Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Jerry Paffendorf

Just listened to the IT Conversations podcast of his talk at the Accelerating Change conference. Talked about the American Cancer Society walk-a-thon inside Second Life, where the avatars earned over $4000 USD (converted from LindenDollars) for the charity. Gave other examples of the interface between the virtual and real world--like, wouldn't it be great to do Google Earth of Second Life? He also spoke of Second Life mirrors of real-world places, and real world mirrors of Second Life artifacts. He looks forward to the time when a 3-D interactive interface replaces the text-based interface of the current browsers.


To Fail or Succeed

On the treadmill this morning I was listening to James Surowieki's talk at O'Reilly's e-Tech conference as supplied by IT Conversations. In his talk he quotes:
Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally.
Which is taken from:
Keynes, John Maynard (1936). The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. Cambridge, England: Macmillian Cambridge University Press, Chapter 12, section 5.
Surowieki argues that to achieve better wisdom it is better for people to be in loosely coupled networks, than tight-knit networks. The exposure to diverse ideas helps more than the focus of concerted thought.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Storing Passwords On-line

I received an unsolicited promotion of a company that runs a password storage service--Agatra. Considering that I have several score passwords in a file folder in my cabinet, this could be very useful. I am not sure what the word 'Agatra' means, but something like www.passwordvault.com would be a little more user friendly. Remember, it's about the end user remembering the site in easy to understand plain English, not how cool a company's name is.

The most important aspect of a password service is the trust the end user has in the service. This depends in part on how well the service encrypts the passwords. Unfortunately, the description they give--that they use "cipher block" encryption--is not self-evident for the average user and it sounds like they are trying to hide something from the technical user.

I suggest they give a better description for the average user--only use the word 'encryption' and then talk about how passwords are accepted, encrypted, stored, retrieved, decrypted, and presented to 3rd party websites in a secure way--include a diagram that a 6th grader would understand. I would also suggest including a more technical description of which type/mode of cipher block encryption being used (ECB, CBC, OFB, CFB, CCM, EAX, OCB, or one of their own making). We want to know that you know what you are doing.

Finally, some metrics would also add to the confidence factor: "15,392 passwords secured and counting" "368 websites safely accessed in the last 24 hours," etc.

Good luck, Agatra.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Wikipedia as good as Britannica

My friend Mark C. sent me the following links:
And friend Michael G. sent this one:


Incremental vs Transformational Innovation

The Innoblog has an interesting piece about the xBox and the PS3. They have both followed the linear path to better graphics (which frankly are astounding). Nintendo has taken a different path. Rather than improve the graphics, they have focused on the controller. The new one will be wireless and motion sensitive. That is, when the controller moves left, so does the character on the screen. When the controller lunges forward, so does the character on the screen.

The xBox and PS3 focused on incremental innovation, whereas the Nintendo has focused on transformational innovation. I am betting the transformational innovation wins in the marketplace.


Patents hurt Innovation

TechDirt has a posting about a BusinessWeek article by patent holder Greg Blonder, who now sees the problem patents pose for innovation.

Patents are about invention, that is, protecting inventions. Innovation is about creating new value. Patents block the availability of inventions to be used the creation of new value.

I personally don't mind awarding reasonable inventions patents for a short period of time before the invention becomes public domain. The same is true for copyright--short periods of time. I believe the recents extensions of the term of copyright is bad for America because it limits the availability for innovation. The Founders had it right. Corporate America does not.


Opps, That's a No-No

Wired's Evan Hansen reports on a blog entry by Rogers Cadenhead on his blog, Workbench, that documents that Jimbo Wales has edited his own bio in the Wikipedia. Jimmy admits and apologizes for his error.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Free Give-away of Sun Servers

Jonathan on his blog has a form, which if you fill it out, will get Sun to send you a free T2000 server.


