Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Comdex postponement creates mixed response in PR community

From PRWeek:

The tech industry, as it comes out of the downturn, has taken a different approach, said Galvin. Gone are the booth babes in favor of more focused, customer-centric road-shows around the country.

Comdex will need to find a niche that hasn't been filled to be relevant, and that won't be easy, Galvin added.

"The fact is that show-goers and exhibitors alike are looking for more effective, targeted ways to connect," said Bob Angus, president and managing partner of A&R Partners. "Focused conferences such as Demo and Vortex are the new trade shows. They offer much richer content, an environment more conducive to interpersonal networking, and you don't go home with sore feet."

Technoflak is firmly of the view that cultivating a relationship with groups such as NCC AIIM and DC SPIN is the most cost effective way a technology company can develop its channel.

High Court upholds block of Web porn law

From USA Today:

The 5-4 decision, on the last day of rulings in the court's annual term, was another blow for Congress in its nearly decade-long effort to protect minors by restricting materials in cyberspace. The court's majority suggested the law is likely unconstitutional, and it suggested that perhaps parents, rather than lawmakers, should take the lead in screening kids' Web access. (Related story: Court suggests computer filters)

The justices affirmed a lower court's order blocking the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which bans commercial Web site operators from posting sexually explicit material that can be seen by those under age 17. The law makes the operators responsible for installing age-verification systems. Violators can be fined up to $50,000 and imprisoned for up to six months. The law has not been enforced.

Technoflak is pleased as she feels this law would have had many unintended consequences, all of them bad. She is curious that lawmakers who are so eager to place limits on the web are so reluctant to take strong action against obscene spam.

Bob Bremer, 1920-2004

Bob Bremer, leader of the standards group that developed ASCII, recently died. Steve Rubel of Micropersuasion has this lovely tribute.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Global application software sales up 4.4% in 2003

The worldwide application deployment software market grew 4.4 percent in 2003 to reach over 7 billion US dollars in software revenues, IDC reported on Tuesday.

Perhaps the application software market is not dead after all.

Intro to Federal Govt Subcontracting, July 14

Just received this email-

Work for government contractors as a sub? Want to?

Let a prominent DC attorney show you the ropes for successfully entering into and performing under those agreements.

For small firms, the real money in government contracting comes from teaming with other companies. Subcontracting can get you your first government contract and, with experience in the market, joint venturing will help you get bigger projects.

This seminar will cover the full range of teaming arrangements and you will sharpen your understanding of current procurement trends and its impact on teaming opportunities.

Additionally, the course will cover how to negotiate and draft agreements and contracts, the legal pitfalls and your rights and responsibilities under various teaming arrangements.

Instructor Pam Mazza, senior partner in the law firm Pilerio, Mazza and Pargament, LLC, advises clients on all aspects of government contracting. She specializes in working with woman- and minority-owned firms as well as with tribal governments.

Subcontracting and teaming in the Federal Market

Susan M. Kuhn
Dir. of Programs, National Women's Business Center
1001 Conn. Ave., NW #919
Washington, DC 20036

Monday, June 28, 2004

Foreign Lobbyist Database Could Vanish

From The Center for Public Integrity:

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2004 — Justice Department officials say a huge database that serves as the public's lone window on lobbying activities by foreign governments has been allowed to decay to a point they cannot even make a copy of its contents.

Responding to a recent Freedom of Information request from the Center for Public Integrity, the Justice Department's Foreign Agent Registration Unit said it was unable to copy its records electronically because their computer system was "so fragile." In a letter, the head of the unit's Freedom of Information office said that simply attempting to make an electronic copy of the database "could result in a major loss of data, which would be devastating."

The database details millions of dollars spent on lobbying activities by foreign governments, companies, and foundations.

Those activities include everything from wining and dining lawmakers to broadcasting issue ads on American television and radio stations.

Unlike foreign governments and political parties, foreign companies can file their lobby forms with the Senate Office of Public Records on Capitol Hill. Under the 1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act, private companies based outside the United States need only to fill out much shorter forms for Congress instead of the substantial information required by FARA.


Hardware solution for XML?

From Federal Computer Week:

"XML is big, bulky and verbose," said Tom Rhinelander, an analyst at New Rowley Group Inc., a technology market research and analysis firm. XML processing can consume network resources, causing "a slow but steady decline" in network performance, he said.

Coming to the rescue is a cavalry of dedicated XML-accelerator appliances and chips. These solutions — a few are ready for purchase, but most are still in testing — perform one or more essential XML-handling functions, usually data translation and sometimes security.

New challenge

Owen Ambur, chief XML strategist at the Interior Department, said the large volume of XML-based documents presents a "new and growing challenge, which is taking some IT professionals by surprise."

