Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Altra Corporate - May 7, 2001 If you're looking for a B2B exchange success story, check out Altra, selected the top trading exchange by AMR Research. The exchange serves more than 7,000 energy professionals across 500 companies worldwide who trade, schedule, transport and account for transactions in power, natural gas, natural gas liquids and crude.

Wednesday, August 08, 2001

I, Cringely | The Pulpit Cringely again. OK, I really don't like his idea about Internet caller ID. He proposes this as a solution to security problems. Seems like Intel tried this with the Pentium III and got royally whacked for it by pretty much everybody. Cringely does add that people could remain anonymous, just like phone caller ID, but users could choose to block communications from them.
I, Cringely | The Pulpit Robert X. Cringely presents the case against Microsoft, this time from the perspective of willful disregard of system and application security. He makes a number of good points, but there is one I disagree with: He says the lack of security in Microsoft software was a deliberate business decision. Well, yes and no. I believe Microsoft has put usability and interoperability at the top of their list of desirable features. So, yes, that's a business decision. But to declare that Microsoft has something against security and actively decided not to include it in their products is a little too simplistic. The reason all the email viruses and IIS security flaws exist is because Microsoft is trying to make their stuff easier to use. I believe they started out pretty naive about this policy, and have only recently showed any signs of getting a clue about how to design a secure system. But, unfortunately, their legacy software prevents them from doing the right thing. They did try to stem the tide of email viruses starting in Office 2000 by including the ability to restrict executable attachments. And the latest Internet Exploder also allows for higher degrees of security. But the bell can't be unrung, the genie can't be put back in the bottle, and hindsight is 20/20 (is that enough cliches in one sentence?) We have to live with an incredibly insecure system because Microsoft's a monopoly. I don't see any way around that.

Friday, August 03, 2001

( blogdex ) Now all I have to do is sit back and see if I get included in the Blogdex. I can't wait.
disinformation | grant morrison: flick the switch Comics for the disaffected. Bringing up the rear of the Blogdex top 10.
We Are Some Kind Of Fat Oh, yeah. We're fat, not phat.
A Scientist's Art: Computer Fiction Vernor Vinge is pretty cool. I like his daughter Joan's books, too. But why's this article number 8 on Blogdex?
NERVOUS Industries This site is a joke, right?
DaveNet : Big blank machine Dave Winer on the 20th anniversary of the IBM PC. Good title. OK, who's got anything to say about MTV. Anyone? Anyone? Class?
BBC News | SCI/TECH | Meet the Neanderthals Why should an article about reconstructed Neanderthal heads be number 4 on the Blogdex list? / Latest News / Nation People haven't changed since Plato asserted most were motivated by pity and fear. Carpenter gets nailed.
I, Cringely | The Pulpit Good to see that Cringely made the number two spot on Blogdex. This is actually a pretty interesting article.
The War On Drug Wars - Ashkan Sahihi Gets Normal People High Hmmm. This is the number one link found on blogs according to Blogdex? Well, I may as well link to it as well.

Thursday, August 02, 2001

Tracking Bloggers With Blogdex This is an interesting idea, to index all the sites that people like myself write blog logs about. Worth checking out.

Thursday, July 26, 2001

FreewarePalm: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy v1.0 Unbelievable! The whole novel for your Palm! And under 400K too!

Friday, June 22, 2001

R.R. Donnelley, AirClic to push bar code ads in phone books | Computerworld News & Features Story Donnelley, the yellow pages folks, want consumers to scan bar codes printed in their ads. There are a number of people working on similar ideas. For example, a company called JumpTech. They work with newspaper publishers, who publish bar codes in their ads. The idea is to give consumers a scanning pen or key chain fob, they scan the bar code, dock the device, and use the resulting list of Web sites to view ads or promotional offers, etc. There’s also the truly stupid Cue Cat, which is wired to your PC. I don't do all my reading or yellow pages perusing at my PC; do you? What these folks don’t realize is you’re not going to get consumers to change their behavior unless they are highly motivated. Why should I find my scanner, scan the ad, dock the stupid thing, and then go to the Web? I feel they’d have much more success if they simplify the process (make it wireless) and give the customer some payback (automatically send a coupon, or an email link to a promotion). Plus, they need to find other uses for the scanner – like scanning goods as you put them in the cart to keep tabs on what you’re spending, again requiring wireless. Or scan the last carton of milk and have the order sent to your online grocery. Or how about using it to scan codes on business cards at networking meetings? I don’t think if I’m looking in the Yellow Pages, I’m going to stop what I’m doing, find the scanner, scan the ad, go to my PC, dock the scanner, bring up the Web page, at least not more than a few times. After that, I’d be disgusted. Palm has announced a scanner plug in module for their new series of handhelds. Symbol already makes a ruggedized Palm compatible, and can even add a credit card swiper. Get those things into the hands of a critical mass of people, and you’ve got a value prop. Otherwise, it seems like something people would try and then either lose the device or lose interest. Plus, with a PDA, you have a display, so you can give the consumer instant gratification. Now, I might use that with the Yellow Pages, especially if it would save me money. Especially if my Palm were also a phone that would call the business. It will be interesting to see if Donnelley can sell consumers on a new way of interacting with the Web, and with advertising.

