Thursday, December 30, 2004

Microsoft gets a clue

Microsoft ends Passport push

Microsoft is abandoning one of its most contentious attempts to dominate the internet after rival technology companies banded together in opposition and consumers failed to embrace it.

The world's biggest software company said it would stop trying to persuade websites to use its Passport service, which stores consumers' credit card and other information as they surf from place to place.

Did Bush miss an opportunity?

If Bush were a statesman, he would have flown to Jakarta and announced his solidarity with the Muslims of Indonesia (which has suffered at least 40,000 dead and rising).

unimaginable devastation

Something has got to be done

Western militaries confront child soldiers threat

There are now as many as 300,000 children under 18 years old presently serving as combatants in 40 per cent of the world's armed organisations (both non-state and state linked) and they fight in almost 75 per cent of the world's conflicts. An additional set of as many as 500,000 children serve in armed forces not presently at war.

While questions of differing cultural standards of maturity are sometimes raised, the youth in question cover a range considered underage both according to international law and by almost every state in its own legislation. Some 80 per cent of those conflicts where children are present include fighters under the age of 15 and 18 per cent of the world's armed organisations have used children of 12 years and under. The average age of child soldiers found by separate studies in Southeast Asia and Central Africa was just under 13.

The practice also differs from the past by including girls as well as boys.

How can I be sure the money will be used wisely?

The American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) is a nationally prominent charity watchdog service whose purpose is to help donors make informed giving decisions.

GuideStar, the national database of nonprofit organizations

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

U.S. leads the dirty dozen spammers

The United States is in a league of its own when it comes to sending junk mail to e-mail users.

Researchers at security software company Sophos found that 42 percent of all spam sent this year came from the United States, based on a scan by its researchers of a global network of honey pots--computers designed to attract spam e-mails and viruses.

Sophos said this is evidence that America's antispam legislation simply isn't working.

Apparently not.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Blogging the recovery

Via Micro Persuasion

The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami

News and information about resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts.

News media tsunami warning?

Mark A.R. Kleiman

The tsunami struck Sri Lanka without warning, three hours after the earthquake that generated the tsunami. Within fifteen minutes, seismologists knew the tsunami was coming, and started making phone calls to their friends in the countries at risk, but in the Indian Ocean region's lack of the sort of pre-arranged tsunami-warming system that covers the Pacific made it impossible to get word to the people at risk, even though a few minutes' head start would have been the difference between life and death for thousands of them.

No doubt the lack of a warning system reflects culpable nonfeasance on the part of the governments involved. (Yes, my libertarian friends, in the presence of tsunamis we're all statists.)

But if you're an American seismologist and your problem is to get a tsunami warning to folks in Sri Lanka, India, and Burma within a couple of hours, surely calling people in those countries and hoping that the governments will be able to improvise a warning system must be the wrong way to go.

Why not call CNN, the Associated Press, and Reuters? They're in the business of putting out information, and they put it out in a way that gets directly to senior public officials as well as to lots of ordinary folks who might live on, or have friends or relatives on, the relevant coastlines.

I promise you, a phone call from the International Tsunami Information Center saying "There's just been a Richter 9.0 quake in Sumatra and a big tsunami will hit the following places at the following times" will receive the undivided attention of any newsdesk in the world.

I would be worried that if there was a news media report there would be panic, but would that be worse than what did happen?

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Earthquake and Tsunamis

11,500 dead as tidal waves strike across Asia

JAKARTA (AFP) - Some 11,460 people were killed and thousands more were missing after a powerful earthquake triggered giant tidal waves that slammed into coasts across southern Asia, swallowing villages and wreaking death and devastation on beach resorts.

The quake, the fifth largest ever recorded measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale, struck off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, unleashing tsunamis that hit Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Indonesia, the Maldives, Myanmar and Malaysia.

Terrifying walls of water up to 10 metres (33 feet) high were reported across the Indian Ocean, roaring ashore with bewildering speed, sweeping people off beaches, flattening hotels and homes, uprooting trees and overturning cars.

No words, only tears.

Tech companies face another difficult year

Financial Times:

A mere handful of big technology companies around the world stands to shrug off the industry's sluggish growth next year to record the sort of rapid expansion that once made the sector a magnet for growth-hungry investors.


Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heaven’s all gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever over its Babel sounds
The bless├Ęd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Messaging/collaboration to shift?

