Monday, August 31, 2009

(empo-tymshft) Big Blue Batman and differing perceptions

[So what is empo-tymshft? It's a bucket that I can use to store findings and observations about time-related issues.]

Last Saturday night I was attending a four year old's birthday party with a Batman theme, and I got into a discussion with an eighteen year old about Batman. This 18-something did not care for Batman as a child, because Batman seemed so dark to her. Bear in mind that when this child was growing up, the common perception of Batman was shaped by Batman: The Animated Series, part of a deliberate attempt to restore the original, brooding perception of Batman.

Why did this perception need to be restored? Because of something that happened when I was a child - namely, the Batman television series with Adam West et al, an admittedly comic look at the Caped Crusader.

But the fact that my generation and the 18 year old's generation have differing views of Batman is just part of the equation. There are different views of businesses also. I have no idea what the 18 year old thinks of IBM, or if she even thinks of IBM as a major player. And I'd be willing to bet that many thirty-somethings, even those who are aware of IBM's long history, probably think of the picture of IBM from their childhood - namely, as a personal computer manufacturer.

Now my perception of IBM is slightly different, because my first memory of IBM isn't the PC. And it isn't even the 360. My first memory of the IBM involved the 1401 computer. Not that I had any idea as a child what the 1401 did, but I knew that it was an IBM computer. And you know what a computer is - a huge machine that reads punch cards and spits out big paper reports.

Columbia University provides a history of the 1401 computer and its accomplishments:

The IBM 1401 Data Processing System, a stored-program transistor-logic computer announced October 1959. At $2500 per month minimally configured, this was IBM's first affordable general-purpose computer, and it was intended to take the place of all the accounting machines and calculators that still provided a cheaper alternative to IBM's 650 and 70x computers. Thousands of 1401s were sold or rented; in fact, it was the first computer to deploy 10000 units.

Forty years later, 1401 software applications were still in use:

The 1401 was so popular that (according to legend) 1401 applications were still running in 2000 on 1401 simulators...and this presented a special challenge in the Year-2000 conversion. You can bet that 1960-era programmers with a only few thousand bytes of memory at their disposal didn't "waste core" on 4-digit years!

But any such programs were few and far between, because in 1964 IBM announced its forthcoming System/360. explained its significance as follows:

Until the early 1960's, every computer model was generally designed indepedently, and sometimes individual machines were custom modified for a particular customer. IBM changed this forever, when they announced the IBM-360 family of computers in April 1964.

The IBM-360 family of computers ranged from the model 20 minicomputer (which typically had 24 KB of memory) to the model 91 supercomputer which was built for the North American missile defense system. Despite their differences, all these machines had the same user instruction set...

In short, this was a revolutionary advance - not something you'd associate with a tramp or with a services consultant.

Whether you're talking about Batman, IBM, or Beatrice, you need to remember that people associate different images with certain companies and brands. A teenager would look at me blankly if I started talking about IBM as a PC innovator, and I'd probably get confused if a teenager referred to "Apple the music company."

Other views on whether Oracle could incorporate Sun's hardware operation into its own

In a prior post, I advanced the notion that since Oracle has been able to incorporate various software acquisitions into the mothership Oracle, it should also be able to incorporate Sun's hardware business into the mothership Oracle. I then joked about the fact that my views on Oracle may be biased.

But it got me to wondering - what are other, potentially more knowledgeable, people saying about whether or not Sun's hardware business can fit into Oracle's operations?

Here's what ZDNet said at the time that the deal was announced:

Apple’s strategy is to integrate hardware and software to make things easy. Oracle with Sun appears to be the Apple of the enterprise. Indeed, Oracle President Charles Phillips noted that the company is looking to offer everything from apps to the disk....

My hunch is that Ellison saw the possibilities of integrating hardware and software with Oracle’s Exadata database machine. Ellison boasted that the Exadata machine has seen strong demand on Oracle’s earnings conference call.

In the end, Oracle’s acquisition of Sun won’t change the company’s overall game plan: Offer the customer a lot of product—apps, languages, middleware, databases—lock that enterprise in and collect the dough.

