IBM acquired Webify Solutions earlier today, a privately-held company based here in Austin which helps insurers, health care companies, banks, and other companies share data among disparate software systems that might not otherwise be able to do so.
Webify's offerings will work with the existing IBM service-oriented architecture (SOA) portfolio to help speed up the delivery of SOA composite business applications. The company's pre-built, customizable SOA assets, semantic models, and policies can help streamline the definition, assembly, deployment and management of SOA-based business services and processes that support industry and semantic standards.
To learn more about this acquisition and its import, go here.
"ShortCuts:" New IBM Podcast SeriesIf you haven't checked out IBM's new podcast series, "ShortCuts," click here to learn more. ShortCuts is a free podcast series that provides technology tips on current trends and issues such as computer security, instant messaging etiquette, and email management.
Each four-minute "ShortCuts" segment begins with a "Question of the Week" geared to listeners of all knowledge and skill levels. Questions in the series range from: "Is it proper etiquette to send a graphic smiley face or 'wink' to my boss?" to "How can I 'unsend' an email?"
Ben Edwards, IBM's new media communications guru who joined us from the Economist magazine, is the mastermind behind this new series and indicated that the ShortCuts podcasts would be distributed from the IBM Web site, as well as via Apple's iTunes and MyYahoo's RSS feeds.
So what's the first short cut? IBM Lotus software engineer Rocky Oliver walks us through the spyware and adware minefield, offering some helpful tips and tricks on how you can clean up your computer's act. Upon a quick listen (the first episode is fast and furious at around 4 minutes), it's actionable intelligence real mortals can use.[Read More]
I don't give a damn'Bout my reputationThe world's in troubleThere's no communicationAn' everyone can sayWhat they want to sayIt never gets better anywaySo why should I care'Bout a bad reputation anywayOh no, not meOh no, not me
-- Joan Jett
And you might ask yourself...what do the lyrics of one rock n roller named Joan Jett have to do with a bad reputation?
On eBay, reputation is everything. But apparently a new scam is turning good reputations into bad.
In a story posted yesterday on CMP's TechWeb site, writer Gregg Keizer informs us that there's a "new twist on an old con" on eBay, where cyber fraudster's are setting up bogus auctions in order to boost their eBay rankings and reputations...then turning around and capitalizing on those bot-generated reputations to sell things via auctions that they have no intentions of shipping to the buyers.
It reminds me of an online Texas Hold 'Em Poker game, where two or more players are collaborating behind the backs of the other players through instant messaging, working to increase the antes and working the cards against you in the poker "back channel."
As the old saying goes, if you can't spot the sucker in the game, it's probably you!
The most amazing part of the scam is that the bots are interacting with other bots to build the reputation of the individuals who then work to scam us mere mortals! Not only do you run the risk of getting taken! You get taken by a bot who was collaborating with another bot! Mr. Bot, meet Hal.
You can read Fortinet's roundup of the scam here.
Meanwhile, watch your back...and your bot.[Read More]
It's Monday at IBM, what can I say. My day has been monopolized with calls and emails and work and...I just had to pause long enough to take a blog commercial break.
Okay, I'm centered and ready to blog. Can you say "I Been Monopolized?"
Speaking of commercial breaks, on the very same day that increased rumor and innuendo swirls around about the longer-term fate of AOL, and as CNN announces a revamped video portal that encourages contributions from citizen-journalists entitled "CNN Exchange," a completely and seemingly unrelated report suggests that houses with digital video recorders (DVRs) watch less TV than adults in the general population who don't have DVRs.
Excuse me? Can you hit the rewind button for just a sec?
They clearly did not survey yours truly's household.
Anecdotal though it may be, let me just set the record straight: I lived and worked in NYC for several years, where there are plenty of amusements and diversions of all varieties. Watching TV was not high on my cultural agenda.
But in 2000, when I had occasion to use my first DVR, I went from watching virtually no TV (the evening news, the occasional sports broadcast, etc.) to becoming a full-fledged TV junkie. Why?
Though some might have attributed this partly to my not having a life -- which would be at least true in part -- the more likely culprit was the shifting of control that the DVR presented.
For far too many decades, the commercial TV networks have been the traffic cops of our collective blissful idiot box entertainment schedule. From where I sit (which in recent times is way too much on my sofa in front of the TV), the digital video recorder changed all that forever. It unenslaved me from the confines of that evil broadcast programming schedule.
