The Internet - The first Worldwide Tool of Unification ("The End of History")

" ... Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.... "

" ... I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

Have you seen innovation and invention in the past decade that required thinking out of the box of an old reality? Indeed, you have. I can't tell you what's coming, because you haven't thought of it yet! But the potentials of it are looming large. Let me give you an example, Let us say that 20 years ago, you predicted that there would be something called the Internet on a device you don't really have yet using technology that you can't imagine. You will have full libraries, buildings filled with books, in your hand - a worldwide encyclopedia of everything knowable, with the ability to look it up instantly! Not only that, but that look-up service isn't going to cost a penny! You can call friends and see them on a video screen, and it won't cost a penny! No matter how long you use this service and to what depth you use it, the service itself will be free.

Now, anyone listening to you back then would perhaps have said, "Even if we can believe the technological part, which we think is impossible, everything costs something. There has to be a charge for it! Otherwise, how would they stay in business?" The answer is this: With new invention comes new paradigms of business. You don't know what you don't know, so don't decide in advance what you think is coming based on an old energy world. ..."
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)



Etiquette mavens say the book on manners must be rewritten, literally, to take into
account new technologies and social media (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)

A 2012 survey by Intel found that in several countries, a majority said they were put
off by "oversharing" of pictures and personal information on the
internet and smartphones (AFP Photo/Nicolas Asfouri)

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls
Logo No Hate Speech Movement

Bundestag passes law to fine social media companies for not deleting hate speech

Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace. (Design of doodle by Kevin Laughlin)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Getting CIO and CEO to see eye to eye

By George Colony, Tue Feb 27 2007, CNET

Throughout my career, I have watched the "odd couple" of the chief information officer and the chief executive officer try to live together.

In the 1980s and for most of the '90s, their paths rarely crossed--the CEO didn't think much about technology, and the CIO rarely interacted with executives beyond his boss--the chief financial officer. With the exception of some techie leaders like Ned Johnson at Fidelity, Fred Smith at FedEx or David Glass at Wal-Mart, chief executives perceived IT/BT (I now refer to information technology as business technology, or BT) as an important underpinning of company operations, but not as a critical strategic tool.

Added to this general ambivalence were the high-profile cases of chief executives having their reputations and budgets scorched by IT/BT projects gone awry: perpetual IRS systems overhauls, Citibank's futile effort to create a "single customer view" in the mid-'80s, and SAP R/3 "kitchen sink" leaps of faith in the early-'90s come to mind.

Then the dot-com collective insanity hit and CEO panic set in (Amazoning, etc., etc.). In those days, I ran a tech session at the Harvard Business School for CEOs. To prepare for the session, I surveyed chief executives at 25 large companies. When I asked them how much time they spent on technology issues, the response was "25 percent." They were lying: CEOs--even the techies--could not afford to devote a quarter of their time to systems.

Read More ....

Monday, February 26, 2007

Customers to Dell: Give Us Linux!

The troubled computer maker sought input from users, but complying with the most popular online suggestions could worsen its woes

by Aaron Ricadela, Business.com

When computer maker Dell asked customers how to spice up its products and improve service, the flood of responses may have provided more feedback than the company bargained for.

Thousands of computer buyers have weighed in on a site Dell set up Feb. 16 to solicit opinions on everything from product design to marketing to technical support. The resounding response: Give us more software and other features based on open-source code, including the Linux operating system.

Heeding the requests won't be easy for the PC maker, which ousted Chief Executive Kevin Rollins on Jan. 31 and again named founder Michael Dell CEO in an attempt to regain market share, improve product quality, resolve customer support problems, and recover some of the financial mojo Dell exuded until recent years (see BusinessWeek.com, 2/1/07, "Is Dell Too Big for Michael Dell?").

Read More ....

Saturday, February 24, 2007

CIO focus shifts from tech support to corporate strategy

01:00 AM EST on Sunday, February 25, 2007

By PUI-WING TAM, The Wall Street Journal

As the longtime chief information officer for Northrop Grumman Corp., Tom Shelman’s duties mainly consisted of managing the defense contractor’s vast network of computer systems. So he was shocked when the company suddenly changed his job description several years ago.

Shelman was asked to be more “strategic” and “transformational.” He was told he would be expected to meet with customers, use technology in new ways and help win new business — in short, to help the Los Angeles-based company grow.

“I had to sit down and do some soul-searching,” says Shelman, 48. “It was a significant change; it sounded exciting, but it also scared the hell out of me.”

