Category: "Computers and Internet"

One Roll on a Global Survey

07/14/07 | by JAdP | Categories: TIA Life, Collaboration, Computers and Internet, Business

Shel Israel, co-author of Naked Conversations, currently working on his Global Neighbo(u)rhoods project, is conducting a survey for SAP. I've answered some of his questions from this survey that he's posted on LinkedIN. Recently, Shel has invited the world to "roll their own" and participate in his survey on their on own blogs. Here's my take.

  1. From where you sit in the world, how has social media changed your life? How about the lives of your other family members?
    1. In the world, I sit along the Pacific Coast of San Mateo County in Northern California, about 17 miles south of San Francisco and 25 miles away from Silicon Valley, in a community made up of four towns called the Coastside, comprised of a disproportionate number of artists, craftsfolk, techies and entrepreneurs.
    2. I've been fascinated by science and the application of science through technology and engineering, and as portrayed by science fiction, since a neighbor, a retired school teach, gave me a Tom Swift, Jr. book when I was in first grade. And I live in an area of the world that shares this fascination. I wouldn't say that social media has changed my life, it is merely one more means of communication that I use in both my business and personal affairs.
    3. That answer is rather meaningless though, in that we haven't defined "social media". Terms are bandied about and hyped, such as Web2-dot-oh, read-write web, and live web. I'm not going to attempt to define these terms, nor give an accurate history of the development of the Internet and the World Wide Web. In broad strokes, the Internet developed to provide more robust and survivable communications than what is available through circuit based networks, such as your POTS. The web was conceived as a more effective means of exchanging information, based in digital files, over the Internet. With the introduction of a graphical web user interface, the web quickly grew into a vehicle for transactions as well as communications. Filling in forms became a normal part of using the web, and electronic bulletin boards, such as The Well and Compuserve, migrated to the web. So, really, since it's early days, the web has been two-way. What is new, is the adoption of blogs and podcasts by a larger percentage of the general population, the rise of Wikipedia, and some other niche use of wikis, the evolution of portal and collaboration technology into online networking tools, and of course, the hype surrounding all of these.
    4. I don't mean to downplay
      1. Facebook becoming a platform,
      2. podcasts on every digital media player and computer,
      3. the rise of blogs,
      4. social bookmarking,
      5. rating and ranking news & opinion articles,
      6. online video,
      7. using the contacts of the folk in your address book to get more contacts,
      8. two-way communications with customers and vendors and partners - beyond focus groups,
      9. nor the whole idea of putting media creation into everyone's hands for life-tracking
      What I do mean to say is that what we're seeing today is simply another step in the way in which we communicate, and as have other transportation and communication and entertainment/media technology, these new technologies composing "social media" are just another step towards expanding our horizons. That said, it is still a long way from being a universal phenomenon. To answer the final part of this question...
    5. The "killer app" of the Internet was email, and this is still the app that the majority of my family, friends and business associates use. Web browsing is next; photo sharing comes after browsing - all on different sites, none using flickr; instant messaging comes and goes in popularity - likely because of the incompatible platforms; and texting from a mobile isn't common, nor is VoIP. My parents [late 70's, early 80's] use email and IM almost interchangeably, just understanding that they can get in touch with other family members using those tools. My peer group [age 50 +10/-15 years of age] use email, some with gusto, and others not so much; one or two enjoy - and then email - the videos found on the web. The younger generation doesn't seem all that different. My extended family and old school chums are mostly in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and two small groups in Colorado. I haven't found any family members on LinkedIN. I dont' know of anyone in my family that writes a blog, nor uses a feed reader. This is also true of the old school chums. And, actually, it is true of my nearby friends and business associates, except those, like Shel, that I met through blogging, and one fellow with whom I worked 22 years ago, is now a good friend, that I convinced to start blogging last October, who wrote several entries that month, and none since. Contrast this with the fact that I literally don't know anyone who doesn't, however reluctantly, use email.
  2. From where you sit in the world, how do you think your personal and business lives will change over the next five years? Hw about for the rest of your family?
