Friday, December 30, 2005

Get to know Ruby before you hop on (or off) the Rails bandwagon

Andrew Glover

Ruby's syntax is different from that of the Java language. First, Ruby has no brackets or semicolons, and it makes types completely optional. Some might say that Ruby's syntax is terse, and it's that way with a purpose : this language lets you create concise working code in short order.

Andrew Glover is Chief Technology Officer for JNet Direct

I would be interested in hearing from my developer readers what they think of Glover’s article.

Bringing the test drive to software

The free sample, or test drive, is a very powerful tool in the sales cycle. Until recently it simply was not practical for software. Now some companies have begun to offer thirty-day trials of their software. Codign has been offering a trial version of its code testing plug-in, CoView.

I will be interested in watching how this approach works. Much of the cost of software is associated with the installation and training requirements, so a free trial only solves part of the problem. Still, I think free trials will become part of almost every sales cycle.

Testing is important, automatically generating JUnit tests is magical

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Are you sure you want your name on this?

U.S. stalls on human trafficking

WASHINGTON - Three years ago, President Bush declared that he had "zero tolerance" for trafficking in humans by the government's overseas contractors, and two years ago Congress mandated a similar policy.

But notwithstanding the president's statement and the congressional edict, the Defense Department has yet to adopt a policy to bar human trafficking.

A proposal prohibiting defense contractor involvement in human trafficking for forced prostitution and labor was drafted by the Pentagon last summer, but five defense lobbying groups oppose key provisions and a final policy still appears to be months away, according to those involved and Defense Department records.

The lobbying groups opposing the plan say they're in favor of the idea in principle, but said they believe that implementing key portions of it overseas is unrealistic. They represent thousands of firms, including some of the industry's biggest names, such as DynCorp International and Halliburton subsidiary KBR, both of which have been linked to trafficking-related concerns.

Are you sure you want to go on the record as saying your client can’t reasonably be asked to fulfill their contract without resorting to kidnap and slave labor? Do you think that simply because Congress does not write such a ban into policy that such practices are less criminal?

Part of being a good lobbyist is explaining the facts of PR and political life to your client. If your client is such that they don’t understand that human trafficking is a line that can never be crossed, your have your work cut out for you.

What is Ruby?

Serge van den Oever

Never heard of Ruby? Its that new hot language that is at the tipping point of blowing away all existing languages;-)

Read about it at, and of course don’t forget the great Ruby on Rails framework at that lets you build a data driven, Ajax style web site garanteed under 15 minutes. And the book “Agile web development with Rails” is absolutely a great reading.

What’s Ruby?

Ruby is the interpreted scripting language for quick and easy object-oriented programming. It has many features to process text files and to do system management tasks (as in Perl). It is simple, straight-forward, extensible, and portable.

Oh, I need to mention, it's totally free, which means not only free of charge, but also freedom to use, copy, modify, and distribute it.

User Groups

Adam’s Morgan Ruby User Group

DC Area Group

Northern Virginia Ruby Users Group

Ruby Garden Wiki

Yet another local .Net blog

Jonathan Cogley tells us that John Morales is blogging.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

But not nearly as photogenic as Lassie

Bomb-Sniffing Wasps

Why government contracting is different, or why it may be a while before anyone else crosses Microsoft

Mass. CIO Peter Quinn resigns

Massachusetts CIO Peter Quinn, a leader among state IT officers in the push towards open data standards, unexpectedly resigned this week.

... The CIO came under fire during the later stages of 2005. Earlier this year the state senate launched hearings into what it called a lack of due process within the state’s IT division, and is now considering the creation of an IT review board to oversee state policies on the standardization of IT equipment and software.

This fall, Gov. Romney opened a review of six trips Quinn made to out-of-state conferences over the last two years.

The review found that Quinn had not violated any conflict of interest provisions, the Boston Globe reported.

Massachusetts mandates open-format docs

Government procurement, why it’s different

Massachusetts flips, sides with Microsoft

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols comments.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Second International Conference on Open Source Systems

8 - 10 June 2006, Grand Hotel, Como, Italy

Call for Papers, Workshops, Tutorials, Panels and Demonstrations

Free and Open Source Software (OSS) development continues to emerge, grow, and spread as a global phenomenon that spans and connects culture, technology, and organization. OSS is one of the most exciting and controversial technologies of modern times that is stimulating scholarly research and popular debate in many disciplines. OSS research studies are now found in diverse disciplines including anthropology, economics, education, law, management of technology, organization science, political science, public policy, sociology, and the visual and performing arts, as well as computer supported cooperativework, human-computer interaction, information systems, and software engineering. Such diversity gives rise to recognizing OSS as an interdisciplinary information technology that both depends on and stimulates social relationships in the organizations and project communities that develop, deploy, and adapt OSS.

