What I’m Reading on 08/27/2014

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

What I’m Reading on 04/24/2014

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

For the Love of Big Data: What is Big Data?

Several weeks ago I was on the panel “Privacy and Innovation in the Age of Big Data” at the International Association of Privacy Professionals in Washington, DC USA. My role was to present the attraction and value of data but not to constantly interrupt myself with “but, but, but” for policy and privacy issues. That is, I was the set up for IBM‘s Chief Privacy Officer Christina Peters and Marty Abrams, Executive Director and Chief Strategist, Information Accountability Foundation, to talk policy. The audience was mainly privacy experts and attorneys.

I presented four slides and I previously posted those via SlideShare. Here and in three other posts I go through the bullets, providing more detail and points for discussion.

What is Big Data?

For the Love of Big Data: What is Big Data?

Big data is being generated by everything around us

I think many people are aware of the data that is available every time you do a transaction on the web or buy something in a store. In the latter case, even if you do not use a credit card, the purchase data can be used for restocking inventory, determining how well something is selling, and finding what items are often bought together. This could then be used in marketing and coupon campaigns.

Online, even more information is kept about what you did. Not only does a given vendor know what you bought, they know everything you ever bought from them. They may then guess what you will buy next. They possibly know how you rate an item and can offer you future deals based on your habits. They may also have some sense of your buying network, or “friends,” and can use this data to drive sales by giving extra incentives to those in the network who are the most influential.

Social data such as that in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest is also used, though this is often highly unstructured. That is, it may be free text that must be interpreted. This is not always the case, however, because if you choose to specify the schools you went to from a given list, this data now has exact structure which can be mined.

Perhaps more interesting is the sensor data that is being created by the devices all around you. These include your phones, car, home, and appliances, plus wind turbines, factory machines, and many previously mechanical things that have become more electronic and increasingly connected into the Internet of Things.

Every digital process and social media exchange produces it

If a process is digital, that means data is involved. How much of that is saved and can be used for later analysis?

When you take part in a social network someone knows what you are saying, when you said it in context of your other updates, if it was part of a conversation, possibly what you you were discussing (“rotfl mebbe not”), and the influence structure of your extended network. That is, what you say is just the very beginning of a very long chain of direct and inferred collection of data.

Much of this data is actually metadata. When I do a status update on Twitter, my text is the data, but the time I tweeted and where I was when I did it are both examples of metadata.

When you use a mobile app, a lot of metadata is available too. It’s not just what you did, it’s the sequence in which you did things and with whom. This information can be used to improve the app for you, or allow the app provider to make its services, possibly paid, more attractive to you.

Systems, sensors and mobile devices transmit it

If something is connected to the Internet, it is possible for data to be transmitted and received. This might be via wifi or a cellular connection, although technologies like BlueTooth may be used for local data collection that is then later transmitted at higher bandwidth.

Not everything has to be connected all the time. Some remote machines like tractors allow farmers to employ USB sticks to periodically collect performance and diagnostic data. This may then be used for predictive asset maintenance: let me fix something as late as is reasonable but before it breaks down and causes expensive delays. In this case, the data from the USB stick might be analyzed too late, and a direct network connection would be better.

Big data is arriving from multiple sources at amazing velocities, volumes and varieties

So data is coming from everywhere, and I’ve seen estimates that the amount of metadata is at least ten times greater in size than the original information. So the data is coming in fast (velocity), there is a lot of it (volume), and it is very heterogeneous or even unstructured (variety).

As you you start making connections among all the data, such as linking “Bob Sutor” coming from one place with “R. S. Sutor” coming from another, the size can increase by another order of magnitude.

To extract meaningful value from big data, you need optimal processing power, storage, analytics capabilities, and skills

So with all this bigness, you have a lot of information and you need to process it quickly, possibly in real time. This may require high performance computing, divide-and-conquer techniques using Hadoop or commercial Map Reduce products, or streams. If you are saving data, you need a lot of storage. People are increasingly using the cloud for this data storage and scalable processing.

Now that you have the information, what are you going to do with it? Will you just try to understand what is happening, as in descriptive analytics? How about predictive analytics to figure out what will happen if trends continue or if you modify conditions? Can you optimize the situation to get the result you want? (You might want to see my short “Simple introduction to analytics” blog entry for more detail.)

Technologists are trying to get us closer to the “plug in random data and get exactly the insights you want with amazing visualizations” dream, though it may just be enough to get you started in your explorations. You need solid analytics to do valuable things with the data, and people with the skills to build new and accurate models that can then drive insights you can use.

IBM Watson Analytics is doing some interesting work in this space.

Next: Why do data scientists want more data, rather than less?

Also see:

What I’m Reading on 01/22/2014

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Top general tech sites I follow

Today there are many places to get information about tech and IT topics, but I have several go-to sites that I visit most frequently. I’ve given up on RSS and ATOM feeds, and I read many articles that friends and colleagues mention on FaceBook and Twitter. I also use Google Alerts to catch some articles and news using key phrases, though it can be hard to avoid being swamped by press releases (do an alert for “analytics” to see this).

Here are the primary general sites I read. They are not in strict priority order, though I look at the ones toward the top more than those at the bottom. Suggestions for other good sites are welcome.

  1. CNET
  2. Open Ended – Ars Technica
  3. AllThingsDigital
  4. New York Times: Technology
  5. TechCrunch
  6. wired.com
  7. eWeek
  8. ComputerWorld
  9. InfoWorld
  10. InformationWeek
  11. Slashdot
  12. Engadget

What I’m Reading on 10/04/2013

  • “When you use a system often, you tend to fall into set usage patterns. Sometimes, you do not start the habit of doing things in the best possible way. Sometimes, you even pick up bad practices that lead to clutter and clumsiness. One of the best ways to correct such inadequacies is to conscientiously pick up good habits that counteract them. This article suggests 10 UNIX command-line habits worth picking up — good habits that help you break many common usage foibles and make you more productive at the command line in the process. Each habit is described in more detail following the list of good habits.”

    tags: unix linux shell reference

  • “Which makes us think Apple has longer-term plans for Siri’s tech, Cue’s algorithms, and whatever other apps and hardware startups it buys in the near future. This is particularly true if it is also aligning its future Mac OS with the developments of iOS 8. What Apple may do is wind intelligent question-and-answer natural language systems through iOS on a deeper level, and build in more automatic “before you knew you needed it” technology, dissolving the idea of Siri as an extra to the OS. Why do we know this? Because Apple already dreamed this solution up a long time ago. Never forget the “Knowledge Navigator”:”

    tags: apple buy calendar app cue

  • “At the IBM research colloquium on cognitive computing, Columbia University computer scientist Kathleen McKeown uses natural language processing to mine social media for valuable information.”

    tags: ibm cognitive computing facebook

  • “IBM is teaming with MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, New York University and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to advance the state of the art in building smarter computer systems. Their research ranges from automatically classifying text and images to human-computer interaction.”

    tags: ibm academic cognitive computing

  • “At the event, IBM unveiled its newly minted Cognitive Systems Institute, a collaborative effort between universities, research institutes, and IBM clients to advance the state-of-the-art in cognitive computing, starting with four major universities: Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), New York University (NYU), and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).”

    tags: ibm institute cognitive

  • “Another major cloud service is angling today to join the pantheon of public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Rackspace and Windows Azure. Verizon Terremark, a unit formed by Verizon’s $1.4 billion purchase of the Miami-based cloud vendor Terremark in 2011, is launching two new public infrastructure services today: Verizon Cloud Compute and Verizon Cloud Storage.”

    tags: verizon cloud

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuning up the website

I’m a bit under the weather today, so I’ve been sitting on the couch fiddling with this website, a WordPress blog. Its most recent large overhaul happened over the Christmas holidays at the end of 2009 when I archived my previous blog and launched this one.

The theme I had been using until then was heavily customized and had not kept up with the various improvements made in WordPress for the layout, widgets, and other features of themes. MinervaSo I switched to the new and official Twenty Ten theme, did some customizations within the user interface for such, and then added some PHP code to rotate the header images among my photos in an uploaded directory. (This last feature is more or less built in now, but my code is working so I’m keeping it.) I made these customizations in a child theme of Twenty Ten that I called Minerva after one of our cats, now unfortunately and prematurely departed.

Before I settled on Twenty Ten, I looked at dozens of candidate themes and I investigated using Drupal for the blog. Ultimately I ruled out the other themes because they didn’t have the look I wanted and I liked the idea of the WordPress team itself supporting my base theme. While Drupal was and is wonderful software, I stayed with WordPress because I wanted to preserve the links to all my old blog entries and have consistent formatting between the current and archived blogs.

Through the years I’ve added and subtracted plugins and widgets as they were updated or I found new ones that had functionality I wanted. The social buttons you see under this post are one example of using a plugin that did not exist in 2009.

I’ve been keeping WordPress itself, the plugins, and the themes up to date on a regular basis. Aside from improved or fixed functionality, this at least helps keep the security up on the site.

So today I started out by looking at the other official WordPress themes that came after Twenty Ten. These are called (wait for it): Twenty Eleven, Twenty Twelve, and Twenty Thirteen. I didn’t think any of them look better than what I have.

Then I looked at some others that are high in popularity among the thousands of WordPress themes. I downloaded and installed several of them and ultimately decided that I would stay with what I had. They either didn’t impress me visually or they would have required more customization than I’m in the mood for today.

I deleted the FaceBook plugin because it was superfluous with the new social buttons. I then started playing with the “Recent Posts” widget that is in the right column. Since I’ve been writing blog entries less frequently than I did a few years ago, many of the entries that do appear are of the “What I’m Reading” variety that are automatically generated from my use of Diigo.

Screen shot of the Recent Posts Extended widgetThe Recent Posts area was dominated by these postings of links and I wanted to exclude them. Unfortunately the built-in widget did not seem to work correctly when I adjusted the visibility of the posts to display.