In just a few short years, I've gone from a world where the broadcast schedule dominated (at least from the perspective of the networks) to becoming largely irrelevant (My TV schedule is now called the "Time Warner Interactive Programming Guide").
Second, yes, I do fast forward during the ads (Oops, did I say that out loud?) Yes, I did. Again, I do fast forward during the ads. You want me to rewind and say it again?
But guess what else? Sometimes I also stop and watch the ads, especially if they're entertaining! Can you imagine??? Hitting the rewind button to go back and watch an ad that I missed?
Geico? I am all about that Gecko. I could envision getting together with that really cool little lizard and talking a little auto collision probability sometime over a Vodka Gimlet.
Or those new Apple commercials contrasting Windows and Macs? You know, the ones where the Windows guy freezes in his startlingly realistic recreation of the "Blue Screen of Death?" I wish I had a button on the remote to download those ads...talk about knowing your audience.
Yes, in Marketing 1.0, good and entertaining advertisements were optional. In Marketing 2.0, gaining -- and more importantly, keeping -- peoples' attention is going to be all about getting them to hit the stop, rewind, and play buttons. In that order.
Madison Avenue ad agencies' new mantra for training their TV commercial producing folks should go something like this:
"Stop, rewind, play. Stop, rewind, play. Stop, rewind, play." My thumb hurts! "Stop, rewind, play." This is worse than the Crackberry! "Stop, rewind, play." Cut!
No, I'm more inclined to believe the CBS proprietary research and my own experience which suggests that whatever their level of TV viewing, the audience tends to watch more telly after getting their DVRs than before.
The boob has been unleashed on the tube, and their vote is now the remote.
This had escaped my attention during my travels, but I wanted to ensure there was a mention of it here in the Turbo blog.
Last week, we made a couple of key announcements intended to help our friends with smaller businesses to secure, protect, and "redundify" their IT perimeters.
One was the IBM Express Managed Security Services for Firewall and VPN...I know, the name is a mouthful, but this "plug and play" appliance can help SMB customers manage their security without having to add an additional piece of hardware to their environment (that's included as part of our service).
It includes a firewall, as well as the capability to connect multiple locations and provide remote access using a VPN technology. The best part is, no IT skills are required on your part...IBM does all the heavy lifting.
On the data redundancy front, our Tivoli team (I'm a former "Tivolian", a badge I wear proudly) has established a distribution agreement for its Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files software with Digital River, which will be selling the product through its oneNetwork online marketplace (which in turn sells through reseller sites such as Circuit City, CompUSA, OfficeMax, and Staples).
I believe I've actually written about this product in a former posting many, many moons ago, but as a refresher, the Tivoli Continuous Data Protection product is differentiated from the rest of the pack in that it saves users' information continuously in real time, rather than in periodic snapshots (Forget to hit the "Save" button? No worries!"), and once saved, is automagically sent to a remote location (DASD, USB drive, etc.)
You can try out a trial here.[Read More]
Back in Texas, thus far we've been able to keep our own lights (and air conditioning) on...for the time being. But then again, the temperature actually dropped below 100: a virtual late July cool wave here in Austin.
In California, things are a little more heated, particularly in the Central Valley where temperatures pushed into the 102-3ish range yesterday. Governor Schwarzenegger, sir, might it be possible to do a little heat terminating?
Of course, the electricity demand is apparently being driven not only by the need for AC...there also seems to be an endless supply of Web 2.0 data centers cranking up in Silicon Valley which are in turn cranking up the need for more AC/DC
Speaking of hot currents, the weather is not the only hot thing out in Kal-ee-forn-ay-ee this week. Yesterday, the Stanford Technology Ventures Program's AlwaysOn conference launched. Other than a terribly confusing conference Web site, the agenda looks fantabulous and I'd love to be a fly on that wall for what clearly seem to be some compelling sessions. You can follow the little bouncing Sand Hill Road ball by watching the Webcast here.
None other than IBM's own Irving Wladawsky-Berger (whose TypePad-hosted blog you can read here) will be speaking at the conference tomorrow (Thursday, July 27th) on a panel entitled "Does America Still Have a Lock on Innovation?" Last week Irving posted an interesting piece on the conference blog entitled "Some Personal Reflections on the Changing Nature of Strategy."
