Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Government bodies from federal to municipal find better ways to serve the public through M2M technology

Charity Pihlaja, M2M Magazine

One issue it seems all government bodies deal with is vehicle maintenance. Whether it’s a fleet of squad cars, an all-important fire truck, or durable tanks and Humvees, each agency has means of transportation.

M2M also offers mobile asset monitoring. Included in this is GPS (global positioning system) to help agencies track where their vehicles are, how long they spend at one location, and can be used to help drivers find better routes to destinations.

It is not unusual for governments to be an early adopter of technology.

CIO Council sends Data Reference Model to OMB for final approval

Rob Thormeyer, Government Computer News

Kim Nelson, Environmental Protection Agency CIO and co-chairwoman of the CIO Council’s Architecture and Infrastructure Committee, said the document could be one of the most important documents produced all year.

At least.

Why journalism matters, Poland

Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita express their solidarity with newspapers in Belarus. And if there is one thing the Poles understand, it's solidarity.

Objective journalism is not about presenting both sides of every story. It's following the facts wherever they lead without fear or favor.

Peter Klaus talks to DC Communicator

Peter Klaus of Fleishman-Hillard’s DC office talks about the seismic shifts in communications we will see in 2006:

1. Disappearing boundaries;

2. Growth of blogs;

3. Growth of RSS;

4. Cause Marketing;

5. Social networking; and,

6. Mobile device screens.

Apparently Fleishman-Hillard just got the memo. These shifts occurred some time ago.

Total audience, the evolving news media business model

Dispelling the Myth of Readership Decline

The industry has touted the notion of readership -- a metric that takes into account how many people read the paper whether they buy it or not -- for years, but has often taken halfhearted steps toward giving it true legitimacy.

Then there's the confounding, if promising, online angle. If you count Web traffic, newspapers are actually more popular than ever.

If you don’t count online audience you’re not in touch with what is happening.

The Washington Post’s partnership with Technorati is very smart marketing. Measuring unique visitors is still an inexact science. Inbound links are a more tangible sign of reader interest and provide well defined data to offer advertisers about audience demographics.

Remixing reader relations, an interactive model

David Card likes Washington Post Remix. From the site:

We are pleased to announce washingtonpost.com's Post Remix. With Post Remix, you may use washingtonpost.com RSS feeds to experiment with different applications using washingtonpost.com content.Here are the conditions for participating in Post Remix:

- Your efforts must be for personal, and not for commercial, use. You may not sell applications that use or incorporate washingtonpost.com content.
- You recognize that Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive retains all intellectual property rights in all washingtonpost.com content and you that acquire no such rights by participating in Post Remix.
- Washingtonpost.com may incorporate your ideas into future projects it develops.

Very smart. The Washington Post was a little slow to catch on to blogosphere and the new covnersation, but now they seem to be smart indeed.

Ann L. McDaniel, Vice President of The Washington Post Company, talks about The Washington Post, the Post-Newsweek Tech Group, FOSE and the blogging phenomenon.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Tracking online influence

Mitch Arnowitz has a list of tools to track online influence, including one I had not heard about, Kebberfegg a keyword based RSS feed generator.

The K Street Project turns on its creators

The Abramoff BLOB, going to eat all of K Street alive

It's a great time to be in the litigation support and records management business.

CSS hacking

Scoble and Molly Holzschlag point to Tantek Çelik’s Pandora's Box (Model) of CSS Hacks And Other Good Intentions No easy way to summarize it, but I encourage my developer readers to look at it.

The struggle for the open, end-to-end Internet


On March 3, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it settled a case against a small North Carolina-based telephone company that was blocking the ability of its customers to use voice-over-Internet calling services instead of regular phone lines.

On Sept. 15, the first major draft of proposed changes in the nation's telecommunication's laws was circulated by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The draft said Internet service providers must not "block, impair, interfere with the offering of, access to, or the use of such content, applications or services."

On Nov. 2, another draft of the bill came out, with language specifically addressing the Internet video services that are proliferating as connection speeds increase and the phone companies get into the digital television business. In this draft, the prohibition on blocking or impeding content was gone.

If the bill passes as is, tech companies say, the Internet could be forever compromised.

"Enshrining a rule that broadly permits network operators to discriminate in favor of certain kinds of services and to potentially interfere with others would place broadband operators in control of online activity," Vinton G. Cerf, a founding father of the Internet who now works for Google Inc., wrote in a letter to Congress.

The phone companies argue that with their new fiber-optic systems capable of handling huge amounts of bandwidth, they simply want the ability to set aside some of it for their own services, be it television, gaming or anything else.

