Previous month:
February 2010
Next month:
April 2010

8 posts from March 2010

What is "The Internet of Things"? A 5-min video explains it...

Recently I had someone ask me what this whole "Internet of Things" idea was all about... and I explained that it had to do with all of the sensors, devices, vehicles, etc. that have become connected to IP networks... and while I perhaps answered the question then, just the other day I stumbled across this video in a ReadWriteWeb article that does an outstanding job at painting the larger picture:

Kudos to the folks at IBM who created the video. Nice job.

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either subscribing to the RSS feed or following me on Twitter or

Video explanation of Hadoop, MapReduce and other cloud database trends (Scoble and Cloudera)

As you learn about "cloud" services, even just services like Twitter and Facebook, those of us with a technical bent may hear terms thrown around like "Hadoop" and "MapReduce" when it comes to the underlying technologies and the massively distributed databases being used for these services.  In this video, Robert Scoble interviews Cloudera CEO Mike Olson about the changes that have happened in database technology and while the video of course touches on what Cloudera does, I found it to actually be a really good primer on what Hadoop, MapReduce and other new database technologies are all about. If you want to understand the underlying technology behind "cloud services", it's well worth the 30 minutes in my opinion:

Facebook Customer Service FAIL - disabling an account and not communicating

facebook.jpgIn a conversation at the VoiceCon conference last week, I ran into another instance where the control of Facebook by a single company and also it's "walled garden" aspect gave me more concern. As (industry analyst) Irwin Lazar outlines in his post on the Enterprise 2.0 blog, "Using Facebook for Your Customer Community? Think Again!", he is now locked out of his Facebook account.

Let's look at what happened:

  • Someone malicious cracked his Facebook password, logged into his account and started sending messages to his friends.
  • His friends alerted him and he immediately went in and changed his FB password.
  • He reported the attack to Facebook.
  • Facebook disabled his account.
  • Per Facebook's instructions, he emailed "[email protected]" asking for his account to be reinstated.
  • He's now been waiting over 10 days....

As Irwin points out, he's sadly not alone with this problem. Still, as Irwin notes, if a company is going to use Facebook as part of their communications strategy they need to be sure that they can use Facebook! A good step is to have multiple administrators on any Facebook page (we do on the Voxeo page).

Facebook, too, needs to step up here a bit. Irwin, who in addition to being an analyst has a security background (and is, like me, a CISSP), did the right thing by fixing the short-term issue by changing his password and then reporting the attack to Facebook. To then have his account disabled with no explanation and no communication is crazy!

If Facebook wants to be the big portal through which we all view the Internet (and which continues to concern me), then they need to provide the level of service - and responsiveness - appropriate to that grand vision of theirs.

Even better would be to open up their system so that Irwin could have more control over his own account and data... but somehow I don't see Facebook ever becoming the distributed and decentralized system we really need it to be...

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either subscribing to the RSS feed or following me on Twitter or

SXSW Slides on Fluid Web Typography (from Jason Cranford Teague)

Those of you who know me well know that I have a long-time interest in typography and publishing design dating back to the many years I spent teaching FrameMaker in the early 1990's... given that, I was delighted to run across this presentation by Jason Cranford Teague that he apparently gave at SXSW this past week. I like the style of the presentation and although I wasn't at SXSW to hear his narration, I can gather from his slides some of the points he was making. He does have a point... why do we limit ourselves so much to the default fonts of the web? Let's use typography more to make more attractive and interesting sites, rather than just settling for the defaults...

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either subscribing to the RSS feed or following me on Twitter or

Video: Scoble interviews Gowalla CEO about location

If you are interested in location-based services like FourSquare and Gowalla, you may find this video interview by Robert Scoble of Gowalla CEO Josh Williams of interest. This being SXSW week, there will be lots of location-based service news coming out. I'm not using Gowalla, but I've written about my love/hate relationship with FourSquare and I find the whole "location" space quite interesting right now... anyway, I think you'll find this interview an interesting one:

Humor from The Onion: "Nation Shudders At Large Block of Uninterrupted Text"

onion.pngIn these attention-starved days when we all find ourselves pulled into the "micro-blogging" of Twitter and Facebook, this particular satire piece at The Onion hit home for me (hat tip to Jon Udell for tweeting the link):
Nation Shudders At Large Block of Uninterrupted Text

My favorite parts:

Dumbfounded citizens from Maine to California gazed helplessly at the frightening chunk of print, unsure of what to do next. Without an illustration, chart, or embedded YouTube video to ease them in, millions were frozen in place, terrified by the sight of one long, unbroken string of English words.