Shelman, who has been Northrop’s CIO for the last decade, ultimately decided to stay in the job. Since then, a wireless network that Shelman started in late 2004 at one of Northrop’s shipyards in Pascagoula, Miss., has blossomed into a new source of revenue. Last September, New York City awarded a $500-million municipal contract to Northrop for a citywide wireless network for its police and fire departments, as well as other city agencies.

Other CIOs are going through similar transformations. The computing systems they manage have long been seen as an essential resource but also an operating cost to be controlled. Now, technology is increasingly being recognized as a vital tool in corporate strategy — and CIOs are helping to wield it. Web sites, for example, have evolved at many companies from the equivalent of corporate brochures to huge direct-sales channels that must be skillfully designed and tightly managed.

According to recent CIO polls from research firm Gartner Inc., 50 percent of CIOs surveyed said they now have duties outside of core technology, such as helping to craft corporate strategy. That is up from about 20 percent three years ago, says Mark McDonald, a Gartner analyst.

“Companies are requiring CIOs to be more thoughtful about strategy,” says Reynold Lewke, a partner in the Palo Alto, Calif., office of recruiting firm Egon Zehnder International who leads the firm’s CIO practice. “Many CIOs have become business partners.”

In recognition of this job shift, more CIOs are now reporting to top executives such as chief executives, chief financial officers and chief operating officers than to other parts of an organization. Last year, 74 percent of CIOs surveyed reported to a CEO, chief financial officer or operating chief, up from 69 percent in 2003, according to Gartner.

While CIOs now pull in an average total annual compensation of $185,240, up from $180,000 in 2004, according to CIO Magazine, some make far more. Randy Mott, who was hired from Dell Inc. to become Hewlett-Packard Co.’s CIO in mid-2005, is paid a base salary of $690,000 a year and obtained a hefty package of stock options and restricted stock, according to H-P’s public filings. Mott also got a $2.2-million signing bonus and will pocket at least another $5 million under a long-term-performance bonus plan.

Mott arrived when the role of technology chief became more important at the Palo Alto computer and printer maker. Immediately before Mott, the H-P CIO job wasn’t a stand-alone position and had been melded with the job of head of global operations.

That changed when Mark Hurd arrived as chief executive in early 2005 and decided the company needed to overhaul its tech systems to facilitate new sales and growth.

Now, Mott is in charge of whittling H-P’s 85 data centers world-wide down to just six in three years. By improving the efficiency of the internal systems, H-P hopes to free up Mott’s team to spend less time on tech support and more on helping H-P in other ways.

For example, Mott often meets with customers — sometimes 50 at a time — to describe his own experience in trying to deploy H-P technology efficiently, suggesting how the potential buyers also could use the company’s products to make large technology transitions quickly.

“It’s a case study in progress,” says Mott, 50. “What I’ve shown customers has helped them move forward and escalate the projects they’re thinking about taking on.”

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Google to Sell Online Software Suite to Corporate America

Thursday February 22, 4:32 am ET

By Michael Liedtke, AP Business Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Google Inc. will begin selling corporate America an online suite of software that includes e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets and calendar management, escalating the Internet search leader's invasion on technological turf traditionally dominated by Microsoft and IBM.

The expansion, scheduled to be unveiled Thursday, threatens to bog down Microsoft Corp.'s efforts to persuade businesses to buy the latest version of its market-leading Office suite that was developed along with its new Vista operating system.

Google's software bundle, to be sold for a $50 annual fee per user, also poses a challenge to International Business Machines Corp. and its Lotus suite.

While Google's latest foray into the corporate software market seems unlikely to topple the status quo right away, AMR Research analyst Jim Murphy said it's only a matter of time before the Mountain View-based company becomes a major player.

"This is just the beginning," Murphy said. "The real impact of what Google is trying to do probably won't be evident for another five years."

Google has been offering a free version of its online software suite called Google Apps for the past six months. More than 100,000 small businesses and hundreds of universities nationwide are using the free service, Google said.

The fee-based version, Google Apps Premier Edition, includes five times more e-mail storage -- 10 gigabytes per e-mail box -- as well as a guarantee that all services will be available 99.9 percent of the time with around-the-clock technical support. Google also is adding mobile access to e-mail accounts through the BlackBerry devices that tether workers to their offices.

"This is a big step for us, but I think it's a reasonable step," Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said in an interview Wednesday. "Our product is so cheap that it's sort of no-brainer to try it out."

By dangling its business software package at such a low price, Google is giving companies a greater incentive to delay buying Microsoft's Office 2007 as they assess the pros and cons of a less expensive alternative, said Nucleus Research analyst Rebecca Wettemann.

"The timing (of this offer) is just brutal for Microsoft. It's definitely a shot across their bow," Wettemann said.

