Monday, February 28, 2011

Choosing a Private Cloud Provider and Doing it All Wrong

Choosing a Private Cloud Provider and Doing it All Wrong

by Alex Williams,
February 27th 2011 11:00 AM

There's a right way to choose a cloud provider and there's a wrong way. The right way is to do the research about your needs and requirements. The wrong way is to choose a provider by evaluating and comparing vendor offerings.

John Treadway writes on CloudBzz that IT leaders he speaks with are taking the latter approach. They're evaluating the vendors and not doing their own analysis.

Instead, IT leaders should be going through a long list of questions before starting to evaluate vendors. His initial list gives a taste about how IT leaders should approach the task:

  • What are the strategic objectives for my cloud program?

  • How will my cloud be used?

  • Who are my users and what are their expectations and requirements?

  • How should/will a cloud model change my data center workflows, policies, processes and skills requirements?

  • How will cloud users be given visibility into their usage, costs and possible chargebacks?

  • How will cloud users be given visibility into operational issues such as server/zone/regional availability and performance?

  • What is my approach to the service catalog? Is it prix fixe, a la carte, or more like value meals? Can users make their own catalogs?

  • How will I handle policy around identity, access control, user permissions, etc?

  • What are the operational tools that I will use for event management & correlation, performance management, service desk, configuration and change management, monitoring, logging, auditability, and more?

  • What will my vCenter administrators do when they are no longer creating VMs for every request?

  • What will the approvers in my process flows today do when the handling of 95% of all future requests are policy driven and automated?

  • What levels of dynamism are required regarding elasticity, workload placement, data placement and QoS management across all stack layers?

  • Beyond a VM, what other services will I expose to my users?

  • How will I address each of the key components such as compute, networking, structured & object storage, virtualization, security, automation, self-service, lifecycle management, databases and more?

  • What are the workloads I expect to see in my cloud, and what are the requirements for these workloads to run?
  • Treadway says IT leaders are letting the tail wag the dog. We can see how that can be the case. It seems logical to do the research first. But this may not be about the right choice as much as it is about the economical one for the business. That's a problem. Vendors will offer all sorts of incentives to get your business. That can lead to trade offs that can really hurt down the road.

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    PowerPoint and Excel for Architecture Modelling; Why Not? : The Essential P

    PowerPoint and Excel for Architecture Modelling; Why Not?

    Filed Under Architecture Modelling, General |  

    Posted by Jason Powell

    Whether planning, designing or executing IT change, there are plenty of situations that require discovery and analysis of architecture related information.

    Often, when a piece of work is viewed as a one-off exercise (e.g. IT solution architecture design, architecture reviews), we see a prevalence of architecture information captured using any combination of Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, presentation slides and Visio diagrams as project outputs.

    In the short term, these formats appear to serve their purpose; they provide a means of capturing architecture elements and relationships for both analysis and communication. But why is it that over time, they ultimately become inefficient and cumbersome when used as a means of retaining architectural knowledge?

    What You See is What You Get: If you want a new perspectives on the information captured, then you will usually find yourself drawing another diagram or designing another spreadsheet. Over time, maintaining consistency across these different views of your architecture becomes increasingly difficult.

    The Nth Dimension: Here, we’re referring to the challenges associated with capturing complex multidimensional inter-relationships using office productivity tools. Even when armed with the rows, columns, formulas and scripts afforded by a spreadsheet, it would certainly be a non-trivial exercise to map the applications, underlying technology, information exchanged and business processes involved in, for example, an organisations’s global integration architecture?

    Manual Meta-Model: Even if you do your best to ensure that common terms are used across your spreadsheets, documents and diagrams, the fact is that these formats lack any meaningful ability to share fine-grained information elements without some form of programming. In other words, it is left up to the project or architecture team to manually enforce a standardised, shared meta-model for consistent semantics. Not a very scalable approach.

    Repository-based tools to the rescue then? Well, they are certainly capable of addressing most of the maintainability and scalability issues associated with using office productivity and drawing tools for architecture modelling. However, I still often find myself asking the question:

    “Why do even the most experienced architects (with access to sophisticated repository-based tools), fail to resist the temptation to go back to good old PowerPoint, Excel and Visio”

    I don’t believe there is a simple answer to this question, but I ‘m pretty sure that beyond familiarity, it is simplicity and ease of use that draws us back to them; characteristics that are not always the first to spring to mind when working with repository tools.

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    How I Document my Business Model Hypotheses

    How I Document my Business Model Hypotheses | Aug 11th 2010

    The validated learning loop is the fundamental feedback loop that drives a lean startup:

    Even though, this diagram shows “CODE” as the artifact of BUILD, I subscribe to a much looser interpretation of BUILD that applies to anything you create for the purpose of learning from customers. So, a problem presentation, landing page, and even components of your business model are all examples of BUILD artifacts.

    The most significant goal of a startup is finding a scalable and repeatable business model and the process for doing so follows the same validated learning loop. You start by documenting a set of business model hypotheses, then systematically validate those assumptions against reality and make course-corrections, or pivots, along the way.

    It is really important that you write these hypotheses down. As Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits point out in their book: “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development”, storing them just in your mind is a “subconscious rationalization” trap.

    I’ve experimented with a number of different ways now for documenting my hypotheses and this is how I go about doing it:

    Start with worksheets

    Steve Blank’s book was my first introduction to customer development and I followed the worksheets at the end of his book as my starting point.

    4 Steps to Epiphany Customer Development Worksheets:

    1. Product Hypothesis
    2. Customer Hypothesis
    3. Channel/Pricing Hypothesis
    4. Demand Creation Hypothesis
    5. Market Type Hypothesis
    6. Competition Hypothesis

    The worksheets go into very specific detail on each hypothesis – some may or may not apply to your type of business since they were written for a specific type of business – enterprise software. Steve’s intent was not to create a universal set of questions but to get you started in thinking about the types of questions you need answered for your business.

    Brant/Patrick simplify these hypotheses to an even smaller set, where they have you first thinking in terms of the customer-problem-solution, and then they layer in the business model details.

    1. Customer-Problem-Solution Hypothesis
    2. Business Model Hypotheses
    – Business Assumptions
    – MVP Assumptions
    – Funnel Assumptions

    I tend to outline my own initial hypotheses along 3 big questions: WHAT, WHO, HOW:

    All these worksheets more or less tackle the same set of questions with slight variations in approach. However, you choose to answer these questions, the point of this exercise is to free form your answers. Then it’s time to get it down tighter.

    Create a Business Model versus Business Plan

    You could take your hypotheses and blow them up into a 30-50 page business plan or go the other way and shrink them down to a 1 page business model. As convincing as your hypotheses might sound to you, it’s important to recognize that they are still largely untested guesses that will almost certainly change.

