Thursday, October 6, 2011

My first computer

It was 1984 and I was a wide-eyed freshman in engineering school. My dad bought me a Mac, along with a gargantuan 20MB external hard-drive. It had a black & white screen, and 2 floppy drives and ... um ... that was it.

But that little machine transformed what was to become my career. What I learned how to do on that computer formed the foundation of what I know now.

To say that Apple had a significant impact on my life would be an understatement. To say that what Steve Jobs envisioned was transformational in this world would not be an understatement. The products he brought to market changed the way all of us use PCs. They changed the way all of us buy and listen to music ... the universal language. And then he changed the entire telephone business.

Someone compared Mr. Jobs' impact to Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. Both are fitting and well-deserved. My comparison is to Henry Ford. He made the inaccessible accessible. He made what was difficult and mysterious into something fun, playful and understandable. He wrestled computers away from the privileged few who could figure them out. He gave Everyman the power to use them.

Thanks, Steve.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Time to double-check security

The lawless, depraved group called "Anonymous" appears to be planning to disrupt the lives of law-abiding computer users and companies. According to the Department of Homeland Security,
Anonymous has stated publicly that the tool will be ready for wider use by the group in September 2011. But though there have been several publicly available tools that claim to be versions of #RefRef, so far it's unclear "what the true capabilities of #RefRef are.

The tool appears to trick a web server into conducting a denial of service attack against itself. The key dates associated with this threat are September 17, 2011 (called Occupy Wall Street), November 11, 2011 (Operation Facebook, targeting the site alleged privacy violations), and December 21, 2012 (Project Mayhem).

The juvenile motivations - as betrayed by the names and dates of these threats - tell us that these are immature, selfish and narcissistic people who no doubt believe that they are justified in causing financial harm to their targets. We must nevertheless be on notice that these threats are real.

Credit where its due: DHS Warns of Attacks

Monday, July 18, 2011

Internet traffic growth

This is an amazing graphic (please click to enlarge):

According to this Cisco blog post, the amount of traffic generated by 20 average households this year will surpass ALL of the traffic generated in 2008.

The illustration attempts to identify some of the sources of all that chatter:

  • People communicating with other people
  • People communicating with machines
  • Machines communicating with other machines
  • Machines creating smart networks of related machines

In one sense it's mind-boggling and a bit scary. Where will decision-making responsibility and accountability ultimate rest? If my refrigerator orders milk in error, who is liable for the purchase? If my car fails to tell me about my brakes, who bears responsibility for an accident?

We haven't even begun to wrestle with these questions, but they're coming!

Read the entire blog post: The Internet of Things

Monday, July 11, 2011

Social Media at Work

Corporate marketing departments have made huge investments - mostly in time and energy - in social media. The major names - Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn - are all firmly established as necessary communications channels, deserving of strategic thought and management.

But what about internal communications? Will social media tools ever catch on inside the network?

Microsoft has built a variety of social media tools into its integrated offerings of Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, and Office 365. Yet activity streams ... which seem to be the primary currency of Facebook and Twitter ... have yet to become relevant to the day-to-day technology at work.
But I believe that will change soon. The answers to many age-old office space questions can all be easily answered with status updates and check-ins:

  • Where is [fill-in-the-blank] today?
  • Where are we meeting for lunch?
  • How is the new product development coming along?
Right now, using a Facebook or Twitter-like tool for such things seems silly.

Two years ago, many people thought 140-character mini-updates ("I am on the patio") seemed silly, too.