Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Nothing for Granted: A Marine’s Journey

Wednesday, June 1 at 8:30PM on MHz

A young man signs up for the Marines, knowing without question that he will serve a tour of duty in Iraq. "Nothing for Granted: A Marine's Journey" follows the coming of age story of Christopher Perkins. Through the eyes of his family and fellow Marine brothers, we come to see how the war changes this one young man.

One of the advantages of living in Fairfax is access to MHz Networks.

How not to launch a new product

Drug groups look at software to ‘spy' on blogs

Several of the world's leading pharmaceutical groups and at least one regulator are in talks about hiring a computer consultancy company that has devised software to “spy” on internet conversations about medicines.

Netrank, a UK-based consultancy, has been discussing its i-reputation service with GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, all existing clients. The service scans web logs (known as blogs), news groups and forums for exchanges of information between patients. The system can seek out, classify and identify thousands of internet messages a day making references to drugs in an attempt to warn companies of potential side effects or gauge positive or negative opinions that could affect their image.

Here is how this product should have been presented:

Pharmaceutical groups are planning to join the conversation in blogosphere. They are looking at software that monitors online sites such as discussion groups and blogs for mentions of their industry or products. Companies hope to use this information for developing communications practices that would be more responsive to public opinion.

So who is handling Netrank’s publicity? Former Stasi officers?

Aiming to shoot the messenger but hitting the foot


NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Days after financial services giant Morgan Stanley informed print publications that its ads must be automatically pulled from any edition containing "objectionable editorial coverage," global energy giant BP has adopted a similar press strategy.

Zero tolerance
According to a copy of a memo on the letterhead of BP's media-buying agency, WPP Group's MindShare, the global marketer has adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward editorial coverage it is not informed about in advance, "regardless of whether editorial is deemed positive or negative."

I guess BP stands for Bad Publicity. Morgan Stanley has taken a similar move.

Their actions preclude the possibility of good publicity, for any editor who ran a positive piece under these conditions would lose credibility. I’m with Andy Lark; it is one thing to pull advertising after a hatchet job, quite another to ask for advance notice of any coverage of any kind. Public relations is meaningless without an independent press.

Phil Gomes

Bob LeDrew

John Wagner

Silicon Valley Watcher

Monday, May 30, 2005

The abuse of Real-Time Blackhole lists

Shel Holtz

Neville and I were copied on an email from Steve O’Keefe over at the IAOC in which he said he tried sending out the association’s newsletter but it kept bouncing back. The reason, he learned, was the URL for our podcast, “For Immediate Release.” The URL was in the body of the message, but the mail server at the IAOC’s Internet Service Provider wouldn’t let the email go through as long as our URL was included. We were, it turns out, on a couple of blacklists. ...

In both instances, the owner of the SURBL site suggested he’d feel better about whitelisting us if we had spam policies on our sites. It was the combination of the vigilante approach to spam coupled with the requirement to publish an email policy that raised my eyebrows. At their core, of course, blogs are web sites. But they are part of what I have taken to calling the “collaborative” or “social web,” not the “reference web” with which most people are most familiar. How many blogs distribute email of any kind? Damn few, I suspect. Should bloggers be forced to post email policies just to comply with individuals creating blacklists that ISPs use to keep spam out of their customers’ in-boxes? How many bloggers have given any thought to posting email policies? How many bloggers have even figured out whether their blogs’ URLs are on a blacklist?

A former client of mine had a similar problem. There are many innocent bystanders in the spam wars. We need some protection from a company arbitrarily assigning you Blackhole status.

David Koch Missing in Vancouver

Shel Israel

David Koch, is missing on a mountain in Canada, and we need to publicize his situation so the search effort continues. I don't know if this process will work, but perhaps the blogosphere can help. Dave's the associate publisher on DMReview, a Thomson/SourceMedia publication. He drove north from Seattle last Wednesday 5/25, stopping in the late afternoon to take a tram up a mountain near Vancouver that he and his wife had visited years before. Apparently he missed the tram back, and attempted to hike down. He hasn't been heard from since.

All our prayers for the safe deliverance of David Koch.

On Memorial Day

The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that "all men are created equal"

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow, this ground -- The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln, delivered at Gettysburg November 19, 1863.

