Hawk's Nest

Monday, March 31, 2003

HBS Working Knowledge: Leadership: When Bad Ideas Won't Die
Why can't companies kill projects that are clearly doomed? Is it just poor management? Bureaucratic inertia? My research has uncovered something quite different. Hardly the product of managerial incompetence or entrenched bureaucracy, the failures I've examined resulted, ironically, from a fervent and widespread belief among managers in the inevitability of their projects' ultimate success.
We've all been part of projects which haven't been assessed realistically. The project fails. Why? This article gives some ideas about the failure and some suggestions on how to avoid the fever of project success at any cost.

Economist.com - The revenge of geography
It was naive to imagine that the global reach of the internet would make geography irrelevant. Wireline and wireless technologies have bound the virtual and physical worlds closer than ever
Geography matters more, not less, in the virtual world.

Google: A Knowledge Operating System
Search Engines are becoming sophisticated enough that very soon we are going to consider the most developed search engine, Google, to be an operating system.
A very interesting arguement. And one that will make you think about definitions, operating systems, and how you use Google.

Freedom to Tinker: Use a Firewall, Go to Jail
If you send or receive your email via an encrypted connection, you're in violation, because the "To" and "From" lines of the emails are concealed from your ISP by encryption. (The encryption conceals the destinations of outgoing messages, and the sources of incoming messages.)
I've been saying for years that legislators don't understand technology, judges don't understand technology and the media doesn't understand technology. Between these three groups, we true technologists stay busy battling disinformation and losing sleep over what might come next.

Enter the latest piece of legislation. States are proposing laws which are in danger of turning us all into potential criminals on the Internet. The reason this is hitting home is that my own state, South Carolina, is on the verge of making this mistake.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Network builds itself from scratch TRN 032603
Drawing heavily on the chemistry of biology, researchers from Humboldt University in Germany have devised a way for electronic agents to efficiently assemble a network without having to rely on a central plan.
I want to deploy self-assembling nano-networks in 2020 so I don't have to send my staff into the field. I'll just mail a package of sea-monkey-like workers. Won't it be an interesting world??!!

skycarTechTV | Where's My Skycar?
It looks a bit like a cross between a WWI-era Fokker airplane and a Jetsons spacecraft.
Flying cars and flying saucers. I've always wanted one of those.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

"dolphinSecret Iraqi Freedom Weapon...Dolphins
Forget precision bombs, unmanned spy-planes and high-tech weaponry, the US army is about to unveil its most unlikely mine detector - all the way from San Diego, California, the Atlantic Bottle-Nosed Dolphin.

E-mail reveals real leaders
Want to know how your organization really works - who speaks to whom, who holds the power? Then study the flow of internal e-mail, say scientists at global technology firm Hewlett-Packard.
How and what we communicate to other people says a lot about us. Who we communicate to can say a lot about an organization and its structure. Very interesting observations being made about the use of this communication form.

Monday, March 24, 2003

CNN.com - Dog translation device coming to U.S. - Mar. 24, 2003
A Japanese toy maker claims to have developed a gadget that translates dog barks into human language and plans to begin selling the product -- under the name Bowlingual -- in U.S. pet stores, gift shops and retail outlets this summer.
Dog-lovers, pay attention! Fido talk is just around the corner.

I'm an Apple gamer! Just one more reason...

18 Ways to Take Charge -- Fast
There are few career moments as exciting -- and these days, as perilous -- as taking over the top job at a company, business unit, or department. But what exactly do you do once you're in charge?
The Fast Company article I blogged last week on Google was one of the best I've read in a long time. Well, looking around their sight, I've found another great article about taking over a CEO position at a company. Now, most of us aren't CEO's, but we've been in situations where we've seen new leadership come in and manage change or we've had to move into a situation and take charge. This is a great list of what needs to happen when the top job becomes yours.

The changing face of search engines | CNET News.com
Once the primary road signs to navigating the Internet, directories have moved to the shoulder. They are being displaced by algorithmic search tools and commercial services that many people...now believe do a better job in satisfying Web surfers and advertisers.
Helpful article looking at the history of Yahoo and the competitors which have caused a shift in online advertising and searching.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Star Trek News--Berman talks final four of ENTERPRISE season two
We're talking about a change that is going to, to some degree, alter our mission and, to some degree, change the tone of the series.
I've said my blog would include Star Trek and it will. We're nearing the end of the second season and it appears a lot is in store which will alter the show. I've loved Enterprise from the beginning. It has grown and matured with each episode. The temporal cold war, the Andorians, and now more Klingons. If you're a Trekker, it's great stuff! (warning: possible spoilers in article)

Thursday, March 20, 2003

The Scotsman - Computers in front line of hi-tech war
The nerve centre of the war is a hi-tech complex from where officers will "fight" the war from a bank of laptop computers linked to large plasma screens.
Now that war has begun, it will be interesting to see the important technology is. This article talks a little bit about it.

