Wednesday, 02 July 2008

Tired of relying on well-funded commercial software companies testing their software on you while you come to truly rely on it, with little to no control?

Well, the world is (potentially) changing.

If you're - for example - a Twitter user, you might be interested in checking out Identi.ca, a brand-new open-source platform for microblogging. Press release below.

I can be found at http://identi.ca/greghughes - Check it out.

Control Yourself, Inc. launches Identi.ca, the Open Microblogging Service (July 2nd, 2008)

Montreal, Quebec-based Control Yourself, Inc. today launched Identi.ca, the open microblogging service. Users can post short messages about themselves to Identi.ca, which are then broadcast to friends in their social network using instant messages (IM), RSS feeds, and the Web.

Identi.ca is similar to existing microblogging sites such as Twitter, Jaiku, or Pownce. Unlike those services, Identi.ca’s underlying software is available under an Open Source license. Identi.ca is also the first service to support OpenMicroBlogging, a standard for exchanging short messages between microblogging sites. Identi.ca also makes public user data available under a Creative Commons license in standard formats.

“Too many existing social networks keep users locked in to their services,” says Evan Prodromou, president of Control Yourself. “With an Open Source code base, and support for standard data exchange formats, we are giving users back the autonomy to control their own social Web presence.”

Response from initial testers has been enthusiastic, both for the software’s design and functionality, as well as the site’s openness. “It makes me feel alive again to see the resurgence of free/open on the web,” said Jon Phillips, Community Manager with Creative Commons in San Francisco, CA.

Control Yourself will grow the service exponentially throughout 2008, adding features such cell phone text messaging (SMS) and multilingual support in its next software release.

Link to the original press release: Control Yourself



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Blogging | Tech
Wednesday, 02 July 2008 13:11:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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CIO.com has posted a great opinion article by Mike Gualtieri offering nine ways to make sure you're not labeled as a "clueless" CIO. I must say, the list is excellent and one that should be taken to heart by executive managers in general, and information/technical execs in particular.

Among his observations of a good CIO: "He gets opinions from his experts but there is never any question about who will make the final decision. And, if you never watched Star Trek then you shouldn't even be a CIO."

But the list contains several important and valuable points, it's not just humor. Do you know what your reports have to say about you? Does your CIO make the grade? This quick article is highly recommended.

I can especially relate to the issues associated with "drinking vendor Kool-Aid" and the need to keep a distance. In fact, my experiences with massive numbers of vendors led me to take drastic action to stop cold calls and other sales tactics, to the point even of angering those vendors. Basically, if I didn't have an established preferred relationship with a vendor, calls were relegated to a special mailbox. It gave me my time back.

Also, it is important to watch the balance between being a good geek leader and being the "uber-geeky" supervisor. If you are a professional manager, you hire the best and the brightest and make sure they can do their jobs well. If you're hiring smart, those people are much better at the tactical aspects of your organizational responsibilities than you are, anyhow.



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Management | Tech
Wednesday, 02 July 2008 09:55:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Microsoft will soon be selling it's Office suite, along with security protection software (OneCare) and a slew of other applications for a $70 annual fee under the name "Equipt" this month. This is the first time a consumer has had the option to pay-as-you-go for the Microsoft productivity software, and will likely open up the possibility of a more budget-affordable option for many. When you consider an annual OneCare subscription runs you $50 a year and a copy of Office Home and Student Edition sells for a one-time fee of $150 (and a new version seems to come out every three years on average), it's an attractive deal. The $69.99 subscription fee will let you install the software on up to three home PCs.

Infoworld:

Equipt, which was formerly known by its code name, Albany, includes Office Home and Student 2007, Windows Live OneCare, Office Live Workspaces, Windows Live Mail, Live Messenger and Live Photo. Microsoft plans to begin selling it in the U.S. on July 15 through Circuit City, with other outlets to follow. It will be offered in other countries at about the same time, though pricing elsewhere was not announced.

The name comes from the idea that the package will help customers "equip their PC with a core set of services," said Bryson Gordon, a group product manager for Microsoft Office. "It resonated well with customers in testing."

