Saturday, December 29, 2007

New to me local tech blogs

From the DC Technology Group:

Web Consulting Washington DC, It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.
Dr. DigiPol
Nick Whitmoyer
Diplays Awesome Dot Com
Blue Screen Joy - A Software Tester's Journey; The first step to making something better is to point out what is wrong with it. Blue Screen Joy is Andy Roth's blog about the pursuit of quality in software, technology, and life.
3 Dog TV
Will Brown is Online
Marketing Conversation
East Coast Blogging
The Adventures of Andrew Lee; Entrepreneurship, Encounters, Exhortation
Just - ideas and development for the life of your website
Paul's Web Space 2.0; Politics, Culture, Technology
James Marantan Software Architecture Blog; A blog about Software Architecture, ASP.NET, C#, VB.NET, SQL Server, Oracle, GIS, CAD, Security, Policies, Workflows, Project Management, and Business.
Forum One Tech Blog
Red Bloguera
The Commute from Hell; A personal blog by Michael Tolosa
Dito’s SEO Strategies, SEO, Search Marketing, Google, and more…
Leslie Bradshaw, a blog about life in DC
product four
Kristen Taylor blog
The Montoya Herald; coming soon to a blogroll near you
Challenges; Challenges is the personal weblog of Marc Benton. Marc is an IT guy with over 15 years of professional experience in government and private business in the Northern Virginia region.
LitheBlog: Exploring Lean and Agile
My Adams Morgan
centricle: home of the internet's Kevin Smith
The Reinvented Blog; about the digital world and how it impacts design, communication, and thought
Ryan J Powell
Software Craftsmanship
The Officially Official Blog of Searchles
EliteFrontier; Rodney Degracia’s technical and paste blog
dambalah; thoughts of a haitian hacker…
Web Consulting Washington DC; It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.
The Lack Thereof
John F Croston III; “It’s only words and photos on the internet”
Eric Austin Litman’s Weblog; Internet entrepreneur and evangelist.
MPL's blog, Evangalist making marketing & the Internet work together
The Qloud Blog
corey brown’s blog
Manifest Density
With The Band, Notes on Tech, Social Media, and Entrepreneurship … Are you with the Band?
dready blog v2.0
Incessant Rantings
ryan moede :: social media, Emeging thoughts on social media
Walking Along My Path
Andy Rankin, Nobody is Listening
Software Sports
Conrad's Blog, A blog about the Science of Knowledge Representation
Alex Eagle's weblog, Thoughts on software development, Java, life, work, smart programmers, and things I think are awesome.
Brian Wynne Williams, thoughts, observations, and commentary from an entrepreneur / CEO / husband / dad / consumer / producer / fan / advisor / participant
Rockcreek Software
Inflexion Point
modulus, Matt Bowen's periodically published comments on content, communications, and code.
15 Meanings, Finding the Meaningful in the Meaningless
David Russell
Bad Ass Ideas, We built this blog on rock and roll
kgiff - The Unofficial facebook blog
Nerd Meridian, Or the evening geekiness in the East
Clearspring Community Blog
JOBMATCHBOX, Jobs, Job Hunting, Hiring and Social Networking, My writing is gold!
siliconsoul, The simple ramblings of a geek
Maryland Media
Doug March, design, development and music intelligence

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Theocratic terror

Benazir Bhutto did not like the term Islamic terrorism because it confused terrorism with her religion. She preferred the term theocratic terror. I also prefer this term because it focuses the mind on the problem, the idea that religion is the basis for political power and that terror is a legitimate tool, rather than a particular religion.

It is little known in this country that it was the Hindu Tamil Tigers who were the originators of the suicide bomb. Sadly it spread across South Asia and the Middle East.

Today Bhutto fell to terror. Pakistan has been plagued by theocratic terror for decades. Most of those whose lives were stolen from us by terror are unknown, but no less precious to their families. There are many broken hearts, and after today, even more.

Pakistan is a very important technology power and could be even greater if they can resolve their political problems. Let us hope they can reach a just resolution of their problems soon.

Edit -
Bhutto asserted to David Frost less than two months ago that bin Laden had been murdered by Omar Sheikh

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Recording Amtower Off Center

This morning was spent recording tomorrow’s edition of Amtower Off Center, which will be about blogs, wikis, and how government contractors can integrate these tools into their communications effort. Listen for it tomorrow at 2pm on WFED 1050 AM in Washington - simulcast on

Below are links to some of the sites mentioned in tomorrow’s show:

Mark Amtower
Mark Amtower Federal Direct
Government Express
Government Marketing Best Practices
Epiphany Book

Debbie Weil (my fellow guest)

Tech on the Potomac RSS reader

Government Blogs:
CDC Chatter
Library of Congress Blog
Blogs by Government, collection of links
Peer to Patent Community Patent Review in Cooperation with the USPTO
Semantic Interoperability Community of Practice Wiki

The New PR Wiki
Anti-Astroturfing Project

AIIM’s eDoc Magazine, What are some of the Records Management implications of blogs?

Alice Marshall On LinkedIn
Mark Amtower on LinkedIn
Debbie Weil on LinkledIn

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dept. of very bad ideas

Businesses Generally Ignoring E-Discovery Rules

Anti-net neutrality fear mongering in progress

Arts Technica has a fabulous take down of Brett Swanson’s Wall Street Journal article alleging that the Internet is facing a coming “exaflood” unless we get rid of this pesky net neutrality. Swanson is a scholar at the Discovery Institute.

This is just one of many articles we will see alleging all manner of ills unless we let the telecoms have their way in charging us more for the same service.

It is important that small businesses understand the stakes in this. Do you want to pay more for Internet service just so your customers are able to access your website with the same ease of your much larger competitor? Because those are the stakes in this fight. And it is not just a Washington fight, what the telecoms were unable to win at the national level they will try to gain at the local level unless they are stopped. So it is critical that small businesses stay active and continue to monitor developments.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

One Laptop Per Child, Washington, DC

OLPC LC-DC Holiday Meetup
December 18, 7 PM
Mayorga Cafe & Lounge
3301 14th. St. NW (map)

We will have three special guests with us from other OLPC organizing groups:

* Bryan Berry, External Relations Manager, OLE Nepal
* Christoph Derndorfer and Aaron Kaplan from OLPC Austria

Bryan, Christoph, and Aaron will be giving us an overview of their progress in organizing local OLPC groups in their countries, and ideas on how to expand OLPC LC/DC.

Then we’ll have an in-depth geek-fest and discussion around XO laptop usage right here in Washington DC. Be sure to bring your enthusiasm, your commitment, and of course, you shiny green G1G1 XO laptop!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Compliance opera

Microsoft Sued Over (Lack of) Standards Compliance
Opera is asking the European Commission for two remedial actions. First, it asks the EC to require Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows, and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop. Secondly, it asks the Commission to make Microsoft agree to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities.

Regrettably, Opera isn't specifying which "open Web standards" are not being followed, but one can reasonably suppose that a major point of contention is XHTML 1.1, which IE7 still doesn't support properly.

Opera tells EU that Microsoft's IE hurts the Web
In a complaint, Opera claimed Microsoft continues to abuse its dominant position on the desktop by tying its Internet Explorer (IE) browser to Windows, and hinders interoperability by not following accepted Web standards. It asked the EU's Competition Commission to force Microsoft into separating IE from Windows, and to demand that IE support several standards.