    Writing a business plan, at this stage (or ever?), is a form of waste – You can capture the same level of information in a 1 page business mode and have it be more portable and accessible. But more importantly, it’s a lot harder to distill the essence of your business down to a single page which is great practice for articulating your hypotheses – whether you’re pitching a customer or investor, you only get a tiny slice of time to make your case.

    Business Plan: A document investors make you write that they don’t read.
    Business Model: A single diagram that describes your business.
    - Steve Blank

    The Business Model Canvas

    I particularly like Alex Osterwalder’s 1 page canvas approach to business model generation. It visually captures the essential components of a business model and looks something like this:

    I do find some of Osterwalder’s blocks a bit too general for a lean startup and specifically my type of business – web apps. For instance, before product/market fit, I need to see more emphasis on Problem/Solution than key partners or a customer relationship model.

    Rob Fitzpatrick created a great adaption of Osterwalder’s canvas that better captures the “4 Steps of Epiphany” type of hypotheses. You can create these hypotheses online at Rob’s goal is to version each update so you get an automatic way for tracking the evolution of your model/pivots.

    However, after using the Rob’s Startup Canvas, I found it unfortunate that he left out a few critical blocks like the cost/revenue pieces which make up the foundation of the business model.

    So I decided to iterate on this one more level and created a version that looks like this:

    There’s a clear delineation down the middle, on PRODUCT versus MARKET and here’s a brief description of each block and the order in which I like to think/validate them:

    1. Problem: A brief description of the top 3 problems you’re addressing

    2. Customer Segments: Who are the customers/users of this system? Can they be further segmented? For example, amateur photographers vs. pro photographers. If I have multiple target customers in mind, for example, graphic designers vs. lawyers, I will create a separate canvas for each. More than likely a lot of the other pieces like problem, solution, channels, etc. will be different too.

    3. Unique Value Proposition: What is the product’s tagline or primary reason you are different and worth buying?

    4. Solution: What is the minimum feature set (MVP) that demonstrates the UVP up above?

    5. Key Activity: Describe the key action users take that maps to revenue or retention? For example, if you are a blogging platform, posting a blog entry would be a key activity.

    6. Channels: List the FREE and PAID channels you can use to reach your customer.

    7. Cost Structure: List out all your fixed and variable costs.

    8. Revenue Streams: Identify your revenue model – subscription, ads, freemium, etc. and outline your back-of-the-envelope assumptions for life time value, gross margin, break-even point, etc.

    9, Unfair Advantage: I left this for last because it’s usually the hardest one to fill correctly. Jason Cohen, a smart bear, did a great 2 part series on competitive advantages. Most founders list things as competitive advantages that really aren’t. Anything that is worth copying will be copied. So what is a competitive advantage:

    Unfair Advantage: Something that cannot be copied or bought.
    - Jason Cohen, A smart bear

    You may initially have to leave this box blank but the reason it’s here it to have you really think about how you can both make yourself different and make your difference matter.

    So, is being “Lean” a competitive advantage? What do you think?
    I agree that lean can be copied but as with any process or methodology, there are varying degrees of execution/refinement as well as outright resistance from incumbents. How come Toyota dominated with Lean Thinking for so long when it was out there for others to copy?

    No related posts.

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    Saturday, February 26, 2011

    Why Circuit City Failed, and Why B&H Thrives, Managing Technology Article -

    Why Circuit City Failed, and Why B&H Thrives

    by Joel Spolsky,
    May 1st 2009

    Many companies that have gone bust didn't die because of the recession. They failed for one reason: They treated customers poorly

    When Circuit City went kaput in January, I didn't waste my time on the chain's so-called going-out-of-business sale. First of all, Circuit City never had anything good in stock, even before it decided to go out of business. A year ago, I looked at the retailer's entire selection of laptops, and all I found were these huge, ugly, shiny things festooned with garish stickers announcing that they had "Intel Inside" and were "Vista Adequate" and "Y2K Ready." Also, I had read on the Consumer Reports website that Circuit City's liquidator had actually raised the price on many items for the going-out-of-business "sale."

    Truth be told, I don't think I ever bought anything from Circuit City anyway. On weekends, I would occasionally wander into the local branch, attracted like a moth to the bright wall of plasma TVs. When I actually needed a new TV, however, I found the Circuit City salesperson to be so aggressively unknowledgeable and remarkably useless that I fled to Best Buy, where I was helped by a cheerful, 20-year-old twerp who knew everything. I later learned that in 2007, Circuit City had fired the chain's 3,400 most experienced salespeople and replaced them with generic, untrained, near-minimum-wage workers.

    So it was no surprise to me that Circuit City failed. The chain's CEO, in an e-mail, blamed the demise on "poor macroeconomic conditions" -- an assertion that was repeated by The Associated Press, which cited "the expanding financial crisis" for the liquidation.

    You know what? I don't buy the argument that the economy caused Circuit City's failure. Take one look at its competitors, and you know that the market for consumer electronics and computer equipment remains strong, even in this economy. You can walk into any Apple Store and see large crowds of people lining up to buy computers and iPods. But enough has been said about how wonderful Apple is. I want to tell you about another first-class consumer electronics retailer -- a much smaller business you probably haven't been to, unless you live in New York City or are a professional photographer or an avid hobbyist. It's called B&H.

    B&H opened in 1973, and it's an amazing place. If you are in Manhattan, you should visit the store, on Ninth Avenue at 34th Street. The first thing you will notice? The place is humming. Originally a camera store, B&H has grown to carry more than 250,000 items, including all kinds of pro audio, pro video, and computer gear. The company is closely held and somewhat press shy, so it's hard to know how successful it is. "Our business remains strong, particularly considering the overall economic climate," a spokesperson says. I suspect that's an understatement. The store is always packed with customers, browsing through hundreds of varieties of camera bags with every possible combination of lens compartments; the room full of telescopes; and, of course, enough lenses to burn all the ants in the Sahara to a crisp. The electronic superstores in Tokyo's Akihabara district are the only other places where I have seen so much gear under one roof.

    And what a roof it is: The whole operation is a crazy Willy Wonka factory. If you want to check out a product that's not on display, a salesperson orders it by computer terminal from a vast stockroom in the basement. Moments later, as if by magic, the product arrives at the retail counter, via an elaborate system of conveyor belts and dumbwaiters. You can try out the gear, see if you like it, and, if you do, the salesperson puts it in a green plastic box and places it on another conveyor belt, which runs, above your head, to the pickup counter. There, an employee bags your purchase. Meanwhile, your salesperson gives you a ticket, which you take to a payment counter. After you have paid, you get a different ticket that you take to the pickup counter to get your merchandise.

