Friday, March 30, 2007

Saturn's hexagonal storm

Spinning Saturn

This nighttime movie of the depths of the north pole of Saturn taken by the visual infrared mapping spectrometer onboard NASA's Cassini Orbiter reveals a dynamic, active planet lurking underneath the ubiquitous cover of upper-level hazes. The defining feature of Saturn's north polar regions--the six-sided hexagon feature--is clearly visible in the image.

Saturn teaches us that you don't need a flack to get publicity.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Info World goes online only

From the indispensable Seth Grimes, we learn that that the April 2 issue of Info World will be the last print edition. I can’t say I am surprised, the last time I saw the print edition it was a shadow of its former self. While the online version is resplendent with banner advertisements and sponsored links, the print edition was almost bare advertisements.

Grimes also makes a good point on the changing way we read news. News alerts on key words forms a much greater part of our reading material. We are drilling down into the subjects that interest us, but there is less serendipity to our news consumption.

What this all means, beyond the necessity of working key words into our press releases, is beyond your humble servant.

Congratulations Arnold & Porter and Deloitte & Touche

Law firm to help in Justice inquiry

House Democrats are set today to bring in private sector lawyers -- at a cost of up to $225,000 over the next nine months -- to help committee staff investigate the Bush administration.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, has drawn up a contract with Washington law firm Arnold & Porter for help in his investigation of the firing of eight federal prosecutors last year, according to an unsigned copy of the contract obtained by The Washington Times.

The contract specifies that Arnold & Porter will subcontract with another firm, Deloitte & Touche, to "assist Democratic members of the Committee on the Judiciary with issues related to the termination of U.S. attorneys by the Bush administration, possible misrepresentations to Congress, interfering with investigations and matter related thereto."

Much of their work will consist of digging through mountains of documents. Most of these documents, possibly all, will have been created by software with elaborate version tracking so it should be possible to determine who inserted which phrases when. I would love to know the search software they are planning to use for this.

Sun Microsystems, Doan, and the Waxman Committee

The Washington Post

The five-hour hearing also focused on Doan's involvement last year in a contract dispute with Sun Microsystems, a technology firm that GSA auditors allege had overcharged the government.

Waxman's committee heard testimony from Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who has also been examining the Sun deal.

Grassley testified that his investigators found evidence that Doan and her senior aides urged the agency's contracting staff to renew the contract, despite questions about alleged fraud and overcharging.

By August last year, three contracting officers had balked at renewing Sun's contract with the GSA.

Grassley said that despite "repeated warnings" to senior GSA officials in 2006 about the contract, GSA renewed the contract with Doan's blessing and "with no conditions, strings, or precautions regarding the alleged fraud."

Doan said she had an obligation to keep a close eye on the Sun contract and did nothing wrong. She said she did not "even know" the contract officials involved in negotiations. She said she urged a solution to a negotiation impasse with an important government contractor but did not intervene.

So far Sun Microsystems has issued no statement on the controversy. This is typical of federal contractors in these sorts of disputes, keep your head down and let the politicians slug it out. I think they are well advised, it may not be edifying, but it works.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lurita Doan’s testimony to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Government Executive has an excellent preview with links to the relevant documents. FCW has a summary of the morning’s testimony which is very sympathetic to Doan, mostly for what it leaves out.

Listening to the hearing on CSPAN, it seem to me to be a disaster for Doan. Her use of the selective memory defense was so disingenuous as to embarrassing. Waxman has wisely put the relevant documents on the committee website. I don’t see how anyone can look at the January 26 slide presentation and not conclude that is was an improper presentation for a government agency. Doan’s protestations, that while she attended the meeting she had no memory whatsoever of the presentation, and was unable to characterize it, insults our intelligence.

On the whole these hearings and investigations will be a good thing for government contractors.