The armor scandal:

12-21-2004 Steel Production Shortages Complicate Armor Cure

12-21-2004 Soldier Says He Asked Rumsfeld Armor Question Without Aid of Embed

12-16-2004 Special Feedback: Readers on Armor Scandal

12-15-2004 Guest Column: Pentagon Still Spins on Humvee Armor

12-15-2004 Guest Column: The Humvee’s Fatal Design

12-13-2004 Steel Plates, Sandbags and ‘Trojan Horse’ Trucks

12-13-2004 Posing the Right Question

12-13-2004 Armor Priority? What Priority?

12-11-2004 Humvee Flap Is Not the Real Iraq Problem

12-09-2004 How the System Shorted Armored Humvees

12-09-2004 Rumsfeld Should Have Known – and Acted

12-09-2004 Editor’s Note: Discovering a Crisis

12-09-2004 Transcripts

12-09-2004 CBS Video

A Soldier’s Thoughts

All the king’s horses

Mike Crichton's Journal

Griffin's Random Ramblings

Nameless Soldier

Armed Forces Relief Trust


Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

The Iraq Body Count

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Why it is important to understand user requirements

Mistaken Identifiers: Gene name errors can be introduced inadvertently when using Excel in bioinformatics

MatchMiner [1] and GoMiner [2] are two bioinformatics program packages we published recently in another Biomed Central Journal, Genome Biology. When we were beta-testing those programs on microarray data, a frustrating problem occurred repeatedly: Some gene names kept bouncing back as "unknown." A little detective work revealed the reason: Use of one of the research community's most valuable and extensively applied tools for manipulation of genomic data can introduce erroneous names. A default date conversion feature in Excel (Microsoft Corp., Redmond, WA) was altering gene names that it considered to look like dates. For example, the tumor suppressor DEC1 [Deleted in Esophageal Cancer 1] [3] was being converted to '1-DEC.' Figure 1 lists 30 gene names that suffer an analogous fate.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

PR disaster in progress, slow drip edition

Identity Theft, James Kasprzak of the National Defense University at the NCC AIIM Educational Seminar

Kasprzak characterized the current debate over identity theft as the “perfect storm” of technological change, citizen perception and criminal activity. Throughout his presentation Kasprzak stressed the connection between privacy and identity security.

He talked about his own experience of ID theft. He noticed that for eighteen months a mysterious 37¢ had been added to his VISA bill. It turned out that someone in Eastern Europe had a scam where he was charging 37¢ on millions of VISA cards. VISA knew but took no action. Kasprzak’s response was to change to MasterCard. (This is an excellent example of how poor security and poor customer service can combine to create a public relations disaster. The Identity Theft expert at the National Defense University is telling every audience he talks to that VISA does not take security seriously.)

Consumers can report ID theft to the Federal Trade Commission.

The Future of IT, Where Do We Go From Here?

NCC-AIIM June Social
Friday, June 10, 2005

George Newstrom, former Secretary of Technology of Virginia
CEO WiSPER Technologies

Please join NCC-AIIM for our annual Black Tie Optional June Social. Torpedo Factory Street ViewThe June Social is our chance to recognize the efforts of our executive board and have some fun. Our venue, the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, is one of Alexandria’s landmarks and is right on the waterfront at the bottom of King Street. Last year’s event was talked about for months afterwards (Austin Powers and the Spy Museum), so who knows what can happen this year?

We are excited to have Mr. George Newstrom as our featured speaker. Mr. Newstrom will speak about some of the technology advances we should expect over the coming years, and how that will affect our daily lives and our business.

Monday, May 23, 2005

America needs privacy protection

Data Protection Act 1998, United Kingdom

From a comment on Slashdot.

How the United States is alienating international opinion

From the USMC website, check out the barrel on the tank.

Scope of bank data theft grows to 676,000 customer

Todd R. Weiss, Computerworld

MAY 20, 2005 (COMPUTERWORLD) - What is thought to be the largest U.S. banking security breach in history has gotten even bigger.

The number of bank accounts accessed illegally by a New Jersey cybercrime ring has grown to 676,000, according to police investigators. That's up from the initial estimate of 500,000 accounts police said last month had been breached. ...

Lomia today said that the suspects manually built a database of the 676,000 accounts using names and Social Security numbers obtained by the bank employees while they were at work. The information was then allegedly sold to more than 40 collection agencies and law firms, police said.

My advice to those collection agencies and law firms is go out and hire yourself some crisis communications experts, because you are going to need them.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Blogs come to Federal Computer Week

Federal Computer Week launches its blogs this week.

