Archive for Jul 2006

                          SocialText Open

                          With OSCON happening last week, there were some important open-source announcements. One I wanted to highlight was SocialText Open. SocialText is a very capable commercial wiki. Now, you can download the code at SourceForge. SocialText Open isn't SocialText's first play in the open source space. They've been a big supporter of Kwiki, a wiki system written in Perl that is highly modular and customizable. Ross Mayfield, SocialText's CEO commented on the change on his blog. Socialtext Open changes everything. Including the way we are going to communicate, with nothing to hide and sharing our Public Roadmap. While Open is
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                          OSCON 2006

                          OSCON's been happening this week. I'm sorry I haven't been able to be there--it's one of my favorite conferences of the year. I'm looking forward to hearing some of the talks on IT Conversations. In the meantime, Technorati, Del.icio.us, and Flickr have links to conference goings-on.
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                          Open Source Business Models

                          I've got a student who's working on starting a company around a configuration management system he wrote while he was working for BYU and has licensed. I've seen the system in action and it's pretty good. Shops with over a dozen machines could use something besides a spreadsheet to keep track of all this. He's been working on various parts of the business and decided he wanted to open source the software and build a business around the open source code base. I don't know much about that business model, so I hooked him up with Matt Asay. I'm
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                          The Customer Is In Charge

                          If you've had doubts about how the Web, and especially the blogosphere, has affected the relationship between companies and customers, look no further than David Berlind's recent exchange with a T-Mobile customer service rep that he recorded and put up on the 'Net. The 13 minute call, which David recorded (and told the rep he was recording) shows a pompous, egotistical, and sometimes surly customer service rep berating David for not reading the terms and conditions of the service (does anyone read them?) and systematically refusing to listen to the real problem. David posted a copy of the call
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                          My Audio Setup

                          Some people have asked me what I use to record various audio for IT Conversations. The set-up I'm using right now is the result of a lot of experimentation and a lot of help from people like Doug Kaye and Paul Figgiani. Paul's Podcast Rigs Web site is a real help to anyone getting into podcasting. Audio recording setup(click to enlarge) My current setup consists of the following: Apple MacBook Pro with 2Gb of RAM. Obviously, you could substitute some other computer. I also use a Apple 30" Cinema Display, which is clearly optional, but very nice. Mark of
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                          Supporting Utah Dinosaur Curation

                          You may or may not know it, but Utah has a huge collection of dinosaur fossils. Of course, Utah is where Dinosaur National Park is located. Unfortunately, the facilities for supporting this important collection are in serious disrepair. The National Park Service is requesting comments on the development of a regional paleontological repository facility in Vernal, Utah in a partnership with the Vernal Field House of Natural History (Utah State Parks). The facility is to be constructed adjoining the newly opened Vernal Field House of Natural History in Vernal and jointly managed. The Utah State Paleontologist, Jim Kirkland, is
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                          Reputation and eCommerce Site Ratings Survey

                          The other day Devlin Daley pointed out RightCart to me. RightCart is a SaaS shopping cart implemented in Rails. The reason RightCart caught our attention, besides the fact that it's pretty slick, is that it uses RapLeaf's rating system as a way to rate merchants. Coincidentally, the next day, Scott Allen pointed to some survey results he had about Rapleaf and "transactional trust." The survey showed that ratings are the number one way that buyers choose merchants. Ratings are one way that people establish a reputation for a merchant (or a buyer when two-way trust is necessary). One of
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                          IT Conversations in a Podcasting Supergroup

                          An article in Podcasting News calls Gigavox Media, the new home of IT Conversations, the "first podcasting supergroup." A new company promises to be the first podcasting supergroup, bringing together two influential pioneers of podcasting, Doug Kaye (IT Conversations, The Conversations Network) and Michael Geoghegan, right, (Reel Reviews, Grape Radio, and the DisneyLand Podcast). During the Gnomedex 6.0 conference last weekend, Kaye announced the launch of GigaVox Media, Inc., a for-profit partner company of the non-profit The Conversations Network. Kaye describes the relationship between GigaVox and its non-profit sister as a "hybrid business model" where the two sides work
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                          Goodbye Al Mansell