As they usually do, Google executives downplayed the company's intensifying rivalry with the world's largest software maker.

"We are not in this to get Microsoft," said Dave Girouard, general manager of Google's business software division. "We are in this to offer more compelling choices for consumers and businesses."

Echoing that sentiment, Schmidt said he is trying to discourage people from viewing Google as the fly in Microsoft's ointment. "We don't operate that way," he said. "We are trying to solve very different problems."

Microsoft welcomes the competition, said Kirk Gregersen, the Redmond, Wash.-based company's director of the Office suite. "It helps keep us on our toes."

If it can sell more software to companies, Google could become less dependent on online advertising. Google already has been selling its search technology to companies, but that initiative has only had a modest impact so far. Software licensing accounted for slightly more than $100 million, or 1 percent, of Google's $10.6 billion in revenue last year.

Microsoft, in contrast, relied on software sales for most of its $44 billion in revenue last year.

While Google has been expanding into software applications, Microsoft has been trying to build a more formidable Internet search engine. That effort hasn't prevented Google from widening its lead in online search during the past two years, emboldening the company to branch into other fields like corporate software.

Just how much Google is undercutting Microsoft's price is unclear. The listed retail price for Microsoft's Office suite ranges from $149 to $679, but corporate customers generally negotiate substantial discounts based on the number of licenses that they buy.

In research released last year, Merrill Lynch analyst Kash Rangan estimated that the average corporate cost for Office works out to about $60 to $120 annually per user, assuming the software is used over a two- to three-year cycle.

Price is rarely the only concern of large companies when they are deciding which software products to buy. Security, reliability and performance also sway corporate buying decisions.

By Google's own admission, Microsoft's word processing and spreadsheet program provide more bells and whistles than Google's online alternatives.

But Google's package will still appeal to many companies looking to provide more software tools and e-mail access to workers who work in stores or production plants that may not have all the latest applications, Murphy said.

Two Fortune 25 companies, Procter & Gamble Co. and General Electric Co., have already signed up for Google's software package. Google wouldn't disclose how many of those companies' employees are using the online suite.

Other early adopters include Salesforce.com Inc. -- a pioneer in the push to deliver more software over Internet connections instead of distributing the programs on discs that directly install the coding on a hard drive.

The notion of leasing software online once was derided as a kooky concept because it was widely believed that most companies would never allow their vital information to be kept on computers owned and managed by an outsider like Google.

But the resistance to the idea seems to be dissipating as the Internet becomes more ingrained in daily living. In a survey of 198 organizations, Nucleus Research found that 51 percent were using some online software applications.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Battle of the ages rages in IT shops

Older workers like to do their research while yong’uns prefer efficiency

By: Sandra Gittlen

ComputerWorld Canada (19 Feb 2007)

Charleston Southern University CIO Rusty Bruns has a secret weapon to handle needy users — Buddy Gray, a 63-year-old network manager.

“His customer service is impeccable. He has the patience and knowledge to sit with a user until all their questions are answered,” Bruns said of Gray.

Bruns’ reliance on Gray, one of three workers older than 60 on Charleston Southern’s 17-person IT team, is a rarity. Many CIOs are reportedly turning away from older workers in favor of twenty-somethings, causing a battle of the ages in IT.

“Blogs everywhere are filling, debating whether the older workers are past their prime and only the young employees have value moving forward,” said Phil Murphy, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

A 2006 Intelliquest Fall Business Study bears this out as employees 50 years of age and older accounted for less than 20 per cent of the corporate IT professional workforce. Murphy said older workers are seen as having out-of-date mainframe skills while younger workers have new technology smarts.

He said the answer to stopping this generational conflict lies with CIOs. “This misconception is unnecessary. CIOs should not let things get to the point of war. If they do it’s a failure of management,” he said.

Bruns, who is in his late 40s, said he sees a lot of age discrimination in the industry but is careful to avoid it in his own organization.

“We don’t experience age discrimination here, because I hire based on personality first and technical fit second. This is so I know that individuals are able to coexist,” he said. “While there are plenty of different ages — 20s, 30s, 40s — the personalities are all similar.”

Bruns said it’s his job to see the positives of an older worker and match those to the needs of the organization. At Charleston Southern, Gray’s ability to help users resolve problems is a perfect fit for faculty members who often need more attention than other users.

The CIO understands this attention to detail might not make Gray the fastest worker on the team, but his role is critical. “The older gentlemen on the team might do 50 work orders in a week vs. the 80 to 100 that the younger worker does, but the payback we receive is worth that extra 30. I get a lot of compliments on the work that Buddy does,” he said.

The good will that Gray attracts for the team through his customer service helps when it’s time to rally support for a new project or during a difficult rollout.