But Circuit, Intercepts, blogs and comment pages are different. They are a hybrid — they are not news stories and they are not opinion. They are something different that enables us to write about subjects that may not make the news pages.

Despite the dangers, we believe blogs can be both interesting and useful for our readers. Most of all, we hope FCW.com's blogs are a place where you can find a niche and communicate with us or with others. Our inboxes are always available at cdorobek@fcw.com or jsmonroe@fcw.com. We will address your comments wherever and whenever possible. (Please put "Blog: ..." in the subject line because it will help ensure that messages don't get mistaken for spam.)

So ... let's give it a try and see how it works ... www.fcw.com/blogs.

The FCW Insider

Culture & Context, People and ideas driving government innovation.

Welcome to blogosphere.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Testify brother Gillmor

Is there really a shortage of engineers? I don't begin to believe this, not when the bursting of the technology bubble left so many workers unemployed.

Banking Regulators to Launch XBRL-Powered Call Report Database

Ivan Schneider, Bank Systems & Technology

The Federal Financial Institution Examination Council (FFIEC) will soon launch a project that will enable federal banking regulators and the public to access a common pool of information about the banks under their supervision.

The initiative, known as the "Call Report Modernization Project," revolves around a Central Data Repository containing the quarterly regulatory filings of over 8,400 financial institutions. All of the information within will be "tagged" using eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), a cross-industry standard for representing financial data.

The project will launch on or about October 1st, 2005, following a final end-to-end test of the system at the end of May. "This will be the first mandatory electronic filing system for financial data in the United States," said Mike Bartell, chief information officer, FDIC. Bartell spoke at a recent XBRL conference in Boston.

Mojtaba Saminejad

Mojtaba Saminejad is on a hunger strike. He was imprisoned for reporting that three other Iranian bloggers were jailed and reported being tortured during their incarceration.

Useful links for researching trade shows

Trade Show Central


World Trade Search Trade Shows

Huntingen - a no-charge resource for event planning & trade shows

Skyline Exhibits, knowledge resources

Thanks to Andy Russell and Marc Snyder for the tips.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Bugs are sons of glitches

No More Bugs

I am convinced one of the reasons we have so many defects is that we call them bugs. When we call problems bugs, we avoid taking responsibility for the problems (defects or faults) that we have caused. The bugs didn't just fly in and land on the hard drive. As the developers create the code, they also create the defects.


Data transformation: The process of redefining data based on some predefined rules. The values are redefined based on a specific formula or technique.

Data conversion: The process of changing an electronic file of content from one format to another (ie, changing a word processing document to an XML-tagged document).

It’s easy to confuse the two.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Second annual PR Opinions survey

Tom Murphy has published the results of his PR opinions survey. This item caught my eye -

The vast majority of the sample believe that the Internet is having a positive effect on PR and that it has improved their relationships with the media - however 43% believe that the Internet is making PR harder

These two opinions are in no way contradictory. The Internet and blogs have opened up many new opportunities for PR and story placement. On the other hand story tracking and measurement are vastly more complicated. So you have to work harder; but you have more opportunities.

Monday, May 16, 2005

A step forward

Kuwait grants women right to vote

Kuwait's parliament has passed a law granting women the right to vote and run in elections for the first time. Parliament speaker Jassim al-Khorafi said the legislation had been passed by a majority of the all-male parliament. But women activists said the law was not passed in time for them to vote and run in upcoming municipal elections set for June 2.

Presto Vivace Blog

BL Ochman is doing a series of interviews with marketing and PR bloggers, including an interview with yours truly. She has managed to describe the purpose of this blog perfectly.

One point I would like to emphasize the the role of my copy editor.

Marshall selected a copy editor, who is highly intelligent, intellectually curious. The editor has no tech background whatsoever. "My feeling is that if my copy editor can't understand it then I need to re-write it. "

Much of the bad writing in technology comes from press releases written by flacks who are only vaguely aware of the meaning of the terminology, jargon, and buzzwords that they use. They throw down the words in the innocent belief that their technical audience will understand releases that they themselves do not understand. I make a point of learning the terminology, so that I can put it into simple English whenever possible. I also use a copy editor who, while highly educated, has no technical background. Your copy should almost always be simple enough that an educated layman can understand it.