The goal of OSS2006 is to provide an international forum where a diverse audience of OSS researchers and practitioners can come together to examine the culture, technology, and organization of OSS systems, work practices, development processes, community dynamics, tools and applications.

OSS2006 will bring together people from academia, industry, and public administration to share their experiences, ideas, and concerns, as well as provide an archival source of important papers addressing OSS topics within or across disciplines. The conference will consist of research papers presentations, workshops, tutorials, panels, and project demonstrations.

Important dates:

Research Paper and Extended Abstracts Submission: Jan 9th, 2006
Proposals for Tutorials, Workshops, Panels and Demonstrations: Jan 23rd, 2006
Notification of acceptance: Feb 20th, 2006
Submission of final papers: Mar 13th, 2006

For my developer, project manager and systems integrator readers.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Measuring PR

Shel Holtz tells us the New PR Wiki has a measurement page.

Blogs, more work, more opportunity

Shrinking News Holes Make it Tougher for Mid-Level Companies

Media targeting has long been the name of the game for many mid-level corporations, as a specific placement in regional dailies can pay off as much as the national dailies. But shrinking newsrooms and news holes, and an increasing number of mid-level corporations, has even made this a tough placement to gain.

... Beyond mainstream pitching techniques, Braykovich also points to the importance of utilizing emerging forms of media. "We do monitor numerous blogs, notably, blogs providing news about regional companies or issues. Influencing the influencers and pitching your news to bloggers is another, albeit less direct, manner of reaching our newsroom."

The media food chain has been extended. On the one hand, it will be increasingly necessary to launch a story from blogs before you even pitch to mass-market media. On the other hand, there are millions of blogs and more each day; the possibility to place a story is greater than ever.

Good news for bloggers

'Wash Post' Extends Free Online Archives to 60 Days

It used to be a story that ran one day would only generate one day’s worth of advertising dollars. Now a story you ran two months ago can still be generating paid links. Online content will be very profitable for those who understand online conversations.

And in a moment, 216,000 were gone

World marks tsunami anniversary

The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog

It must take a lot of courage to go forward in the face of that sort of grief.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

International Association of Software Architects Launches

Loosely Coupled Thinking links to my client IASA and describes it thusly:

IASA is a vendor agnostic, non-profit organization focused on defining and supporting the professional duties of IT architects.

From the news release:

The new website was created expressly for professional software architects and aims to assist them at all stages of their career by providing articles, reusable content and chapter pages for local IASA chapters around the world.

Paul Preiss, the President and Founder of IASA, describes why the online resource is a necessary addition to the industry:

"Most articles, templates and patterns are written with the developer in mind. The IT architect is completely left out of the equation. Thus the IASA provides this valuable resource to our members."

Architecture related news, patterns, templates and web log postings from practincing architects will make up most of the content of the new website. Visitors will also find Knowledge Communities, which are pools of knowledge on specific IT architecture topics, edited by the experts in the field.

Phil Windley comments.
Cirrus Minor comments.

Massachusetts reverses itself

"Office Open XML will meet our new standards for acceptable open formats"

I wondered if they would be able to make that stick.

Continuous feedback

Google Tool Empowers Feedback Loop

Blogger Web Comments for Firefox allows web surfers (using Firefox) to see what people are saying about any page on the Internet.

This could lead to industrial strength naval-gazing.

More on press releases

Michael Sommermeyer

However, many organizations use their blog as a repository; a place to post the press releases and little else. Sadly, some blogs also are used as places to promote or market products, services and reputations.

I want every reporter reading this to know I would never, ever, send out a press release so unnewsworthy that I would not post it on my own blog.

The future of the trade press

Vik David

On the tech side, I've dropped all my print magazine subscriptions (JDJ, EAI Journal, Computerworld, InfoWorld, etc.) and rely completely on blogs and a podcast or two. This is good because my tech news is MUCH more focused to what I care about.

This is very discouraging, because some of the best reporting is done in the trade press. Tech blogs have a very idiosyncratic approach. They are unreliable in the sense that they do not have regular assignments or deadlines. If you want a predictable source of news on a subject you need a professional organization, news is not something amateurs can do, any more than writing code is something amateurs can do. Somehow the trade press is going to have to create a symbiotic relationship with blogs.

Let it be so

DC #1 in Tech Jobs again

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

OMB releases new version of DRM

Joab Jackson, Government Computer News

The Office of Management and Budget has posted the second version of the Federal Enterprise Architecture Data Reference Model.