Friday, June 08, 2001

The Word Spy - bozo explosion I think we've all probably lived through a bozo explosion, the rapidly accelerating tide of mediocrity sparked by the hiring of an incompetent manager. I've lived through at least four. My question is: In the future, when the very talented are completely mobile and completely freelance, what will we do with the bozos? One bozo explosion could kill a company because the current phenomenon of talent flight when things aren't going right will become greatly magnified. The mobile employee of the future could take off at the merest whiff of a bozo explosion. Companies could crater in a day due to a bad meeting with a newly hired senior bozo. It's not going to be pretty.

Tuesday, May 01, 2001 The Case Against Micropayments [Dec. 19, 2000] I’ve been reading Clay Shirky’s article, The Case Against Micropayments, and I’m intrigued by his argument that micropayments cannot succeed since they require the user to simultaneously believe that the information has value, and that it doesn’t have much value. Shirky talks about the burden on the user to make the transaction decision, which devalues the user’s time. This reminds me a lot of Stewart Brand’s famous dictum (often only partially quoted): “Information wants to be free, and information wants to be expensive.”


Web users want free information, and they want expensive information. They just don’t want to pay for it, at least not by the page. You can say that Napster shows how information wants to be free, and the RIAA shows how an oppressive, corrupt industry that exploits its workers (musicians) wants it to be expensive. Check out Courtney Love’s rant in Salon for more info.

Friday, April 27, 2001

The P2P Vogue Well, I guess not everyone's buying the P2P hype. Now, if I only knew the tune to Madonna's Vogue . . .

Friday, April 20, 2001

NEW TOWERGROUP RESEARCH SHOWS PEER-TO-PEER (P2P)COMPUTING MODEL POISED TO PENETRATE THE BUY-SIDE News Release Well, now P2P is the latest threat to B2B exchanges. A recent TowerGroup study predicts P2P could "usurp the plethora of B2B exchanges." They're failing quite nicely on their own, thank you.
The Standard: Let Others Sue: Marketer Licks Chops Over Rich Napster Data OK, this is a great idea. BigChampagne is one of several marketers that are mining the marketing harvest that is Napster. It is so silly that the recording industry can't pull their antediluvian heads out of the sand long enough to see what a bonanza Napster could be for them. BigChampagne automatically searches Napster for certain artists' songs (Aimee Mann and ex-Toad the Wet Sproket, Glen Phillips for example) and then instant messages the folks who have the relevant MP3 files. In Mann's case, the IM directed the user to a special site where they could download an MP3 of an unreleased song. In Phillips' case, it alerted the fan that Phillips had a Web site and was still making music. BigChampagne got between 20 and 40 percent response, and harvested thousands of emails from fans who wanted more information. This is such a no-brainer. And it's a wonderful form of poetic justice: rip off my music, get marketed to. I love it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2001

Plastic chips, single-electron devices emerge from the lab This is a hard article to slog through, but it reports as routine and mundane the creation of room temperature single electronic transistors. This is a pretty big deal, since previous devices operated at 25 Kelvin, 25 degrees above absolute zero. These engineers are pretty nonchalant about single electronic work because it's been going on for more than a decade. The first demonstration of using a single electron to control the position of another electron was way back in 1997. But folks like us (assuming you're not a molecular electrical engineer) tend to go, whoa! All it means is the ability to put a trillion transistors in a square centimeter vs. today's 6 million, that's all. What it will really mean, if it gets out of the lab this decade, as some are predicting, is storage and processor power will take dramatic leaps. Imagine what we'll do with 166,666 times the memory and processor capability!
BW Online | April 16, 2001 | The Great Internet Money Game This fascinating article holds the feet of the VCs and investment banks that gave us the irrational exuberance of the dotcom bubble. According to the article, "Of the 367 Internet outfits taken public since 1997 that are still trading, the stocks of 316 are below their offering prices, according to Thomson Financial. Only 55 companies, or 15%, have made money for public investors. And a staggering 224 have tumbled 75% or more since their IPOs. A total of $2.5 trillion has disappeared from Net company market caps since the peak last year." They're just lucky their Wall Street castles aren't surrounded by pitchfork wielding villagers with stakes for their hearts.