    1. I've already told you where I sit in the world. &#59;) I've been pushing for the use of collaboration software instead of email for a long time now. I think that sending a large attachment in email, be it a document, a picture, a video, or whatever, is the height of idiocy. But using an ftp client was too hard for most people. Even WebDAV or sites, including one that I first started using 11 years ago, that allow one to upload a file and then email a link to intended recipient(s) of that document, spreadsheet, presentation, picture or video, simply don't find favor with those recipients. I have found that many people ignore requests that come through LinkedIN, but will respond positively to a direct email requesting the same thing.
    2. I would like to think that within 10 years, other Internet based tools, the read-write web, social media, life-tracking, and accessing these web tools from your mobile device or entertainment appliance or coffee table surface will become as common as email is today. I have my doubts though. eMail is very easy to use, and is very platform agnostic. Until social media, social networking, photo sharing, tagging, social bookmarks, social news aggregation, virtual environments, citizen journalism, life-tracking, what-have-you is as easy, interoperable and reliable as email has become, my family, friends and colleagues won't be using them.
  3. What do you feel are the ascending social media tools and which are descending?
    1. While it may seem that I'm coming off as a Ludite here, let me take a different tack on this answer. I truly do believe in these technologies, and hope for a profound impact from the globalization that started with the Silk Road and Spice Routes of 2000-to-4000 years ago. One blog that we write is about management of distributed work and toys and tools and technologies that come together for the TeleInterActive Lifestyle. after all. Our activity has become less on that blog due to the frustration we feel in the adoption, at all levels, of these new social media and related technologies for communication and collaboration. Here's how I answered this question when Shel posted it on LinkedIN.
    2. The social media tools that are on the rise are SaaS or self-hosted open source applications using tagging, rankings, bookmark sharing, dashboards, microformats and workflow for internal and external community building around businesses or around processes, programs or projects within a business. Such open source applications include blogs, wikis, CMS, ECM, online project management and roll-your-own versions of
    3. The future may be tending towards using virtual environments [open source versions of the Second Life server, or the recently open sourced Second Life client] as a platform both for collaboration among distributed workers and data visualization.
    4. Hosted blogs such as from blogger/blogspot [almost completely overrun by splogs] are on the decline. Other efforts such as building personal or group communities using hosted wikis or community-building tools such as PeopleAggregator are either yet to take off, or have died ablooming. I think that these tools, allowing folks or businesses or groups to form their own online communities for work and play will gain traction, if they become, as stated above, easy, interoperable and reliable.
  4. The folks at SAP are particularly interested in social media's impact on the global enterprise as well as small to medium-sized corporations. Do you have any knowledge or advice for them?
    1. The impact on enterprises, whether government or commercial, large or small, has been slow to come about. People still have a tendency to turn to email before eRoom, a blog or a wiki. I've already mentioned that people will respond to a request made through email that was ignored when made through LinkedIN. We are slowly seeing some changes, but not very quickly. We can all see the results of large consumer-facing companies' use of blogs and virtual environments for either marcomm, PR, analyst briefings or and genuine efforts to engage their customers. As blogs, and sites like MySpace and Facebook, accelerate the harmful or helpful impact of urban myth and personal recommendations on an organization's reputation, and as those organizations learn to respond and control those impacts, we will see greater utilization of social media by large corporations and government entities. I don't think there has been as much as a general uptick in the use of other types of social media at the corporate level, and it's difficult to gauge the impact on the corporation of the uses individuals are making of social media. For example, if LinkedIN didn't exist, would company A have been able to hire that great new employee. Can a company truly know, understand or learn from a viral message circulating through Facebook or other community site(s)?
    2. Three years ago, we started an hosting service, in addition to our professional services, to provide small businesses that either never had, or were disappointed by, their Web presence with access to these new applications. We provide a consultative experience, learning about their business, selecting tools that might help them extend their relationships from the physical world into new areas. For the most part, the only service, beyond email, that was exciting to our early customers, was a web based content management system. Such systems separate the structure, presentation, and look of a site from the site management and content. They provide fairly easy, web-based WYSIWYG editors. However, all of those web sites are the same as when we helped with the first postings. Recently, we have seen interest in blogging from new customers who have read a couple of blogs and want to see if it can help their business. We don't yet know how this will go, but there's hope.