Unfortunately for them, the head of phone giant SBC Communications Inc., Edward E. Whitacre Jr., was a little more plain-spoken in an interview in Business Week.

"Now what they [Google, Yahoo, MSN] would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it," Whitacre said. "So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using."

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

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Python, static type checking, RuntimeException, and unit testing

Bruce Eckel

So this, I assert, is an aspect of why Python works. C++ tests happen at compile time (with a few minor special cases). Some Java tests happen at compile time (syntax checking), and some happen at run time (array-bounds checking, for example). Most Python tests happen at runtime rather than at compile time, but they do happen, and that's the important thing (not when). And because I can get a Python program up and running in far less time than it takes you to write the equivalent C++/Java/C# program, I can start running the real tests sooner: unit tests, tests of my hypothesis, tests of alternate approaches, etc. And if a Python program has adequate unit tests, it can be as robust as a C++, Java or C# program with adequate unit tests (although the tests in Python will be faster to write).

From the Nova JUG discussion list.

Bruce Eckel

You can’t flack this stuff if you’re not conversant with the technology.

How to shoot yourself in the foot with your intellectual property protection strategy

P2p, file sharing and Big Music

Thanks largely to failing entertainment industry efforts to sue file sharers into becoming good little consumers, p2p and the technologies surrounding it have become headline news and more people than ever before are logging onto the p2p networks.

Time to adjust the business model.

Silktide’s online marketing’s brilliant play for buzz

Media Orchard points to Silktide’s free online site analysis tool, SiteScore. Who can resist?

Presto Vivace, Inc. received a low 5.6 score. They don’t think much of Presto Vivace’s austere look.

Friday, November 25, 2005

New local .Net blog

Brian Noyes informs us that Clyde Barretto has begun blogging.

IT and the healthcare system

The Healthcare IT Guy

Lyle Schofied


See also Shahid Shah's It Healthcare aggregator - HITSphere

It is with great that regret we report the death of irony

Michael D. Brown is offering his services for crisis communications in emergency response.

I wonder what it's like to go through life free of shame.

When the criminal element gets really bold

Computer Worm Poses as E-Mail From FBI, CIA

It's being called the worst computer worm of the year -- a fast-spreading Internet threat that looks like an official e-mail from the CIA or FBI but can leave your computer wide open to intruders.

The bogus e-mail claims the government has discovered you visiting "illegal" Web sites and asks you to open an attachment to answer some official questions. If you do, your computer gets infected with malware that can disable security and firewall programs and blast out similar e-mails to contacts in your address book. It can also keep you from getting to computer security Web sites that might help fix the problem, and it may open your Windows computer to intruders who can steal your personal data.

First of all, if law enforcement wants to contact you they do not send email, neither do they call you on the phone. They knock on your door in person.

Second of all, the perpetrators of this worm are in serious trouble. Law enforcement takes inpersonators very seriously.

Report online fraud to the FBI

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Shape of things to come

Internet advertising up 34% in one quarter

Wouldn't it be more profitable to sell music online in a P2P format that customers want?

EFF, Texas Attorney General Sue Sony

Greg Abbott, the attorney general for Texas, today filed a lawsuit against Sony BMG Music Entertainment, alleging that its controversial (and now recalled) "XCP" anti-piracy software violates the state's anti-spyware and consumer protection laws.

... Abbott's suit seeks civil penalties of $100,000 for each violation of the law, attorneys’ fees and investigative costs.

Nobody ever won a war with their customers.

Peering into Google's future


So why buy-up all that fiber, then?

The probable answer lies in one of Google's underground parking garages in Mountain View. There, in a secret area off-limits even to regular GoogleFolk, is a shipping container. But it isn't just any shipping container. This shipping container is a prototype data center. Google hired a pair of very bright industrial designers to figure out how to cram the greatest number of CPUs, the most storage, memory and power support into a 20- or 40-foot box. We're talking about 5000 Opteron processors and 3.5 petabytes of disk storage that can be dropped-off overnight by a tractor-trailer rig. The idea is to plant one of these puppies anywhere Google owns access to fiber, basically turning the entire Internet into a giant processing and storage grid.

While Google could put these containers anywhere, it makes the most sense to place them at Internet peering points, of which there are about 300 worldwide.

Whereas blogging can remove all doubt

the blogless professional indicates he/she has nothing to say.

So think before you post.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Nominate your customer

Federal 100 awards: Call for nominations

Federal Computer Week begins accepting nominations for the Federal 100 awards program this week. The deadline is Dec. 21, so don't delay.

Convergence, it's finally happening

New Communications Blogzine

Things are changing, and changing fast, and that hackneyed word “convergence” finally has some validity as we discuss these changes.