Friday, April 13, 2001

Reshare Corporation Home Page Now here's an idea that's way overdue: a company that specializes in making sure a manufacturer's existing channels get a slice of online sales revenue. I've been waiting for this for years, and have wondered why it was taking so long. Reshare has a system that enables online retailers to ask customers to pick a favorite retailer or search for one near them. When the sale is made, the retailer, and any relevant distributors, get a slice of the profit. In exchange for this, they are expected to support the product. Brilliant idea. And hatched right here in Minnesota as well!

Monday, April 09, 2001

ACME License Maker Another Weblogger pointed me to this site. You can make your own license plate images! Very cool.
Microsoft's virus antidote: Ban attachments - Tech News - News Flash! Baby Thrown Out With Bathwater! I had heard that Microsoft was banning attachments in Outlook, but I couldn't quite believe it. It's apparently true. Rather than fix their security-hostile VB scripting environment, Microsoft has decided to just ban whole classes of attachments from Outlook. There's a good idea.
New Scientist: Easy writer Wanna be a programmer? Can you write English? No problem then. This article is about Synapse Solutions, which seem to have fulfilled a dream of mine. - Sci-Tech - Microsoft alters Passport terms of use - April 9, 2001 This article makes you wonder if having a desktop monopoly is a good idea. Microsoft makes you sign up for a Passport to access their tech support, yet their terms of service gave them sweeping rights over your stuff. - Health - E-service keeps doctors, patients in touch - April 9, 2001 Docs finally get email! You wonder why it took some guy to create a company to get doctors to respond to their patients via email. So how do they charge? The company gives them between $10 and $25 per email they answer. This seems crazy. But a great deal for the docs. - Technology - ICANN warns against preregistering domain names - April 3, 2001 For anyone thinking of preregistering one of the new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), this article reiterates ICANN's and the FTC's warning against the practice. In my opinion, if you're willing to risk the up front money (up to $150) on the chance that you might actually get a choice domain name, go right ahead. But beware fly by night operations. Only use a preregistration service run by an accredited domain name registrar. Most services keep the money whether or not you get the name, and then sock it to you for the registration fee as well. Caveat emptor.

Thursday, April 05, 2001 OK, OK. I promise not to use the word "struck" again in a Stratlet for at least a month!
The Open Source Initiative: History of the OSI I'm working on an article about business applications of Open Source software and this is a good description of how the OSI movement evolved out of the earlier free software, Debian, and GNU movements. I'm struck by the fact that an O'Reilly conference helped crystalize the movement soon after it adopted the Open Source moniker. O'Reilly recently organized one of the first, if not the first, peer-to-peer (P2P) conference in February, 2001. I wonder if P2P will follow the same path to development. Certainly there are a lot of the same players involved. (

Wednesday, March 28, 2001

IPv6 - MP3s & presentations This site has PPTs and MP3s from last year's IPv6 Conference. IPv6 is the next generation of Internet IP addressing. It is rapidly becoming necessary to replace the old IPv4 numbering scheme because we are running out of unique numbers with the explosion of devices such as cell phones and smart appliances. Although many of the presentations are technical, be sure to check out Latif Ladid's opening presentation. It is full of gorgeous mockups of future smart devices.

Friday, March 16, 2001

Byte > Column > P2P Meme > Presence Management, Instant Intranets > September 22, 2000 This Byte artice is a really good, basic, overview of some of the technologies that are being lumped into peer-to-peer (P2P). It's pretty even handed and not sensational. I'm particularly struck by the recollection that, once upon a long time ago, the Internet was entirely a peer network. Then these firewalls and NATs (Network Address Translation) and dynamic IP address assignment schemes got in the way. Napster returned us to the peer Internet, allowing any user to directly (well, almost directly. There's still the matter of routers and firewalls -- but no DNS problems) contact another and share resources. I've finished my Hive Computing white paper and am starting on a white paper on the other aspects of the P2P phenomenon. It's pretty fascinating stuff.

