Archive for Jul 2003


Where's the Service in this SOA?

CBDi has posted a commentary comparing Amazon's Web services and that offered by salesforce.com. The conclusion: While both use the protocols of Web services, Amazon.com's offering is "service oriented" and salesforce.com's offering is merely lipstick on a pig.
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The Power of Web Enabled Data Sources

I ran across a few interesting tidbits about RSS today that illustrate the powert of creating Web enabled data directories. First, Adrian Holovaty has started to offer custom RSS feeds for his blog. The RSS feed is essentially a generator that takes an optional parameter which represents a search term or filter for the RSS feed. Good idea. The second is interesting as well, but also shows the real power of RSS, Web services, and a properly designed, RESTian interface. Paul Bausch has created a tool for creating custom RSS feeds from Amazon. What's neat however, is that this
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Eve Maler on Web Services Security

Eve Maler is vice-chair of the WS-I Basic Security Profile Working Group and currently coordinating editor of the SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) committee. This recent webservices.org interview with Eve on Web services security is worth reading. One thing that comes out loud and clear is that there's not going to be a magic bullet to Web services security issues. We shouldn't expect one. Rather than deter you from starting on Web services, however, this should induce you to not wait for the next standard or specification. There are solutions that work now. Eve says: Web services are currently
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Gartner Survey Shows Web Services Projects Holding

A recent Gartner survey finds that while some businesses have slowed down Web services projects, not many of these projects have been cancelled. Gartner found that 48% of respondents said that the economy had caused them to curtail some spending, but the projects have continued. Nicole Latimer, a Gartner analyst, says: Only 1% of respondents stated that they stopped all Web services development projects going forward, and only 6% stated that their organization has postponed the majority of Web services development projects for 1 year or more.
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Enterprise Architecture Certification

I spent the day with John Gotze from Denmark discussing Denmark's enterprise architecture initiatives. I hope to write some additional thoughts on enterprise architecture later. While we were talking, John mentioned, the Federal Enterprise Architecture Certification Institute which was, coincidentally, related to this morning's post on the NDU CIO certification program. I'd never heard of FEACI before, even though I heard its executive director, Felix Rausch, speak at the Federal CIO conference I spoke at in May.
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Federal CIO Certificate Program

The National Defense University offers several interesting certification programs for federal IT managers in IT management. The CIO Certificate Program requires coursework in eleven areas: Policy Information Resources Strategic Planning Leadership/Management Process Improvement Capital Planning and Investment Performance and Results Based Management Technology Assessment Architectures and Infrastructures Security and Assurance Acquisition eGovernment/eBusiness The eGovernment Certificate Program requires coursework in eight areas: Policy Planning and Organization Change Management Architecture and Enterprise Integration Financial Resources Performance Management Security and Privacy Human Capital or Information and Knowledge Resources These courses are necessarily focused on the needs of the Federal government, but state
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Binary XML

In September, the W3C will host a workshop on binary XML formats. Your first reaction may be the same as mine: what the heck is binary XML? Binary XML is an attempt to find a common format for communicating pre-parsed XML trees to reduce bandwidth and the time it takes to parse large XML documents. The audience is primarily embedded and similar applications, but of course, once the genie's out of the bottle, it will be used in all sorts of applications. The announcement lists several advantages: It would not be restricted to a single schema or vocabulary, and
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Digitally Signed Photos on US Passports

This article in New Scientist discusses a plan by the US Passport Service to issue with "smart" passports carrying a digitally signed photograph by late 2004. The new passports will include a smart card that will hold a digitally signed image. Of course, a lot of people are concerned about the potential for abuse. I've never shared those concerns. I think the advantages significantly outweigh the potential problems. Utah went through a period of civic dialogue (meaning people went non-linear) a few years ago when Scott Howell introduced legislation to make the driver's license into a smart card. I
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OSS in Government

Tom Adelstein continues his series on open source software (OSS) use in state and local government today with fourth article that talks about how the procurement process affects OSS. Tom makes some excellent points that jive with my experience. But, there are several insidious dynamics related to OSS that I don't think Tom quite captures. First, RFPs are not written in a vacuum. RFP authors write it after studying whatever resources are available to them, including vendor web sites, sales material, and, interestingly enough, the salespeople themselves. There's an old saying in Government that if you want to win
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I'm Back from Camping

