Friday, January 30, 2009

Great moments in media relations

Financial Times Sues Blackstone for Web “Fraud”
Earlier today I suggested that we were headed toward a two-tier information economy where wealthy people pay for good stuff and everyone else gets free crappy stuff. But I may have miscalculated–maybe even rich people won’t be willing to buy the good stuff.

That’s one lesson you might derive from this odd lawsuit: The Financial Times is suing Stephen Schwarzman’s Blackstone Group (BX), claiming that the private equity group has been defrauding it since 2002. How? By allowing multiple people to use a single account to access articles on the paper’s site.

There is no savings in the world that is worth generating that amount of ill will. But then, if there is one thing we have learned about these investment houses, they are a little weak on risk analysis.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hon. James Hacker on IT Standards and EU

Joint Capabilities Technology Demonstration Project

New software would unite Defense networks
New software being tested by U.S. Central Command would enable military computers for the first time ever to be connected at the same time to both classified and unclassified networks -- including the public Internet.

Officials say the technology, if it proves secure, could save more than $200 million for CENTCOM and eliminate the need to use work-arounds like thumb drives to move data between networks containing different levels of classified information.

Even in the Defense Dept., $200 million is a lot of money. And it sounds more secure than thumb drives, which are so easy to duplicate/steal/lose.

Germany, Russia, and natural gas

Valdis Krebs has an illuminating post about the network of natural gas pipelines in Europe and how it confers power upon Russia.

Germany is a leader in the development of renewable energy and Krebs' map makes it very clear as to why that is so.

Call for papers: NSF Cyberinfrastructure Software Sustainability Workshop

Venue: University Place Conference Center on the Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis campus in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Workshop dates: 26-27 March 2009 (informal reception on evening of 25 March)

Paper submission deadline: 20 February 2009 (for invitation); 25 March (to contribute content)

Presidential Records Act in the digital age

National Archives begins transfering presidential data

A monumental data transfer mission now faces The National Archives and Records Administration.

Coptering away from Washington, D.C. today, President Bush left behind 100 terabytes of electronic data in a variety of proprietary formats. To put that in perspective, all the books, manuscripts, publications and recordings of various kinds stored in the Library of Congress over the past 208 years adds up to 82.6 terabytes.

Clearly all the records management laws and practices will have to be revisited to acommodate online communications in all of its forms.

Cyber war; but who is attacking?

Nathan Hodge has an interesting post on the recent shut down of internet traffic in Kyrgyzstan and make the interesting point that it is not clear how it happened. Was it an external attack? Or internal repression?

Online Democracy in China

Rights Manifesto Slowly Gains Ground Despite Government Efforts to Quash It
When the document first appeared online in mid-December, its impact was limited. Many of the original signers were lawyers, writers and other intellectuals who had long been known for their pro-democracy stance. The Chinese government moved quickly to censor the charter -- putting those suspected of having written it under surveillance, interrogating those who had signed, and deleting any mention of it from the Internet behind its great firewall.

Then something unusual happened. Ordinary people such as Tang with no history of challenging the government began to circulate the document and declare themselves supporters. The list now includes scholars, journalists, computer technicians, businessmen, teachers and students whose names had not been associated with such movements before, as well as some on the lower rungs of China's social hierarchy -- factory and construction workers and farmers.

It appears to an online version of Czechoslovakia's Charter 77. Given how that came out, the Chinese government will go a long way to suppress this. It takes a great deal of nerve to sign something like that.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mujahedin-e Khalq

CQ Spy Talk

The controversial Iranian exile organization MEK, which the United States calls a terrorist group, could soon see a windfall of tens of millions of dollars as the result of the European Union's decision Monday to take it off its list of terrorist organizations.

What was the basis of that decision?

If you want to know why a PR blogger is writing about this; it is because Presto Vivace is a WASHINGTON, DC, based PR blogger with a national security practice area.

Cloud Computing; a secure approach

I trust that seeing is believing:

What is Google App Engine?

Google App Engine turbine

Developing Cloud-Based Applications

February 26th, 2009 | 8:30 - 11:00 a.m. | Google, Reston Town Center

Information Concepts invites you to join us for a Breakfast and discussion about Google App Engine, Google’s development platform.