    At first, this all seemed like incredible overkill to me. But then, as I thought about it more, I developed a theory as to why B&H operates this way. With all the expensive electronics and cameras and lenses and laptops floating around the store, the system creates a series of checks and balances -- typically, five employees are involved in every purchase -- in order to reduce shoplifting and employee theft. That it works at all is not the most amazing thing about B&H, however. The most amazing thing is that the prices are so low that I don't even bother to comparison-shop anymore.

    No, wait: The most amazing thing is that the salespeople at B&H really know their stuff. When I recently bought a portable digital recorder, the salesperson knew that some gear was not compatible with flash memory cards larger than 2GB and spent a few minutes surfing the Web to make sure that the 8GB card I wanted would work with it.

    No, wait: The most amazing thing is that I have often gone into B&H to purchase a specific product, only to be talked into something cheaper. For example, once I went in to buy a field video monitor to use for some interviews I was conducting. I expected to pay $600 until the salesperson said, "Why don't you just get one of these cheap consumer portable DVD players? They have video inputs, they work just as well, and they're under $100." This was no accident. "The entire premise of our store is based upon your ability to come in, touch, feel, experiment, ask, and discuss your needs without sales pressure," B&H's website says.

    But wait: The conveyer belts, the prices, the smart salespeople, the fact that they recommend cheaper products almost as a rule -- none of these is actually the most amazing thing about B&H. Really, the most amazing thing is that because the owners of B&H are Orthodox Jews -- Hasidim, in fact -- the store closes every Friday afternoon for the Jewish Sabbath, and on Jewish holidays. Moreover, B&H's website, which reportedly accounts for 70 percent of sales, shuts down, too. is, to my knowledge, the only major online retailer that closes for 25 hours every weekend.

    Even as competitors like Circuit City go bust, B&H remains packed with loyal customers. And that makes me very happy. For a business owner, there's nothing more satisfying than watching honest dealers expand their operations while the schmucks, with their going-out-of-business markups, go down the drain. It's inspiring to know that starting with the premise of treating your customers well really does pay off.

    Joel Spolsky is the co-founder and CEO of Fog Creek Software and the host of the popular blog Joel on Software.

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    Cyber War: Sabotaging the System - 60 Minutes - CBS News

    Cyber War: Sabotaging the System

    by DanielCBotelho November,
    November 8th 2009

    • Video Web Extra: Hacking the D.O.D.

      Jim Lewis is a former State Department official who directed a major study on cyber security for President Obama.

    (CBS)  Nothing has ever changed the world as quickly as the Internet has. Less than a decade ago, "60 Minutes" went to the Pentagon to do a story on something called information warfare, or cyber war as some people called it. It involved using computers and the Internet as weapons.

    Much of it was still theory, but we were told that before too long it might be possible for a hacker with a computer to disable critical infrastructure in a major city and disrupt essential services, to steal millions of dollars from banks all over the world, infiltrate defense systems, extort millions from public companies, and even sabotage our weapons systems.

    Today it's not only possible, all of that has actually happened, plus a lot more we don't even know about.

    International Spy Museum:
    Weapons of Mass Disruption

    Center for Strategic and International Studies
    Sandia National Laboratories

    It's why President Obama has made cyber war defense a top national priority and why some people are already saying that the next big war is less likely to begin with a bang than a blackout.

    "Can you imagine your life without electric power?" Retired Admiral Mike McConnell asked correspondent Steve Kroft.

    Until February of this year, McConnell was the nation's top spy. As chief of national intelligence, he oversaw the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. Few people know as much about cyber warfare, and our dependency on the power grid, and the computer networks that deliver our oil and gas, pump and purify our water, keep track of our money, and operate our transportation systems.

    "If I were an attacker and I wanted to do strategic damage to the United States, I would either take the cold of winter or the heat of summer, I probably would sack electric power on the U.S. East Cost, maybe the West Coast, and attempt to cause a cascading effect. All of those things are in the art of the possible from a sophisticated attacker," McConnell explained.

    "Do you believe our adversaries have the capability of bringing down a power grid?" Kroft asked.

    "I do," McConnell replied.

    Asked if the U.S. is prepared for such an attack, McConnell told Kroft, "No. The United States is not prepared for such an attack."

    "It is now clear this cyber threat is one [of] the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation," President Obama said during a speech.

    Four months after taking office, Obama made those concerns part of our national defense policy, declaring the country's digital infrastructure a strategic asset, and confirming that cyber warfare had moved beyond theory.

    "We know that cyber intruders have probed our electrical grid, and that in other countries cyber attacks have plunged entire cities into darkness," the president said.

    President Obama didn't say which country had been plunged into darkness, but a half a dozen sources in the military, intelligence, and private security communities have told us the president was referring to Brazil.

    Several prominent intelligence sources confirmed that there were a series of cyber attacks in Brazil: one north of Rio de Janeiro in January 2005 that affected three cities and tens of thousands of people, and another, much larger event beginning on Sept. 26, 2007.

    That one in the state of Espirito Santo affected more than three million people in dozens of cities over a two-day period, causing major disruptions. In Vitoria, the world's largest iron ore producer had seven plants knocked offline, costing the company $7 million. It is not clear who did it or what the motive was.

    But the people who do these sorts of things are no longer teenagers making mischief. They're now likely to be highly trained soldiers with the Chinese army or part of an organized crime group in Russia, Europe or the Americas.

    "They can disrupt critical infrastructure, wipe databases. We know they can rob banks. So, it's a much bigger and more serious threat," explained Jim Lewis, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    Lewis led a group that prepared a major report on cyber security for President Obama.

    "What was it that made the government begin to take this seriously?" Kroft asked.

    "In 2007 we probably had our electronic Pearl Harbor. It was an espionage Pearl Harbor," Lewis said. "Some unknown foreign power, and honestly, we don't know who it is, broke into the Department of Defense, to the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, probably the Department of Energy, probably NASA. They broke into all of the high tech agencies, all of the military agencies, and downloaded terabytes of information."

    How much is a terabyte?

    "The Library of Congress, which has millions of volumes, is about 12 terabytes. So, we probably lost the equivalent of a Library of Congress worth of government information in 2007," Lewis explained.

    "All stolen by foreign countries?" Kroft asked.

    "Yeah. This was a serious attack. And that's really what made people wake up and say, 'Hey, we've got to get a grip on this,'" Lewis said.

    Produced by Graham Messick
    © MMIX, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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    Horses Pull Tanker Out Of Snow In Pennsylvania

    Horses Pull Tanker Out Of Snow In Pennsylvania

    by Phil Villarreal,
    February 25th 2011 6:00 PM

    Luckily for the driver of a tanker stuck in the snow in Pennsylvania, an Amish man driving a team of horses happened by and offered the vehicle a tow.