"It demands so much of my time and concentration," said Chicago resident Dale Huza, who was confronted by the confusing mound of words early Monday afternoon. "This large block of text, it expects me to figure everything out on my own, and I hate it."

... and really the rest of it. Great job to the folks at The Onion for poking fun at our brevity-focused world...

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either subscribing to the RSS feed or following me on Twitter or

A perfect example of how NOT to pitch a blogger through a blog comment...

How many ways can you spell "FAIL"?

You'd think the turkey could have at least filled in my name after "Dear" :-)


Needless to say, I won't be reviewing or trying his service.

(It was someone who is very obviously tracking posts related to a conference I mentioned over on my Disruptive Telephony blog and who seemed to have copied/pasted the contents of an email message into the blog comment, complete with email-type signature. The content was pure marketing-speak and had no personalization whatsoever to my blog. Too bad, because his service does sound halfway interesting... I might have looked it if he had taken a minute or two to personalize his pitch and try to relate it to what I write about. Pitching bloggers isn't rocket science, people!)

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either subscribing to the RSS feed or following me on Twitter or

FIR Podcast hits the iPhone (and Android) as an app

firappitunes.pngIt was great to learn of the FIR iPhone app and naturally I had to install it right away on my iPhone. (It's also available for Android phones.) It's free, of course, and gives you access to all the podcasts produced under the For Immediate Release brand.

With the iPhone app you have a very easy way to immediately jump to FIR episodes and start listening. When you go into one of the episodes you have a "Play Podcast" link when loads the iPhone's QuickTime player and starts playing the episode for you. You can also follow the "Web Link" to view the page out on the FIR site (where you could see comments). There's also a nice "Categories" screen that lets you see the various different categories of FIR podcasts.

If you create an "account" you can then apparently mark episodes as "favorites", comment on episodes and rate episodes. My one point of feedback I'll be passing along to Shel and Neville is that it's not entirely clear to me where I am creating this account. Is it on the service of the vendor behind this app? (GenWi, the company behind Admittedly I'm a bit more paranoid than the average user (blame my security background), but I'd like to know a bit more about who is going to have my data before I sign up.


Speaking of iSites, they are the iPhone application vendor Shel and Neville used for this app. It's admittedly very cool... for just $25 you can get your own iPhone app created.

Now, the only caveat is that for that $25 one-time fee, you are stuck with the in-application advertising that you see in the image to the left and over which you have no control. iSites does have a $99/year pricing plan that gives you control over ads and presumably they are expecting that a certain number of folks will choose that plan to lose the ads. (I would.)

I obviously just started using the app and I'll be interested to see how using it compares to using the regular "iPod" functionality built into my iPhone. This app has the advantage that you can very quickly get to FIR podcasts and be able to see what is there. Whenever you launch the app it seems to check for the most recent episodes so you are always up to date.

On the other hand, in the "iPod" app on my iPhone I do have to manually initiate the "Get more episodes" process to download new episodes. However, one advantage to the iPod app is that I get to see how far I have listened to any given FIR episode - and it retains that info so with one glance I can see which episodes I still need to listen to and how much more I have of each episode. This is a great advantage when your time to listen to podcasts is rather fragmented.

Regardless, I think it's rather cool for Shel and Neville to now have an iPhone (and Android) app. If you are an FIR listener (or are interested in the intersection of social media, technology, PR and communications), do check out the app and try it out. I'll be curious to hear your thoughts. What do you think of it? Do you see yourself using it versus the iPod app to listen to FIR?

P.S. In full disclosure... if you are not aware, I am a weekly correspondent into FIR, usually on Thursdays, and so I am affiliated with the podcast.

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either subscribing to the RSS feed or following me on Twitter or