We will discuss developing custom Cloud-based applications and the benefits of deploying applications in an instantly scalable environment without the need to pay up front for licenses or hardware.

- Breakfast / Networking
- Benefits of Cloud-Based Development
- What is Google App Engine (GAE)?
- Demo and Sample Code
- Q&A with GAE Product Manager

Event Details:
February 26, 2009
Google Reston Office
1818 Library Street, Suite 400
Reston, VA 20190

Registration Fee: No charge
Please Register by February 20th by 5:00 p.m.

Life of a high profile tech blogger

Michael Arrington
Yesterday as I was leaving the DLD Conference in Munich, Germany someone walked up to me and quite deliberately spat in my face. Before I even understood what was happening, he veered off into the crowd, just another dark head in a dark suit. People around me stared, then looked away and continued their conversation.

Wow, that is worse than wrong, spitting on people is actionable. Be warned, if I ever witness anything of that nature, I am reporting it to the police. If I am ever so unfortunate as to be assaulted in such a manner, you can bet that I am pressing charges.

When you see something like that you don't just avert your gaze, you offer aide and offer to be a witness for any police report.

On the other hand ...

I have never pitched to TechCrunch, and I never will. I don't do business with those who advertise their contempt for my industry and broadcast their intention of lying to me.

via Small Business Trends

Edit -
Wow, Michael Singer takes a real blame the victim view of the matter.
Did he deserve such harsh treatment? Perhaps. But, love him or hate him, let's not forget one thing: Michael Arrington is a human being. Someone walked up to him in public and spat in his face. That's pretty disgusting no matter who you are.

Emphasis added. And, er, NO. No one deserves to be on the receiving end of a criminal assualt. This is a real threat to free speech. How can Arrington put out a publication when he has to worry about his family.

We are in hard times. Most of us are going to lose a lot of mony. But we do not have to lose our dignity, and when we condone, excuse, or minimize an attack on a writer, we sacrifice part of our dignity. Let us not go down that road.

RCN digital conversion blunder

RCN's Move to Digital Causes Confusion in D.C.
RCN, formerly known by the brand name Starpower, said it notified customers about the change in their monthly bills and on commercials. Customers in Falls Church and Montgomery County have already made the switch. But last week's change left hundreds of District customers confused and frustrated.

Count me as one of those customers. I have received mailings promising a free converter box, called and asked for one to be mailed, and am still waiting for my free converter box. Grrrr.

Congressional Quarterly up for sale

Times Publishing puts Congressional Quarterly up for sale
Congressional Quarterly Inc., is up for sale, its founding owner, The Times Publishing Co. of St. Petersburg., Fla., announced Wednesday.

CQ is one of the best. I trust it will attract a good buyer.

New to me local litigation support blog

The Power of Proof, Surety is recognized as a premiere trusted third-party timestamp authority. Our flagship service AbsoluteProof® “digitally seals” electronic documents —including email, scanned images, scientific device readings, audio, video, CAD diagrams, spreadsheets and audit logs — and legally proves, independent of your people, processes and systems that they have never been altered.

A serious accusation requires serious evidence

U.N. crime chief says drug money flowed into banks
VIENNA: The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

If UNODC really has such evidence they need to come forward and put it on the record.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Privacy is a security issue

Security experts ask Obama for help
A band of security and privacy experts is calling on President Obama to create a federal clearinghouse of information about data breaches -- and make that intelligence accessible to companies, consumers and law enforcement to help stem identity theft.

The proposal comes in a report titled, The Perfect Storm: Why the New Administration Cannot Ignore Identity Theft(PDF), compiled by Adam Levin, Chairman and Co-Founder of Identity Theft 911; Jay Foley, co-founder of the Identity Theft Resource Center; Pam Dixon founder of World Privacy Forum; and Chris Hoofnagle, senior staff attorney at the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology.

Edit -
Shareholder Activists Take On Web Privacy

Edit ii
It seems that today is privacy day.

India Republic Day

Year of the Ox

Scott Lock talks about .Net, the Red Cross, Excella, and user groups

Scott Lock is a Managing Consultant with Excella Consulting and President of the users group. He was kind enough to give this blog an interview.

How did you get interested in software development?