Why Am I Getting All This Spam?
Some users see spam as a minor annoyance, while others are so overwhelmed with spam that they are forced to switch e-mail addresses. This has led many Internet users to wonder: How did these people get my e-mail address?
Very interesting six month report by the Center for Democracy and Technology. Reading this will give you a better handle on the spam situation.

Defining the ideal IT organization - Tech Update - ZDNet
Organizations in which IT is viewed as extremely critical to the business, according to the CIO desk reference, are those in which the CIO has realized that marketing the IT organization furthers the awareness of the value that IT adds to the business and helps ensure the CIO is a business partner.
Thinking about the role of a CIO and what the ideal IT organization is, this article explores the questions and gives some answers. The move from firefighting/service/utility mentality to IT partnering to drive the business is critical to making IT all it can be.

How Google Grows...and Grows...and Grows
"Flexibility is expensive," says Craig Silverstein, a 30-year-old engineer who dropped his pursuit of a Stanford PhD to become Google's first employee. "But we think that flexibility gives you a better product. Are we right? I think we're right.
Must read article even if you're not in technology. Google is demonstrating a successful technology business model and some of their reasoning is key. I learned a lot from this article, especially their rules:
Rule #1 - The User Is in Charge
Rule #2 - The World is Your R&D Lab
Rule #3 - Failures Are Good. Good Failures Are Better.
Rule #4 - Great People Can Manage Themselves
Rule #5 - If Users Come, So Will the Money
Another little tidbit from the article is Google's Director of search quality, Peter Norvig, Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation. Check it out.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

New Scientist - Spider silk delivers finest optical fibres
Delicate threads of spider's silk are about to solve a major problem in photonics: how to make hollow optical fibres narrow enough to carry light beams around the fastest nanoscale optical circuits.
This technology will continue to evolve the world-wide w... :-)

eWEEK opinion--Iraq War Filter
The gist of the pitch was that the war will lead employees to constantly seek out news on the Internet, and that companies should be ready to control this to keep productivity up.
Should businesses filter out the war with Iraq? Hmm. Is lost productivity a serious concern? Perhaps. Is filtered access to information a violation of my constitutional rights? What mandates that I have access to everything on the Internet from work? What ethical questions are raised if a person's time is spent on non-work related activities all day? Do we really need to filter to control this or how about just monitoring? Interesting questions to ask at times like these.

Monday, March 17, 2003

United Press International: Faith: Woman marries herself
For Jennifer Hoes, a Dutch student, May 28 will be a doubly exciting day. She'll turn 30, and she'll be a blushing bride -- plus her own groom. In the Trouwzaal, or wedding room, of the City Hall of Haarlem in the Netherlands, Jennifer will marry herself.
Narcissism gone bezerk! This is a person who is following her beliefs about marriage and gender differences to their logical conclusion. Re-definition creates bizarre ontologies.

Forbes.com: Soldiers rely on help desk, techs when gear fails
Common office tech support, which helps with recalcitrant computers, is much maligned in the United States, sometimes criticized for being slow or using too many technical terms. But military personnel say they greet their tech reps with relief and gratitude.
Helpdesks everywhere need to stand up and pay attention. In times of war, the margin of error is slight. Are your helpdesk standards receiving similar praise?

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Troubleshooting Lock-Ups

I've been given a PC from my brother who is very gracious. Once in a while it locks up hard, leading me to believe I've got a video, memory or conflict resolution issue. The page above gave me a nice list with which to troubleshoot.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Slashdot | Texas Bill Would Require Open Source Consideration

Slashdot covers yet another state entertaining a stupid bill. Please encourage your Texas friends to call and denounce the bill before it becomes law. Politicians continue to make technology decisions which they know nothing about and the Linux lobby is working overtime.

Wired 11.04: Future Fetish

Wired imagines products available in 10 years. Nice list.

