Insight, analysis and stuff for managers
"Podcast" beat out "lifehack," "reggaeton" and other
newly minted words in the annual quest for editors
of the New Oxford American Dictionary to
choose the Word of the Year. The editors will add
podcast, defined as "a digital recording of a radio
broadcast or similar program, made available on
the Internet for downloading to a personal audio
player," to the next online update of the dictionary,
due in early 2006. Other runners-up for top word
include "rootkit," "sudoku" and "IED" (improvised
There's one thing you can be sure of when you get back
into the office right after a vacation or lengthy business
trip: Your email inbox will be maxed out. Microsoft
Research has developed a program that promises to shelter
Outlook users from an email tsunami-and it's free. It's
the Social Network and Relationship Finder, better known
as SNARF. The Outlook add-on filters and prioritizes email
based on the type of message and the user's history with
their correspondents. Emails from regular correspondentsyour
boss, for example, rise to the top of the stack. Emails
from people you've never heard of fall to the bottom.
"SNARF grew out of an exploration of how people triage
their email and whether social information would help,"
says A.J. Brush, a researcher within Microsoft Research's Community Technologies Group who, along with then-intern
Carman Neustaedter, devised the project in the summer of
2004. "Just by using email, we build up a huge amount of
implicit information about whom our friends and colleagues
are-who I send email to and receive email from-and SNARF
can take advantage of this."
10 YEARS AGO
The January 1996 issue of Application
Development Trends took on a new
look for the new year. After consulting
with focus groups, and under the guidance
of leading publication designer
Ron Campisi, the third generation of
Application Development Trends debuted,
featuring "increased readability
and expanded content...designed to
make your jobs easier and your careers more successful."
While delivering the keynote address at the DB/Expo in
New York, Andrew "Flip" Filipowski, CEO of Platnium Technology,
asserted that Internet security threats are greatly exaggerated.
"Who gives a [expletive] if they see your credit
card number on the Internet?" he asked. Flip proved the point
by reading his American Express card number and expiration
date to the audience. He believed banks fearful of losing business
to the Internet were preying on the public's fears.
Kevin McGilloway, CIO for Lehman Brothers, expressed
dismay over the "mercenary mentality" in the I/S field. "The
covenant between company and employee has been broken.
People are now saying, 'I'm a Sybase person, or an Oracle
person, or a Microsoft person.' And they are moving
from job to job." In the same interview, MicGilloway predicted
the outsourcing of 15 percent of his staff within 3 to 4 years.
He claimed that a "Cobol programmer without any specialized
skills will see his job go to a programmer in Guatemala
who's making $1 a day."
In a column published in Newsweek,
Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google and Hal
Varian, a Berkeley professor and
Google consultant, enumerated 10
principles the company relies on to
make its knowledge workers most
effective. What follows is a condensed
version of that column:
Hire by committee. Virtually
every person who interviews at
Google talks to at least half-a-dozen
interviewers, drawn from both management
and potential colleagues.
Everyone's opinion counts.
Cater to their every need. We
provide a standard package of fringe
benefits, but on top of that are firstclass
dining facilities, gyms, laundry
rooms, massage rooms, haircuts, carwashes,
dry cleaning, commuting buses—just about anything a hardworking
engineer might want.
Pack them in. Almost every project
at Google is a team project, and
teams have to communicate.
Make coordination easy. Because
all members of a team are within a few
feet of one another, it is relatively easy
to coordinate projects.
Eat your own dog food. Google
workers use the company's tools
intensively. The most obvious tool
is the Web, with an internal Web
page for virtually every project and
Encourage creativity. Google engineers
can spend up to 20 percent of
their time on a project of their choice.
Strive to reach consensus. We
adhere to the view that the "many are
smarter than the few," and solicit a
broad base of views before reaching
Don't be evil. We foster to create
an atmosphere of tolerance and respect,
not a company full of yes men.
Data drive decisions. At Google,
almost every decision is based on
Communicate effectively. Every
Friday we have an all-hands assembly
with announcements, introductions,
and questions and answers.
Data integration's role in enterprise information management is drawing crowds.
The early-morning session on the convergence of data integration and app integration
for rollouts, such as SOA, generated a sizable audience at Gartner's
December conference on Application Integration and Web Services, reports
research VP Ted Friedman on the event blog.