Link to the Original Article at InfoWorld: Microsoft to sell Office 'value pack' for $70 per year



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Tech
Wednesday, 02 July 2008 09:33:40 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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AT&T has released a set of informative videos (all of which appear below) with details about when, where and how to buy the iPhone 3G. Prepare to qualify!

There are three videos. The first one is for people who are not existing AT&T customers:



Next, information for people who are already customers of AT&T (including iPhone owners and non-iPhone customers):



Finally, if you want to give your first-generation iPhone to your old friend Chris someone you know, here are those details:



In addition, a press release outlining all the details for various types of purchasers describes the in's and out's of contracts, upgrades and whatnot:

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) today announced iPhone 3G pricing for new and existing AT&T customers, several attractive voice and data plans, and tips on how to be “iReady” when iPhone 3G goes on sale at AT&T retail stores at 8 a.m. local time on Friday, July 11.

“We can’t wait to offer iPhone 3G to our customers, and we want to make sure the buying process is as easy as possible,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T’s wireless unit. “Considering all the great new features of iPhone 3G, we think our pricing and monthly plans present a tremendous value for consumers and businesses alike.”

Pricing and Eligibility

AT&T is making it easy for customers to prepare for their iPhone 3G purchase by posting “Get iReady” tips and frequently asked questions at www.att.com/iphone. The site also will include a link for customers to check their upgrade eligibility and other wireless account information.

iPhone 3G will be available for $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB model. These prices require two-year contracts and are available to the following customers:
  • iPhone customers who purchased before July 11
  • Customers activating a new line with AT&T
  • Current AT&T customers who are eligible, at the time of purchase, for an upgrade discount
Existing AT&T customers who are not currently eligible for an upgrade discount can purchase iPhone 3G for $399 for the 8GB model or $499 for the 16GB model. Both options require a new two-year service agreement. In the future, AT&T will offer a no-contract-required option for $599 (8GB) or $699 (16GB).

Current customers may also choose to wait until they become eligible for an upgrade discount. Eligibility is generally determined by amount of time remaining on a current contract and payment history.

Current AT&T customers who are upgrading to iPhone 3G will pay an $18 upgrade fee and new AT&T customers will pay the standard $36 activation fee.

Voice, Data and Text Messaging Plans

AT&T brings iPhone 3G customers the best coverage on the globe and the largest mobile-to-mobile calling community with unlimited calling to AT&T’s 71.4 million wireless customers. iPhone 3G customers can choose from four individual AT&T Nation plans, which bundle voice and unlimited data (e-mail and Web browsing).
  • AT&T NationSM Unlimited: Includes unlimited Anytime Minutes for $129.99 a month.
  • AT&T Nation 1350: Includes 1350 Anytime Minutes and unlimited Night & Weekend Minutes for $109.99 a month.
  • AT&T Nation 900: Includes 900 Anytime Minutes and unlimited Night & Weekend Minutes for $89.99 a month.
  • AT&T Nation 450: Includes 450 Anytime Minutes and 5,000 Night & Weekend Minutes for $69.99 a month.
All AT&T Nation and AT&T FamilyTalk® plans for iPhone 3G include nationwide long distance and roaming, Visual Voicemail, Rollover®, unlimited Mobile to Mobile calling, Call Forwarding, Call Waiting, Three-Way Calling and Caller ID.

AT&T will offer FamilyTalk plans, with bundled voice and unlimited data, starting as low as $129.99 a month for two iPhone 3G lines. Up to three additional iPhone lines can be added for $39.99 each.
Unlimited text messaging can be added for an additional $20 ($30 for FamilyTalk plans of up to five lines); $15 (1,500 messages), or $5 (200 messages).

iPhone for Business

Business customers interested in iPhone 3G should contact an AT&T business sales representative or review their account information online to determine their eligibility for upgrade pricing. Corporate e-mail and other business applications require the Enterprise Data Plan for iPhone, which is $45 a month and bundled with an eligible voice plan. Small business customers may qualify for AT&T BusinessTalk, the industry’s only shared plan specifically for small businesses. Additional details on iPhone business offerings are available at www.att.com/iphoneforbusiness.