The same data transmitted without XML uses much less bandwidth, but XML provides critical context for the applications that process the data. "Data without context is meaningless, as well as subject to misunderstanding and confusion," Ambur said.

Analysts estimate that XML bloats data by about 40 percent to 50 percent, compared to marking up the same data in HTML, which is used to present data in a Web browser so users can view it.

I don't remember hearing about the question of bandwidth during meetings of the XML Work Group.

What are they thinking?

Congress: Bye-bye, e-government

Lawmakers apparently have decided that Bush administration officials have not gotten the message. For three years running, Congress has slashed their proposed central e-government fund. So this year, officials decided to forgo a central fund and asked agencies to find e-government funds in existing budgets.

Congress, though, is not buying it. Appropriators have started systematically cutting funds for specific e-government initiatives from agency spending bills.

Whether it is a question of convenient and responsive government or interagency cooperation we need e-Government. I don't understand this at all.

Microsoft Takes Another Step Toward More 'Open' Licensing

From Microsoft Watch:

As part of its official launch of Windows CE 5.0 on Monday, Microsoft announced that, for the first time, all CE source code licensees will be allowed to ship so-called "derivative works" based on the CE 5.0 code....

Microsoft officials said by the time Windows CE 5.0 is delivered to OEMs late this summer, all licensors will be able to "maintain ownership of their derivative code and will not be obligated to share modifications with Microsoft, partners or competitors."

If Microsoft's licensing terms sound somewhat familiar, they should. They are akin to the "Copyleft" licensing terms popularized by members of the open-source community.

Actually, this is a long way from copyleft, but certainly a big step for Microsoft and an indication that Richard Stallman may be winning. Technoflak will be watching this one closely.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Copyright political follies

Dan Gillmor points to this important article in The Register:

It may soon be possible to carry around an AK-47 assault rifle and an iPod with you down the street - and be arrested for carrying the iPod.

Gillmor has more in an earlier post. See also the Privacy Digest.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Security and PR disaster in progress

Dan Gillmor and Scripting News point to this story from Info World:

Microsoft Corp. acknowledged Thursday that Internet Information Server (IIS), a component of the Windows 2000 Server, and holes in the Internet Explorer Web browser are being used in widespread attacks that are compromising Web pages and using them as launching pads for malicious computer code. ...

The IIS vulnerability allows the attackers to place malicious files on the Windows 2000 machines and change a configuration setting called the "enable document footer" feature, which is used to append files, such as copyright statements or disclaimers, to the bottom of Web pages served by IIS. In the case of the latest attack, the malicious JavaScript files are appended as "footers" to every file on the Web site, Dunham said.

When Web surfers visit the site, the malicious JavaScript code is sent to the user's client machine, along with other Web site files, and run. For people visiting those sites, a combination of holes in Internet Explorer, one that has been patched by Microsoft and one that has not, is allowing malicious programs to be surreptitiously placed on customers' machines, Dunham said. The code redirects the user's Web browser to a Russian Web site from which a Trojan horse program is unknowingly downloaded and installed on the user's system, according to Johannes Ullrich, chief technology officer at the Internet Storm Center.

Microsoft Security

I just installed Mozilla. Works very nicely.

Network administrators seeking to prevent future diasters might want to look at Security Tracker.

Standards selection is vendor selection

Jo Rabin writes in

The issues raised go beyond the news industry. When assessing your need for formality, what does it make sense to look for, and how likely is it that your expectations will be fulfilled? Choosing a standard is like choosing other parts of your technology infrastructure, involving defining your requirements and assessing the suitability of a product and its vendor.

The motivation

Just to revisit the obvious, for a moment, standards are good. Except when they're not relevant to you, of course, when you don't care about them. And except when they are being imposed on you by a dominant vendor, of course, when they are bad.

This is why the work of the Federal XML Work Group is so important.

CMP Media sets us straight

It seems this earlier post was a false alarm. CMP Media is not blocking Google News. See the comments section at CyberJournalist.

The continuing embarrassment that is Paul Wolfowitz

Paul Wolfowitz implied that news corespondents in Iraq are cowards. "Frankly, part of our problem is a lot of the press are afraid to travel very much, so they sit in Baghdad and they publish rumors."

Anyone who believes this is should read this report from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Anyone who believes the reports from Iraq are too negative should read the letters to the editor in the Stars and Stripes, or just glance at Soldiers for the Truth.

Wolfowitz has since apologized.

At this time we have no information about Wolfolwitz's background that would place him in a position to reflect on anyone's courage or lack thereof.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Acronym watch

Doc Serls tells us that, "I'm at Supernova today. I'll be busy, moderating a panel today and speak on DIY-IT tomorrow afternoon."

I assume he means Do It Yourself Information Technology. Why do we keep making up acronyms? It is confusing and annoying. It puts off prospects and loses sales. Why do we keep doing it?