Leadership by Numbers

But, there is another aspect to Firefox’s ascendancy—it is succeeding because of the commodization of information technology. If all we ask for is a simple mail client (calendaring is coming for Thunderbird), then Exchange, Groupwise, and even Domino have little allure. The difference for Domino is it’s extensibility as an application development platform. In the future, I expect the distribution of messaging/collaboration to shift into an hour-glass look. The commodity of general-purpose messaging will take the bottom-half, and the customizable, IM/email/integrated calendaring/VOIP platform will take the top half.

Interesting take.

Dollar hits new record low against euro

The US dollar plummeted to a fresh lifetime low against the euro on Thursday, with the market dismissive of the latest European efforts to drum up support for co-ordinated intervention to stem the greenback's decline.

A bad sign. A very bad sign.

Christmas vs. Cynicism

Happy Holidays, does that sound like fighting words to you? Believe it or not to some people it does. Such is the quality of our times.

When I first heard about O’Reilly ranting against Macy’s for saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, I assumed that Macy’s had declined to purchase advertising in any NewsCorp property and this was Murdoch’s crude revenge. When the meme spread to other outlets, I decided it must be an orchestrated effort to manufacture conflict by those who profit from manufactured conflicts. I am surprised that the usually discerning Jim Horton did not recognize the tell-tale signs of our profession at work.

It is all just part of the age old conflict between those, irrespective of faith, who regard God as a club to be used on other poeple, and those who regard God as a light to show us the way.

Certification and Accreditation in the Federal System Lifecycle market

David A. Noack, NCC Communications Chairman

1.0 The Purpose of C&A
C&A applies to the General Support Systems (GSS) and Major Applications (MA) that are designed and implemented within an agency. As these systems are built or updated, C&A gives the agency assurances that the security features and components of their GSS or MA are going to be implemented and operated properly. Another reason to conduct C&A is that it provides a standard process for validating the security measures being designed into a system. Finally, C&A gives the organization’s senior management a formal way to evaluate and accept the risks of operating the system with the specific security measures proposed.

For many of my readers, detailed discussions of federal standards and compliance must seem arcane and difficult to follow. The federal market has a huge influence in IT, not simply because of its purchasing power, which is considerable, but because it has traditionally driven the rest of the industry. Once the Federal government adopts a practice or procedure it will filter out to all of its contractors and to the industry as a whole. That is why it is critical to follow these discussions.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

New Java Software project blog

A Fair and Balanced Blog, On Software Development and related program activities ...

Writes about technology in the Potomac area, so now you don’t have to rely on Technoflak.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The lasting impact of the Y2K crisis

Remembering Y2K: Radio Series Examines Whether It Has Lasting Impact

The Y2K phenomenon still lingers today, according to a series scheduled for airing on National Public Radio in early January. Among other things, the reporters who researched the Y2K story found that much of today's offshore outsourcing rage was jump-started by Y2K.

"The Surprising Legacy of Y2K," will broadcast on NPR's Marketplace segments on Jan 3, 4, and 5. The series features interviews with John Koskinen, President Clinton's Y2K czar, who said he was in a no-win position. If nothing happened when at the moment of truth he would be attacked for preparing for a hoax. But if the computers stopped, he would be blamed for the crisis.

The Y2K crisis was real, but it was also exploited by many tech companies to persuade customers to buy upgrades they didn’t really need. It increased sales at the expense of future business and contributed to the subsequent bust.

It also went a long way to ending the mystique of technology. All across the world the cries of corporate management could be heard, “What do you mean you didn’t know the century was going to change?”

Monday, December 20, 2004

Q & A

Q: Does asking your own questions and answering them make you look like you have anticipated your critics, or is it just annoying?

A: Just annoying

Q: Has this practice long since ceased to be effective?

A: It was never effective.

Q: Does asking your own questions make you look silly?

A: Yes.

Q: In the current environment, will this rhetorical device make you look like a bad parody of Sec. Donald Rumsfeld?