BroadPoint Amtech thought that the hardware business should be sold for financial reasons:

In our view, Oracle's execution has been largely flawless these last several years, most notably in its recent quarters. This is attributable to its large maintenance business and diversified product portfolio. The maintenance business (50%-plus of its revenue) provides high margins and high visibility, and its diversified product portfolio -- largely focused on infrastructure software space -- has been more resilient than the business application segment of the industry....

While its planned acquisition of Sun is likely to introduce certain integration risks, we believe most investors are comfortable with the company's ability to deliver its earnings-accretion target, despite the dilutive impact to its current margin profile....

We believe it makes strategic sense for Oracle to spin out Sun's hardware business, and that there will likely be buyers of that business. We highlight that it is in both Oracle's and any possible suitors' best interest to complete the spin-out before the current acquisition process introduces more disruptions to Sun's core server business.

But I'm more interested in the management type of question - can Oracle run a hardware business? Express Computer Online noted that Oracle is certainly willing to run a hardware business, and has been for years:

[Forrester Research's Ray] Wang said, "Expect Oracle to roll out a database machine—creating a stack play. Larry Ellison has always promoted the idea of a database machine, going back to the early 1990s when he invested in a company called nCUBE. Although adoption of the nCUBE MPP database machine never took off, (largely because databases were relatively smaller in size and the cost was prohibitive), Oracle’s acquisition of Sun could change the game."

Additionally, Oracle made a similar move last year by rolling out the HP Oracle Database Machine, a system using HP hardware and storage, which has had some success. "Oracle has already demonstrated strong engineering on operating systems, databases, and file systems, so acquiring Sun servers and storage puts a database machine well within its reach. With enterprises struggling with growing data volumes and increasing numbers of databases, the business case for a database machine becomes more compelling to lower cost, improve IT productivity, and increase performance scalability," added Wang.

But a willingness to do something doesn't necessarily mean that you can do something.

[Gartner's Asheesh] Raina said, "Oracle was never in the hardware business and hence it would face a big challenge in managing the wafer thin margins and channel partners."

Now you can speak to companies with their own axes to grind. Competitors like IBM will obviously express their opinions on the viability of Sun hardware under Oracle. And obviously Sun will express its own opinion on the viability of Sun hardware under Oracle.

But the Economist looked at the acquisition from a broader perspective - not only what Oracle is doing, but also what HP, Cisco, and others are doing:

HP bulked up its services division by buying EDS, for example, and has also moved more into networking. Cisco will soon start selling servers, and has formed an alliance with several smaller hardware and software firms to build, in effect, a data centre in a box. The industry is, in other words, going back to its past, when it was dominated by a few integrated companies that tried to do it all.

This is, in part, a consequence of the industry’s maturity: to keep growing, firms have to invade each other’s markets. In addition, customers increasingly prefer to buy integrated systems from one vendor, rather than doing the plumbing themselves.

If you believe this story, then not only will Oracle want to keep Sun's hardware business - it HAS to.

Why are people such as Tuna Amobi Marvel-ing at this move?

Everyone, it seems, is talking about the Disney-Marvel deal. TechCrunch mentioned it. The New York Times said that the deal "redraws Hollywood's architecture" (redraws...geddit?). The Inquisitr implied that the Marvel characters may be Disney-fied, but noted (as did BusinessWeek) that the characters will help Disney with boys, countering the "princess" concentration at the company. VG247 was surprised at the purchase price.

MediaMemo's Peter Kafka live-blogged the conference call, and recorded this explanation of the premium price:

S&P’s awesomely named Tuna Amobi [asked,] premium for Pixar was much lower than this deal. What’s up with that? Iger: We’ve been focusing on Disney brands because returns have been quite compelling. But we’re interested in brands in general, because we think high quality brands are increasingly important given choice. In this case, can not only build Marvel brand, but use Disney platform to help distribute and “create a greater Marvel presence”. “Goal is not to rebrand Marvel [as] Disney.” Staggs: I like to buy premium assets at bargain prices but that doesn’t happen very often. “This was not a deal that [Marvel] had to do”. Premium company, premium set of assets, have to pay fair price for that. “We do think it’s one of those classic win-win situations.”