CMP blocks Google news links

Via our friend Steve Rubel, a report from CyberJournalist that CMP Media is blocking links from Google news.

I hope they will reconsider. Google News/Science Technology is the first thing I look at each morning and I click through to many CMP stories. If I were CMP, I would be looking to ways to raise visibility on Google news, encouraging bloggers for instance.

Federal XML work group

This excerpt from the June 16 meeting offers a glimpse into the difficulties of establishing standards:

Ken reported that the eTravel project entails 385 elements. ISO 11179 was not followed in identifying those elements. Three vendors will be delivering XML schemas in support of the project. The hope is to align with the Open Travel Alliance. Ken has developed a set of XML schema evaluation criteria based upon the Navy’s checklist. The IAE project is performing UML modeling, adhering to ISO 11179, and may use UBL. Ken noted the distinction between transactional versus validation schemas, with the former being looser than the latter. Version 1 of the IAE included 450 data elements and encompassed 5 shared systems whereas version 2 includes 1300 elements and 20 systems.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Ed Cone points to the Advertiser Hall of Shame.

Public relations disaster in progress

Jonathan Krim (reg. req.) reports on Internet service providers latest attempt to blame the customer:

The country's largest e-mail account providers called yesterday for a worldwide industry assault on"zombies," personal computers that have been unwittingly commandeered by spammers and used to send out unwanted e-mail and malicious programs.

The Anti-Spam Technical Alliance, which includes America Online Inc., Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and EarthLink Inc., urged all Internet providers to police their networks more aggressively and cut off machines suspected of being launching pads for spam.

By some estimates, hundreds of thousands of computers around the world have been infected with software that lets them be used without their owners' knowledge. Such machines now account for as much as 40 percent of all spam.

Large Internet providers typically monitor traffic on their networks and pinpoint machines that are sending out inordinate amounts of e-mail. When such machines are found, some Internet providers block their Internet access until their owners come forward, at which point they are given help to remove the software code used by the spammers before being reconnected.

Imagine your car was stolen and subsequently used in a crime and the dealer who sold it to you tried to hold you accountable for the crime. We can do better.

Comdex canceled

Exhibitor Shortage Puts Brakes on Comdex

This fall's Comdex show has been canceled as the organizers of the marquis IT event seek greater participation from large IT companies and evaluate ways to make it more relevant to technology buyers.

Not a good sign.

Why journalism matters

Tom Biro reminds us that for some editors, the phrase drug war is not a metaphor.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Call for participation

The E-Gov Institute is pleased to announce a Call for Participation for the co-located Homeland Security and Information Assurance 2004 Conferences, to be held November 30 – December 2, 2004 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. This is your opportunity to participate in the Homeland Security and Information Assurance 2004 Conferences as a member of the faculty.

Deadline for Abstract Submission is Thursday, July 22, 2004.

Make Distinctions Between IT Projects

Michael Rogers of Oakley Networks offers new insight into project management in a letter to Computerworld:

This is somewhat akin to the task of designing and building an office building. For a building, the site excavation and construction phases are well understood and yield to tight project management and control techniques. But the phases before the engineering are analogous to the custom IT project -- when the architect has to understand the requirements and present alternative designs, when the various political forces have to be satisfied, when the hydrology, soil and environmental impacts need to be studied and mitigated. All of these pre-engineering activities rarely run to a schedule.

Jon Udell on the Google PC

From his column in InfoWorld:

On the Google PC, you wouldn’t need third-party add-ons to index and search your local files, e-mail, and instant messages. It would just happen. The voracious spider wouldn’t stop there, though. The next piece of low-hanging fruit would be the Web pages you visit. These too would be stored, indexed, and made searchable. More ambitiously, the spider would record all your screen activity along with the underlying event streams. Even more ambitiously, it would record phone conversations, convert speech to text, and index that text. Although speech-to-text is a notoriously imperfect art, even imperfect results can support useful search.

Um, er,
Precisely where would this spider reside? Who does the spider work for and answer to? This is the sort of thing that makes me think Richard Stallman is right, living in freedom means using free software.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Press unhappy with PR people. Again.

Tom Murphy points to a new survey of journalist's opinion of PR professionals. Shorter version, they are unhappy with us-

Journalists believe the Internet is the most effective 'reach' channel.  PR managers believe face-to-face is best

Why do PR managers think that way? Is it because PR pros still don't get the Internet? Or is it because face-to-face meetings have consistently produced superior results? Technoflak does not have an opinion, except to say for initial contact email has no equal.

32% of journalist say that less then 10% of the press releases they receive are of genuine interest

Online mastheads with detailed beat lists would reduce this problem.

The most popular reasons a journalist will read a press release are that it comes from a trusted source and that it originates from a company they follow. The third reason is an interesting subject line.

This is a huge problem for small business. In an ideal world journalists would follow industries, not companies.