"5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Goodbye, Columbia" by Gregg Easterbrook
But let's not worry about the tiles. The tiles should be okay. They're certainly spending enough time on them. So once you get back into the atmosphere, the mad joyride begins. You have no power now, the engines are spent and switched out. You get one shot at a landing. Originally the plans called for a couple of regular jet engines to give you enough power to maneuver, or maybe go around for a second approach if the first one doesn't line upright. But jet engines got killed in the cost-cutting. A billion-dollar ship, and this is how they were cutting costs ....
Blast from the past! An article written 23 years ago, one year before the space shuttle Columbia launched.

The Observer | International | Word is made flesh as God reveals himself... as a fish
An obscure Jewish sect in New York has been gripped in awe by what it believes to be a mystical visitation by a 20lb carp that was heard shouting in Hebrew, in what many Jews worldwide are hailing as a modern miracle.
Since this wasn't God, it could only be...

Friday, March 14, 2003

NEWSEUM Interesting site that touts itself as the "interactive museum of news" with the scanned front pages from all over the world.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Interview With God

At times this can be a little psychobabblish and at times it can be thought-provoking. Still, an interesting work.

Kevin Sites Blog
I'm calling in from the highly-guarded border of Iran and Kurdistan. A truck is waiting for us to transport CNN staff, our personal belongings, and our television gear into kurd-controlled northern Iraq.
Blogging from Iraq...an interesting journalistic effort. I can't help but think in our day of reality TV programming if this kind of blog is an online version of the fad.

JD's New Media Musings: March 12, 2003 Archives-Random acts of journalism
We need to get away from the notion that journalism is a priesthood that’s inaccessible to the masses
Is blogging journalism? Can blogs tell the truth? My goal in blogging isn't to become a journalist but speaking the truth and asking difficult questions is why I'm out here. No matter the topic, I want to make people think.

The American mind is in desperate need of help. Journalism/news won't strengthen this great gift of God. But blogging just might give some of us an opportunity to publish the truth to the masses and make them ponder. And that would be a deliberate act of kindness.

No place for a chief information officer
Knowledge is a far more complex thing than information because it is about a person's ability to make sense of information and do something useful with it
CKO v. CIO? You decide.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Centrino: born to run - CNET.comCentrino

This is the first real review of the new Intel Centrino chipset. The real reason it's significant...IBM T40 Thinkpad hits 7 hours of battery life in testing. Read the review.

Survival During An Economic Downturn
During an economic slowdown, the fighters of change will be the first to go out the door or companies that fight change will be the first to shut down.
Embracing change is what technologists thrive on. During an economic downturn where corporate entities need retooling, IT workers can lead the way of change. That's something for those bringing change to remember. I've always said the most important part about managing a project is managing people's expectations and the change that comes with the project.

Business 2.0 - My Company Just Announced I May Be Laid Off. Now What?
During upheavals, employees lose two hours of productivity a day.
Dealing with layoffs does take an emotional toll. Without the processing of these events amongst staff, work can be unsettling. This author wonders if all that processing is a good idea. I think its necessary for a positive mental outlook in such times. See what you think.

Business 2.0 - Don't Scare 'Em, But Tell the Truth
Managers need to focus on how they communicate to keep their staff motivated after layoffs.
We've just completed several rounds of layoffs. It has been a difficult few weeks. If you are in a similar situation and need to keep employees motivated, try these tips.

BBC NEWS | UK | Reality TV, featuring God... online
Reality TV has been damned as mindless cultural fluff, but an internet-based contest aims to raise the philosophical bar, throwing 12 strangers together on the Ark with God Almighty at the helm.
Reality TV IS mindless cultural fluff and no amount of "sanctification" will change that. The Ark?? Gimme a break!

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

The Tyranny of Email
Email is one of the greatest things the computer revolution has done for personal productivity. Used improperly, it can also hurt your productivity.
Does e-mail interrupt you constantly? If you're like me, letting e-mail wait means a lot more e-mail to read later. But maybe some of these ideas are good ones. I might give a few a try.

McDonald's to Offer Wireless Internet (TechNews.com)

We know wireless is all the rage at Starbuck's, airports, hotels and other businesses. But now wireless at McDonald's really is mainstream. Gives new meaning to the term "value meal".

Monday, March 10, 2003

Mass High Tech--Great wide open (source)
"Microsoft bigots” is how Scott Akers describes users and administrators who won’t consider so-called solutions outside the Microsoft realm.
I confess, I'm one of the above. You see, Linux may have a role somewhere in the enterprise but it sure isn't cheaper and it's really a bad decision for the desktop.