A: Yes.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

PR Humor

Realiticomm – Episode Two

"Stir." Has a deep radio voice. Drives a 1988 Cadillac Allante. Say's "I'm your 'idea' guy. Often wears shell necklaces and chokers with Aloha shirts buttoned halfway. His undergraduate degree is from SUNY New Paltz. Masters in organizational management of systematic models from Mercyhurst University in Erie. Doctorate in Education from University of Maine at Fort Kent. Has "authored" six books: "Interpreting Cloud Formations for Organizational Effectiveness;" "Revisionist Corporate Culture Germination;" "Coming of Age in the New Age Business Environment." His doctoral thesis was “Employment of Bio-Social Theory and Dialectical Behavior Therapy techniques to impact emotions, relationships, behavior, and cognition of targeted consumer markets.” Best known for his analysis that showed that the Snail Darter population in the Tennessee Valley Watershed was contributing to birth defects, bad teeth and inbreeding.

Check it out, very funny, on the level of Dilbert.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

What is IPv6?

IPv6 Information Page

IPv6 is short for "Internet Protocol Version 6". IPv6 is the "next generation" protocol designed by the IETF to replace the current version Internet Protocol, IP Version 4 ("IPv4").

Most of today's internet uses IPv4, which is now nearly twenty years old. IPv4 has been remarkably resilient in spite of its age, but it is beginning to have problems. Most importantly, there is a growing shortage of IPv4 addresses, which are needed by all new machines added to the Internet.

IPv6 fixes a number of problems in IPv4, such as the limited number of available IPv4 addresses. It also adds many improvements to IPv4 in areas such as routing and network autoconfiguration. IPv6 is expected to gradually replace IPv4, with the two coexisting for a number of years during a transition period.

Now you know.

What is a shim?

A software component inserted at a well known interface between two other software components. "Shim" versions of IPSEC are often implemented at the device driver interface, below the host's TCP/IP network protocol stack.

Now you know.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Joab Jackson interviews Dan Bricklin

Making software that’s immortal

How long should an agency use a piece of software? Dan Bricklin, co-inventor of the first electronic spreadsheet program, thinks applications should last for centuries. Last summer, Bricklin wrote an essay about this idea called “Software That Lasts 200 Years,” which was widely discussed within the IT industry.

In IT circles, the notion of extending software longevity borders on heresy, given how companies thrive on rapid obsolesce and regular upgrade cycles. Still, Bricklin has argued, as electronic data becomes more central to our daily lives, the tools to manipulate that data are much like the roads, bridges and buildings we use every day. As such, he maintains, software should be commissioned and maintained in much the same way.

Bricklin knows a thing or two about software. In 1979 he co-developed VisiCalc while he was a student at Harvard Business School. Although Lotus 1-2-3 eventually eclipsed VisiCalc in the marketplace, Bricklin has continued to work in the field, both as a consultant and a software developer. In 1985 he formed his own company, Software Garden Inc. of Newton Highlands, Mass., which he still runs today.

Bricklin holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in business from Harvard University. Staff writer Joab Jackson interviewed Bricklin by phone.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A more prosperous 2005?

Increased 2005 Advertising

Newsday's Monty Phan and James T. Madore report that two advertising forecasters predict notable gains for the industry in 2005, despite the absence of the presidential election and Olympics ad spending that helped drive this year's growth.

Let it be so.

The Center for Open Source & Government

New Conference March 16-17

On May 28th last year, The Department of Defense issued its memo entitled "Open Source Software (OSS) in the Department of Defense (DoD)", which leveled the playing field for Open Source Software. As a result, to be used in the Federal government's market-based, heterogeneous IT environment, Open Source Software must provide best value for money, just like any other software product.

It is within this framework that The General Services Administration (GSA) and The Center of Open Source & Government are co-sponsoring a conference entitled Unlocking Innovation for the Business of Government to discuss the question, "How does Open Source provide an Innovative Solution for E-Government"

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Why standards and Service Oriented Architecture matter

One Nomad points toward Enterprise Portals Suites Review

Standards-based portals are a must. If the product complies with portal standards, such as WSRP (Web Services for Remote Portlets) and JSR (Java Specification Request)-168, and Web services standards (SOAP, WSDL), you're assured that third-party products will work with it and the applications you develop will work with your existing infrastructure.

Custom applications are the most difficult to include in a portal, but the most sought-after. In the past, developers had to learn platform-specific portal APIs. The massive push toward an SOA (service-oriented architecture) has let portal vendors embrace both Web services standards and portal-specific ones. With these standards, the vendors can offer technology that lets even nontechnical users build custom applications.