  5. Do you have any interesting case studies of unique uses of social media?
    1. Our professional services provide strategic direction, architecture & modeling, and project management for data management & analytics programs. Such programs may be data warehousing or business intelligence, or may include extending data collection, data flow and information exchange with remote workers, the public, or through mobile devices. We also focus on open source strategies, both for implementation of these programs, and in helping entrepreneurial firms reach a decision on going open source. Our customers include large, international firms, government agencies, SME growing companies, non-profit groups and Universities. I can't offer specific case studies here without violating NDA. I will describe how we've been using open source software to enhance communication & collaboration among program and project members. The first thing that we do after contract award is to host, or set up a customer-internal server, with b2evolution, MediaWiki and dotProject.
    2. The b2evolution blogging engine provides multi-author, multi-language, multi-blogs under one installation, as well as workflow for the posts. We set up blogs for various aspects of the project, and make appropriate members authors and/or publishers for each blog. In addition, each team member gets their own blog. The blogs are used to gather, document and prioritize everything from user desires and current technical realities, to project scope and issue resolution.
    3. Wikis are a great way to write, on the web, a book, magazine, white paper or any type of formal document. MediaWiki is the open source wiki software behind Wikipedia, and other great wiki projects on the web. You may or may not have noticed, but for each article within Wikipedia, there is a tab for discussion about that article. Also, one installation of MediaWiki can be divided into "projects" or "books". We set up a "book" for each project documentation deliverable, such as the Strategy Document, Project Charter, Test Plan(s), Functional, System & Design specifications, manuals and various reports. We decide, with the customer, who may be an author for each "book" and who may only comment in the discussion areas. Any given "book" may have one or many authors,and generally, all members of the project team may comment.
    4. dotProject is open source, online project & task management, which provides very good tools for schedule & issue tracking, as well as file exchange and other collaboration tools.
    5. Other tools that we might use include online survey creation and analysis software, and bookmark sharing. We are also investigating the use of Alfresco for enterprise content management. Alfresco provides many of the same capabilities as Documentum and Sharepoint, as well as means to plug in our blogs, wikis and other collaboration tools providing an instant and very robust knowledgebase and compliance tool. Adding on some of the open source data analytics and reporting tools that we study, such as JasperSoft, Pentaho and SpagoBI, and configuration control such as subversion, and we provide project social networking among all partners, inside and outside the customer.
  6. What social media tools do you use? Which are your favorites? Why?
    1. I blog, using b2evolution, under the TeleInterActive Press, on the TeleInterActive Lifestyle, Open Source Solutions [primarily for data management & analytics] and my personal blog, where this post is published, on pretty much anything I feel like. I get more hits on my recipes than on anything else.
    2. I use a feed reader, and prefer a "storage" type to a "river-of-news" type of feed reader. The reason for this is that there are folk, whose opinion I value, who don't blog often. I'm also not glued to my read reader, so an important event that happened a few hours ago, but is news to me, is more interesting than some trivia that passes by this moment. I read old school media as well as blogs of all types. I subscribe to several hundred feeds but read only an handful daily, and another handful on some days. Whatever piques my interest, or fills a current need.
    3. I use LinkedIN. I've reconnected with some colleagues from past jobs. Primarily, I've found it to be a good way to reinforce new meetings. Inviting someone that you just met, who is already a member of LinkedIN, seems to be a very good way to cementing that relationship. Much better than a follow-on email or phone call. As I've mentioned before though, attempts to get recommendations or introductions by using LinkedIn's tools have failed, whereas emailing that same person directly with the same request, works. Thus, LinkedIN can be both a barrier and a facilitator to social interaction.
    4. I didn't mention this in my generic case study above, but another tool we've used in the past, is Everquest - a MMORG where Elves, Halflings, Humans, etc are wizards, warriors, bards, etc and perform quests in groups. When you have a local group of coworkers, you can all go out for lunch or supper or do some "team building" activity. How do you do this when you have users in London, Singapore, all time zones in the U.S.A., IT folk in two states and two other countries, and developers scattered about the U.S.A as well? We did it in Everquest. We're looking more at World of Warcraft for fun, and Second Life for business, as these virtual environments are more accessible from both MacOSX and Windows.