Further coverage -
Federal Times: New memo details allegations against GSA administrator

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Using XQuery to process and integrate XML, relational, web services, and legacy data

Carlo Innocenti (Minollo), XML Technologies Program Manager for DataDirect, spoke to the March meeting of the DC XML Users Group. He began with some general remarks about XQuery, which is a standard for querying XML that was designed keeping data integration problems in mind.

Minollo offered an example of a data integration problem: a user wishes to request a report of their stock portfolio. Typically, this would involve a request from the user’s desktop to some combination of a legacy database management system, relational database, and some public web services resource with the current stock price. Users prefer web browsers, so the report must be rendered in HTML. Generally, the solution would involve accessing web services via a SOAP message through AXIS. Developers would probably use Java code to generate the HTML report.

Minollo said this could lead to a dangerous approach, multiple data consumers accessing multiple data sources for information:

AJAX Client dynamic HTML Web Services Publishing App's. REST

Data Access Layer

RDBM XML Documents EDI Messages Web Services

This model would quickly create a tangled net of connections. The XQuery vision is simpler, an XML layer above an XQuery system accessing the data sources.

Here, Minollo asked the audience how many had looked at XQuery for “more than two minutes?” - a few hands went up. He asked how many had seen XQuery for two minutes - a few more hands went up. He asked about XSLT and almost everyone’s hand went up.

XQuery was created by a group of vendors. It is the W3C query language for XML. Minollo characterized it as “the SQL for XML.” It has a high level of function; it can find anything in an XML structure and can combine data from multiple data sources.

Here, Minollo began to walk through some code examples, beginning with:

He observed that this was a flwor expression: query and combining data. Such queries could be looped through multiple data sources, and such expressions could be nested in a long series.

Minollo further indicated that with XQuery you can build XML, use and define functions. Functions may be pulled together and imported.

He emphasized that, unlike conventional programming languages, XQuery had native support for XML. No more parse, navigate, and cast, because in XQuery XML is native. Furthermore, nothing in XQuery prevents you from using it with non-XML data; XQuery is designed for data integration.

Minollo pointed out that XML output is very handy. Increasingly it is the industry standard for data exchange. The use of XQuery greatly increases programmer productivity, as there is far less code to write.

He said that with XQuery you are dependent upon implementation. In response to my email requesting clarification of this, Minollo said, “What I said (or meant to say) is that support for heterogeneous data sources in XQuery depends strongly on implementations; most implementations just support querying XML only; others support querying only XML types in the database (typically the RDBMS implementations); others support plenty of data sources, like our DataDirect XQuery. XQuery as a language doesn't specify what data sources must be supported.

About speed, what I meant is that how an XQuery processor performs against a specific data source is again strongly implementation dependent. There are generic XQuery optimizations that can be done to improve the processor's speed and scalability (pretty much like for XSLT or other languages); such optimizations can even reach the point of creating hardware "XQuery" or "XSLT" CPUs.

But those approaches have limits when it comes to dealing with specific data sources; and RDBMS support is a typical example of that. You can optimize "pure XQuery processing" as much as you want, but the only approach to make XQuery perform and scale against RDBMS data is to translate XQuery into SQL where relevant. That's why different XQuery engines may lead to such dramatic performance and scalability changes.”

Minollo explained that XQJ is an XQuery API for Java; it is a standard, similar to JDBC. XQJ permits XQuery to fit into any Java architecture. Results can be retrieved as DOM, SAX, StAX, or text.

XQuery resides in the data access layer. XQJ interfaces with the consumers of data, while the XQuery engine accesses the data sources.

Here, Minollo began to explain DataDirect’s XQuery product. It has the ability to perform “streaming inquiries” on large documents, tossing the irrelevant information and retrieving only what you are looking for. For example, you might have an alphabetical list of orders in which you are only interested in one particular order. DataDirect’s XQuery will stream the search and retrieve only that order.