In a statement, the commission said Opera should "obligate Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers preinstalled on the desktop.

"Second, it asks the European Commission to require Microsoft to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities," Opera said. "Microsoft's unilateral control over standards in some markets creates a de facto standard that is more costly to support, harder to maintain and technologically inferior, and that can even expose users to security risks."

Standards selection can equal vendor selection, that is what this fight is about and why the public should be given sufficient facts to understand the debate.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Talking Points Memo
Last week over at TPMmuckraker, Paul Kiel told you about Hank Asher, the confessed drug smuggler turned multimillionaire database guru who hooked up with Rudy Giuliani on a couple of different business ventures. Very mucky looking stuff, especially after Asher's name popped up in the public corruption indictment of the Orange County sheriff.

Now Time has a big new story out on the deal Rudy's firm had with one of Asher's database companies, Seisint. Turns out Giuliani Partners pulled down $30 million in one year on the Seisint contract.

A confessed drug smuggler with a database company? Does anyone not get why privacy protection is important? Does anyone not get why enterprise software stories matter?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Blogs and media relations

The Daily Dog quotes Catherine Saillant of the LA Times on how to pitch reporters:
Open the door with kudos or comments about past coverage—nobody likes a cold pitch. "Being friendly is a big part of building relationships with us," Saillant says. "Not every call or email has to be a pitch. For example, just let us know that you’ve read a story recently. If I did a piece (which I did) on mobile home park conversion, then a good call would include your referencing the piece and saying, for example, that you represent an expert on law around that issue. If it’s a continuing story—which stories about legislations usually are—then I might be able to come back to an expert later."

One of the things a flack can do with a blog is link to the reporters who cover their practice area. There is no reporter in the world who has so many readers they would enjoy getting a few more, and reporters who work for less known trade journals really appreciate a link. Blogging gives flacks a chance to recognize good reporting in their practice area. It is a time efficient way to build a relationship with a reporter and much more meaningful for them then the PR knick knacks we mail to them.

Monday, December 10, 2007

New to me Sarbanes-Oxely blog

Sox First

Department of what are you talking about?

Public Knowledge has a post about a proposed law that will increase penalties for copyright violations ('cause suing their customers is working so well for industry). What is the name of the law? Which committee is considering the law? What is the current status? The post does not say, nor does it provide links.

It is called the "Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property (“PRO IP”) Act of 2007", and Slashdot has a vigorous discussion about the act.

When you are an expert and talk about an issue all the time it is easy to forget that most people do not have the basic information. One of the strengths of blogging as a medium is that you can write for your fellow expert and provide links for those who need additional information.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

Regulatory Compliance and data security

Study: Frequency of Data Loss Connected To Compliance Efforts
For companies that continue to look for the business and financial value of regulatory compliance initiatives, listen up. There is a direct correlation between a company's compliance record and its ability to protect sensitive data, according to a new report.

Companies that perform well in compliance audits also excel at protecting their data, according to the study, released today by the IT Policy Compliance Group, a Cleveland-based research firm. By contrast, companies that performed poorly on regulatory audits tend to have the worst data protection records.

There have calls for changes to Sarbanes-Oxley. This is evidence that it is working.

As the credit implosion continues there will be calls for more regulation. The best thing investor relations pros can do in this situation is impress upon management the necessity of telling the truth, even if that means bankruptcy. Now is the time for accountants, lawyers, and PR pros to work together to salvage what they can.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Murdoch acquisition watch

Rupert Murdoch takes over Sydney Morning Herald

Murdoch's News Corp. in talks to buy LinkedIn: report

Murdoch Adds Beliefnet To His Media Arsenal

Murdoch has been a busy boy.

Judge upholds Presidential Records Act

Government Declines to Appeal Ruling Opening Up Presidential Records
This week, the Bush administration decided not to appeal a federal district court judge’s decision that invalidated a crucial section of Executive Order (EO) 13233, which broadened the rights of presidents and former-presidents to withhold federal records from the public for indefinite periods of time.

On October 1, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly gave historians and researchers a partial, but significant victory in a lawsuit questioning the legality of the Executive Order. The judge struck down the section of the EO that allows a former president to indefinitely delay the release of their records.

The records management systems developed to comply with federal requirements drive the rest of the industry.

Today! Live debate over Open Office XML

Office Open XML
Not to be confused with (an unrelated office suite) or "Open Office XML" (a colloquial synonym for XML).

Office Open XML (commonly referred to as OOXML or OpenXML) is an XML-based file format specification for electronic documents such as spreadsheets, charts, presentations and word processing documents.

Weigh In On the OOXML Issue During Live Debate's Robin 'Roblimo' Miller will moderate a live debate today, Wednesday, December 5 at 1pm US EST (GMT -5), between the GNOME Foundation's press officer Jeff Waugh and fair competition advocate Roy Schestowitz.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Do you have a policy on code reuse?

How Mainstream Can Code Scavenging Go?

How to Deal With Stolen Code?

Have a policy, communicate your policy in a clear, but low key way. Deal with violations in a low profile way.

Call for speakers, Flex developers

We want you! Speak at the 360Flex Europe
360Flex Europe (7 to 9 April 2008) is one of the coolest european event of 2008 dedicated to Flex.
With Tom and John we're moving forward trying to find speakers, in the Flex community.
We'd like to have as many community speakers as possible.

So if you are a Flex developers and you want to share your Flex development experiences this is your momentum.

New to me local buisness blog

Why Go Solo, Official Plugged In Blog for Why Go Solo.

Added to the Tech on the Potomac RSS reader.

Monday, December 03, 2007

New to me local marketing blog

Advercation = Advertising + Education

Added to Tech on the Potomac RSS reader.

It's a great time to be in e-Discovery!

Watchdog: White House Lost A Lot More Than 5 Million E-mails
The chief counsel for a private watchdog group which recently scored a legal victory over the Bush administration on its improper records archiving said that the number of e-mails missing from the White House archives was far greater than previously reported.

The credit crash and our times

Credit — lending between market players — is to the financial markets what motor oil is to car engines. The ability to raise cash on short notice, which is what people mean when they talk about “liquidity,” is an essential lubricant for the markets, and for the economy as a whole.

But liquidity has been drying up. Some credit markets have effectively closed up shop. Interest rates in other markets — like the London market, in which banks lend to each other — have risen even as interest rates on U.S. government debt, which is still considered safe, have plunged.

Many innocent players are going to get caught up in this. Banks which made stupid loans will panic and refuse to make good ones, or won't be in a position to. During the in the aftermath of the junk bond collapse in 1991 a business associate of mine had his line of credit cancelled. My friend was a VAR selling almost entirely to the federal government. His receivables were in the form of federal purchase orders, as safe as you can get short of currency. He could not bid on business without the ability to buy inventory on credit, so he had to turn away millions of dollars in business. There were many situations like this in 1991 and there will be even more in 2008.

What is truly sickening about this is that so many saw it coming and tried to raise the alarm. It does not speak well of our national discourse and political culture that we allowed it to happen.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Creating tutorials for how to use software

Review: Wink 2.0
Wink is a Tutorial and Presentation creation software, primarily aimed at creating tutorials on how to use software (like a tutor for MS-Word/Excel etc). Using Wink you can capture screenshots, add explanations boxes, buttons, titles etc and generate a highly effective tutorial for your users.