    Jalopnik posted a video of the event taken by a passer-by. In light of the Watson debacle on Jeopardy, it's comforting to see old-fashioned oomph humiliate modern technology in such a manner.

    If you have an inspirational luddite-style tale of your own, please share it in the comments. Or just write it down on a piece of paper and pass it around.

    Watch horses pull a tanker truck out of snow [Jalopnik via Neatorama]

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    Friday, February 25, 2011

    Japanese Snow Monkeys relaxing in a hot spring | Amusing Planet

    Japanese Snow Monkeys relaxing in a hot spring | Jan 20th 2010

    In northern Japan, in the province of Nagano, snow stays up to four months at a stretch. The average winter temperature here is -5 ° C, sometimes dropping to -15 ° C. Living at such extreme temperatures are the Japanese macaques, also known as snow monkeys. Thankfully for them, hot water springs are close at hand where the monkeys spend most of day to fight the biting cold.

    [via The Telegraph]

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    17 Amazing Photographic Blog Posts

    17 Amazing photographic blog posts

    14 Photography Masters

    30 Colourful and Peaceful Rainbow Photos


    50 Stunning Examples Of Architecture Photography

    Top 10 Most Awesome Approaches to Photography

    Beautiful and Creative High Speed Photography

    100+ Funny Photos Taken At Unusual Angle

    35 Beautiful Photography Websites


    50 Beautiful HDR /images from 50 World Cities

    20 Effective Reflection Photos


    20 Sensational pictures claiming NOT to be Photoshopped!!


    35 Examples Of Stunning Macro Photography


    35 Spectacular Examples Of Fireworks Photography


    25 Beautiful And Creative Photography Sites

    100+ Portraits of Iconic People of All Time


    Amazing Xtreme Sports Photography

    Video: Light Art Performance Photography


    50 Truly Awesome Photos

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    Sent from my iPad | ross | Funny Videos, Funny Pictures, And More Funny Stuff Funny Videos, Funny Pictures, And More Funny Stuff

    It appears that this may be a homepage or an index page with non-article content. To accurately view it, you may want to switch to the Full Web Page view.

    If you know there should be an article here, help improve the article parser by reporting this page. Thanks!

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    15 Cool Digital Photography Links from Around the Web

    15 Cool Digital Photography Links from Around the Web

    by Darren Rowse,

    Every now and again I like to spend a little time surfing through my favorite photography sites and highlighting the cool links that I find. Here’s 13 that I found today – enjoy!

    1. Introduction to LED Lighting – A DIY way to light your subjects and get cool effects.
    2. Shooting by Moonlight – a great article by Ben Long from Complete Digital Photography
    3. How to Get the Most Out of Your Camera Battery – good practical tips
    4. 3 Tricks to Turn a Spring Clamp Into Your Best Photo Accessory – from the gang at Photojojo.
    5. DIY Steadycam – more of a video DIY tip but still pretty cool.
    6. Waterproof Camera Group Test – DPReview tests 7 cameras with waterproof qualities
    7. Make your own Remote Shutter Trigger – another DIY
    8. Roundup: Ring Flashes – Wired Magazine reviews 4 ring flashes
    9. Backing Up Flickr – how to safeguard your Flickr image collection
    10. Improvisational Light – a great post at Strobist
    11. Live Music Photography 101 – a good basic intro to the topic.
    12. DNG, RAW and JPEG: What I Use and Why – a good discussion starter and exploration of the options
    13. Publishing Your Own Photo Book – a guide to putting together your own book
    14. Three Short Tutorials for Photographers and Photography Lovers – some good basic teaching on Photoshop.
    15. Photoshop Elements: Beyond the Basic Fixes – from PopPhoto
    16. Five Great Flash Techniques to Improve Your Photography Light – 5 cool techniques, one that is mentioned above.

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    Oops, Facebook Advertiser Gets A Mysterious Bill For $8.8 Million

    Oops, Facebook Advertiser Gets A Mysterious Bill For $8.8 Million

    by Erick Schonfeld,

    Social ads on Facebook are supposed to be cheap. In fact, they are one of the cheapest ads on the Web in terms of cost per thousand impressions. So imagine Facebook advertiser Joshua Niamehr’s surprise when he logged into his Facebook ad campaign and saw the following notice:

    There is an outstanding balance of $8,804,978.14 USD on your account. Your ads will not be displayed until your account is settled. Please enter a valid funding source. When you submit that information, we will charge your funding source for $8,804,978.14 USD.

    Needless to say, he did not click “Make Payment.” Niamehr’s credit card had expired, which is why his account was delinquent. But his actual outstanding balance was $58.07, not $8,804,978.14. (He was placing ads to market his site LaundryLocal).

    Facebook did eventually correct itself and showed the correct amount, to Niamehr’s relief. So was that $8,804,978.14 just a glitch. Niamehr thinks the number was too specific for it to be random. His theory: “I think this may be the outstanding balance across all or many of their accounts.” That’s just a theory. But if that’s true, it’s not an inconsequential amount. Maybe Facebook should get into social debt collection. It could offer Facebook Credits to friends of delinquent advertisers who shame them into paying their bills.

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    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Parent Toolbox's Presentations on SlideShare

    Parent Toolbox

    Welcome to the SlideShare Parent Toolbox!

    Sponsored by Microsoft Office

    Some of the Web's most talented parenting bloggers are swapping tips and documents that make family and home life easier. Upload your own and let's start talking! Here's how to get started.

    Spotlight: Get a jump on your holiday newsletter! Imagine the smug sense of satisfaction that would come with knowing this task was done. Sweetney's non-cheesy holiday newsletter template will get you started.

    Asha's latest blog post:

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    Security shocker: Android apps send private data in clear • The Register

    Security shocker: Android apps send private data in clear

    by Dan Goodin,
    February 24th 2011 12:31 AM

    Cellphones running the Android operating system fail to encrypt data sent to and from Facebook and Google Calendar, shortcomings that could jeopardize hundreds of millions of users' privacy, a computer scientist says.

    In a simple exercise for his undergraduate security class, Rice University professor Dan Wallach connected a packet sniffer to his network and observed the traffic sent to and from his Android handset when he used various apps available for Google's mobile platform. What he saw surprised him.

    The official Facebook app, for instance, transmitted everything except for the password in the clear, Wallach blogged on Tuesday. This meant that all private messages, photo uploads and other transactions were visible to eavesdroppers, even though the account had been configured to use Facebook's recently unveiled always-on SSL encryption setting to prevent snooping over insecure networks.