This Apple Fell Far From Darwin's Tree
Meanwhile, bad news back at the Mac OS X ranch. Darwin's natural selection has gobbled up the OpenDarwin Mac OS X development initiative. In a posting yesterday on the Open Darwin Web site, a communique cited that "OpenDarwin was originally created with the goal of providing a development environment for building and developing Mac OS X sources" but that "Over the past few years, OpenDarwin has become a mere hosting facility for Mac OS X related projects."
I guess Darwin never got to reap the Apple fruity benefits of evolution, after all. Be sure to wave goodbye to him on the U.S.S. Beagle for me, guys.
Finally, returning to where we started: In a desperate plea to find the power on button for the AC -- or was that the power converter so MySpace could turn its servers back on?
Om Malik tells us this week's downtown LA blackout was caused by a "switch meltdown" (and not a Sean Penn core meltdown, as many Hollywood agents had intimated). Malik cites Fox Interactive Media exec Ross Levinsohn who indicated that MySpace will be looking to "add more data centers, preferably on the East Coast to make the system even more redundant."
Ross, one suggestion: Don't put those new servers out anywhere near my old abode of Woodside, Queens, lessen you wish MySpace to remain redundantly dark.[Read More]
I survived the 40th birthday soiree in NYC, celebrating with some old (as in "I-used-to-work-with-them-a-long-time-ago" old, not age-old) ibm.com amigos along with some other non-work friends Saturday night. This was after taking in the rain-delayed Mets/Astros game at Shea Stadium, which the Mets ultimately won 4-3 (still, the 'Stros got off two a great start with two first-inning homers to start the game 3-Zip).
I was having flashbacks to the NLCS baseball drama that was October 1986!
While in NY, I kept reading about the enduring blackout that continued in some major areas of Queens, a blackout that has lasted for nearly a week now. Once upon a time, more years ago than I care to count, I lived in Woodside, Queens, while attending New York University. Turns out, Woodside was one of the areas affected.
Anyhoo, I sympathize with my former neighbors, as it was extremely hot and humid in NYC over the weekend. And apparently, power outages are one technology trend having potentially huge impact on another: Software as a Service
Over this very same weekend, the now-highest trafficked Web site in the U.S., MySpace, apparently endured two separate extended power outages at a key L.A.-based data center.
A result not of greedy Enron traders this time, but rather a heat wave that has swept over Kal-ee-forn-ee-ya the past few days, one which raised electricity demand and left tens of thousands of consumers without power.
Judging by my math (which isn't very good...but the point remains regardless), MySpace was down for nearly 18 hours. I don't know exactly how much in lost advertising revenue that would add up to, but I suspect Mr. Murdoch was strongly encouraging the California utiliies to get the lights back on as quickly as possible.
What's most interesting to me about the timing of the blackouts was that they pre-empted a story in today's Wall Street Journal entitled "Is It Time to Dump Your Desktop?" (WSJ Registration Required) The piece covers the evolution of Web-based software, highlighting offerings from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others. It was a mostly balanced story, saying that Web-based software has come a long way in a short period of time and that small businesses are prime candidates for moving to Web-based technologies.
But hold your software migration, there, Tonto.
Not once did the story mention the potential for power or power-related data outages that could bring same said small businesses to their knees were a major power outage to strike as it did MySpace over the weekend.
It's one thing to lose access to your MySpace song list...it's another thing entirely to lose access to your online customer database.[Read More]
Ah, the life and times of the adventurous business traveller. I just arrived here in foggy Somers after having taken a Beechcraft puddle jumper from Boston to Westchester County Airport, where I watched out the front window and prayed the USAirways pilot could put that sucker down on the little white stripe.
It's been many moons since I flew in a Beechcraft, and yet words can hardly describe the feeling of the wind dropping out from under those wings and, subsequently, feeling the plane, and one's stomach, drop with it. Calgon, take me away.
But thus far, the busy week of busy beaver business travel has been worth the hassle. Let me start at the end and work my way back to the beginning.
If you read this blog back in March, you remember that I spoke highly of my experiences at SXSW Interactive in my hometown of Austin, where I had the opportunity to hear from the founders of 37signals. This morning, the Chicago Web 2.0 "skinny software" stalwarts make news with an apparent private equity investment by Jeff "Amazon" Bezos in the company.
While this may seem contrary to the formerly stated 37Signals' approach to business -- at SXSW they explained "Why take money if you don't have to?...Get a server and some friends and go to town" -- apparently Bezos was too good a friend to pass up.
