My thoughts and prayers go out to the Italian people after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck L'Aquila, Italy, east of Rome overnight.
The quake has left at least 92 dead, and some 40,000 to 50,000 people homeless, according to reports from The New York Times.
There's nothing funny about earthquakes, having experienced three myself, two of those in Asia.
After last year's quake in Beijing, which I experienced on the 20th floor of IBM's Pacific Century Tower, I've been forced to reassess the relationship of my feet to the ground. (And the joke around the IBM watercooler is "Don't travel to Asia with Turbo").
It's a most unsettling feeling, an earthquake. If you can't depend on the ground, what can you depend on?
Here's a link to the Italian Red Cross, where online contributions for the earthquake relief in the Abruzzo region of Italy can be made.
Speaking of shaky ground, it appears the sun has set on the rumored IBM/Sun deal.
C:NET is reporting that Sun won't be acquired by IBM after all, with the Sun board apparently split on the deal.
Me, I had no dog in that fight, although I likely would have been knee deep in any Web integration that would have transpired between the two companies.
I guess I can now move beyond the night sweats that that looming deal was causing me as I tried to imagine what an ibmsun.com world would look like?
Finally, this first full week of April presents a sporting fan's buffet.
Today is the official opening day for Major League Baseball.
Tonight, Michigan State plays UNC for the men's Final Four college basketball championship.
And, my favorite sporting event of the year, bar none, The Masters golf tournament opening round begins on Thursday.
For those of you with iPhones, IBM has a special treat in store for this year's Superbowl of golf.
The Masters Tournament iPhone application will let you get the best of the Masters while on the go.
Finally, somebody's thinking about those business travelers who might also be golf fans. Hello!!!!
The iPhone app includes live, streaming video from Amen Corner, player interviews, course flyovers, and, as always, the live leaderboard.
As for handicapping this year's tournament, one can never rule out Tiger Woods, especially since he came roaring back for a win at the Arnold Palmer International.
But Geoff Ogilvy's putter has been white hot, and the lightning fast greens of Augusta demand nerves of steel (Ogilvy had a 95.10% conversion on putts inside 10 feet at the recent WGC-Accenture World Golf Championship, three full percentage points ahead of Stewart Cink).
However, there is a new variable this year not typically seen in August in April: cold weather.
Current forecasts have the temperature as low as 43 degrees F on Wednesday, and 54 degrees for Thursday's opening round.
Between the cold weather, the longer course, and the ridiculously fast greens -- well, keep that iPhone app turned on and tuned in.
Things could change by the minute at this year's Masters!
Technorati Tags: earthquakes, final four, italy, masters, pga tour, tiger woods
Greetings from Tokyo.
I landed here last night after a 24 hour pit stop in Seoul, South Korea.
Trouble seems to follow me everywhere I go. Or, perhaps I follow trouble.
In any case, the day we arrived in Seoul, the South Koreans were playing North Korea in a World Cup soccer qualifying match.
The South won the game, and this as the news was emerging North Korea was fueling up one of its new controversial test missiles.
Let's just say I glanced up the gorgeous blue Seoul sky more than a few times.
My teams' time on the ground in Seoul was extremely brief, as it will be here in Japan.
However, it's been wonderful to meet some of our new colleagues as well as visit a few familiar faces as well.
As I write this, the G20 Summit seems to be in full swing in London, and the Conficker worm drama seems to have built to a crescendo to April 1st and then....nothing.
I guess the joke's on us!
Rumors continue about a deal between IBM and Sun Microsystems, but so far they continue to be just that.
Well, I still don't have much time to be contemplative and thoughtful about all that I've seen and learned this week, but hopefully the 12 hour plane ride back to Dallas will give me a few minutes to ponder.
Technorati Tags: business travel, japan, south korea, sun
It's early Wednesday morning here in Hong Kong.
The global economic skies seem to have grayed a bit more since my arrival here.
Though I haven't had much opportunity between meetings and dinners with business associates to follow the news, I did catch the story that Rick Wagoner resigned from General Motors, and am aware the G20 Summit starts tomorrow in London.
Other than that, I've been in a bit of a news blackout.
Which may not be such a bad thing, considering it's given me an opportunity to get more familiar with this great city, its people, and the absolutely gargantuan opportunity the Internet presents as a marketing and communications vehicle in this market and the greater Asia-Pacific region.
According to one of our friends from Forrester Research, who phoned in an Asia-Pacific Internet update from Sydney, the continued CAGR for Internet use in the Asia-Pacific region mimics that of the continued GDP growth in China, around 9%.