This will sound so typical, but I actually became interested in Software Development very young. I copied a program by hand into my older brothers Texas Instruments TI-99A computer. It took a few times to get right either because I would copy something wrong or the power cable came out killing my project. I always like working with computers whether it was games or just writing papers. I always wanted to learn as much as I could about how it all worked.

How did you get interested in .Net?

I started professionally programming in Visual Basic and C out of college. I worked through VS 3.0 through VB 6, attending conferences and learning as much as I could about how to develop software using Microsoft's tools. In 1998 I met Hal Hayes at a VBITS conference (Visual Basic Insiders Technical Summit) and joined him in establishing a VB users group in Northern Virginia. It was through this community that I began to really learn about the future of development tools. Through great speakers and solid topics I learned about Visual Studio and .Net. I became an instant fan.

Tell us about your work for the Red Cross, what are the particular challenges facing software developers working for a high profile non-profit involved in disaster response?

I loved working for the American Red Cross. I had 5 1/2 incredible years there with some truly amazing people. During my time there I was responsible for a few different projects and people, however my greatest responsibility was as the Technical Lead for the Online Donation Site hosted on It was originally built by IBM professional service consultants back in 1998 in traditional ASP. I made some core changes to the application on that platform including incorporating a new payment gateway. After .Net was released, we began the push to re-architect the system in .Net and other service oriented platform technologies. September 11th tested our systems and pushed things to the limit. We overcame and thought that it was unlikely that we would see anything near the challenges during that time. We had consultants like Cisco driving all night pulling hardware out of enterprise clients and bringing it to the Red Cross data center. We rebuilt the entire infrastructure over night. It was in 2004 when 4 hurricanes hit Florida, that the real challenges began. That kicked off 2 years of what seemed to be non-stop disasters. The tsunami and Katrina really pushed the envelope in both scalability and disaster recovery. We had to make sure that sites like the online donation system was available full time. We were processing 1500 transactions per minute at one point so any time down meant the potential for lost donations. It was really, really difficult during those time - but we made it through. It was upsetting to read articles and blogs slamming Red Cross IT after Katrina. Unless you went through it, you have no idea how dedicated the men and woman of the American Red Cross and its partners in IT were during those difficult times. They were always there for one thing - the mission - to simply be first to go in and the last leave.

Tell us about your work for Excella.

I joined Excella in 2006, after things slowed down at the Red Cross. It was a difficult choice, but it was time for me to move on. I know lead the Microsoft Center of Excellence for Excella. Through the MS CoE we support accounts and clients, our people, and the community - specializing in Microsoft technologies. I really enjoy my job. I get a chance to work with many different clients, discussing the ways that Microsoft technology can help improve their business. I also get to work with our consultants on becoming the best Microsoft technology firm in the D.C. area. A lofty goal, but I believe we are on our way.

Excella is a diverse, IT services firm. We have a strong portfolio of commercial and government clients. We are a full service IT Services firm. We are also a Microsoft Gold Partner.

What is a MVP? a MCPD?

MVP stands for Microsoft Most Valuable Professional. It's an award given to people that Microsoft believes is a leader and influencer in the community, focused usually in a specific product area. I am a C# MVP, awarded based on my contributions to the C# community through and other vehicles.

MCPD stands for Microsoft Certified Professional Developer. I passed the certification tests last year to become a MCPD - Web Developer. I would like to complete the track and end up with an MCPD - Enterprise certification.

How did you get involved in Capital Area .Net Users Group?

I met Hal Hayes in 1999 at a VBITS conference in Florida. I joined him in running the Capital Area .net Visual Basic Users Group. Since then we have grown along with Microsoft's development tools and platforms. We became the Capital Area .Net Users Group in 2001, after the release of .Net. We will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary this year in July. We estimate that this is our 125 meeting. We will be having a big blast during our July meeting!

What makes a good user group?

A good user group is one that truly serves its members. I believe that if you can bring strong speakers and great topics to your members month to month, you are making a difference in the community. Our members give up 2 hours of their family life every month to come out and here someone talk about .Net development. We owe it to our members and our sponsors to make that meeting worth their valuable time.

How would you characterized audiences?