So what does Disney get? It gets a company that started in the 1930s as Timely Comics, introducing a superhero named Captain America in 1941:

The first issue of Cap showed him punching out Adolf Hitler. Which believe it or not actually drew criticism from some isolationist.

But any consideration of Marvel Comics has to mention Stan Lee. A former employee of Timely who ended up writing training films and manuals during World War II, Lee came into his own in the 1960s. He was creative AND hard-working:

It was in the early '60s that Stan Lee ushered in what has come to be known as "The Marvel Age of Comics," creating major new superheroes while breathing life and style into such old favorites as Captain America, The Human Torch and The Sub Mariner.

During his first twenty-five years at Marvel's helm, as editor, art director and head writer, Stan scripted no fewer than two and as many as five complete comicbooks per week. His prodigious output may comprise the largest body of published work by any single writer. Additionally, Stan wrote newspaper features, radio and television scripts and screenplays.

By the time he was named publisher of Marvel Comics in 1972, Stan Lee's comics were the nation's biggest sellers.

Lee is no longer exclusive to Marvel (he even did some work for Marvel's arch-rival DC Comics, a subsidiary of Disney arch-rival Time Warner), but his contributions certainly led to Marvel's high valuation in the deal.

A message about better performance that should NOT be diverted to your spam file

Whether you're using a Windows computer or not, you're always going to run into issues regarding software performance. Two recent posts looked at two issues regarding software performance.

Steven Hodson, who looks at Windows issues when he isn't writing for the Inquisitr, recently posted an item on his WinExtra blog entitled Some Windows performance tweaking myths. It begins as follows:

Performance tweaking for Windows is often looked upon as some sort of black art where we get out the chickens and candles while chanting incantations to the computer gods. Over the years I have seem more bullshit propagated about things you can to do to make your copy of Windows run better. Most of the time those great tips either did very little to improve performance or in some case could even cause more problems.

Hodson then outlines a few of these myths, pointing people to a Lifehacker post for more details.

Now this gets you thinking about which tips are true and which aren't. And, as I mentioned above, this doesn't just apply to Windows users. Mozilla Firefox is available on multiple platforms, and someone published a recent tip entitled "Make Firefox Faster By Vacuuming Your Database." However:

Now all of this in itself doesn't mean that the tip is junk, but it sounds a bit more credible when a Mozilla blogger (Jeremy Orem) puts his credibility on the line.

Now THAT'S a bad first date

Because this is an Associated Press story (shared by MSNBC), I am limited in the amount of text that I can quote from the story. But I think you can get the gist of the story from what I CAN quote:


Terrance Dejuan McCoy, known to his date as "Chris," claimed that he left his wallet in her car, asked for her keys...and then sped off. The Examiner continues the story, noting one other bad first date practice:

Meanwhile, stuck with the bill, too, she immediately called Ferndale police...

Now I've heard of people running out on the dinner check, but normally they don't do it in the date's car.

But in the end, McCoy was caught by the police. Which is better than being caught by Oprah fans, I guess.

Prodject part seven - What are James R. Chapman's project management principles?

Toward the end of the webinar (but technically before the Agile discussion), Donald McNaughton referred to ten project management principles from James R. Chapman. I found all ten encapsulated in a blog post from Raven. The principles themselves are summarized as follows:

Rule #1- Figure out what business you are in, and then mind your own business.
Rule #2 - Understand the customer’s requirements and put them under version control.
Rule #3 - Prepare a reasonable plan.
Rule #4 - Build a good team with clear ownership.
Rule #5 - Track project status and give it wide visibility.
Rule #6 - Use Baseline Controls.
Rule #7 - Write Important Stuff Down, Share it, and Save it.
Rule #8 - If it hasn't been tested, it doesn't work.
Rule #9 - Ensure Customer Satisfaction.
Rule #10 - Be relentlessly pro-active.

I'm not going to go into great detail on these, other than to note that much of this stuff echoes things that have been stated earlier in this series.

