Thursday, June 30, 2005

Ohggba Zl Yvc

Rirelbar ybirf uvqqra xabjyrqtr; gur qrprcgvbaf vaibyirq fbzrgvzrf ba nyy fvqrf (uggc://jrorkuvovgf.bet/ubpxarlbcgvpf), gur nggenpgvba bs varyhpgnoyr zlfgrel (uggc://jjj.enaqbzubhfr.pbz/obyqglcr/0303/ohee/vagreivrj.ugzy), svaqvat gur xrl gb n qbbe lbh qvqa'g xabj rkvfgf.

Gbavtug, V'z chmmyvat bire gur gvzr fvtangher bs gur yrnq genpx ba gur arj Ryivf Pbfgryyb qvfx. Vg ernyyl fjvatf, creuncf nygreangvat onpx naq sbegu orgjrra 6/4 naq 5/4, nf n sevraq urycshyyl bcvarq.

Vg'f gubhtug pyrire gb uvqr ovt frpergf va cynva fvtug. Naq bppnfvbanyyl gb znxr n ovt fubj bs uvqvat gung juvpu jr jvfu rirelbar gb xabj.

Dark Blogs, Competitive Intelligence

Suw Charman of Strange Attractor fame has published a very fine case study on The Use of Blogs in Business, in conjunction with the good people at Traction.

If your employer has been considering the use of blogs (facing inward or outward) but has been unable to make a decision yet, you need to put this document in their hands.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

"I'm In Charge Here!"



Remember Sec'y of State Haig's famous assertion to the press corps, when it seemed as if the Prez would be away from his desk a week or two?

Well, dear friends, looks like Eric may be off grid for a spell, and guess who's got the con?

Monday, June 27, 2005

It's about time

Blogger images are here. I'd celebrate by posting a picture, but there's nothing I particularly want to post right now. This definitely will come in handy, though.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Corporations ought to re-think their Wireless Connectivity Strategy

No question, pervasive computing is just as empowering and amenable in office spaces as it is everywhere else. However, with few exceptions, corporate facilities have had networked computing over wire for decades. Not true of other public places in general, nor in most homes until recently. So in that sense wireless connectivity in the office was a redundant channel.

The cost sensitivity that usually accompanies 'luxury' didn't last long because the barriers to entry for the consumer (cheap cards and WAPs, embedded centrino etc ...) dropped precipitously, starting from the earliest days. It wasn't secure (ch-ching) and it wasn't centrally managable (ch-ch-ch-ching) - but by golly it worked terrific in the office as an extension of the intranet out your wallplate.

There's a recap of WiFi circa 2001-2004. So what's happening now? Same thing, only better. The local has gone wide (think internet), the wireless tether (often measured in yards today) is disappearing altogether, security is tighter and there are greater mixed usage options. That last one's a doozy because once again, the pace of this change is all end-user driven.

I used to say I'd never seen any body of tech standards evolve as quickly as the 802.11 family. And while that hasn't abated, I find enough foundational problems to see it all getting pushed aside soon, in favor of much better approaches. Things like EvDO, yes, but also WiMAX, CDMA-based WiMESH and UWB, to name just a few.

The more important deja vu for corporate IT staffs? This stuff is going to walk right into building, just like last time. No budget flags, no cost recovery model, no support training, no targeted security system adjustments or policy modifications ... surprise! Here we are, it just works. "Now please tweak the data repositories, authentication systems and application proxies to meet our changing needs. You've anticipated all this, right; it's why we pay you the big bucks, right?"

Well, the answer I'm seeing from peers across corporate America is, "not exactly, chief." Are folks still reeling from the shorter change cycle, or bought into all the vendor nonsense about how now, finally, wireless has achieved maturity and stability?? Nothing could be farther from the truth, in my opinion.

While support for the 802.11 flavors of WiFi may be around for a few more years, increasingly, users (affiliates of every type) will demand that their intranet resources be made available from everywhere, to any device. I believe continuing major build-outs of corporate WiFi infrastructure will prove to be a poor ROI. Better to put more funding towards secure, internet-facing proxies to serve up their intranet resources, independent of concern over points of origin.