We work in tight budget times throughout the US. Open source evangelists attempt to persuade management in such high pressure times that money can be easily saved by a Linux conversion. Sorry, but these guys are out to lunch. The cost of migration and support kills ROI. Add to that retraining users and poor application support and the nirvana of Linux is gone. This situation in which the MA Dept. of Revenue finds itself is due to poor management, not "predatory" Microsoft licensing practices. Running Windows 95 eight years after its release is just dumb IT leadership. One easy unmentioned solution for this situation would be a terminal server situation which would replace the Win95 environment. It would be a lot simpler to implement, manage and deploy. But I also imagine that DOR's hardware is on its last leg if they're still running Win95. But that's a cost they don't discuss with the article's writers.

Oh well, just another day of brainwashing the American public. Stay tuned for more challenges to the Linux apologetic. And please don't call me a bigot.

CNN.com - Blogging goes mainstream - Mar. 10, 2003

"Hive mind" and "content Darwinism" are just some of the terms batted around this article on blogging. If you're reading this, you probably know about blogging. If not, this article is a great introduction to get you up to speed. For those of us who have been reading blogs or blogging ourselves, it's nice to see this continue to get attention. I find the future of blogging extremely intriguing. Will bloggers form coalitions of non-professional media which dispute the professional media spin? Will Google's foray into blogging shift the balance of online content to give bloggers a bigger voice? The days are numbered when someone will look at me funny when I use the word "blog" and I think that's a good thing.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Untapped Networks
For Columbia University sociologist Duncan Watts, Microsoft’s continuing battle with the hacker and the aftermath of 9/11 share a striking similarity: both reveal the peril and the power of networks.
Networking is the key to accomplishment. Whether it's people, operations, technical, networking provides a framework for true synergy. However, Mr. Watts' observations about Microsoft in his whole discussion are intriguing. Would breaking MS apart into networked units reduce homogeneity which leads to security problems? Mr. Watts advocates it would. I'm unsure. Does he believe that an open source Linux project demonstrates a strongly networked and robust result? Linux has security problems as bad as MS. So where does that leave us? Isn't the real issue the reliability of the current internal network (involving people, technical considerations) at MS? Creating a new one would just change the kind of network. It would have additional negative effects as well. Exploring the possibilities when you dig into the world of networking is part of the fun.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Roogle :: RSS Search Engine

A way to search RSS feeds for the latest topics without using a client and subscribing. Is Google going to get upset about the name??!!

Google's Memory Upgrade - How Blogger could do more than improve Google's Web searches
If Google can organize the entire Web with such efficacy, imagine what it could do with a much smaller subset of documents. It could make each individual's long, meandering surfing history into something genuinely useful.
Steve Johnson's article has some interesting thoughts about how Google could use the Blogger purchase to extend our memory. I must admit, this sounds pretty useful. Are you listening, Google?

World of Ends: What the Internet Is and How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else.
...if we can just remember one simple fact: the Net is a world of ends. You're at one end, and everybody and everything else are at the other ends.
An interesting read making its way around the blogs. One can see throughout the piece how some people/businesses just don't get it. I especially find the "specter" of applications which can lower the Internet's value an interesting proposition.

Friday, March 07, 2003

The Greatest Story, Newly Told Christ
Based on the Gospel accounts, the dramatic visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (a 17th-century stigmatic) and "The Mystical City of God" by Venerable Mary of Agreda (a 17th-century nun), "The Passion" focuses almost exclusively on the sacrifice of Christ. "We are talking about the single event that influenced civilization as we know it: the law, the arts, our knowledge of good and evil," Mr. Gibson says. "It has touched every possible aspect of everyone's life whether they realize it or not."
Mel Gibson's latest project has thoroughly intrigued me. This report is from the "frontlines" of his effort to capture the death of Christ. It's use of Aramaic, Latin and Hebrew exclusively without English subtitles (though I'm sure some studio will release a version with some) is appealing as described by Gibson. He wants the images to do the "talking". Most know the story of Christ's sacrifice but have never experienced an immersion into its historical context. This envisioning should do that.

PPV Seances Help Princess Di Another Day

TV hits another low...sometimes you just can't believe this stuff.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Oregon bill opens doors to open source | CNET News.com
The Open Source Software for Oregon Act would mandate that any state government agency consider open-source software for all new software acquisitions and make purchasing decisions based on a "value-for-money basis."
When I read this, I couldn't think of a dumber piece of legislation to introduce in the technology arena. Mr. Barnhart wants to save money but there are
studies which demonstrate that open source actually costs more money...not for the software but for the support, re-training, ease-of-use, etc. It's typical political stupidity for a non-technology person/group to dictate technology policy. Let us do our job, Mr. Barnhart. Oh, and I hope you used Open Office running on your Linux desktop to type up the proposed legislation. Otherwise, your PC is exhibit A!

