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.