I suppose this deal makes big the new small...just as 40 is the new 20. (Jason and team, I'll be happy to turn you guys on to one of our server salespeople to spend some of that cash infusion from Mr. Bezos).
Could Somebody Please Pass the Water?
Meanwhile, back in Boston, I had the occasion to visit some old and good friends from our Cambridge-based Internet Technology team (Sean and Chet, muchas gracias for last night's Net Client assist -- I'll never quite look at IP trace routing the same again), and even took in a few pints of...really good water. I highly recommend the water at the Cambridge Brewing Company.
Now that we've solved the intricacies of collaborative filtering as it relates to social tagging intersecting with the power of ranking personal referrals, I think we need to package up our new team and sell ourselves to Bezos as well. With IBM earning a patent commission, of course. Who knows, we might even end up inside the "Amazon Fishbowl with Bill Maher"!
Now, despite the wonderful meetings I had with my team, most of whom work remotely, the technological highlight of the journey was the opportunity I had to meet Blue Gene.
Actually, Blue Gene is more of a concept and research project than a single computer, but like DNA, the concept -- and hence, the computers -- have replicated and recombined to form numerous instantiations. With a peak speed of 360 Teraflops (as in trillions of calculations per second), Blue Gene systems occupy the #1 and #2 positions in the TOP500 (a list of the sites operating the 500 most powerful computer systems in the world.)
While in Cambridge, one of my colleagues had occasion to power up the Blue Gene ...and, well, speaking of 500s, the rush of air was like sticking one's head over the finish line at Indy -- I could sure use one of those back in Austin to speed up my PowerPointiness!
If you'd like to learn more about Blue Gene, feel free to cruise on over and read the detailed entry in Wikipedia. Just please be careful to keep your head inside the browser at all times....Oh, and if you don't blink, you just might catch a glimpse of the blue checkered flag.
As for me, seeing as I couldn't socially engineer my way into Fenway, I'm off to a communications love-in here in Somers before taking in the Astros and Mets at Shea in celebration of my turning the new 20 tomorrow.
The way I figure it, being a native Texan and a onetime New Yorker, I simply can't lose.[Read More]
I'm about to get on a plane to go from Austin to Boston. If anyone has a single Red Sox ticket they want to get rid of, I've always wanted to see a game at Fenway live and in person. Otherwise, I'll be watching the game from the Hotel Marlowe.
Meanwhile, I've been building out the sleek new black MacBook I acquired as a 40th birthday gift to myself. Lest you accuse me of being a traitor to Lenovo and Thinkpads, fear not, I own several...but I'm tired of living in a Windows world, and I really dig the Mac OS -- and now that I can run Windows on the Mac, it was too enticing not to have the best of both worlds.
Of course, the one thing I needed most, my AT&T VPN "Net Client," which is what enables me to connect back to IBM's network, was the one thing that didn't pop right up...seen those Mac vs. Windows commercials recently? Yeah, they're pretty much spot on...(If anyone in IBM IT is listening, please please please find a way to make it easier to get the AT&T Net Client up and running. I'm pretty good at troubleshooting stuff on my own, but I've spent more hours troubleshooting that technology on multiple machines than I care to count -- I'll never get those hours back, and trust me when I say it's not a good use of my time, which is ultimately IBM's dime. And from talking to others I get the sense that I'm not alone.)
Back to the Mac...I was torn between loading the Apple "Bootcamp" software, which requires one to boot back and forth between Mac OS X and Windows, and the new Parallels virtual machine technology, which allows you to run both Mac OS X and Windows at the same time. I tried Parallels out over the weekend using Windows 2000, but reloaded it when my new Windows XP CD arrived yesterday.
So far, it's mostly good, and the downsides are outweighed thus far by the fact that I can run both OSes at once. It's clear there are some issues, as reported, with DirectX controls running smoothly or at all (I couldn't get my virtual golf program to run!), but on the other hand, Firefox, FeedDemon, and others came up without a hitch. I also got streaming video to run under Windows just fine, able to see both YouTube and CNN videos with no problemo.
Finally, having been one of those geeks who used to load the new builds of OS/2 Warp everytime they released a new beta circa 1992-1994, I'm most excited about being able to use Parallels to load Warp as a virtual machine. I haven't run OS/2 in years, but I miss that OS/2 command line so.
