to accelerate mobile Internet access and generate more revenue by selling mobile ads.

Scott Morrison, Mobile Ads Seen Picking Up As New Google Phones Hit Market

Today’s WhatIs.com Word of the Day is location-based service (LBS).  Imagine going shopping at your local big-box grocery chain and as the electronic doors whoosh open, your cell phone dings. Who is it? It’s an SMS text message from the grocery store letting you know what’s on sale (forget those old-timey flyers). Or maybe it’s a text coupon, letting you know that your favorite snack food has a two-for-one offer today.

Even as I speak, one of our local New York chains is working to make this happen.  What’s it going to take?  They’re not sure yet, but one thing’s for sure — it’ll take my co-operation.  You see, location-based services are permission based. I’ll either have to download their new iPhone app or register my GPS-enabled cell phone with their loyalty card program.

Interpublic is one of the world’s largest advertising companies — so like E.F. Hutton of years gone by —  when Interpublic speaks, the publishing industry listens.  And according to a new report released by Magna, (the unit of Interpublic that – among other things – provides research and market intelligence to all of Interpublic’s buying operations) mobile ad spends are expected to grow to $229 million in 2009.  That’s down from their original forecast before the economy tanked, but it’s a number that’s still impressive.

Most interesting to me is what kind of ad Magna says will pay off best:

Text messaging platforms represents the best near-term potential for advertisers who want to use mobile devices to support broad-reaching marketing campaigns.   This contrasts with slower growth rates for other more narrow-reaching types of mobile media (such as mobile search, in-call media, mobile video, mobile coupons and mobile gaming).

Tie that in with what Nick Brien’s been recommending about traditional vs. emerging media and one thing’s pretty clear — if you haven’t already been asked to opt-in for SMS ads on your mobile device, you will be soon.  The grocery store is just the tip of the ice berg — and location-based services have definitely reached their tipping point. Nick Brien, a senior executive at Interpublic, says:

In other words, if companies are cutting advertising budgets, they would be well-advised to take money out of traditional TV commercials, while maintaining funding for web search ads; or they should abandon a newspaper campaign, but keep spending to zip-targeted  text ads to cellphones.


May 5, 2009  5:03 PM

Video – The pros and cons of LBS marketing

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

CNN reporter Susan Candiotti explains how LBS marketing will work.  (LBS stands for location-based services.)

Segment Title: Somebody’s watching me (approx 5 mins.)

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/NwuW5BCaj-I" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


Forgot Password

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an e-mail containing your password.

Your password has been sent to: