Archive for Jun 2004


Utah Voting Equipment Selection Committee

The State of Utah's Voting Equipment Selection Committee is holding a public meeting tomorrow afternoon at 1pm in Price (in the Public Safety Building, 240 W. Main St.). This is the last public meeting before they release their RFP on July 6th. I'd love to attend but other appointments keep me from getting to Price. Is there anyone who can go, take notes, and send them in?
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Hatch and INDUCE

The Standard Examiner has an editorial on Senator Hatch's INDUCE Act which targets P2P technology in defense of the Music and Movie industries. I agree with what they've said. P2P is about much more than illegally sharing copyrighted materials. I believe INDUCE gives incumbent companies power to veto technology that threatens their business model regardless of its benefits in other areas. This is bad policy and bad business. Interestingly almost no one protected by this bill lives in Utah and Utah companies would be hurt disproportionately by this bill since they tend to be smaller and rely more on
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Dynamic Language Meets Dynamic Database

I'm working with Aradyme to help them develop product plans for the next version of their software. The core of Aradyme is a database with a dynamic schema. We decided today that Python will be the supported scripting language in the new version. Previous versions have used a homegrown scripting language. I saw a demo today of the Aradyme extension to Python that allows Aradyme databases to be manipulated directly from within the Python program. Its clean, simple, and performs well. Making the decision to go with an established language was easy. Someone else is optimizing the interpreter, someone
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J2EE Lead Programmer

Sento (I'm on the Board of Directors) is looking for a lead programmer with J2EE experience. The work is farily interesting: developing a next generation platform for their core business. The job is located in Utah. Send me and email with a resume if you're interested and I'll forward it on.
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Campaign Site Security

Wired News has a story about the lack of security on Bush and Kerry's campaign sites. This isn't that surprising. The interesting thing about campaigns is that they have a hard deadline. You can't slip. That puts tremendous pressure on the campaign to throw up the site quickly and concentrate on content and functionality. Of course, ignoring security is a risk and one that campaign managers are unlikely to understand fully. They'll pay more attention after a candidate is hurt because of poor Web site security.
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Apple Previews Tiger

Banners hung at Apple's 2004 WWDC taunt Microsoft Steve Jobs unveiled Tiger, Apple's newest version of the OS X operating system, at the 2004 world wide developer's conference (WWDC) yesterday. The hall was hung with banners that threw the announcement in Microsoft's face with slogans like "This should keep Redmond busy," "Redmond, start you photocopiers," "Redmond we have a problem," and "Introducing Longhorn." The two most interesting part of the Tiger announcement to me are a system wide search feature called Spotlight that searches everything, including email and appointment, rather than just files and an RSS feedreader integrated into
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Supernova: Afternoon Thoughts

Here are some thoughts I recorded as I listened to some of the topics this afternoon. From Marc Canter: "FOAF is a lingua fraca for identity data." From the Connected work panel: "We need to be able to move authenticated secure sessions between different messaging systems." I was struck by the fact that we have all these different messaging formats and transport protocols and we can't translate between them. They're silos. In the email panel, Stowe Boyd said: "I think email sucks!" He goes on: I think that IM is a better model -- so much better that email
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Rip, Mix and Burn

Michael Sippey asks Where's the rip, mix & burn? The point being that RSS is not about blogs, its about hyperfragmented, recombinational media. We don't use it like that. I was talking to Doc Searls at lunch about his IT Garage. Rather than write specifically for it, I'd rather "syndicate" some of the content from this blog in the original sense off that word. Right now, I have to cut and paste to do that. It should be more automatic than that.
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RSS for Food

Steve Gillmor has a great article on how RSS aggregators could do a better job of showing items of interest. He gives three specific examples of what they might do to do their job smarter: To begin with, we need to harness the information we already possess about who and what we read. Rather than relying on content creators to signal already consumed material, let's let the RSS aggregator (offline or online) filter out the links, but not the supporting commentary, to already consumed posts. Instrumenting the browser to record what is read, in what order, and for how
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Supernova: Social Spreadsheets

These are some comments and thoughts from a panel called "The Network is People." Esther Dyson, Ray Ozzie, Mena Trott, and Christopher Allen were the panelists. Spreadsheets were amazing because they sit in the middle, between calculators and the corporate accounting system. They let people not just change the numbers, but to change the models and to build new models. The power of the spreadsheet is the power to persuade people (some might say "beat them into submission"). Spreadsheets are as much about group interaction as presentation software is. Social networks have a problem in that they let you
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Supernova: Ray Ozzie on Cooperative Work