It took only a few minutes to find a much improved widget called “Recent Posts Widget Extended” (catchy name). This not only allowed me to block the posts I did not want appearing but also let me include excerpts. I think it is an improvement and you can see a screen shot on the left.

So that’s it for now. I’ll still keep looking for new themes, plugins and widgets, but I’ve reached the point of diminishing returns for the moment.

Social Media and the Professional: Enterprise Social Media

In this series I’m looking at my experiences using social media as a business professional. In this entry I examine the rules and policies I personally use regarding enterprise social media.

In the introduction to this series of blog entries, I asked several questions regarding my use of particular social media services, and how I manage the intersection of my personal and professional lives in them.

Here I’m going to look specifically at enterprise social media. That is, services that allow you to blog, post status updates, comment on the status of others, all inside your company’s or organization’s firewall. I’ll assume that what is posted is seen only by people in your organization, not by the general public.

I think use of multiple social networks only has value if you do different things on each of them. If one service targets a specific audience, use it with those people in mind. If you are more or less throwing the same material at all of them, I think you are spamming people, hoping it will lead to some sort of positive outcome for yourself. Therefore, if you post blog entries externally, there is no need to repost internally, but perhaps a link will do.

Enterprise social media is tricky because what you post could be seen by your bosses, your colleagues, and your employees, not to mention HR. You want to keep it relevant to your work life but you do need to be aware of the politics and sensitivities involved.

Do not use internal enterprise social media to state how brilliant you think management and their status updates are and how much their postings have changed your outlook on life, the way you’ll raise your children, or the very essence of your being. It’s fine to just click “Like.”

Be constructive, don’t use use enterprise social media to build a mutual admiration society. Ask questions, get a better understanding of the details of how the business is run and why decisions were made, and improve upon the suggestions of others. Don’t ever say in a response posting “What is more important …” but rather say “What is also important …”.

Share what you have learned about making products or service engagements better. Pass along dos and don’ts about working with clients. Don’t ever criticize a client as individuals or a company in your postings. Think about how new technologies like mobile and analytics can help you serve customers better and share your thoughts with your colleagues.

Be interesting. Be a person.

The social media service I use inside IBM is Connections.

Here are answers to the standard questions I’ve used in all these postings.

Who will I follow?

I follow (or connect with) people I know and have worked with directly. IBM has over 400,000 employees. If I connected with everyone, I could never find anything of value in the stream of status updates.

Who will I try to get to follow me? Who will I block?

I’ve suggested to my current employees that I would be honored if they connected with me, but it is completely optional. If anyone expresses uneasiness that “the boss” is watching what they post, I won’t follow them. No one is blocked (I’m not even sure I could if I wanted to).

How much will I say in my profile about myself?

Much of my work contact information is pulled up automatically. I’ve added a few other items, plus links to my external social networking activities. I certainly don’t list my personal hobbies in my inside-IBM profile, though I don’t think that is out of bounds in general. Since I cover my personal social networking elsewhere, I don’t redundantly add things in my internal profile.

What kinds of status updates will I post? How often will I post?

Though many people blog internally, I don’t. When I first started blogging in 2004 I had a WebSphere blog, then a developerWorks blog, an internal blog, and then one WordPress personal blog and one WordPress business blog. It didn’t take me long to decide I needed just one, and that is what you are reading here.

If I had something to say about open source, standards, Linux, WebSphere, or mobile, I would not have a special inside-IBM version and a different outside-IBM one. For one thing, this helped me keep the messages straight! Since I spoke publicly quite a bit, I needed to make sure that I did not say things internally in print that might inadvertently get repeated externally.

I do use Connections Communities now to share very specific internal information with named groups of people, such as the worldwide Business Analytics and Mathematical Sciences community. This is quite useful.

In terms of status, I post questions, some simple statements about IBM activities in which I’m engaged, and occasionally some critiques of features of processes or software.

While it’s fine to inject the occasional comment about non-work matters, I do not recommend that you use a lot of bandwidth in your company’s social networking service discussing American Idol or the World Cup. Take it elsewhere, perhaps to Facebook.

When will I share content posted by others?

Sometimes if I think it is really important or answers a question someone posts.

How political, if at all, will I be in my postings?

Zero, nada, zip.

How much will I disclose about my personal details and activities in my postings?

See above.

On what sorts of posts by others will I comment?

Anything I see where I might add something useful to the conversation.

What’s my policy about linking to family, friends, or co-workers?

I’ll link to co-workers to share what they’ve said or to note them as experts on a particular subject.


Blog entries in this series:

Social Media and the Professional: LinkedIn

In this series I’m looking at my experiences using social media as a business professional. In this entry I examine the rules and policies I personally use regarding LinkedIn.

In the introduction to this series of blog entries, I asked several questions regarding my use of particular social media services, and how I manage the intersection of my personal and professional lives in them. Here I’m going to look specifically at LinkedIn. This is the way I use the service and may or may not be how you do or should use it yourself.

Initial true confession: I don’t actively use LinkedIn as I much as I think I should. I only use the free service, not a paid premium one. I’m including this entry for completeness and as a way to motivate myself to do more with it.

I think use of multiple social networks only has value if you do different things on each of them. If one service targets a specific audience, use it with those people in mind. If you are more or less throwing the same material at all of them, I think you are spamming people, hoping it will lead to some sort of positive outcome for yourself.

So discretion and care is needed, and I need to use LinkedIn more and better.

Who will I follow?

Of all the social networking services, I’m least restrictive in who I “friend” on LinkedIn.

That is, if someone offers to connect with me and it doesn’t look like spam or some other random approach, I will usually accept the connection.  I do try to connect with people who are current or former colleagues at IBM, and colleagues or clients with whom I’ve worked closely or hope to do so.

There is a non-trivial overlap in whom I friend in Facebook and whom I connect with on LinkedIn, but only if I wish to follow or engage with them in both the personal and business sides of their lives.

Who will I try to get to follow me? Who will I block?

Answered above regarding following, since it is a two way street. I don’t believe there is a way to block people, but I do ignore spam or questionable invitations.

How much will I say in my profile about myself?

My entire business resume.

What kinds of status updates will I post? How often will I post?

I don’t really post directly on LinkedIn yet, but rather have tweets and links to my blog entries posted there. This is too passive, I know.

When will I share content posted by others?

Very rarely, so far.

How political, if at all, will I be in my postings?

Not at all, unless something sneaks in via a tweet being reposted on LinkedIn.

How much will I disclose about my personal details and activities in my postings?

Only what is on my public resume, which is also online.

On what sorts of posts by others will I comment?

Rarely, but I plan to do more. I do actively recommend people if I have personal knowledge of their abilities. I use the simple form rather than writing out comments. If someone needs a longer recommendation from me or wishes to use me as a reference for a job, they should contact me directly. However, I’m happy to say that someone is proficient in C++ or SOA, for example.

What’s my policy about linking to family, friends, or co-workers?

I don’t.


Blog entries in this series:

Social Media and the Professional: Facebook

In this series I’m looking at my experiences using social media as a business professional. In this entry I examine the rules and policies I personally use regarding Facebook.

In the introduction to this series of blog entries, I asked several questions regarding my use of particular social media services, and how I manage the intersection of my personal and professional lives in them. Here I’m going to look specifically at Facebook. This is the way I use the service and may or may not be how you do or should use it yourself.

Google+ is similar to Facebook in many ways, and I do have an account. I don’t use it actively, however, so I’ve excluded it from this multi-part discussion.

Who will I follow?

Of all the social networking services, I’m most restrictive in who I “friend” on Facebook. With almost no exceptions, the people I friend are my relatives, friends, people with whom I’ve worked, and others that I’ve met and care about following the twists and turns of their lives.

I don’t offer to friend people who work for me, but will consider it if they friend me. I don’t friend people for whom I work.

Since I’m more willing to have political discussions on Facebook, I may not friend someone who I know only peripherally yet will argue vociferously with me.

I very much enjoy having a Facebook friend who I may not know very well in real life, but who puts up funny or thought-provoking material.

This is obvious, but Facebook is a great way of staying touch with friends, acquaintances, and colleagues when we are separated by miles, years, and live events. That said, I’m not friends with everyone from high school who is also on Facebook, for example.

Who will I try to get to follow me? Who will I block?

New people show up on Facebook all the time. As I see them, I may friend them.  I may look for new people to add by looking at the lists of friends of friends.

I do not try to friend people I meet in business customer meetings. I use LinkedIn for that.

I used to have some people for whom I worked on my friends list, but I blocked my content from them. Eventually I decided that is was easier to just unfriend them. I don’t think my bosses need to see my Facebook content and when I add it.

In some cases I do block people from seeing my content, but this is usually in times of high social stress such as elections, school shootings, and civil liberties events.

How much will I say in my profile about myself?

I have basic contact information on Facebook but not my home address. Otherwise, I use the living room analogy: if you and I are speaking in my living room, you’ll see photos of my wife and kids, pet my cats, and we may decide to do an activity together.

I’m happy to give you my phone numbers or my email addresses. We can also chat about college and where we’ve worked. I don’t expect you to wander around the house, look in the closets and dressers, and go through my personal papers.

In a similar way, I share that sort of profile information with the people I trust to be my friends on Facebook.

What kinds of status updates will I post? How often will I post?

Yes, I post cat photos, but not all the time.

Gideon and BeatnikI would estimate that perhaps only 20% of what I post on Facebook relates to what I would call business or professional content. Generally, my content is related to who I am, not what I do for a living. I lead the math department at IBM Research, but I am a mathematician, so I’ll post some math-related items because I find them interesting and hope my friends might as well.