Monday, March 05, 2001

DataSynapse, Inc. I'm struck as I read about DataSynapse's architecture that this is not new at all. That's true of the whole P2P thingie; these concepts have been around for a long time. But the network diagram at the DataSynapse site pretty much describes what we built at ACNielsen starting in 1989. We called it the Automated LAN Production System (ALPS), and we set it up in the Fond du Lac, WI production site in spring 1990. Using DOS technology and the Clipper development language, our consultant, Geneer, created a peer-to-peer system in which multiple worker PCs polled a central database for work to do. Each PC was characterized by its "capas", short for capabilities. Some could run Harvard Graphics in batch, others could scrape data down from the mainframe into Nielsen's data analysis tool at the time, SCAN*FACT PC. Others could create Lotus 1-2-3 files or proprietary MegaChart charts from the data. Still others could print the results in nice, page-numbered, books. A central console allowed the operator to stop, start, or reconfigure the worker PCs. This was P2P, and it resembled DataSynapse's scheme very closely. We knew what we had done was pretty special, but, as so often happens in a large company, few top managers knew the value of it. Using this system, a staff of 17 could produce 5 million customer pages of output a year with a dozen 486 PCs or so. We wanted to take the concept further and make use of idle cycles across the enterprise, but top managers were satisfied with the substantial savings and productivity we produced with the existing system. If we only knew we were just ahead of our time!

Monday, February 26, 2001 - solutions - case studies - vpn - no internet access I'm reading up on VPNs and security in preparation for a presentation I'm giving in March at the Telecom Supply Chain conference in Scottsdale, AZ. This site describes an almost totally secure implementation. Unfortunately, to achieve this security, you need to remove all Internet access points. Not generally a feasible solution. A really good overview of VPN and security technology is a white paper by OpenReach. Very readable and simple enough for most folks to be able to follow.

Saturday, February 24, 2001

Secret Messages Come in .Wavs Steganography is the practice of hiding messages somewhat invisibly in other files, typically graphics files. By altering a small percentage of the bits in a file, bad guys can send messages to one another. Recently, it was reported that Big Baddie Osama bin Laden now uses steganographic applications to pass messages through sports chat rooms, sexually explicit bulletin boards and other sites. This is yet another reason why law enforcement is not going to be able to put the digital genie back in the bottle. Unfortunately, law enforcement will need to use good old fashioned investigative methods to catch the bad guys, because outlawing cryptography and even stenography just isn't going to work. Someone will always find a way around it, and, now that the Internet makes communicating this type of information relatively easy, every little script baby will have access to the latest bad guy tricks soon after they're invented. The answer, IMHO, is to change the world so criminals don't develop or at least limit the megalomaniac terrorists that are produced. That's probably impossible, but we won't know unless we try. How about better child care and social services? How about a decent living wage? How about help for developing countries, including services to help them get a long a little better? I guess that's idealistic, but it seems a whole lot more doable than using law enforcement to catch the crazies before they blow a hole in the side of the world. Or, we could put the oil company in charge of the environment, a Northwest airlines board member in charge of labor, and a Christian zealot in charge of enforcing the laws. Yeah, that could work.
Spam Oozes Past Border Patrol So finally Congress is getting around to dealing with the problem of Internet spam. But it's way too late, as a list of the most prolific 100 Usenet spam hosts reveals that 52 of them are now offshore. Sites in Russia, France, Greece and the Netherlands are among the worst foreign offenders. If you have Outlook, just set up a filter to ignore them. Other email programs have similar features. If you have AOL or any other provider that charges you for receiving email, my condolences. Regardless of mail provider and mail program, I don't know that there's going to be anything else any of us can do, even in the long run.

Friday, February 23, 2001

Interesting pair of articles on In this one, Richard Branson and the CEO of Orange, a UK wireless provider, say that content will rule wireless. In the other, ( Olav Ostin, UK managing director of global venture capital firm ETF Group, says half the 3G companies will be gone in a year, and the ones most at risk are the content providers. Makes you wonder who's going to turn out to be right. I think both will be. Content and services will be the driver of wireless, and lots of those folks will get it wrong and go quickly out of business. Also in the second article, there's an assertion that micropayments will be the thing for wireless. See my previous blog for my take on that.

Monday, February 19, 2001

Feature Driven Development I've been reading about Extreme Programming, and how one of my clients has built a project management methodology called Code Science(r) on top of it. It's difficult to understand how this can be better than traditional methods, although I can see how if would be faster.