I spent last week with my son and his scout troop at Camp Steiner in the High Uintas. Really spectacular scenery and not a bad camp. I was the scoutmaster of this troop for 6 years, so I still like to tag along sometimes when they'll let me. I took a few photos.
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Away for a Few Days

I'm going to be away for the next four days.
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Real-Time Problems for MacDonalds and Innovate

Baseline Magazine in one of my favorite reads (right next to InfoWorld, honest) for information about enterprise computing. Their articles are detailed and usually tell a story in an analytical way. This month's issue has a detailed article, with numerous sidebars, about MacDonald's decision to cancel Innovate its five year, $1B program to build a real-time system for monitoring everything about its 30,000 stores, right down to the temperature in the fry-cooker. They'd already spent $170M which is largely just money down the drain at this point. A few weeks ago I wrote about the real-time enterprise and this
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Intermoutain Exchange: Call for Participation

The IX1 web site is still accepting proposals. Intermountain eXchange is an annual regional conference focused on next-generation wide-area network issues affecting Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Nevada. We're excited to hear about what others in the Intermountain region are doing with wide area and metropolitan area networks. If you're doing something that others should know about, please respond to the CFP.
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Untangling Web App Security

With the increased use of Web applications, businesses have had to peel back a layer in their perimeter defenses and give public network traffic access to internal applications. The result is a rise in network security problems, and an increase in the need to audit and thoroughly check publicly facing code for potential security vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, security expertise is in short supply. WebInspect 3.0 from SPI Dynamics aims to fill that gap by automating the tasks necessary to perform security audits. WebInspect is a remote assessment tool, meaning that it performs its audits solely by means of the same
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CNN on Aggregators

Calling them the biggest change to the way we use the Web since Mosaic, CNN has an article on news aggregators. In the typical style of the popular technology press is full of gushing and contains lots of "ooohs" and even a few "aahs". Very interesting to see the mainstream press finally start to talk about aggregators. Reminds me of 1994 when they started talking about browsers. Interestingly enough, there's no link to an RSS feed from CNN, which last time I checked it out was a static document pointing to the main cnn.com site. I can't find it
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CS 462 Class Information

I'm starting to get some questions from people who are interested in taking CS462 in the Fall. CS462 is a class on large scale distributed systems that I teach at Brigham Young University. Here's information on when the course meets and the texts I've selected: When: 5:00-6:15 pm MW Where: W142 BNSN The class will have three main sections: one on 2-tier architectures, one on n-tier architectures, and one on Web services. There is, unfortunately, no one text that can cover all of these, so there are three. All are required. MySQL and JSP Web Applications by James Turner
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Wireless VoIP

An interesting article in Fortune asks whether Wi-FI will revolutionize the phone. In particular, it talks about wireless of hotspots and the real possibility of multi-more phones that will allow you to call over IP when you're inside a hot spot and avoid cell charges. Cisco already has a portable handset for use with Wi-Fi networks. I make calls right now over Wi-Fi since that's the only internet connectivity I have and Vonage is my phone provider. There's no great technology breakthrough required here---just a little integration.
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IT Reloaded: The Other Side of the Fence

According to economist W. Brian Arthur, Citibank professor at the Santa Fe Institute, "This country's one and only economic driver for the next several decades rests solely in the hands of CIOs." That's a bold statement and one that seems to fly right in the face of the IT Doesn't Matter Anymore mindset. In an interview with CIO magazine, Arthur's observation is that digital technologies go beyond automating, and create fundamental changes: As different industries encounter digital technology, which includes telecommunications and satellites, the pattern seems to be that completely new activities spring to life. It's not about speed
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Relax NG

I wanted to go to Mike Fitzgerald's talk on Relax NG last week at the OReilly Open Source Convention, but it was opposite Andy McKay's Plone talk and I needed to go to that for other reasons. I did make a note to myself to spend some time looking into it when I got back and this morning I had a few minutes to do that. The basic syntax for XML is pretty loose, basically requiring only a sea of angle brackets, proper tag nexting, and strict matching of opening and closing tags. Of course, to really make XML
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Quantum Cryptography