~ Welcome to NARNIA ~Narnia

The movie is coming (The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe) and now it has a web presence. Explore the world of Narnia online and read the books!

The Hobbit Teaser Trailer - by Steve Latham
Before there was a Fellowship,
Before the Two Towers united against Middle-Earth,
Before the Return of a King.
There was "The Hobbit".
Click and dream...

Dawn of the Airborne Laser
When talking about the ability to put force on target, there is nothing faster or more precise than a laser
Nice piece on the "Star Trek"-like laser technology being developed by the military.

Neanderthals not at all related to modern humans
The famous prehistoric Neanderthal people made little or no contribution to the gene pool or culture of modern humans, according to a re-evaluation of their part in evolution.
Common evolution myth dispelled

Review of Intelligent Design DocumentariesIcons of Evolution

Intelligent Design is a seven-year-old movement which is much more than "creationism" in new different clothes. It is a rigorous scientific and thoughtful challenge to the existing paradigms explaining our existence. The scientific community has vehemently lashed out at the movement it sees, rightly so, as a threat. Expect to see more about challenges to the common evolutionary "creation" story here as I highlight news and information which may get little popular press.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Caring for Your Introvert
Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion. As often as I have tried to explain the matter to extroverts, I have never sensed that any of them really understood.
My name is Kevin. And I'm an introvert. But for a few seconds in extroverted exuberance, I came across this article in the Atlantic Monthly which describes my "orientation" very well. I've had many conversations about introverted v. extroverted with others (mostly other introverts) and it's nice to finally see someone do a nice piece for the majority to understand us.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Google Fight

Speaking of Google, have it out with some search terms. See, Google can be fun, too.

Google triggers privacy concerns

Are you worried about Google? Evidently these reporters are. I'm continually amazed at how the media can interview a few "experts" and second-guess the business decisions of some very intelligent people. It seems to me that this particular paranoia probably stems from autogoogling or ego-surfing and uncovering a lot about yourself you didn't know was public.

Am I worried that Google will become Big Brother? Nah, powerful technologies like Google seem ominous unless one understands the efficiencies of the technology. Google isn't search gone awry. It's search which has finally arrived. The point of searching is to find things and lackluster results don't do anyone any good.

True, Google has power. How the power is used is important. We know absolute power corrupts absolutely. But does Google have absolute power? Does their purchase of Blogger make them unstoppable? No to both of these questions.

Should we be afraid? Only if Google rests on its laurels and from where I sit, that won't be soon.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Computer Made from DNA and Enzymes

DNA computerThis caught my eye, especially the picture. My brother is a biochemist and he solves structures like this. I knew our two worlds would someday come together.

Amazon: Books, Videos, Music, Toys, Domain Names??!!

This is an interesting step for Amazon. What will they sell next? Printable ties? (Oh, no, this idea is copyrighted by my friends)

Tablet PCs draw a rousing welcome
Top vendors Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba say sales of their tablet PCs--tiny portable computers fitted with pens, touch screens and handwriting-recognition technology--are exceeding predictions made before the devices' November launch. The machines are based on Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet PC Edition software.
So many skeptics about the introduction of this Microsoft product. And now...silence of the lame.

'Sacred stories' mirror Tolkien's tales
Hobbits in their holes could hardly have been cozier than Robert Wilhelm's students, who gathered before a flickering fireplace to swap the stories behind the story of "The Lord of the Rings."
I felt all cozy reading this article during the weekend. I love fantasy stories and find myself making up worlds in my imagination to share with my daughter. Tolkien's world is wondrous place to visit, in book or movie. If you haven't been lately, please stop by.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Bush Has The One Ring To Rule Them All??

Amazingly, Iraqi forces have attempted to spread disinformation regarding the One Ring of Power commonly thought to have been destroyed millenia ago. The link above is a copy of this propaganda but obviously a fake. Please note that you can see Mr. Bush which eliminates the possibility that this is the One Ring. Wearing the ring renders one invisible or so I have it on good authority (thanks, Samwise). Intelligence sources state that Iraq is actually in possession of the ring and is moving it around at night in mobile "ring" protection carriers. Since the Ring is banned under U.N. treaty, proof of possession is all the reason the U.S. needs to go to war.