One of our challenges is explaining to clients why not every press release should be sent to every reporter. If you want to be a trusted source you cannot inundate reporters with marginal material.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

The Uncool Blogging Seminar...

Via Greg Reinacker, Blogging for Business Seminar.

Technoflak will not be able to attend this one, so hopes one or more attendee will write about it on their blogs.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

How to Design a Form for Effective Automatic Character Recognition

Technoflak missed last month's TAWPI meeting. Fortunatley TAWPI has good notes on their site:

Charlie Montague introduced our presenter, Dr. Bernard Leikind, Doctus Solutions Manager for Mitek Systems, Inc. Dr. Leikind deals in sales, sales engineering, project management, training and customer support for Doctus and for Mitek's other toolkit products.

Dr. Leikind divided accuracy enhancement into four areas of concern: Registration, Data Fields, Form ID and Other Examples.
Throughout the evening, Dr. Leikind offered several hints to improve recognition accuracy on forms. For example, to perform a quick quality control check on forms printed in dropout ink, design the form with a dropout color circle around a black circle. If the circles aren't concentric, it's immediately obvious that the forms were misprinted and fields may not align properly.
Proper design of data fields can eliminate some ambiguity. For instance, try to avoid data fields with “I” and “1”, “O” and “0”. Also, the software must be able to pick out one character, big or small, felt tip or fine drafting point, slanted or straight. Noise, (such as speckles and boxes) must be removed, and ideally, the form should have enough room for writing without touching the boxes. Noise removal can be tricky for faxed forms, where dropout ink boxes become black also.

Form ID is another area where Mitek has worked hard to excel. Mitek software recognizes the line pattern of forms and tries to match it to a list of similar forms. It can handle photocopied forms and faxed forms, where the registration varies from one area of the paper to another.

When using Bar Codes for form ID where the form may be faxed, remember to orient the bar code so that the verticals are parallel to the length (scan direction) of the form, since faxes typically have 203 pixels horizontal by 93 pixels vertical. For bar code testing, Mitek uses

On forms, a rule of thumb for picking font sizes is that each recognized character should have 50 pixels.

When considering the ability of Neural Nets to intelligently identify data, one must remember that the smartest Neural Net algorithm is still pretty dumb. People can instantly recognize a five (5) for instance, no matter if stretched, squashed, turned sideways, broken, etc. Dr. Leikind remarked that programmers had still not come up with the characteristics of ‘fiveness', as people understand it.

Other factors influencing ICR accuracy: Image quality and resolution – 200 DPI is usually OK, as long as the forms are designed big enough.

For choosing a font for machine print, if you have control, pick a font that you and your system read well. OCR-A and OCR-B please the software, but are hard to read for people. Verdana is a good choice for ICR, people also like to read it, and it comes standard with MicroSoft, so most people have it.

A good form is clear, open, and attractive to computers. A good form is clear, open, and attractive to people. A good form assists people in filling it out accurately and quickly, and a good form can be accurately and quickly read by computers. Since we rarely can start from a blank slate in the design of a form, software attempts to overcome problems with image quality and form design, but this lowers accuracy and speed. Mitek's product DynaFind, for instance, studies the LAR amount on a check, and attempts to match it to the CAR amount to improve accuracy.

In concluding, Dr. Leikind gave some examples of humorously bad form design, and also of clean, roomy, and easy to read forms.

Jim Everett thanked Dr. Leikind for an excellent and witty presentation.

Note- CAR stands for Courtesy Amount Recognition: Machine reading of the hand written numerical amount of a check. Technoflak was unable to find a definition of LAR.

Friday, June 18, 2004

USA Today cracks down on anonymous sources

Via our good friend Romenesko, this excellent news from Editor and Publisher:

Previously, reporters wishing to use a confidential or anonymous source had to inform his or her direct supervisor of the person's identity. Now, one of the paper's five managing editors or a higher ranking editor will have to sign off on the use of each unnamed source, Paulson said.

This is excellent news for USA Today, their readers and American journalism.

Let there be an end to the pernicious practice of anonymous sources.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Why small business is big news

Next month, I will be writing about pitching small business stories, so perhaps this is a good time to explain to editors why small business is big news. Historically, most of the innovative work in technology has been done by small companies. I launched Presto Vivace with the purpose of telling their stories. The vast majority of these companies will never grow into major concerns, nor will they be acquired by larger companies. But that does not alter the fact that, collectively, they are doing the most to advance the industry. If a news organization is to report the story of technological advance, to inform readers which technologies are crossing the chasm from early adopters into the mainstream, they must tell the stories of small companies and how they solve their customers’ problems.

Technology changes in the way seasons change. Technology advances in increments, and each increment is a story in itself. It is only by covering those increments, one by one, that news organizations give their readers the opportunity to understand shifting industry trends.