    5. I use Coppermine, an open source photo gallery, that we host ourselves. I have an iTunes account with my dot-Mac account, and a account, but I'm not really into sharing through them. I don't like Digg or slashdot or memeorandum. TailRank just never seemed to live up to the promise it had - though Kevin Burton is a very impassioned speaker.
  7. Do you see language as a barrier for social media? Will English become the global language of the Internet? Should it?
    1. The underlying assumption to this question is that folk use social media to meet folk they don't already know. The only place that has happened to me is through being a participant in the blogosphere, especially those segments related to open source software and, well, social media. Yes, language is, and will continue to be, a very large barrier to this use of social media. Real-time translating tools would be a far better solution to any one language becoming the lingua franca of the Internet. [Have you ever noticed how much of our technology today is a direct result of the imagination of Gene Roddenberry and Robert Heinlein?]
  8. Are you reading more blogs or less these days? Are you watching more online video or less these days?
    1. I'm reading fewer and fewer blogs these days. The often poor grammar and typos sometimes make the meaning indecipherable. The echo chamber effect can be overwhelming. The blogosphere is indeed a big circle with stories, sometimes important, sometimes interesting and sometimes dubious, chasing around and around. When I was taught logic in high school, one logical fallacy stood out: that of authority. Just because someone with authority says something, doesn't make it true. Ask: is it logical, ethical, moral, sensible or correct?
    2. With no disrespect intended to the "This Side of the Hill Players", I've never been a fan of amateur theatre, and I haven't seen much in the online video world to change my mind. The only ones I watch are those that Ken or Bruce [you know who you are] send out in email, and not even all of those. I've also pretty much given up on podcasts, both making them and listening to them.
  9. Write a question(s) for yourself and answer it. OK, fine. What is holding back the acceptance of all these great new toys, er, tools?
    1. I think that a lot of things are holding back more general acceptance of all this new stuff to help us reach out, learn, and share.
      1. Personality: not everyone, not even the majority want to reach out to new people and new experiences. There are many areas around the world, in the U.S.A. in every country, where the people are very parochial. I'm amazed by the number of people that I've met throughout the years - though not so much in California - who live blocks away from where they grew up, have the same set of friends that they made in elementary school, and don't want anything else.
      2. Usability: many of these tools, and even computers in general, make assumptions about the user's geek-level, and they are simply too hard to use. What's intuitive for someone who has been using our very counter-intuitive computer user interface for years, is not intuitive for the general public. I've been harping since the mid-80's that touchscreens are the only basis for a truly intuitive UI. I'm very interested in seeing how the multi-touch interfaces of the Apple iPhone, Microsoft Surface, as in Minority Report and other devices, will fare in the marketplace.
      3. Infrastructure: broadband doesn't exist everywhere - not even in the Bay Area, nor does WiFi, 3G wireless, or even 2G. Actually, as I drive from the Coast to Sunnyvale, I have no signal on CA-1 or I-280 for about one-third of the trip, total. Other important issues related to infrastructure are net neutrality and carrier restrictions on what devices/software can do.
      4. Interoperability: email became the killer app because of sendmail. Not known outside of IT geekdom, this magic decoder ring of a software package allows email to flow from any type of computer to any other type of computer, along any type of network, using any type of email client software [MUA] and even any other type of mail server software [MTA]. Without it, email wouldn't be useful. I'm using b2evolution as my blogging engine, and Shel uses Typepad, but the wonders of trackback allows me to write this answer to his post on my blog, while a link and excerpt will show up in the comments on his blog. That's interoperability. Until all the software tools that call themselves some form of social media enabler can intermesh with all the others, they won't be useful. Marc Canter rants very well on his blog on this subject, and many others. :)
  10. Additional comments?
    1. Social media has no one definition. There is a wide variety of software, technology, interdependencies and philosophies which could rally under this banner. Some of my answers, and some of those others that I've read through Shel's blog, might seem to ramble or be discussing multiple and disparate topics because of this. I see strong ties among topics like business intelligence, knowledge management, SOA, BRM, BPEL, predictive analytics, customer/vendor/partner relationship, community, offsourcing, telecommuting, presence, identity and social media. There is no such thing as deterministic behaviour in people, or nature, or systems. Everything is either chaotic or probabilistic. Catastrophe theory says to watch the inflection points. Look for the "eureka" moments, the unexpected. Look to the past, add a little Bayes, and then do it all again, learning each time. And enjoy the ride.