Friday, November 30, 2007

All good press is good press

Geoff Livingston has a graphic that perfectly illustrates the public relations long tail, with the red part illustrating that which clients will pay for, and the longer yellow tail showing that which is valuable, but not billable. I don’t think that is quite how he would describe it; but currently, that is how clients view social media.

I asked a friend of mine which blogs he reads and he just looked at me as if I were a fool. My friend doesn’t read blogs unless someone sends him a link. He gets his information by doing searches on subjects which interest him. If you want to reach him, you need to be on that first page of results, which brings us back to blogs. One of the blogs my friend has stumbled across is John Boyer’s, which he likes very much. As of this posting, Boyer’s blog has all of four inbound posts. Clearly you do not have to have a highly linked blog to emerge at the top of search results, only relevant content.

Which brings us to the question of what is a credible blog. Clearly that is in the eye of the reader. A blog with many inbound links might be regarded as credible or not, depending upon the reader. A blog with few inbound links might be regarded as deservedly obscure or an undiscovered gem. Several months ago I received an inbound link from Agile CMMI blog, which has a grand total of ten inbound links. Even so, this blog clearly has a regular following as directly I received the link my hit count began to climb. No client would pay for a link from either of these blogs, but clearly such a link, provided the context was favorable, would be valuable for a client.

Those of us who understand social media have much work to do in explaining its role in increasing search engine visibility and brand equity.

One Laptop Per Child vs Classmate

What OLPC Offers That Classmate Doesn't
First, the OLPC is great for classroom use, but that isn't all it offers by a mile. You already know about the amazing tech advances, like the innovative screen that you can use in sunlight. But there is more than that. Classmate actually misses the fundamental point of the OLPC, as far as I'm concerned, which is essentially that kids invariably grasp the tech before the parents and the teachers do, so why hold them back? OLPC is a way to educate kids who have inadequate school resources, in areas where there may not even be any adequate schools or teachers, maybe not any at all, let alone any that know anything about computers.

The key difference to my way of thinking is that One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) was created for the sake of children and to make technology accessible. Classmate was created merely to compete with OLPC, child welfare was a secondary consideration.

My concern is the lack of ergonomic design. Will the next generation be nearsighted with carpal tunnel syndrome?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New to me local PR blog

The PR Guy: Straight to the Point, A Collection of Thoughts on B2B and B2G Public Relations, Marketing and Other Incredibly Exciting Stuff

Like your humble servant, he flacks government contractors. But don't tell him I used the word flack.

Added to the Tech on the Potomac RSS reader.

Google offering customizable search results

Via Greg Gershman we learn that Google is experimenting with a voting feature on search results that allows users to vote up or bury search results they see.

Presumably if this reached critical mass it would alter overall search results. Expect politicians to be the first to use this feature in an organized way. If that works for them it will work for the rest of us.

Monday, November 26, 2007

What to get your entrepreneur friend for Christmas

Why Epiphanies Never Occur to Couch Potatoes is now available for shipping. Amtower was kind enough to give me a review copy and I can say it is unlike any business book I have ever read.

As the housing crash metastasizes into a larger economic crisis, I predict there will be a huge backlash against cynicism and cheap trick marketing. This book will speak to that longing for sincerity, the conviction that business is about providing value for money and not some illusionist sleight of hand.

Note -
available for immediate shipping: Altas Books
shipping soon, but not in stock:

Friday, November 23, 2007

What is CORE?

CORE is a not-for-profit membership association of Internet domain name registrars and registries. Its purpose is to operate, on a cost-recovery basis, a shared registration system (SRS) for Internet domain names. CORE was created in 1997 based on the Generic Top-Level Domains Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in order to launch new names spaces. CORE is highly skilled in the registrar business and in the Registries development. Since 1997, CORE has been active in the development of protocols and methodologies to facilitate access to domain registrations, including a multi-protocol Shared Registration System (SRS) and registration gateway.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

No more astroturf

Help choose the winners of this year's Falsies Awards
Welcome to the fourth annual "Falsies Awards" contest, sponsored by the Center for Media and Democracy to recognize the people and players responsible for polluting our information environment. This year, we are asking you to help identify the worst spinners and propagandists of 2007. Please read through the list of nominees below and rank them. You can also nominate additional candidates in our readers' award section.

Please note: you can vote for multiple winners in each category and the CMD judges will take the recommendations into account when deciding the falsest of the false.

Please fill out the survey before 5:00 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday November 30, 2007 to make sure your votes are tallied.

The days of creating front groups are over and done with.

Advice for the PR agencies mentioned, if you want to vote for other nominees on this list, do so from your home computer. It would really be humiliating to be caught voting for your competition.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Analysis-powered e-discovery

KM World
MetaLincs has launched Version 4.0 of its Enterprise E-Discovery Suite. The company says the new offering is the first integrated application that delivers all the core e-discovery functions and processes needed to meet enterprise-class requirements associated with litigation and compliance-related investigations.

This is a great time to be in e-discovery.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Great headline writing

Tudor First Hedge Fund To PAC A Punch

White House e-discovery blues

Court orders White House to preserve e-mail backups
The complaint alleges that since 2003 the Bush administration has illegally discarded about 5 million e-mail messages that it was required to keep under records laws. The plaintiffs are demanding that the missing messages be restored using the backup media files and that the administration implement a new “adequate electronic management system.”

The groups’ lawsuits against the Executive Office of the President, the White House’s Office of Administration, and the National Archives and Records Administration have now been consolidated.

Bush & Co. maybe counting on a friendly judiciary to bail them out. Private corporations would be ill advised to make the same assumption. I am not sure it will work in Bush's case.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Remembering security contractors on Veteran's Day

The Spy Who Billed Me
One of the more unusual developments in national security in the 21st Century is our government's decision to indirectly enlist private citizens in combat through contracting out services formerly performed by the military and other civil servants. The $1 billion plus private military industry has recruited thousands into corporate service, service that was also in support of the US war efforts.

I've spoken with scores of these men and with one notable exception, they were all doing it, at least in part, to serve their country. Many have told me they've worked for Blackwater, Triple Canopy and others because they wanted to do something because of 9/11, something to protect their country and families as part of the larger war on terror. And several have claimed that the flexibility of private industry offered them the only way they could do this because of age, family and financial obligations. I take the individuals at their word.

Like Hillhouse, I too have met many security contractors, many are active in local tech organizations. The ones I know work stateside building the advanced software that analyzes the oceans of data that comes flooding in from the field. They also build the communications and security systems that allows this data to travel securely from the field to Washington.

There is something more than a tad hypocritical about a country that creates a vast infrastructure of security contractors, sends them into harm's way, and then starts to moralize about mercenaries. In a democracy we have a collective responsibility for the actions of our government. It is necessary to educate oneself. The best place to start is to read Outsourced, the international thriller that illuminates the Iraq war and the world of security contractors.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Command and Control 2.0

On the ride back from Geoff Livingston’s fabulous book party, I started reading Now is Gone. While I have only read a few chapters, I can tell already that it is yummy and of great value to the newbie and experienced alike. It is a little daunting to think that I compete with this gentleman.

Yet as I read it, I could not suppress the feeling that those of us who embrace social media have become too complacent. We keep saying the old command and control system is dead and was never that great to begin with. We say that too many elite PR pros do not get social media. I am beginning to think they get it only too well.