                          Al Mansell Al Mansell is retiring from the Utah Senate. He was president of the Senate when I was CIO. My most memorable experience of Sen. Mansell is when I was moving all domains from state.ut.us to utah.gov. Al was very upset about the move, so I went to talk to him about it. I asked why he didn't want to use utah.gov and he replied that .gov meant governor and he wanted to use utah.le for legislature. As techies we may laugh, but to someone outside the voodoo of DNS, that seems like a perfectly reasonable request. Why can't
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                          Kaliya got a nice mention on unconferencing in an article in the San Jose Mercury News. This is the same technique we use at the Internet Identity Workshop that's garnered considerable praise for achieving real results. Kaliya is a master at this. She had to convince me to do it the first time, but after seeing what unconferencing could do, I became a believer.
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                          Podcast Demographics

                          A new report (click for PDF) from Nielsen/NetRatings gives some interesting demographics of podcast listeners. Broad generalizations aside, the report has some interesting results: 51.6% of people who listen to podcasts pay their bills online 24.6% have participated in online job searches 6.6% of adults have downloaded a podcast and the the 18-24 age range is twice as likely as the average adult to download podcasts. Apple users are more likely to download podcasts as Windows users. Our own data at IT Conversations shows the following about our listeners: 90% male 80% age 30 or older 23% age 50
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                          Our Nets Are Out Strengths

                          Tom Barnett, who I interviewed last year on IT Conversations, has a very rational view on what terrorism really means. We tend to give them too much credit for being strategic and smart when in fact their weak and without hope. He says, in response to the recent train bombings in India: There is a profound reason why we're rich and powerful and connected and the enemy is none of those things. Terrorism is a strategy of the weak, and it earns them only what the powerful decide they no longer want. As I opined in BFA, there are
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                          Introduction to Microformats

                          Jack Herrington has put up a great introductory article on microformats at IBM's Developer Center. If you're wondered what microformats are and how they work, this is a good one to read.
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                          Building Tools for Personal Productivity

                          Peter Bowen wrote about system administration and procrastination. His particular problem was with Nagios, but we've all been there from time to time. When I became Executive Producer of IT Conversations I tried to spend the time necessary to build tools to help me automate the work wherever possible. For example, the newsletter that goes out each week is mostly generated from RSS feeds using a MovableType template and then has the ratings integrated using a Perl script. Took me an hour or two to put together but it saves me precious minutes each week when I create the
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                          Naked Conversations

                          I've been asked to give a training session on blogging to employees of a mid-sized public company, so I'm looking for ideas and materials. One resource that was both informative and entertaining was this IT conversations presentation by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. Together they wrote a book on corporate blogging called Naked Conversations. My own page on how to start a blog remains one of the most popular pieces on my blog. I'm shooting for a mix of advice and discussion on Blog culture Practical advice RSS and feed readers Podcasting Smart blogging I think this will be
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                          An Update to the Microid Plugin for MovableType

                          Tim Appnel was kind enough to apply his formidable MovableType expertise to my MicroID plugin and made some significant improvements: There is no longer a need for an explicit context argument to the tag. The code senses the right context using MovableType voodoo (looks at the stash). There is no longer a dependency on Digest::SHA1. Apparently MT 3.0 and above has SHA1 code built in (see MT::Util->perl_sha1_digest_hex();) Other things like a localized error message and making the tag work in a recent comments loop. I've updated the documentation and you can download the new version there. Thanks Tim!
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                          KnowNow ESS and Business RSS

                          My review of KnowNow's ESS has appeared in InfoWorld. ESS is an RSS management system. It filters, aggregates, slices, and dices. I was very impressed with it. I think enlightened corporate PR and marketing people will need tools like this to follow what companies are saying about them and to use RSS as a communications tool. From the review: I found ESS to be an excellent system for managing syndicated feeds. The various pieces work together well, and the browser-based set-up and configuration make it easy to get going. The ability to capture, aggregate, and filter traditional RSS feeds
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                          Star Wars Over Telnet

                          Darth Vader questions Princess Leah(click to enlarge) When I took my first computer class on Fortran in the Fall of 1976, I made calendars for my family with Snoopy printed in ASCII art. Of course, I just got the Snoopy card deck from someone and copied it, but I made the calendar myself--after all every gift needs a personal touch. I still have the card deck to show curious students who have never seen punch cards. A bit of ancient history. Of course, there are all kinds of ASCII art, a real need before the day when people had graphical
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                          A Reputation Framework