Business Week has an accessible article on quantum cryptography. Quantum cryptography encodes information in the the orientation of photons and relying on Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle to detect eavesdroppers. If you're looking for more information than what's available in the BW article try the following: BBN intro page on quantum cryptogrpahy Recent Red Herring technology brief on quantum cryptogrpahy A more technical article in Physic's Today from 2000 called From Quantum Cheating to Quantum Security
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Jim Gray on Storage

Several days ago Tim Bray pointed to a wonderful interview of Jim Gray by Dave Patterson. Really very good. Be sure to read the piece at the end on intelligent disks. Jim has taken to shipping terabytes of data around via UPS inside computers because its cheaper than the net or even tapes. He says: The phone bill, at the rate Microsoft pays, is about $1 per gigabyte sent and about $1 per gigabyte received--about $2,000 per terabyte. It's the same hassle for me whether I send it via the Internet or an overnight package with a computer. I
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eGovernment in the Kyrgyz Republic

I had a unique opportunity to meet with Almaz Bakenov, an attache with the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic and speak with him about eGovernment. Almaz has a Masters degree in Computer Science and one in Electrical Engineering as well. Our conversation focused on four areas of eGovernment: IT as a driver in economic development - IT can provide an opportunity for economic development in underdeveloped countries. Kyrgyzstan has few natural resources and has to rely on its workforce, which is surprisingly well educated, to drive economic growth. IT as a driver in societal growth and change - IT
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Munich Goes with Linux

At OSCON, Mitch Kapor predicted that the public sector would lead the way in moving Linux to the desktop. USA Today has a long article that details some of the behind the scenes movement in Munich's recent decision to put Linux on 14,000 desktops. Its interesting that this wasn't a decision made on cost. Indeed the winning bid, by IBM and SuSE, was almost $12M over the Microsoft bid. This was more about choice, future direction and out-year costs than it was about the immediate price.
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IT Does So Matter!

I recently wrote about a Harvard Business Review article by Nicholas Carr called Why IT Doesn't Matter Anymore. My review focused on the idea that IT commoditization brings with it an increased role for operational excellence on the part of IT staffs. An article on ComputerWorld, entitled "IT Does So Matter!" reports interviews with four CIOs and their responses to Carr's article. The focus of that article is on innovation. I love this quote from Andrew McAfee (also of Harvard Business School): Andrew McAfee of Harvard Business School McAfee: It's a matter of whether we're talking about IT enhancing
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Internet Voting in 2004

This Boston.com article talks about the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment being run by the Pentagon which will allow thousands of military personnel and overseas civilians to vote in the 2004 election. Certain overseas residents of South Carolina and Hawaii and those in a handful of counties in Arkansas, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington will be able to participate. Of course, like any issue, this one has its fans and its critics. Critics are mostly concerned about security and that's nothing to treat lightly. I don't understand the specifics enough to pass judgment. The
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Harold Carr: PEPt Architecture for RPC Systems

Harold Carr has started a blog. He works for Sun, but lives in Salt Lake, so I've added him to the Utah Blogroll. I met Harold when I was planning on going to Middleware 2003 in Rio. Unfortunately, I was unable to go, but Harold was kind enough to bring me back a copy of the proceedings. He had a paper in the conference on an RPC architecture he developed called PEPt. PEPt stands for presentation, encoding, protocol, and transport. From the abstract: PEPt is an architecture for implementing RPC systems. Although RPC systems seem quite varied they actually
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OSCON Wrap-up: Commodity Software is a Business Opportunity for Service Companies

At the beginning of OSCON in his keynote address, Tim mentioned a difference between software and services that caught my attention: if you buy a piece of software and the company goes out of business, the software still works. On the other hand, if you take the people out of a business like Google, or even your favorite ISP, there's no more service---its just goes away. This isn't a huge revelation, but its an interesting way to think about the service economy being about people rather than things. I had this in the back of my mind as I
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Beyond Struts

I'm in a session by Michael╩Rimov from Centerline Computers and Craig╩McClanahan from Sun Microsystems, Inc. called "Beyond Struts." Michael is the lead developer on the
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Miguel de Icaza: The Mono Project

