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                          Archive for Feb 2005


                          Customer Starts with Custom

                          Customer interaction hubs (CIHs) integrate all of an organizations customer touch points into a single system. As I've considered this idea, it was fairly obvious to me, for example, that most companies could benefit from a tighter integration between their pre-sales portal and their customer service portal: As an example of kind of customer sales tool I'm thinking of, the other day, I was on the Comcast site trying to see if they now have service in my neighborhood (they've been digging up streets and lawns for months). I was answering various questions and getting information back from the
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                          I Am a Maker

                          I was thinking over the weekend that there are two great sources of joy in my life: my family and making things. I love to build, be it organizations, programs, woodworking projects, or my yard. So, it was with giddy anticipation that I opened the first issue of O'Reilly's new magazine "Make" when it arrived in my inbox this afternoon. I was not disappointed. The magazine features multiple projects and dozen's of smaller articles about making things--everything from a backyard monorail to a system for attaching a camera to a kite and taking aerial photographs. This is the kinds
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                          HB109 Status: Out of the Senate

                          HB109, the bill that reforms IT in Utah passed a floor vote on the Senate with one, minor amendment that the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee added. The amendment further limits the definition of "executive branch agency" to not include elected executive branch officers such as the Attorney General and Auditor. That's a minor change, so I expect the House to agree. Assuming the Governor signs it, HB109 will be law. Interesting that the UPEA didn't put up more of a stink on this. I have to admit, this is fun to watch--from a distance.
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                          Technical Reviews

                          For the last week or so, I've been working on incorporating the technical reviews of my digital identity book into the draft. I'm also trying to finalize it for O'Reilly. I found the best way to catch small typos (and I make a lot) is to read the draft out loud to myself. That's really time consuming. In the old days, before spell checkers, I used to read things backwards to force myself to look at each word for spelling.
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                          Debunking SAML Myths and Misunderstandings

                          Via Dave Fletcher, an article debunking SAML myths.
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                          More on XMLHttpRequest

                          Bill Bercik has a nifty little tutorial on using XMLHttpRequest. His purpose is "to demonstrate through a series of baby steps just how easy it is to use the XMLHttpRequest object." The example is a simple form that fills in, using XMLHttpRequest, the city and state after you type the zip code. He does it in seven steps: Create the form Add the event handler Create the XMLHttpRequest Object Talk to the server using an HTTP GET Build the zip-code database Build a PHP handler to respond to the GET request and return the right values from the DB.
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                          CTO Breakfast

                          I realized this morning when I was getting ready to go over the CTO breakfast that I forgot to send a note to the mailing list earlier this week. I put it on my blog, but then missed the list. My apologies. In any event, we still had a good group show up this morning and had a great discussion. As usual there was a good group of new people and they added some interesting topics to the mix. Some of the things we talked about included: Firefox's decision to drop support for IDNs in a bid to make
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                          The Little JavaScripter

                          Douglas Crawford sings the praises of The Little Schemer - 4th Edition and shows that many of the Little Schemer exercises can be done in JavaScript. You may not really want to know Scheme, but, as Douglas points out, you do need to be better at recursion and this book will teach you that. Now with Douglas's translations, you can do it using your favorite JavaScript interpreter.
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                          The Magic Behind Google Maps

                          If you read Jon Udell's latest column on Google Maps, you might have jumped right into Firefox and tried to get XML output from your map. Alas, as Jon points out on his blog, Google apparently disabled that feature. Jon gives a couple of pointers for people trying to figure out how its done: A final note about this column: Google Maps' client-side wizardry is way cool, but the real heavy lifting -- as Wil Rivers wrote me to point out -- happens on the back end. "The product underlying Google Maps is the Drill-Down Server from Telcontar, along
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                          Finding Replacements for Passwords

                          At the RSA conference, Bill Gates called, again, for an end to passwords and vendors hawked all kinds of gadgets to make that a reality. An article at c|net examines why passwords are still popular. My own summary of why passwords continue to be the authentication solution of choice is simple: they're good enough. This is a reason that Bill Gates ought to understand. He's made billions selling products that were good enough, even as many recognized that they had significant faults and there were other solutions that were better. Passwords cause no end of grief, but in the
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                          Leavitt on Interoperability Governance