For those of us who embrace social media, all of our ideas are based on the assumption of net neutrality, a continuation of the present system of open and equal access. We take for granted that anyone with Internet access can visit any site. There is no guarantee that this will continue to be the case.

Anyone who has seen Who Killed the Electric Car understands how an oligarchy of special interests can kill a great product. There is no going back for public relations, anymore than killing the electric car saved American auto manufacturers. But that won’t stop the telecommunications giants and the Command and Control coalition from trying.

The chief beneficiaries on the neutral net, small businesses, academics, research institutions, Web 2.0 start ups and their venture capitalist investors, do not recognize the threat. If the neutral net is to be saved, those who are now complacent will have to mobilize.

Save the Internet Blog

Network Neutrality Squad

International Peace Operations Association Conference

New to me tech policy blog

Mobile Diner a place where wireless and washington meet….

Added to the Tech on the Potomac RSS reader.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Defense Industry Daily
VIVACE is a very large research & technology project funded by the European Commission that was launched in January 2004, grouping 63 companies and research institutions from the aerospace sector to improve 7 key areas of the product development process, providing solutions in "Design Simulation", "Virtual Testing", "Design Optimisation", "Business and Supply Chain Modelling", "Knowledge Management", "Decision Support" and "Collaboration in the Extended and Virtual Enterprise". By using the latest innovations in advanced simulation and modeling techniques, it hopes to provide the means to improve knowledge about the product prior to its physical development, reducing development costs, shortening time to market, and improving product quality.

A well selected name.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

Presto Vivace PR, compare and contrast

Things Turn Ugly in the ‘Hacks vs. Flacks’ War
Journalists often call publicists “flacks” and publicists call journalists “hacks,” though rarely in earshot of one another. But the gloves came off last week after Chris Anderson, the executive editor of Wired magazine, chided “lazy flacks” who deluge him with news releases “because they can’t be bothered to find out who on my staff, if anyone, might actually be interested in what they’re pitching.”

“I’ve had it,” Mr. Anderson wrote on his blog on Oct. 29. “I get more than 300 e-mails a day and my problem isn’t spam. ... it’s P.R. people.”

After picking the fight, he then made it personal, posting the addresses of 329 unsolicited e-mail messages he had received and telling the senders that he had permanently blocked them.

Every year or so I do an unscientific survey of reporters and editors from the government trade press to see which PR firms are most respected and most helpful to both their clients and the publications. I email people I work with in the press and simply ask their opinion and I guarantee their anonymity.

There were no big standouts (no company with more than 2 votes). The best recommendations in terms of how the reporter or editor referenced a PR firm were for Alice Marshall (PrestoVivace; one reporter called her the best he had worked with) and Evan Weisel (W2 Communications, one reporter noted he does lots for his clients and adds actual value for the trade press). Other reporters just sent lists, or had shorter comments. And while I did not ask for it, a few gave me negative feedback. Instead of sharing the negative, I simply took a point away from the company referenced.

Making the cut (alphabetical: Advice Unlimited, Alice Marshall/PrestoVivace, BrainBox, Borenstein, Boscobel, Fleishman Hillard, Hosky Inc, Larkin and Associates, OKeeffe, Strategic Communications, and Welz and Weisel.

Here at Presto Vivace we cannot guarantee to place your story, but we can guarantee that the editor will open our emails and give your pitch serious consideration.

Friday, November 02, 2007

New to me defense news

Small Wars Journal
Defense Industry Daily

Workshop on Economics and Information Security: call for papers

Via Emergent Chaos:
WEIS 2008
Information security requires not only technology, but a clear understanding of risks, decision-making behaviors and metrics for evaluating business and policy options. How much should we spend on security? What incentives really drive privacy decisions? What are the trade-offs that individuals, firms, and governments face when allocating resources to protect data assets? Are there good ways to distribute risks and align goals when securing information systems?

Submissions due: March 1, 2008

Standards as a business strategy

Team “OpenSocial” To Take Facebook Down
It is being reported that Facebook may not be allowed the clout they have been receiving recently after all. Tomorrow, Google will begin heading up an alliance of social networks that will begin opening up their sites to outside software developers. This group will introduce a common set of standards for this practice, according to The New York Times.

The group includes Orkut, LinkedIn, hi5, Friendster, Plaxo and Ning. Since it opened its site to outside developers last spring, Facebook has had over 5,000 small programs built to run on its site.

The plan was supposed to be unveiled at a Google party tomorrow night, but people briefed on this, let the New York Times know about it and Google confirmed to the publication.

An anonymous source said to the NY Times “It is going to forestall Facebook’s ability to get everyone writing just for Facebook.” OpenSocial as the platform will be known is “compatible across all the companies,” according to that same source.

This is a good example of the use of standards to acquire market share.

I don't understand why the source for this article was anonymous. What was the point of the leak? Just to show off?

Great branding!

Detect and Sanitize CRAPpy Java Code with Crap4j

Monday, October 29, 2007

Apple and the federal market

Apple and the Enterprise
On the other hand, Apple's Federal and Enterprise sales teams get very little support from the mother ship now that Steve is back at the helm, so to an extent I can understand his frustration. Personally though as an investor (long AAPL), a consumer, and a software geek, I think it's nit-picking.

Apple's turnaround under Steve's guidance has been one of the remarkable in the history of the computer business. Apple continues to astound the world with revolutionary products like the iPhone, its profit margins are the highest in the industry, and the company is making money hand over fist.

I think that part of the reason for Apple's revival is the very thing that Mr. Sabotta complains so angrily about. Unlike its competitors, Apple has studiously avoided the Enterprise space, which features razor-thin margins, and large, powerful customers who want a hand in determining technical product direction. The latter leads to a design-by-committee approach to technology platforms that at the end of the day serves no one well, especially the poor users.

The federal market certainly features razor thin margins. Not only that, the sales cycles are measured in years rather than days; so not only are the margins thin, the cost of selling is high. However, the federal market is stable. In recession years your federal sales will keep you alive. It is well worth cultivating.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Web 2.0 on the Potomac

How does Geoff Livingston find out about all this stuff?

A couple of events are happening this week that really highlight just how hot DC is getting: The New, New Internet Conference and DC Start-up Weekend, which is creating HolaNeighbor!.

Start Me Up

Today DC Start-up Weekend wraps up, a three day endeavor to go from ground zero to full-fledged web 2.0 start-up out there and functioning. Well over 50 programmers, entrepreneurs and business developers gather at Viget Labs’ offices in Falls Church, VA to create HolaNeighbor!. The coolest part is all participants get an equal stake in the company.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Great moments in content management, Congressional edition

D'Oh: House Panel Screw-Up Reveals Whistleblower Email Addresses
This summer the House Judiciary Committee launched an effort to collect tips from would-be whistleblowers in the Justice Department. The U.S. attorney firings scandal had shown that much was amiss in the Department, and with the danger of retaliation very real, the committee had set up a form on the committee's website for people to blow the whistle privately about abuses there. Although the panel said it would not accept anonymous tips, it assured those who came forward that their identity would be held in the "strictest confidence."

Vendors are going to have to make their products more intuitive.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why jargon is a money loser

Business plan howlers
I spend a lot of my time studying business plans from entrepreneurs looking for investment. Many are impressive but some are ghastly. Among the worst offences are: ...

... Overly technical documents. Business plans should be written in layman’s terms and avoid all jargon and endless acronyms. They should be readable and accessible, not obscure. Inventors can get too wrapped up in their subject – they forget that there are always thousands of projects seeking money. And promoters often use long-winded gobbledegook to disguise a fundamentally bad idea. If I can’t understand the deal, I don’t get involved.