The difference between records and non-records

From Owen Ambur’s presentation to the NCC AIIM Educational Seminar:

Records have authenticity, reliability, integrity and usability (ISO 115489). Databases are not good record-keeping systems because they lack integrity: every database has an administrator, insiders have motives, and manipulation of data is built into databases.

What is XPSF?

XPSF, which when spoken sounds like spiff, is the XML Shareable Playlist Format.

Now you know.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


In Steve Hall’s interview with BL Ochman about how he built Adrants into a commercially successful blog, Hall talks about how he fell into blogging:

Hall was unemployed "just like every other blogger" and was between ad agency jobs. "I followed the old adage," he says, "write about what you know."

"I'm 43. I always wondered what I would do when I turned 40. Advertising is very ageistic. There are not many people with gray hair in ad agencies. I never really had a conscious though that I better start a business. I just fell into this. And I love it."

In a country that is becoming grayer this has got to stop. Ageism is holding the whole country back by denying older people the opportunity to contribute to society.

It has long been my opinion that many of the quality and security problems in software and technology come from the pernicious practice of age discrimination. Institutional knowledge and experience with dealing with customers is at least as valuable as mastering the latest technology. It is only by living through an installation and implementation that you begin to understand the gulf between theory and practice. To discard workers with this knowledge is a grave error.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

What is AJAX?

AJAX is shorthand for "Asychronous Javascript and XML." (Read Adaptive Path's defining paper.) The term itself has a pretty loose definition (for example, some of the most well-known AJAX applications do not use XML). A good way for a layman to think about it is "doing things with DHTML that you would normally need something like Flash to accomplish." Things like Google Maps and Gmail are the granddaddy AJAX applications that got people excited about the concept.

Now you know.


In 1994 I adopted a Pomeranian/Schipperke mix from the animal shelter. I was still recovering from the loss of my mother and I needed a little friend to keep me company. Sasha took me for walks every day and reminded me to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. In 2001, when I lost my father, Sasha helped me cope with my loss. This morning Sasha succumbed to kidney disease. He was probably 16 years old. He will be missed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

How to place software stories in the media

John Cass point to a terrific article on how to get the media to pay attention to your software company. It is full of good ideas, but I would like to draw your attention to this one:

A PR primer for software CEOs

Tactical Tip 1A: Return their phone calls and respond to their e-mails. OK, this is so obvious as to be painful. But, you'd be amazed how many people — and I'm talking about CEOs of tiny companies that could really benefit from the publicity — do not return calls and e-mail inquiries.

I realize that SoftwareCEO is not The Wall Street Journal; but did you ever consider that some people at the Wall Street Journal read SoftwareCEO?

With the media, you never know where influence starts and stops. Not only do journalists read (and steal from) each other, they also change jobs often, and many are freelancers who write for multiple publications. Offend one, and you're at risk with dozens more.

I would go further, return all phone calls promptly. Assume every call is important. If you have the hideous music-on-hold, get rid of it. Even worse is the custom of forcing callers to listen to advertisements for your company while they are on hold. Satan has a special place for the person who came up with that idea.

If your company is in the custom of dealing with inquiries in a prompt and courteous fashion, you will not have to make a special effort when you deal with the press.

Shopping for Enterprise Search Packages?

Tony Bryne has a list of 33 Enterprise Search Packages

The records management implications of blogging

Jesse Wilkins, eDoc

Technology-wise, blogs are similar to content management systems in that authors can update Web pages without having to know HTML or scripting, making blogging very user-friendly. Blog postings will frequently include links to supporting or contrary resources that provide additional context. Posts may be made in chronological or reverse chronological order, and may additionally be sorted by topic. Many blogs allow readers to post comments to the author's posts. ...

So what does all this mean to records management? As organizations use blogs to communicate both internally and to their customers and the public, the information will need to be managed effectively from a policy perspective. Some of the postings will rise to the level of a record, particularly those made by public companies or those in highly regulated or litigious industries. Many public blogs have elected to turn off comments due to the abusive nature of some; it may make sense to turn off comments for internal blogs or to periodically review them to ensure they comply with organizational policies.

Another issue relates to discovery. A fundamental tenet of discovery is that anything that is relevant must be produced, whether it is considered a record by the organization or not. Anything posted to a blog would be discoverable. For most blogs, archiving is both automatic and permanent. Blogs that allow comments will archive those comments unless the author removes them. The organizational communications policy must identify the process for removing posts and comments and the application should provide an audit trail not only of posts and comments made, but posts and comments removed.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Translation From PR-Speak to English

Daring Fireball gives us a hilarious tranlation of Adobe’s ‘FAQ’ Regarding Their Acquisition of Macromedia. My personal favorite:

What is the mission of the combined company?