Well, now I'm thinking about a song.

What will happen to the Sun hardware?

I was reading Louis Gray's Facebook feed and I happened to see a post from But before I look at that, let's start with a source post from the Inquirer:

IT IS LOOKING increasingly likely that Oracle is going to sell Sun's hardware business to HP.

While Oracle's Larry Ellison has made it no secret that he only wants Sun for its software, he has denied planning to sell off the outfit's hardware business.

However a CNN deep throat apparently has revealed that talks between Oracle and HP are going ahead.

More here. But doesn't buy it:

HP could take (and is taking) Sun’s business for effectively free. Why would they pay for something they can get for free?

Something just doesn’t ring true about this, and I’d chalk this rumor up to more wishful thinking on the part of some of the reporters sources.

Never mind the regulatory hurdles HP would have to go through as one of the top hardware vendors. It all goes back to the question of, is it cheaper to take this business the way they are doing it now, or to pay for it to get it all in one fell swoop?

I have other reasons for thinking that Ellison may end up keeping Sun's hardware business. Specifically, three:

  1. The almighty stack. If you attend any Oracle-sponsored presentation, you know that they are always hammering about the depth of their stack. And you also know that if you've attended Oracle presentations over several years, they've had to revise those presentations a lot as Oracle acquires more businesses and the stack gets bigger.

  2. Oracle's already in the hardware business. Their latest advance to the stack was the highly-trumpeted joint announcement with HP regarding the Exadata Programmable Storage Server and the HP Oracle Database Machine. The Sun hardware acquisition provides Oracle with the perfect opportunity to solidify this portion of the stack - why blow it?

  3. Oracle's used to co-opetition. Some people might argue that Oracle wouldn't keep Sun because they wouldn't want to alienate their hardware partners. But you have to remember that Oracle has been "alienating" their software partners for years. While Oracle would obviously prefer that you buy their database, application server, etc., they have committed that they will play well with software products from other vendors. So why not hardware?
Conceivably Oracle could certify various Oracle (Sun) hardware solutions at the same time that they certify solutions from HP and other vendors - in the same way that they certify Oracle Linux along with all of the other operating systems.

The obvious challenge is that Oracle has never been in the hardware business before. But Oracle hasn't been in a lot of businesses before, and they ended up entering them. In my


As I was saying, in my (possibly biased) view, Oracle is a lot better at integrating and strengthening their acquired businesses than, say, Google. If any software vendor could pull this off, it would be Oracle.

But then again I might be wrong and Oracle may announce next week that HP will get the Sun hardware business. But I think they could keep it.

Personas from the marketing perspective, courtesy .@HollyBuchanan

During the last PMV webinar that I attended, I was inspired to tweet the following:

all models are wrong; some are useful.

Basically, you're faced with a real-world situation which your limited brain (and my very limited brain) cannot completely comprehend, so you create an approximation that you can understand and hope that it's accurate enough to help you. And if your approximation is really approximate, then you either give up in despair, or forge ahead anyway with the extremely imperfect model.

I could tell you when to proceed and when to give up, but I'd have to build a model of your behavior and then I'd be in a circular loop.

Which brings us to the NEXT PMV seminar:

About the Webinar: Ryma's September 2th webinar will be presented by Holly Buchanan. Not all consumers think alike. They have different values, motivations, priorities and decision making processes. Personas represent different types of consumers. Instead of trying to figure out how you meet the needs of thousands, you have a workable number of personas to use as framework for customer insight, product development and marketing. You'll learn what personas are, how they help you develop better products and marketing, and how you can develop your own personas. You'll see real life examples of how powerful personas can be.

Unfortunately, it looks like I'll miss this one due to another commitment - I have to see a guy with a dolphin. But you may want to tune in. Here's information on the presenter:

Holly Buchanan is the co-author of The Soccer Mom Myth - Today's Female Consumer, Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys. Holly's specialty is marketing to women and marketing to women online. She's worked with clients including Genworth Financial, HP, Waterford, GE Healthcare.

She runs her own marketing to women consultancy helping companies and individuals communicate more persuasively with their female customers.