Since IBM is a large company and has hundreds of thousands of customers, I have to be careful about what I say about a business, even if I am a consumer of their products or services. It’s not uncommon for me to think something like “after I retire, I’m going to say what I really think of so-and-so’s labor practices.” This does not completely eliminate my posting or sharing content that expresses negative sentiments about a company, but it moderates my thinking about it.

Conversely, if I had a great consumer experience, I happy to tell my friends about it.

I probably average 1 to 3 Facebook updates a day. When I started using Twitter I did 5 to 10 updates daily there, but that number has fallen off.

When will I share content posted by others?

Most of the content I share comes from Facebook pages I “like,” such as that from the New York Times. If a friend puts up a link or a great image, I may share that. I don’t use Facebook as the collection point for work-related links to articles, but rather use the Daily Links category on my blog for that (example).

How political, if at all, will I be in my postings?

I’m most political on Facebook, but less so than my wife. I do a lot more “likes” of political postings by others with which I agree than direct posting.

How much will I disclose about my personal details and activities in my postings?

This is related to the profile question and response above, along with the living room analogy.

As I said about Twitter, I don’t tell my friends every place I go. I may tell friends where I was last week, however. I try to avoid the “I’m not home, so come rob my house” posting syndrome.

Another element of posting about travel is that it may tip people off to why I am on the road and who I’m going to meet. Here’s a little quiz. If I tell you I am visiting the following cities, which companies or government organizations am I likely to be visiting: Brussels; Redmond, Washington; Redwood Shores, California; Walldorf, Germany. (The IBM equivalent would be Armonk, New York.)

On what sorts of posts by others will I comment?

I have rules about this, I just wish I followed them more often. My children would prefer I did not add comments to their Facebook postings or activities. Adding a “Congratulations!” comment is almost always ok, as is a “Hope you feel better!” one.

With some friends, we seem to have developed a particular style of brief chatting that mimic what we would say if we lived or worked closer together.

The dumbest thing I ever do and I simply must stop is to respond to a comment on a friend’s posting, where the comment comes from someone I do not know. If it’s a simple agreement, that’s fine. If it’s to argue a political point, that’s going to cause me angst.

There are a lot of trolls out there, and I have to avoid feeding them.

I really wish Facebook would allow me to not see comments from specific people that I wish to block. I don’t follow these people and I don’t want to see anything they write.

What’s my policy about linking to family, friends, or co-workers?

If someone asks me not to link to them, I won’t. It’s mostly my children who have said this. I typically do not link to someone unless they have commented on a posting of mine. If I want to draw their attention to something, I’ll send them a personal message.


Blog entries in this series:

Social Media and the Professional: Twitter

In this series I’m looking at my experiences using social media as a business professional. In this entry I examine the rules and policies I personally use regarding Twitter.

In the introduction to this series of blog entries, I asked several questions regarding my use of particular social media services, and how I manage the intersection of my personal and professional lives in them. Here I’m going to look specifically at Twitter. This is the way I use the service and may or may not be how you do or should use it yourself.

I do not have separate Twitter accounts for work and my personal life. If you go to my Twitter account, you’re likely to see several aspects of my personality. I think that’s important: if I had a work-only blog it might sound like a marketing channel.

Who will I follow?

If I follow more than about 400 people or Twitter accounts, I find it hard to separate out what is important from what is not. That is, the noise dominates the signal. (But see update below.)

Every month or two I go through the accounts I follow and drop those that seem to hibernating or otherwise unused. I’m happy to follow someone to see if I find they are posting interesting or informative stuff, but if they are not, I’ll drop them to make room for somebody new. I’m happy to revisit that decision, and do add people back sometimes.

If someone posts too often, I may drop them because they are dominating my feed.

If someone is using Twitter mainly for self-promotion, I usually drop them for several weeks. I’ll check back in to see what they are then talking about and decide to follow them or continue to stay away.

Who will I try to get to follow me? Who will I block?

This is hit or miss. I may follow someone in the hope they will follow me, but my feelings won’t be hurt if they don’t. I could probably be more deliberate in what I say and how I say it to gain more followers, but that seems odd. Controversy always increases  the number of followers, but I need to be careful about not misrepresenting my opinions as those of my employer’s.

I block obvious spam accounts or ones that are obscene or hateful. I wouldn’t want these people talking to me in my living room, and so I don’t want them to be involved in any way in my Twitter conversations.

How much will I say in my profile about myself?

Just enough. There’s a fair amount of information about me that is pretty public at this point. My résumé is online, I’m male, you can probably guess my age with a bit of research, and it would be hard to miss that I now work for IBM. So I include enough for people to decide if they have found the right Bob Sutor, but not much more.

What kinds of status updates will I post? How often will I post?

All my blog entries have their titles and links automatically posted on Twitter. (I’ve used various WordPress plugins for this, and I recently switched to JetPack.)

I’ll post or retweet IBM announcements if they are about areas in which I now or formerly worked, if I see them. I don’t go out of my way to do this, but several of my work colleagues are very good at bringing these to my attention. If I think the topic is cool or innovative, I’ll say something.

I’ll post or retweet news items or articles if they are interesting, in the hope that if you bother to follow me, you might think them valuable as well. (If not, I know you’ll ignore them.)

I’ll say something when an idea pops into my head that I decide is funny, clever, intelligent, or profound. For such an item, however, I try to wait several minutes so that I don’t also decide that it is silly, obvious, dumb, or inane. I’ve deleted tweets that fall into the later categories if I later regret putting them up. I know they won’t really be gone, but they’ll be a bit harder to find.

When I first started using Twitter I had all my tweets posted also to Facebook. My wife (and through her, her friends) thought this was just too much. So I don’t do that anymore.

I don’t seem to hesitate tweeting about television shows I don’t like. I’ve occasionally gotten some customer service problems resolved via tweets.

When will I share content posted by others?

In Twitter-speak, this is mostly retweeting. I usually do these in batches. I might have 5 or 10 minutes here or there to scan my Twitter stream and I’ll retweet the good stuff I see.

How political, if at all, will I be in my postings?

Slightly. I try not to overdo it, though opinions probably vary about that. I’ll do more before elections that will make my US political party affiliation pretty clear. Other than that, I tend to retweet some items I’ve seen that pertain to social issues.

It’s really easy to go too far in this area. Know your company’s or organization’s policies about this.

How much will I disclose about my personal details and activities in my postings?

This is related to the profile question and response above. You don’t need to know where I am most of the time, but if it is public knowledge that I am speaking at a conference, I’ll say where I am, for example.

I don’t tell you every place I go. I’m not the mayor of anything. I may tell you where I was last week, however.

In my blog I talk about hobbies such as sailing, carpentry, and fishing. I may tweet or retweet items about that sort of thing.

On what sorts of posts by others will I comment?

I may comment on something tweeted or retweeted by someone I know. My biggest regrets about using Twitter have been stepping into conversations I really was not and should not been a part of. So I try to bite my tongue, but I fail sometimes.

I’ll tweet or retweet/comment to congratulate someone on a baby, a job, or a project. If I think I have something intelligent to add, I’ll do it. If not, I’ll just let it pass.

I try to run, not walk, from flame wars. Per the above, I may stop following people engaged in them.

What’s my policy about linking to family, friends, or co-workers?

If someone asks me not to link to them, I won’t. Nor will I disclose personal information about them. I try to ask permission before linking to anyone, especially if that person works for me. (Might not be a bad idea if I work for them either …)

Update on March 31, 2014: Not being a celebrity, infamous, or notorious, I found that the number of my Twitter followers plateaued. Clearly content and said notoriety would increase my followers, but I decided that I needed to increase the number of people and aggregators I myself followed. That did give me a bump, but I’m in the midst of a general review of who and what I follow, why, and what I’m getting out of the information I see. The goal is not to increase followers, really, but to make sure that Twitter is useful for me and to make sure that my side of the conversation is heard.


Blog entries in this series:

Social Media and the Professional: Introduction

Many people use social media services such as Twitter and Facebook extensively in their personal lives. It can be hard, however, to figure out where to draw the line between what you say there about your friends and your activities, and what you discuss concerning your work, or professional life.

In this and several follow-up blog entries, I’m going to discuss my personal rules for how I use these tools, as well as those that are more business oriented such as LinkedIn. I’m also going to talk about social media inside the enterprise and how you might approach that. An example of a product that provides social media for inside the firewall is IBM Connections.

I work for IBM, but I want to provide an important disclaimer right up front: The content on this site is my own and does not necessarily represent my employer’s positions, strategies or opinions. So what I say here is not IBM’s official position on anything.

In the same vein, how I use social media might be very different from the way you do it, and obviously that’s just fine. My purpose is to provide insight based on several years worth of experience. My rules are based on how I work and how I separate out various concerns. I say some things in some environments that I would never say in others.

I’ve learned several years ago that I handle having multiple accounts of the same kind very well. I tend to ignore all but one of them. Thus I mix everything I want to say into a single Twitter account, for example. That means you get all of me, or at least what I decide to share. It also tempers how much I might say on certain topics. I believe social media needs to show enough of who you are so that people can stay interested, or at least curious.

If your organization has guidelines for your use of social media, you must know and abide by them, and they may extend to your use of the services on your personal time. For IBM employees, the Business Conduct Guidelines spells out a lot of this.

When you use any of these services, you have some similar decisions to make:

  • Who will I follow?
  • Who will I try to get to follow me? Who will I block?
  • How much will I say in my profile about myself?
  • What kinds of status updates will I post? How often will I post?
  • When will I share content posted by others?
  • How political, if at all, will I be in my postings?
  • How much will I disclose about my personal details and activities in my postings?
  • On what sorts of posts by others will I comment?
  • What’s my policy about linking to family, friends, or co-workers?

In the next few entries I’ll consider how I use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and an enterprise social media service. I’ll look at each of the questions above, and also discuss anything specific to the type of the service. In all cases, I’ll focus on how I use the services as a business professional, and where I let my personal and work lives intersect.