Adobe’s mission remains the same — to help people and businesses communicate better. With the acquisition of Macromedia, Adobe strengthens its mission through the combination of leading-edge development, authoring and collaboration tools — and the complementary functionality of PDF and Flash.

Where by “complementary” we mean “the two leading technologies that irritate people when they’re used in lieu of regular web pages.” Note that we’re using PDF to serve this very FAQ — in our synergistic future, perhaps we’ll serve our FAQs in a hybrid PDF/Flash format. One can dream.

Thanks to Gabe Goldberg for the tip.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Taking FUD to a whole new level

A new low in FUD has been reached:

Reporter Claims To Expose Groklaw Editor's Identity

Interest is swirling around the Linux-advocacy site Groklaw.net, following the weekend posting of an article by Linux Business News, which purports to uncover information about the identity of site editor Pamela Jones.

Jones has long cultivated her anonymity in the face of curiosity about her background. Interest in Jones has risen along with the profile of Groklaw, which has pointedly tracked SCO's ongoing Linux litigation with IBM, Novell, and Red Hat. While Jones has given interviews to several trade publications and Web sites, they have typically been conducted via e-mail, and her picture hasn't appeared. In postings, Jones has said she has a paralegal background.

The Linux Business News article claims that Jones is in fact a 61-year-old who lives in a garden apartment in Hartsdale, NY. The article publishes Jones's purported address and phone number, along with her religious affiliation.

Slashdot has a thread on the controversy.
Groklaw responds.

Why would you publish the home address and home telephone number of a writer? What does her religious background have to do with her analysis of legal briefs? This is clearly an attempt to intimidate her. I hope she will pursue whatever legal remedies apply in such situations.

I have never understood the controversy over pseudonymous writers. If writers such as Mark Twain and others wish to separate their everyday life from their writing, why shouldn’t that be respected?

Congratulations Army-Times Publishing Company

'Marine Corps Times' Probe Leads to Recall of Faulty Vests

NEW YORK Proving that you don't have to be a major big city newspaper known for investigative scoops to get dramatic results, a probe by the Marine Corps Times apparently triggered the recall of more than 5,000 ballistic vests issued to Marines despite tests indicating they might be flawed.

Many of the vests were issued to Marines in Iraq. The reporter on the story told E&P today that officials tried to "steer" him away from the story.

"Faced with the imminent publication of this story, the result of an eight-month investigation by Marine Corps Times, the Marine Corps on May 4 issued a Corpswide message recalling 5,277 Interceptor vests from 11 lots that failed government ballistic performance tests — slightly more than half the total vests issued to Marines from questionable lots," Christian Lowe, a Times staff writer, wrote in the weekly.

Well done.

What is EDXL?

Emergency Data Exchange Language

The Department of Homeland Security is facilitating a process to bring together leaders of key emergency organizations which have been developing XML standards for their professions. The goal of the initiative is to coordinate the definition of requirements specifications and the content of data sets for emergency information sharing between professions. This is a unique initiative and should accelerate the use of data sharing and XML in emergency response communities.

These communities are represented in the process by leaders from the various XML data initiatives, including law enforcement, public safety, EMS, fire and rescue, emergency medicine, emergency management and transportation. These include specific pre-existing data initiatives such as the Global Justice XML Data Model (GJXDM), the IEEE ITS Incident Management (IM or 1512) Initiative, the National EMS Information System (NEMSIS) standard recently issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and EMS groups, and 9-1-1 and related organizations.

Now you know.

Testify brother Raspberry!

In the Plame Case, Losers All Around

I want to get really exercised about what the government is doing to a pair of fellow journalists -- Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine. I do hope they can stay out of jail.

But the more I look at it, the more it looks like a fight with nothing much in it for anyone, including the American public.

Precisely so. At this juncture it would take more courage for Cooper and Miller to talk to the grand jury. But it would be the right thing to do. National security is so much more important than the narrow question of privileges for journalists.

