Monday, November 23, 2009

This CEO Freely Publicizes His Contact Information

BaltTech: The CEO with the public cellphone number A.L. "Tom" Giannopoulos is the CEO of MICROS, the company that provides a large portion of service automation to restaurants and retailers worldwide. If you visit the MICROS web site, you'll note that his mobile phone number and e-mail address are at the bottom of the home page. In this interview with Gus Sentementes, he reveals that it is really his contact information and there have been times he has taken calls from customers at 3:00 am.

(Via BaltTech at BaltimoreSun.com.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Scientists Develop Rot-Proof Apple that Stays Fresh for 4 Months

Scientists in Australia have spent the last 20 years cross-breeding different varieties of apples in an effort to make a better one. Finally, their results have paid off with an apple that doesn't rot; or at least won't rot for a long time. Test have show that this new variety can stay fresh without refrigeration for up to two weeks, and up to four weeks with refrigeration. It is also more disease resistant and able to avoid the common "black spot", a disease caused by fungus venturia inaequalis which affects both the foliage and fruit. The great potential here isn't just extending the time to market for crops and reduction in loss to disease, but the overall reduced costs to the farmer. It also brings the possibility of improving the process of exporting apples to new markets, including famine areas of the world.

(Via Independent.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Framed for Child Porn by a PC Virus

ABC News reports on a story that computer viruses that are being used to distribute child pornography to unsuspecting users' Windows computers. In some cases, these otherwise innocent users end up being prosecuted for harboring the material. This is definitely a use case for running good security software and keeping your system patched. Maybe we'll see this in an Apple commercial soon?

(Via ABC News.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

7 Ways to Get More Out of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is still the social network of choice for most professionals. But many are ignoring their LinkedIn profiles as more people turn to use Facebook and Twitter for business networking. Here are 7 ways to get more out of your LinkedIn account.

(Via Mashable.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Related job opportunities? Must be tough out there.

It was interesting to see that Monster.com was reporting that people that applied for a Chief Information Officer position also applied for the position of manager at a drive-thru bagel restaurant and a first-level Teacher.
Picture 1.png

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Apple OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

Apple's upcoming release of its new operating system, code-named Snow Leopard, is arguably the most important advancement since the initial version of OS X. This new OS is a full 64-bit operating system and completes the Apple migration from Power PC chips to an Intel architecture. What does this mean for the average user? First, it won't run on any Apple with a Power PC processor like the G5, G4, and G3. Secondly, as a full 64-bit system, users should see speed increases with compatible applications of 10-60%, depending on other factors such as installed RAM and video specifications. Snow Leopard's improvements and additions are mostly "under the hood", so users will generally see little cosmetic changes and few new applications. However, don't let this fool you as there is a LOT under that hood. Some of the major improvements include:
  • Open CL allows the use of the graphics CPU for general purpose tasks
  • Quicktime X
  • Improved Accessibility and additional VoiceOver functions
  • Native Microsoft Exchange support in Mail, iCal, Address Book - no longer requiring MS Entourage
  • Malware checks and protection
  • Improvements to the Dock
  • A rewritten Finder with expanded capabilities
  • Improvements to Exposé
  • Smart eject for removable media and storage devices
  • Better substitution
  • Enhanced functions in Preview
  • New speed enhancements to Time Machine
  • Better reliability and recovery time to Sleep and Wake Up
  • 7 GB less space needed compared to Leopard
  • iChat gains higher resolution
  • Printer driver updates available through software update automatically
  • More efficient file sharing
Apple has priced this cat to move. At an upgrade price of only $29 for a single user or $49 for a Family Pack covering up to 5 users , there is little reason to not upgrade. However, you must already be running OS 10.5, known as Leopard, to qualify for the special upgrade pricing. If you don't have OS X 10.5, you need to purchase the box set, which will also include the updates to iLife 09 and iWork 09. Walt Mossberg, of the Wall Street Journal, has uncovered that users with OS X 10.4 Tiger can use the $29 upgrade on their systems and this has since been confirmed by Brian X Chen of Wired. However, while this may technically work, you will be in violation Apple's End User Agreement. Before you run out, buy the upgrade, then slip the DVD into your system for the install, read over what you need to prepare before performing the upgrade. Lifehacker has an excellent piece on what is needed, as does ComputerWorld. These purchases can be made at your local Apple store or from Amazon using these links: Mac OS X version 10.6 Snow Leopard Mac Box Set – (with Snow Leopard) Mac OS X Snow Leopard Family Pack (5-User)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Swine flu could cause up to 90,000 U.S. deaths and infect 50% of population