                          Mike Leavitt, Secretary of HHS, gave a speech today at AFCEA International's homeland security conference in Washington, D.C. He listed some key points that deal with interoperability governance: "Any enterprise that is trying to plot its way right now in the Interoperability Age has a finite amount of time, capital and opportunities," he said. Leavitt listed several elements that he believes will improve the chances of success for any project: A "common pain" or common problem that provides a compelling reason for stakeholders to come together and find a solution. A "convener of stature," meaning that a well-respected person
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                          Programming for Kids

                          Don Box is trying to decide which programming language to teach his kids. His list of candidates includes: lisp, ML, Smalltalk, and Ruby. Personally, I'd recommend Scheme in the DrScheme IDE.
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                          Using XMLHttpRequest

                          Here's a little tutorial on using Javascript's XMLHttpRequest from O'Reilly. Here's another one from Apple Developer Connection. I haven't had much time lately to play with this, but its on my list. XMLHttpRequest is one of the tools that Google uses to make Gmail's user interface richer and one of the tricks CanyonBridge Technologies uses to create rich applications in a thin client.
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                          HB109 Out of the House

                          HB109, which reforms IT in Utah state government passed the House today with one amendment. Rep. Ralph Becker's amendment, which essentially gutted the bill, failed. The bill is now before the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee. The amendment further restricts the transfer of a current employee with merit status. Under the amendment, only employees transfered to positions with "duties ... substantially similar to those in the employee's previous position" retain merit status. This gives the new Executive Director (CIO) more power in crafting the new Department and will ensure a bigger percentage of its workers are at-will
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                          Web Services Tutorials

                          I'm conducting a two-day workshop next week on Web services for a group of IT executives and architects (yes, an interesting mix). Our goal is to get them started on an interoperability framework of Web services (and related) standards for their organization. I'm looking for some good introductory material on the WS-* standards that I can send them before we get started. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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                          CTO Breakfast This Thursday

                          We'll be holding this month's CTO Breakfast this Thursday at 8am at Canyon Park's food court. Hope to see you there. Meanwhile, today I'm taking the kids skiing. Sundance got 21 new inches over the weekend.
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                          HB211 Is Out of the House

                          Electronic voting has been a hot topic here in Utah over the last several months. I've been involved in the debate, testifying last October to the Utah Legislature and writing an op-ed piece. The issue was an imminent purchase of new voting equipment and an RFP on the equipment that didn't insist on a voter verified paper ballot. Yesterday, the Utah House passed HB 211, Integrity of Election Results Amendments sponsored by Rep. John Dougall. HB211 does the following: requires that voting equipment produce a permanent paper record that is available for the voter's inspection prior to the voter
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                          Building Interactive Web Programs with Continuations

                          Supposed I asked you to build a program to grab the current exchange rates from the Federal Reserve Bank in New York (FRBNY) in XML, prompt the user for the currency to exchange dollars for, then prompt the user for the dollars to convert, and then display the result. You might write a program that looks like this: get the rates from the Federal Reserve Bank show the first prompt and record the currency choice show the second prompt and record the dollar amount query the XML to extract the right information using the user input calculate the result
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                          CMSWatch Twenty to Watch

                          CMSWatch, which covers the Content Management System space released its Twenty to Watch in 2005 list and I'm on it--albeit number 20. Good thing it wasn't Nineteen to Watch!
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                          Bluetooth Rearview Mirror

                          LG has a Bluetooth rearview mirror that shows caller id information from your phone. Very cool.
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                          Virtualizing Your Datacenter

                          Baseline Magazine has an in-depth look at the use of virtualization technologies to automate datacenter operations. The article concludes that we're not there yet, but enterprises should plan on this trend. I've got three students in my lab working on some performance studies of VMWare's ESX platform. We're doing the work for BYU's Office of Information Technology. Our hope is to reduce over 100 departmental servers to 14U of rack space (20 blades). Our ultimate goal, however, isn't to just do the performance studies, interesting as those are, but to develop ways of using virtualization to automate more datacenter
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                          NextPage 1.5 Released

                          NextPage has released their new document management system, called NextPage 1.5. I've done a review for InfoWorld of the product that should be coming out shortly. The sneak peek: NextPage has managed to create a document management system that actually stands a chance of being used because it doesn't require any central server be installed and doesn't require that users change their work habits--at all.
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                          Connect Column: Independent Identity - Take It or Leave It