This is as true of customers as it is of investors. Techies, including sales-engineers, think that using technical terms makes them look smart. It doesn't. It just confuses customers and repels sales.

I founded Presto Vivace with the idea of replacing tech speak with clear English.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Great moments in content management, US Courts edition

The strange case of the disappearing court decision. Actually, I don't think this is a software issue.

Why we don't need the anonymice protection act

Patrick Fitzgerald: Bill Would Wreak Havoc on a System That Isn't Broken
Let's start from the common premise that a robust and free press and fair and effective law enforcement are both vital to our democracy. Since the Supreme Court ruled 35 years ago that reporters are obligated to comply with grand jury subpoenas, there has been no shortage of whistle-blowers -- from Watergate to Abu Ghraib. And the Justice Department operates under rigorous regulations restricting the issuance of subpoenas to journalists. These regulations, which require balancing the competing public interests in law enforcement and the flow of information to the media, have yielded only a trickle of subpoenas.

Against this background, a compelling case has not been made for jettisoning the legal framework that has guided this process for the past 35 years.

A threshold question lawmakers should ask is whether reporters will obey the law if it is enacted. They should ask because the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press calls for a shield law while urging journalists to defy the law when a court upholds a subpoena for source information. Any shield bill should require that a person seeking its protection first provide the subpoenaed information under seal to the court, to be released only if the court orders the information disclosed.

If congress were serious about the free flow of information they would pass meaningful whistle blower protection.

Putting libraries online

Libraries Shun Deals to Place Books on Web
Libraries that agree to work with Google must agree to a set of terms, which include making the material unavailable to other commercial search services. Microsoft places a similar restriction on the books it converts to electronic form. The Open Content Alliance, by contrast, is making the material available to any search service.

I wonder what taxpayers would think if they understood that collections that were assembled at their expense will be available online only through certain search engines.

Great moments in content management

Unclear how often sealed cases opened by accident
When divorce lawyer Mary Sue Ramsden read details of the Scaife v. Scaife divorce case in last Sunday's Post-Gazette, she wasn't surprised that supposedly sealed court documents had become publicly available online.

Through human or computer error, she said, several of her own divorce cases had become public on the county prothonotary's Web site even though she had obtained judicial orders to keep them sealed.

"I've been making a habit of checking periodically because I knew it had been a problem," Ms. Ramsden said.

Prothonotary Michael Lamb, as well as some other lawyers and judges, however, said last week that the Scaife case was the first instance they'd heard of in which a sealed case had become available online.

Mr. Lamb said the Scaife filing was unavailable to the public after Common Pleas Judge Alan Hertzberg sealed it in March 2006, but it apparently became accessible Aug. 28. He said there was a new filing in the case that day, and the clerk scanning the information into the docket may have neglected a necessary computer step to reseal the information.

It seems that setting the default on sealed, requiring a clerk to consciously select sealed would be best-practices, even if in the vast majority of cases the court record would be public.

Software security publications

The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP)

IEEE Security & Privacy

The Silver Bullet Security Podcast from Cigital

Common Weakness Enumeration

Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures

Common Attack Pattern Enumeration and Classification (CAPEC)

Security Tracker

Journal of Information Assurance, Security, and Protection (JIASP)

Dark Reading

I am sure there are plenty of goods ones missing from this list. Please suggest additional links in the comments.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Welcome to blogosphere IMF

IMF joins blogosphere
Always wondered what goes on in the World Bank's sister organization? Today the IMF launches its very own Public Financial Management Blog (PFM Blog). It is run by the staff from the Fiscal Affairs Department, responsible for the Fund's work on income distribution and poverty.

Added to the Tech on the Potomac RSS reader because it could be considered a PR blog.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Why journalism matters, Salih Saif Aldin

Washington Post Correspondent Dies in Iraq
BAGHDAD, Oct. 14 -- A veteran Washington Post special correspondent was shot to death Sunday in southwest Baghdad while on assignment, the first reporter for the newspaper to be killed during the Iraq war.

Salih Saif Aldin, 32, was reporting on the violence that has plagued Baghdad's Sadiyah neighborhood Sunday afternoon when he was shot in the forehead. According to residents of the neighborhood and the Iraqi military officers at the scene, he was taking photographs on a street where several houses had been burned when he was killed. His wounds appeared to indicate he was shot at close range.

He will be missed.

A most unusual Call for Papers

The Spy Who Billed Me

In another popular and history-making move, DCI Hayden has issued an edict that all CIA employees are entitled to take three hours out of their 40 hour work week to do physical fitness training if they want to. Of course, this probably end up soon translating into six hours: three for actual PT and three for suiting up before and showering afterwards. Hayden will go into the history books, not only as the first CIA Director to investigate the CIA's watchdog, but, perhaps more significantly, as the fist DCI to to figure out how to get people off of the target and doing something totally unrelated to their jobs during wartime.

So DCI Hayden might become Mr. Popularity after all. Now if he would only do something about allowing those analysts from the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) to hold the posts of Chiefs of Station (COS), he might really win over the NCS.

And to help get CIA employees to take advantage of the new non-mission focused opportunity, a friend who is no stranger to dark, dangerous alleys overseas came up with a few "Jody calls" for the blue badgers to chant in cadence as they run around Headquarters while their green badger corporate buddies are inside, racking up those billable hours:

"DI, DI we're the best!
Now we can be COS.
We'll brief the Ambassador
And leave street work to DO whores!"

"Oh, HRM!
Oh-o, HRM!
Take your pencil follow me
Now we can sit in embassies.
We don't need to do The Farm
With EEO we'll wreak our harm."

I invite The Spy Who Billed Me readers to do their part to help out by composing more Jody calls, perhaps some about our green badged friends. To kick things off, I'll give an autographed copy of OUTSOURCED to the author of the funniest one.

What the Hell is Going on with the CIA IG?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

GSA inadvertently deleted the CA.GOV domain

Federal GSA Temporarily Pulls Plug on California Government Domain
"Last Tuesday at about 11 a.m.," said California Department of Technology Services spokesman Jim Hanacek, "we received an e-mail from the federal General Services Administration saying they were deleting the domain from their master server." The message however, arrived as an ordinary e-mail, said Hanacek, and went to an e-mail in-box where it was noticed about noon.

When the potential impact of shutting down all the Web sites was realized, the issue quickly elevated, and about 2 p.m., the state activated the Emergency Operations Center.

A hacker had evidently redirected traffic from the Transportation Authority of Marin County to a pornographic Web site. Since the federal GSA is responsible for the dot gov domain, they pulled the plug.

Who was the hacker? What sort of investigation is being made. What is the process to pull down the domain for an entire state? We need some answers.

Slashdot discusses.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Wile E. Coyote puts on a black hat

Tom Foremski
PR in five years time will look a lot different, it will be more "public" relations than "press" relations. But there will also be a secretive side to PR, there will be "black hat PR."

Well maybe so, but only because human beings never learn. When Foremski mentioned this I couldn’t believe he was referring to black hat SEO.

On Black Hat PR and Black Hat Marketing
Strumpette has an article on “Black PR” called WARNING: Beware the Dark Side of PR 2.0 by Ivana Kalay. It is a fine article because it finally echoes something I go on and on about: the essential nature of an SEO strategy — both offensive and defensive SEO — any time you decide you need an Online PR or Online Marketing strategy.