Minollo emphasized that DataDirect’s XQuery was all standards based; there is nothing new or unique to DataDirect that programmers have to learn. It is a component and not server dependent. It can convert non-XML data to XML format and can do so on the fly, including:
EDI message types
comma delimited or tab delimited
batch conversions are supported
custom conversions are supported

A member of the audience asked if DataDirect’s XQuery could insert, delete, or update information. Minollo replied that it was a good question and that DataDirect has a working draft with this function.

Minollo returned to the example of retrieving a stock portfolio saying, “Back to our problem, remember? It’s a nightmare, you can’t forget. I have here a random tool...” Here there was general laughter as it was obviously carefully selected for his presentation. He walked through a long series of code examples demonstrating how DataDirect’s XQuery works.


New to me local tech blog

Seth Grimes Intelligent Enterpise Weblog

I've known about this blog for a while, I just didn't know he was local. For whatever reason I cannot persuade my Blogdigger group to pick up his RSS feed.

Correction -

Grimes blog is now added to the Potomac Area Tech reader.

Monday, March 26, 2007

FCW's Federal 100

Recognized for their extraordinary contributions to the use of technology in the federal government.

Terror Database Has Quadrupled In Four Years

U.S. Watch Lists Are Drawn From Massive Clearinghouse

Each day, thousands of pieces of intelligence information from around the world -- field reports, captured documents, news from foreign allies and sometimes idle gossip -- arrive in a computer-filled office in McLean, where analysts feed them into the nation's central list of terrorists and terrorism suspects.

Called TIDE, for Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, the list is a storehouse for data about individuals that the intelligence community believes might harm the United States. It is the wellspring for watch lists distributed to airlines, law enforcement, border posts and U.S. consulates, created to close one of the key intelligence gaps revealed after Sept. 11, 2001: the failure of federal agencies to share what they knew about al-Qaeda operatives.

If you are trying to find a needle in a haystack, is it really a good idea to get more hay?

GSA Administrator Doan to testify before the Waxman committee

GSA Chief Is Accused of Playing Politics

Witnesses have told congressional investigators that the chief of the General Services Administration and a deputy in Karl Rove's political affairs office at the White House joined in a videoconference earlier this year with top GSA political appointees, who discussed ways to help Republican candidates.

With GSA Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan and up to 40 regional administrators on hand, J. Scott Jennings, the White House's deputy director of political affairs, gave a PowerPoint presentation on Jan. 26 of polling data about the 2006 elections. ...
I can think of no reason for such a presentation to the Government Services Administration.
..On Wednesday, Doan is scheduled to appear before Waxman's committee to answer questions about the videoconference and other issues. The committee is investigating whether remarks made during the videoconference violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that restricts executive-branch employees from using their positions for political purposes. Those found in violation of the act do not face criminal penalties but can be removed from their jobs. ...
This blog intends to cover this hearing.
... Doan, a wealthy former government contractor who sold her company before taking over the GSA last May, has hired three law firms and two media relations companies at her own expense to handle inquiries from the federal investigators and the news media. ...
I knew Waxman was going to make Crisis Communications a growth industry.
Doan Denies 'Improper' Use of Agency for GOP

Waxman's investigation began in response to a Jan. 19 story in The Washington Post about a no-bid job Doan tried to give to firms run by Edie Fraser, a veteran Washington public relations executive who had served as a paid consultant to Doan. Waxman's investigators concluded that the two women had "a long-standing business relationship" that was not "previously disclosed," according to Waxman's letter.

Between 2003 and 2005, Fraser billed Doan as much as $20,000 a month in consulting fees to "generally promote attributes" of Doan and her company, New Technology Management Inc., according to invoices obtained by The Post. In all, Doan paid at least $417,500 to companies affiliated with Fraser before Doan took over the GSA, according to Waxman's investigators.