For those who have not been following the case, these are the facts as I understand them. In his book, The Politics of Truth, James Wilson named Scooter Libbey and Karl Rove as the men who betrayed his wife. Apparently their story to the grand jury (and this is just rumor) is that they learned of Plame’s identity from some journalists, they can’t remember who. So Fitzgerald is obliged to get testimony from every journalist they talked to, to demonstrate this is a lie. As long as Miller and Cooper refuse to testify, these men can cling to their story.

You can be sure this case has devastated our nation’s intelligence capability. It is not just that Plame’s network had to be shut down, at least the part of it that was not thrown into jail, along with those merely suspected of being her agents. We cannot recruit new agents as long as we are known to betray them as part of our domestic political vendettas. Nor will any ally share information with us where there is a chance it will wind up in the press. We need to bring these criminals to justice as if our lives depended on it.

Real ID, a really bad idea

How Real ID will affect you

What does that mean for me?
Starting three years from now, if you live or work in the United States, you'll need a federally approved ID card to travel on an airplane, open a bank account, collect Social Security payments, or take advantage of nearly any government service. Practically speaking, your driver's license likely will have to be reissued to meet federal standards.

What's new:
The House of Representatives has approved an $82 billion military spending bill with an attachment that would mandate electronically readable ID cards for Americans. President Bush is expected to sign the bill.

Bottom line:
The Real ID Act would establish what amounts to a national identity card. State drivers' licenses and other such documents would have to meet federal ID standards established by the Department of Homeland Security.

The Real ID Act hands the Department of Homeland Security the power to set these standards and determine whether state drivers' licenses and other ID cards pass muster. Only ID cards approved by Homeland Security can be accepted "for any official purpose" by the feds. ...

You said the ID card will be electronically readable. What does that mean?
The Real ID Act says federally accepted ID cards must be "machine readable," and lets Homeland Security determine the details. That could end up being a magnetic strip, enhanced bar code, or radio frequency identification (RFID) chips.

In the past, Homeland Security has indicated it likes the concept of RFID chips. The State Department is already going to be embedding RFID devices in passports, and Homeland Security wants to issue RFID-outfitted IDs to foreign visitors who enter the country at the Mexican and Canadian borders. The agency plans to start a yearlong test of the technology in July at checkpoints in Arizona, New York and Washington state.

Do you really want to carry around an ID card with an RFID tag in it? And, other than our government, who else will be able to monitor that RFID signal? Does that make you feel more secure?

More problems with Real ID: Real ID Act And ID Theft.
Bruce Schneier explains why Real ID will make us less secure.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

On the anniversary of Victory in Europe

A festive mood prevailed at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate Saturday

Germany opened celebrations across Europe to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of Nazi Germany. On Sunday, commemorations in Berlin include reflective speeches as well as an uncomfortable march by neo-Nazis.

Germany opened a "festival of democracy" Saturday to mark 60 years of the end of the Second World War as celebrations continued throughout the continent this weekend.

The festival of democracy includes pop concerts and a 30-kilometer (18-mile) chain of candles.

At the Brandenburg gate, a giant screen is to be erected to show the retransmission of an interfaith church service and speeches Sunday, May 8 by President Horst Köhler and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who is then to fly to Moscow to attend official ceremonies on Monday marking the end of the war in Europe.

Schiller's Ode to Joy

The future of PR measurement?

Why Attention.xml Could Change PR Forever

Attention.xml is a new technology standard that's being proselytized by influencers like Steve Gillmor, David Sifry, Robert Scoble and Jeremy Zawodny. Basically it is metadata that records and shares information on the "attention" users give to their RSS feeds and blogs. ...

Before attention.xml can get going, however, there are some stumbling blocks such as privacy/technical issues and questions over who should own the standard that need to be overcome first.

Privacy is going to be a huge issue as the implications of the Internet’s monitoring power begins to sink in.

Why security and privacy are linked

Mitch Wagner, TechWeb Security Pipeline

Mass surveillance simply creates an illusion of security, as described in a recent report by the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (link via Bruce Schneier). The databases are faulty, they create large numbers of false positives and false negatives. Honest citizens are, at best, subjected to humiliating searches and delays and, at worst false imprisonment. "[D]emocratic institutions and protections, which would be the safeguards of individuals' personal security, are being weakened. And national sovereignty and the ability of national governments to protect citizens against the actions of other states (when they are willing) are being compromised," the report says.