Miguel╩de Icaza is talking on Beyond .NET: The Mono Project. Mono is a virtual machine, a set of class libraries, and development tools for an open source version of C#. The project is two years old. Miguel is an entertaining speaker. Dan Olsen and I have had some Java vs. C# discussions. Dan is sold on C#, I've primarily been stopped by two things: (1) I need a bigger difference than the one that exists between java and C# to learn another language and (2) I'm not happy to be locked into a Microsoft environment---in fact I'll avoid it
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Von Neumann's Universe: Coding (and Engineering) at the IAS, 1945-1956

George Dyson (Esther's brother) is speaking about Von Neumann's Universe: Coding (and Engineering) at the IAS, 1945-1956. George is a resident scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) and go through the archives. His father, Freeman Dyson is an emeritus professor of IAS and a renowned scientist. He's showing documents, pictures and some of the original drawings and schematics. The documents are full of names that are instantly recognizable, Godel, Pauli, Einstein. EDVAC was the name of the computer designed and built there. The budget for designing the machine was $50,000. George has schematics for and and or
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Mike Kruckenberg: Transforming XML for Web and Print

Mike Kruckenberg is from Tufts University. He's talking about how they built a system for managing documents and and displaying them for various media (i.e. content management). Mike, in case you're curious, the brother of Pete, a good friend. Mike specifically concerned with translating documents for web and print (namely PDF). They created a document standard with a Schema and developed templates for XML authoring application to make creating the documents easy. They created an customized XML authoring environment from an off the shelf tool that was essentially the destination for any conversion process. They also provided an online
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Brian Ingerson: Ingy on Kwiki

I'm in Brian Ingerson's talk on Kwiki. Kwiki is the PERL based Wiki software that is running the OSCON Wiki. Brian is the author of numerous Perl modules. One of the chief design goals behind Kwiki was to make it easy to install. Brian demos this by creating a new directory (that can function as a CGI directory), typing "install-kwiki" and there's an instant kwiki. That's a neat feature if you want to tack up and tear down wikis for specific purposes (like using them as an adjunct to a conference call). Brian points out a few Kwiki sites:
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Panel: Open Source Projects in the US Government

Lisa Wolfisch is conducting a panel on Open Source Projects in the US Government. Well, its actually just her and Pat Moran from NASA Ames. The third panelist was supposed to be Terry Bollinger, but he couldn't make it at the last minute. That's too bad, Terry is a MITRE employee who did a study on FOSS (free and open source software) usage in the US government. I heard his speach last January and it was full of interesting things. Lisa said she has his slides, so maybe she'll give us a rundown. She is going over a summary
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Doc Searls: DIY-IT: How Open Source is Turning IT into a DIY Marketplace

Doc is speaking on DIY-IT, his view of how OSS is turning IT into a do-it-yourself marketplace. This talk was added just today and I'm glad to see Doc on the program. He's always got something interesting to say and further, he says it in an interesting way. Doc's July column for Linux Journal is Linux for Suits: How Linux Makes Companies Smarter and I'm confident that's related to what he's going to say today. Every story has three parts: a story is about a (1) character with a (2) problem moving toward (3) resolution. Doc says this is
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Kevin Falcone: LDAP: Integrating Authentication Across Operating Systems and Applications

Kevin Falcone is speaking on LDAP: Integrating Authentication Across Operating Systems and Applications. This talk is a report on work he did as a student administrator at Northeastern University to create a single authentication authority using LDAP. This is a popular talk. There are people sitting on the floor and standing at the back and out the door. The old system was based on NIS (Network Information Services or yp). There was no security model, the passwords were passed in the clear, and you have to use the yp tools. On the other hand it worked because its stock
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Mitch Kapor: Linux' Journey to the Mainstream Desktop

Mitch Kapor is talking on "Linux' Journey to the Mainstream Desktop." OSAF's larger mission embraces more than just Chandler. Mitch recently initiated a project on behalf of OSAF to "take a careful look at the state of Linux on the desktop, and asked Bart Decrem to spearhead a short-term research project to assess the current situation and trends." You can read that report here (PDF). Mitch is convinced that Linux will take a significant share of the desktop market. He takes a swipes at SCO as a company that has no business model other than taking the money that
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Stormy Peters: Open Source at HP