Last year, Fraser helped prepare Doan for her GSA confirmation and lined up political support for her, according to interviews and e-mails obtained by The Post.
I wonder who is going to prepare Fraser for her appearance before the Waxman committee. Crisis Communications is going to make a lot of money out of this Congress; but our industry is going to look bad, really bad.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Slow But Steady Growth Projected For U.S. Tech Sector

Forrester's index points to a rosy 2007 as overseas sales continue to drive a need for U.S. goods.

The U.S. tech sector is expected to grow slowly, but steadily, this year, driven by expanding overseas sales, a market research firm said Wednesday.

The projection is based on last year's trends, which are expected to continue in 2007, Forrester Research said. In the fourth quarter of 2006, the firm's U.S. Tech Sector Index rose two points from the third quarter and 5.6 points year to year to 128.8. That number reflected an increase in seven of the 11 indicators.

Web 2.0 Funding Doubled In 2006, But Few Rich Yet

Four-fifths of all Web 2.0 investment was focused on U.S. start-ups, with $682.7 million plowed into 126 firms.

May this be a sign of things to come.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Social Networking for Public Relations


It's a very simple experiment in social networking and will likely die a slow, lingering and cached death.... but sure you never know :-)

I'm going to check this out when I have a chance.

Friday, March 16, 2007

John Kerry: FOIA should cover bloggers

JK Supports Strengthened Freedom of Information Act for Bloggers

In a speech delivered to the New England Newspaper Association this afternoon, JK spoke out about a strengthened FOIA which includes support for bloggers.

WASHINGTON, DC - Senator John Kerry today announced his support for a legislative initiative designed to assist the freedom of the press. The bill would make the federal Freedom of Information Act more powerful, primarily by making it harder for the Administration to deny or delay the release of information. It does that by requiring that an agency respond to FOIA requests within 20 business days and establishes a publicly available tracking system for requests.

In addition, the legislation would help bloggers, because it would prevent agencies from denying them a waiver on fees just because they are independent or not affiliated with any institutional news organization. In the past, the need to pay fees for FOIA requests discouraged many bloggers or independent journalists from pursuing FOIA requests.

Everyone with a blog can be an investigative reporter. This is great news for freedom of the press.

It is also good news for providers of software that helps federal agencies respond to FOIA requests.

Overcoming censorship

Security crisis management

How to (and not to) Manage a Security PR Nightmare

... *) Hire a PR firm that specializes in Crisis Management. They exist. They have been through it before. They have probably helped people who have been in more hot water than you can imagine. Exxon’s negligence killed cute baby animals. You got depantsed by a 20 year old with a disassembler. I think they can handle it. They can also help with the first bullet. ...

Somebody respects our industry.

Top security influencers

Via Emergent Chaos, we discover's list of top security influencers.

Email abuse miscellany

Bachmann Email May Violate Federal Law, House Ethics Rules

An email sent by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., may violate federal law and House Rules.

The email from Bachmann's press secretary, Heidi Frederickson, was published on the weblog Dump Michele Bachmann. It had been sent from Frederickson's government account.

Astroturf on the public's dime. Not smart.

U.S. Attorney Firings and Abramoff-Related Emails sent from RNC and Other Outside Addresses Circumvent Mandatory Record-Keeping System

Misuing the public's funds and violating their record keeping requirements, genius.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Schneier on the Boston LiteBrite panic

Bruce Schneier: The Psychology of Security

If I hand you, I don’t know, a tuna fish sandwich and you run away screaming, I didn’t give you a hoax bomb, you’re just an idiot ...

Google, Viacom, and the Eustace Diamonds

Steve Bryant has Viacom's argument as presented in their official complaint. Information Week has an article with Google’s response.

I am guessing this case is a little like The Eustace Diamonds, more complicated than meets the eye. Of course I felt the same way about the SCO lawsuit, and that really seems to have been a simple case of patent warfare.

If you want to be the next Groklaw, this lawsuit offers a great opportunity.