PDF copy of the Federal Enterprise Architecture Data Reference Model

The new standard will make it possible for federal agencies to exchange information; for example if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration needed to exchange data with the FBI. This is will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Federal government.

It will also change the IT industry. Everyone who wants to sell to the federal government will have to comply with this standard. States will put it in their requirements, partly because they need to exchange information with the federal government, but also because they look to the federal government to provide leadership on this sort of thing.

Any company who exchanges information with the federal government, as in an investment bank sending information to the Securities Exchange Commission, will want their software to comply with the standard to facilitate the exchange of data. And so on and so on down the IT economic food chain. The Federal Enterprise Architecture Data Reference Model is the de facto industry standard.

Discouraging headline

Daily Data Breaches

Clue to the financial industry and all others who collect personal data, either you can solve this problem or you can wait for the political system to solve it for you. I leave it to you to decide which you would prefer.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

European Computer Manufacturer’s Association Technical Committee 45

TC45 begins the creation of the Ecma Office Open XML File Formats standard...

Ecma International began the technical work Thursday 15 December 2005 to standardize the Office Open XML File Formats. TC45, the Ecma technical committee organized to create the Ecma document format standard, held its first meeting in Brussels, Belgium.

The standard will be based on an initial 2000 page draft technical specification submitted by Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, the British Library, Essilor, Intel Corporation, Microsoft, NextPage Inc., Statoil ASA and Toshiba.

If open standards are to work they must be international.

Not everyone is impressed.

Software Usability Thoughts

design from interface

Press release humor

Check out the dateline.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Soul of a New Machine

Tracy Kidder’s Soul of a New Machine has to be one of the most unlikely best sellers of all time. It tells the story of how Data General brought a new computer to market. Written in the days before the PC, to story of writing software must have seemed an unlikely subject for the general public. But readers were fascinated.

There is a lesson there are about the appeal of enterprise computing stories for publications that would heed it.

A difficult pitch to make

Conferences that Kevin Maney will not be attending:

IMI’s 9th Annual Toner & Imaging Chemicals Conference – The Future of Toner & Imaging Raw Materials on February 6-8, 2006 focuses on the technology, market and applications challenges and opportunities that are facing the toner industry.

Here is why technology reporters should cover this conference, because toner cartridges, their cost, quality, and recycling issues have a huge impact on your readers. Cartridges are the largest single cost of ownership for a printer.

Cartridge technology drives what you can do with a printer, as in color printers, etc.

No, it is not as fun as a gadget trade show. There aren't any cool toys. Any reporter can cover a gadget show, only the most skilled business reporter can write about toner cartridges in a way that shows readers how their lives are affected.

Note - no this is not my client, but it is the sort of story I pitch.

Regarding online communications

Tom Murphy

We can identify and contact bloggers on any given subject in minutes. We can quickly and easily scan their blogs to see if their content is relevant and we can use tools like Technorati or BlogPulse to try and gauge their influence, but do we stop to understand the blog?

Two separate conversations this week have led me to believe that the Internet has spoilt us and has put unrealistic expectations into our heads. Two different marketing/PR folks were in touch asking my opinion on undertaking blog relations. Both saw the value of blog relations, but wanted to know how they could pull together an outreach campaign quickly. Both mentioned they were under time pressures. You see, given you can find anything online quickly, you can communicate quickly, well then you must be able to communicate well quickly. It’s the Hare’s approach to online PR. The reality is somewhat different.

Rather than racing to throw some bloggers into the e-mail hopper, I believe you would be better advised to follow the tortoise’s example. Take a deep breath, slow down and let that wonder of millions of years of evolution, your brain, take over from the speed of the Internet. If you really want to effectively pitch bloggers, then just like journalists you need to identify them, understand their audience, understand their policy on PR pitches and then tailor your pitch to effectively communicate with them.

With some trepidation, I am going to dissent from this. Certainly you want to understand the writers, journalists or bloggers, you are pitching to; but ultimately it is about readers. Think about who you want to reach, not just which publications and/or blogs they read, but why they read them. I try to have a specific person in mind when I write a press release and imagine them sitting at their computer looking for information or interesting tidbits. It is easier to write lively copy if you have a specific reader in mind.

Delivering Christmas

Say thanks to your postal carrier today...

Chris Dorobek reminds us that for some people, Christmas is a massive logistical undertaking.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Whistle blowers

Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S. After 9/11, Officials Say

Nearly a dozen current and former officials, who were granted anonymity because of the classified nature of the program, discussed it with reporters for The New York Times because of their concerns about the operation's legality and oversight.

Rarely, very rarely, anonymous sources speak to reporters because they are genuinely concerned about serious wrong doing. This is how the cult of anonymous sources was established.