Ray Ozzie, the founder of Groove Networks is giving a short perspective on "The Future of Cooperative Work in a Connected World." He's using several case studies with Groove as examples. The talk was interesting and showed how P2P work spaces are being used in Iraq. He cites the example of a Naval Commander with the Iraq Humanitarian Operations Center created an instant interorganizational workspace for doing humanitarian inventories using Groove, their personal laptops, and the open Internet. Here are some points Ray makes based on this and other experiences: A tool's value rises dramatically according to its fitness
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Supernova: The Future of Work

Tom Malone from MIT's Sloan School is speaking on Decentralization. Tom is the author of The Future of Work. Tom thinks we are in the early stages of an increase of human freedom in business that may be in the long run as an important a change for business as democracy was for government. New technologies are making it possible for organizations to have the economic benefits of large organizations while maintaining the human benefits of small organizations. Its now possible for huge numbers of people to have all the information they need about the big picture to make their
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Global Guerrillas

I had a chance to spend a lot of time at dinner last night with John Robb (former CEO of Userland) about his forthcoming book on Global Guerrillas. Fascinating and scary stuff.
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Hosted Community Building Tools for Politics

Judith Meskill's Social Software Weblog points to I Stand For, a new service of Andrew Weinreich, the founder of Friendster. The idea is to provide hosted solutions for political causes to build community.
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Exploding the Enterprise: Summary

As I've considered the topic of the panel, Exploding the Enterprise and discussed it with the panelists, we've decided that the description in the Supernova program is sufficiently vague to allow at least two interpretations: Exploding the Enterprise in an internal sense. That is, allowing teams, groups and organizations to function effectively regardless of distance. Exploding the Enterprise in the external sense. That is, creating opportunities for more and more of the business to be performed by service bureaus and even independent contractors. The first is the domain of network communications, groupware, IM, and presence. The second is the domain
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BYU Linux Install Fest

The BYU Unix User's Group will be holding a Linux Install Fest this Saturday from 10am to 3pm in the lobby of the Crabtree Building (just south of the Wilkensen Center). They say: Bring your computer and get help with Linux installation or configuration. We'll have CDs available for Fedora, Mandrake, and Debian. If you would like to use some other distribution, feel free to bring your own CDs, and we'll help you with it. Remember to backup your data; problems are rare, but it's good to be careful. Defragmenting your hard drive will also speed up the process.
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Lovemarks: iPod and BMW

Combining the iPod with a BMW is a sure win in my book. I have a passion for BMWs. I've owned a 3-series and a 5-series and they were both fantastic cars. I think the older 5-series (not the newest model) may have been the best production car ever made overall. The new 5 has it beat in performance, but the looks aren't there, in my opinion. Recently I've also developed a passion for Apple and I love my iPod, so the combination of the two makes me giddy. Both Apple and BMW are clearly lovemarks, that rare kind
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Universal Feed Parser in Python

Mark Pilgrim has released Version 3 of the Universal Feed Parser. The parser is written in Python and can handle RSS 0.90, Netscape RSS 0.91, Userland RSS 0.91, RSS 0.92, RSS 0.93, RSS 0.94, RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, Atom, and CDF feeds. There are 2000 unit tests and 100 pages of documentation. Very handy. Thanks Mark!
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Yahoo! and AOL Quit the Enterprise IM Space

First Yahoo! and now AOL have quit the enterprise IM game. This isn't so much a sign that enterprises are giving up on IM, or not taking to it, but rather that businesses are reluctant to pay for something they have been getting for free. Apparently identity management and logging aren't enough of a benefit to justify monthly fees for many companies. I think there's some big changes afoot in the enterprise messaging space and this is just one small sign of the turmoil.
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Wireless Dead Zones Considered Beneficial

An article in the most recent Baseline states that you will come to love dead zones, meaning places where wireless signals are blocked by design. Among the places that are suggested as dead zones: conference rooms, classrooms, and public transportation---the very places that conventional wisdom says ought to be the first places you deploy wireless technologies. I don't agree with the premise of the article, that companies will seek out ways to create dead zones. Culture is a more effective deterrent for inappropriate behavior than technology. In many ways, I see this as the analog to the problem we
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Ubiquitous Camera Phones