Gray, a retired Navy missile inspector and six-year veteran of the IT team, enjoys working in a mix of age groups and is fond of the twenty-somethings on his team. “It’s nice to be around them and to share their joy for life. They are fun, and they tend to offer a different perspective,” he said.

Gray praises their ability to learn new technologies and multitask. “They do pick up things quicker, without a doubt,” he said. But he adds there can be a downside to this rapid pace. “They always have to have an answer immediately and sometimes that answer isn’t correct.”

Gray said he had a mentor who said something has to be tested seven times before it can be considered fixed. “The younger generation tests a solution once and considers it done,” he said.

Tony Bonne, a 27-year-old member of the university’s IT team, said the younger generation can be hasty.

“Younger people do want a problem solved quickly so they can move on and the older people spend time and do a lot of research,” he said. Bonne, a five-year-veteran of Bruns’ group, said a mixture of the generations is needed to make an organization complete. “You come out of school with all this enthusiasm and no idea what’s expected of you. It’s nice to have people around that are experienced in life and can help you channel that energy,” he said.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Gartner: CIO exclusion, business skill shortages constrain IT growth

But funding, flexibility aren't limiting IT effectiveness

February 15, 2007 (Computerworld) -- Most CIOs say their IT organizations have the funding and organizational elasticity needed by their businesses this year, according to a survey of 1,400 IT leaders published by Gartner Inc. today.

It's CIOs' lack of involvement with corporate executives in setting strategy -- and a shortage of business skills -- that are constraining IT departments, according to the research firm.

Gartner Executive Programs conducted a worldwide survey of more than 1,400 CIOs and found that 61% of respondents feel they have the money necessary to meet their 2007 commitments; 58% said their IT organizations have the right mix of technical and organizational flexibility to get the job done.

Although some individual IT departments might be cash-strapped or have technical skills gaps, "it's not true of the majority," said Mark McDonald, group vice president at Gartner EXP in Chicago. Instead, many CIOs are hard-pressed to find and retain enough IT staffers with sufficient business savvy.

"The predominant skills missing are business skills," he said, adding that 63% of the CIOs surveyed by Gartner between September and December 2006 didn't feel their IT staffs had the right mix or number of skills.

According to the Gartner study, there's a strong correlation between companies that use IT for competitive advantage and CIOs who work closely with CEOs and other business executives in setting corporate strategies.

CIOs who participated in the study cited four areas they need to focus on most to bolster the performance of their IT organizations over the next three years: business process improvement, enterprise architecture, business relationship management and business intelligence.

For their IT departments to make improvements in these areas, CIOs need to stop worrying so much about aligning IT with the business and focus more on effectively managing the expectations that business leaders have for the IT organization, said McDonald. In addition, while many CIOs have helped their business peers make business process improvements within their divisions through various business/IT projects, it's an area that often goes neglected in the IT department itself.

Another area that CIOs have overlooked is the pending retirement of baby boomer IT workers, said McDonald. "It's something that everyone knows is going to come, but few people are taking proactive steps" to address.

According to the study, 86% of CIOs see innovation as critical to their companies' success, yet only 26% believe that their current level of innovation is good enough to meet their goals. The disconnect here, said McDonald, are the cultural barriers and institutional mindset that often thwarts innovation.

"If you believe your culture prohibits you from being innovative, then it's true," said McDonald. However, he sees a tremendous opportunity for CIOs, since they're in a position to help deliver the kind of information their organizations need to drive innovation.

In the Gartner study, 47% of the respondents are based in North America, while 39% are located in Europe, 10% are in Asia/Pacific countries and 4% are in Latin America. The study found that IT budgets this year are expected to rise 3.44% in the U.S. and 3% internationally.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Talent crunch raises some CIO salaries

By Isabelle Chan, ZDNet Asia

Monday , February 12 2007 03:41 PM

Average salaries for top IT positions have gone up by as much as 52 percent in Singapore, thanks to a tight labor market and stronger competition to attract talent, says recruitment company Hudson.

In its latest salary guide of IT and telecommunications professionals, Hudson reported that the average starting salary for chief information officers (CIOs) and chief technology officers (CTOs) in Singapore have gone up from S$250,000 (US$163,130) in 2005 to S$280,000 (US$182,726) last year. At the top end, salaries have scaled up to S$380,000 (US$247,986).

Yeo Gek Cheng, director of Hudson's IT&T industry practice in Singapore, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail: "The increase is due to the job market picking up, resulting in more competition for [executives at] this management level."

According to Hudson, much of the competition for such senior talent is in the banking space.