Get the feeling we are looking at Drama Queen Train Wreck’s new business model?

Clearly people are doing this and will continue to do this. It is only a question of time before some very high profile companies get caught. When that happens the penalty will be huge. Everything you do on the Internet leaves electronic foot prints, so the chances of getting caught are reasonably good.

The best SEO strategy combines good website design with good online communications and advertising that drive traffic to the website. There is no clever way around that.

The International Association of Online Communicators

I didn't even know there was one. It turns out there is and they have a full fall schedule:
Fall Schedule, "This Week on"
October 15-19, 2007
GUEST: Dave Taylor, Blogsmart, Ask Dave Taylor
TOPIC: Is It Okay to Get Paid to Blog?

October 22-26, 2007
GUEST: Ted Demopoulos, Blogging for Business
TOPIC: Should CEOs Blog?

October 29-November 2, 2007
GUEST: Dianna Huff, Marcom Writer Blog
TOPIC: Writing Search Engine Friendly Copy

November 5-9, 2007
GUEST: Lois Kelly, Foghound
TOPIC: Conversational Marketing: Mood over Matter?

November 13-16, 2007
(Monday, Nov. 12 is Veteran's Day)
GUEST: Shel Horowitz, Ethical Marketing Expert
TOPIC: Blogger's Code of Ethics: News or Ruse?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The truth about Drama Queen Train Wreck Blog

Amanda’s Backstory Reveals Ugly Character :: Did You Know?
Amanda, in whatever incarnation you wish to imagine her, was and is a childish wimp. It stalked people online and off. It threatened you if you dared write anything contrary. I know. Others do, too. Oh, they can out themselves, if they wish. I won’t name them. But, they know who they are and how they were attacked behind the scenes.

Before you think something like, “Awh, tough. It couldn’t have been that bad.” - I suggest you think again. It was worse than anything you saw online.

Amanda didn’t care about righting wrongs. It didn’t care about improving the practice of PR. It cared about feeding Amanda’s addiction. That addiction? Her (their) egos. That’s all. Well, I think it also wanted to make money off the charade. That proved to be a red herring, too.

For me, the stalking and attacks happened, too. I’m tough. I can take it. The emails, the messages, the phone calls and phone messages. Really. All of that. More than you likely imagine. Vile, vulgarity-laced attacks. Even you hardened flacks and hacks would likely take a step back.

All of it took place in the back channels of Internet life. It got so bad, it became sad. Then comical. I laughed it off. Until … a line was crossed.

It went after my students. Don’t worry, they are tough, too. But the act itself confirmed what I already knew. The emails, the phone calls, the threats. Oh, yes. Threats. Lots of them.

It all confirmed that Amanda (in whatever form) is one sick twisted coward.

Blogs are the perfect vehicle for power trips and vendettas. Those sorts of blogs are best avoided.

There are people doing brilliant work exposing the problems in our industry, such as PR Watch, Ken Silverstein, and James Bamford.

Robert French rules. Mark my words, in the coming decades his students will be leading our industry.


Tailrank, technology


Technorati Topics: Technology

Topix: Science / Technology News

Google News Sci/Tech

Yahoo Technology News

Tech Dispenser

They all have their own personality. Serving our clients means understanding all of them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Global PR Blog Week, call for submissions

Global PR Blog Week 3.0 needs your ideas

It will continue to be a community-supported, volunteers-driven, unaffiliated event. At least two prestigious research organizations will support the event, and any (non-financial) support that will raise the industry’s participation to it will be welcome.

It will encourage new voices and fresh perspectives, it will value experience and real-world case studies, and it will have (I hope) a robust international participation.

What’s new this year:

  • 2 or 3 keynote/invited contributions
  • digg-style voting mechanism to choose the top 3 entries
  • live events (example: a daily live BlogTalk Radio show)
  • a daily event in Second Life
  • video, in addition to podcasting
  • daily summaries of the most discussed topics
  • real-time updates for the number/titles/authors of entries submitted for each category

Also, we’re going to have:

  • a more effective communication about the rules
  • clear guidelines for accepting/rejecting the entries
  • strict enforcement of deadlines for submitting entries.

Now, before discussing more about the nitty-gritty of the event, I’d like to ask you:

How do you see this event?
What do you expect from it?
What would you like to read/ see/ listen to?
What it will make it most valuable for you, and for the industry?

I have bombarded Constantin with my ideas, send him yours.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tom Foremski needs to get over himself

One of the advantages of being a Potomac based flack is not having to worry about Tom Foremski.

In his column lamenting the demise of Drama Queen Train Wreck blog, he expresses dismay that PR doesn’t have the decency to follow the news media into financial distress.

It seems that the gentleman who has taken Silicon Valley and disruptive technology as his stated area of expertise has not heard of this thing called Google News Alerts. Google News Alerts comes in two flavors, news, and comprehensive. The first will give you every mention from traditional news sources, including press releases, the second is the same but includes blogs and social tagging sites.

More and more people are getting news based on key words, not sources. Every day they are scanning articles based on key words, without regard to source. It is no longer necessary to place an article to reach these readers, it is merely enough to put it on a news release wire service.

To serve our clients we need to place their stories in credible, independent media. But to suggest that PR is not adapting, well, that is someone who has not been paying attention to what we have been doing.

Accessible websites, getting the word out

Jim Horton comments on the lawsuit against Target and expresses surprise that there is a solution for blind web users.

All federal government websites are required to be accessible under what is known as Section 508. The requirements are all public and there are companies who specialize in insuring that your site is accessible. There is no excuse not to comply.

The technology press needs to do a better job in covering this part of web design. Thus far only the government contracting press has addressed this issue.

Monday, October 08, 2007

GovGab Blog

General Services Administration Introduces GovGab Blog
A new general government blog has been launched by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to further improve citizen access to official government information and services.

"Americans clearly love the idea and practice of blogging," said GSA Administrator Lurita Doan. "The creation of GovGab is another step forward in improving public access to government information and services. This blog will be an invaluable resource in helping us keep citizens informed of the many opportunities and programs offered by the U.S. government."

Available at, the blog features daily posts from a GSA team of five managers, each drawing on his or her professional experience as a government information expert to help spotlight U.S. government information and services of greatest use in Americans' daily lives. Some 57 million Americans are active throughout the blogosphere.

Welcome to blogosphere.

Web services adoption

Alan Pelz-Sharpe
I think Business Process Management, ILM (cradle to grave management and archiving of content), and enterprise-wide content security will all play well in Peoria.

But, Web 2.0 (including wikis), granular-level Web Services, and multi-tenant SaaS options will all likely have a tougher time at the box office.

It's not a matter of whether an idea or technology is good or bad, it's whether it has a chance of success. I think free beer and world peace are pretty solid ideas, but they get don't seem to fly too well in practice.

Clearly I am missing something. I would have thought that Web Services would have seen widespread adoption by now; precisely because it allows companies to glue together otherwise incompatible legacy systems.

Is Google’s practice of penalizing paid links a restraint of trade?

Official: Selling Paid Links Can Hurt Your PageRank Or Rankings On Google

More and more, I've been seeing people wondering if they've lost traffic on Google because they were detected to be selling paid links. However, Google's generally never penalized sites for link selling. If spotted, in most cases all Google would do is prevent links from a site or pages in a site from passing PageRank. Now that's changing. If you sell links, Google might indeed penalize your site plus drop the PageRank score that shows for it. ...