Link via Privacy Digest.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Journal of Information Assurance, Security, and Protection

Information sharing, the challenge

Ex-trooper McCreary gets federal, state and local law enforcement agencies together on data-sharing

The challenge? Get a wide range of law enforcement organizations to solve a problem as technically and politically thorny as sharing information across multiple legacy systems.

The kicker? Persuade them to get on board and modify their own programs without offering much—or, in some cases, any—financial assistance.

Such a task requires considerable diplomacy, empathy and industriousness. Those words, colleagues say, also describe James Patrick McCreary, a senior adviser at the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. ...

People who know McCreary describe his style as easygoing.

“He is very easy to work with. He is very low key but very focused and organized,” said Cabell Cropper, executive director of the National Criminal Justice Association.

“He knows how to say thank you, and does so frequently,” said Paul Wormeli, executive director of the Integrated Justice Information Systems Institute, a Justice-funded nonprofit that assists law enforcement agencies in implementing JXDM.

The Webby Awards

Nominees & Winners

The IRS wasn’t even nominated for best navigation; although, in my judgment it should have won. I guess the association was just too negative for people to judge it on the merits of its design.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A great loss

Col. David. H. Hackworth, 1930-2005

His last article was characteristic of his work -
Concerning the mistreatment of Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Marines

POGO remembers Col. David Hackworth

Rave review of Nearson’s antenna

Gadget Madness gives my client’s antenna a rave review.

Review: Nearson 7-dBi 2.4 GHz Wireless Antennas

I immediately noticed that wireless performance was significantly increased using the Nearson antenna on my Linksys WET-11 wireless bridge. I use the WET-11 for wireless gaming on my PS2 and my router is on the far side of the...um...underground base, that's it. Before installing the Nearson antenna, I would get occasional lost packets and lag. Now the connection is strong, and I don't get random lag while sniping in SOCOM II. Link quality is improved, my packet loss is eliminated and throughput is much better than it was. (I confirmed this by loading up Netstumbler and measuring signal strength both with and without the Nearson.)

The best work in technology is being done by the small companies

Technology Bytes comments.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Upcoming events involving the internet and world wide web

Internet and World Wide Web Conferences Worldwide

This list appears to be limited to academia. If anyone knows of a similar site for trade shows please put the link in the comments.

How NOT to handle a crisis

Time Warner Loses Employee Data

The last remaining doubt that corporate America is utterly incapable of guarding sensitive data disappeared into the Internet's thriving black market in Social Security numbers on Monday. Time Warner lost computer backup tapes containing sensitive data, including the names and Social Security numbers and dependents of about 600,000 current and former employees. In a companywide message broadcast to its employees,Time Warner said the data, stored in a cooler-sized container, went missing more than a month ago while being shipped to a storage center. ... A spokesperson for Iron Mountain, the records management company that lost the tapes, was a bit less contrite. "It happens,'' said Iron Mountain flack Melissa Burman.. "We've got humans involved in the process.''

When you lose personal data you don’t wait a month to inform those affected, you inform them immediately. If your company is responsible for the loss of records for 600,000 people, you do not blow it off as human error. You express profound regret and assure the public that the company is conducting a thorough investigation and will review its procedures to insure such a thing never happens again.

Jim Horton takes a more sympathetic view.
A former employee of AOL Time Warner comments.

Securing Computational Grids

IEEE Computer Society, Northern Virginia Chapter
Monday, May 16, 2005; Held at Oracle Facility, Reston, Virginia, 6:00 - 9:00pm

Dr. Steven L. Arementrout
Founder and CEO, Parabon Computation, Inc.

Computational grids, particularly those that operate outside a controlled enterprise environment, make attractive black hat targets, not only for the power they wield, but also for the sheer expanse of their potential vulnerabilities. Even the providers of power and the users thereof must be presumed untrustworthy. This talk identifies many of the security threats to which public computational grids are exposed and discusses the approaches that are being used in practice for addressing such.

What is XFDL?

Acronym for Extensible Forms Description Language, a document description language introduced and submitted to the World Wide Web Committee in 1998 by the Canadian Internet forms company UWI.Com. XFDL is an XML-based language for describing complex forms, such as legal and government documents. It is designed to allow for interactivity, yet remain consistent with Internet standards.

Now you know.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Business blogging, small business leads the way

Anita Campbell posts about an HP study on small business blogs:

HP Survey: 10% of Small Business Marketing Plans Include Blogs

Ten percent of small business owners in a recent study reported that they have included blogs in their marketing plans. And 16% plan to invest in blogs over the next 2 to 3 years.