"Singapore has seen an unprecedented amount of back-office relocation from head office banks in the last few years, [among] top-tier investment banks," Yeo said.

"This has created huge demand for senior technology heads within a very small working population, plus you have the big three Singaporean banks and [others like] Standard Chartered Bank all competing to secure the service of the leading candidates," she added.

Hudson also attributed the salary increments to "more movement at this level for 2006" due to recovery in the market.

"Candidates tend to negotiate for better salaries when they change jobs, so the overall figure in the market will increase. That's not surprising at all in a market where top talent is scarce and top candidates are in limited supply," Yeo said. "In addition, 2006 was a better year compared to 2005, so the bonus component would have been better as well."

However, average salaries remained stable for these senior IT management positions in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Japan. Touching on the disparity, Yeo explained: "Hong Kong and Tokyo are more mature markets with existing IT departments within the technology space, so the rise of senior level IT salaries in Singapore would be from a core group of banks in expansion mode."

She added that Singapore salaries could still rise further as "they are still a long way behind Hong Kong and Tokyo".

The graph below shows Hudson's salary guide for selected IT positions. All salary ranges are represented in terms of total salary package, excluding discretionary bonuses, stock options, shares or other variable incentives. The salaries are also based on various executive-level positions within multinational corporations and experienced hires, and are not industry benchmarks or guarantees for salaries, said Hudson.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Intel details super-powerful Teraflops research chip

JORDAN ROBERTSON, Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Intel Corp. has designed a computer chip that promises to do as many calculations as quickly as an entire data center - while consuming as much energy as a light bulb.

The world's biggest chipmaker said Sunday it developed a programmable processor that can perform about a trillion calculations per second, or deliver a performance of 1.01 Teraflops. It accomplishes this feat while consuming 62 watts of power when the chip is running at a frequency of 3.16 gigahertz.

A similarly powerful supercomputer in 1996 at Sandia National Laboratories took up more than 2,000 square feet, used nearly 10,000 Pentium Pro processors, and consumed more than 500 kilowatts of electricity.

Read More ....

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Brain scan 'can read your mind'

BBC News

The researchers used scans of the brain to predict decisions

Brain scans have been developed which it is claimed can predict what a person is about to do.

German, British and Japanese scientists were able to "read minds" using sophisticated functional magnetic imaging (fMRI) and computer programs.

Current Biology reported people were asked to think about adding or subtracting - scientists were able to read intentions in 70% of cases.

Read More ....


Friday, February 9, 2007

Working in the Virtual World

Strategies for keeping your staff from slipping into technology and out of communication.

Feb 08, 2007

By Gerry Davis, Heidrick & Struggles, CIO.com

Executives are grappling with new ways of managing their staff as the world grows flatter and leadership teams are decentralized and virtualized. The old “face-oriented” offices have given way to virtual communities of outsource partners, offshore teams and globally distributed workforces.

On any given day, 42 percent of IBM’s workforce of 330,000 workers does not report to the location where they are based. The company’s human resources head Randy Macdonald says the past 10 years will be characterized as the fall of the traditional business empire and the rise or emergence of global collaborative and virtual empires.

This new paradigm is enabled by the proliferation of communications technologies, broadband and changing business models. In a faster-paced, more competitive world, executives must be more flexible and agile, and must acquire new communication and management skills. Paradoxically, a virtual world calls for greater relationship-building efforts than in traditional teams or organizations.

Read More ....


Thursday, February 8, 2007

IBM set to expand presence in mainland China

Beijing (ANTARA News/Asia Pulse) - IT giant IBM plans to open more solution centers and increase its headcount on the mainland in the next few years, as part of its global transition from hardware manufacturer to information technology service provider.

"We will continue to scale up the number and size of solution centers on the mainland," said Dominic Tong, the general manager of IBM's China business. IBM currently has five centers and 3,000 staff on the mainland. Tong said IBM was also helping its mainland partners to go global.

"Many mainland enterprises plan to extend their businesses overseas, and we can use our networks to assist them in setting up branches in overseas markets such as Hong Kong," he said.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The End User: Kodak's ink jet cartridges: Just a first step

A voice for the consumer

By Victoria Shannon, International Herald Tribune
Published: February 7, 2007

It has long been a mystery and irritation to consumers: Why are ink-jet printer cartridges so expensive?

You can buy an entire printer for the price of three or four ink refills. For people who print a lot of photos at home, it feels like punishment for being a fan. For people who might be tempted to custom- print their own, it is a real barrier to even starting.

Mostly, the out-of-kilter pricing is a quirk of how the printer business evolved. It's the razor-and- blade model: The razor comes at an incredible value, but you're stuck buying expensive, proprietary razor blades for as long as you shave. Or, to update the analogy, maybe it's the iPod model, where you're trapped into buying only songs from iTunes.