Covering small business is not just important in technology; it is an essential part of business journalism. Most businesses are small. Small business employs half of all private sector employees. No one would teach horticulture by concentrating on giant sequoias, with an occasional walnut or hickory tree thrown in. Horticulture includes everything and emphasizes that most plants are grasses or small flowers. So why does business journalism concentrate on the giants and ignore the little guys? The little guys are the largest part of the story.

Small Business by the Numbers (PDF)

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Pimco chief says global outlook unstable

From the Financial Times:

The outlook for the global economy is the most uncertain for 20 or 30 years, according to Bill Gross, the influential chief investment officer of Pimco, the world's biggest bond fund manager.

"Too much debt, geopolitical risk and several bubbles have created a very unstable environment which can turn any minute.

"More than any point in the past 20 or 30 years, there's potential for a reversal," he warned in an interview with the Financial Times.


Tuesday, June 15, 2004


From Greg Keizer's report on Techweb:

Webroot on Monday shipped Spy Sweeper Enterprise, its corporate-level anti-spyware server-client solution that follows by just a few days the roll-out of a similar product from rival PestPatrol.

The tag used for software loaded surreptitiously on systems, “spyware” typically piggybacks on popular programs such as file-sharing tools. It can be used for relatively innocuous tasks, such as tracking a user's online activity, or can be placed on systems by hackers to later insert key loggers to steal personal data.

There is nothing innocuous about tracking someone's online activity. We need to change this attitude that just because something is possible technically it is permissible socially. Basically we need to start throwing these folks in jail. Along with their spammer friends.

Peregrine falcon

I saw a peregrine falcon in the park this morning. We owe a great deal to all those who organized the effort to save this marvelous bird.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Industry Analyst Relations

Thank you Elizabeth Albrycht for pointing to Tekrati. I have been looking for more information on industry analyst relations.

Nominations please

Steve Rubel points to the ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards 2004.

Feel free to nominate Techoflak for best Business/Marketing Blog.

The Health Insurance and Healthcare Marketplace

Lloyd Brodsky will speak to the Entrepreneurs and Consultants Special Interest Group of CPCUG this coming Saturday. From the announcement:

Congratulations! You've made the jump into a business of your own. Now, what should you do about health insurance? If you have COBRA coverage, it won't last much longer. And, if you're healthy, the policy COBRA guarantees is almost certainly not the best buy. 

There are many health insurance options. The goal of this presentation is to teach you enough about how health insurance works, what it costs, how to get it, and what happens if you don't have it to enable you to make informed choices on what to buy when financially stressed during business startup. 
Speaker: Lloyd Brodsky has a doctorate in health care management and management information systems from Sloan, the business school of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Although most of his career has been in areas other than health care, Lloyd's most recent health care position was at Physia, where he was in charge of requirements analysis and the technical staff. He has also been a software engineer for the Hewlett-Packard Medical Products Group, a consultant to Travelers' Insurance, and a professor of health care information systems at the University of Colorado.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

XML Content Management Forum

The Washington, DC Area SGML/XML Users Group is planning another open forum in October, this time focusing on Content Management. Tell them what your interested in learning about by completing their questionnaire.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Where Will the Money be Spent?

Last week, the MIT Enterprise Forum held a panel discussion on venture funding. Bob Metcalfe of Polaris Ventures Partners, Ann Winblad of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, and Guy Kawasaki of Garage Technology Ventures discussed their views on technology, venture capital, and where the industry is moving.

Technoflak arrived in time to hear Metcalfe explain that there are approximately 1,000 venture capital funds and 700 are in the process of going out of business. On that cheery note he introduced Ann Winblad who presented a series of detailed charts illustrating trends in venture funding. To be succinct, there isn’t much funding, but software and health care receive most of the surviving investment. Restarts, companies in which the entrepreneurs stayed around after their second round of funding fell through, are now winning funding.

Winblad showed a pie chart illustrating the geographic distribution of venture funding. The West Coast receives almost everything, but some investments in Massachusetts, Texas, North Carolina and only four percent to the Potomac area. Technoflak wonders if Potomac area entrepreneurs prefer to deal with the Small Business Innovative Research program. In fact, it would be interesting to compare the success of the SBIR program to that of venture capital funds, though admittedly an apples to oranges comparison and outside the scope of this post.

Kawasaki began his remarks by telling the entrepreneur-dominated audience, ”All that counts is that you get your funding,” and that while all the discussions of trends was intellectually interesting, entrepreneurs should concentrate on building their companies. He said he had seen bumper stickers in Silicon Valley saying God, I’m just asking for one more bubble. This received a big and sympathetic laugh.