Dan Gillmor examines the ramifications of ubiquitous camera phones and surviellence gear in general in his most recent column. Dan notes that "cameras will soon disappear from view, embedded in clothing and eyeglasses, not just phones."
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Top Ten IT Issues in Utah

Dave responds to my query for more details on last week's UTC meeting with details. Thanks Dave! Interesting that many of the issues being raised are nearly identical to the issues I raised in November 2002.
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Counting Web Site Visitors

If your organization runs a Web site, you may think that the statistics you're getting from your log analysis software are presenting a pretty accurate picture of your site's traffic. Well, not so fast. A newspaper research and consulting firm named Belden Associates did a study that shows most site traffic numbers are way off base for a variety of reasons. For example, Belden estimates that half of the daily users of a newspaper website access it from more than one computer, resulting a lot of double counting. I couldn't find the report on the Belden site, but a
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Dave, Tell Us What Happened at UTC

Dave Fletcher reports that the Utah Technology Commission heard about open source and that Richard North presented his top ten list of technology issues in Utah, but Dave doesn't report what was said on either. Come on Dave! We don't want to wait a month for the minutes to be approved and published. Interestingly, North doesn't appear on the agenda, its just "Speaker to be announced," even though North is the guy who prepares the agenda.
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Cory Doctorow on DRM

Cory Doctorow has posted a talk on DRM that he gave to Microsoft. Its very entertaining and well-crafted. He argues effectively: That DRM systems don't work That DRM systems are bad for society That DRM systems are bad for business That DRM systems are bad for artists That DRM is a bad business-move for MSFT If you've ever read any of Cory's books you know that he can really entertain and this piece is no different.
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How Microsoft Lost the API War

Joel Spolsky has a great article (albeit long) on How Microsoft Lost the API War that along the way talks about programming languages, memory management, and the Web. Even if you're not particularly interested in Microsoft or programming for Microsoft platforms, you should read it. The article is an excellent look look at large trends in programming and software development. Bottom line: more and more development will be going to the Web regardless of Microsoft's constant rant about "rich clients."
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Exploding the Enterprise, Part II

Darren Lee, the CEO of NextPage is one of the panelists on the panel I'm moderating at SuperNova 2004 next week. I've been meaning to catch up with him on what NextPage is up to anyway and since he's local, I took some time this morning to visit. They have some very interesting new products in the works and that lead to some thoughts that are applicable to next week's panel on Exploding the Enterprise. First, the term "exploding the enterprise" can be thought of two ways. Most organizations now employee people at multiple locations. Many organizations now outsource
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Beyond Bullets

From Robert Scoble I learned of Cliff Atkinson's PowerPoint blog Much of what I read on Cliff's blog and Web site remind me of two of the most effective users of PowerPoint I know: Doc Searls and Larry Lessig.
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Archiving CDs and DVDs

I've been seeing a lot lately on how to get better results when using CD and DVD media for archiving digital data. Today, my feedreader offered up this article from PCWorld.com on CD and DVD media quality. The article largely focuses on some efforts by NIST and others to create a standard rating system for recordable media so that we're not left guessing in the dark: But NIST's Byers is seeking to change that. At an OSTA meeting in San Francisco this week, Byers is proposing an industry-wide grading system to indicate disc quality. Byers is motivated by the
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Federation Acceleration

Ping ID Corp released the results of their quarterly survey on federation today. The results of the survey of 100 corporations show a federation acceleration and increased planning for future federation projects: End-user convenience, better partner integration, and a reduction in overall IT costs were cited as the top three drivers of federation. The number of federations in production increased from 1% in Q1 to 7% in Q2. Over 50% surveyed were planning to participate in between 1 and 3 federations within the next 24 months. Approximately 48% of those surveyed believed each of their federations would contain between
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RSS Middleware

In an article about Google and its decidedly different approach from Microsoft in creating network-based information repositories, Steve Gillmor spends a paragraph talking about a new RSS router that he saw demoed by Adam Bosworth (of BEA) and his son Alex: In his eWorld keynote, BEA's chief architect, Adam Bosworth, cited the similar transformation around the GUI, which gave procedural control to users. Now RSS is creating another shift, away from the Web request model to user-controlled aggregation. TiVo-like user metadata can be harvested to offer services in return for access to group and trend data. And as RSS
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Unintentionally Cleaning Out My Inbox