Read More ....

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Google Retools for the Battle With Microsoft

By Vishesh Kumar, TheStreet.com Senior Writer

2/6/2007 9:34 AM EST

Google may be beefing up its already considerable suite of free online applications in a move that might ultimately target Microsoft.

The search giant already offers a hosted word processor and spreadsheet that resemble Microsoft's hallmark Word and Excel programs. But Google now seems to be developing a presentation program that would provide a function similar to Microsoft's PowerPoint, according to the popular tech blog TechCrunch.

Reports of the PowerPoint clone first began to spread after bloggers found a reference to the product in Google programming code, which has since been cleaned up.

Read More ....

The evolving role of the CIO

As the job changes, some struggle to climb out of the server room into the boardroom

By Jason Miller, GCN Staff

The Navy recognized early on the strategic role of the CIO as a thought leader rather than someone consumed by the nuts and bolts of technology. In fact, the Navy’s lead IT managers wrote a book in the early 2000s describing an effective CIO and the importance of that person working across the organization.

“Our leaders understood the Clinger-Cohen Act and saw the success in the corporate world,” said Dave Wennergren, former Navy CIO and current deputy CIO and deputy assistant secretary for information management and IT at the Defense Department.

“It was the intent of the secretary of the Navy when he hired Dan Porter as CIO [in September 1998] for him to be a transformation agent. Some CIOs go through an evolutionary process, but in the Navy, the creation of the CIO went hand-in-hand with the ideal role of the CIO as an information leader and not a technologist.” Few doubt the Navy was ahead of its time.

The Navy’s vision for the CIO is one many agencies have yet to realize, according to current and former CIOs. But the evolution of the CIOs’ role to meet the requirements Clinger-Cohen laid out 10 years ago is happening.

“The way we got out of the gate with the Clinger-Cohen Act wasn’t very effective,” said Paul Brubaker, who helped draft the law when he worked for former Sen. William Cohen (R-Maine) and is now CEO of Procentrix Inc. of Reston, Va. “We didn’t see a level of hard pushing in the right direction until Mark [Forman] and Karen [Evans] got [to the Office of Management and Budget].”

Forman, the first administrator for e-government and IT and a former Hill staff member who worked on the law as well, pushed CIOs to think more about the effect they can have on the business of their agencies instead of implementing technology for the sake of technology. Evans, the current OMB administrator for e-government and IT, has expanded the CIOs’ focus and brought them into areas such as human resources and financial management.

“The CIO is not a chief information technology officer, but they need to understand technology,” Evans said at a recent Washington event on the Clinger-Cohen Act sponsored by the Professional Services Council of Arlington, Va. “The CIO has to be able to cut through the technology issues and boil it down to what is the best way to achieve results.”

But many CIOs, according to experts, have yet to force their way into the boardroom—or if they have, their impact is minimal.

Cohen, who co-authored the bill with former congressman William Clinger (R-Pa.), said at the event that CIOs still are not thought of as a strategic visionaries; their power is not respected or understood, and agencies still have trouble measuring the effectiveness of their IT programs.

Dale Meyerrose, CIO of the Office of National Intelligence, said that while Clinger-Cohen established a baseline that has steered the federal conversation about IT for the last 10 years, CIOs still are looked at as the person running the LAN or making sure e-mail works.

“We failed to create mechanisms of enforcement in proper proportions,” he said. “Motivating people to change behavior is not easy. You have to be inclusive, but insistent that decisions can’t be made about IT without all the stakeholders and users involved.”

Gene Dodaro, the Government Accountability Office’s chief operating officer, said the issue for many agencies is execution of Clinger-Cohen’s six specific responsibilities and roles.

“The question is whether CIOs have the authority to act,” he said. “The role of the CIO needs to be supported by building up the human capital aspect of an agency.”

Kent Schneider, a former Army IT official and currently Northrop Grumman IT’s vice president for global business development, agreed with Dodaro that CIOs’ progress depends on whether they are empowered by their agency chiefs.

“Successful CIOs are full members of the management team and allowed to execute on their vision,” he said.

Too often, that vision had revolved around technology and not around the business of the agency. But as technology has evolved, so has the CIO’s place in the agency. After the year 2000 date-code scare, CIOs started to emerge from the operational role they were sucked into, Brubaker said.

And now, many CIOs have progressed to thinking about how technology can improve their agency’s functions and have delegated the functional areas to the deputy CIOs or chief technology officers, Brubaker added.