...Last week, I noticed the Stanford Daily had dropped from when I wrote the above in April to PR7 today. That's a huge drop that has no apparent reason to happen. Some others were also reporting PageRank drops. So I pinged Google, and they confirmed that PageRank scores are being lowered for some sites that sell links.

With traditional sources of advertising drying up, it is crucial that news organizations be able to tap into online advertising revenue
. Considering that Google earns tremendous wealth by aggregating content from online news organizations, it is outrageous that they would use their power as the premiere search engine to discourage advertisers from patronizing news organizations.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Military Order of the Carabao

A Short History Of The Military Order of the Carabao
The Military Order of the Carabao is one of the most unique organizations associated with our nation's military history. It was founded in 1900 to counter and satirize the very pompous Order of the Dragon, which was founded by those who had defeated the very short-lived Boxer uprising in China.

Check out the genial expression on the carabao at the top of the website.

The proper use of online research

Networks supply employers with extra references
Facebook, Myspace sites often checked before hiring

By Anjali Athavaley - The Wall Street Journal

Job interviewees, beware: Your prospective boss may have called your references before you walk through the door - and they may not be the contacts you provided.

Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn Corp. and Jobster Inc. are making it easier for employers to get in touch with people who have worked with job candidates in the past or know them personally. Recruiters say they use such sites - where people create online profiles and then link to professional colleagues who are also members - to find mutual connections they can hit up for information. Many hiring managers say they even check to see if they have mutual connections with a candidate on Facebook and MySpace, the popular social networking sites.

Checking LinkedIn references strikes me as entirely proper, as long as you are sure you have the correct individual. Using search engines, MySpace, and or Facebook strike me as a way to get yourself in trouble. First of all, how do you know it is the same person? Even if you are sure, is the information relevant to the job? Unless you are a lobby shop, an applicant's politics should not matter.

If you want the most qualified individual, you would be well advised to confine yourself to researching the applicant's qualifications for the job.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Java communities

The Server Side

I am sure there must be many others. If you know of any, please put the URL in the comments.


Google Alerts, why press releases are more important than ever

Via the essential Spin Thicket I see that one of my fellow PR bloggers is taking another whack at the press release:

The Future of the Press Release - Part I, Acceptance

According to Outsell, Inc. in November 2006, 51% of information technologists (IT) source their news from press releases found on Yahoo or Google News over traditional trade journals. While this is technology, I can assure you that this stat is probably equally compelling across a variety of major industries. What this means is that press releases are no longer limited to journalists, bloggers, and analysts, but also read by customers directly in order to help them make important decisions.

I can attest to the truth of this. At the last meeting of NCC AIIM I sat next to a civil servant and proceeded to ask him about his sources of IT news. It emerged that he has Google News subscriptions to key words related to his agency’s work and reads anything connected to that subject matter. He actually preferred corporate press releases to trade publications as he didn't need a filter as he put it.

I have to say that I was distressed to learn this, while I am very careful about the accuracy of Presto Vivace releases, I do not recommend that readers get their news from flacks, however conscientious.

J2EE open source training in Reston

Northern Virginia Java Users Group discussion list
As a long-time NovaJUG member, I'd like to introduce my company's new Java EE-based training offerings to everyone, and I also want to make sure you all know that we're extending a 10% discount to all NovaJUG members. Here's our schedule of public classes in Reston, VA for November:

Introduction to JSF 5 Days
Nov 5 – Nov 9

JPA Development with the Hibernate® ORM 3 Days
Nov 12 – Nov 14

Java Development with Spring 2 Days
Nov 15 – Nov 16

AJAX for the Enterprise 2 Days
Nov 19 – Nov 20

Java Programming 5 Days
Nov 26 – Nov 30

We can also provide private classes onsite or at our own facilities. Please feel free to visit our website for more information, including the complete training schedule.

I'll have flyers available at tonight's meeting for those planning to attend. (If you can't make it tonight, you can download it the flyer as a PDF here:
Hope to see you there!

Jonathan Lehr
About Objects, Inc.
The developer training people.

Managing Electronic Records as Evidence

NCC-AIIM Monthly Meeting
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Westin Arlington Gateway

Proving the Truth:
Managing Electronic Records as Evidence
Speaker: Jeffrey Ritter, Esq., CEO, Waters Edge

Every organization, both private companies and government agencies, has a legal duty to preserve as potential evidence any electronically stored information (ESI) that may be relevant to proving the truth of the matter in any civil litigation in the United States. While there has been great attention given to the impact of the 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, enterprise content management professionals have received little guidance on the requirements they must successfully execute in order for ESI in their custody to be admissible as evidence.

This presentation, by one of the nation’s most recognized and engaging thought leaders on the trustworthiness of digital information, introduces an insightful and compelling framework through which enterprise content management can focus on and better assure the ultimate value of digital information as evidence. In doing so, an ECM professional can become a more valued contributor to their organization’s overall legal and business objectives and significantly contribute to reducing the overall legal spending. The strategy—knowing the right questions to ask.

This could not be more timely.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Women’s Tech (un)conference

Identity Woman
I am producing another unconference this fall. It is for women working in technology called She’s Geeky. It is October 22-23 in Mountain View at the Computer History Museum.

I will be interested in reading the blogging that comes out of this.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Spoonful of Sin

Geoff Livingston was kind enough to invite me to the launch of Spoonful of Sin, a catering company specializing in desserts. The party was held at the very elegant Flashpoint.

Attendees were a great mix of Washingtonians. Most of the events I attend consist of techies, either marketing tech or building tech. The Spoonful of Sin party was a nice change of pace for your humble servant. I renewed my acquaintance with some I had met at the New Media Nouveaux event, including some local bloggers.

In a town with so many associations and other organizations holding special events, I predict that Spoonful of Sin will be a great success. Event planners are always searching for something that will make their event stand out, a spectacular desert would be a fabulous way to separate your event in a town of parties.

Roland Mesnier, former White House dessert chef, was present to sign his books. I had a chance to chat with him. He doesn’t think much of the Food Channel; he thinks their cooks are sadly overated. He also assured your humble servant that he could teach her to make puff pastry. No disrespect to Mesnier, but I seriously doubt he could teach this baking impaired blogger how to make a croissant.

I had a great time and want to thank Geoff for inviting me.

More from:
The Catch Up Lady
Pamela Sorensen

Monday, September 17, 2007

What is the Semblance Project?

The Semblance Project

The Semblance project houses several subprojects that provide reusable components for Java applications, and particularly for Java EE (J2EE) web applications. Of the current three subprojects, two are frameworks (Foundation and StrutsLive), while the third is a comprehensive example application. The Foundation framework contains a broad array of generic utility classes and components, many of which were extracted from the original StrutsLive code base in order to make them easier to consume outside the web tier.

StrutsLive is a framework that adds powerful new capabilities to Struts 1.x, enabling it to function as a modern, component-based framework with features rivaling those of Webobjects or Tapestry, while maintaining total back-compatiblity with exsiting Struts 1.x application code. StrutsLive is in use today in dozens of major production applications, from high-volume B2C websites like The Shopping Channel and Armani Exchange to mission-critical B2B applications, such as an energy trading system for Enbridge Energy, a billing system for a major European telecommunications company, and the Environmental Protection Agency's compliance reporting system.