Edit -
Nick Madigan, The Baltimore Sun

Edit ii -
Lawrence Lessig: Make way for copyright chaos

The lawsuit represents the biggest face-off between old and new media since the Recording Industry Association of America forced Napster to shut down its song-trading system in 2001. And it could force changes in the delivery of the Internet's biggest draw, its free content, analysts say.

Or it could be a negotiating tactic: Media companies have watched with both fascination and fear as YouTube, which was purchased by search-engine giant Google in November for $1.76 billion, has exploded into a hugely popular online destination, where millions of people view and post videos and short films ranging from the mundane to the bizarre.

New to me local PR blog

Gerry Cassidy

Past time for Microsoft to get serious about security

Today’s Washington Post has another story about malware and identity theft, also an interesting post on how the story was put together.

Malware happens because of security vulnerabilities in the code. Years ago I had a client, Security Tracker, who did a survey of security vulnerabilities by company and product line. By a factor of ten, Microsoft had the most security vulnerabilities. This is true across all their product lines.

You can’t solve this problem by using a Mac, somewhere, someone has information about you and your business stored on their Windows computer. Instructing Microsoft users how to secure their computer is not an adequate response. It is irresponsible to ship vulnerable software and then expect users to patch it after the fact. Microsoft’s product defects are a security threat to all of us and they need address their quality issues.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Towards a rational business model

Is DRM Doomed? The Case Against Digital-Rights Management

In the wake of Steve Jobs' call to eliminate anti-copying technology, are the music and movie industries poised to move from protection to monitoring?

The debate over digital-rights management is coming to a head. On the one hand, efforts to implement technology to prevent the copying of consumer-oriented entertainment is increasingly viewed as ineffective. Indeed, no less an industry figure than Apple CEO Steve Jobs has called for the elimination of DRM. At the same time, content providers continue to search for a magic technical elixir that'll protect their revenue streams against unauthorized copying.

Customers don't like DRM, therefore it is doomed. You can't win a war with your customers.

How to know when you have a security PR problem

Windows Vista's 90-Day Report Card

Microsoft's new operating system hasn't revealed any gaping security holes, but some influential users are holding back for other reasons.

When the absence of reported security vulnerabilities constitutes news, that is when you know you have a terrible reputation for poor security.

Government Sites Aren't FOIA-Friendly

Study Finds Most Agencies Fall Short of Transparency Mandate

In 1996, Congress intended to keep government ahead of the curve by amending the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to require that agencies put more public information on their Web sites. Posting important and most-requested records online, the theory went, would burn through a raft of hard-copy FOIA requests, save money and eliminate waiting time.

According to the National Security Archive, the government is dragging its feet. This is just a small part of a larger battle about government transparency that is currently raging in the United States.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure New Rule 34(b)(ii)

To Metadata or Not to Metadata?

The new federal rules do not specifically address an important aspect of the e-discovery battlefield, though: what to do about "metadata," the "data about data" that is part of every electronically stored document or file that, typically, went unnoticed in the age when producing hard copy documents was the norm. So when must metadata be produced? Recent case law illustrates that the new rules do not address the question directly.

I would be interested in hearing from techies in the civil service and the contracting community as to what they think about this.

I would suggest to my fellow flacks that records management and document management are very much a PR issue.

New to me tech blawg

electronic discovery law

SEC's 'Operation Spamalot' Targets Penny-Stock Hype

Trading Halted For 35 Firms Over E-Mails

Securities regulators yesterday halted trading in nearly three dozen companies -- the initial salvo in "Operation Spamalot," a campaign to block e-mails promoting stocks to unsuspecting investors.

Three cheers for the SEC.

Edit -

Via Thomas Claburn of Information Week,

The PR of the of the recording industry

Music Industry Tightens Squeeze On Students

The recording industry is dusting off an old tactic in its never-ending effort to crack down on pirated music: Target the college kids.

So far this year, the music industry's trade group has sent out hundreds of complaints to students, pressured school administrators to take tougher anti-piracy measures and tried shaming colleges into doing better by putting out a list of the top offending schools.