In the case of intelligence agencies, there are only a limited number of people who could possibly have known about this. Does anyone reading this have any doubt that the proponents of this program have long since identified and retaliated against the sources for this article? Particularly because the New York Times, for reasons best known to itself, withheld publication of this article for a year? When a source speaks speaks off-the-record to a reporter, they have no possibility of invoking the whistle blower protection act.

Of course civil servants feel that the act is ineffective and will not protect them, which is why both the Project on Government Oversight and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility encourage anonymous activism. But in a world where almost no one will publicly blow the whistle, it is far easier for bullies to isolate and punish the whistle blowers who do emerge. Had the sources for the New York Times article all have gone on the record, it would have been very difficult to have retaliated against all of them. It is known as solidarity and is the foundation of all nonviolent political protest.

If the PR industry wishes to end the practice of anonymous sources, and I hope opinion is shifting in that direction, then it is not enough to persuade our clients to speak on the record. We also have to educate our clients to distinguish between whistle blowers and trouble makers and resist the temptation to retaliate against the former.

This article is great reporting. There isn’t a PR pro reading this post who wouldn’t be thrilled to have a client favorably mentioned in the New York Times. We pay for advertising in the Times not merely because of the number of people who read it, but because of the class of the venue. Great journalists make PR possible; James Risen and Erick Lictblau have reminded us why journalism matters.

New to me local software developer blog

Tom Copeland

Friday, December 16, 2005

On public speaking

Stop your presentation before it kills again!

Sometimes the best presentation is... no presentation. Ditch the slides completely. Put the projector in the closet, roll the screen back up, and turn the damn lights back on!

... But given how many people hate slide presentations, why is it universally assumed that where there is "a talk", there's PowerPoint (or its much cooler cousin, Apple's KeyNote)? Conference coordinators rarely ask speakers if they'll be projecting slides. They send out the slide templates, then start demanding your slides several weeks before the show. Saying you don't have slides is like saying you'll give your talk naked. "You mean... you're going out there with nothing???"

I too am puzzled by the ubiquitous presence of slides. Those who speak for a living, teachers, lawyers, preachers, never use slides. Surely there is a lesson there.

The place to share your ideas, rumors, and complaints about Healthcare IT and Medical Informatics

HITSphere Health IT and Informatics Community

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Traction Customer IJIS Institute Named One of BusinessWeek's WebSmart 50

IJIS Institute Cited by BusinessWeek as One of 50 Innovative Uses of Internet Technology in Business

PROVIDENCE, R.I., Dec. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Traction Software, Inc., the leader in Enterprise Blog software for business, today announced that The Integrated Justice Information Systems (IJIS) Institute was selected as a BusinessWeek "WebSmart 50" organization, in the November 21, 2005 issue, based on IJIS's deployment of Traction TeamPage(TM) enterprise blog technology for its Website, Partner Extranet, and Staff Intranet. You can read about the Web Smart 50 by going to:

Congrats to the Traction PR team for placing this.

IJIS Institute Has Deployed Blogs, Cited by BusinessWeek as Web Smart

But what gave the Internet its disruptive power and exhilarating appeal was that it was barely owned

Jonathan Krim, Washington Post

Suddenly, the mom-and-pop store in Des Moines could advertise and sell to the world, without paying the freight of someone else's marketing apparatus. Intellectual and artistic works could be shared rapidly, at little or no cost. Games could be created and distributed without ever having to manufacture a physical item.

We may think of it as the information superhighway, but really the Net has been a gigantic bypass, circumventing barriers to entry and whole swaths of middlemen (think travel agents or, I'm sad to say, newspaper owners) who are now trying to figure out how to survive.

Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes

What is mesh networking?


Mesh networking is a way to route data, voice and instructions between nodes. It allows for continuous connections and reconfiguration around blocked paths by "hopping" from node to node until a connection can be established.

Mesh networks are self-healing: the network can still operate even when a node breaks down or a connection goes bad. As a result, a very reliable network is formed. Applicable to wireless networks, wired networks, and software interaction.

A mesh network is a networking technique which allows inexpensive peer network nodes to supply back haul services to other nodes in the same network. A mesh network effectively extends a network by sharing access to higher cost network infrastructure.

Now you know.

European RoHS directive 2002/95/EC

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment

Directives 2002/95/EC on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment and 2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment are designed to tackle the fast increasing waste stream of electrical and electronic equipment and complements European Union measures on landfill and incineration of waste. Increased recycling of electrical and electronic equipment will limit the total quantity of waste going to final disposal. Producers will be responsible for taking back and recycling electrical and electronic equipment. This will provide incentives to design electrical and electronic equipment in an environmentally more efficient way, which takes waste management aspects fully into account. Consumers will be able to return their equipment free of charge. In order to prevent the generation of hazardous waste, Directive 2002/95/EC requires the substitution of various heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium) and brominated flame retardants (polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE)) in new electrical and electronic equipment put on the market from 1 July 2006.