TWiT Pointers

I try to listen to the This Week in Tech (TWiT) podcast every week, but I only get to it about twice a month. The last couple I've listened to have had some interesting pointers I want remember.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


True Grit

In this month's Psychology Today is a great article by Peter Doskoch entitled The Winning Edge. In sum,
We're primed to think that talent is the key to success. But what counts even more is a fusion of passion and perseverance. In a world of instant gratification, grit may yield the biggest payoff of all.
In the Editor's note at the beginning of the issue Kaja Perina comments on Steve Jobs' commencement speech at Stanford University.
He told of blazing a trail to the top of Apple, only to be ousted at age 30 after a board dispute. Jobs was appropriatelly devastated, until he realized that being fired didn't alter his approach to his work. On the contrayry it was the best thing that could have befallen him: "I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything . . . It freed me to enter one of the most successful periods of my life."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


The Dot

During my training in the last two days a reference was made to an award-winning book entitled, The Dot, which I want to read. Here is the Amazon review by Emilie Coulter (emphasis mine):

A frustrated grade school artist, Vashti sits slumped over her blank piece of paper at the end of art class. "I just CAN'T draw!" she tells her teacher. Her teacher first uses wit, then subtle yet clever encouragement to inspire her student to go beyond her insecurities and become, in the words of a younger boy who "can’t" draw either, "a really great artist."

Peter H. Reynolds crafts a quiet, pleasing story in The Dot--one that will strike a chord with children who have outgrown the self-assurance of kindergarten and begun to doubt their own greatness. His marvelous watercolor, ink, and, yes, tea illustrations are appealing in a Quentin Blakey way, especially as Vashti begins to go wild with her dots. The delightfully open-ended conclusion will have readers of all ages contemplating how they can make their own mark in the world. Highly recommended.

Monday, December 12, 2005


High Tech Humor?

Here is an ITConversation with HiTech Humorist, Heather Gold.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Web Services Security

IT Conversations RSS'd me with a link to Anne Thomas Manes' talk at the Burton Group's 2005 Catalyst conference. She asserts that end-to-end security of Web Services is better than the SSL point-to-point method.


How Professionals Avoid Learning

I am taking a class next week. One of the prerequisite readings is Chris Argyris' Harvard Business Review article (2000) entitled, Teaching Smart People How to Learn. In sum,
Competitive success depends on learning, but most people, including professionals in leadership positions, are not very good at it. Learning is a function of how people reason about their own behavior. Yet most people engage in defensive reasoning when confronted with problems. They blame others and avoid examining critically the way they have contributed to problems. Companies need to make managers' and employees' reasoning patterns a focus of continuous improvement efforts.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Anthropomorphic Interface Agents

EDS Blog points to an interesting talking heads demo -- to be used in on-line help or on-line learning. Wouldn't it be cool to put Sims-like skins on your virtual professor?


World (Wide or Live) Web

Doc cites EirePreneur who says:

When I started out, during the height of the dotcom boom, it was extraordinary how many of my customers, especially the local community councils, had no idea really of why they needed a website. They just knew that they wanted one. And you could sum up what they thought they wanted thus -

  • A domain: a private, fenced off plot of their own on the new frontier
  • A homepage: a manuscript, a monument to the people, their history, their past.
  • A webmaster: a scribe to shield them from the complexity of publication.

Whereas, what they actually needed was -

  • An address: Which is easier to find - a ranch in the desert or an appartment in the middle of town? A top level domain is an unnecessary conceit in most cases.
  • An online community hall: A virtual meeting place, a means of communicating the present and the future.
  • An editor: the software, not the person!

With those lessons in mind I'm setting out to get my local communities back on the web - the new web, the live web. They'll take up virtual residence at blog subdomains, located by directory 'signposts'. Their editors will be the text messaging facility on their mobile phones and they'll communicate news, schedules and updates through live feeds.

His punchline:

The World Wide Web documents the past, the World Live Web broadcasts the present and the future.


Into the 500 Range

Paper Stats:
Abstract Views: 4250
Downloads: 1560
Download Rank: 589

Into 600s - 09 November 2005
Into 700s - 24 October 2005
Into 1000s - 18 October 2005


Three IT Conversations

ITConversations just RSS'd me with a links to:

Saturday, December 03, 2005


MP3 Audio Books

I have been looking for several years to buy or check out of the library a book on tape or a book on CD of the Koran. Just tonight I found a cool place called Audio Books for Free that has MP3 audio books (even better--'cuz I can download them to my iPod). At any rate they just released the Koran in English on 40 MP3 files.

They have five levels of quality. The "old-time radio" quality (8 kb/sec) small MP3s are free. The higher quality require a payment to paypal. The highest quality (48 kb/sec) cost $7.00 payable via PayPal.

Thursday, December 01, 2005




150 Free MP3 songs

Paul McCartney likes SteadmanBand.


My paper referenced in Nature


Nature.com Blog on Bird Flu

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