In China alone, there are well over 250M Internet users today, and yet there are over a billion and a half people here. So, the Asian Internet upside is still ridiculously enormous.
Though the Chinese economic growth engine has slowed some, the IMF still expects it to grow 9.3% in China this year, and AP as a region around 5-6%.
Hence, no recession, but a slight slowdown with no one immune from the overall general slowing.
Though one shouldn't make too sweeping a generalization about a broad market like Asia-Pacific -- the wants, needs and uses of the Internet are typically idiosyncratic to each market -- it does seem quite evident that Asia is moving well beyond the vanilla uses of the Web and aggressively embracing social media such as blogging, podcasting, social networks and the like.
But those uses are greatly impacted by sociocultural and political forces (TGCF, for example), as well as by generations of business tradition, conduct and customs.
As with so many places on the globe, this region is finding its way towards trying to naturally adapt to and embrace the disruption of social media in a way that best befits the individual culture.
So, the ways in which blogging, for instance, are being embraced in a more open city like Hong Kong, are vastly different from, say, how they may be embraced in Beijing.
But make no mistake, they are being embraced, and in numbers that are simply staggering.
Time prevents me from elaborating further, and the wonderful Harbour Plaza Northpoint will be throwing me out shortly.
This PM we'll be off to Seoul, South Korea, where I hope to learn and share even more.
Until then, happy surfing!
Technorati Tags: china, hong kong, internet adoption, business travel, social media
I arrived safely in Hong Kong this past Saturday morning.
Thank heavens, nowhere in sight were there continuing signs of the previous weekend's illness. Just a little jet lag after my 18+ hours in the flying aluminum can.
Never having ridden Cathay-Pacific before, I have nothing but good things to say -- save for the part about being in bulkhead and getting some fun leg cramps along the way.
As for Hong Kong itself, there's so much to say and so little time (it's Monday morning here and I'm preparing to leave for my first meetings).
The city feels to me like a cross between Rio de Janiero and Tokyo. I'm very fortunate that my friend Raj lives here, and accompanied me on much of my exploration of the city over the weekend.
When we first set out in Kowloon on Saturday around mid-day, the place seemed empty. This is Hong Kong, I remarked to myself? Where is everybody?
People have been giving me a hard time for the pictures I've taken in recent business travels, as none of them seem to have many people in them. Well, Hong Kong mid-day Saturday won't disappoint.
But come late afternoon and then Saturday evening, it was an entirely different story. People started running out of the woodwork. It was a mass of humanity running around amidst the chaos of this gorgeous city, and I was able to partake of some of the excellent cuisine (including the best dim sum ever).
As for technology, my comments on that will come in good time.
I did step out to a friendly local McDonald's here in North Point this morning (I check out McDonald's everywhere in the world...you'd be surprised how much local customs apply to the menus!), and sitting next to me was an older man, probably in his 50s, playing a small Nintendo GameBoy.
Depending on his economic circumstance, I guess this, of course, could have been a good or a bad sign.
Being a glass half full kinda guy, I figure maybe he was just working on improving his eyesight.
In any case, I hope to report back more once I learn more about the market and the state of technology here in the Asian-Pacific region.
In the meantime, missing all the final bracket action in the NCAA basketball tournament back home, I was intrigued to discover Twitter has discovered at least one way of generating some cash, via Mark Cuban.
Apparently the NBA fined Dallas Mavericks owner Cuban $25K U.S. for "slagging referees" on Twitter this past Friday.
Cuban, as always, just laughed it off. What's next, Cuban Twitter expulsions???
Technorati Tags: business travel, hong kong, gaming
I'm getting ready to head out to Hong Kong via Los Angeles.
Fear not, shareholders. I'll be traveling economy class (as will my associates).
To Hong Kong.
Shoot us now.
I stocked up on plenty of movies, books (did you know you can load books to the Blackberry Bold???), and new tunes (the new U2 album) onto the iPod Touch.
Halfway around the globe in coach? Nooo problem.
That aside, the trip started out with some serendipity.
I asked my cab driver here in Austin where he was from, and he told me Nigeria.
Then, he told me he used to be my FedEx guy, but that he got sick of FedEx so he started driving a cab. I thought I recognized him!
Then, my colleague David out in Almaden with IBM Research Tweets to me, "Did he slap a tracking number on you?"
Yeah, David. 867530-ni-ey-ein.
"When I absolutely, positively have to get there overnight."
You gotta admit, the whole traveling and transportation theme goes nicely with IBM's "Smarter Planet" initiative, including our most recent "Building a Smarter Planet" blog post on trying to facilitate smarter transportation systems.