Blog entries in this series: (links will become active as the entries are published)

Daily links for 12/23/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 12/06/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 10/23/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Mobile, smarts, an airport, and AI

How the constant presence of a smartphone along with some analytics could have improved one travel experience, albeit with caveats on privacy and centralized personal data storage.

Several months ago I was connecting through a large US midwest airport on my way home to New York from California. I had a three hour layover and dutifully went to my scheduled departure date and settled in. It was at the far end of the terminal.

After about an hour I realized that my gate had probably changed since I was surrounded by travelers speaking French. Indeed, when I looked up at the board over the desk it stated that the next flight was going to Montreal.

Via my iPhone, I looked up the new gate and discovered that it had changed, and that the new location was at the far end of another terminal. I could not have had to walk further to get to my plane.

I had several thoughts at this point. First, I should have registered for automatic updates from the airline so I could have been notified of the gate change. This should be a standing feature that I don’t have to enable on a trip-by-trip basis.

Second, I wondered why the airline/airport would have changed my flight to a gate so far away. Presumably they knew where I was, probably near the original gate. Now I know that they probably didn’t care about me, an individual passenger, but if they had known with accuracy via geolocation where a majority of the flight’s passengers were, they could have improved customer satisfaction by having the new gate closer to the old one, or one that at least minimized the distance connecting passengers needed to walk.

Let me say now, that in what I have said above and will say below, I’m assuming that appropriate permission has been given to all necessary parties to use my information for my benefit. Let’s imagine how analytics and transformational mobile apps could have made the experience better.

So I did need to take a walk. It was evening and I had landed after a 3+ hour ride in coach. The airline knew that, and they knew that they certainly had not fed me dinner. It’s possible they also could have known whether I had bought one of those expensive snacks on board. So I was hungry.

Therefore it was possible that I would like to grab some dinner on my 20+ minute trip to the next gate. Via personal preference stored on my phone or one time “in the cloud,” mobile software could have suggested where I would like to eat. This could have been combined further with analytics using airport data and passenger recommendations to suggest where the good places were and how long it would likely take to get me in and out of each restaurant.

Based on this, I could have a good meal and still make my flight. I would have accepted an automatic suggestion that I text a message to my wife saying that I had already eaten.

Some of this sounds like Apple‘s ads for Siri, and various of these things can be done by multiple apps. It needs to be seamless. My smartphone is there to be my helper. As I said in a recent blog entry, “a transformational mobile app is one that significantly improves the quality of your personal or business life, allowing you to do things you have never done before, and permitting you to be more effective and productive in an especially seamless way.”

So what I really need a personal assistant that lives on my smartphone or tablet, is kept current with what I am doing and where I am, is linked to the services I need, and makes suggestions when necessary. Today we cobble many features together among multiple apps. Via analytics, the cloud, and services accessed via APIs, tomorrow’s apps will be more all inclusive and offer greater value.

While some of this computation could be done on the phone, centralized services are continuing to advance in holding my information and deciding what to do with it. Hello Facebook and Google.

Personally, I would prefer a more federated approach where I have more fine tuned control over what data is stored and who has access to it. I wrote about this two years ago, but the idea does not seem to be catching on. Rather, the big social networks appear to be getting bigger, gobbling up any smaller players that add a bit of value.

Does this sound a bit like AI, artificial intelligence, per science fiction? It does, but I’m ok with that. But only if I have tight control over privacy and use.

Daily links for 05/10/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 01/16/2012

  • “Happy 2012! I enjoy kicking each New Year off with a posting of my top technology trends. These trends represent areas in which we are driving new technology innovations into our WebSphere and Software Group portfolios. Last year, I accompanied my trends with a rock and roll video. This year, I am practicing what I preach. Given Social Business is one of my top trends; I’ve placed the detailed description of the trends on a Facebook page, which I hope will allow richer social interaction around these topics. I am also using a prototype SMS-based app, which is aligned with our Mobile for Enterprise trend, to allow you to review, rate and receive notifications, when I publish new information on these trends throughout the year.”

    tags: technology trends websphere

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 12/14/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Mobile app development: Native vs. hybrid vs. HTML5 (part 2)

I’ve seen and heard a lot of discussion about how people build applications for mobile devices. While there are literally hundreds of thousands of apps out there for Apple, Android, Blackberry and other smartphones, I can’t help but think the majority of these are one-off efforts. In this series in the blog, I’m going to tackle some of the issues with developing mobile apps, especially for enterprise use, and along the way propose some ideas for making the process easier and more repeatable.

mobile client technologiesIn the last entry I spoke about the attraction of writing pure Native applications for mobile devices. They’re fast, have full access to all the device features, and can be made as beautiful and functional as your software development skill allows. They’re also non-portable and can take more people, time, and money to develop.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to develop applications using open industry standards that run in many different environments? You know, applications that allow text content, great formatting, images, video, forms, and interaction with backend systems?

Sounds like the web, no? The language for expressing the format of web pages is HTML, CSS is used for specifying formatting, and JavaScript provides a programming language and environment for dynamically altering pages and responding to events. Somewhat confusingly, the term “HTML5″ can just mean the latest version of HTML under development at the W3C or it can mean HTML + CSS + JavaScript.

HTML5 logoWhile there have been many motivations for developing HTML5 given the experience of people creating billions of web pages, I think it’s safe to say that creating a standards-based cross-platform environment for mobile devices was an important reason. That is, don’t think of a web page as just something you read, but rather consider it an application with which you are interacting.

I won’t go into all the features of HTML5 but there are several good references on the web in addition to the spec to which I linked above. In particular:

Generally, HTML5 allows much better and more consistent ways of embedding multimedia in web pages. It also adds new elements to help you structure the document. The Document Object Model, something I worked on in ancient history, is now considered core to the specification and the programming model.

These are nice things for web pages, but does HTML5 give you anything new that makes its especially attractive for mobile devices? One of these is the geolocation application programming interface. In short, this allows you to programmatically determine your location, and then do something with it. That “something” might be to pinpoint your location on a map, provide a starting point for map directions, determine what weather forecast to show you, or display ads for local businesses, for example.

You can also store information locally on your device, though that opens up the question of security if you happen to lose it or you somehow get hacked.

What about access to other core features on your device? Using pure HTML5, can you snap a picture? How about use the compass or receive a notification? You can’t, but remember that you can still do all the interactions that you’ve been doing for years in your browser. You can read all sorts of information, do searches, buy things, access FaceBook, and so forth.

So HTML5 provides a richer interactive environment than we’ve had before and is starting to allow programmatic access to some device features.

If HTML5 does everything you need for your planned application, then use it.

HTML5 is still under development and you are seeing support for it from the big industry names that supply browsers or content, companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, and FaceBook. IBM, of course, has been and continues to be a huge supporter of open Internet and Web standards.

You do need to understand which HTML5 features are considered solid and which are experimental. You should also experiment with formatting on multiple devices to make sure that your app looks right (not too skinny, not too wide, just right) on the smartphones or tablets that are important to you.

Note that an HTML5 app is really just a web page, so you don’t need anyone’s permission to put it into an app store. For many people, that is more than enough reason to try really hard to make HTML5 work.

Also, even if you are developing some native applications, you might decide to do some HTML5 ones as well. The more experience you get in creating apps with different capabilities, the better you will get at economically providing apps faster to your consumers, customers, or employees.

So Native gives you everything, but is non-portable. HTML5 is portable and standards-based, though it is still under development and does not give you full access to the device. What do you do if you want the best of both worlds?

Next time I’ll talk about the Hybrid approach where you provide Native-like access to more device features via APIs that can be accessed from JavaScript and thus HTML5.

Hybrid is this weird middle ground between Native and HTML5. Over time, this gap between them will get smaller. There are several approaches for both development and runtime of Hybrid apps, and I’ll discuss them next.

Also see: “The spectrum of hybrid mobile app development with Worklight”

Daily links for 09/17/2011

  • “Two weeks ago, in the wake of tropical storm Irene’s devastating flooding in Vermont’s Mad River Valley, local residents organized a MRV Flood Relief initiative. What began as a self-organized volunteer effort to match needs and help offered in our communities, using telephone, handwritten posters, and a Mad-River-Valley-Hurricane-Irene Facebook page created by the Chamber of Commerce, quickly grew into a coordinated project based in downtown Waitsfield’s Masonic Lodge. Now, two weeks later, in an effort to more effectively provide daily coordination for ongoing flood relief efforts in 10 central Vermont towns, Mad River Valley flood relief headquarters has launched a new open source web site.”

    tags: vermont flood relief

  • “The file system in Linux can be intimidating coming from other operating systems like Microsoft Windows. At first glance it may seem that there is no organisation to the files, but there is a method to this madness. After spending some more time with the file system in Linux, it will seem a lot more secure and organised.”

    tags: linux file system

  • “Despite dominating the enterprise server market, Microsoft is struggling to maintain a large presence in the world of Web servers and is seeing its market share decline. Netcraft, which surveyed more than 485 million websites this month, credits Apache with 65.05 percent of Web servers compared to 15.73 percent for Microsoft’s IIS (Internet Information Services). This is down from 15.86 percent in August and 16.82 percent in July, but the more striking decline has occurred since June 2010 when Microsoft accounted for more than 26 percent of Web servers surveyed by Netcraft.”

    tags: microsoft server enterprise web

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

What I did (and didn’t do) on my summer vacation

Now that it’s early September, I suppose I can look back over the last several months and take stock of what happened over the summer season. Technically, summer is not quite over, but in northwest New York where I live you can really feel the first flourishes of fall in last August. Admittedly, it’s 85 degrees F today, so it would be hard to convince many people that summer is on the way out.