Clearly, this is the kind of collaborative effort that is driving software development.

Another example of how Potomac Tech culture is different

GIT Rockin
Folks from around the federal information technology community really let their hair down at Federal Computer Week's Git Rockin' event Oct. 19.

The show, staged at the State Theatre in Falls Church, Va., was billed as the first battle of the government IT bands. Twenty-six groups submitted tapes to a panel of judges, who chose four finalists to perform at the event.

Each band had to include at least two members from the federal IT market. The crowd voted for their favorite band by buying $1 tickets, with all proceeds -- about $15,000 -- going to the United Service Organizations of metropolitan Washington, D.C. The winner was Full Mesh, which featured talent from Juniper Networks. To learn more about the bands and the event, visit

HHS guitar god (and CIO) Charles Havekost had to forego the competition after agreeing to serve as the evening's emcee, but that didn't stop him from putting on a show.

Is your software telegenic?

GCN is adding a new dimension to its product reviews with the debut of GCN Lab TV.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

How not to do damage control

If a critic wants to come to your conference, take his registration money and welcome him. Declining his registration just makes you look bad. Better your critics come to your events openly than have them recruit supporters to attend your events.

If there are many enthusiastic blog posts about your event, why would you fear a handful of critics? You do have a blogger outreach program don't you? If not, maybe you should get one.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Congratulations Jill Aitoro

Mark Amtower tells us that Jill Aitoro is moving to Government Executive. He also has some very interesting gossip about 1105 Media.

Monday, September 10, 2007

What editors think of local PR firms

Every year or so I do an unscientific survey of reporters and editors from the government trade press to see which PR firms are most respected and most helpful to both their clients and the publications. I email people I work with in the press and simply ask their opinion and I guarantee their anonymity.

There were no big standouts (no company with more than 2 votes). The best recommendations in terms of how the reporter or editor referenced a PR firm were for Alice Marshall (PrestoVivace; one reporter called her the best he had worked with) and Evan Weisel (W2 Communications, one reporter noted he does lots for his clients and adds actual value for the trade press). Other reporters just sent lists, or had shorter comments. And while I did not ask for it, a few gave me negative feedback. Instead of sharing the negative, I simply took a point away from the company referenced.

Making the cut (alphabetical: Advice Unlimited, Alice Marshall/PrestoVivace, BrainBox, Borenstein, Boscobel, Fleishman Hillard, Hosky Inc, Larkin and Associates, OKeeffe, Strategic Communications, and Welz and Weisel.

A huge thank you to the anonymous editors who were kind enough to mention Presto Vivace, Inc. An even bigger thank you to all the editors who recognized the newsworthiness of Presto Vivace clients.

The resilient federal market

No credit woes in government services
The headlines this summer are dominated by talk of the “credit crunch.” Many pundits are predicting that tightening in the debt markets will bring an end to the frenzied merger-and-acquisition environment. Although this may be the case in other industry sectors, I do not believe the current credit woes will curtail M&A activity in the defense and government services arena in the near term.

Let's hope he is correct.

Troll patrol

How To Keep Hostile Jerks From Taking Over Your Online Community
If you want to fight trolling, don't make up a bunch of a priori assumptions about what will or won't discourage trolls. Instead, seek out the troll whisperer and study their techniques.

Troll whisperers aren't necessarily very good at hacking tools, so there's always an opportunity for geek synergy in helping them to automate their hand-crafted techniques, giving them a software force-multiplier for their good sense. For example, Teresa invented a technique called disemvowelling -- removing the vowels from some or all of a fiery message-board post. The advantage of this is that it leaves the words intact, but requires that you read them very slowly -- so slowly that it takes the sting out of them. And, as Teresa recently explained to me, disemvowelling part of a post lets the rest of the community know what kind of sentiment is and is not socially acceptable.

Marketing local tech culture

The Webpreneur
Well, it’s already underway. There are events popping up all over and people are starting to become more active. The one issue that I see is that a large portion of the community is not locally active. While I can’t tell you why that is, I know it’s the case. There are investors who are quietly involved but they seem to be hesitant to become active in the community. What are the components of a successful technology community? I think there are a few components:

* Technology enthusiasts
* Entrepreneurs
* Investors
* Scholars
* Technology journalists

In discussing Lunch 2.0 with my new friend Isaac a couple days ago, Isaac brought up a good point: there is not enough coverage of events in Washington, D.C. by the local press. Why is that? Perhaps we are failing to do enough public relations. Why wasn’t there a Washington Post article about the recent Barcamp or any of the other technology events that have occurred? A few of the local tech companies are successful with coverage but there are bigger things happening. I have met a number of local companies that are now significantly invested in Facebook application development. So invested that it is now their core business model. Is such a shift in the technology environment not news worthy? I think is.

I started this blog partly with the idea of building recognition of local tech culture and demonstrating a market for this sort of news.

Potomac Tech Culture is different, it is more diverse that Silicon Valley with far less hubris.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Norwegian Medieval Tech Support

How not to use PowerPoint

For Oscar winning presentations, use Keynote.

Amtower’s Epiphany: a book for our times

Mark Amtower’s current book, Why Epiphanies Never Occur to Couch Potatoes, could be boiled down to one phrase, whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

What, at first glance, appears to be a straightforward business book, turns out to be a compelling description of a personal journey and its lessons for entrepreneurs. Amtower’s thesis is that nice guys do not finish last, that business is about providing value and building relationships. Those who fail to provide value, those who do not build relationships based of shared values of decency and integrity, will either fail, or succeed in a way that makes life not worth living.

Amtower has an unpretentious style of writing that is at once disarming and compelling. He is persuasive precisely because he maintains that he is not an exceptionally gifted, not God’s brightest child as he puts it. Amtower does not ask us to admire him, but rather to conduct our business and life, in such a fashion that we admire ourselves.

This book is about the value of persistence, work ethic, and above all, doing the right thing. Robert Strauss used to say that good government was good politics; Amtower teaches us that good conduct is good business.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tropical disturbance 99L

Northern Atlantic Ocean regional imagery, 2007.09.05 at 1145Z. Centerpoint Latitude: 29:45:40N Longitude: 69:53:06W.

Northern Atlantic Ocean regional imagery, 2007.09.05 at 1145Z. Centerpoint Latitude: 29:45:40N Longitude: 69:53:06W.

Carolinas at risk from tropical disturbance 99L
An area of disturbed weather (99L) that formed along an old frontal boundary appears to have developed into a subtropical depression, and may grow into a tropical storm over the next day or two. Strong upper level winds from the west are creating about 15 knots of wind shear over 99L, and satellite loops of 99L show the classic appearance of a weak, sheared system--a nearly exposed low level circulation system, with all the heavy thunderstorm activity pushed to one side by strong upper-level winds. This shear is forecast to remain between 15 and 25 knots over the next two days, which should allow some slow development. A QuikSCAT pass from 6:52am EDT showed that 99L has a vigorous closed circulation with top winds of 25-30 knots (30-35 mph), so in my book this system is already a subtropical depression. The reason I call it subtropical is because there is still clear evidence of a frontal boundary attached to 99L, evident as long band of clouds extending from the south side of the storm (Figure 2). The Hurricane Hunters are scheduled to investigate this system at 2pm EDT, and NHC may wait until then to see if 99L can maintain its strength before naming it a subtropical depression.