On Monday, August 24, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released a report on the H1N1 Swine Flu that indicates the United States could see an infection rate of 50% or more. The number of deaths from infections is expected to range from 30,000 to 90,000. It is expected that infection rates will soar as children return to school and, maybe even more importantly, college students geographically relocate as campuses start their fall semesters. The peak infection time could be in October. This is unfortunate as the current timetable for swine-flu vaccinations isn't expected until mid-October at the earliest. This mis-match in timing is expected to have a major impact on the spread and impact of the virus while reducing the overall benefit of the vaccine -- since many will not receive it before they are infected. The most vulnerable portion of the population is expected to be pregnant women, health care workers, parents and guardians of children under 6 months of age, and adults under 65 with an underlying health condition, such as asthma. The CDC released preparedness guidelines for schools and business several weeks ago at the website www.flu.gov. Since the H1N1 virus emerged in the Spring of 2009, WHO (World Health Organization) reports that lab-confirmed cases number over 182,166 and over 1800 people have died from it. Due to difficulty with health care reporting in many areas of the world, these numbers are considered to be an underestimation. The CDC reports 43,771 confirmed and probable cases in the United States with 7,983 hospitalizations and a total of 522 deaths as of July 24, 2009. The latest reports indicate that 98% of all influenze type A viruses reported to the CDC with H1N1 (swine flu) viruses.

CNN Report: Swine flu could cause up to 90,000 U.S. deaths

(Via United States Centers for Disease Control.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

No More Perks: Coffee Shops Pull the Plug on Laptop Users - WSJ.com

No More Perks: Coffee Shops Pull the Plug on Laptop Users - WSJ.com

Reading the article on how coffee shops, mostly the independents, are beginning to limit and discourage laptop use, I was reminded of my own experiences. I happen to like Panera Bread and there was a location near my old office. However, it was a royal pain to eat there as there was rarely room to sit. On the occasions I managed to go in AND get a seat, I observed people with a cup of water or a single coffee taking up entire tables for 6, but by themselves. I witnessed some of these laptop users taking their own food or microwave meals out of backpacks and using Panera's microwave to cook them. I often wondered where this insane sense of entitlement came from. This is a business that provides a free service to complement your meal and the business you give them. Yet, these laptop users acted as though it was their Internet provider and we lunchers were in their way. Unbelievable. I am not a coffee drinker, but I do sometimes take my notebook and wander into a Panera or other establishment that offers WiFi. I'll usually get some food and a drink, then partake of the WiFi service for a bit. But I have always been cognizant of the establishment's clientele and whether the seat/table was needed. It wouldn't occur to me to NOT do that.

(Via @AlohaArleen.)

Irony or Wrinkle Free

Chris Brogan's blog had a post about the hoopla around a t-shirt. Yes, a t-shirt. Evidently this t-shirt had its reviews taken down from the Urban Outfitter web site for some unknown reason. Well, if you go to the Amazon listing for the t-shirt you might get an idea. While there didn't seem to be anything offensive, the posted reviews are just hilarious.
So, with that being the case, why did Urban Outfitters see fit to take down the reviews from their site? And, it raises the question about overall censorship of reviews.

Irony or Wrinkle Free

(Via Chris Brogan.com.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

It's official

Don Boudreaux, chair of the GMU econ department, comments on this sign of the times:

...Uncle Sam is on the verge of paying the City of Los Angeles $30 million to subsidize a ten-year run of Cirque du Soleil.

So it's finally come to pass - America has embarked on the same road down which ancient Rome marched to its ruin: Uncle Sam not only subsidizes bread (by subsidizing wheat production) but now also circuses.

[From It's official]

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Brief and Informal Twitter Etiquette Guide

twitter spammers I love Twitter. I think the service is a wonderful tool that permits a whole new way of communicating. The thing is, it’s also a place where newcomers might often make some mistakes in their choices that will likely be taken in a negative manner, and will likely result in an unfollow or a block from other Twitter users. The idea to write a brief and informal twitter etiquette guide came from my new friend Zaven, who asked whether, in some cases, people might just be behaving in a social structure that makes sense to their culture, but not mine. He might be right. With that as a motivator, here are some guidelines for Twitter to consider. NOTE: these come with the You’re Doing It Wrong seal of “don’t take anyone’s word for law, least of all Chris Brogan’s.”

Maybe, as this is fleshed out, you’ll have some ideas to add or subtract to the guide, and we can update it accordingly. Fair?