    “People for right or wrong treat Facebook as something that's more personal and private,” Wallach told The Reg. “With Facebook, we never saw a password going back and forth, but there was unencrypted traffic, which is interesting because I've set my Facebook web client to use their new SSL-all-the-time feature. But that does't reflect onto the Facebook app on Android.”

    A Facebook spokesman said: “After launching SSL for the site we are still testing across all Facebook platforms, and hope to provide it as an option for our mobile users in the coming months.” The company warns users to exercise caution when using unsecured Wi-Fi networks, but as far as we can tell, Facebook has never explicitly said its smartphone app fails to encrypt traffic.

    Google Calendar showed a similar carelessness in Wallach's experiment by also sending and receiving data in the clear. That makes it possible for snoops to see your schedule when the service is accessed on unsecured networks.

    A Google spokesman said in an email: “We plan to begin encrypting traffic to Google Calendar on Android in a future maintenance release. When possible, we recommend using encrypted WiFi networks.” He didn't say how long users would have to wait.

    Wallach found a few other apps that took a cavalier approach to user privacy. The SoundHound song-recognition app, for instance, transmits the user's GPS coordinates down to the street block to the service each time a request is made, even though the app works just fine without that information. A service called ShopSaavy tracks the same details, but at least with that app, the argument can be made that the user's physical location is relevant to the service.

    None of the apps Wallach tested transmitted passwords in the clear.

    Shortly after Wallach published his findings, F-Secure researcher Sean Sullivan blogged about yet another shortcoming in Facebook's SSL offerings. Based on his experiences, it appears rogue Facebook apps can disable the feature. ®

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    Ken's magnificent seven diagram • The Register

    Ken's magnificent seven diagram

    by Ken Young,
    February 23rd 2011 10:45 AM

    Workshop “The holy grail is to spend less time making the picture than it takes people to look at it,” according to artist William Dobell. Achieving that goal takes some time, but the world of visualisation is exploding nevertheless. According to Ralph Lengler and Professor Martin Eppler of the University of Lugano, the latest diagramming tools fall into six main categories.

    They are:

    Data (pie charts, bar charts, histograms)

    Concept (mindmaps, layer charts, decision trees)

    Information (timelines, flow charts, Venn diagrams)

    Strategy (management charts, magic quadrant, life-cycle diagrams)

    Metaphor (tube map, iceberg, heaven and hell chart)

    Compound (picture-based)

    Mass market diagramming software tools such as Visio, SmartDraw and OmniGraffle cover most bases, but “versioning” is common practice: leading-edge features are available only in the most expensive versions, and sometimes only in concert with other software.

    Within these categories, here are seven of the most commonly used visualisation methods.

    Network and rack diagrams

    They provide a view of the logical layout of a network or rack with images that represent types of hardware and the connections between them. Desirable options include the ability to automate the drawing process and to link to real data. For an independent appraisal of your network diagrams go to Rate My Network Diagram, a web site where others give you marks out of ten for your handiwork.

    IT application diagrams

    These range from web design through to applications architecture and enterprise service design. Most large IT vendors provide stencils relating to their product range.

    Microsoft Visio offers a Unified Modelling Language (UML) stencil. James McDonnell, senior developer of e-commerce and corporate websites at UK training firm Kaplan Financial, says: “Our business analysts have used Visio to produce a collection of UML case diagrams describing the business process for developers. The diagrams are merged into a use case document containing text detail and explanation. It was a natural way to start for us before getting into more sophisticated and costly UML documentation systems.”


    This first emerged way back in the 1920s and has endured thanks to its simplicity and usefulness. The challenge in diagramming tools has been to provide a degree of automation using source code or the flowchart description language.

    The organisational chart

    Declining in popularity perhaps, as firms these days become less hierarchical, the org chart can shed light on the labyrinthine links between the post room staff and the company chairman. The creator of the chart has the thankless task of working out who really reports to whom. Links to salary data and office moves can give an organisational chart a life of its own.

    Mind mapping

    A common way of displaying ideas using colours and tree-like or other branch-based visual metaphors. A mind map can be used to show all the relevant points discussed in a brainstorming session, for example, or in a training context can help people remember text-based information. Psychologist Tony Buzan, one of the founders of mindmapping, has almost single-handedly defined the look-and-feel of its templates. Michael Deutsch of Mindjet Software says: “Often teams try to use Powerpoint for collaboration, something it wasn’t designed to do. Mindmapping makes it fast and easy to create synergy within the team to solve problems and develop plans.”

    Floor plans and maps

    The staple fare of facilities management diagramming tools, which provide a wealth of templates. Microsoft Visio’s 11 templates cover everything from fire safety to event planning and office moves.

    Project management

    PM relies on visual aids to focus teams and keep the show on the road. Most project managers rely on spreadsheets and PM tools to create Gantt and Pert charts, but these can equally well be produced with diagramming tools.

    Visualisation expert Dr Stefan Bertschi of University St Gallen, Switzerland, disagrees with those who claim diagramming tools are difficult to use. “It is not the complexity of the software but the lack of willingness to create visuals that is to blame. A flow chart makes more sense than a numbered list and a Gantt chart allows for more understanding than a project scope. Visualisation of any kind significantly improves communication,” he says.

    Thousands of users depend on forums and some excellent blogs for regular assistance and updates, such as The Omni Group, Visio Guy, bVisual, or SmartDraw.


    Stencil A collection of shapes pertaining to a particular drawing type. Some shapes are drawing specific, others can be used anywhere.

    Shape These are the visual elements within a stencil.

    Template A standard layout for certain generic types of diagrams (for example flowcharts or mindmaps). Stencils are contained within templates.

    Check out Lengler and Eppler’s Periodic Table of Visualisation Methods. ®

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    Visual Literacy: An E-Learning Tutorial on Visualization for Communication,

    Visual Literacy: An E-Learning Tutorial on Visualization for Communication, Engineering and Business

    It appears that this may be a homepage or an index page with non-article content. To accurately view it, you may want to switch to the Full Web Page view.

    If you know there should be an article here, help improve the article parser by reporting this page. Thanks!

    This e-learning site focuses on a critical, but often neglected skill for business, communication, and engineering students, namely visual literacy, or the ability to evaluate, apply, or create conceptual visual representations. After this tutorial, students should be able to evaluate advantages and disadvantages of visual representations, to improve their shortcomings, to use them to create and communicate knowledge, or to devise new ways of representing insights.

    The didactic approach consists of rooting visualization in its application contexts, i.e. giving students the necessary critical attitude, principles, tools and feedback to develop their own high-quality visualization formats for specific problems (problem-based learning). The students thus learn about the commonalities of good visualization in diverse areas, but also explore the specificities of visualization in their field of specialization (through real-life case studies). They will not only learn by doing, but in doing so contribute new training material for their peers to evaluate (peer learning).