The trends that we’ve been anticipating for years are finally coming to pass.

The drivers of this change:

Ever-increasing penetration rates for highspeed Internet access in the home as well as wireless access. Mobile phones have more functionality than ever and carriers need to find new revenue streams. Traditional media networks are losing viewers and advertisers and money and need to reinvent their business models in the face of media fragmentation and the rise of CGM. And, consumers are demanding the ability to choose their own content, wherever, whenever and however they want it.

The nature of the Internet

Tim Jarrett

...a marketplace, rather than just a transport system.

And it is in the interests of the Public Relations industry that it remain so.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Speaking of security

RSA has a blog. It is written in techno speak, so they are still getting the hang of blogosphere. They need to hire my copy editor.

New FBI website goes after online fraud

The FBI has launched a new-to-me website called Looks too good to be true. There is a page that identifies risk factors; also file a complaint.

We could turn the logic of spammers, and their fellow travelers, on its head by doing more than deleting fraudulent email. Once, just once a year, pick an especially obnoxious sample of spam, research its origin, and alert every government agency with any possible jurisdiction. Spammers are counting on most of us to delete their spam and just reach their victims. What they don't expect is for us to fight back.

Great copy writing

American Eagle Group has a great opener on it's home page:

Ready, Fire, Aim!

How do you manage your projects? Do you "Fire" before taking aim? Sadly, many companies seem to "Fire" upon a project without taking advantage of the proper project management practices.

Ed Cone has a new address

Ed Cone

Interview with Paul Duval

Shahid points to Andy Glover's interview with Paul Duval about Duval's new book on software project management.

What is Continuous Integration?

In defining continuous integration, most people refer to the article that Martin Fowler and Matthew Foemmel from ThoughtWorks wrote several years ago. In it, they refer to CI as "a fully automated and reproducible build, including testing, that runs many times a day". I expand on this definition and describe CI as "an automated process of building software whenever a change is applied - this may include automated testing, inspection, reporting, deploying, and notification."

It's amazing how their paper has become the touchstone for defining CI even though it's been around in some form or another for awhile! Given that is not some new revolutionary tool or technique, why should I care about CI?

Because it does the dirty work for you, so you can write software for your users and not spend time on infrastructure issues. It reduces common risks, improves the software quality, and ensures timely feedback. I don't know about you, but I don't like paying bills so I use automatic bill pay. Why? Because paying my bills is a mundane, repetitive activity that drains money from my account. I still haven't found anything to prevent the draining of money, but at least I don't need to do the mundane repetitive work any more. I like working on interesting and unique problems when developing software and there is far more in software development that is "dirty work" than you might imagine. It is the "little things" here and there that add up to decreased productivity and efficiency. Of course, "building the software" is something that we must do, yet I have seen far too many shops who haven't even automated their builds. In fact, an MIT study conducted in 2003 indicates that only between 20-25% are even running daily builds. There is so much more, including the execution of regression tests, static analysis tools, SCM labeling, database integration, notification, and deployment that can and should be automated - and run continuously.

This is the first time I have heard the expression, continious integration, so it is something I am going to have to look into. I don't think you can flack this stuff if you don't know what it is.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I'm so ravenous, I could eat an entire blackbird pie

c=US ID Mgt.

It's this thread that's been developing in my head over the last few weeks starting with a comment by my muse to start checking out heteronyms.

Heteronyms are pseudonyms with individually developed writing styles. The "Book of Disquiet" is an example of a novel that's written in this style. Along with heteronyms came words such as homographs.

Homographs are also a security risk when people think they are reaching one web site, when they are actually reaching another.

How in fact does one guard identity when similar sounding (or written in different character set) web sites or telephone numbers are used? Another Hax0r trick.

Certainly a great source of punning, and double entendre, this facility of language to act at multiple levels at the same time is a great thing. Cequs is also seek us, or c equals us
and so on. It's what makes Shakespeare worth watching and reading time and time again, that sense of depth.

So I started making a sort of homograph, and not a very good one. "I'm so ravenous, I could eat an entire blackbird pie".

The next day I walked outside and there was a gigantic flock of crows or blackbirds hanging outside in the trees, a very unusual event and a portent. Giant flocks of birds suddenly squawking outside your door is very Alfred Hitchcock.

When I told someone at work about this they said "well of course, they hang out on the wire and pick this stuff up".

This fellow employs a stream-of-consciousness method to information assurance commentary. It is oddly effective.

Congratulations Mary Aufseeser

Mary Aufseeser, Tom Biro's mother, was elected mayor of Matawan, New Jersey.