Stormy Peters is the Director of HP's Open Source office, the office that is responsible for HP's use of open source software. She claims $2 billion in Linux related revenue at HP last year. She has a nice slide that shows a hierarchical representation of open source licenses. She characterizes the MIT and W3C licenses as having no restrictions, the BSD and Apache license has having restrictions, but no impact on other code, and all the others as some variant of copyleft. Stormy talks about Martin Fink's book called The Business and Economics of Linux and Open Source. Martin
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Aleksey Sanin: XMl Security Standards in the Real World

Aleksey Sanin is talking about How to Use XML Security Standards in the Real World. He's going to speak on W3C XML Security specifications, the XML security library, and practical tips for XML security. XML security specifications provide fine grained security for XML documents. XML Canonicalization (is that a word) provides a way to create a single XML document in the face of ambiguous XML formatting. For example, attribute order doesn't matter in XML, but it does if you're going to check signatures. Aleksey recommends the Exclusive C14N algorithm. The XML digital signature standard defines the schema for aggregating
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Simon St. Laurent: Office XML Formats

Simon St. Laurent is talking about the XML formats for XML. Simon is clearly excited by the advent of XML formats for Office even though he's not known as a Microsoft Fan. He cites Internet Explorer's lax support for XML as a sign that Microsoft, advertising notwithstanding, has not always been the biggest supporter of XML. The last six months have shown that Microsoft only plans to fully support XML (at least with InfoPath [nee XDocs]) in the Enterprise edition. Word has a format called WordML. In the professional edition, you get a set of tools for editing XML
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Slashdot on Open Source

A few interesting posts from Slashdot today: OSCON news A note that the Japanese government will start doing its payroll on a Linux-based system.
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Andy McKay: Introduction to Plone

Andy╩McKay from Agmweb Consulting is giving an Introduction to Plone. Plone is an open source content managment system built on CMF and Zope, which I've always thought of as an open source content management tool. Actually, Zope likes to think of itself as application server for content. Plone is a bundling of products: External Editor, Photo, Collector, and Wiki from Zope and PIL, ReportLab, Win32Extension from Python. Plone, like any good CMS separates the logic, presentation (CSS), and content. As an example, a "printable" view of a page is just a CSS change. There are built-in content types for
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Ward Cunningham and Brian Ingerson: The FIT Framework

I was going to attend Ayesha╩Malik's (Object Machines) talk on Best Practices for XML Schemas, but Ayesha didn't show. As an alternative, I decided on Ward Cunningham's talk on Framework for Integrated Tests of fit. I'm glad I did. Fit, is a methodology for creating tests for software modules that uses an HTML front end and a simple table format for creating tests. An automated backend uses these HTML pages to drive the code and report success or failure. The benefit to this is that business people or customers can define and read the tests according to what they
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Tim O'Reilly's Keynote: Open Source Paradigm Shifts

Tim's talking about paradigm shifts. He makes the point that software makers no longer tied to hardware. IBM gave that right to Microsoft and created a the biggest powerhouse in the computer world. Open architecture inevitably leads to commodity software But open architectures can contain proprietary components: viz. Intel Inside, Cisco Tim sees some trends: Commoditization of software user-Customizable systems and architectures network-enabled Collaboration Open source promotes competition and dives down margins linux on intel gives 10x savings Apache means web serving is not a revenue opportunity MySQL threatens to do the same thing for databases (there's a Wall
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Off to OSCON

I'm getting ready to leave for Portland for the O'Reilly Open Source Convention. I really enjoyed last year's event and I'm looking forward to this year's convention. If you're going to be there, look me up and say "hi."
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IX1: Intermountain eXchange

The IX1 web site and call for participation have been posted. Intermountain eXchange is an annual regional conference focused on next-generation wide-area network issues affecting Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Nevada. I posted the notes from the program committee meeting earlier along with a list of objectives: Discuss why broadband matters in the Intermountain Region Educate about regional developments in broadband and wide are networking. Share success stories, case studies, and ideas Develop a common vision and understanding of what is possible. As an outcome, define a path for future regional efforts Jim Stewart has posted
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Government Information Awareness