Nearson Begins RoHS Compliant Production Runs

While big business is hiring lawyers and lobbyists to fight these initiatives, small businesses are hiring engineers and complying. There are many reasons small business is big news, this is one of them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Measuring inbound links

You can tell the PubSub PR List is a great list, Presto Vivace Blog is on it. But I don't understand how inbound links are detected and measured. Missing inbound links on my blog include Manuel L. Quezon III, Gartner Watch, Love the Mac, and Content & Technology Crossroads. Any theories how these links got overlooked?

Top Five Federal Software Product Categories for 2006

Constatin Bastura was kind enough to forward this item:

Teaming Will be the Key to Federal Success for Software Firms

RESTON, Va., Dec. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- In an analysis of over 3,000 federal business opportunities, five software product categories have been identified as having a high number of potential subcontracting opportunities, according to a report released today by INPUT, the authority on government business. The five categories are document & content management, project management, supply chain & logistics management, knowledge management, and inventory management.

Federal IT contracted spending for 2006 is estimated to reach $64 billion with software procurements accounting for nearly $5 billion of the market. INPUT has identified the largest segment of software subcontract opportunities is under business and enterprise applications. The top five categories within the report comprise nearly 30 percent of this segment.

"The federal market holds ample opportunities for software vendors, whether they focus on targeted applications, enterprise solutions, or the underlying platforms," said John Slye, senior analyst, federal subcontracting opportunities for INPUT. "Success for both the large primes and small subcontractors in the software market will rely heavily on their ability to create effective partnerships."

The best way to identify potential partners is to be active in any of the fine organizations on the sidebar to your right.

Unclear on the concept

Everywhere Christmas is observed marketers try to think of some tie-in for their business. I have no problem with that and would do it too if I could come up with an angle for enterprise computing.

But some things just don't fit. Some marketers should just stay away from holiday tie-ins, such as this one:

Counter Terrorism Training School

Holiday Special!!!

Tactical Shooting Course 3Days $700

(Regular $1,800)

We provide Weapons & Ammunition

(Glock 17, M-4, AK47 & Shotgun)

Happy holidays indeed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

How did this even get to be part of the conversation?

As I write this the Financial Times has an online poll on the merits of torture.

Just in time for Christmas.

My heart is so full, I can hardly speak.

Why I founded Presto Vivace, Inc.

Alternet has an interview with Larry Beinhart; one of the things he says is:

With certain exceptions, news is not automatically big news. The exceptions are dead popes, the World Series, tsunamis, volcanoes, wars the wars that involve us anyway -- but most news actually becomes news -- including wars -- because of press releases. The example I always use -- because we're in the small town of Woodstock -- is the little league schedule. If the little league schedule is going to be in the newspaper, it's only because the coach or the coach's wife sends it to the newspaper.

Most news originates as a press release or a press conference or an announcement. And if it's going to stay in the news, it has to get new press releases and new stories. Someone has to work at that, someone has to invest effort and time to make it a big story. And if nobody does that, it may not be a story at all, or it may be a one-time item. You know, page 12 of the New York Times, page 26.

This puts small business at a terrible disadvantage, because even the prosperous ones do not have the resources to gin out press releases. That is a terrible pity, for them and the readers who would be interested in their stories. Presto Vivace was structured in a way that allows me to offer PR services at a price small companies can afford.

Does this sound like hot copy to you?

I have stayed away from the press release from hell theme, but Couthe found one that illustrates almost everything that is wrong with traditional IT hype:

Portal Solution Provides Cost-Effective Means for Unlocking Potential of Trapped “Siloed” Assets; Fuels Adoption of SOA

Do you have any idea what that means? Neither do I, and neither, I suspect, does the person who wrote it.

I think John Wagner had it exactly when he described technology PR Pros as translators. We should replace techno-speak with English.

Monday, December 12, 2005

We need more laughs, not fewer

Editorial Cartoonists: An Endangered Species

Black ink Monday

The key to effective advertising

Know Your Audience

The power of the press, who is the press? who is the newsmaker?

Washington Post Reporters Upset About Links To Blogs

I think the Washington Post’s deal with Technorati is brilliant. Just plain brilliant. Bloggers commenting on your newspaper is tangible evidence of readers. If you can go to an advertiser and say that the average article receives X amount of links, or that the articles in the business section receive X amount of links, it gives advertisers confidence that they are reaching an influential audience.