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    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    HP shows everyone its the battery king with 32 hour laptops

    I thought you would find this interesting:

    HP shows everyone its the battery king with 32 hour laptops -

    Shared from Ross Button, an iPhone app.

    Sent from my iPhone | ross | | 202-683-7992 | - The complete Web 2.0 directory

    Online tools and applications | Jan 22nd 2011

    It appears that this may be a homepage or an index page with non-article content. To accurately view it, you may want to switch to the Full Web Page view.

    If you know there should be an article here, help improve the article parser by reporting this page. Thanks!

    Online tools and applications

    DocRaptor:One-click document creation using simple HTML

    DocRaptor is a web-based application that allows you to convert HTML to PDF or HTML to Excel quickly and easily. Using Prince XML, this killer software eliminates tedious coding and makes creating full PDF and XLS documents a snap.


    IMGuest:Hotels. People. Connections

    A business-oriented social networking platform, used by traveling individuals to set up face-to-face meetings around the world.


    Toonti:Create your own Free Social Networking Site

    Toonti is a platform that allows you to create your own custom social network. An innovative WYSIWYG Design Wizard and Design Tools make it simple for anyone to design their site. In addition, it has a rich set of tightly integrated features and it supports various privacy options.


    Readmeo:Read your Links Later

    So much to read, so little time? Readmeo is a simple tool that allows you to save links for reading later.


    Pictarine:Zest of Life

    Create your photo albums with your friends. Easily create a medley of your photos and contacts from Facebook, Flickr and Picasa.


    UJAM:Now Everyone Can Make Great Music

    UJAM is a cloud-based platform that empowers everybody to easily create new music or enhance their existing musical talent and share it with friends.


    Beachionary:Find Beach Information Easily

    Beachionary is a social website for beaches all over the world. Users are able to find details for beaches, such as their location on the map, photos of them, the facilities available at every beach, user reviews and ratings, and nearby hotels.


    NextStyler:Wake up your Talent!

    If you’re a fashion designer or just have a great idea upload your designs, vote and see your creations on Next Styler Shop.


    Tastebuds:Find single people who share your passion for Music

    Tastebuds music dating helps you find single people in your area who share your taste in music. Simply enter your username or select your favorite artists to get started.


    CallLoop:Easy, Integrated, & Automated Voice and SMS Text Messaging

    Call Loop, it's the Constant Contact for voice broadcasting. Now you can easily send voice broadcasts and automated phone calls directly to your clients, customers, and prospects in 2 simple steps.


    diyFractional:Do-it-yourself Fractional Ownership

    diyFractional is an online service that helps people set up and manage shared ownership of any type of infrequently used asset (such as a boat or vacation home). For those seeking to share something, it's a social network designed to help people find and connect with partners to share an asset with. For those already sharing something, it's a community of experienced shared owners and a robust shared ownership management app that makes managing an asset-sharing partnership easy, providing capabilities such as scheduling, expense tracking and reimbursement, voting, issue tracking, and much more.


    Sporuter:Get help with your Startup

    Sprouter facilitates networking and collaboration between entrepreneurs globally. Providing a platform for users to connect with other innovators, entrepreneurs can expand their networks to include fellow entrepreneurs and startups with similar interests and goals.


    Summify:Top News from your Networks in your Inbox

    Summify automatically identifies the most important news stories for you across all of your social networks and delivers to you either as a personalized email digest in your inbox or in a web client.


    Miimr:Discussions around your Interests

    Customize your news feed with relevant information by following over 11 million people, places, and things.


    Hoverme:Social Web Profile Hovercard

    Hoverme is a browser plugin that will enhance your social web experience. With Hoverme installed you will be able to view the social web profile for each of your friends simply by mousing over their name in your Twitter stream.


    Meltinpop:Playing with Culture

    Meltinpop is a game for you and your friends. It is a fun, free way to explore the culture around you. With meltinpop you can share and discover music, movies, TV shows and books dedicated to your interests, obsessions and whims.


    RemindThis:Website Reminder Widget

    RemindThis is an alternative to bookmarking. Through this service, you will be able to have notifications put your way, reminding you to visit a site that you saw just once.


    Mixlr:Brodcast Live, High Quality Audio

    Mixlr makes professional broadcasting easy. Broadcast live, high-quality audio across the web, iPhone, iPad and mobile devices. Free.


    QuizSnack:Online Survey Software

    QuizSnack is an easy to use online poll & survey software that allows you to create and publish market questionnaires and then view the answers in real time.


    TurnSocial:A Social Toolbar Built for Local Business Websites

    The TurnSocial toolbar is a free, easy way to add popular social media and location based applications to your local business website.


    Contapps:Enjoy Your Contacts

    Contapps boosts your android contacts with customized widgets and a fresh look & feel. Discover new ways to interact with your mobile community and stay tuned for more cool widgets & updates...

    androidmobilecontactwidgetcommunication socialIsrael

    LiveGo:Web-based Client - All In One

    Facebook, Twitter and your favorite messengers (windows live messenger, yahoo messenger and gtalk) and e-mail accounts (hotmail, gmail and yahoo mail) are all in one place now. Also Social filters, To-Do List, Notes and Calendar empower users.

    Yesblogs:Your Blog with Style

    Choose your own .com domain name and your blog is available on mobile phones. You may customize each part of your blog, including templates, widgets, and fonts style (200 fonts available). You can also create unlimited mailboxes with your domain name.

    bloggingtoolmobile Brag wall. Trophy case. is a way to showcase online milestones and legitimate real world achievements. It is fun, acceptable and simple for 13-83 year olds to catalog and boast about their proudest accomplishments.


    Tellme:Say It. Get It

    Tellme combines the passion of people, the innovation of the Internet, the potential of voice technologies, the unprecedented transformation of the phone, plus a few new ideas. Simply say what you want, and hear or see the results. Then, connect or transact to act on the information.


    Planely:Who is on your next plane?

    Tell Planely which flights you’re traveling on and Planely will tell you who else is traveling with you on the plane and at your departure and arrival airports.


    AdmantX:A Leap forward in Monetizing the Web

    Using semantic technology, ADmantX interprets words and content, offers an increased visibility of web pages and conveys the feelings they transmit to readers. ADmantX puts into context around the people, places, brands and companies, things, ideas and concepts the content describes; it can also identify the sentiment, emotions, behaviors and motivations that the content elicits in readers. Together, these elements make for a rich and pinpointed match between content, emotion and online advertising.