This is from a study of small business owners that HP announced last week. The study was conducted by Harris Interactive in March of 2005, and was part of HP's activities during national Small Business Week. I was pleased to participate in discussions about the Harris/HP study results.

This is hardly surprising as blogging is a cost effective way to promote your business. Blogs offer your prospects a way to get to know you without any direct contact. It is the store window for any consultant or service.

This is additional evidence to support my view that small businesses are more innovative than their larger competitors.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Truth in Broadcasting Act

Kerry, Lautenberg Introduce Legislation to Stop Taxpayer-Funded Fake News Hearing on Bill Set for Early May

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced legislation to address “covert propaganda” produced by the government. The legislation would require all “prepackaged news stories,” or video news releases, produced by the Administration to contain a disclosure of the source of the material. ...

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens has committed to holding a hearing and a markup on the bill in early May.

Should be an interesting hearing.

Can you make money giving away music?

Rick Mullin, Chemical & Engineering News

If there is any question that the Internet has changed the music business, Tweedy's story should clear that up. When Wilco's record company, the Reprise subsidiary of Warner Brothers Records, dropped the band in 2001--the firm rejected the new album, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," featuring "War on War"--the band decided to stream the music on its website and go on tour. Tweedy says he was shocked when big crowds showed up at Wilco concerts singing along with songs that were commercially unreleased.

The next big surprise came when Nonesuch Records, a smaller, more entrepreneurial Warner subsidiary, heard the music, signed Wilco, and released the album despite the fact that hundreds of fans had already downloaded it from peer-to-peer websites that took the music from Wilco's site. "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" went on to be among the most critically acclaimed records of 2002. It hit the Billboard chart at 13 and became the band's best-selling record.

Apparently so.

High interest loans

How Al-Qaeda bankrolls terror in Pakistan

A recent security operation in Pakistan has unveiled interesting details about Al-Qaeda's funding of its operatives.

A recent security operation in the lawless tribal zones of Pakistan resulted not only in the arrest of several militants linked to Al-Qaeda, but also revealed the terrorist network's ability to channel funds from one place to another and maintain a pension system for its cadres. Counter-terrorism officials in Pakistan said they learned about the financial dealings of Osama bin Laden's network when they arrested two Alegerian militants in the Pakistani city of Peshawar in April.

According to officials, Al-Qaeda runs a sophisticated network for transferring money where and when it is required for various operations, as well as for payment of its operatives.

For example, when Pakistani authorities initiated a dialogue with tribesmen in South Waziristan several months ago in an effort to restore peace in the tribal areas, local tribesmen told them that they had obtained huge loans from the terrorist group and had no option but to offer its members shelter or to work for its interests in the region.

Loan sharking. It should have been obvious.

Consulting vs. Contracting

I would have thought it is a there is a fine distinction, but Jonathan Cogley points to Consulting vs. Contracting; it seems there is a big difference. Cogley also points to a more cynical view.

For my Microsoft developer readers

Mid-Atlantic Code Camp Session Schedule - May 7th, 2005 (updated)

Thanks to Jonathan Cogley for the tip.

Apparently Code Camp is full; but you can get on a waiting list.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre

National Gallery of Art, East Building, Mezzanine and Upper Level

Went to see the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit today. Lautrec is one of my all time favorite artists and this is a great exhibit of his work. It includes not just his celebrated posters and paintings of nightclub life, but also his drawings of the circus and even brothels. There are paintings by other artists of the era so you get a more complete picture of Montmartre.

I have seen most of the pictures in this exhibit, either in books or the originals, but there was one delightful one I was not familiar with - Monsieur, Madame and the Dog.

Great moments in content management

Political Animal

SGRENA REPORT GOODIES....The U.S. military released a report last week clearing American troops in the March gunfire incident that injured Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena and killed Nicola Calipari, an Italian intelligence agent, as they were driving to the Baghdad airport. Italian reaction has been outraged, and the Italian government is expected to issue a report on Monday contradicting many of the U.S. findings.

But here's a question: do you think the Italian computer whizzes will be any more competent than their American counterparts when they release their report? The U.S. report is full of redactions, as you can see in the picture above, but once again an American agency has used the searchable PDF format to distribute a report, and all you have to do is save the report as a text file in order to recover all the redacted parts.

Emphasis added.