I did start a new job within IBM in early June, owning project management for what we call the WebSphere Foundation line of software. More recently I picked up some additional executive leadership in the mobile area, which just might account for the links showing up in my (almost) daily news postings. Altogether, though, it means I’ve been swamped in a very good way with work.

Therefore what I didn’t do is blog very much. Part of it was time constraints, but a good deal of what I’ve been working on is internal business, product and technology strategy. Those are not exactly areas I can freely write about, but, heh, it’s a living. Given the stability of the WordPress platform on which my website is implemented, I’ve also not had to tinker much with the infrastructure behind this blog.

I did start using Google+ in addition to Facebook and Twitter. While I do wish everyone would just switch from Twitter to Google+, that’s not going to happen. Apple‘s support of Twitter in the upcoming iOS 5 will ensure it has a social networking role for quite some time. I feel my energy flagging with respect to Google+ and I suspect that is true of some others as well.

I didn’t sail much at all. This was a combination of the time I had available, the weather, and the conditions on Lake Ontario. I’ve decided that I’ll move the boat to another lake starting next year, but which lake is TBD.

I did spend quite a bit of time in the New York Adirondack region. Our son spends two weeks at camp up there, and this summer my wife Judith and I spent a week at The Hedges in Blue Mountain Lake. We managed to get up to the mountains a couple of other times as well. We’ve been to the Adirondacks quite a bit in our lives and plan to spend even more time there in the future. That’s one reason why I’ve been posting links on Facebook about the damage caused by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene.

Judith and I had a great time visiting friends in Maine over a long weekend in July. It set lobster as the season’s culinary theme, and that was just fine with both of us.

I didn’t have a major outdoor project this summer. Before the snow flies I need to do some repairs and paint the porch I built 5 years ago. It is holding up well except for some of the small pieces of trim that developed some wood rot because of the moisture from snow and rain.

I did enjoy watching the two guys who did the landscaping work on our side lawn. After battling an overgrown area that was once a grape arbor and then a garden for over a decade, we decided to convert it to lawn.  It took the two guys two days with a skid steer to pull up the weeds and hundreds of bricks that were used in the walkway and as edging. They then filled the area with 20+ cubic yards of dirt and seeded it. The grass is growing nicely now and the eyesore is gone. To visualize 20 cubic yards, think of a volume that is 3 feet wide by 3 feet deep by 60 feet high. That’s a lot of dirt and it validates my conclusion that it was work that I was just not going to get done myself.

With autumn coming on fast, I do hope to get a little more sailing in, do that porch work, and perhaps start and finish a few more outside evening projects. I get frustrated when I’m not building something, so it’s best if I have a few tasks like these in the pipeline.

Daily links for 08/30/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 08/24/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Work on Google+, party on Facebook

Several weeks ago I posted an entry on my evolving social media operating policy. I think things are even clearer now:

  • I use Google+ to follow people and topics relevant to my work and other professional interests. My posts there reflect that as well.
  • I use Facebook to follow people and topics relevant to my personal interests, as well as the non-work activities of friends and acquaintances.
  • I use Twitter because I still think I need to, but if it went away tomorrow I would not be at a loss.

I like the idea of separating work and personal interests into different sites. I’m happy to follow the same people on both Google+ and Facebook, but on the first I would rather hear about your professional activities and on the latter I would prefer to see your vacation photos. For some people I mostly care about one of these, for others both.

I know the circles idea on Google+ would allow me to tease apart these types of posts if people were consistent in how they posted and I was consistent in what I followed. It’s the early times, though, and this is how I’ve settled into using the sites. Obviously, my usage preference are just that, my own.

That said, in three months things may have shifted. For now, I don’t see Google+ or Facebook winning over the other, and I love that they are competing. I think the damage to use of Twitter by both will continue.

Daily links for 08/07/2011

Innovation

  • IBM is the most innovative company in IT, period. The Aug. 8 issue of Forbes contains a list of what the well-heeled magazine sees as the “World’s Most Innovative Companies.” The print edition ranks 50 companies, and online there are an additional 50 companies ranked. What’s difficult to understand is how IBM was not included on that list. In an opinion piece on www.eweek.com, eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft lays out his argument as to why IBM should be on any list of technology innovators. Big Blue has a legacy of invention, of blazing trails and setting direction. Its latest supercomputer, Watson, is a testament to that. But IBM is not alone in its ability to innovate. In this slide show, Taft selects his own list of the top 10 innovative companies in the IT space. IBM sits on top of this list because of its research arm, its many patents and its proven discoveries. And though 100-year-old IBM has earned a position as a mainstay in the annals of IT innovation, newcomers such as Facebook, Twitter and Salesforce.com—Forbes’ top innovator—also have earned a place at the table.”

    tags: ibm apple companies

Open Source

  • “Urban street trees have myriad proven benefits for communities including providing shade, improving air quality, assisting with stormwater runoff, raising property values, decreasing utility bills, and enhancing the look and feel of communities. While tree inventories provide municipalities with vital data to consult when managing the urban forest, creating a complete inventory is a time consuming and resource intensive process.  OpenTreeMap provides an easy-to-use public inventorying platform that enables individuals, organizations, and governments to collaboratively contribute to an interactive and dynamic map of a community’s tree population. OpenTreeMap can be used in a single municipality or cover a broader geographic region with many communities.”

    tags: open source tree

  • “If you’re working on or launching an open source project, one of the most basic decisions you must make is which license the project will be released under, and choosing the perfect license is more complex than ever. Over the years, we’ve provided many free guidelines on this topic, but it’s a moving target. In this post, you’ll find our updeated collection of all the things you need to know to make an informed open source license decision.”

    tags: open source licensing

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

My social media operating policy

With the introduction of Google+, I now have yet another social media service by which I can communicate with family, friends, co-workers, industry colleagues, and complete strangers. In addition to this blog, which I’ve had for close to 7 years, I’m fairly active on FaceBook and Twitter.

I don’t schedule dedicated FaceBook or Twitter time. Rather, I usually read or add something during those little interstices during the day. If a call ends 2 minutes early, I’ll take a look. Sometimes I’ll add a thought or a link when it occurs to me. The notion of the stream is very important to me with those services. Most of what I see I see as it is posted. I may scroll down a bit, but I rarely go to someone’s page and read through all their recent entries.

In that way, social media to me through FaceBook and Twitter has very much been like a ticker tape of information that I consume or to which I contribute. It stays in my peripheral vision, sucking up minutes here or there as they become available.

Having these services have definitely decreased the frequency of my blogging. It’s easier to come up with a quick thought and publish it than write a longer piece. I’m trying to work through that, though, because most of my blog entries take 20 minutes or less to write. I try to get to my point and then move on.

I’ve now added Google+ to that mix. A downside is that it is one more service to use up those scarce and widely spaced minutes I have available. It is time consuming to check three services. I know from experience that I don’t do well with more than two.

I had a Plaxo account but now either don’t use it or I cancelled it (that I don’t remember is significant). LinkedIn is fine, but I do not spend more than a few minutes on it in one or two visits a week. I certainly don’t pay for their service. There are social media sites inside IBM and I don’t use them. I let my more public outlets cover anyone inside or outside of the company who might care to read my thoughts.

So I’m not sure how well Google+ will succeed for me but I really want to try to make it work. Over time I think it will replace Twitter but not FaceBook. I think it is great that Google+ and FaceBook will compete with each other. That will drive innovation, and by that I mean sexy, cool features. I’ve set up some circles and spend time in Google+ every day, but I’m not nearly as comfortable in it as I am in FaceBook. I hope to spend some time during an upcoming vacation to kick its tires more and and see how it can improve my life.

Daily links for 07/14/2011

  • “It’s no secret Google is searching for more patents to add to its portfolio. The search giant recently lost the bid for Nortel’s 6,000 mobile and wireless patents to a consortium of tech companies including Apple, Microsoft, RIM, and Sony. As my colleague MG Siegler wrote at the time, Google controls less than 1,000 patents, which is low compared to some of its competitors. Google currently owns 701 patents in total whereas Microsoft was granted 3,121 patents last year. Unfortunately, because Google doesn’t own a large number of patents, the company will continue to be vulnerable to patent lawsuits.”

    tags: google patent lawyers

  • “OK, enough is enough. While I don’t have any hard facts that anyone from Amazon will officially tell me, here’s what my sources have been telling me to expect. What I’m telling you here is from people both inside Amazon and from Amazon’s partners. Some of it may be wrong. I’m sure though that the broad picture is correct.”

    tags: amazon android tablet

  • “As a Google+ newbie, you might be wondering how to get all of your photos from your previous obsession (Facebook) to the latest spectacle, Google+. Facebook went on the defensive recently when users tried to export their friend lists to Google+ for easy adding. Facebook blocked the service, leaving us users to fend for ourselves. Well, listen, Facebook: you can take my friends, but you can’t take my photos.”

    tags: facebook google photos

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 07/12/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 06/20/2011

  • “If you live an old home or building, you already know the limits of WiFi. Despite the improved range of 802.11n coupled with improved throughput at greater distances‚ WiFi doesn’t work magic. Buildings with brick or stucco-over-chicken-wire walls resist the charms of wireless networks, as do houses with thick wooden beams, cement elements, or with rooms spread out over many levels or floors.”

    tags: wifi networking

  • “OSGi is a very interesting set of standards today that it provides the component model for packaging components and provides the runtime functions needed to knit the components together to make an application. There is starting to be an industry acceptance of OSGi as the standard for developing components. This industry acceptances so far has been more around componentizing middleware runtimes to enable customers to use just want they need of the middleware, lightening the environment up. But this is also changing, with the OSGi Enterprise Expert Group, is where the programming model concepts to enable customer applications is being standardized. Many industry players, including IBM, SpringSource, BEA, Oracle and others are working together to define this standard.”