    Sympoz:Lifelong Learning Evolved

    Sympoz offers a truly great educational experience online. Courses cover a wide range of topics including: Wine, Cooking, Personal Finance, Parenting.


    Juxio:Create New Meaning

    Juxio is a new visual way to communicate. Individuals and businesses use Juxio to combine images, text and more into a visual streams called Juxes to share across social media and in print.


    Plnnr:An Automatic Trip Planning

    Plnnr is an online service that allows its users to generate detailed trip plans within major tourist destinations. Plnnr works by automatically generating a trip itinerary based on simple facts the customer provides about the trip. Similar to a GPS, Plnnr will give you directions on how to get to places. Similar to your best friend, Plnnr will also recommend the places to visit.

    travelgeneratorhotelgpsIsrael Sharing Made Easy

    With you can share any number of files, no matter how large, within seconds. Click on select files. Share the files with your friends. Move on - because you've simply got better things to do.

    sharefilesocial Music Sharing App is a music service, based on your smartphone. With, you listen to your music and broadcast it at the same time. Other users can tune into your broadcast and hear the exact same music you are listening to. It's like running your own mobile radio station. Anywhere you are. Anytime you like.


    GameGround:Power Up Your Games

    GameGround is a lightweight personalized app that connects, enhances and allows you to share your gaming experiences and success. Play your favorite Flash games, web games, Facebook games, PC games and Xbox games with GameGround to see all of your results, leaderboards, achievements and high scores in one place. Earn exclusive missions, badges and rewards to get more more from your games and discover new games to play. Share your high scores and success on Facebook and other social networks to compete and compare with your friends.


    startino:Free Online To-to List

    Startino is online to-do list, which was built to help you organize your daily business. It’s a simple, yet powerful tool, which won’t get in the way of your googling. And it is free.


    Footfeed:Expand your Social Footprint

    Footfeed is a mobile geolocation check-in aggregator network that brings together many web services so users can checkin to many networks simultaneously. Built from the ground up as a stand alone check-in service, Footfeed integrates APIs from Brightkite, Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook.


    Chewsy:Discover Food Nearby

    Chewsy is the mobile app that will change the way you eat out by showing you reviews of what really matters - the food. Now you can order with confidence, discover great dishes nearby and share your thoughts with the world.


    Carbuzz:New Car Choosing Made Easy

    Carbuzz compiles the most helpful car reviews, so that you can quickly find out what the experts think of each new car. Quite simply it save you trawling the web to research new cars.


    colourDNA:Discover your World

    colourDNA is a social network that combines the likes and loves of people for mutual benefit. colourDNA is the simplest way to discover more of what you love.


    Threddie:Brainstorming . Simplified

    Threddie lets you brainstorm using a post-and-comment system everyone's familiar with. Just start a brainstorm, add a briefing and some topics, then invite people to discuss.


    Gogobot:Social Trip Planner

    Gogobot’s mission is to make trip planning more fun by making it easy to connect and share travel advice with your friends.


    YaRooms:Web-based Meeting Room

    Yarooms - Web based meeting room planner is aimed at delivering the most effective way to manage a small or medium size company shared workspaces, shared meeting rooms and resources.


    Wuala:Secure Online Storage

    Wuala is a free, simple and secure personal cloud storage and online collaboration tool. You can upload, securely share, discover and download images, videos, music and documents.


    QuoteBase:Prepare Price Quotes

    With QuoteBase, you can create beautiful price quotes that your customers will love. Create customized quotes within minutes by using the web interface or by sending an email to the app. You can also collaborate with members of your team and get the quote prepared faster.


    Qwiki:The Information Experience

    Qwiki, a revolutionary new search tool that enables you to discover more about a variety of topics through a unique and transformative audiovisual reference tool that we call a 'Qwiki'. Their mission is to provide a new way of searching for, and receiving information and content.


    Keepio:Manage Personal Belongings

    Keepio provides a fast and easy way to collect the things you own, so you can share and swap items with your trusted friends on Facebook and Twitter.

    Next Hide tags All rights reserved

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    PSA: SSDs Are Difficult To Securely Erase

    PSA: SSDs Are Difficult To Securely Erase

    by Devin Coldewey,
    February 22nd 2011

    If you’re in a business that handles sensitive information, or are just conscientious about your privacy, you might want to read this study on SSD erasure. As you know, there are ways of erasing traditional magnetic hard drives that are more or less totally irreversible. Writing all zeros, writing garbage, zeroing again, and so on. After a few cycles it’s fresh and clean.

    SSDs are a different beast, though, and right now it looks like most SSDs aren’t really equipped to fully delete data. The issue lies in the fact that the system driver that lives on your computer sends data to the SSD to be written, and the SSD’s onboard controller writes it… but where your system thinks it is and where the SSD controller actually writes it don’t really match up.

    Think of it like a coat check. You go and drop off your coat and a few of your friends’ coats as well. As far as you’re concerned, your coats are “at the coat check.” But in reality the coat is at position X, indicated by whatever’s on the ticket, and the coat check people really know where your data is. In a similar way, your computer knows where your data is, but doesn’t actually know (and can’t know, since these on-SSD systems aren’t standardized yet) where exactly it is on the SSD. And for some reason when it tries to erase things securely, it doesn’t erase where that data is, only where it thinks it is.

    Something like that, anyway. The end result is that it’s very difficult to erase SSDs by the old method. The solution? Encrypt your drive from the start and then lose the key when you need to erase. They may fix this in the future, but for now that’s your best bet.

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    Article: Your Call: How Are Cell Phones Affecting The Brain? [REPORT]

    Your Call: How Are Cell Phones Affecting The Brain? [REPORT]

    Mashable | The Social Media Guide

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    Trending Stories

    Your Call: How Are Cell Phones Affecting The Brain? [REPORT]

    Chris Taylor February 22, 2011 by Chris Taylor

    A study published in tomorrow’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association confirms what researchers have long suspected: that long conversations on cell phones affect parts of your brain. Trouble is, not even the study’s authors, the National Institute of Health, know how the calls affect you — just that they light up a significant chunk of your gray matter near the phone.

    “We don’t know whether this is detrimental or whether it could have some potential beneficial effects. We don’t know one way or the other,” lead author Dr. Nora Volkow told HealthDay.

    Potential beneficial effects? Well, yes. All the study found when it tracked 47 mobile-toting participants for one year was this: brain metabolism in a small area nearest the antenna was 7% higher when they were on a 50-minute call. So cell phones boost brain activity. (Specifically, they raise glucose levels.) Doesn’t sound so bad when put like that, does it? For all we know, blasting your brain with focused radio waves could be the mental equivalent of going to the gym. Glucose levels rise with just about any complex brain activity. For comparison, that 7% metabolism boost is less than the amount of energy it takes to process images via your eyes.