In what he characterized as a ”rare moment of venture capitalist humility,” Kawasaki described the entrepreneur as the center of the venture capitalist universe. He suggested that venture capitalists should not pretend to know what is the next big thing but focus on finding the entrepreneur. He gave a glimpse of the pitches venture funds receive, such as Israeli entrepreneurs explaining they understand wireless technology from years of spying on the Palestinians, and Asian entrepreneurs explaining that since they never had land lines they understand wireless technology.

Winblad talked about hybrid open source companies, such as jBoss, and how they are creating ”whole new ecosystems”. Technoflak thought this was a nice puff for jBoss, who has been getting some negative press. Winblad said software is moving beyond application servers to truly distributed computing.

Kawasaki waxed enthusiastic about micro payments, including BitPass. He said digital content’s free ride was over. A sigh was heard across blogosphere.

Winblad suggested that there were opportunities in the content management space. She named Hyperion as a content management vendor who offered customers the ability to perform analysis on existing data.

Metcalfe speculated that we are getting to the point where we will be storing all information forever. Aside from the rising tide of compliance laws requiring us to keep everything for future investigations, it is now increasingly cheaper to save information than to delete it.

Metcalfe suggested that hardware for parallel processing might be a hot area for investment, but Winblad dismissed parallel processing as yesterday's idea, saying that clustering technology and gridded computing was the way of the future.

Metcalfe joked, ”Since open source is going to make it impossible to make any money in software, all the money will be in hardware.” This received a huge laugh.

The floor was open for questions, which were phoned in from around the country. The first questioner was Pierre Dupont, who asked about metamaterials and advanced materials. Metcalfe replied, ”We’re an IT panel.”

Another questioner asked about the ”explosion of pixels, digital cameras and video archiving.” Kawasaki talked about, a company that sells royalty free photos for $1.50 each. Ann Winblad talked about the pent up demand for an affordable printer for all the digital photos so many people store on their computers.

A participant from Florida asked the question everyone is thinking at such events, ”What is the next killer application?” Panelists seemed to agree there was no way to know for certain. Winblad suggested that on-demand applications that allow vendors to sell to mid-market companies would be big. Someone mentioned blogging, but Kawasaki characterized blogging as a function, not an application. Technoflak had not previously considered this but is inclined to agree with Kawasaki.

Someone asked about entertainment infrastructure. Metcalfe suggested that in the future, the people who currently steal music will steal feature films. Technoflak would add that those who embed spyware in music sharing programs will embed far more sophisticated spyware into video sharing programs.

Winblad raised the question of what is entertainment? Where does it happen? She talked about the experience of Ultimate Arena, a game company. The games themselves did not do so well, so they began to aggregate buddy lists for games, and that part of the business is doing very well. Kawasaki described this as a venture capitalist’s nightmare. Had someone gone to him and said that aggregating buddy lists for games was a profitable business, he would have laughed in the entrepreneur's face. But clearly it is profitable.

A gentleman from Toronto congratulated the panel on their successful investments and asked what they had learned from their failures. Kawasaki sighed and said, ”We don’t have the time” (sympathetic laughter).

Metcalfe said investments often fail because of bad timing - the company is too far ahead or behind the industry.

Kawasaki talked about the Silicon Valley proxy effect. One firm starts promoting something and others follow, so you get ”six ways to do dumb things.” He criticized venture capitalists for lack of independent thinking.

Winblad said, ”Don’t be a venture capitalist if you don’t like to experience failure. The first time you shut down a company is a horrible experience.” Technoflak resists speculation but is guessing Winblad does not like failure, but has come to accept it as the price of finding successful companies.

Metcalfe told a sadly humorous story of a startup whose prospective customers were companies like Global Crossing and Worldcom. By the time they were ready for market their customers were out of business or in jail.

A participant asked how globalization had changed venture funding. Kawasaki joked that, ”Statistically, there are at least ten Bill Gates in China.” But he cautioned participants, suggesting that dreaming about selling to those large markets was a way to go broke.

Ann Winblad decried the under-enrollment at America’s engineering schools and said we should permit any engineering Phd. to enter the United States. (Unemployed engineers reading this can put their flames in the comments below.)

Kawasaki gave his email address, Technoflak thought this a very sporting gesture and is sure he received a big response. Winblad closed by saying this was a vibrant time for venture capital and that ”the funding you get now will be committed.”

Outsourcing hell

From the irrepressible Slashdot a story from ZD Net about American spammers using criminal gangs in China and Russia to spread their plague:

"There is a new level of criminality in the spamming world," Linford told the Openwave Messaging Anti-Abuse conference in London. "Russian gangs are creating viruses and proxies and selling them onto US spammers."

According to Linford, these Russian gangs aren't constrained by any anti-spam or cybercrime laws in their home country and have no respect for legislation implemented in other countries.

Linford also told the conference that some 70 percent of spam is sent from China by American spam outfits who are hosting their servers with Chinese ISPs. In many cases the spammers have set up firewalls so that the ISPs can't actually see what's being hosted.