I also had a political mom. It is a very special experience to ask people for vote for mom.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

RSS and its impact on XML

Implications to the Meta Data Environment

The implications for the meta data environment are enormous. Taking a closer look at RSS standard reveals that simplicity and consistency are critical irregardless of context. This indicates that a simple metamodel, such as the Dublin Core, could be easily exchanged by the use of RSS technology. Several of the sample feeds, included at the bottom of this article, contain Dublin Core expansions. Newsreaders could replace the majority of the functionality currently held within the centralized meta data repository. Publishing new content is very similar to the information required for publishing technology asset meta data or will be in the near future. Advancements in the RSS technology will allow code objects, analysis documents, modeling artifacts and other system development life cycle products to publish information about the assets automatically. This will eliminate the need for the extraction of information by hand or forcing integration into a single methodology. RSS already has search functionality and personal taxonomies where the end user can catalog their own content which may prove to be much more valuable than the traditional IT based taxonomies.

I would be very interested in hearing developer's comments on this.

Defending the open, end-to-end Internet

Deal Reached on Managing the Internet

TUNIS, Tunisia -- A U.N. technology summit opened Wednesday after an 11th-hour agreement that leaves the United States with ultimate oversight of the main computers that direct the Internet's flow of information, commerce and dissent.

A lingering and vocal struggle over the Internet's plumbing and its addressing system has overshadowed the summit's original intent: to address ways to expand communications technologies to poorer parts of the world.

Dan Gillmor

There's a lot of angst about the rest of the world "taking control" of the Internet from the U.S. I share some of that concern, given the total disregard for free speech that exists in so many countries and the ITU's record of cloddishness in its regulatory approach. (Tunisia, with its fairly repressive regime, seems like an odd place to hold an "information society" gathering, but the UN does like to be inclusive, which is a good thing.)

This is a hugely complicated topic, involving things like which servers handle lookup requests; arcane regulation; and a lot more. But there's no question in my mind that an Internet a) controlled in serious ways terrible organizations such as the ITU; or b) turned into a bunch of local fiefdoms is not the way we want it to go. The signs are already emerging that the latter will happen, unfortunately.

If the Internet is to work we need everyone on it, including half-literate farmers in the African sahel coming to an internet cafe once a month when they take their goods to market.

We also need to keep it open and not degenerate into walled-off gardens like the bad old days of Compuserve, Prodigy, and only talking to those who subscribed to the same service.

Cultivating the channel

Media Orchard says its time for advertisers to embrace blogs.

Many developer blogs have advertising; this would be a great opportunity for Microsoft, Apple, Sun, etc. to support their independent software developers. An ad on your developer’s blog would reinforce the partnership and generate leads for both of you. It would also be an effective way to reinforce your company’s message to the reader.

Tech on the Potomac, the Mid-Atlantic Technology Blogs

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Why the price of online advertising is about to go up

Readers up 11% at US news websites

US newspaper websites are attracting users at a faster pace than the internet overall with visitor numbers up 11 per cent annually, according to figures released yesterday by Nielsen/NetRatings.

I think publications will start charging for more of their online content. I hope someone can develop a technology that would allow bloggers with paid subscriptions to link to individual articles that would allow their readers to click through to that article, and that article only. It would be great marketing for any news organization that employed such technology.

Precise and concise

Keith Casey on why he blogs

Second, it forces me to practice communication in general. I believe most blog readers don't have the time or attention to spend 15 minutes reading an article. It's not from a lack of intellect or anything like that, it's simply a matter of time/attention available. Therefore, I figure I have about 15-30 seconds to draw people in and give them a reason to continue reading. This has caused me to think even faster on my feet in person and give someone a reason to continue the discussion.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The importance of timing

Managing a Crisis in Associations and Nonprofits

When reporters don’t understand RSS

David Carr, The New York Times

Blogs can be serious enough and conventional enough in execution to fit in with mainstream media (as will be the case when Time.com will begin running AndrewSullivan.com in January). But because blogs can be amended or erased, the people who write them tend not to be held to account.

It is perfectly true that you can alter or even delete a post; but the RSS feed is still out there. To say nothing of The Wayback Machine.

Other people’s property

Jim Horton continues his great commentary on the Sony BMG fiasco. The central issue, to my way of thinking, is Sony’s assumption that it was acceptable to harm their customer’s property in attempt to protect their own. This is a line that must never be crossed; to cross this line is to put your foot on a very slippery slope indeed. The IT world would become a cesspool of cyber warlords.

This sort of incident is part of what is driving the free software movement. It is not simply that you have to pay for proprietary software, most of us are OK with that, it is that you have no way of knowing what is buried in that code. Sony did not just hurt itself with this incident; it hurt the whole idea of proprietary software.