Of course it’s no fun when someone exposes your writing as clueless. Better to link it from your site and learn from it, than have everyone else link to it for the purpose of enjoying a hearty laugh at your expense.

Post reporters are walking barefoot for the first time as it were. As soon as their calluses are built up they will enjoy blogosphere.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sez who?

World's poorest don't want "$100 laptop" -Intel

COLOMBO, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Potential computer users in the developing world will not want a basic $100 hand-cranked laptop that is due to be rolled out to millions, chip-maker Intel Corp. Chairman Craig Barrett said on Friday.

I have no idea what people in these countries want and neither does Mr. Barrett.

PR Leap

About PR Leap

R Leap - the free press release distribution service to major search engines, newswires and websites, since 2003 - has two main goals :

1. We want to help newsmakers - artists, authors, business professionals, designers, developers, entrepreneurs, filmmakers, musicians, retailers, and all other types of newsmakers - get free media exposure.

... 2.We want to help newsmakers increase their search visibility.

I just stumbled across this, so can't say much about it; but I thought some of my readers would be interested.

Friday, December 09, 2005

From those same wonderful people who brought us "We love the Iraqi information minister"

Karl Rove is toast.

Great moments in spin

Estimating breach size by fraud volume

An additional finding is that the likelihood of a fraud being committed using a given piece of revealed PII is inversely proportional to the size of the breach.

These results are being spun as suggesting that large breaches are not so bad, and that the "real risk" of ID theft is low.

Who came up with that spin?

Why data reference models are news

Military, Civilians Must Be Able To Share Data During Disaster Response

The growing number of joint civil and military users of satellite and other communications systems during times of natural disaster relief deployments — like the one following Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico — will make it necessary to find a way to pass secure and nonsecure information so users can share data or talk with one another more easily, said Robert Otten, senior vice president of Vocality International.

Why can't we share?

Who used which application?

Shahid Shah tells us that eXpert Technology Solutions has a solution for the hole in the Citrix product line:

As we know, Citrix is a thin-client application enabler: it can take a “fat client” windows application and through a small client application (or just a browser) on a client PC it can run an entire application from just a server and use the display/keyboard/mouse from the client. Eric and his two other co-founders set out to plug an important hole in Citrix’s product line: detailed analysis and reporting of who used what application, for how long, and whether they were supposed to be able to or not. While Citrix eases the administration burden of having to install applications on multiple computers, it doesn’t ease the administrators burden of reporting to upper management.

When you sell technology, you are selling to a committee

Casey Software

Next, technology decisions are not made from the top down. The marketing dollars are focused at the CIO's and the CTO's who are believed to chart the overall direction of the ship, but they're not the ones manning the oars. Once again, we go to the line-level geek, developer, admin who is going to use the best tools they can find to get the job done.

One reason I attend so many meetings of user groups and trade associations is because that is the only way you get a feel for what the worker bees in the industry are thinking.

Developing software for the Greater Washington, DC area, why it’s different

Project - A Contract Management Tool

I've noticed that most of the dotProject feature requests which come from these groups don't reflect the feature requests and requirements of the core group and those who frequent the dotProject forums.

Anyway, there are two main areas which have been discussed over and over again. First, is Earned Value Management (or Earned Value Accounting) and the second is detailed Contract Management tracking costs by Work Classification, etc. While these are likely to have little value outside this geographical area, there are a number of local groups looking for this functionality.

Project Forums

Department of Wish I had thought of that

John Wagner points to a terrific post by Jeremy Pepper describing Nokia’s blogger relations program. Ingenious. And very clever to have sent out samples to many bloggers so that any negative post would have less impact.

This, along with B.L. Ochman’s campaign for Budget Rent A Car, is a great example of blog-based promotion.

Jeff Jarvis needs to get over himself

Jeff Jarvis says bloggers should ignore PR people and our news releases. His post was inspired by a presentation on blog relations that he knows was terrible without even seeing it.

I am mildly curious, who elected Jeff Jarvis?

Seriously, isn’t writing, in blogs or any medium, about providing something interesting for readers? Either a news release would interest your readers or it wouldn’t. If it is interesting to your readers, I don’t see that it matters that the motives of those who sent it were impure. What is important is providing your readers with something worthwhile.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Breaking silence

Counterterrorism co-operation is endangered by US renditions

Vital global counterterrorism co-operation is under threat in the wake of several international inquiries into the US government practice of sending terrorism suspects to third countries outside the established legal framework, known as 'extraordinary renditions'. These inquires could also see US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives face legal action.