    tags: websphere foundation architects

  • “AS it turned 100 last week, I.B.M. was looking remarkably spry. Consumer technologies get all the attention these days, but the company has quietly thrived by selling to corporations and governments. Profits are strong, its portfolio of products and services looks robust, and its shares are near a record high. I.B.M.’s stock-market value passed Google’s earlier this year. Not bad for a corporate centenarian.”

    tags: ibm longevity

  • “As we understand it, Project Spartan is the codename for a new platform Facebook is on verge of launching. It’s entirely HTML5-based and the aim is to reach some 100 million users in a key place: mobile. More specifically, the initial target is both surprising and awesome: mobile Safari. Yes, Facebook is about to launch a mobile platform aimed squarely at working on the iPhone (and iPad). But it won’t be distributed through the App Store as a native application, it will be entirely HTML5-based and work in Safari. Why? Because it’s the one area of the device that Facebook will be able to control (or mostly control).”

    tags: facebook apple iOS mobile

  • “One thing holding pure Web apps back is limited support for HTML5, the latest Web standard, which can be used to create a rich, native-app-like experience in some browsers.”

    tags: mobile hybrid

  • “Nortel Networks, once North America’s largest communications equipment provider, has sought bankruptcy protection and has sold most its assets.  Among its assets remaining are 6,000 patents and patent applications spanning wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, internet, service provider, semiconductors and other patent portfolios.  The extensive patent portfolio touches nearly every aspect of telecommunications and additional markets as well, including Internet search and social networking, Canada-based Nortel said.”

    tags: apple google nortel patents

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 05/13/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 02/22/2011

  • “Based on a Celeron M low-power processor running at 1.3GHz and with 250GB of storage for movies and music, the Navisurfer is an impressive device in its own right – but the addition of a GPS receiver and 3G HSDPA mobile broadband modem make it feel like something from Knight Rider. Using the mobile broadband connection and the GPS receiver, it’s possible to browse the Internet while in your car, download traffic updates for the in-built navigation software, and even access services such as Google Maps and Facebook Places without needing a separate device.”

    tags: ubuntu navisurfer car

  • “It’s not that uncommon to come across brave plans for GNU/Linux-based computer systems, ranging from games to netbooks to desktops, but they often turn out to be vaporware that never makes it to market. One thing that’s exciting about the Open-PC project is that it actually has hardware in stock now — so if you think you’re actually in the market for a low-cost “nettop” computer with GNU/Linux/KDE branding and a totally-configured operating system pre-configured for newbies (maybe for a gift?), then do read on, this is the real deal.”

    tags: openpc linux gnu

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 01/02/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Mostly obvious predictions for open source in 2011, or are they?

I’ve been reading many of the lists of predictions for free and open source software in 2011. Most of them are pretty obvious: many of the things that were significant in 2010 will continue to be so in 2011. The obvious tweak to this is to ask whether such-and-such will make it big or fade way.

Here’s a list of these types of questions and my guesses at answers:

  • Will ChromeOS from Google be an interesting player, will it merge with Android, and will it replace Windows on hundreds of millions of desktops? Yes / maybe / no.
  • Will Android devices surpass those from Apple? Perhaps, but only in aggregate volume.
  • Will one emerge that will clobber the iPad in market share? No way.
  • Will some flavor of Windows be more significant than Android on tablets? No.
  • Will we see more open source apps on the most popular smartphone platforms? Fewer than some people will hope, since developers see those platforms as a way to make money without a lot of the overhead.
  • Will Linux gain further market share as people continue to flee from Solaris and install new servers for new applications? Yes for both the shift and the lift.
  • Will there be more lawsuits around the use of open source in smartphones? Yes, and from the same and usual suspects.
  • Will Windows Phone 7 beat out Android phones or iPhones? Only in the State of Washington, briefly.
  • Will LibreOffice pass OpenOffice in downloads? No, but check back in 2012.
  • Will open source virtualization via KVM start to gain market share against VMWare and Microsoft HyperV? Yes.
  • Will the “open cloud” become more significant and more widely implemented? Only once we agree on a definition.
  • Will Windows Internet Explorer continue to lose market share to Firefox, Chrome, and Safari? Yes.
  • Will Diaspora replace FaceBook? No.
  • Will any open source system replace WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla in the top three of open source content management systems? No.
  • Will 2011 be the Year of the Linux Desktop? That was last year. Seriously, the question is no longer relevant, though Desktop Linux will be adopted by several surprisingly large organizations as well as many individuals.

In my personal opinion, the main open source areas to continue to watch in 2011 will be cloud, virtualization, system management, and analytics. Simplification and ease of use will be critical make or break factors for each.

On the standards side, the so-called open data movement will gain increasing importance especially as potential users realize they don’t want to have the formats dictated to them by a single company.

What are your predictions?

Daily links for 12/22/2010

  • Microsoft Corp., feeling pressure from hit products like Apple Inc.’s iPad, is crafting a new operating system that deviates from the software giant’s heavy reliance on chip technology pioneered by Intel Corp., according to people briefed on Microsoft’s plans. The company next month plans to demonstrate a new version of its widely used Windows operating system that targets low-power devices and adds support for chips based on designs from ARM Holdings PLC as well as the x86 chip technology offered by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices Inc., these people said. Microsoft will discuss the software at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January, though it isn’t expected to be available for two years, they added.”

    tags: microsoft

  • “Welcome to the harsh new reality of technology and its talent crunch. In the real world, we have double-digit unemployment, but on this side of the country, everything seems like it’s 1999. You can thank four companies for that: Facebook, Twitter, Zynga and Google. These four companies are sucking up all kinds of talent: designers, engineers, marketing people and infrastructure folks. They’re able to do so by offering them above-market salaries, insane perks, food and a cachet that’s nice to have during dinner conversations.”

    tags: Silicon Valley employment

  • “As 2011 approaches, eWEEK takes a look at the top 18 programming languages for developers going into the new year. This list is filled with the tried and true. In some instances, some observers might view a few of the picks as the “tired and through.” However, despite their age, the workhorse languages such as C and C++ continue to remain at the top end of the software development landscape in terms of language use and job potential (despite growing more slowly and even decreasing, according to some sources). Moreover, this list is not intended to highlight the hot, hip new languages on the horizon, but to focus on where programmers can go to look for work.”

    tags: programming languages

  • “If you move large files around, archiving them online and sharing them online with others, you probably already know that Dropbox is one of the favored tools for doing so. It’s quick and easy, and many people understand how it works. You can use it to share files of all types, including very large ones, with remote users, store files in the cloud, and more. Now, Dropbox 1.0 for Windows, the Mac and Linux has arrived, and Linux users who don’t already have it will want to get it.”

    tags: dropbox

  • “Business software maker Red Hat Inc issued an outlook for profit and revenue above Wall Street projections on Tuesday, echoing optimism about the technology spending climate shown by bigger industry companies last week.”

    tags: Red Hat linux

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 12/14/2010

  • netflix logo“Mr. Bewkes explained that in the late 1990s the media industry embraced Netflix as a new distribution outlet for renting DVDs — without foreseeing that the company would eventually accelerate the decline in the sales of DVDs, which for years had been the lifeblood of the film industry. Now, with its success online, Netflix has raised fears that consumers may stop paying for cable television — the much-debated phenomenon of cord-cutting.”

    tags: netflix cable

  • “The latest international tests meant to measure the academic aptitude of 15-year-olds–the Program for International Student Assessment, whose results were released on Dec. 7–show that American students continue to lag those in other countries in math and science. In math, American students ranked 31st among 65 countries and below the average of countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In science, American students ranked 23rd, on par with the OECD average. American 15-year-olds fared similarly on the 2006 PISA tests: 32nd in math and 23rd in science.”

    tags: american innovation math science education

  • Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen has hit a snag in his massive patent infringement suit against Apple, Google, Netflix, Facebook, YouTube, and numerous others. US District Judge Marsha Pechman dismissed the lawsuit on Friday, according to court documents, saying that Allen’s company failed to specify infringing products from any of the 11 companies.”

    tags: patent

  • “Activision Blizzard is enjoying an amazing holiday season. Not only has Call of Duty: Black Ops been an amazing success, the company has now announced that the newest expansion for World of Warcraft has broken all PC game sales records, selling 3.3 million copies in the first 24 hours. This broke the previous sales record of 2.8 million units sold in a day… which was held by Wrath of the Lich King.”

    tags: World of Warcraft

  • “Unless you’re using a really old machine or cheap netbook, almost any system you touch with Linux these days is going to be a multiprocessor system. Any server machine deployed within the past five years should have at least two CPUs, and most desktops released in the past three years have at least two cores. For a number of reasons, you might want to “pin” some tasks so they run exclusively on a single CPU or set of CPUs.”

    tags: taskset linux

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 11/05/2010

  • “At least in Mac OS X 10.5.x (Leopard), there’s a pretty quick fix. Here’s how to create a little droplet application that you can dump your PDF on to strip the metadata out. If you are organizing a conference: do this.”

    tags: pdf

  • Fedora logo

    “The Fedora development community announced on Tuesday the official release of Fedora 14, codenamed Laughlin. The new version is a bit light on user-facing changes, but adds some useful features for developers. Fedora typically issues a new release every six months and is loosely aligned with the Gnome development cycle. Each release brings updated software and some new packages.”

    tags: fedora linux

  • “That tweak is a dig at Facebook, which isn’t reciprocal to Google. In a statement to TechCrunch, Google said that Facebook is a data dead end. So Google changed its rules. Google won’t allow Web sites to automatically import contact data unless the other site allows a similar export. The key word is “automatically.” You can still download contact data to a file that in theory could be added to Facebook.”