Magazines and newspapers survived the invention of the copy machine, TV and films survived the introduction of the VCR, the music industry would not only survive file sharing, it will flourish once it adopts its business model. The increasing adoption of Linux indicates that you can make money from free.

I don’t understand it either.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Another reason to do business with the government

Government Enters Fray Over BlackBerry Patents

The Justice Department has filed a legal brief in a patent dispute, asking a federal court to delay any immediate shutdown of the popular wireless e-mail system to ensure that state and federal workers can continue to use their devices.

... The Justice Department, filing on behalf of various government agencies, requested a stay of 90 days to put together an electronic database of government users whose service should not be cut off in the event Research In Motion loses its final legal battles and does not reach a settlement. In addition, the "statement of interest" filed by Justice said the government is concerned "there may be a substantial public interest that may be impaired" by shutting down the service.

There are more than 3 million BlackBerry users in the United States, approximately 10 percent of whom are state and federal government employees who use the devices to keep in contact when out of the office.

The Federal government can be a very powerful ally in this kind of fight.

What if your blog were vaporized?

Morgan McClintic helpfully points to WebGrabber for Macs and HTTrack for PCs.

It wouldn't be just the disappointment of losing all your work. Once you've put something on the web, you are responsible, so it is helpful to have your own copy of the historical record.

See it now

I saw Good Night and Good Luck last night at the Uptown Theater. A friend recommended it as reminiscent of the world of our parents men in white shirts, smoking cigarettes, doing important things. (My friend does not smoke, nor does she recommend it.) The film really is that; it did put me forcibly in mind of my parents' world. Clooney wisely decided to go with old tapes of Joseph McCarthy, rather than have an actor play him. That dictated that the film be shot in black and white, which coincidentally enhanced its historical authenticity.

Good Night and Good Luck offers a glimpse of how television news really works, the assorted pressures of running a commercial news operation, the complications that come from aggressively covering a government that has the power to regulate you via the FCC licensing process.

It is also a great film about fear, how silence enables it and how speaking out destroys it. Highly recommended.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Government procurement, why it’s different

Mass. reference model controversy over open formats

Since its release last September, a technical reference model issued by Massachusetts has sparked considerable debate within the government technology community—and beyond.

At stake is the issue of how active a role public offices should take in fostering open standards. Should an agency adopt a new open format—one that would better suit its goals but may prove more difficult to deploy and manage? Or should agencies follow the best practices of the commercial IT industry, taking full advantage of cost efficiencies and new features that may follow?

If a private company decided to migrate to open source systems, that would be that. The customer is always right and there isn’t much a vendor can do. But with the multiple decision makers involved in government systems, elected, appointed and civil service, it is an entirely different situation.

Why would a government insist on open standards?

... Massachusetts CIO Peter Quinn has indicated that the reason behind the move to OpenDocument is that it will allow the state to better keep permanent records.

“Ease of access to electronic records created in proprietary formats is limited in time. Once the proprietary vendor abandons a particular version of an application or format, documents created and formatted in those applications and formats may become inaccessible to all readers,” according to the frequently asked questions section of the state CIO’s Web site .

Massachusetts Enterprise Technical Reference Model - Version 3.5

Dan Bricklin’s audio files of the public meetings the state has held on the matter.

New to me local content management blog

Kensington Business Solutions

New to me tech organization

The Content Management Community of Practice

Sony gets a clue

Ted Bridis, Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Stung by continuing criticism, the world's second-largest music label, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, promised Friday to temporarily suspend making music CDs with antipiracy technology that can leave computers vulnerable to hackers.

Sony defended its right to prevent customers from illegally copying music but said it will halt manufacturing CDs with the "XCP" technology as a precautionary measure. "We also intend to re-examine all aspects of our content protection initiative to be sure that it continues to meet our goals of security and ease of consumer use," the company said in a statement.

No way to know what happened; but I suspect the Sony PR department explained the facts of customer relations to management.

Jim Horton has a good summary here and an earlier one here.

Contrary to legend, Macs are vulnerable.

Now the Legalese Rootkit: Sony-BMG's EULA

How to detect a root kit hack

Looking for a web hosting service?

These web hosting services recommended by Novajug members.

Veterans' day

The Armed Forces Relief Trust

United Services Organization

This is satire

Faith based firewalls

I say that because it is getting harder and harder to tell what is satire and what is real.

FTP software for Mac OS X



Fetch Softworks

Pure Mac: FTP Software for Macintosh

I haven't tried any of these, so can't speak to their quality, but on the MacEdit discussion list RBrowser, Cyberduck, and Fetch all got recommendations.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Why blog relations is a growth industry


CINCINNATI, Ohio (Sept. 26, 2005) -- Consumer trust toward traditional advertising is being challenged by growing confidence in consumer-generated-media (CGM) and the recommendations of other consumers, according to a new study of consumer behavior by Intelliseek Inc., a leader in word-of-mouth measurement.