Why does the recording industry think the schools would be shamed by such a list?

The actions of the RIAA are like the Luddites smashing looms, doomed to failure. The need to get together with the Future of Music and come up with a workable business model.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

New to me PR blog

A PRomising Blog...

There really is a New PR

With due respect for Tom Murphy, the internet really has changed everything. Just as the Gutenberg press changed the world, that is how profoundly the Internet is changing our world.

The Gutenberg press gave the world a cheap means of reproducing print. Thus who could distribute material and what they could distribute was greatly increased; but they still had the costs of the press and the costs of distribution.

The Internet solved the problem of distribution, but you still had technical barriers to entry, you had to know HTML, or have enough money to pay someone who did, and you had to pay for hosting. Blogging removed even those barriers, now anyone with a modem and an opinion is a press lord. Indeed, with YouTube, anyone with a digital camera a modem is a video lord. This is a very different world.

Organizations have to communicate with, and respond to, a far more diffuse group of influencers. We have more opportunities, but many more challenges. In a world of social software, who is a source? who is a journalist? who is a newsmaker? The roles are blurred. The whole phenomenon of blogswarms, the differences between the various social tagging sites, all this must be carefully studied. We still have the old reliable 250 word ASCII text email press release; but we also have a vast new world we must respond to.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Apple Unveils New Product-Unveiling Product

This is a joke.

Sometimes it's hard to tell.

Anyone can say anything about anybody

Harsh Words Die Hard on the Web

She graduated Phi Beta Kappa, has published in top legal journals and completed internships at leading institutions in her field. So when the Yale law student interviewed with 16 firms for a job this summer, she was concerned that she had only four call-backs. She was stunned when she had zero offers.

Though it is difficult to prove a direct link, the woman thinks she is a victim of a new form of reputation-maligning: online postings with offensive content and personal attacks that can be stored forever and are easily accessible through a Google search.

I would never knowingly engage the services on a law firm so dumb that they would credit anonymous postings.

New to me local PR blog

Progressive Communicators of Washington, DC

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Richard Hohlt

Richard Hohlt is the heavy hitter you've never heard of.

Asked by one of Libby's lawyers if he had talked about Plame with anybody else before outing her in his column, Novak said he'd discussed her with a lobbyist named Richard Hohlt. Who, the lawyer pressed, is Hohlt? "He's a very good source of mine" whom I talk to "every day," Novak replied. Indeed, Hohlt is such a good source that after Novak finished his column naming Plame, he testified, he did something most journalists rarely do: he gave the lobbyist an advance copy of his column. What Novak didn't tell the jury is what the lobbyist then did with it: Hohlt confirmed to NEWSWEEK that he faxed the forthcoming column to their mutual friend Karl Rove (one of Novak's sources for the Plame leak), thereby giving the White House a heads up on the bombshell to come.

So you discover that your reporter buddy is thinking about betraying the identity of a CIA case officer working under non-official cover, and your reaction is to fax the column to your White House buddy? And when the dirty deed is done you just keep your mouth shut?

Hohlt is the sleaziest man in our industry.

Al Gore to Be Keynote Speaker at Marsh Client Breakfast During Annual RIMS Conference


NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Marsh Inc., the world’s leading risk and insurance services firm, today announced that former Vice President Al Gore will be the keynote speaker at the firm’s client breakfast, May 1, during the annual conference of the Risk & Insurance Management Society (RIMS) in New Orleans.

Sorry I won't be there.

Stopping Spyware at the Source

Cindy Skrzycki, The Washington Post

During the past few months, the Federal Trade Commission has filed deceptive- advertising cases against two distributors of what is called adware or spyware. The insidious form of software subjects consumers and their computers to unwanted advertising and surveillance.

The five-member commission plans to escalate its attack by going after some of the big-name Internet advertisers that hire the online distributors.