Our members are smart, diversified, and engaged people. They typically get involved in the presentations, making them often conversations rather than sit and listen events. I love our members. I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't appreciate the effort and time they put into improving their skills and knowledge.

How are speakers selected?

Speakers are typically first come first scheduled.  We are lucky to live in an area rich with Microsoft development talent.  We have been able to schedule top speakers not only in the D.C. area, but often well known worldwide.  A big reason for this success has been a larger support group for user groups called Ineta (  INETA empowers user groups by making it possible for non-local speakers to speak at local meetings.  They cover the cost of flying these well-known speakers into these meetings.  INETA has been very important to getting great speakers over the years.

Our second secret weapon is our Speaker Coordinator and sitting board member Brian Noyes.  Brian is a Microsoft Regional Director, MVP, and INETA speaker.  I am proud to say he is my friend and fellow user group leader.  Brian is a big reason we get such strong speakers.

What makes a good presentation?

Good presentations are ones that are a nice mix of theory and code. I personally like to have the ground work explained before diving into code, but often developers like to just see the code. Speakers who are engaging and relaxed tend to really hit the mark with our members. Of course, we do not have any speakers that are not rock stars!

Are there presenters who particularly stand out?

All of our speakers are strong. Choosing a few that stand out is not an easy task. If I had to pick a few, I would name Brian Noyes, Vishwas Lele, and Sahil Malik as some of our stand out speakers. Brian and Vishwas are veteran conference speakers who set the bar for speakers at our meetings. Sahil is special to because he gave his first presentation at one of our meetings. He has since risen in the community to a very well known and respected speaker.

Where do you see the .Net going? What do you see as the important

I think that few will argue that .Net is moving become THE way to
develop service oriented applications. The tools and ease of development for building rich, highly available service based applications is really second to none. The user experience is also seeing a transformation in the .Net space. Silverlight, WPF, and other new user interface technologies are redefining the way in which we build front end applications. I can only ask Microsoft to slow down so our members get a chance to absorb and learn all of the new things in .Net. If you want to learn more about the future of .Net, just come out to our anniversary meeting in July where we will have a panel of experts talk about where .Net is going.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Great moments in content management

Whoops! Army Files Found on Used MP3 Player
It's like Burn After Reading, the latest Coen brothers' flick, come to life. Well, kinda sorta.

"A New Zealand man has found confidential United States military files on an MP3 player," the Age reports. He bought at an Oklahoma thrift shop, for less than ten bucks.

The data was from 2005, still someone didn't observe procedure.

New to me Microsoft blog

Microsoft On the Issues: news, perspectives, and analysis on legal and policy issues. (Via PR Week)

New to me: GSA blog

Via Chris Dorobek: Around the Corner: Innovation in the Business of Government: A One GSA, One Voice Blog

Partner or competitor?

Is your vendor becoming a fine young cannibal?

This is something Tony Byrne discussed during his presentation at DC Content Mavens. In hard times vendors are tempted to muscle in on their consultant's business. This has happened to friends and relatives of mine. As a VAR or local dealer you introduce the product line, develop the relationship, and then in tough times the manufacturer cuts the price and sells direct.

Desperate times produce desperate men. Watch your back.

Bad news on FOSE

Mark Amtower
FOSE cornerstone exhibitors CDWG and Microsoft will not be exhibiting this year. The FOSE web site lists only 248 vendors signed up so far and many biggies are missing. Others AWOL include PC Mall and GTSI. Despite massive early web PR (starting last summer, and inlcuding the prerecorded phone call I had over the weekend), overall interest in FOSE seems to be way down. Even with the merger of the show with GovSec (they say it is two different shows in the same place at the same time, but it is really one big event), I look for attendance to be down.

Wow, I have to admit that I am amazed. The federal government is the only entity which is buying this year. I expected that at least the regulars would show up.

If you are one of the exhibitors, now is the time to start your marketing & PR effort.

Information overload, military edition

Preventing Info Overload for 'Future' Soldiers
That means a firehose of data -- imagery, video feeds and other information -- will be streaming in from sensors, along with voice, instant messages and other communication. Managing that flow of information will pose a major challenge, and the service is conducting early network tests to see if the system can work.

Major challenge is an understatement. And that assumes that all this technology actually works. This is not the sort of situation where you want to be on hold for tech support.