Can't do 3rd party email from the office today, or instant messaging trans firewall, or VOIP, or having your business-related content searches blocked by imperfect filters etc ..? (chances are, you'll be walking in with your own solution next) But these are different 'opportunities' that deserve separate discussions. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

IP4Me

We've been having a lot of discussions recently about the impact of Verizon's EVDO service and competitive offerings, sparked by the personal experiences of some folks and this Microsoft-Aruba announcement. How will EVDO and its competitors in the wireless WAN market affect the wireless LAN market? How much should a corporation invest in technology from the 802.11 family? Will it be a long term or a short term investment? How will this affect cable modem and DSL usage? And lots of other questions to boot.

In my view, the days of hotels, airports, Starbucks, and other places charging for WiFi are nearing an end. As the WWAN rollout expands, anyone who travels frequently will sign up for WWAN account. It doesn't take many $10/day hits to justify a WWAN account, especially when, as my colleague Jay notes, that it's really $10/day per provider. If the hotel, conference center and airport all have different providers, $80/month WWAN service looks good quickly.

However, if you only travel a day or two a month, the WWAN proposition isn't very compelling at $80/month. I'm sure prices will go down eventually, and maybe corporations can score volume discounts now. Free and faster in certain locations will beat more ubiquitous, not free and slower for a significant number of people. So, free public WiFi isn't going anywhere. It will probably continue to grow, especially as some current pay providers turn their systems into customer perks.

Now if you're single, you might be willing to trash your landline-equivalent and go all mobile. In that case, you are only looking at an extra $30/month. But if you have multiple machines, you probably have a WiFi network, and you aren't going to rip that out. You'll be using EVDO for Internet connectivity, not home networking. If you share your house, forget it. "Honey, you won't have Internet access while I'm out of town" will never fly.

The answer to this is what I'm calling IP4Me. There's no reason a provider has to tie location or method and network access. The provider should tie identity and access, and provide me Internet packets (IP4Me) wherever I am and however I am accessing the network for a reasonable flat fee. Like voice services, there should be family plan options, too.

In my next post, I'll discuss the corporate implications of all of this, unless Guy beats me to it. Thanks to Guy, Joe, Jay, and Mike for their contributions to the discussion so far.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

pulling up

Is the tech sector reigniting, after years of ursine torpor? I think so.

The Bootstrapper's Bible was last updated in 2004, but as I recall first appeared in those heady days when IPOs grew on trees and pets stalked the web. Godin can be annoying, seriously, but have a glance at this thing. Because I think the gestalt is returning strong. Parts of the document are still smart and (again) timely, occasionally constructive or wildly funny.

PS - what's that GOOG multiple up to now??

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Poolside

Having a great summer so far? Hope so.

I've re-committed to trimming my waistline, and the stack of publications piled high in my home office. Began regularly doing laps again in May, and hit the books last weekend - first with Slack, by Tom DeMarco. Strongly encouraged, folks! (exercise, and the book, and its theses)

Happily, I'm employed by an enlightened company with superior management. (Is it sucking up if no one by that name reads this?) Anyway, it's OK for me to deviate from my routine 10 hour workday, and come in an hour late occasionally, having kicked off the morning with a half-mile swim. Totally invigorating.

DeMarco's insights have also put me in fine fettle. While I do have a better book to review on the subject of Risk (watch this space), I cannot praise highly enough his deconstruction of the measures of departmental "effectiveness", and hilarious exposition on the dangers of blind faith in calendars and lists.

Time out is not necessarily time off or ill spent.

Don't be fooled by the jacket; Slack is not a counter-culture manifesto. I would consider passing my copy on to our CFO. But he hoovers up biz books, too, and has probably already been here, done this.

Monday, June 13, 2005

My first Wikipedia edit

I fixed some spelling errors in Pajamahideen.

Tools for derivative languages

In a discussion of tools for dynamic languages, Jon Udell mentions the creation of domain-specific "little languages" from dynamic languages, which he rightly traces back to Lisp and Smalltalk. Oddly, though, he misses a key tool need for dynamic languages -- the ability to simple extend an IDE to embrace the derivative languages with syntax highlighting and the like.