"We need to stop the demand side of spyware," said Jon Leibowitz, one of the five commission members and a Democrat. "We will send letters to major corporations and entities that place the majority of these ads. This is a wake-up call to put them on notice.

That should wake them up.

Seriously, if your business model threatens everyone else's security it needs to be changed.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Ivan Safronov

Russian Military Reporter Dies In Fall

(AP) A military correspondent for Russia's top business daily has died after falling out of a window, and some media alleged Monday that he might have been killed for his critical reporting.

Ivan Safronov, the military affairs writer for Kommersant, died Friday after falling from a fifth-story window in the stairwell of his apartment building in Moscow, officials said. His body was found by neighbors shortly after the fall.

He will be missed.

Way to go Walmart

Kyl vote helps sink port scanning bill

Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl joined other Senate Republicans, a few Democrats and the business lobby in defeating a plan that would have required security scans of all imports at U.S. ports.

Business groups opposed a proposal favored by New York Sen. Charles Schumer that would have a required all shipping containers coming into U.S. ports be scanned. ...

... Obama, Clinton and other Democrats wrote to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT - News), the world's largest retailer and Arizona's largest private employer, asking the chain not to oppose the scanning bill.

Because bad things always happen to someone else and you are never going to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Question for Edleman, if we get hit again from something brought in on a container, how are you going to explain that?

Edit -
Homeland Security Special Report: The cargo challenge

REST vs WS-*

Tim Bray has a post about how the Web Services standards are unworkable and should be abandoned for REST.

This controversy is completely new to me, as in coming out of nowhere. I would be very interested in hearing from my programming readers, what do you think?

See also Bray's SOA and WCF.

Edit -

This seemed relevant -

Raines’ Rule #7 – Lessons & Roads Not Taken
7.Implement in phased, successive chunks
}as narrow in scope and brief in duration as practicable,
}each of which solves a specific part of an overall mission problem and
}delivers a measurable net benefit independent of future chunks.

Patenting the wisdom of mobs

Open Call From the Patent Office

The government is about to start opening up the process of reviewing patents to the modern font of wisdom: the Internet.

The Patent and Trademark Office is starting a pilot project that will not only post patent applications on the Web and invite comments but also use a community rating system designed to push the most respected comments to the top of the file, for serious consideration by the agency's examiners. A first for the federal government, the system resembles the one used by Wikipedia, the popular user-created online encyclopedia. ...

... Last year, the agency's 4,000 examiners, headquartered in Alexandria, completed a record 332,000 applications. The tremendous workload has often left examiners with little time to conduct thorough reviews, according to sympathetic critics.

Under the pilot project, some companies submitting patent applications will agree to have them reviewed via the Internet. The list of volunteers already contains some of the most prominent names in computing, including Microsoft, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle, as well as IBM, though other applicants are welcome. ...

... "I'm sure there will be a degree of gaming. There always is," Kappos said.

To say the least. Still, this is a very encouraging development.

Edit -
I have a further thought on how to use the wiki on For Immediate Release.

Great moments in project management

Tom Kyte has some hilarious excerpts from 70 things to say when you are losing a technical argument. Check out his commentary.

Congratulations Chris and Mark

Abraham Harrison LLC

Friday, March 02, 2007

Site statistics

As I write this Extreme Tracker shows 67 unique hits for today while SiteMeter shows but 36. I have no explanation for the disparity.

New to me legal tech blog

beSpacific, accurate, focused law and technology news.

New to me public safety blog

Project Disaster, A place for the latest news, information and discussion regarding disasters, terrorism, emerging infectious diseases, disaster response, mitigation and preparedness!

Information sharing is not information monopoly

I think Thomas Beck is unnecessarily concerned.