Gosh, do you suppose there is a connection between cheap labor, lack of respect for human rights and the power of criminal gangs?

(emphasis Technoflak's)

Constantin Basturea

Nothing can happen without volunteers, not even in business. Next month I will be writing about pitching small business stories as part of Global PR Blog Week 1.0. Trevor Cook first proposed the idea and contacted everyone; but almost all the technical work is being done by Constantin Basturea.

Participants are currently engaged in a discussion about whether a wiki or a blog would be better, and the specifics of how this will be done. Everyone has an opinion and Basturea is doing his best to offer a practical solution. Those of us who are less technically inclined can only be grateful for his efforts.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Why journalism matters

Our friend Tom Biro brings us another tale in the struggle to build a fress press in Russia.

Shorter version, the bad guys are ahead.

Enterprise Content Management—Are We Ready to Break the Code?

Bob Woods, Chairman of the Industry Advisory Council and President of Topside Consulting Group, will speak at the NCC AIIM June Social.

From the announcement:

While the events of September 11, 2001 highlighted the poor use of disparate data bases and data itself, it was by no means confined to law enforcement and terrorist tracking.  Consider that although FAA collects a vast amount of data on every aircraft flying in its system, it could not find the missing aircraft in its system on September 11.  Additionally supervisors there still do many of their operational counts by counting paper flight strips even though computers record aircraft positions every 6 seconds.  

Software developments in recent years promise to make these kinds of problems and others easier to solve.    Bob Woods’ discussion will revolve around how to get useful information from the mountains of data we work with every day.  Are we ready to break the code?

PLACE:   The International Spy Museum, 800 F Street, NW Washington DC, 20004

The Definitive XML Source

Monday, June 07, 2004

BBC workers killed in the line of duty

From our friend Tom Biro, this sad reminder of why journalism matters:

Two BBC men shot in Saudi capital

Expressions of sympathy can be posted here.

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MarketingSherpa Readers' Choice Best Blog Awards 2004

Congratulations to the winners.


AIIM just sent me this email:

Reminder: Attend the AIIM Content Management Seminar Tomorrow

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow, Tuesday, June 8, at The Army & Navy Club.
The club is located at 901 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006.
**Please note that the club requires business attire.
For directions and parking information, please call the club at (202) 628-8400.

The seminar begins at 8:15 am with the General Session "Technology, Organizational Policy, and Best Practices in the Government Sector - the Growing Gap", presented by John Mancini, President of AIIM.

Immediately following, will be the session "The Future of Computing and Content Management in Government", presented by Dan Elam of eVisory. Mr. Elam's experience includes projects for the IRS, Wachovia, Delta Dental of Michigan, Minnesota Blue Cross, Census 2000, and many other forms processing and document imaging applications. He has also worked on a wide variety of projects for American Express, the US Navy, Trigon, Intel, Delta Dental of California, and Coca-Cola Enterprises. You won't want to miss this!

Please come early (registration opens at 7:45 am) to pick up your seminar materials, and enjoy a cup of coffee while touring the Demo Room. The seminar will run until 3:00 pm.

An agenda for the day, and a list of participating companies, can be found on the event website.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to contact Doug Washburn at 301.587.8202 ext. 684 or 800.477.2446, or email Doug at

AIIM - The Enterprise Content Management Association

PS. Bring a Friend or Co-Worker and they can register on-site.

1100 Wayne Avenue, Suite 1100, Silver Spring, MD 20910 USA
Tel: 800.477.2446 / 301.587.8202

Don't forget to register for the NCC AIIM June Social.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

On D-Day

Armed Forces Relief Trust

Congratulations Kevin Dugan

Kevin Dugan and his team won a Silver Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America for their work on behalf of AK Steel Corporation.

The next big issue in crisis management

Technoflak predicts the PR disasters of the future will involve privacy violations. It is mostly a customer relations issue, but will impact investor relations and every aspect of an organization's reputation. If privacy issues are not already a specialty within the crisis management, they soon will be. That is why Technoflak is adding Privacy Digest to the blog roll.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Useful Communication Technologies

Scott Shaw of Creativerge Communications gave an informative presentation on new internet and web communications technologies at the last IPRA luncheon.

For clients:

Blogger (free and professional versions available)
TypePad ($4.95 to $14.95 per month)
Movable Type ($199.95 for corporate; developer’s tool)

Shaw talked about the ways our clients could use web logs, or blogs, to promote their businesses. Blogs allow companies to have direct conversations with their prospects and customers, such as when someone wants to continue a conversation they began with a product manager at a trade show. Announcements that do not merit a press release can be placed on a corporate blog.