While reading mail, my mail reader (Apple's Mail.app) popped up a message about some kind of error occurring during compaction and stated that my mailbox would be returned to its original state. Well, not quite. Actually, it was returned to its original state from that session except that everything that had been in there before the last download was gone. I'll see what I can recover from backup this morning, but if you sent me mail in the last while that hasn't been answered, contact me again.
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No More Pizza

One of my complaints about Safari has been that I constantly got the little spinning pizza (some people call it a "beach ball" since its multi-colored) whenever a page download was slow. Once the pizza started spinning, the whole application was hung until the download finished. These was very annoying and I almost moved from Safari several times because of it. Yesterday the network connection at BYU was hosed for some reason and I couldn't even work because Safari was hung. So, I decided to find out what I could and fix the problem. I was successful. Here's what
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IM Records in iChat

If you use iChat for work, you may want to record your iChat sessions for later recall. You can always save any individual session using the "File -> Save a Copy As" commands. If you want to do it more systematically, go to "iChat -> Preferences -> Messages" and check the box "Automatically save chat transcripts" and select a folder. Now every chat session will be saved to disk. To browse or search those transcripts, there's a handy little program called Logorrhea from Spiny.com that does a great job of letting you find and review your past chats. Even
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Microcasting and Political Campaigns

Spurred on by Doc Searls, Jeff Jarvis is talking about why the conventional model of TV is exploding. A few data points I thought of immediately: Today Jon Udell had a write-up about a how-to clip that he watched online about fixing your printer. Robert Scoble's Channel 9 is just a couple of guys with a video camera showing us the inside of Microsoft. Doug Kaye's IT Conversations is already as good or better than any radio program I listen to. Each of these is "microcasting." None of them expect to hit an audience of millions, although I'm sure
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Presence and the Enterprise

As I prepare for the Exploding the Enterprise panel at Supernova in two weeks, my reading is colored by the topic. Thus, this article on presence from Business Communications Review caught my attention. We're inclined to associate presence with IM since that's where its used most pervasively, but presence messages could be separated from the IM application and deployed as a general-purpose infrastructure that's usable by many apps, including IM. In this scenario, presence messages would flow between machines over an enterprise messaging infrastructure. What generates these presence messages? Applications such as your calendar or word processing program. I'd
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Google Considering RSS

Derrick Strumpf sent me a note about an article on Google and RSS. If you haven't followed this, Google owns Blogger. Blogger, at one point, supported RSS, albeit only for their paying subscribers. In April, Google dropped support for RSS in favor of Atom. Now it seems that maybe they're reconsidering: According to an internal Google e-mail seen by CNET News.com, the company has been considering the change and last month assigned at least one staffer to write a memo summarizing technical details relating to RSS. The request came amid a broader discussion touching on extending RSS support for
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WS-Federation Proof of Concept

SourceID has released WS-Federation proof of concept code: The ASP.NET-based WS-Federation Proof-of-Concept code is the basis for this demonstration, and is focused on providing a framework for exploration and meeting the interoperability event requirements, not on being deployable for general use. This code is not part of SourceID.Java or SourceID.NET (the primary projects at SourceID.org), although concepts and code from this release may be used in future SourceID releases. From SourceID | SAML, Liberty Alliance, WS-Federation | Federated Identity ManagementReferenced Wed Jun 09 2004 19:14:54 GMT-0600
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Did You Know? DVD-R vs. DVD+R

I recently bought a LaCie DVD recorder. I hadn't realized until I did that there was a difference between DVD-R and DVD+R. The drive will support either, but you have to make the choice when you buy the media. And, of course, make sure you choose media that maches your drive's speed.
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Shedding Capability for Certainty

Are IT departments becoming big bags of contracts? Jerry Gregoire, former CIO for Dell and PepsiCo, writes in this month's CIO magazine about the vanishing IT department. He concludes: So, what kind of IT organization do you aspire to have? If you yearn for adequate results on vanilla systems in pursuit of dial-tone regularity, forget about talent shortages and go find yourself a good contract lawyer. If, on the other hand, you still believe IT can make a competitive difference and that even the more mundane tasks can be a channel of competitive advantage given a little creative effort,
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NetNewsWire and Atom

BTW, if you happen to use Ranchero Software's excellent NetNewsWire feedreader on OS X, you'll have to download the 1.09b1 beta version to read Atom feeds.
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Dive Into Atom with Mark

Here are a couple of good articles by Mark Pilgrim on the Atom API and Atom Authentication via WSSE. Mark's also written a piece on Normalizing Syndication Feeds that contains XPath queries for picking out relevant pieces of RSS and Atom. Very handy.
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Syndication Standards Saga