                          My column for February's issue of Connect Magazine has appeared. Its called Independent Identity--Take It or Leave It.
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                          Two identity Related Pieces at Between the Lines

                          I put a couple of new pieces up at Between the Lines on identity today: Going After Phishers talks about how to proactively go after the people stealing your customer's identity. Real ID discusses US House legislation to create a national ID system out of the state driver's licenses.
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                          UtahHouseMajority.com Debuts

                          The majority leadership of Utah's House has a group blog, UtahHouseMajority.com. The group also sports two individual blogging legislators, Steve Urquhart, Majority Whip, and Jeff Alexander, Majority Leader. Nice to see the interest in blogging by the Legislature. I wonder if they've considered what they'll do with their blog if Republicans are ever no longer the majority? Of course, this is Utah, so that's a long ways off.
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                          Val Oveson Gets a New Job

                          Val Oveson, Utah's most recent CIO, announced today that he's joining CGI-AMS as VP of Strategic Business Development. Congrats to Val. Seeing his title made me wonder though, are their companies that have VPs of Tactical Business Development? I thought all bizdev work was supposed to be strategic.
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                          Emerging Technology

                          I just registered for the O'Reilly Emerging Technology conference in San Diego next month. The conference hotel is sold out already, so I'm staying at the Sheraton Hotel and Marina, which is supposedly a mile away. Good exercise, I suppose.
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                          VMWare Performance Testing

                          Nate Ekstrom, one of my grad students, is starting to get some interesting results on his VMWare performance testing. The latest shows the importance of distributing across LUNs on the SAN. These results aren't things people don't already know, they're designed to build the test infrastructure and ensure we understand, and can back out, performance bottlenecks from the hardware. So far, so good.
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                          SCO and Canopy

                          Yesterrday, the judge in the SCO vs IBM lawsuit refused to dismiss it, but still took it to SCO for failing to produce the evidence they have been claiming to have. Although U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball didn't grant that declaration--called a partial summary judgment--he sharply criticized SCO for not producing evidence for its case. "Despite the vast disparity between SCO's public accusations and its actual evidence--or complete lack thereof--and the resulting temptation to grant IBM's motion, the court has determined that it would be premature to grant summary judgment," Kimball wrote Wednesday. "Viewed against the backdrop of SCO's
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                          Running Code and Regular Releases

                          Several interactions I've had recently with groups building Web applications have led me a renewed appreciation for the power of running code in a development project. Both of these organizations were some time into a large development project and still didn't have running code and regular, consistent release cycle. This wisdom gets great lip service, so it surprises me to see people who should know better not following it. Any development project, but particularly those for the Web, ought to plan to release running code that someone (even just the QA group) can hit, exercise, and start to profile.
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                          Google Maps

                          If you haven't seen Google Maps yet, go check it out. I'm sure you'll be impressed. Google continues to show us that thin clients and rich applications don't have to be mutually exclusive. What's amazing is that what Google's doing is just a drop in the bucket. Canyon Bridge Technologies has shown me things I would have never believed you could do in a browser. jgwebber has deconstructed what Google's doing with their maps. I like the rolling map idea. That's very creative.
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                          Legislative Blogging

                          The Salt Lake Tribune has a piece this morning on Utah legislators who blog. Right now, the only one who's really active is Rep. Steve Urquhart from St. George, but others are promising to start. I wish there were more. I recognize that some people in public service are reluctant to be too open (and often for good reason), but its refreshing to see how someone who is supposed to be representing you really thinks. Blogs are perfect for that.
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                          December Connect Column: Walled Gardens and Network Effects

                          My December column for Connect Magazine is now available, so I'll point to it here as well. Its called Walled Gardens and Network Effects and laments the lack of network effects in the cell phone industry. I struck a similar theme in a recent post at Between the Lines.
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                          Microsoft Needs a Theory

                          Patrick Logan asks for a theory of how SharePoint and XML are associated. Seems like all we get is this, this and this work well together. Yes, but to what end? What's the conceptual underpinning that helps me understand how and, more importantly, why I use them together?
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                          Amazon Web Services in Scheme