    Of course, for all we know, the long-term effects could be pretty scary. Tumor cells need a lot of glucose, too. But that may be no more than coincidence. Researchers were careful to tiptoe around the C-word. And with good reason: as Ars Technica points out, in biology, there is absolutely no known mechanism that could lead from low-energy, long-wavelength radiation to cancer. A giant, 13-nation study begun in 2000  still hasn’t found any proof linking the two. Cell phone users, science is on your side — for now.

    Bottom line: we know relatively little about brain science and even less about cell phone use. Decades of further study is going to be needed for a definitive answer. We’ve all heard anecdotes from friends about how calls give them headaches, or a buzzing sensation. They could be right, or they could be hypochondriacs. Maybe cell phones affect each brain differently. At the moment, there’s just no way of telling.

    If you’re concerned, be like Dr. Volkow — who told TIME that she’s started using a $5 headset so she doesn’t have to hold her phone to her ear any more. “Maybe at the end of the day cell phones aren’t damaging,” she said. “But it’s only $5.”

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    Article: Cisco Pulls Plug on Web Email [Voices]

    Cisco Pulls Plug on Web Email [Voices]

    All Things Digital

    Skip to main content.

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    News, analysis and opinion about the digital revolution.


    The Voices Feed

    from other Web sites

    Cisco Pulls Plug on Web Email

    February 23, 2011
    by Cari Tuna
    Reporter, The Wall Street Journal

    Cisco Systems is pulling the plug on its Web-based email service for businesses a little over a year after the networking giant first introduced the product in November 2009, the company announced in a blog post Tuesday evening.

    Cisco said it is halting investment in Cisco Mail because customers “have come to view their email as a mature and commoditized tool versus a long-term differentiated element of their collaboration strategy.” The move suggests Cisco failed to gain as much traction as Google and Microsoft in the hosted email market.

    Cisco said customers appear to be more eager for “social” business software and video applications, areas in which Cisco also has products, adding: “Cisco employees who built and supported the Cisco Mail product will be reassigned to other collaboration products and services that customers view as more strategic.”

    Read the rest of this post on the original site

    About Voices

    This is a section of the All Things Digital Web site featuring posts from around the Web, from other Dow Jones properties and also original pieces we solicit. The section is now explicitly labeled that it comes “from other Web sites.”

    We are fully aware of the controversies around how linking and aggregating is done on the Web and we, in no way, are attempting to “scrape” original content created by others. Instead, regarding third-party posts, we are trying to point readers of this site to other posts from around the Web that we admire and are trying to do so in the quickest manner possible.

    The Internet is full of terrific content that is not ours and we want to help our readers find it by making editorial suggestions—Look, Mom, no algorithm!—of posts we think are worth their time.

    That is why we have made even more changes to Voices to ensure we do this in the most transparent and timely way. While we don’t expect that everyone will agree with our policies, we have made changes that reflect our intent in pointing to content outside our site.

    So here is exactly what we do: Read more »

    About the Site

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    Article: Got an Old Computer? Jolicloud OS Can Now Make it a Zippy Cloud Machine

    Got an Old Computer? Jolicloud OS Can Now Make it a Zippy Cloud Machine


    This post is part of our ReadWriteCloud channel, which is dedicated to covering virtualization and cloud computing. The channel is sponsored by Intel and VMware.

    Jolicloud, the Operating System that primarily serves netbooks, today expanded its support to include computers as many as 10 years old. If you’ve got an old desktop computer with as little as 348MB of RAM, it could be fun and useful again with the help of Jolicloud.

    This is possible, of course, because Jolicloud relies on so many online services for performing functions that other computers would perform locally. This fast-loading, lightweight OS was built by the creator of popular online startpage Netvibes and has its own App Center with 700 different apps in it. Could it bring increased (cloud) computing power to a greater number of people than had been able to afford modern computing experiences before? It very well could.

    Last Spring, Jolicloud switched from using Mozilla code as its foundation to using Google Chrome. We reviewed the 1.0 release last July.

    Below, contemporary computing on an antiquated machine.

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    Article: That Plan to Close Half of Detroit's Schools? It's Really Happening

    That Plan to Close Half of Detroit's Schools? It's Really Happening

    That Plan to Close Half of Detroit’s Schools? It’s Really Happening

    • February 23, 20114:30 am PST

    Eminem’s acclaimed Super Bowl advertisement for Chrysler told the world that despite what you’ve heard, Detroit is making a comeback. Tell that to the city’s children, because the State of Michigan has sounded the death knell for Detroit Public Schools. DPS’s Emergency Financial Manager (EFM), Robert Bobb, has received approval for his plan to shut down half of the city’s public schools over the next two years, raising remaining school class sizes to 60 students. The decision could be the tipping point that pushes Michigan into Wisconsin-style protesting.

    Bobb’s solution addresses a $327 million budget deficit and will reduce the current 142 schools in the district down to 72 by the 2012-13 school year. The plan will likely drive more families out of the Detroit, setting up a domino effect of even more financial problems for the schools.

    Steve Conn, a 25-year-veteran teacher at Detroit’s Cass Technical High School, is heavily involved in plans to march through the state capital, Lansing, today at noon with teachers, parents, students, and other public education allies. The planned protest targets education budget cuts, the school closings, and a bill that will expand the number of EFM positions in the state.

    If the bill passes, it “will allow the state to appoint an EFM over any school district, city or town that is in a financial deficit,” says Conn. EFM’s have the power to fire entire school boards, change pay and benefits and eliminate union contracts, all without any public debate. When financial times are tough, as they are now in many low-income communities, EFM’s can decide to sell off or close libraries, schools and other public buildings, and they’re only answerable to the governor. Conn says such a system position “replaces democracy with tyranny.”

    Secretary of Education Arne Duncan believes the city’s mayor, Dave Bing, should run the schools. “Detroit desperately needs all hands on deck and desperately needs to keep the reforms going,” Duncan said. “I think the children of Detroit deserve better than what they have received for a while. And I just don’t see how the city could ever regain its greatness if it doesn’t have a great set of public schools.”

    Despite the current situation, Conn says he’s proud that Detroit’s students are also making their voices heard. Last week saw three student walkouts at Southeastern High School over education cuts. Students at Communications and Media Arts High School, ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s best high schools, also walked out last Tuesday after the district took a number of teachers out of the classroom, increasing class sizes to as many as 50 students.

    “As a teacher, I’m glad our students are mobilizing,” says Conn. “It’s united everybody and brought the young people into the conversation. Adults think these kids don’t have an opinion, but they do, and we need to listen to them.” 

    photo (cc) via Wikimedia Commons user Cacaphony

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