Sean Gallagher (of eWeek) describes the recent developments in synidcation standards saga in his blog. The article is a nice summary of where the RSS vs Atom story is now and a little about its history. There's lots of links to other interesting content. Regarding Atom, Sean says: Atom combines a weblog publishing API together with a syndication format. Winer says that's not novel--"We did that with the MetaWeblog API," he says, which was based on RSS. "The clever thing they did was that they gave them both the same name." But Atom is incompatible with the RSS standard,
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Portable Wi-Fi

Apple's AirPort Express (click for larger image) Apple has announced a portable Wi-Fi hub called the AirPort Express that looks like the little square power adaptors that come with the PowerBook. The unit has a mini-stereo jack, a USB port, and an RJ-45 port. The unit is small enough to throw into a laptop bag for travel. In addition to serving as a regular base station, the AP Express can also serve as a Wi-Fi terminal point for attaching printers printers and as a bridge for extending the range of the wireless network in your house--just plug it into
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Wi-Fi Picture Frame

Here's a step-by-step guide to creating a Wi-Fi-enabled picture frame from an old laptop. I've got a USB picture frame but the picture is small, the resolution is crappy and the display isn't active matrix. This would be oh so much better. Thanks to Scoble for the link.
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Installing mod_python

If you've been wondering (like me) how to run Python programs efficiently under Apache, here's an article on installing mod_python.
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Does This Surprise Anyone?

According to ZDNet, 70% of programmers a personal repository of code that they carry from employer to employer. I don't think many programmers think of this as theft. I'm also quite certain that there aren't many employers who tell programmers explicitly that they can't use any code from previous employers. Most employers would be aghast to find their code ended up in someone else's project, but are perfectly happy to be the beneficiary of such an arrangement.
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SUPERNOVA 2004 Panel on Exploding the Enterprise

I'm going to be moderating a panel called "Exploding the Enterprise" at Supernova 2004. The panel is Friday June 25 from 9:15-10:00am. The panelists are John Hagel, Halsey Minor, Gordon Eubanks, and Darren Lee. I know Darren, of course, and have met Halsey and Gordon before. I'm looking forward to getting to know John. Here's the sumary of the panel from the Supernova site: Business is increasingly distributed. We work in shifting teams, separated by geography both physical and organizational. Companies depend more and more on independent contractors, telecommuters, and outsourcers. Can technology help, rather than hinder, those processes?
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Persistence for POJOs in EJB 3.0

In my class on engineering large-scale Internet applications, the project requires that the students build a course registration system for small college. In the first part project, they use JSPs and MySQL to build a fairly straightforward 2-tier implementation. In Part II they refactor the implementation from Part II to use EJBs. Without a doubt, the worst part of the whole project is CMP entity beans. In concept they're sweet, but the mechanics of getting everything working right causes no end of headaches--even with several working example to build from. I'm sure that my students will be grateful to
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Making Money from the Digital Lifestyle

Marc Canter writes at Always-On about how to make money with digital lifestyle aggregators and Doc follows it up by tying it to his "IT as Construction Industry" metaphor. Good. Part I is the nuts and bolts. Mark's promising to show how to make money in Part II. I'll give you a preview: read what Clayton Christensen said at OSBC or listen to it for yourself. The money is always at the aggregation point. The modular parts become commodities.
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Catching Up with IT Conversations

If you haven't been over to IT Conversations lately, there's some really good stuff happening there. First of all, I'm really enjoying the Gillmor Gang, which is Steve Gillmor, columnist, eWeek Doc Searls, senior editor, Linux Journal Jon Udell, lead analyst, InfoWorld Test Center and Dana Gardner, senior analyst, Yankee Group. They do a weekly show and its very fun to listen to as well as informative. Also, Doug has been posting talks from the Open Source Business Conference. Here are a few of them that I blogged while I was there. Its nice to listen to them again:
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Service Quality

r0ml has an article on service quality over at Doc Searls IT Garage. The two processes that are important are measuring service quality and then using those results to improve the service quality. As r0ml says: The objective was then (and still is) to measure the availability of the system as perceived by the users. From Service Quality | Doc Searls' IT GarageReferenced Tue Jun 01 2004 10:19:52 GMT-0600 This is harder than it sounds. Most system monitoring tools are built to tell you if the machine is up, but that's a far cry from being able to tell
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