At issue is the US practice of rendition, which includes such missions as "snatch and grab" operations, as well as the shipment of prisoners already in the custody of one state to another for arrest, detention or interrogation - outside the lines of regular extradition processes.

American Torture Chambers

Blogging and privacy

Tom Foremski

What is socially acceptable to blog about? That's one of the questions I have pondered when everyone can be a publisher, and when most in my social circle are publishers/bloggers.

And the answer is simple: if you are at a private event, among your friends, then everything is off-the-record you do not publish anything that could embarrass anybody, or republish anything that was said/done unless you have an agreement to do otherwise.

This is something we, as a society, are going to have to start talking about. For example, if I go to a meeting, I may cover the presentation and the questions. I do not write about the little meeting after the meeting were attendees come forward to ask the questions they did not want to ask publicly. Neither do I blog about the after the meeting gossip session that inevitably occurs on the subway ride home.

There has been some discussion about libel, but almost none about privacy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Arlington way

Arlington goes wireless with free Internet service

Arlington County is asking technology companies to give Internet users something for nothing.

The county wants companies to provide wireless Internet access, or wi-fi, in 10 areas at no cost to the government or the users. Free access would be at about one-fifth the speed of a broadband connection.

Providers would cover their costs through county-approved business plans, such as charging for faster connections and selling online ads.

The Arlington way refers to Arlington's unique political culture that places great emphasis on citizen input and participation. No decision can be made without consulting all stakeholders. This initiative is but one example of the Arlington way in action.

The result is a grassroots political culture that produces a high quality of government services with the lowest taxes in the Greater Washington area. Precisely because all stakeholders are brought into any discussion it is very difficult for the business community or any other group to exert undo pressure. Businesses which are not used to it can get very frustrated.

UPDATE: The Arlington Way AAA rated.

Great moments in document management

Brian Krebs on Computer Security

Few things in the world of digital documents are as pesky and revealing as "metadata" -- the information automatically embedded in documents by popular software such as Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat. When the government or a business forgets to purge metadata from documents before releasing them to the public, the results can range from embarrassing to dangerous.

On Sunday, the New York Times ran a story on President Bush's Nov. 30 speech on the war in Iraq. While White House officials said many federal departments contributed to the new national strategy on Iraq, one look at the metadata stored in the 35-page National Security Council document, titled, "Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq," showed that the original author of the paper was Peter D. Feaver, a Duke University political scientist who was recruited to join the NSC staff as a special adviser in June after he and several Duke colleagues presented the administration with an analysis of polls about the Iraq war. Their analysis concluded that Americans would support a war with mounting casualties if they believed that effort would ultimately succeed.

Don't have a document management strategy? Get one.

Monday, December 05, 2005

What is meant by agile software development?

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

We are uncovering better ways of developing
software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

You would have to know more than I do about software development and project management to judge the merits of this. But software is too important to leave to the techies, we all have a stake in these debates.

When this happens to a committee chairman or news mogul, we will do something about it

Prostitution Suspect Used Data Access to Keep Tabs on Cops

Whether it is a civil servant with access to data or employee at a private data mining company, this is problem that will only get worse.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Johnny Cash

I saw Walk the Line this weekend. It is a wonderful account of the life and career of Johnny Cash. Cash’s appeal was mostly County & Western, but also Top 40 Rock & Roll. The film shows Cash, warts and all. The film also tells us about the remarkable June Carter Cash.

Cash recorded his first records with the legendary Sam Phillips. Watching the film I started thinking about the impresarios of popular music, the Chess brothers, Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records, and Barry Gordy of Motown. What they all had in common was their love of the music they recorded. It was a business; but it was more than a business. They loved the music they recorded and they wanted to share it with others.

Other than Russell Simmons, there is no one on the business side of the music business who is motivated by a love of the music. For the management of our contemporary entertainment conglomerates, popular music is just a business. It is hard not to wonder if the business would not be better off in the hands of those for whom it is more than a business.

Friday, December 02, 2005

What is Software Architecture?

Software architecture

Software architecture is a coherent set of abstract patterns guiding the design of each aspect of a larger software system.

...The software architect consults with clients on conceptual issues, managers on broad design issues, software engineers on innovative structural features, and computer programmers on implementation techniques, appearance, and style.

Software architecture is a sketchy map of the system. Software architecture describes the coarse grain components (usually describes the computation) of the system. The connectors between these components describe the communication, which are explicit and pictured in a relatively detailed way. In the implementation phase, the coarse components are refined into "actual components", e.g, classes and objects. In the object-oriented field, the connectors are usually implemented as interfaces.