Indeed, the goal for many companies is to create complex portals that include composite applications without writing a line of code. Application developers can concentrate on business logic and functionality rather than learning platform-specific APIs or even coding new interfaces to existing applications.

Soon the entire Federal government will be required to conform to open standards, follow developments at the XML community of practice.

Saudis, expats stunned at US consulate assault

Saudis and expatriates said on Tuesday they were still reeling from a brazen al Qaeda attack on the U.S. consulate, the first strike on a Western mission in the kingdom.

There are many lessons here, one of which is that trading liberty for security does not work.

The disappearing dollar

How long can it remain the world's most important reserve currency?

THE dollar has been the leading international currency for as long as most people can remember. But its dominant role can no longer be taken for granted. If America keeps on spending and borrowing at its present pace, the dollar will eventually lose its mighty status in international finance. And that would hurt: the privilege of being able to print the world's reserve currency, a privilege which is now at risk, allows America to borrow cheaply, and thus to spend much more than it earns, on far better terms than are available to others. Imagine you could write cheques that were accepted as payment but never cashed. That is what it amounts to. If you had been granted that ability, you might take care to hang on to it. America is taking no such care, and may come to regret it.

A bad sign. A very bad sign.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Lexis/Nexis subscription too expensive?

Lexis/Nexis AlaCarte™

Need the latest news on your topic? Search more than 6,000 of the world's leading news sources from the past 2 years. $3/each.

Friday, December 03, 2004

New user group

The Zope/Python Users Group of DC

Congratulations Haberman and Associates

Local Minnesota PR Firm Fights 'The Man'

Since the late 90s, when Microsoft crushed Netscape, the IT world has been waiting for someone to step up to the plate and take on Microsoft--Mozilla Firefox 1.0 browser has answered the call. And while Firefox holds but a fraction of the browser market it underdog status appeals to many.

According to, Minnesota's own Haberman & Associates "recently joined a grassroots effort aimed at making the upstart Firefox browser a plausible alternative to Microsoft's market-dominant but problem-plagued Internet Explorer."

Thursday, December 02, 2004

In praise of mainstream media

As one of the few blogs that does original reporting Technoflak appreciates the work involved in providing a simple account of a meeting, never mind getting it done on deadline.

Everyday broadcasts, newspapers, magazines and web sites offer us a cornucopia of news stories gathered by an army of reporters. This is very expensive. If I were an editor I would not embed links in my online edition except in rare cases. That is what advertising is for; if a newsmaker wants a link, let them pay for it.


One of the best email discussion lists is Ed Lundquist’s Job of the Week. From Fast 50:

The proposition is very simple. Members of the cooperative network share jobs, opportunities, questions and observations with JOTW founder Ned Lundquist. He posts them on his e-mail newsletter and people respond. Boy do they respond. There are more than 7,600 subscribers, and more than 9,800 jobs have been posted since JOTW started in 2001.

To subscribe to Job of the Week send a blank email to: JOTW-subscribe[@]topica[.]com

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The first ever Australian blogging conference

2005.Australian.Blogging.Conference. Feb 2005 - Melbourne, Australia

Technoflak has always wanted to go to Australia.

NBC, CBS and the United Church of Christ

United Church of Christ ad highlighting Jesus' extravagant welcome called 'too controversial'

CLEVELAND -- The CBS and NBC television networks are refusing to run a 30-second television ad from the United Church of Christ because its all-inclusive welcome has been deemed "too controversial."

The ad, part of the denomination's new, broad identity campaign set to begin airing nationwide on Dec. 1, states that -- like Jesus -- the United Church of Christ seeks to welcome all people, regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstance or sexual orientation.

According to a written explanation from CBS, the United Church of Christ is being denied network access because its ad implies acceptance of gay and lesbian couples -- among other minority constituencies -- and is, therefore, too "controversial."

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations,"
reads an explanation from CBS, "and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks."

Similarly, a rejection by NBC declared the spot "too controversial."

"It's ironic that after a political season awash in commercials based on fear and deception by both parties seen on all the major networks, an ad with a message of welcome and inclusion would be deemed too controversial,"
says the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president. "What's going on here?"

It is profoundly disturbing to Technoflak that those who traffic in hate and persecution under color of religion are given hours of free airtime; but her church is unable to buy time to offer a message of love and universal Christian fellowship during the season of peace.

Watch our advertisement and judge for yourself.

Join us for worship this Sunday. All are welcome. Really.