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Mom and Dad want Surface

06/08/07 | by JAdP | Categories: Computers and Internet

Mom, who's birthday is today. Happy xxth :D and Dad, who's 80-ish, saw the Microsoft Surface on TV today.

They want one.

No, I'm not sending my check for 10K$US to the good folk in Redmond, but it does emphasize what I've been saying for years. The keyboard, mouse and user interface of most computers is non-intuitive. Palm comes close and the Palm compatible 3Com Ergo Audrey [defunct] was even closer with their touch interface. If not for the Audrey, I don't think that my elderly &#59;) parents would be using their iMac with anywhere near the proficiency they currently have.

Touch it, it works. That's the way to go.

Mom's cell phone is dying. Maybe the iPhone will be the way to go for them after all.


The Brenner Group is 20

06/06/07 | by JAdP | Categories: Computers and Internet, Business

Last night, Clarise and I attended The Brenner Group's 20th Annual Networking Event. Their theme was then and now, celebrating the changes in technology that they've seen come out of the Silicon Valley over their remarkable 20 years of doing business, since Rich Brenner started the firm. Displays around the hall showed the 1984 Mac with the latest black MacBook laptop, an early PDA [poor Palm, not even mentioned by name] with a RIM Blackberry [which is such a pale imitation of the Palm as to be essentially useless - don't get me started], a portable CD player with an iPod, and, well, you get the picture. Door prizes from the various partner-firms/sponsors were things like a CD and an iTunes gift certificate, CDs and an iPod shuffle, and one particularly telling and generous gift of an 8-inch, portable black-and-white television with a modern 15-inch HiDef LCD television.

In very many ways, this was the best party, oops, networking event &#59;) that they've thrown in the seven years that we've been attending. It was marred by the absence of our favorite member of The Brenner Group, but he knows that our thoughts are with him. We met some great new people, chatted and laughed with old acquaintances, and had some thought provoking conversations, and really good food.

The most touching thing of the evening was on the way out. John Heath, another partner in The Brenner Group, was by the exit, giving away a copy of Core Memory "A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers" with page after page of photographs by Mark Richards and accompanying text by John Alderman. Another commemoration of 20 great years in the valley and of The Brenner Group. Congratulations to all.

On a side note, I did have a longer than expected drive home, as I was stopped by the tunnel construction on Devil's Slide. These two shots from my cell phone show the traffic and warning sign ahead and yes that is the ocean beyond the cleft in the mountain, and one of the reasons I live on the coast is the view to my right of the twilight sky over the Pacific.

The warning sign and traffic ahead when stopped for Devil's Slide tunnel construction

Sunset into the Pacific while stopped at Devil's Slide Tunnel Construction


Mac meet PC I feel Old

05/31/07 | by JAdP | Categories: Computers and Internet

I'm sure that everyone knows that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates met on stage for the first time in 24 years at the D: All Things Digital 5 conference. Watching the videos of the conversation, I was very much struck by how much the industry has matured, and how much history there is to the computer industry now. A much more personal reminder than visiting the Computer History Museum.