iPhone 2.0 Software

All iPhone customers will benefit from the iPhone 2.0 software, which will be pre-loaded on all iPhone 3Gs and available as a free download for current iPhone customers. The new software will include numerous enhancements, such as business-class e-mail access via Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync; the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK), which allows a business to easily create applications customized to its needs; and the App Store, which offers a wide-range of applications — from games to business, education to entertainment and productivity to social networking. For example, AT&T has developed YELLOWPAGES.COM Mobile for iPhone, which takes local mobile search to a new level by allowing users to discover businesses and local events based on their popularity among other iPhone users, get directions and access business reviews.

So - The real question is this: Who plans to get in line early? :)



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Apple | Mobile | Tech
Wednesday, 02 July 2008 00:46:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 30 June 2008

Nate Westheimer of The Silicon Alley Insider has this to say:

Twitter should take full advantage of their messaging platform, user base and user disposition to lead in the P2P mobile payments space, where, despite years of hype, no one has much of a head start.

Link to the article: How Twitter Could Be Worth A Billion In A Year

I have to admit, coming from the Internet financial services space, the thought of this actually happening scares me slightly, given the serious lack of stability and the manner in which changes have been made at Twitter with less than complete communication. But at any rate, they have a lot of money to throw at the problems, so I am rooting for them to get things right. It just hurts. :)

Westheimer makes some good points. Twitter is carrier/provider-agnostic and has amazingly terrific user and market penetration. Just as I send you a direct message today by typing "d yourname hi how are you?" I could pay you using syntax like "p yourname $20."

But getting from here to there is an whole other story. It's far from trivial to create a financial transaction and accounting system, especially one that scales to the sizes required (but it certainly can be done).

It's an appealing and interesting idea and one that warrant some real thought. As someone who comes from the the online banking software, infrastructure and security world, I can see the market need as well as the challenges from many fronts that will face any company that finally jumps fully on-board the micro-payments and mobile-payments train. A number of good, well-funded companies have given it a run before with limited success. It's a complex problem to solve, but it's doable.

It sure sounds like a fun challenge, and there's a massive marketplace out there just waiting for someone to get it right. Note the operative verbiage there - Doing it well is critical to success. The fact is there's no room for "scale later" in this game.

What do you think? Would you pay people via Twitter if you could? Would it be useful to you?



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IT Security | Mobile | Tech
Monday, 30 June 2008 22:06:18 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I've really missed Windows Live Writer since I starting using my Macbook Air so much. Even though I have it in a Fusion virtual machine running Windows, I find I rarely use it since it uses the VM's filesystem (not the Mac's), and copying stuff onto the Mac clipoard and then pasting into a Windows virtualized app is not what one might wish.

I was pleasantly surprised to run across a Mac app called Blogo, which I am using to write this post. It's nowhere near as feature-rich as Live Writer, but Blogo is a great start on a WYSIWYG editor with many of the bells and whistles. I pointed it at my blog home page during setup, with very little hope it would auto-discover my blog settings, but I was pleasantly surprised. Up popped a dialog asking for my username ad password, and once I provided it, there on the screen was my list of blog posts pulled straight from the server's API (which I seem to recall emulates the Blogger API). Very nice.

Blogo has a funny icon logo, is available as a free 21-day trial, and after that it's $25. There are a few key features missing that might make me pause when it comes to shelling out the cash. Specifically there is no spell checking (I'd like to see red underlines and inline corrections with the right-click action), selecting text and trying to drag it around doesn't work, the image editor is fairly limited, and it doesn't seem to pull my list of existing categories. Plus you cannot edit the HTML it creates (yet) and pasting multimedia content inline doesn't seem to work well. But as I said, it's a great start. If you have a Mac and you're frustrated with other blogging apps, you should check it out.

It's the best WYSIWG mac client I've found so far, so it earns a spot on my Mac's Dock. I will be keeping up with this editor's progress with high hopes, and am encouraged there may yet me a Mac blogging client to rival WLW.

We can hope!



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Apple | Blogging | Tech
Monday, 30 June 2008 17:59:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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