                          Today on the Diane Rehm show, Diane's guests were Jennifer Golbeck, research associate, Institute for Advanced computer Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, Md, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, professor of physics, University of Notre Dame and author of "Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else", and Kathleen Carley, professor, Computer Science, Institute for Software Research, Carnegie Mellon University. The topic was Social Networks and the Web At one point Diane said something like "But you don't know who these people are who are contacting you. This is an identity issue!" Indeed. In fact there are two issues. When Diane says
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                          Prison Lawnmowers

                          While writing a piece for Between the Lines on paying for the participation revolution, I pointed to a piece from Jon Udell on fixing a reel lawnmower. Following links from Jon's story and cruising around a little eventually led me to a site that specializes in lawnmowers for sale to prisons. Who knew?
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                          Electronic Voting and Paper Ballots

                          This story from the Salt Lake Tribune talks about the policy confision and questions surrounding recounts for electronic voting machines in Utah after last month's primary election. While there is some chaos right now, I'm confident that it's going to all get worked out because the proper levers are in place. Utah's law requires a paper ballot and designates it the "official" ballot. Based on that law, there will be some court challenges and lawsuits and precedent will be established. That's how these sorts of things get worked out. Some will decry this as messy and expensive, but that's
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                          Inside Utah: Talking About UTOPIA

                          Jennifer Napier-Pearce interviewed me about UTOPIA, Utah municipal broadband project, for issue 50 of her Inside Utah podcast. Jennifer, who works in public radio, produces a good show with board interest for folks in Utah and high production values.
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                          Earth in the Balance on IT Conversations

                          Today is the first time IT Conversations has published content from one of its sister channels. In this case it's Al Gore speaking at Stanford Business School. If you get your daily dose of IT Conversations from the RSS channel, you'll hardly notice. If you come to the Web site, when you click through to the landing page, you'll find yourself on the Social Innovations site. Look around--there's some good stuff there. Once Open Source Conversations gets fired up, I expect this sort of thing will happen more often. Remember that you can always create your own custom playlists
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                          Software Strategies for Flat World

                          I have to admit that when I read the copy for David DeWalt's (Pres. of EMC Software Group) presentation to Software 2006 (see Software Strategies in a Flat World), I was sure it was going to be a 30 minute advertisement for EMC. I was pleasantly surprised. While David does talk about EMC, he's using the company more as example of how the software business is changing in response to challenges like global outsourcing, multi-tenancy, and service appliances. I quite enjoyed it. If you're in the software business, it's worth listening to.
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                          Kaliya as MVP

                          And speaking of Kaliya, she was picked to lead the MVP discussion at Gnomedex last week. She spoke about the gap between group forming network that we call "civil society" and social tool builders.
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                          Identity Open Space in Vancouver

                          There's an Identity Open Space happening in Vancouver BC July 20-21. This is bring jointly produced by Liberty Alliance and Kaliya Hamlin, Doc Searls, and I (the IIW folks). The goal is to create another highly interactive event and move the conversations forward. We're hoping that by having it close to the Liberty meeting we'll involve some people who haven't been part of the conversation before. Liberty Alliance has open their meeting, which is happening right before the IOS event, to non-members. If you're curious about Liberty and user-centric identity or just want to spend some great time in
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                          Open Access to Research

                          Last week I published a show at IT Conversations by Paula Le Dieu talking about Science Commons. Science Commons is a project of Creative Commons aimed at making more of scientific results and data available without copyright restrictions. I personally believe that academic research has less impact because the primary journal publication organizations (whether for-profit or non-profit) lock up results behind copyright. Le Dieu goes through some very real scenarios where this could have negative impact. Mind you, we're not talking about private data generated by private companies, but results that you paid for in many cases with your
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                          Changing Linux Screen Resolution In Parallels

                          I've had parallels running now for some time on my MacBook Pro and it's really nice to be able to fire up Windows or Linux when needed. I have a feeling this is going to come in real handy this fall when I'm teaching CS462 and have 40 students using Linux to do their assignment. I can keep a fresh image that's identical to the one their using and just fire it up when I need to try something out. One thing that's bothered me, however, is that Fedora didn't want to create screens bigger and 800x600. I knew
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