Obama's cyber security iniative

Gautham Nagesh has a good summary. Much of it has to do with working with industry to develop secure standards. The federal government, and by extension, the Potomac area, has always played a leadership role in the development of IT standards. It is one of the most poorly understood aspects of Potomac technology culture, in spite of the fact that I have been blogging about it for five years.

What particularly caught my eye was the emphasis on corporate espionage:
Prevent Corporate Cyber-Espionage: Work with industry to develop the systems necessary to protect our nation's trade secrets and our research and development. Innovations in software, engineering, pharmaceuticals and other fields are being stolen online from U.S. businesses at an alarming rate.

It never ceases to amaze me that giant corporations think that they can trash the law and yet appeal to the law's protection when it suits them. If left unchecked, such a mentality swiftly degenerates into Russian style gangsterism. It is just pure hubris.

Note - White House Homeland Security Agenda

Cyber sercurity and regime change

From last summer's International Relations & Security Network:
In February 2007, Erik Prince, founder of the infamous private military company, Blackwater Worldwide, started what seems to be the next most lucrative market for such companies: intelligence gathering and analysis.

The new venture exists as a nexus of three companies that were quietly assembled by Prince the year before: the Black Group, LLC, the Terrorism Research Center, Inc (TRC), and Technical Defense, Inc. These companies form Total Intelligence Solutions, LLC, a company run out of an office in Arlington, Virginia, offering "evolved intelligence gathering and analysis" for "Fortune 1000 companies."

It we are to do better we need to do more than change Presidents, we have to ask for accountability. Our national security cannot be reduced to the newest watering whole for those who served us so poorly in the past.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

How not to lobby Congress

It seems that a trade association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, told Congressman Pete Stark that a trio of TV reporters were on its speaker list. The only problem: it wasn't true.

From Representatives Stark's office:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- “On Friday I sent a press release suggesting that three journalists, Nancy Snyderman and Robert Bazell of NBC News and Susan Dentzer of the PBS' NewsHour, participate in America’s Health Insurance Plans’ (AHIP) Speakers Network,” said Stark. “According to these journalists, AHIP and/or the Leading Authorities Speakers Bureau added them to this network without their approval and without their knowledge. I therefore apologize to each for suggesting that they contracted with the insurance lobby.”

“Again, my apologies to the three journalists for associating them with this reprehensible lobby. But as is often the case, AHIP’s actions speaker louder than my words. That the insurance lobby would add journalists to their speakers network without approval smacks of the kind of dishonesty they regularly employ. Not only does AHIP lie about health care policy, they also besmirch the reputations of journalists.”

Brillant AHIP, not only have you offended the chair of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over legislation affecting your members, you have also offended three very high profile journalists. How do you justify the dues your members pay?

A useful suggestion for fighting online predators

At the very end of Mike Musgrove's piece on a recent study on online predators:
One online safety advocate, named as a member of the report's task force, said she is embarrassed by the report because it highlights the fact that there isn't enough good data on the subject and it doesn't give lawmakers a clear to-do list. Parents' concerns about Internet predators are sometimes overblown, said Parry Aftab of, but it's nearly impossible to tell how overblown they are; when quizzed about online activity, kids don't usually tell the truth if their parents are around, she said.

Aftab has a low-tech suggestion: a checkbox. Aftab would like to see law enforcement agencies have a standardized entry on their crime reporting paperwork, indicating whether social networking sites, texting or online games were used in the commission of a crime in which a child has been victimized. With that sort of tracking in place, perhaps law enforcement groups or organizations such as hers could begin to offer more useful information to lawmakers.

That is such a good idea, and easy to implement, let us hope that law enforcement takes it up.

I can easily believe that bullying from peers is a bigger problem than adult predators.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Attention editors, publishers, and news directors

John Cass has some excellent advice on how to use semantic technologies to identify hot stories:

One idea for the newsroom would be to use some of the social media mining tools developed for corporations to determine the stories that are of most interest to a community. The press would use monitoring tools to quickly discover stories that are developing, and what stories are most relevant and important to a community. Relevancy and importance may be measured by off page references, links and comments.

My advice for John Cass: always link the word semantic, so people know what you are talking about.