I spent years using AutoLISP, and the syntax-highlighting editor we purchased was worth every penny and the inconvenience of its odd copy protection scheme. However, this tool didn't help me much with decoding the undocumented derivative language that a contractor had used to create many programs that I had to maintain after he left. It would have been nice to have been able to extend the development tool to include these functions once I'd figured them out. Of course, that would have never worked with that particular tool, given the paranoia of its developers.

While UDDI may never really work on the Web, perhaps a similar sort of system for IDE's would help address this problem.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Intel/Apple/Microsoft steel cage deathmatch

Cringely has some interesting ideas about why Apple is moving to Intel and why they are announcing it now. The biggest hole in his theory: why all these shenanigans when Intel could just buy Apple right now? So it won't look like Intel forced Apple to switch? I'm not buying that one.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Where's the mobile Web?

Why are there no compelling mobile web apps? I don't mean applications that run on your phone or some other device when you are disconnected. I'm talking about honest-to-goodness I-need-some-connectivity-to-run apps.

Phone processing power, screen size, screen quality, coverage, and data rate have improved dramatically over the last 4-5 years. We've been talking about multi-headed applications for at least that long, but we are lucky if apps have both a rich client interface and a web interface. Phone interfaces are gimmicky or non-existent.

I think part of the problem has been an obsession about operating in disconnected mode, which to me is a relic of rich client thinking. Sure, it would be nice. But is it really necessary? Let's step back to 1998, when dial-up was king. You'd lose your connection any number of times during a session due to various flakiness and limitations, and you'd keep plugging away. Annoying, yes, but not annoying enough to hinder the explosive growth of the Web.

But we don't have to go back in time to find an analogous situation. WiFi exploded even though a large percentage of users can't provide whole house coverage with one WAP. People simply deal with it, because the benefits of mobility greatly outweigh a few dark corners.

Mobile browsers used to be lame, but now are much better. Additional work is still required, but tools exist to lighten the load.

So is it merely inertia that's holding developers back? What am I missing here?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Blogging patterns

One thing I've been looking at as part of my corporate blogging research in preparation for our pilot later this year is how people blog -- what motivates someone to post, what impedes posting, what gets emailed instead of posted, is there a particular type of person who is more likely to blog, etc.

I haven't posted anything recently, and I wanted to look beyond the obvious ("I'm too busy. I don't have any time!") to see what might be contributing factors. So, yes, I've been busy, but I think the key is "busy doing what?"

First, I've taken some vacation, and for me vacation means total electronic disconnect. I don't want anything to do with computers when I'm on vacation. That, however, doesn't mean much from the corporate blogging perspective.

More significantly, I decided that I was spending too much of my day reading my feeds. When I'm really in research mode, I can't spend enough time reading my feeds, searching out new ones, etc. But instead of strategy and vision work, I've been working on new technology rollouts. This very different work requires specialized instead of general queries, which limits what I need to look at. More general research benefits from the serendipity of the feed reader. I've also discovered that when I do implementation work, I'm more likely to spend my evenings reading a book than online.

One thing that I did that had a real effect was organizing all of my feeds into a handful of categories. I'm much more likely to click on a link in Bloglines that says I have one or two new items than one that says I have 147. I was also pretty rigorous in defining "work" sites and "general interest" sites, which has cut down on serendipitous wandering as I look for the work-related nuggets in those general interest sites. With a different tool with different "mark read" behavior, this organization might not have the same effect.

For me, at least, the more feeds I read, the more likely I am to blog myself. It's not the posts are responses to what I've read, although some are. I've had a couple of things on the back burner for a while about work, but I've been out of the blogging mode. Reading feeds apparently contributes to the blogging frame of mind.

So, making the leap that others are like me, how do you create a corporate ecosphere where reading feeds daily helps you get your job done? Where this regular reading makes you more likely to post yourself, contributing to a virtuous circle? I think that partial email replacement is in the mix, but it's not the whole story. Thoughts?