A (less) Brief and Informal Twitter Etiquette Guide

  • A complete bio and avatar pic (I like people’s faces, but do what you will) is always a good idea. We want to know who you are. (inspired by Kendra).
  • It’s helpful to be transparent about your work/employer in your profile, if your use of Twitter has any implications for your day job. (from Eden Spodek)
  • Face to face you get a sense of how your idea is being received. No such thing on Twitter. So play nice. (from Carolyn Stephens)
  • Be yourself. It is ok and welcome to be different on twitter. (from Sudha Jamthe)
  • It’s okay to follow people you don’t know on Twitter. They can choose whether or not to follow you back.
  • It’s okay to unfollow people on Twitter. Unfollowing doesn’t automatically mean “I don’t like you.” There are many other reasons.
  • It’s okay to @reply someone a question or comment vs direct message, especially if it’s an idea where others might weigh in or add a perspective.
  • It’s better to direct message someone if you’re making 1:1 plans or having a very focused, personal conversation.
  • It’s not polite to direct message people you don’t know well with your automated quiz results or similar. It’s great that YOU like those quizzed, but others see it as spam.
  • Most folks don’t like seeing those “I just used whateveryoucallit.com to gain 300 new followers right now!” services. – (from Steve Woodruff).
  • Some people are not a fan of auto reply messages that are sent in direct messages when someone follows you on Twitter. They (and by “they,” I also mean “I”) consider these robot behavior.
  • Promoting others and talking with others is a great way to show your participation to the community.
  • Only blurting out your information and links doesn’t usually come off as friendly or community-minded.
  • Tim O’Reilly suggests that @replies have lots of detail in them, so that others picking up the conversation can understand the response (example: turn “yes” into “Yes, I really love the new G.I. Joe movie.”)
  • You don’t have to read every tweet.
  • You don’t have to respond to every @mention.
  • You aren’t obligated to reply to every direct message.
  • If someone direct messages you and you find that you cant message them back because he or she isn’t following you, a simple @reply stating, “I went to send you a direct message back but you’re not currently following me” is good manners. – (inspired by Kendra). *NOTE: Twitter sometimes loses follower relationships during clean ups. It doesn’t always mean that someone actively unfollowed you.
  • However, the more you can respond, the more people tend to stay with you and build relationships.
  • When retweeting other people’s works, it’s okay to truncate a bit to be able to retweet. Please preserve the link and also the original person’s Twitter name. (ex: RT @mackcollier “Twitter lives and dies on retweeting.”)
  • When retweeting someone else’s retweet, it’s sometimes okay to drop the secondary source and just retweet the original poster of the information. (example showing a change to a retweet): “RT @chrisbrogan RT @mackcollier Twitter lives and dies on retweeting” turns into “RT @mackcollier Twitter lives and dies on retweeting.” (make sense? agree?)
  • Want to avoid the above problem? Make your retweets more retweetable.
  • It’s Ok to have multiple twitter identities (from Jack Bresler)
  • It’s OK to disregard robots. (from Jack Bresler)
  • If you’re running a customer service Twitter account, it’s polite to follow back the people following you. (from Ted Coine).
  • Unless you have the author’s consent, it also may be unwise to pull from another feed stream, like mybloglog, and place the information into the twitter stream (from WWAHHMpreneur)
  • Swearing/cursing might well be bad etiquette, and feels like swearing loudly in a public place. (from BizyBiz) . *Note: I sometimes swear. Sorry. :(
  • Pitching your blog might not be the next best move directly after a follow. (inspired by cherylandonian)
  • Don’t get hung up on the numbers, that’s not what matters. Its a case of who you know not how many you know. (from Justin Parks)
  • People might unfollow you if you tweet excessively (falls into Chris’s “You’re Doing it Wrong” category). – (from Chloe Wilkinson)
  • It’s OK (heck, it’s recommended) to actively BLOCK followers you don’t want following you. – (from Bonnie Lowe)
  • Check your links before you tweet them! (from Sure)
  • If you can, cite the source of the link you’re posting. – (from Carlos R Hernandez)
  • and what else?

What else would you want to tell people who are new to Twitter? Do you agree or disagree with my ideas? What else will we do to help new people get acquainted?

Your thoughts are important.

[From A Brief and Informal Twitter Etiquette Guide]

High schooler sues Amazon: The Kindle ate my homework | The Social - CNET News

Amazon was recently faced with one of those "no-win" decisions. It had come to light that a publisher who provided a Kindle version of George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm didn't have the rights to publish in that format. Amazon made a choice that sent ripples throughout the technology world; to use its wireless link with Kindles to remotely remove the books without advance notice. Now, mind you, these are electronic copies for which consumers bought and paid for legitimately.