A follow-up to a 2004 "Trust in Advertising" study, the "2005 Consumer-Generated Media (CGM) and Engagement Study" finds that, compared to traditional advertising, word-of-mouth (WOM) behavior continues to grow in importance in consumer awareness, trial, and purchase of new products.

Consumers are 50 percent more likely to be influenced by word-of-mouth recommendations from their peers than by radio/TV ads – a slightly higher level of influence/trust than found in the 2004 study co-authored by Intelliseek and Forrester.

Obviously Intelliseek has a vested interest in promoting this point of view; but I think this in on track. The smart way for companies to tap into the blog phenomena is to encourage their employees to blog and link to the influential blogs in their industry. No astroturf, just let nature take its course.

It was just a question of time

Tom Biro tells us that Google is going to add print ads to its present service.

PDF is not search engine friendly

It is amazing how many companies are still putting their press releases on their websites in PDF format. Why?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"Scalable, holistic, end-to-end solutions."

A Journalist Calls For Less Jargon From PR, Marketing Folks
John Wagner speculates that PR pros use these words to prove we fit in with our clients. I think he is one to something. In fact I will go further, our clients use words like that to show how advanced they are.

I think industry analysts are the worst offenders. They invent words like that so they can charge clients to explain what they mean.

I started Presto Vivace to help liberate our industry from this.

John Wagner: PR Pros As Translators

Fun with memos

Bill Gates has written a memo about missed opportunities and the necessity for Microsoft to stay on top of the emerging market in online services. Reports of the memo have found their way into so many publications that one can only conclude that it was a deliberate leak. Maybe it has something to do with the word Washington, east or west, everything has to be an off-the-record leak.

Dave Winer correctly concluded that the public should have a chance to read the memos for themselves. So he asked his contacts within Microsoft to send him copies and they have.

Here is some unsolicited advice for Microsoft. Next time you want to offer the world a view of your internal marketing discussion, just post the memos on your website. It would set a good example for Washington East.

At least Microsoft is smart enough not to sue bloggers over leaks.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Whack a mole

The entertainment industry killed the original Napster, they just killed Grokster; but you can best believe file sharing will survive.

The pity is that if they made their peace with it they could make trillions. All their old play lists would be marketable. With this method of distribution small bands, regional music and other niche styles could be profitably promoted. It would be like the old 45RPM, only even better, because everything ever recorded would be a single.

OMB mulls evolving beyond GILS

Agency looks for ideas on replacing metadata tagging for document searches

Now OMB is asking whether technology has surpassed GILS, which officials said relies on metadata tagging, and whether there is something that is less costly and more effective for searching the mounds of government data.

“The question is whether we want to go down the GILS road again, or hasn’t current search technology leapfrogged metadata tagging?” said Glenn Schlarman, chief of OMB’s information policy and technology branch. “GILS is time-consuming and arduous to do.”

OMB, through the General Services Administration, recently released a request for information asking vendors for ideas for more “efficient and effective information retrieval and sharing.” Responses were due Oct. 21, and OMB expects to analyze the answers this month.

Let's see what comes out of the Request for Information. I'm inclined to think a too top-down policy on tagging will prove unworkable.

In any case, if the government decides to upgrade the Government Information Locator Service with a more flexible, exact search technology, there is a great deal of money to be made.

Bad news for newspapers

Is bad news for flacks.

Eighteen out of the top 20 papers reported weekday circulation losses

No, blogs aren't the answer. Blogs don't do much original reporting and don't do product reviews on a consistent basis. Reporting is a profession. They need pay. They need health plans. We need them and they need us.

eXtensible Public Relations Language

From Tom Murphy we learn that there is an XML for PR.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Responding to riots

As a PR practitioner I have not had occasion to do crisis communications, even less respond to riots; but I would offer a few observations. Politicians and law enforcement would be well advised to study the 1991 riot in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, DC. While initially the police were slow to recognize the significance of the disturbance, once they realized what they had on their hands their response was very intelligent.

The mayor met with the community, the chief of police went to the scene personally to take charge. This gave the police officers confidence that they would not be scapegoated for whatever happened. It was also a visible sign to the community that the their government was serious and not playing political games.

By meeting with community leaders Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly drove a wedge between those with legitimate grievances that needed a response, and those who just like to loot. There is a lesson there and too often it is ignored.

Local Sharepoint users have formed a group

Tomorrow is their first meeting.