RSS News Aggregators:
News Gator ($29, for Microsoft Outlook)
FeedDemon ($29.95)

Shaw described RSS news aggregators as a great method of distributing press releases and a way around spam filters. Dan Gillmor has said the same thing. (Gillmor uses NetNewsWire, a product for Mac OS X.) Technoflak does not use an RSS service, it’s on her to-do list. AVC has a great discussion on RSS.

HTML Newsletters
Constant Contact (free to $150 per month)
Xpedite (variable pricing)

Shaw is an HTML Newsletter enthusiast. This technology allows companies to incorporate logos and other graphics into their email newsletters. It also allows companies to track who is reading their email newsletters and who deletes it unopened.

Technoflak would counsel against using anything but ASCII text in email. HTML takes too long to download and is an imposition on the recipient. Because HTML can carry a computer virus, many spam filters block all HTML mail.

Nor is Technoflak enthusiastic about any technology that allows the sender to automatically know if the recipient has opened the email. It is a violation of the recipient's privacy.

Online Survey Tools
Survey Monkey ($19.95)
Zoomerang ($599, nonprofit version for $350 or $99 or 90 days, also a free version.)

Online survey tools are a perfect example of how the internet is drastically reducing costs and making it possible for independent practitioners to offer services that previously were out of our reach.

For PR Practitioners

Web-based Project Management
Basecamp HQ ($19 to $59 per month, with a free option)
Ace Project ($40 to $100 per month with a free option)

As Shaw pointed out, this is perfect for the virtual teams common amongst independent practitioners.

TimeSlice ($49)
TimeFox ($35 per month, $5 per additional user)

Instant Messaging
Trillan Pro (free for basic, $25 for pro)
GAIM (free)

To Techoflak, instant messaging combines the annoying interruption of telephone calls with the impersonal nature of email. But everyone she knows swears by it.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Timothy Sprehe explains Technical Report 48

Timothy Sprehe described the work of the AIIM C30 Standards Committee at last month’s joint NCC AIIM/ARMA meeting. The committee’s report, Technical Report 48, establishes a framework for the integration of electronic document management systems and electronic records management systems.

The committee decided that it was not practical to define functional requirements. They also agreed there was not enough research to define best practices. After a great deal of discussion, they decided to establish a framework for the integration of electronic document management systems and electronic records management systems. After months of meetings that usually ran three hours and after lengthy email discussions, the committee developed a draft for Technical Report 48. The essence of TR 48 is a common reference model and common metadata.

The committee decided to start with document management/records management and extend the standard to email management, image management and so on.

Sprehe came out of the Office of Management and Budget. He was the principal author of the original 1985 Circular A-130, which sets standards for managing federal information resources. He said that stand alone records management systems are a thing of the past and that now everyone talks about electronic records management as part of an integrated system.

Sprehe described TR 48’s metadata center as the ”glue that holds it all together.” The C30 committee reconciled assorted national standards, including U.S., Australian, Irish. Sprehe observed that records management standards are more mature than document management standards.

Systems must be able to extract metadata automatically from records when they are captured. The FBI is developing an electronic record keeping certification process. Sprehe said that such a certification prcoess could be extended to other federal agencies. He joked that while FBI has not implemented the certification process, there are a lot of guns in the FBI building (nervous laughter).

The C30 committee did not try to define what is a record, as such an effort would lead down a blind alley (knowing laughter).

Sprehe solicited further input for the new standard, throwing the floor open for an unusually long question period.

One participant maintained that integrated EDMS/ERMS systems have been around for years and did not see those systems reflected in the committee’s work.

Another participant asked if Technical Report 48 standards would apply to content management systems. Sprehe replied that the principles would apply.

Here Mark Mandel interjected that the term, enterprise content management, came from the web content management industry. The document management field wanted to expand their market.

Someone asked, “Why content management? Why did we drop information management?

Sprehe responded, "Is it because content does not have information?” This received a big laugh.

Al Linden made an appeal to the audience to participate in standards committees.

Sprehe characterized the work of the C30 committee as ”descriptive,” not “prescriptive,” saying that, had the standard been prescriptive, they would have ”moved into pain.”

One questioner complained of the lack of taxonomy in DOD 5015.2. Sprehe responded that the committee had decided to take 5015.2 as given.

Google and the trades

Advertising Age has an article on Google's impact on trade publications:

"Google has created a revenue stream from being the card catalog or the newsstand, not the magazine," Mr. Kenealy said. Those he addressed at the ABM convention "have spent less time than they should looking at what search does to the seeking and finding of specialized information."

Others see the matter more bluntly. "If Google can slice and dice [information]," said one b-to-b publishing executive, "and give highly qualified users to very targeted advertisers, then what do you need a trade publication for?"

Well, er, original reporting?

As I suggested earlier, trade publications should develop their own version of Google paid links to accommodate small businesses.

They should also promote their stories with bloggers to extend their audience.