Another repercussion of this act was that any notes, bookmarks, or related commenting done by the reader on their Kindle was made irretrievable. This is due to those items being stored in a separate file that is linked to the book; no book, no link, no access.

Amazon had other options and should have weighed on the matter more before taking action. The eBook market is still maturing and there are likely many people that were a bit hesitant about the idea of only having electronic versions accessible only on the Kindle. This Orwellian (pun intended) approach of reaching into someone's personal property and removing a product bought and paid for cannot possibly help those consumers who sit on the fence lean towards the Kindle and Amazon.

As it turns out, Jeff Bezos later released a statement apologizing for the action and indicated Amazon would never do such a thing again. We'll see if their market position gives them enough clout with the publishers to really do that.

[From High schooler sues Amazon: The Kindle ate my homework | The Social - CNET News]

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Victory: Facebook Reverts to Previous Terms of Service

The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg, has a new post on the official Facebook blog. It states that they have decided to revert to their old terms of service in light of overwhelming customer feedback. I applaud their actions and reasoning. The most critical line from the blog entry is:

  • Based on this feedback, we have decided to return to our previous terms of use while we resolve the issues that people have raised.

I understand the reasons behind Facebook's changes in the first place, and as a free service they were not completely unexpected. It wasn't the changes themselves but more so their method and explanations. For an organization with as large a client base as Facebook to not see the big picture -- the overall implications -- of its changes is unforgivable. They would do well to take a close and hard look at the capabilities of those that made the decision and their ability to see beyond the first step or two afterwards. The explanations, while reasonable, were too little and too late. Had the original message contained those explanations as well as advance notice of the change, things may have turned out differently. Now, I am not saying that there wouldn't have been some uproar, but I truly believe it would have been a vocal minority and not so newsworthy.

In the end, it wasn't the protests of millions of users that forced Facebook to blink, it was the widespread press coverage. Nearly every new program, paper, and information outlet carried the story and those outlets reach people that Facebook covets -- the uninitiated. How easy is it to add subscribers when every news outlet has a story about the "underhanded" tactics and "secret changes" that the company makes. Many also resurrected the bad publicity surrounding Facebook's "Beacon" initiative some time ago, another issue that caused users to be concerned over their privacy on the service.

Mark Zuckerburg did the only thing he could do, return to the old terms. I hope he and his management team take away a valuable lesson on how to handle these sorts of changes in the future. According to the post, they plan to completely revamp the TOS, using plan and easy-to-understand language. They are even offering users an opportunity to get involved in crafting it. You've got to love the response.

More coverage can be found at:


CNET: Facebook backs down

PC World: Privacy Change Sparks Federal Complaint

PC World: Facebook's Zuckerburg Calms Privacy Fears over TOS Change

Mashable.com: 56 Percent of Facebook Users Want the Old ToS Back

NY Times: Facebook Withdraws Changes in Data Use

Balto Sun: Q&A On Facebook terms of service

CNN: Facebook backs down, reverses on user information policy

Wall Street Journal: Facebook Backs Away From Policy Change

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cutting Back on FaceBook [Updated]

At the beginning of February, FaceBook made a change to their Terms of Service. This change allows them to essentially own unlimited rights to your content. I am not a legal expert, but the language is pretty clear.

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.

There has been quite a bit of furor on various Internet forums about the change and I do know some people that have entirely closed their accounts over the matter. I am not yet inclined to go that far, but in many ways the damage seems to be done. The lesson from this for all Internet users is to pay very close attention to the terms of service on any site to which you post your original content, especially the free services. I had fallen into the trap of expecting to get a notice of such a change and the opportunity to act, but Facebook's terms don't require them to notify users of changes.

[Update: There is now a FaceBook Group to protest the change to the TOS. However, the multi-million member drive against the new design several months back didn't carry any weight with Mark Zuckerburg and company. Taking all of their efforts, ala Beacon, into account pretty much shows what they think about their user community.]

[Update: Mark Zuckerberg himself has posted on the FaceBook blog in response to the furor that has arisen over the changes to the Terms of Service. As benign as he makes it sound, and the explanation is reasonable, it does not change the wording of the legal document. Thus, my creative content will not be placed on FaceBook any longer.]