If anyone has a CD of Warp they're not using, feel free to email me at email@example.com I suspect I can find one on eBay for a buck or so. LOL Meanwhile, if anyone has had any experiences working with Parallels, feel free to share your experiences here in the comments.[Read More]
This has been one crazy week. The tragic Big Dig accident in Boston (Please firm up those tunnels, Beantown...Ill be visiting your Tea Party house next week, and don't fancy a swim in to the harbor from the airport)...a guy in NYC blew up his apartment building right around the corner from my old office in Manhattan because he didn't want to lose it in a divorce...the commuter train bombings in Mumbai...the escalating violence in Israel and Lebanon.
Can't we all just get along?
Despite all the major geopolitical tidings, however, it was a week that, for me, started with more personal news. My 60-something father took the first step towards becoming a bionic man.
Let me explain: After a routine stress test that turned out to be not so routine, my dad's doctor advised him that he wanted to do a nuclear CAT scan late to check things out in a little more detail. Not satisfied with the results of the CAT scan, the doctor explained he was going to need to perform a heart catheterization.
Yes, that would be the procedure where they push a camera atop a thin wire through an artery in your upper leg and then all the way up near the heart.
As it turned out, my father's doctor's initial suspicion from the stress test was an astute diagnosis, for it so happened dad had a major artery that was 90% blocked -- not good.
To remedy the situation, the doctor took immediate action, performing an angioplasty and the placement of a stent to keep a healthy flow of oxygen-rich blood to his heart.
This all happened on Tuesday. I'm happy to report now, today, so far so good. This morning my mom informed me that my father is out and about, going to the post office to check the mail and stopping in for a while at his workplace.
Just a few short years ago, such a condition would likely have demanded a full bypass operation and down time of multiple weeks. Today, my dad was headed back to work three days after the procedure (he promised he would take it easy -- we're holding you to that, dad).
With all this week's increased geopolitical instability, I just wanted to take a few moments and report some good news. Even if that news may only be important to a handful of my friends and family members, I thought it important to let you know that there was some good news out there. These days, a little bit of good news can go a long way.
Meanwhile, I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to my IBM colleagues in our Haifa Labs and with all people throughout the impacted Middle East region. I hope and pray cooler heads prevail and that some good news reaches you soon as well.[Read More]
Our friends at Dell have finally decided to launch a blog,
called "one2one," although judging from the reaction of several longtime bloggers, it's sudden appearance may fall under the blogosphere category of "too little, too late."
In particular, Jeff Jarvis, longtime TV critic and journalist and author of the "Buzz Machine" blog -- has penned an ongoing one-way conversation about his challenges with the Dell support. His conclusion: Dell has started talking, but still isn't listening.
As Jarvis wrote yesterday in Buzz Machine, "the conversation is already happening out there without you. Join in that conversation. [But] Dell continues to believe that it can control the conversation. That horse is out of the barn, over the horizon, dead, and buried."
In fact, I could swear I saw that horse galloping through Zilker Park down the street from my residence here in Austin the other day. It had a wild look on its face, and seemed awfully thirsty. I tried to coax it in for a drink of water, but that horse was having none of it.
I say good luck to that horse on finally finding a watering hole where it can settle down and rethink its contrariness. Being an Austinite, I'm all about supporting the local economy (where Dell is headquartered), even when it may seem contrary to my own economic interest. Dell has done wonders for Texas and beyond, bringing low-cost PCs to people around the globe.
But being a blogger myself, I think Jarvis is correct when he says that blogging is about both talking and listening...heck, I'd even take it even a step further: Listening to -- rather than just talking to -- customers is just plain good bidness.
And that is ultimately what Jarvis' conversation has all been about: Business, not blogging. The fact that such criticism may be emanating via the Internets...well, hey, welcome to the 21st century. Were it the year 1855 here in the Texas Hill Country, the message just as easily could have been transmitted via smoke signals. It's the message that really matters here, not the medium.
For "one2one" not to even mention or incorporate a head nod to Jarvis after all his Dell trials and tribulations suggests that the horse has evolved into a great big blogosphere elephant: one which hasn't been acknowledged, much less given anything to drink.
Dell blogger Manish Mehta writes in his first post about the rebuilding of the Dell Web site: "The unfortunate truth is that we ended up concreting the cow path."
Among other things.[Read More]