Fred Thompson, vice president for management and technology for the Council for Excellence in Government, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization in Washington, said CIOs now are asking the right questions to drive the strategic conversation. CEG runs the CIO Council’s CIO Boot Camp, the E-Government Fellows program and others, and has had to adapt the two-day boot camp to meet the evolving needs of CIOs over the last three years.

“A lot of the job of a CIO now is to collaborate with top agency officials and lead them through the technology,” Thompson said. “The CIO has to look for opportunities to blend functions and deliver them in an integrated way.”

Experts say the role of the CIO must continue to advance. “CIOs must invest personal time into being the strategic thinker,” Wennergren said. “It is imperative to create a learning culture and be effective across boundaries.”

But Wennergren and others also said that CIOs still must understand how technology works and be able to talk about it, whether they are in the server room or boardroom.

“If e-mail isn’t working, it doesn’t matter how strategic you are,” Evans said.

The Enterprise Committer: When Your Employee Develops Open-Source Code on the Company Payroll

One of your developers wants to extend an open-source application to solve a company problem, then contribute the code back to the community. That's fine. But making that process work in enterprise terms involves more than getting the legal department to recover from its fainting fit.

By Esther Schindler, CIO.com, January 31, 2007

One of your best developers comes to you with a unique proposal. Instead of writing software from scratch, or begging for the budget to purchase an off-the-shelf solution that would need customization anyway—well, there's an open-source application called Foobar that does nearly everything on the wish list. The developer suggests that she could extend Foobar's feature set, and then contribute the enhancements back to the open-source community. This way, when the next Foobar version is released, it won't need the custom changes made all over again. And the only cost is her salary.

You're sold. It's a good idea, technically and financially. But it's your job to integrate this in-house open-source development project into an enterprise setting. Some challenges are obvious, such as the intellectual property concerns your legal department will raise. That's a topic of an upcoming article.

But there are other things you should know before you blurt out, "Sure, go ahead and spend 20 hours a week working on Foobar!" In this article, several managers and developers who have learned these lessons—the hard way—share their experience.

Read More ....

Monday, February 5, 2007

Easy call: Phoning via Web

Reaching out over computers can cut costs dramatically

By ELIZABETH LAZAROWITZ

DAILY NEWS BUSINESS WRITER

Horacio Levin of Uruguay takes calls from pal Carlos Ronisky over the Web.

Julie Blank uses VoIP to connect with her brother in Israel.

With family and friends in such far-flung places as Hong Kong and Argentina, Carlos Ronisky used to run up hefty phone bills just trying to keep in touch.

Then he heard about VoIP. It may sound like the name of an energy drink, but it's actually an emerging phone service that routes calls over the Internet to make talk cheaper.

An acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol, VoIP has exploded in recent years. Use has more than doubled in the past year, according to TeleGeography Research, and experts expect the growth to continue.

Ronisky, who lives in Manhattan and works as a marketing manager at a New York bank, dumped his landline and switched to Internet phone provider Vonage last year. He's saved $600 - which he plans to spend on a video iPod. "I used to be paying $75 to $80 a month. Now, my average bill is about $20," he said.

Read More ....

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Windows Vista's Nasty Surprises

By Jay Dougherty, Dpa , Playfuls.com

Windows Vista is out. And by now, almost everyone knows three things about Microsoft's first major operating system release in five years: it has enhanced security features, a snazzy interface, and better search capabilities.

But there's more to Vista than these three features - and the new is not all good. While some of Vista's secrets are bound to surprise you pleasantly, others could make you question your decision to upgrade altogether.

--- Registration lockdown

With Vista, Microsoft has gotten stricter than ever on acceptable use of its software. The company's Genuine Software Initiative has been picking up steam over the past year, forcing users to "validate" their version of Windows when a critical patch or desirable new feature is made available over the Internet. If, through this check, the software is deemed invalid, access to the download is denied. Complaints from paying customers of Microsoft's software are not rare under this system.

But with Vista, Microsoft has taken the Genuine Software Initiative to a new level. If you fail to "activate" - or register - your version of Vista with Microsoft within 30 days, the operating system goes into a "reduced functionality mode," which essentially cripples the operating system.

Once in reduced functionality mode, you'll be able to log on to Vista for only one hour. After that, Vista will force a system shutdown. Even during the hour you're logged on, Vista will disable the Aero interface and several other key features that make Vista what it is. About the only thing you'll be able to do is activate the product using one of the acceptable methods.

When Microsoft tried a similar scheme in the early days of Windows XP, there were so many complaints from legitimate users who were blacklisted that Microsoft published a workaround. Unless the program has been significantly improved, a number of users may again find themselves blacklisted - and this time, the complaints will be louder, since reduced functionality mode renders your PC virtually useless.