You can read some coverage of the changes at these links:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

How to secure an empty building

There is an empty building just off a nearby highway. The building was once a house that is about a century old, is slated to be demolished to make way for a community shopping center. It was acquired by the developer along with a large swatch of property for new homes. The developer made a few upgrades and converted it into a sales center for the home builders. Once the first model home park was opened, it was closed. In the meantime, it sits empty and gets some perfunctory upkeep and maintenance.

I visited the property recently to grab some photographs of the building and surrounding property. On the whole, its not a very photogenic site but that doesn't mean that there aren't some interesting aspects to it. One thing that especially caught my attention was how this entryway was locked and protected.

How to keep out the curious How to keep out the curious
Of course, one has to wonder if it is a real warning and, if so, wouldn't it be secured with more than just a padlock? You can see the while Flickr set at this link.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Social Networking in Plain English

I get a lot of questions about social networks, so I spend a lot of time explaining them. I was recently pointed to this video on YouTube which, even though from 2007, still offers a pretty good overview of social networking.



The video is by a small company called CommonCraft. Their main business is in the creation of video content for the Internet. With this posting, I think they have done a very nice job in explaining what social networking is for the lay-person and I intend to point people to their website to view it when I give talks or get questions on the topic.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Explanation of my absense

I haven't updated this blog in a while as other activities have been keeping me very busy. I also have to admit to a few intermittent posts that I wrote, but didn't successfully post and then forgot to follow-up on. I have been very active on Twitter (www.twitter.com/ckramer ), LinkedIn, and Facebook and that's eaten into my time as well. With 2009, one of my resolutions was to re-ignite my online presence and I have been working on that.

With all of the options available to us on the "Inter-tubes", I had to really sit and prioritize how I was going to use each one. Here's is what I came up with and have been working on.

Twitter

Twitter is my home for short posts, musings, and news references; my way of sharing short thoughts with people. You can access my Twitter feed by joining Twitter and following me at www.twitter.com/ckramer. Twitter is a great tool for this and the decision was made easier by the sale of Pownce to SixApart and Google's recent decision to officially stop supporting Jaiku (though volunteers are keeping it running); both are services I also used.

Facebook

Facebook will continue to be the way I communicate with family and close friends, as many are not techno-centric or just don't "get" blogs and tweets. I have setup my Facebook to grab the RSS feeds from my blogs and my Twitters so folks there can get the benefit (or curse) of seeing my online postings.

LinkedIn

This is my online business tool. I use it to keep in touch and network with business colleagues and partners I have made over my career. Generally, I'll keep this content strictly to LinkedIn.

Blogs

I have two blogs, the one you're reading at www.remarksontheworld.com and a Tumblr blog at www.remarkables.org . The Tumblr blog will be used for short postings and references to news and other items online. Things that are bigger than I feel comfortable posting on Twitter but, at this juncture, I don't want to fill up this blog with.

This blog, Remarks on the World, will continue to get my travel reports, comments and musings on business, and thoughts on the world around us. These are things that contain a bit deeper thought or require more explanation that is easily possible with the other tools. I have also included feeds from Twitter, Remarkables.org, and Flickr on this blog so readers can get a lot of my content all in one place.

Delicious

This free service, owned by Yahoo, is still my bookmarking service of choice. I have been a member for many years, actually even before Yahoo acquired them, and found it to be incredibly useful for storing, organizing, searching, and accessing my browser bookmarks from anywhere. The community features and sharing with others have also made it a decent search engine for pre-vetted content. You can find my Delicious postings at http://delicious.com/ckramer99 .

Flickr

For the moment, this is still the online home for my photos and you can find me on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ckramer/ . I like the community aspect. However, I have also been exploring other services like SmugMug and appreciate the interface and user experience they offer much better. Changing services with the volume of photos I have is not a light decision though.

YouTube

I am sticking with YouTube for posting my videos as it is the service that most people are familiar with. There are a few others that offer better ease of use and more features, and I may end up using them for items I only intend to embed in my postings, but you can find most of my stuff on YouTube on my channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/ckramer00 .

FriendFeed

My last step will be to reconfigure my FriendFeed at http://friendfeed.com/ckramer to try and pickup all of my online postings and activity in one place. Once I do that, I can reconfigure Facebook and the other presences to reference each other without redundancy. Aggregating my content into one place will help my followers.

Other Services

There are other services that I use to help in making my content available online, but most of these are "behind the scenes" and not too obvious to most readers and visitors. These services include AuthorStream, PixelPipe, Vimeo, and Google Apps (Picasa, Docs, Mail, etc.).

2009 promises to be a very busy year and I am off to a good start with my online properties so far.