    tags: google facebook api

  • “CoffeeScript is a little language that compiles into JavaScript. Think of it as JavaScript’s less ostentatious kid brother — the same genes, roughly the same height, but a different sense of style. Apart from a handful of bonus goodies, statements in CoffeeScript correspond one-to-one with their equivalent in JavaScript, it’s just another way of saying it.”

    tags: javascript coffeescript

  • Ars logo

    “We’re pleased to announce the official availability of the Ars Technica Reader for iPad, made possible in partnership with IBM. We thank IBM for supporting the Reader for iPad, and we hope you will enjoy version 1.0. In the rest of this column, we’ll tell you about the app, explain some choices we made, and ask you to help spread the Ars goodness.”

    tags: ars ibm

  • “The theme of this year’s GOSCON, from my perspective, was that governments remain eager to embrace open source software, and are no doubt already doing so in many cases, but there is still a great demand for more commercial backing of more open source. Even though we continue to see more official adoption and procurement of open source among public organizations, it seems clear after GOSCON there is a need for more awareness, but also for more commercial support of open source.”

    tags: 451 Open Source government

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 09/26/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 09/17/2010

  • “Rincón’s remarks do seem to put a dent in my idea that Microsoft‘s careful re-positioning within the BRIC (Brasil, Russia, India, and China) markets has caused it to ease off the FUD and anti-open source rhetoric. It paints the picture of a company that still has deep animosity towards free software. As well it should: free software poses a huge potential threat to Microsoft’s markets. “

    tags: microsoft Open Source

  • “Regardless of whether Diaspora ends up replacing Facebook, we do need a better, safer alternative to Facebook. If Diaspora doesn’t work out, there are other social networks working on similar goals. With thieves using Facebook to plan robberies, having the ability to easily control who gets access to your private information is more important than ever. Here’s hoping Diaspora is up to the challenge.”

    tags: diaspora facebook

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 09/16/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

My changing supply chain for getting information

It’s important to stay flexible and experiment as new technologies come along that can get you the information you need and want in a timely manner.

When the web was new in the 1990s, I had many browser bookmarks and I could cover most of the important websites. This quickly got out of hand as the number of sites increased exponentially, and so I reduced my bookmarks to a couple dozen important ones and depended on search to find what I wanted.

Alta Vista was my favorite for some time, but it eventually got replaced by Google. I dabbled with a few others and will still sometimes look at the secondary search engines to see what they list and in what priority. Using Google, I could pull the information I wanted down to me if I knew the right keywords. For what it’s worth as a confession, I hardly ever look at the ads and in fact I use AdBlocker Plus in Firefox to skip most of them.

When feeds, via RSS and then later Atom, became available, I started using feedreaders. I wasn’t interested in ones that were desktop applications because I used many different machines. Thus I gravitated toward web-based readers and, in particular, used Bloglines. I could subscribe to many sites and Bloglines would aggregate the feeds for me, saving me the trouble of bouncing from site to site.

I read this morning that Bloglines in shutting down on October 1. This doesn’t affect me because I switched to Google Reader long ago. I still use Google Reader but the problem is that with 50+ feed sources, the number of entries to read can easily exceed 1000 if I let it go a few days. Indeed, I probably only glance at Google Reader once a week and I’m actively thinking that I am dedicating time to the task while I am doing. That is, using Google Reader is well defined task that consumes my personal intellectual resources in block of time.

Another issue is that I tend to read the news from sites that come earlier alphabetically. So ars technica gets read in Google Reader often, ZDNet not so much. Still, I keep Google Reader alive and reasonably up-to-date subscription-wise. However, if it went away, I would not be bereft.

Most of my knowledge about what gets published on the web now gets pushed to me. I have half a dozen or so Google Alerts that I get daily and I can scan the results in a few seconds. If I find I’m ignoring an alert, I refine or delete it. No mercy!

Other key sources are Twitter and Facebook. I think of Twitter as something that sits in my peripheral vision, almost like a stock ticker. I might miss some information when it first appears, but if it is important it will be retweeted and I have a greater chance of seeing it later. Thus I follow not just the primary web and news sites but also people who are likely to retweet information that I care about. Thus I don’t think of the people I follow as a list but more of a structured graph related to things I care to know about.

Facebook is similar but the news if usually much more at a personal level. Indeed, I would prefer not to see Facebook entries that are fed from Twitter as I consider it redundant. When I first started using Twitter and Facebook, there was an impedance mismatch since the volume of my tweets was much higher than what should appear in Facebook.

My wife got annoyed and some of her friends remarked at the large number of Facebook updates from me, most of which were also on Twitter. I broke that connection and now actively think about what I want to say on Twitter and what I want to say on Facebook. Sometimes I put the same information in both, but that’s rare.

I use reddit from time to time to see interesting content, but I usually look at areas by category such as “sailing” and “gardening.” It is currently one of the best sources for driving readers to my blog.

By the way, I learned about the shutdown of Bloglines on Twitter and I followed a link to a blog entry. I probably have that blog entry somewhere in Google Reader, but I’ll probably do a mass “mark as read” to clear the queue before I ever see it there.

Daily links for 08/29/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 08/03/2010

  • “When you are evaluating an open source development tool, how important is the kind of license it uses to you? Let us know by answering this poll question.”

    tags: linux open-source poll

  • “Between ext3, ext4, reiserfs and others, Ubuntu has no shortage of file systems to choose from when installing a new system. And those options are set to become yet more numerous in Ubuntu 10.10, which will introduce support for btrfs. Wondering what this new file system is all about and why it might matter to you? Read on for an introduction.

    Introduced last year, btrfs is a new file system intended to address the shortcomings in ext4, which is currently the default choice for Ubuntu and most other Linux distributions. While ext4 is pretty robust and efficient, it lacks some advanced features, such as support for snapshots and advanced scalability, that are particularly important in the enterprise environment.”

    tags: linux ubuntu btrfs ext4

  • “Linux users might make up a small part of your user base, but they’re technologically savvy, engaged, and often quite vocal. You’ll win some well-earned appreciation and support by serving your Linux users’ needs in allowing them to see your site in “their” fonts. Besides, it’s the right thing to do.”

    tags: linux fonts typography

  • “We should start every discussion in free software with a mutual reminder of the fact that we have far more in common than we have differences, that individual successes enrich all of us far more in our open commons-based economy than they would in a traditional proprietary one, that it’s better for us to find a way to encourage others to continue to participate even if they aren’t necessarily chasing exactly the same bugs that we are, than to chastise them for thinking differently.”

    tags: shuttleworth ubuntu linux open-source

  • “Bing can keep pumping out new features, and Google can keep copying them. This deprives Bing of claiming it offers something Google doesn’t.

    With Google matching Bing’s feature sets, there is no practical differentiator. That’s a huge competitive advantage for Google and a big reason why Bing will never beat the Google gorilla.

    Of course, Google won’t beat Facebook in the social arena. Maybe Facebook and Microsoft should just get together and become more cozy than a simple search integration.”

    tags: google bing microsoft

  • “Bottom line: “WinPads” are still about a year away, I’m predicting. Expect Microsoft execs to downplay the coming Windows Embedded Compact slates and start acknowledging that this year’s Windows 7 slates are business-centric devices. Instead of risking another Kin debaucle (launching then pulling a misguided product at great cost), Microsoft is rethinking its answer to the iPad. Better late than lame….”

    tags: microsoft apple ipad slate

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 06/01/2010

  • “In spite of its weak security, poor performance, and woeful standards compliance, a lot of people are still using Internet Explorer 6 as their Web browser of choice. A large part of this user base seems to be made up of corporate users. According to Stuart Strathdee, Chief Security Adviser at Microsoft Australia, one of the reasons for this continued usage is that companies have found a virtue in one of the browser’s biggest flaws: it doesn’t work properly with social networking sites like Facebook.”

    tags: ie6, browser

  • “Old-school icon designers and retro game houses alike will be delighted by the release of Sprite Something from Terrible Games. Whether you remember the days of creating icons in ResEdit, or prefer creating RPG characters with pixels instead of polygons, Sprite Something for the iPad will be right up your alley. Admittedly, the audience is small, but the nostalgia factor is too great for it to be ignored.”

    tags: ipad, sprite, graphics

  • “Of the 187 new entrants, all but one are running some variant of Linux and in fact 470 of the Top 500 run Linux, 25 some other Unix (mostly AIX) and the remaining 5 run Windows HPC 2008.”

    tags: linux, supercomputer

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 05/30/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 05/28/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 05/19/2010

  • “A content management system (CMS) is a software used to simplify the management and publication of HTML content such as documents and images. It provides authoring and other tools designed to allow users with little technical knowledge of programming languages or markup languages to create and manage content with relative ease. Most web CMS use a database to store content, metadata, or artifacts that might be needed by the system. Content is commonly stored as XML, to facilitate, reuse, and enable flexible presentation options.