Information Monopolies – Several states have internal brokering setups in place. These information brokerages are found most frequently in the areas of law and justice, financial transactions, and health information. I believe these areas represent the first of several information monopolies. These monopolies were driven by federal data exchange efforts in homeland security and bioterrorism and, in the case of financial data exchanges, system consolidations on common ERP platforms. Expect to see more of these natural information monopolies in the near future with efforts such as Real ID, the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM), Medicaid spend management, and the National Provider Identifier (NPI) taking hold. As these monopolies take shape, certain organizations within state government will be the logical choice as keepers of this data. These keepers should be building their systems in a service-oriented fashion to facilitate easy exchange of information amongst all systems requiring access to this data.

Let me confine myself to NIEM, which I know something about. NIEM is not a huge honking data base. NIEM is a framework for sharing information. It permits law enforcement from one jurisdiction to access information from another jurisdiction. It is not a done deal, it is still being built. I encourage all interested parties to follow developments and communicate their concerns. The individuals running this project are not empire builders, but dedicated civil servants, and are eager to protect privacy and the fourth amendment.

“Senior Administration Official” Tells All

Reasonable Minds

Why does the government do this? I’m not sure. Maybe in this particular case, the Vice President felt it would not be Vice Presidential to respond to this particular criticism personally. (Though I must say, the “senior administration official” quoted above goes on to make what seem to me to be newsworthy remarks about his recent meetings with Karzai and others in Afghanistan and Pakistan.)

But it is even harder for me to understand why the press willingly goes along with the whole ruse.

Our profession could put an end to this evil practice if we would make the collective decision to do so. I hope we will.

How to hype your security vulnerability

It seems that HID Global, a manufacturer of access-control devices, has a security vulnerability in its RFID proximity cards. Via Adam Shostak, we learn that Chris Paget of IOActive was planning on explaining the vulnerability at the Black Hat DC 2007 conference. Instead of fixing the vulnerability, HID Global threatened Paget with a patent infringement lawsuit. So now, instead of a small group of elite security specialists knowing about this, everyone who reads tech news knows about this.

Furthermore, we also know that HID Global has not announced any plans to fix the vulnerability, just suppress any discussion of it. Yeah, that’ll work. Brian Krebs has responses from both Chris Paget and Kathleen Carroll, director of government relations for HID. I don’t think HID’s response is adequate to the situation.

As of this writing Google News shows 69 items on this story. Slashdot has a spirited debate about the incident.

Incidentally, according to Security Tracker the largest number of reported malware attacks come not after public report of a vulnerability, but after the patch has been announced and offered, which I don’t understand at all.


Russia's oldest theater hushes cell phones

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Randall Samborn

Randall Samborn, spokesman for Patrick Fitzgerald, may have the most unusual challenge in PR. How do you present a client who is prosecuting a publisher and throws a reporter in jail? How do you defend your client to the press when your adversaries can put all nature of spin in the press and the rules of the court prohibit you from responding?

Throughout this controversy, Fitzgerald has been pilloried as a threat to the first amendment for compelling journalists to disclose their sources. Samborn could have responded that these very same journalists were perfectly happy to throw Richard Clark under the bus. Why did he refrain from pointing out their hypocrisy? I can only assume that he decided that it was better to put the focus on the case itself, that the journalists had information vital to an investigation touching on national security. Ultimately their prior hypocrisy did not come into it.

Samborn did an excellent job in placing the very favorable Vanity Fair article that humanized Fitzgerald with its tales of bad housekeeping. It gave the public a brief view of the famous prosecutor, satisfying the public’s curiosity.

I hope Samborn has a chance to speak publicly about this case. How do you make reporters and the public feel that you are being responsive when all you can say is no comment? How do you put a damper on speculation? How did handling the public relations of this case compare to other high profile prosecutions?

I also have questions about the Special Counsel’s website. How is it designed? What was the procedure for putting documents on the site? How did they make sure the copy on the website was the final copy of the document? How did they plan for the great surge in site traffic at the time of the original indictment?

I hope it will be possible to make this information public.


I am old enough to remember when NASA was the darling of the American news media. Now the coverage is disproportionately from foreign news operations.