Distinct sets of technologies, data integration and app integration are beginning
to "collide," a trend evidenced by enterprise strategies and vendors'
product portfolios, he observes. The large audience peppered session-leader
Friedman with lots of questions about SOAs, master data management and the
connection between data integration tools, app integration middleware and
BPM, he reports. The takeaway from the session according to Friedman:
"Understand that data integration is a critical component of an overall
Recognize that the manner in which data integration is implemented, and
the intersection between data integration and SOA, will be evolving rapidly.
Focus on effective management of metadata and data quality to minimize
integration risk and increase effectiveness.
Design and manage all styles of integration, including data integration,
through an ICC to drive consistency and productivity."
Plastic Logic, a developer of plastic
electronics, says it has developed the
world's largest flexible active matrix
display. The display consists of a flexible,
high-resolution, printed active-matrix
backplane driving an electronic
paper frontplane from U.S.-based E Ink.
The displays are 10" diagonal SVGA
(600 X 800) with 100ppi resolution
and 4 levels of grayscale. The thickness
of the display when laminated with E
Ink Imaging Film is less than 0.4mm.
The Walletex USB Flash drive is approximately
the same size as a credit
card (it's a bit thicker) and comes in capacities
ranging from 128MB to 2GB.
The 128MB version is the only one shipping,
and it is priced at $29.
If you think you play a mean air guitar,
now you can take your act live. Researchers
at the Telecommunications
Software and Multimedia Laboratory
and the Acoustics Laboratory of the
Helsinki University of Technology
have developed the Virtual Air Guitar.
Don a pair of orange gloves,
strike a pose and rock on. A willingness
to look like a fool probably
helps too. "Strum" the air with your
right hand, choke the "guitar's"
neck with the left, and you'll be
playing "Smoke on the Water" in no
The Virtual Air Guitar uses
several pieces of software. Your actions
are read by an input device,
such as a Webcam, and analyzed by
a gesture recognition app. A musical
intelligence app interprets these
gestures and sends commands to
the sound model, which produces
the final sound.
Spear phishing: Sending
fraudulent email message
or fake Web sites to a targeted
individual or small
group, such as a company,
in an effort to steal
Need to find an expert on the Web
but don't know where to start?
Among the Web 2.0 SEO contenders
is Squidoo.com-the brainchild
of Web head Seth Godin-now
in public beta. Business guru and author Godin, whose branding involves
partial shots of his bald head, is the founder of early online permissions
marketing venture Yoyodyne, which was acquired by Yahoo.
The idea behind Squidoo.com is to create a co-op of experts online.
The experts, aka lensmasters, share their knowledge by creating a "lens,"
or view into the topics they are passionate about-and of course, you, me
and your colleague who loves the Yankees are each an expert at something.
That's the idea. Lenses in the top
100 on the beta site cover topics as diverse
as Suduko and Introduction to Information
A single Web page built in minutes using
a standardized layout and user interface,
the lens points searchers to
information on the Web via links, abstracts,
lists, RSS feeds, tags and other
relevant lenses. An important distinction,
writes Godin in his Squidoo.com ebook, is, unlike a blog, which holds content, a lens is designed
to point to content that can help searchers make sense of a topic.
To help searchers find the best, most highly trafficked lenses, Squidoo.com
uses a ranking system, dubbed "LensRank," determined by a proprietary
algorithm that measures traffic.
What's in it for you? Another resource for information leads, but also
money, according to Squidoo.com, if you create a lens that's popular. To
start, you claim a domain name, build the lens for free, then link it to relevant
content, which could include your own blogs, Web sites and corp
affiliations. The co-op aspect of Squidoo.com, not enabled in the beta
version, will eventually allow lensmasters to profit from their lense—every
Web page features Google AdSense ads—via royalties based on keyword
clicks, referral fees and other affiliated income. Down the road, lensmasters
may be able to convert royalties into frequent-flyer miles or points
toward hotel stays.
Squidoo.com, really a corp, despite the co-op moniker, will attempt to
make money through the Google ads, "in partnership" with lensmasters,
who will qualify for a pro-rated share if their page is highly trafficked. According
to Squidoo.com, 5 percent of post-expense revenue will go to charity,
50 percent to lensmasters and the rest to investors and employees.
In mid-December, the Squidoo.com beta site tracked 6,679 lenses and
counting. So what are you an expert in?