    For those of you who are interested, I have here a list of some of the most well-known and perhaps the best free and open source content management systems (CMS) available”

    tags: cms, free, open-source

  • “Foremski’s Take: Every time Facebook makes a change in its privacy provisions, you have to go through it all again. It’s a never ending battle, with Facebook eventually winning because its users will get fed up or forget that another privacy change has happened and that they need to review their privacy settings.”

    tags: facebook

  • “But that strategy–useful as it might be to researchers and technical types–hasn’t resonated with the general public. ComScore’s assessment of unique users to wolframalpha.com over the past year shows that fewer people visited the site in April 2010 than did in May 2009. That traffic last year was undoubtedly juiced by curiosity and media attention, and usage has risen since a trough in late summer 2009, but as a search provider Wolfram Alpha doesn’t even register on ComScore’s radar.”

    tags: wolfram, alpha

  • “If open source struck you as strange when you first heard of the concept, you don’t know the half of it. Developers, exercising their legal right specify their own licensing terms, have come up with some pretty whacky stuff. Fact or fiction? Some software is only legal to use after you are dead.”

    tags: open-source, license

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 05/17/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 05/14/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 05/11/2010

  • “Why can’t privacy and connectedness go hand-in-hand? That’s the question being raised by those behind the new Diaspora project, an ambitious undertaking to build an “anti-Facebook” – that is, a private, open source social network that puts you back in control of your personal data.”

    tags: facebook, diaspora

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 05/09/2010, Rogue Edition

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 04/27/2010

  • “But what might be more impressive than that is the continued growth of the company’s now 10-year-old title Bejeweled, an iteration of which is available as an application within Facebook. According to the company, the 11 million or so monthly active users average a staggering 43 minutes per session. All this for a game that only lasts a minute.
    PopCap CEO David Roberts and co-founder John Vechey stopped by the CNET offices last week to talk about these two titles, as well as a few other topics, like digital-rights management, 3D gaming, and competing social games like Zynga’s Farmville. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.”

    tags: popcap, ipad

  • “So whether you want to cut the dead wood, give your Twitter account a spruce up for the spring, filter out unwanted noise, or just get a little bit more organized, read on for a quick guide, complete with free online resources to help.”

    tags: twitter, tools

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Presentations: Still too hard to mix and match

In a post last week I noted that the presentations I produced ten years ago were more complicated than those I made and used today. Many of the whiz-bang features in presentation software are just not things that I use, such as transitions, sound, and animations. My slides end up in PDF more often that not.

Here’s one thing I really expected we would have licked by now: much better facilities for mixing and matching slides from existing presentations so that new ones could be created.

There are several possible levels to this:

  1. Slide import without screwing up or deleting content
  2. Slide import that actually tries to make things work in the new template, with decent results
  3. An interactive learning mode that guides the transition of slides from the old formats to the new

I’m usually thankful if I get the first, giddy with the second, and the third is science fiction as far as I’m concerned.

Assuming that we get the slide import problem fixed some day, there’s something else I really want. Imagine a general slide deck where most of the deck is useful to any audience. Some of the pages, however, need to have alternate forms such as products discussed, partners mentioned, customers referenced, and geographies discussed.

This is really a higher form of template where the “build” allows you to slide in the different versions of slides. In my case, for example, I could create a deck where the customer references were all from Asia Pacific and equally used Linux distributions from Red Hat and Novell.

To do this, I would need to understand where in the presentation the variations could occur. Then I need to have each set of versions have similar formatting and be constructed as easily as possible. Maybe something like mail-merge could work for the graphics and slide contents?

Each of the versions should be tagged or categorized so it would be easy to see which are the possibilities for each variable spot in the deck. Essentially, I would have a library of slides or slide data with some semantic tagging. This library needed to be maintained with slides or data added, deleted, or retagged.

Once I had this, I would expect a really nice deck building user interface to glue together the pieces for me.

So here is my challenge, particularly to those who are using ODF, the OpenDocument Format, and the ODF Toolkit: build all this. Forget for the moment about the presentation software, but rather the information on the slides, how to categorize the pieces, where the variable content is, and how the deck can be visually and semi-automatically constructed.

This last week someone on Facebook was bemoaning that he was turning 40 and yet we still didn’t have jetpacks. This presentation stuff isn’t rocket science, but we really should be much further along by now, in my opinion.

Also see:

Hard questions about open source software

Several days ago I posted the slides I used at the Open Source Business Conference in PDF form and also provided the SlideShare version. For those who want to see the contents of the slides directly, I’ve included most of it below.

What I do not have here is one slide that I used to say that I was going to focus on the technical, community, and business aspects of open source and that I would try to stay away from ideological or philosophical issues. I knew some people would not be happy about that and, to read some of the Twitter tweets during my talk, that was indeed the case. So be it.

The second preliminary slide not included here was a partial history of some of IBM‘s involvement in open source projects within Linux, Eclipse, Apache, and other projects.


Is software good software, just because it is open source?

  • It depends of your definition of “good,” but by most definitions, the answer is “no.”
  • As of three days ago, a popular code repository listed 164,297 open source projects.
  • Statistically, you might imagine that some are better than others.
  • Your definition of “good” is critical.

Is the code well architected and implemented?

  • Great code may start with the germ of a fantastic idea, but it eventually gets rewritten one or more times to be faster, more reliable, more secure, and more extendable.
  • If you are not an expert yourself, seek independent assessments of the quality of the code.
  • The quality of the documentation and user interface are important considerations in their own rights, but may also give you an idea of how well designed the core of the software is.

Who are the founders, contributors, and users?

  • People write code and drive software projects and products.
  • Unreliable people may place the future of the software in jeopardy, and thus also your investment.
  • Work out “what if” scenarios for what you will do if the code gets abandoned, forked, or acquired.
  • Learn what other users have done with the code and about the quality of their experiences with the software and those who created it.

What is the form and governance of the community?

  • Find out if the open source code you are considering is being developed by a healthy, democratic, and meritocratic community or if it is really just a controlling company “coding in public.”
  • Learn if the community also includes documenters, graphic designers, and evangelists in addition to coders.
  • Look at the project forums, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking tools to get a sense of the health of the community.
  • Don’t ignore warning signs of trouble in the community and things that may make you uneasy about it.

Are there intellectual property issues involving copyrights or code provenance?

  • Ignoring legal issues with software can be one of your most expensive mistakes and can literally put you out of business.
  • Learn about open source licenses and consider hiring an intellectual property attorney as a consultant when you are considering use of software or negotiating a contract.
  • Don’t mix open source licenses unless it is legal.
  • Make sure the developers of the software you want to adopt played by the legal rules.
  • Don’t pretend to be an attorney if you are not.

Does the license suit all your future plans for the code?

  • Some open source licenses can be combined and others cannot.
  • Some open source licenses allow for free use in commercial, “closed source” applications and others do not.
  • Some open source licenses specify some restrictions when you host software-as-a-service.
  • Be especially careful if you want to use open source code libraries.
  • Understand if the software you plan to use can be hosted on either a private or public cloud.

Do you have proper legal controls and business processes in place to deal with open source software?

  • That is, what is your open source governance strategy?
  • Five years ago, it was not uncommon for that strategy to be defined as “you shall use no open source software.”
  • You need to understand the legal risks and responsibilities for any software you use, and weigh those against the business value.
  • Work out a plan that specifies what business and legal controls are in place to approve use of open source in your organization or in your products, and make sure you have a well defined escalation path.

Is the software enterprise-ready?

  • There’s been a lot of discussion about whether open source software is more secure than proprietary software.
  • Which open source software and which proprietary software?
  • In addition to security, you need to look at reliability, availability, scalability, interoperability, and performance.
  • Make sure the software is available on the right hardware platform so you can optimize the environment for your workload.

Who will maintain your installation of the software?

  • If you are planning for your IT staff to install and maintain your software, make sure it doesn’t get orphaned when you have personnel turnover.
  • When software updates come along, you will need a plan to decide which ones to install and when, especially if major releases come along every six months or so.
  • If you customize open source code for your organization, are you prepared to propagate those changes into newer versions of the code?

How easy is it to integrate the software with your data or other software you already use?

  • Does your software use recognized industry standards or does it have its own way of formatting data?
  • Are the developers of the software involved in creating the standards that will allow interoperability?
  • If you adopt the software, who will do the integration tasks?
  • Is the software certified for use on the operating system and hardware platform you plan to use?

Are benchmarks available to allow performance evaluations of the software with comparable products/projects?

  • While benchmarks can be abused, they can be important in learning if particular software is really usable in your business.
  • You might worry less about published benchmarks and more about proofs of technology and head-to-head comparisons among the software choices you are considering.
  • Consider your software provider’s response to such requests for “bake offs” when making your adoption decision.

Conclusion

  • First and foremost, open source software is software.
  • When it comes to business and especially enterprise use, open source software should get no immediate free pass because it happens to be open source.
  • Conversely, proprietary software should also be measured on a level playing field with open source, and get no special initial treatment.
  • All those things that you worried about when choosing proprietary software—security, performance, reliability, availability, interoperability, support, maintenance—are also areas to investigate when considering open source software.

The Whole Series

Daily links for 02/04/2010

  • “How is LinuxCon different than other events? In a number of ways. This is an event specific to the Linux community, but within that, it encompasses all matters Linux. Other events specifically target certain groups in the ecosystem, but LinuxCon is the only event that really brings together a diverse group of all types of industry leaders and contributors – from business executives and end users, to developers (both in the kernel and out), to the systems administrators and senior technology operations leaders. “

    tags: linuxcon, linux

  • “The Linux Foundation has announced that the Call for Papers deadline for LinuxCon 2010 will be the 31st of March. Registration for the non-profit organisation’s second annual conference, which will take place from the 10th to the 12th of August, 2010 in Boston Massachusetts, is now open.”

    tags: linux

  • “To help users discover the Linux distribution that’s best for them, this resource will definitively list the best candidates for the various types of Linux users to try.”

    tags: linux

  • “The site’s engineers have announced HipHop, which turns the popular and dynamic PHP code into highly optimized but static C++ and then compiles it using the GNU C++ compiler, g++. The change has been released to the community under the PHP license, and you can read more here.”

    tags: php, facebook

  • “The Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VW-BPE) is a community-based conference that provides opportunities for participants of virtual worlds to share current teaching, learning and research practices in 3D virtual environments. Conference presentations focus on teaching/learning, scholarly work, projects, events, activities and new and innovative tools for virtual education. Conference presenters’ focus on the identification of ‘best practices in education’ designed for 3D virtual world technology.”

    tags: second-life, virtual-world, education

  • “Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) (NYSE: SAI) today announced it has purchased Forterra Systems Inc.’s On-Line Interactive Virtual Environment (OLIVE(TM)) product line, including all names, trademarks and licenses.”

    tags: forterra, virtual-world

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily links for 02/03/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.