Except when I'm zipping through airports and such, I don't commute much anymore. But I used to, and I can sympathize with those who do.
Did you know that congestion in the U.S. transportation system alone costs nearly $200B a year???
Maybe we should all FedEx ourselves more!
IBM has been focused in a number of countries around the globe on helping streamline traffic congestion and building smarter transportation systems through the use of information technology.
Check out my buddy Tim Washer's blog post on the topic, and be sure to watch the video interview he conducted with IBM Research's Laura Wynter, who's been working on these tough traffic problems.
Meanwhile, I'll see if I can't my FedEx tracking number so you all can track me all the way to Hong Kong.
But please, no mid-trip rerouting.
Technorati Tags: blackberry, business travel, fedex, smart transportation, smarter planet
I'm not one to gossip, but did you hear the rumor that actress Jennifer Aniston broke up with musician boyfriend John Mayer because of his Twitter obsession?
According to The Telegraph, Mayer "spent hours on the networking website, despite telling her he was too busy to get in touch with her.
I like to Twitter as much as the next guy, but put down your Crackberry and show the girl a good time.
Mayer was apparently busted after explaining to Jen he didn't have time to see her, even as he Tweeted endlessly, the records of which were logged against those specific times when said musician indicated he wasn't available.
Uh, for the record, people, Twitter keeps a record of what and when you Tweet. Just in case that wasn't clear.
Perhaps Mayer could pick up his Skype phone and give Jen a call, maybe sing her a ballad or two?
Om Malik reports this AM that Skype is now the largest long-distance phone company in the globe, with cross-border traffic having grown ~41% in 2008, to some 33 billion minutes.
Maybe long distance via Skype is the next best thing to being there.
Finally, if you're in the part of the Facebook camp that hates the new redesign, Slate's take is this: get over it.
In a recent survey on Facebook itself, of over 800K users, only 5% liked the new redesign.
But Slate's Farhad Manjoo says Facebook isn't likely to relent, that most people hate most redesigns, but the users eventually grow accustomed to the new site.
Yeah, just like Jen got used to John's Twitter obsession!
Technorati Tags: facebook redesign, jennifer aniston, john mayer, skype, twitter
That was some weekend of college basketball, huh?
My Texas Longhorns took it on the chin from Duke, but I'm still hopeful that Duke rolls over the rest of what's left of Tobacco Road (i.e., North Carolina).
Speaking of rollovers, Skype is jumping headlong into the corporate telephony market by announcing its new beta of Skype For SIP for Business users.
SIP stands for "Session Initiation Protocol," which is an open standard and the leading VOIP protocol used in business telephony networks.
This will allow businesses to be reached by the over 405M Skype registered users through a "click-to-call" capability from their Web sites.
Skype's not the only one looking to help businesses enhance their Web customer service.
Salesforce.com has entered the grand arena of the Twittersphere, but with real world business applicability kinda stuff.
As reported in InformationWeek, Salesforce announced a CRM application for Twitter, one intended to help companies find and assist customers who are more likely to look to the Twitter community to solve technical issues than to call traditional customer support.
This is yet another extension to the Salesforce "Service Cloud."
Hey, if your customer service Tweet gets caught in the middle of a tornado in the Salesforce Service Cloud, don't say you didn't get an advanced weather alert.
Chicken Little, ye says?
The storm clouds in the service cloud are already brewing, even if the sky ain't falling just yet.
TechCrunch revealed earlier today that online backup and storage provider Carbonite lost data of 7,500 customers, with Carbonite in turn blaming both a hardware provider and systems integrator via a recently filed lawsuit.
Regardless of who's to blame, continued incidences such as these will no doubt make companies think long and hard before placing their cloud computing bets, particularly where business critical customer information is concerned.
Technorati Tags: customer service, voip, salesforce, twitter
I'm suddenly not feeling so well.
As in, suddenly overnight.
I think all the running around South By Southwest may have caught up with me.
Which is a funny thing, because I didn't try to keep up with the 20-somethings and all the parties or anything.
I just went to the sessions like a good little student, took lots of notes, went out to dinner a couple of times with friends and colleagues, and then made my way back to the Turbo cave for a good night's sleep, each and every night.
So much for good behavior. If I'd have known I was going to get sick, I'd have stayed out all night at cool and hip digerati parties and completely worn myself out.
Okay, well it sounds good, anyhow.
I have exactly six days to get better before leaving for Hong Kong.
If I can't kill this illness by then, I'm sure 18 hours in economy class will do the trick. And yes, thank you very much, I've already started with the Airborn regimen.