New to me local tech blog

Casey Software Development Blog

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Internet really has changed everything

James Boyle: Web’s never-to-be-repeated revolution

First, it is more amazing than we think. Second, the conjunction of technologies that made the web successful was extremely unlikely. Third, we probably would not create it, or any technology like it, today. In fact, we would be more likely to cripple it, or declare it illegal.

The openness of the Web creates endless opportunities for communicators and our clients.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The fight for the open Internet

SBC Head Ignites Access Debate

The head of a major telecommunications company stirred up a hornets' nest this week by suggesting that he wants to charge companies like Google and Yahoo a fee for bringing them into consumers' homes.

Let me see if I understand this. Mr. Whitacre wants to charge me for access to Google, Yahoo, and the rest of the Internet, (and since SBC bought my ISP provider he would be charging me) and Google and Yahoo and the rest of the Internet for their access to me. Quite a racket. I sincerely trust our political system will not let him get away with it.

An open end-to-end Internet is in the best interests of the PR industry, to say nothing of free speech.


Commentary from David Coursey

SBC CEO Edward Whitacre says his company's paying customers should pay more for using the SBC network to exchange content. His plan would cripple the Internet.

Selling to the Federal Government

Scott Orbach of EZGSA spoke to IPRA yesterday about the finer points of marketing to the Federal Government. He pointed out that the things that hold you back elsewhere, being a small business, being a women or minority, having a physical disability, actually help in marketing to the Federal government. Federal procurement laws require all branches of the federal government to set aside a certain percentage of their contracts for small business. There are also requirements for businesses owned by women or minorities, veterans, or located in a HUB Zone.

Orbach said that you have to select an agency within the government and explain how your business can solve a problem for them. Don’t go to the contracting officer, go to the office you would be doing business with and explain what you can offer.

Orbach said the best way to discover opportunities was to read the Washington Post . I’m sure they will be pleased to know that. He made a telling point that when the President and Congress are held by different parties they will seek to embarrass each other by calling different Federal Agencies to account. Inspector General’s reports and hearings are the favored means. I had not thought of this previously, but I think he is on to something.

Sandra Chaloux also spoke about her work for the Dept. of Defense. Most of the time when the Federal Government hires outside PR agencies it is for community relations and media monitoring. They prefer to use their public affairs people for story pitching, and I think they are well advised. Chaloux talked about negotiating a GSA agreement. A business has to disclose just about everything, but it makes it easy for procurement officers to do business with you.

Chaloux’s experience mirrors my own, by the time a contract has been put up for bid it has already been wired, as we say in Federal contracting. That is, the agency wrote the specifications with a particular company in mind, and the chances of taking it away from them are not good.

Small Business Administration

SBA Small Disadvantaged Business

Woman’s Business Enterprise National Council

Center for Veterans Enterprise

Minority Business Development Agency

HUB Zone Program

8(a) Business Development

The Financial Times asks a question

Who’s afraid of the big, bad blog?

My favorite line in the piece, from IBM's guidelines:
stick to writing about what they know.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

HR 1606

Excellent analysis of the Online Freedom of Speech Act from Jim Horton. It would have given bloggers the same media exemption from campaign finance laws enjoyed by General Electric, er, NBC. Its defeat is a blow to free speech in my judgment.

Public Service Announcements

DC Communicator Seminar Nov. 9

The DC Communicator is hosting its third free seminar Wednesday, Nov. 9, on the role and value of public service announcements in your communications program.

Join John Quinn, PSA director of WJLA-TV, and experts from EFX Media, Williams Whittle Associates, and West Glen Communications for this roundtable discussion on the latest PSA trends and how PSAs can help your organization reach your target audiences.

The seminar will be held at 1875 I St, NW, and starts at 12:15 p.m. Space is limited, so call WestGlen's Debbie Friez at (202) 429-2018 today for details.

DC Communicator

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

About interviews

Strategic Guy has a great rundown of things to keep in mind, this is my favorite:

Identify “power statements” that bring life to your key messages. I recently met with a company that says it designs and manufactures state-of-the-art proprietary hardware solutions (DC to 40 GHz) to facilitate broadband RF signal management for complex cable networks. What’s their power statement? As it turns out, if you’re watching cable television in North America the signal is directed by this company’s product.

Techno-speak does not impress anyone. I started Presto Vivace in part to liberate technology marketing from this sort of annoyance.

Tracking online influence

This company has developed a technology that can search, index, track, and summarize information on the Internet. Don’t know much about this, so I would be interested in learning from others' experience.

They have a blog; but since it is in Spanish, I can’t tell you much about it.