I started using a key punch around 1975, and had a conversation recently, at the OSBC2007, with a fellow attendee about the magic market tricks one would use on all four edges of a stack of punchcards for "data recovery" after the inevitable spill while walking to the computer center. The first Apple product I used was an Apple ][ in the research lab of Þe Auld Elkton Rocket Factory, in 1978; at the same time I was using IBM mainframes and PDP11s. The first DOS machine that I had was my second personal computer - the OS that came with my Kaypro2000 in 1986; at the time I was using BSD Unix machines to access ARPANET and Vax/VMS machines watching software developers turning my Bayesian algorithms into Fortran programs. My first Windows was an upgrade package to that Kaypro2000. Oracle put a Windows machine on my desk next to a NEC X terminal in 1994, and at CapTech, in 1995 I had a MacIntosh, a WindowsNT machine and a Sun SPARCstation, with access to a wide variety of *nix servers. All of my personal and work laptop and desktop machines since then until recently have been WindowsNT variants including Win2000 and WinXP. In 2006, I bought an Apple MacBookPro, and - though not often - I can run Windows on it using Parallels. Though today, much of what I do is through a web browser [FireFox usually] accessing a [generally] Linux server.

Watching Steve Jobs and Bill Gates interact was like hearing the stories of empire from the founding fathers; an insider's view of how history unfolded. It was touching, and far more inspiring than the media controversy that's often linked to thse two men. Take the time and watch the videos. It will be a trip through memory lane for some, and eye opening for others.


Browsing with a Mac

05/08/07 | by JAdP | Categories: Computers and Internet

I've been using Safari, Camino and Firefox on my MacBookPro since I unboxed it last September. I find all three useful in their own way.

  1. For general browsing and learning more about web design, I like Firefox. It provides the most plug-ins for looking under the covers, more web sites work with it's underlying Mozilla/Gecko engine than Safari's WebKit engine, and it gives much more granular control over cookies and privacy than the other two
  2. Following the advice of the founder of PHP, Rasmus Lerdorf, I no longer visit secure web sites in the same browser in which I do general web browsing. It's amazing what crackers can do with iFrames and javascript. I use Safari for my banking, financial and other secure needs
  3. Camino is a great, fast browser, though I find that Firefox v2.x is just as fast, whereas v 1.x was much slower than Camino. I use Camino for my non-general, but non-crucial secure web browsing: shopping, for example, or sites that I might visit under one identity as a user in Firefox and as an account administrator in Camino - to keep the cookies separate. I also use Camino for secure sites that haven't been designed properly, and thus don't render correctly in Safari.


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I'm Joseph A. di Paolantonio and this blog has two main foci: my interest in food, and my interest in the future. This provides a look into my personal life, and is separate from my consulting work…though there will be overlap. I am an independent researcher, working as a strategic consultant and I'm an executive with over 20 years of commercial experience with a technical interest in the intersection of Internet of Things, with advanced data management and analysis methods. I view data science as a team activity, and I feel that the IoT must be viewed as a system. I am leveraging my past activities to understand the adoption and impact of the IoT; first, as a system engineer in aerospace, where I developed Bayesian risk assessment methods for systems within the Space Transportation System (including the Space Shuttle), Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer, Gravity Probe B, and many more, and second, as a enterprise data warehousing, business intelligence and analytics professional. Between my aerospace and IT careers, I indulged my hobby of cooking by starting a food company, Montara Magic, centered around my chocolate sauces. My education combined chemistry, mathematics and philosophy. I performed research into molten salt fuel cells in graduate school, and in photovoltaic materials for a short time in industry. The lure of bringing the human race into space was strong, and when I was offered the chance to combine my chemistry and mathematics skills to develop new risk assessment and system engineering methods for space launch and propulsion systems – I couldn't resist. I perform independent research and strategic consulting to bring value from the Internet of Things, Sensor Analytics Ecosystems and data science teams.I am a caregiver, a lover of science fiction and speculative fantasy, and my passion to learn has led me to a pilot's license, an assistant instructor in SCUBA, nordic and alpine skiing, sea kayaking, and reading everything I can, in as many topics as I can.

View Joseph di Paolantonio's profile on LinkedIn

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