Gary Berntsen and Erik Prince at the AFIO

Gary Berntsen and Erik Prince will be speaking at the February meeting of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers
Gary Berntsen, decorated former CIA career officer, spent 23 years with the Agency. He was the CIA field commander for the Jawbreaker team at Tora Bora, the subject of his 2005 book: Jawbreaker. At this event he will discuss Human Intelligence, Counterterrorism, and National Leadership, his recently published manual for incoming President Obama and White House staff. It includes highly specific recommendations and policy prescriptions for human intelligence and counterterrorism operations.

Erik Prince, Chairman/CEO of Blackwater Worldwide and the Prince Group. Using experience and tight controls outlined in numerous contracts with the U.S. Department of State, Blackwater’s security professionals successfully protected American diplomats in an environment where suicide bombers use cars as weapons, roadside debris conceals improvised explosive devices, and insurgents disguise themselves in law enforcement uniforms. Prince's Blackwater has trained more than 100,000 local police officers, SWAT team members, homeland security professionals, military personnel and others to prepare them to protect U.S. citizens at home and abroad. The firm was immediately called upon by scores of private merchant shipping and import firms to deal with rapidly increasing threats to vital shipping, oil tanker transports, and pleasure cruise lines from piracy in the Gulf of Aden and elsewhere. Controversial, daring, self-assured, well-trained, fearless....Prince and Blackwater evoke a wide range of opinions from the public and intelligence professionals. Prince is working on a forthcoming book about Blackwater Worldwide to appear from Regnery Publishing.

That should make a very interesting meeting.

JJ Green's take on Obama's inaugural speech

TERRORISM: The Next Four Years
"To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy."

President Barack Obama said those words in his inaugural address on January 20th.

He delivered an olive branch and warning shot in the same breath.

Iran and Pakistan were two of the recipients.

Which one got which gift?

Well, being the clever politician that he is, Mr. Obama seemed to leave it up to them to decide which interpretation they embrace.

In the two months since he won the Presidential election, there've been an attack in Mumbai and a flare-up between Israel and Gaza. Pakistani militants figured prominently in the attack in India and Iran is the principle weapons supplier to Hamas.

From time to time, you may hear both positive and negative rhetoric toward the U.S. from both countries. However, Iran has done very little to establish good relations with the U.S., so I would imagine they get the warning shot. Given the cold shoulder they got from the Bush administration, it wasn't all Iran's fault.

Given Pakistan's cooperation in the war on terror, they certainly get an olive branch, but some of their political and military leaders have bristled at the U.S. lately over the missile attacks on al Qaida figures in the tribal territories.

Simply put, Mr Obama's message to the muslim world seemed to suggest that if they want to work with his administration to solve some of the world's problems, the door is open, but if any are looking for a fight, they'll have to answer to their citizens.

In short, he made a brilliant move, which he will no doubt remind the world that he's made during his administration --especially the world's bullies get out of line.

I think that is about right.

Facebook shopping, a feature or a bug

One-Stop Shopping at Facebook
But Facebook's reality extends much further. A partnership with (AMZN) has produced a shopping application that lets users buy items at Amazon without leaving Facebook's site, while tapping opt-in "news feeds" that broadcast activities on Amazon, such as product reviews and wish list updates, to Facebook friends.

Do you want to broadcast your Amazon activities on Facebook? Isn't this precisely the sort of concerns we have all had about Facebook?

A common misunderstanding about cloud computing

Matt Seidel, TechFlash
Amazon’s core business is to sell goods. Google‘s core business is search and advertising. Microsoft’s is traditional software. Are these really the companies we should be relying on to offer a highly reliable cloud infrastructure? Not to mention questions of security and data control, and the risks of storing valuable intellectual property outside your company’s firewalls.

Using could computing does not necessitate giving up control of your data. I keep trying to tell reporters this, but clearly I am not getting through.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Using GPS to track school buses

GPS Tracks School Buses, Automatically Reports Crashes
In New Jersey, the Gloucester Township Public School District and Police Department launched a school bus monitoring system that utilizes GPS technology. The system enables the police to track the buses' movement and speed, and provides a panic button that the driver can activate during an emergency. It also automatically reports emergency events, like crashes, to the local police department.