ITscout Blog

Integrating Islands with Landmasses

Damir Tomicic

Simon Says

Miguel Castro

International Association of Software Architects

Transparency and marketing

Define Open

The whole thing reminded me of a story that I've heard Nat Friedman tell. Nat founded a former client of mine called Ximian, an open source company which was later sold to Novell. While at MIT, Nat spent a summer doing an internship at Microsoft and through that had a chance to talk with Bill Gates. They were discussing open source and the Apache server, which was growing in popularity.

Gates couldn't understand why developers would need access to the source code. He offered that if it's functionality that people wanted then Microsoft should just add that functionality to its servers. Nat came away feeling that Gates just didn't "get it," that the openness of the code WAS the draw. While many of the developers and users may never take advantage of the code, they wanted the option to peak under the hood and make changes and adjustments, should they feel the need. I've rarely, if ever, looked under the hood of my car, but I certainly wouldn't purchase one that didn't let me in.

New from Crain's, FinacialWeek

Crain to introduce FinancialWeek in 2006

NEW YORK - Crain Communications Inc., the company that publishes InvestmentNews, will launch FinancialWeek, a newspaper designed to help satisfy the growing information needs of corporate finance executives.

... Among the many topics it will cover: news of financing techniques, risk management, benefits finance, corporate governance, investment management, accounting, information technology, real estate, and compliance and reporting.

With all the layoffs and cutbacks, it is encouraging to read about the launch of a new publication.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Small Business Innovative Research Program

About SBIR and STTR Programs

The SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) and STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) programs, two competitively awarded, three-phase Federal Government programs, are designed to stimulate technological innovation and provide opportunities for small business. These dynamic teamings of the private and public sectors include joint venture opportunities for small businesses and the nation's premier nonprofit research institutions.

Three-Phase Program:

Following submission of proposals, agencies make SBIR awards based on small business qualification, degree of innovation, technical merit, and future market potential. Small businesses that receive awards or grants then begin a three-phase program.

- Phase I is the startup phase. Awards of up to $100,000 for approximately 6 months support exploration of the technical merit or feasibility of an idea or technology.
- Phase II awards of up to $750,000, for as many as 2 years, expand Phase I results. During this time, the R&D work is performed and the developer evaluates commercialization potential. Only Phase I award winners are considered for Phase II.
- Phase III is the period during which Phase II innovation moves from the laboratory into the marketplace. No SBIR funds support this phase. The small business must find funding in the private sector or other non-SBIR federal agency funding.

I met with Mr. Darrell Williams, of the Washington Emerging Technologies Center, to learn more about the SBIR program. While many Presto Vivace clients have been SBIR participants or graduates, I had only a general understanding of the program and wanted to be fully informed. Williams’ company, WETC, has been hired by the government to explain the program.

Williams said that SBIR was a “business development program, no more, no less”. SBIR grants come in three phases: phase I which is the work plan, phase II, where the company builds a prototype, and phase III where the company is expected to raise its own capital and take its idea to production.

Williams said the single most important element of any successful SBIR proposal was the company’s business strategy. This is true in every phase of the program. Essentially, a proposal is a business plan. Evaluators also look at the company’s team; do they have a history of success in their industry? Evalators include well known authorities in their respective fields; it is important that the proposal be credible from a scientific and technical point of view.

Evaluators are not interested in investing our tax money in creating yet another government contractor. They are looking for business plans that propose products with a commercial use. (Some exceptions for the Department of Defense and NASA.)

Sometimes, evaluators will find two roughly equivalent proposals and will fund both for phase I, with the better work plan winning phase II funding.

Willimas said that the SBIR program is a great way for subcontractors to become prime contractors. A prospective grantee’s best strategy is to develop a proposal for a product their field. They should look at the current open solicitations and see if there is anything related to their business.

Williams and I agree that companies should not confine themselves to venture capital to fund phase III. (In some cases the government may offer matching funds, if the SBIR grantee can raise private capital.) A loan or line of credit from a bank may be more practical. It may even be possible to obtain funds from a large company who is interested in buying the product. Some SBIR companies have formed partnerships based on their intellectual property rights on the products that they have developed.

SBIR funding has several advantages over other types of capital. The government is not interested in owning or managing your business. SBIR grants are precisely that, grants. You don’t have to pay the money back. You retain complete control of your company.

Government evaluators are not faddists. They are not looking for the entrepreneur from central casting. They don’t care about your race or gender or if you have gray hair. They are looking at your business plan, your team’s professional experience and the scientific and technical information contained in your proposal. Potomac business culture is far more diverse and more stable than anywhere else in the country. The SBIR program is a contributing factor to this.

Related links
DC Certified Capital Company (CAPCO) Program

Maryland Investment Financing

The Virginia Small Business Financing Authority (VSBFA)