I first found out about the GIA program from Dioecetes, and then later saw this article in Wired News. A group of MIT researchers have started a web site for gathering intelligence on elected officials in the interest of better government. Its so busy today that its hard to see what it does for sure. I think transparency is one of the most important features that eGovernment can have. Not all eGovernment has to be from the government. Some of it, as this GIT project points out, might best come from non-profits or others.
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Blogging in the Workplace

An article in today's New York Times (free registration required) talks about how some companies are using weblogs as an alternative to email.
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Pipelining the Web

Suppose you've created a Web services interface to a legacy application. Later, you decide to restrict access to this Web service to a certain collection of trading partners. You could modify the Web service itself, but this makes it less general and thus harder to reuse in some other capacity. Instead, an active intermediary can sit in front of your Web service and perform the authentication and authorization using LDAP, SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language), or another system.╩ Of course, programmers have been writing wrappers -- programs that sit outside another program and serve as its proxy -- for
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Managing the Web Services Flow

One of the chief differences between the decentralized computing model defined by Web services and distributed computing models of the past is the shift in component ownership. In distributed architectures, most of the interacting software components operated in a single trusted domain that was centrally managed. In the new decentralized model, interactions between components span organizational boundaries, making it difficult to manage, configure, monitor, and update the components from a single operations organization. Core 3.0 from Confluent Software is a Web services manager that tackles this problem by providing a single point of configuration for far-flung Web service components.
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Chad Gets RSS

I'm glad to see more pieces in the media about the advantages of aggregators and RSS like this one by Chad Dickerson. Chad quotes Phil Wolff saying that RSS newsreaders are TiVo for bloggers. That's a great line, for anyone who is in-the-know on TiVo. There are too many people who haven't figured that one out yet either. I've been enamored with RSS and its possibilities since I first heard about it reading a column by Jon Udell called Hyperlinks Matter. That column's also what led to me start a blog. RSS gives me the NY Times, Infoworld, Yahoo
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Laptops Beat Desktop Sales

The New Your Times (free registration required) reports that laptop sales surpassed desktop sales for the the first time in May. This doesn't surprise me. Laptops are more convenient. I think laptop users are potentially more productive. I've used a laptop exclusively for years. What's held laptops back is their price/performace ratio. But now, computers are getting fast enough that people are finding that reasonable priced laptops are "fast enough." And as the article says, laptops are sleeker and sexier than clunky desktops. When we talk about the move to mobile computing, we immediately think of phones and PDAs,
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No Fees for Online Vehicle Registration

Dave Fletcher reports that as of yesterday, utah.gov has additional dropped fees for renewing your vehicle online. This is a big step. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out ways to get rid of the fees. No one likes paying more for online renewal---most people think it ought to be cheaper. But government funding methods don't always mesh with real world expectations. Dave doesn't report how they finally managed to pull this off, but given that it happened on July 1, the start of the fiscal year, I'd guess it has something to do with a
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Escape from ETL Hell: The Real Time Enterprise

Five 9's--the universal symbol of reliability in high-tech. Five 9's represents 99.999% uptime or just a little over five minutes of allowed downtime per year. Achieving five 9s isn't easy. Operations organizations that do achieve it do it, in part, by carefully instrumenting and monitoring systems using expensive software like HP OpenView and IBM's Tivoli. These kinds of systems aren't cheap, but operations managers know that you can't manage what you can't measure and with only five minutes to spare in any given year, they'd better have that information in real time. Technical operations managers may have pioneered the
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A Visit to SCO

While I was on the Linux Journal site, I ran across this article by Ian Lance Taylor on a visit to SCO right here in Lindon Utah to discuss their lawsuit and their case. Ian is just a developer from San Francisco who called up SCO and arranged a visit. Interesting reading.
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Open Source Software Use in State and Local Government

Tom Adelstein. a Linux consultant in Dallas, Texas, has written a three part series in Linux Journal on the state of OSS in state and local government. Part I is about the state of open source in government--where it's happening, what it's used for, who's for it and who's against it. Part II is a look behind the scenes and OSS in Texas. Part II is A look at the success of Linux in schools, and how it should constitute the model for state and local government. This is pretty comprehensive look at open source issues in state and
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