--- User accounts

Part of Vista's emphasis on security alters the way users of a PC are handled. Vista's new User Account Control (UAC) is at the heart of these security enhancements, and it's a feature that's bound to cause frustrations for a large number of people.

Here's why. By default, Vista monitors a user's actions and throws up a dialog box requiring administrator credentials before allowing any action that has a potential impact on system security.

UAC is designed to prevent malicious software from infiltrating your PC, and it goes some way toward achieving that goal. The downside, however, is that most users will have to deal with annoying dialog boxes whenever they run a program that requires access to sensitive locations. Many beta testers of Vista complained that UAC prompts showed up even when performing seemingly harmless activities.

To avoid such annoyances, Vista owners will have to become thoroughly familiar with the concept of UAC and configure their user account appropriately - no lightweight task.

--- Performance

Windows Vista requires more computing horsepower than any previous version of Windows. While that's not necessarily surprising, what may be is that Vista's visually impressive Aero interface won't even be available to you if your computer does not contain a dedicated graphics card. Roughly half of today's computers will need to be upgraded to run Vista adequately, according to U.S.-based Jon Peddie Research.

Notebook users will be especially hard hit by Vista's hardware requirements. That's because many lower-cost notebooks over the past couple of years were sold with low-cost integrated graphics controllers that work fine when displaying the standard business applications and Web pages in Windows XP. But for Vista, these machines will be inadequate.

Even worse, notebook users with integrated graphics won't be able to upgrade their machines just by purchasing a new video card. Most notebook computers would require an entire motherboard upgrade to work effectively with Vista. In other words, it will make more sense to buy a completely new machine.

Those who do have a dedicated graphics card with at least 64 megabytes of memory will have make sure their systems meet the other unspoken requirement of Vista: at least 1 gigabyte (GB) of system memory. Anything less will have you tapping your fingers far too often - or reducing the number of tasks you can undertake simultaneously.

Open XML translator for Microsoft Word available

February 02, 2007 (IDG News Service) -- Companies have completed the first phase of a Microsoft Corp.-sponsored project to convert Microsoft Word documents between Open XML and Open Document Format (ODF) for Office Applications file formats.

Version 1.0 of the Open XML Translator is now available for download from SourceForge.net, a site that acts as an online repository for open-source projects. The software also can be found on Microsoft's Web site here and here.

Microsoft funded the work on the translator but did not contribute any code to the project, said Jason Matusow, senior director of intellectual property and interoperability at Microsoft. The company provided architectural guidance and management to the project, he said.

A French company called CleverAge contributed the code and built most of the Open XML Translator, while Aztecsoft Ltd. in India and Dialogika in Germany did the quality assurance and testing.

The Open XML Translator allows Microsoft Word documents based on Open XML to be translated into ODF and vice versa, Matusow said. Once downloaded, it can be used as a plug-in for Microsoft Office 2007, the documents of which are based on Open XML. Developers also can build it into software they are developing.

The Open XML Translator for Word documents is the first phase of the project. The team is currently working on translation between ODF and Open XML for spreadsheets written in Microsoft Excel 2007 and presentations developed in Microsoft PowerPoint 2007, Matusow said.

Much has been made of the fact that Microsoft did not provide native support in Microsoft Office 2007 for ODF, though it provides support for 30 other file formats and uses Open XML as the default document file format.

Matusow defends that decision by saying Microsoft tries to meet its customers' wishes, and there was no customer demand for ODF when development on Office 2007 began. IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. both use ODF as the default file format in their own rivals to the Microsoft Office suite.

"A standard is about a stack of paper; market adoption is the ultimate driver of activity," Matusow said. "What gets built and used is the defining element. That's why we look at the customer discussion as being so important."

However, government customers that may be required to use only industry-standard technologies in their IT infrastructure requested that Microsoft provide a way to translate between Open XML and ODF. ODF recently was approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as a global standard, while Open XML is awaiting approval.

Matusow said the reason Microsoft let third parties be the primary creators and caretakers of the Open XML Translator is because of the input of government customers who wanted Microsoft to provide a free, open way to translate between ODF and Open XML. Customers wanted something that was not strictly overseen by Microsoft but was more of a community effort.

Microsoft did try to include native support for another company's document format -- a standard implementation of Adobe Systems Inc.'s PDF -- in Office 2007. But Adobe balked at the idea and asked Microsoft to pull that support, which it did. Adobe recently submitted PDF to the ISO for global standardization, and Matusow said Microsoft would again be "open to conversation" with Adobe about including PDF as a native file format in a future version of Office.