The secret to this sort of system is to have antennas which are weather proof, small, and with sufficient range to get the job done.

Syscon launches new Cloud Computing Journal

SYS-CON Launches "Cloud Computing 2009" Website for Cloud Computing Journal
SYS-CON Media announced today that the Website showcasing one of its most distinguished titles, Cloud Computing Journal, founded in 2008, has been stunningly re-designed and re-launched. Under the technical-savvy leadership of Editor Alan Williamson, Cloud Computing Journal 2009 continues to publish in-depth perspectives, technical features, and industry columns all written by thought leaders in the worldwide Cloud Computing community.

In a media landscape filled with bad news this is very pleasant indeed.

Edit -
Alan Williamson is the Editor in Chief

New to me security blog

Shane Harris; Intelligence and Homeland Security Correspondent, National Journal

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How the anonymice chewed up the credibility of Seymour Hersh

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Yum, the credibility of investigative reporters is delicious!

For years Seymour Hersh has been pushing the allegation that the Bush administration was about to go to war with Iran. It did not happen. It is plausible that Hersh’s sources were acting as whistle blowers and that the reason that we have not attacked Iran is because of the push back the came as a result of his reporting. It is equally plausible that his sources set him up to look like a fool. Just one of many reasons reporters and editors should avoid anonymous sources and readers should view them with extreme skepticism.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Presidential Records Act in the digital age

Ezra Klein
If the Presidential Records Act makes IM and Blackberries impossible because it means even the most casual and speculative conversations will be included in future records, then the thing to do is not rip instant messaging -- and all its rapid efficiencies -- out of the White House, but to try and modernize the Presidential Records Act. The PRA, after all, was passed in 1978. There was no IM. No e-mail. No blackberries or text messaging.

I think this is correct, the law will have to be modified. Ezra is just talking about Text and email, but the rules regarding social media will also have to be revisited. Civil servants, not just White House personnel, need to be on Twitter and similar platforms, but the records management implications of social media need to be taken into account. There is a way of dealing with all this, but it needs to be reviewed.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The short jacket

Plus Size  Career Blazers at Jessica

For too long women's business attire has been a slightly modified version of men's business attire. This is silly because women are not shaped like men and the sack suit is inherently unflattering to women.

The above is the first short jacket I have seen in a long time, may it be a sign of things to come. It is a cotton/polyester blend, obviously I would prefer a silk/wool blend, but sometimes one must make do. I am thinking about getting a purple one to go with black slacks.

The cinched waist linen blazer also looks promising.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Whither Google reader

Steve Rubel is concerned that Google might kill Google reader because it is not profitable. I had always assumed that Google was collecting and aggregating reader information and selling it.

For example, which zips code have the most Google News Alerts on e-discovery? What other key words do they have? Fraud? Maddoff? Sarbanes-Oxley? XBRL? Of those who have Google News Alerts on e-discovery, what do they have in the Google reader? Gabe's Guide? Washington Post? Blog of the Legal Times? CNET? That would be very valueable to have.

I trust that Google limits the number of queries in such a way that no one would be able to know what I had in my reader.

Google as an advertising vehicle is valuable, Google as market research is pure gold.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


It has come to my attention that some bloggers are descending into astro-slime. We are familiar with astroturfing, where instead of building a relationship with the public, a PR firm merely creates an astroturf front group to create the illusion of public support. Now it seems that some are hiring online character assassins.

So far the phenomenon appears to be confined to politics. I am not talking about Democratic bloggers going after Republicans or vicé versa, I am talking about online vendettas that appear to have been bought and paid for. It won’t be long before this leaches out beyond political blogosphere. I predict the first commercial astro-slime will be part of a fight over weapons systems, but it will seep into every part of blogosphere.

Just part of the Pandora’s Box that is social media.

Edit -
Strategies for Curbing Internet Defamation the people's briefing book

Users create a briefing book for Obama

The government should expand broadband access to every American so the country can stay at the forefront of technological advancements, a person who goes by Jesse E. has recommended to President-elect Barack Obama on

The suggestion is part of an program to get ideas from the public on priorities for the coming years. Jesse E.'s recommendation of Jan. 12 could be included among numerous others in a "Citizen’s Briefing Book" to be delivered to Obama on Jan. 20 when he officially takes office, according to

Clearly Obama is going to continue to plow new ground in the use of social media for building support and collecting feedback. At last night's meeting of NetSquared DC Nathaniel James of the Media and Democracy Coalition talked about their meetings with the transition team, and it was clear that Obama has big plans for expanding broadband access, especially to under served populations. This can only be a good thing for the rest of us.