What's wrong with RFID in your passport

Properties of National ID Systems

The new RFID-enabled US passports will provide anyone who comes in contact with them with a new, globally unique number, and it will be impossible to know who is collecting that number, or how they'll use it. That is a poor design for a system.

It never ceases to amaze me that politicians vote for this sort of system. No one should know better how personal information can be abused than politicians.

Strategies for Creating Enterprise Collaborative Environments

NCC-AIIM Monthly Meeting
Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ronald Simmons, Program Manager

Knowledge Services Network, FAA

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has taken Knowledge Management theory and put it to work!! Each day, over 15,000 users in 1,500 teams across more than 150 FAA Business Units use FAA’s Knowledge Services Network (KSN) to carry out their mission more effectively.

Mr. Ronald Simmons, Program Manager for FAA’s Knowledge Services Network, will describe the virtual environment which has promoted more efficient business practices, document management, and collaboration within his organization. KSN has not only improved operations within the FAA, but it has also allowed the organization to better communicate with external customers, stakeholders, and partners.

Mr. Simmons will provide a brief overview of the environment, identify the strategies that contributed to success, contrast traditional deployment approaches with the KSN adoption approach, and describe the natural evolution of document management within the FAA. Anyone that is tasked with planning and/or implementing an enterprise content management system within a complex business environment will benefit from Mr. Simmons’ experience and insight.

KSN is based on Microsoft’s SharePoint collaboration suite. The program was recognized in 2003 with an “e-Gov Knowledge Management Award” and in 2004 with “Government Productive Solution Award”. Please join us to learn how the FAA has delivered this incredible service to its employees and constituents.

An analytical approach to the new PR

Society for New Communications Research Launches

Palo Alto, Calif. – October 31, 2005 – The Society for New Communications Research (http://www.sncr.org), a new international, non-profit think tank, was announced today. The group was formed to provide a forum for research and education and a source of expertise focused on the broad theoretical and practical implications surrounding new communications methodologies, tools and technologies.

The Society will study the impact of emerging modes of communication such as blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts, videocasts, collaborative tools and the growing phenomena of participatory communications and their effect on traditional media, marketing, public relations and advertising, as well as their broader impact on business, politics, entertainment, culture, education, religion and society at large. Activities will include the development of in-depth research studies, whitepapers, case studies, best practices and standards; industry education, the publication of the Journal of New Communications Research and an annual research symposium and awards program.

From the remarkable team of Elizabeth Albrycht and Jennifer McClure.

Blogging emergency reponse

Nick Mudge has found the Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue blog. This is a great development in increasing public awareness of first responder issues. See also First Responder Coalition blog.

Pay extra for privacy

Microsoft propose business shift to online services

Bill Gates has announced a fundamental shift in Microsoft’s core business offering by announcing that the company will be launching a free online office application next year.

If I pay a license fee for application software installed on my computer, then only I know how I have used that software and the data I have produced. What Microsoft is proposing is free as in beer, not free as in speech. It will come at a price.

Acronym alert

ColdFusion Open-Source Project List

Everyday new acronyms are streaming into our copy. There ought to be some way to cut this down to manageable proportions.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The harsh rhetoric of techies

HOW TO Avoid Being Called a Bozo When Producing XML

Okay, I couldn't code my way out of a paper bag. But I cannot believe that this style of rhetoric is conducive to process improvement.

Figuring out AdSense

Google AdSense for Search versus AdSense for Content

I'd be interested in learning about the advertiser side of AdSense.

US Supreme Court lets telecommuter tax stand

High court won’t hear local case

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to take up the case of a Nashville computer programmer who challenged New York’s taxes on his income while he worked from his Nashville home.

It should be born in mind that the US Supreme Court did not rule that this tax was advisable, nor even fair, simply that it did not violate the constitution.

Still, I don't understand it.

XML - Now A PR Technology

PR Machine

Similar to tagging on Technorati, data tagging is a new format for enhancing financial reporting data using eXtensible Mark-Up Language (XML) derivatives, such as XBRL. Tagging provides greater context to data through standard definitions that turn text-based information, into documents that can be more efficiently and effectively retrieved, searched and analyzed through automated means (like the Internet and blogs).

I have been remiss, I am going to have to start using tags.

The future of corporate blogging

Blogging Tools Need Integration

Unlike most of its popular rivals, the TypePad service from Six Apart Ltd. costs money. But with your subscription fee, which starts at $4.95 a month, you get free tools for creating and hosting your own photo albums _ and now a pair of programs for video.

The simpler of the two video programs comes from VideoEgg Inc. Go to http://typepad.videoegg.com, enter your account information and download a small plug-in for your browser.

I think smaller clients will want us to offer this as part of our service in the future.