                          Initial screen for Amazon Web Services (AWS) in Scheme Earlier, I showed my Programming Languages class how XML and s-expressions were related and how to use the SSAX parser to parse XML into s-expressions. I wanted to do something more real, however, so yesterday, I wrote a package to call Amazon Web Services from Scheme, parse the results using SSAX, and query the output using SXPATH. The result was a s-expression version of the results formatted as HTML. That's not nearly enough, however since after you've run the query from inside the Scheme interpreter a couple of times and
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                          Java vs. C++

                          Java is preferable to C++ in exactly the same way that driving a 1994 Chevy Impala is preferable to driving a 1978 Ford LTD. Update: Here's some pictures to help you with the visualization. 1978 Ford LTD 1994 Chevy Impala
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                          CIO Policy and Audits

                          In my analysis of HB109 yesterday, I missed something which is crucial. I don't see, in the structure of the new Dept. of Technology Services, where the CIO has staff to help create and enforce policy. I'm sure there's a lot of people in the agencies and in the Legislature who are saying "we don't want DTS to enforce policy," but that's a mistake. Here's why: One of the big reasons agencies don't want to use services from ITS is that some people in ITS see their role as being the network cop instead of being the network service
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                          KCPW on HB109

                          I just got off the phone taping an interview with KCPW on HB109. I don't know when it will run. Before the tape was running, we had a little conversation that went something like this: They ask "Why should we care?" I said, "I'm not sure you do, this isn't public policy, its government efficiency." "How much?" "$20 million per year" They said "Wow! Mind if we start taping?"
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                          A Couple at Between the Lines

                          I've got a couple of new articles over at Between the Lines: Mobiles beat handhelds because of connectivity Dismantling the monoculture one piece at a time
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                          IT Reform in Utah

                          The text of HB109, which substantially reorganizes IT in Utah, is finally available. If passed as written, the bill: phases out the existing information technology governance structure in the executive branch of state government over a one-year period; creates the Department of Technology Services which includes: ???? an executive director, who serves as the chief information officer; ???????????? the Division of Enterprise Technology; ???????????? the Division of Integrated Technology including the Automated Geographic Reference Center; and the Division of Agency Services; funds the department through an internal service fund; maintains merit status for employees whose functions are transferred to
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                          Blogging at Public CIO

                          Public CIO Magazine has an article on blogging called The Coming of blog.gov by Blake Harris that I'm part of. Blake asked a lot of good questions and we talked for a while. That is why the Utah state government's brash foray into blogging stands out. A few months after becoming Utah's CIO in 2001, Phillip Windley began blogging personally. "It wasn't very long after that -- a month or so -- that I realized there could be a lot of value to an organization if there were people inside the organization who blogged," Windley explained. "I could see
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                          Blogging on Marketplace

                          A feature by Bob Moon on Marketplace this morning talks about blogging. I'm in the piece, briefly. Bob contacted me before Christmas and we talked for about 45 minutes. I was in the studios at KBYU. Out of that 45 minutes, they used just a tiny snippet--the whole clip is only 3 minutes and 50 seconds and there are 2 or 3 other people in it. Here's what I say: "Five, ten years ago, if you got bad service from a company, you told some of your friends. Now, I post it on my blog and 1000 people read
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                          Customer Intimacy

                          While I was over at Baseline, I checked out Tom Steinert-Threlkeld's column on customer intimacy. Tom's point is plain: you can ruin a brand with shotgun blast marketing. People building customer interaction systems need to take this into account. Cluetrain taught us that markets are conversations. Customer interaction systems, at their best, ought to facilitate those conversations.
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                          Big Outsourcing Deals

                          JP Morgan Chase recently dropped a big, multi-year IT outsourcing deal they had with IBM. IBM's performance wasn't the issue, but financially it had stopped making sense. Baseline Magazine has a detailed story about the development. The company's CIO, Austin Adams, said at the time: "We believe managing our own technology infrastructure is best for the long-term growth and success of our company ... to become more efficient." What really changed things was the July 2004 merger of JP Morgan Chase with Bank One, which had gained a reputation for consolidating data centers and eliminating thousands of computer applications.
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                                                  image

                                                  Mobile phone

                                                  Variety show

                                                  car

                                                  video

                                                  Premier League

                                                  car

                                                  society

                                                  Finance