Barack Obama owns Greater Washington DC

Gabe has noticed, so has Geoff Livingston, this is an inauguration like no other. The other night at the local grocery store I saw Obama cookies, and they were playing patriotic songs over the sound system.

Barack Obama is Princess Di, Elvis, and Tiger Woods all rolled into one. Even the Financial Times has noticed it:
Brands jostle to jump on US inaugural wagon
Pepsi, which once styled itself the choice of a new generation and used celebrities such as Britney Spears for Super Bowl commercials, is using the inauguration to unleash its “Pepsi optimism project” campaign.

Obama-esque slogans such as “hope” and “yes you can”, and a redesigned red, white and blue logo that bears a strong resemblance to the Obama campaign image will be plastered across buses and train stations in Washington DC. Pepsi, which is sponsoring a symposium featuring film director Spike Lee, was tapping into “a cultural movement”, said Mr Cooper.

Ikea has erected an Oval Office in Washington’s Union Station featuring “fiscally responsible furnishings” under the message that “change begins at home”.

I think everyone in DC will be watching, either on TV or online. I will be joining the flickr party. It is going to be quite a day.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Security theater, farce edition

Noah Shachtman is reporting that Mumbai police are trying to close down free WiFi under the pretext of security. They are also insisting on cameras in internet cafés.

It is not just South Asia, the New York Police Department are asking for the power to disrupt wireless communications in the event of an emergency.

PR people are not the only ones who confuse controlling a situation with controlling communications.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jan NCC AIIM meeting: Stephen Levenson, Administrative Office of the US Courts talks about PDF/A

Thursday, January 15, 2009
Dinner Event
Westin Arlington Gateway

PDF/A What is it and why do I want it? Get an update on the First International Conference for PDF/A held in Europe last year! You can come learn how PDF/A is being used throughout government and industry, how to lower costs, and how to exchange content. Stephen Levenson who is the international convener for this standard and Chair of the AIIM Standards Board will discuss this standard and how it fits into other standards under development through AIIM. This presentation should interest practitioners of records management, CIOs’ and General Counsels of organizations.

We will also explore:

* What is PDF/A
* Why do I want or need it?
* When does document preservation start?
* How to keep long term costs under control.
* How does this fit into and effect ECM program.

About our speaker:

Stephen Levenson is the IT Specialist for Policy and Planning for the Administrative Office of the US Courts in Washington, DC.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Measuring the impact of advertising

J.P. Morgan: Performance-based ads trump all others online
According to the report, “Nothing But Net: Outlook for Global Internet Stocks in 2009,” search advertising will increase 10% this year to about $16 billion. Display advertising, which includes both performance and brand advertising, is expected to grow 6.3% to $8.4 billion.

I wonder if that is wise. Display advertising builds brand awareness and brand image. It is the sort of advertising the prospects keep in the back of their minds without even realizing it. Prospects have to see your company mentioned many times in many different contexts before they respond to any marketing effort. I worry that display advertising is being undervalued because it does not necessarily produce the most click throughs.

Online security reference resources

Edit - SANS
Most Dangerous Programming Errors - And How to Fix Them

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)

Identity Theft Resource Center®

Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Emergency Response Team

Anti-Phishing Working Group


Câmara Brasileira de Comércio Eletrônico


Indian Computer Emergency Response Team

Indiana University's Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research

Japan Computer Emergency Readiness Team Coordination Center



VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

UK Bank Safe Online archive of online scams


Rede Nacional de Ensino e Pesquisa

CERT China

Carnegie Mellon Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory

Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group

CERT Brazil

National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance

Qatar's center for information security

Korea Internet Security Center

Financial Services Technology Consortium

Business Software Alliance


European Association for the Protection of Encrypted Works and Services

World Intellectual Property Organization

Which have I left out? Please put them in the comments.