Of course, Apple informs me I can now download "Quantum of Solace," along with other HD-quality movies, to watch on the iPod Touch on the way over.
But I'm not sure even James Bond can save us from a really bad April Fool's joke this year.
Conficker is a program that exploits Microsoft Windows vulnerabilities, and has allegedly infected over 12M computers.
John Markoff writes in the Bits blog that come April 1st, "the worm will generate 50,000 domain names and systematically attempt to communicate with each one."
Hopefully Cathay-Pacific's airline reservation system won't be one of those affected! I don't think hitchhiking from Hong Kong to Seoul is even possible, much less desirable.
Whatever happens, hopefully I won't end up in Montenegro, where the government has decided to block access to Facebook on government computers, according to TechDirt.
Look, I know the new Facebook page hasn't exactly been well received (Facebook's own polling suggests only 5% of their audience likes it), but isn't blocking access completely a little extreme?
Don't we want government officials everywhere to be able to send those cute little virtual cuddly things to one another?
Come to think of it, the new Facebook is kind of like traversing a government bureaucracy. You know there's a there there somewhere, but you just can't find anything.
Of course, even our own Uncle Sam is having some issues with the FB.
Another Bits post from this week indicated the Department of Homeland Security is having a tough go of it with Facebook.
"We have a Facebook page," an official from there said. "But we don't allow people to look at Facebook in the office. So we have to go home to use it. I find this bizarre."
Look at it this way: At least they're saving we taxpayers money on Uncle Sam's electric bill.
Technorati Tags: apple, business travel, james bond, facebook, social networking, sxsw2009
Word on the street in the WSJ and other sources is that IBM is in talks to buy Sun Microsystems, in a "combination that would bolster IBM's heft on the Internet, in software and in finance and telecommunications markets."
That's a heck of a story to wake up to after having been locked up in the Austin Convention Center for the past four days, deprived of sunshine, Vitamin D, and no time to consume much news.
Of course, I know nothing about any of this, being a lowly IBM blogger, but it is an interesting proposition.
I checked Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz's blog this morning, only to find his last post was on Wednesday March 11, where he referenced Sun's three major strategic imperatives.
But nothing about any IBM/Sun merger.
There would, of course, be no blog post until a deal was done. But I figured it was worth a look.
I also did a quick query of "IBM" on the Sun Web site search engine this morning, and the first thing that popped up was a link to "Sun Solaris Operating System."
I suppose that's one good reason to buy Sun.
The next link was "Solaris on IBM Servers."
I suppose that's another good reason.
And further on down the list was the "Sun Trade-in Program: Trade-Up from IBM or HP to Sun."
Okay, so two out of three ain't bad.
The Journal story says the asking price is $6.5B in cash, which would be a premium of more than 100% over Sun's Sunday closing price.
Keep your eye on this space.
But please, no total eclipse of the sun jokes.
Technorati Tags: ibm, m&a, rumors, sun
SXSW is winding down to its last day, and as is usually the case, there's more to grok than I have time to process.
If I looked back at my posts from last year (which I attempted to do, but couldn't find), I'm not sure what the core memes are that would have appeared.
Certainly we began to see the onslaught of the social media, but if it was just an introductory meme last year, it was the theme of this year's conference.
Again, a little bit of oxygen could go a very long way.
At this year's event, I decided rather than try to hit multiple sessions during the same hour, I would try to stay put.
The Austin Convention Center is way too spread out to try and take in multiple sessions during the hour, and I've personally tried to make my experience more zenlike -- go with the flow, grasshoppah, and learn all that you can from the great wisdom of the SouthBy panelists, no matter who they are.
The social media eclipse, however, probably marginalized a lot of other very relevant topics that otherwise deserved their own oxygen and attendance, but when the pack is moving like a great buffalo herd towards the edge of the cliff, can any momentum really prevent their great fall back towards earth?
Don't get me wrong, the social media are important and being both a practitioner and preacher, I for one am not about to melt the butter being applied to me own bread.
But even SXSW veteran speaker Bruce Sterling, whose hour every annum is one of the highlights of my year, suggested we're all being moved into a large Web 2.0 concentration camp.
As he opened a Shiner Bock beer onstage, he lamented how the social media had killed his annual SouthBy house party while explaining that "they casually datamine all your tweets," the they being some amorphous corporate oligocracy also likely responsible for the demise of his book audience.
Conspiracy theories may abound, but this year's SXSW was probably best summed up as being much ado about a whole lot of nothing...but thank Heavens there were 9,000 citizen journalists there to cover it real-time via Twitter.
Otherwise, I might have missed something important.
Technorati Tags: bruce sterling, sxsw, sxsw2009