Blogs on Blogs

It’s a Saturday, perhaps that is a no news day, but the BBC spent sometime this morning discussing a complaint that their blogs were opinionated.  Effectively the point was that blogging “officially” requires the same level of factual accuracy and balance that the journalist is expected and required to use “On air”.

Actually I am happy to read subversive and opinionated blogs, perhaps offering insight to what is behind the scenes.  In my opinion “official” blogs should simply categorise a blog as “Opinion”  “Biased old bloke” or whatever in order to stray off the corporate line – and entertain us all, especially when it generates debate.

Innovation for (a) Change

I am working with a stealth start up at the moment, and innovation is what it is all about.  Their product is neither ground breaking or market creating but it is innovating in areas where the competition are not.  In these challenging times it’s more than a little refreshing to see great brains working on problems that can be “re-solved” to business advantage.   So I was pleased to see McKinsey have published their interviews with Judy Estrin, veteran guru of Silicone Valley on “how to fix the innovation gap” – well worth 10 minutes of your time to get you thinking about how you can innovate for change.

Two innovations that caught my attention yesterday that  I want to mention:

The first is leadership innovation.  Behemoth HP announce quarterly product revenues down 18%, the first bad quarter since Mark Hurd took over.  The response many expect is sweeping redundancies, in fact he implements a top down wage cutting programme.  In a company already in the midst of restructuring  this sends a steadying message and retains the skills necessary for recovery and growth. 

The second (and much smaller in the global mill pond) is UK mobile phone reseller Carphone Warehouse, who seem to have dipped there toes into revolution, with some senior support staff taking it upon themselves to initiate a new support model via Twitter.   Hmmm now that does make me think!

Interesting links for 21 Feb

“The number of people and skill sets required to run computing is an increasing burden on corporate IT.”  In a thought provoking article first written for SNS News and republished on Infrastructure 2.0 Cisco’s James Urquhart talks about the new data centre culture.

Finding the right price for Commercial Open Source is the topic of Dave Rosenberg’s post on Negative Approach.  There are thought provoking comments about the subject on Michael Coté’s People Over Process pages at Red Monk.

Palm OS 1996-2009 – RIP

I am moved to say a few words on the passsing of the late, great Palm OS.  Palm’s CEO Ed Coligan confirmed it’s demise on an investor call this week.

Innovative, mould breaking and intuitive the Palm OS on the palm pilot and other platforms from brick size to usefully pocket size, introduced a whole generation to the PDA, touch screens  and later smart phone’s.  Like many before it, it joins the great past-technolgy- in-the-sky.

With fond memories (and a cupboard full of different palm devices) – I salute you!  RIP.

Cool things

Two cool things this week – that is things that I have just come across that do something I need today:

Windows Live Sync – I find myself travelling quite a bit at the moment, this free and simple to use software is keeping my files up to date and where I need them, in my case a server, a laptop, a netbook and a mac.  At last software that does what I want at a price I like.

Just Fix It – I am not usually a Redmund groupie, but this is another item that caught my attention, then a day later it presented itsself to fix on a problem on one of our laptops.  This is Microsoft’s new button called (funnily enough) “Fix It”.   In certain cases when you find yourself looking for help for a problem with MS software you will now find a Fix It button.  Basically a bit of active-X later and hopefully your problem is fixed without you working through the fix manually.  By chance having read this C-Net Beyond Binary  one of our laptops developed a problem, and being Vista volunteered a fix to the problem the next morning, clicking the link gave the usual (or unusual) explanation of what caused the problem and the new Fix It button.  So I try it and it works, offers a test to ensure the problem is fixed (it is) and then asks for feedback.  I like it!  Lets see if it gains momentum…

Fire and Forget?

Clearly the world is full of the news and gleeful sniping at Google’s little fopar on Saturday 31st January.  What I have not seen quite so much of is comment on the process, or perhaps lack of, that allowed such a catastrophic (for Google) human error to go “live”.

It seems that the need to get it out is greater than the need to get it right (and I am sure that anyone with a blog or website has managed to make an occasional fopar too), forgivable, perhaps, for the legions of us who are posting for leisure and social purposes, not so for professionals and corporates who should know better.  Whatever happened to the process of development, test, review, authorise, release?  

Let’s not just focus on Google, there are other newsworthy problems out there this week.  Social bookmarking site Ma.gnolia was taken down completely on Friday (30 January) citing data corruption and loss “that will take days, not hours” to fix, going on to say they cannot guarantee that users bookmarks can be restored at all.  Now imagine if this were the web services you most depend on. 

In the case of Google we now know that human error was the stated cause, in the case of Ma.gnolia one can only speculate.  Whatever the cause there is little excuse for a lack of process and infrastructure to prevent (Google) or recover (Ma.gnolia) in a managed way.  

As we move towards more use and reliance of cloud based computing, as we place more of our “stuff” on social networking sites and data repositories we must assure ourselves that the sites and companies we put our trust in are up to the job.

Is your Internet being throttled?

Ever wondered why your internet connection is running slow, or why you can acess some stuff in a flash but other stuff feels like dial-up? The nice people at M-Lab have released their free suite of internet and ISP testing tools to help you work out what is running slow and why. Is there a deliberate ISP throttle of BitTorrent? then Glasnost is an interesting place to start.   These beta tools (and more to come) may well show the paying public some interesting things.