Holly Buchanan is a popular speaker, blogger and author. In addition to The Soccer Mom Myth, she has her own blog -, and is a guest columnist at Follow her on Twitter - @HollyBuchanan

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Empoprise-BI News - 30 August 2009

Empoprise-BI News

The news letter for Empoprise-BI - An Empoprises vertical information service for business news.

Welcome to Empoprise-BI News

If you haven't seen this type of post before, this is an occasional series of posts that I run in the Empoprise-BI blog. Rather than setting up a separate e-mail list for a newsletter, I figured that I'd just throw the newsletter right into the blog itself. Why not?

Behind the Scenes

Speaking of series, I guess you've figured out that I like to run series of posts every now and then. I've run series before in this blog (see the first post in my "Virtualization Update" series) and in other blogs (see this entry in my "When Madonna Was Hot" series in my Empoprise-MU music blog). Probably my favorite series of all time was the "mrontemp Spaceballs Series" in November 2007 which looked at various mobile implementations of websites (here's the mobile Twitter entry).

I vary the way in which I do my series. Lately, my habit has been to start the series, then post the subsequent entries to the series on an irregular basis, creating a chain link between each of the posts in the series. For example, for my latest series, "Prodject," note how the bottom of the first post in the series links to the second post in the series.

I haven't really performed any analytics on my series to see if they truly result in repeat visits. But it is fun to write them, and the use of multiple posts allows me to be more succinct (sometimes) in any one individual post.

Read on for more series news.

Special Features

Speaking of series, I guess that my favorite part of the "Prodject" series was the fifth post in the series, Prodject part five - How are products managed? I got to create a fake dialogue, I found some good Creative Commons pictures on Flickr (three of them, in this case), and I conveyed some information from someone (Donald McNaughton) who actually knows something. And to top it off, I got to mention Beatrice, although I couldn't precede it with the word "we're." Hmm, maybe I should write a series on all the Beatrice products...


I know that I'll be publishing posts about marketing personas and a possible consumer application of biometric technology. Obviously this blog isn't a comprehensive view of everything in the business world, but just those portions of the business world that interest me. Which means that you're more likely to see marketing news, or biometrics news, or FriendFeed news, or news about Beatrice. But if you have any suggestions for items that I should pursue, Gmail has provided me with an account called "empoprises" that can be used for communication.

Oh, and speaking about series - I'm going to try something new. In the past, my post series have either been of limited duration, or they've been a regularly scheduled series that occurred daily or weekly as warranted. I've never had a series of posts which had no apparent end, and which occurred at random times when I felt like it. And I should also note that when I migrated from mrontemp to the Empoprises series of blogs, I purposely stopped using Blogger labels (except for Oracle OpenWorld-related posts).

But I've noticed that I've started to explore particular topics in this blog, and began thinking that I needed a better way to flag such posts. For example, perhaps you've seen one of my "a tool is not a way of life" posts - perhaps I should formalize such posts and flag them for easy identification.

Perhaps it's because I have a teenager in the house, but one thing that I've been thinking about is how people of different ages perceive different things, which leads us to the subject of time in general. I've collected some preliminary thoughts on the topic, which you will see in the coming week under the name (and the blog label) "empo-tymshft." I can't predict what's going to happen with this - maybe four weeks from now I'll have a dozen different empo-whatever labels, and every post that I crank out will provide revelatory information regarding the categories I have identified. Or maybe I'll write this one post and never do an empo-whatever post again. If you want to find out what happens in this'll have to stay tuned. Visit the blog, or subscribe to it via RSS or email (see the upper left corner of the blog to do so), to see what happens next.

Some Facebook fan page ideas

As you may or may not know, I've created three Facebook fan pages for three of my blogs over the last couple of months, but I haven't really marketed them, or even paid much attention to them, in any huge way. (I still have the relevant FriendFeed groups, but I haven't done a lot with those either.)

This post got me thinking. It's a post by Lauren Rabaino about using a Facebook fan page widget. But before she gets to the widget itself, she has some helpful ideas for the fan page itself:

Update it often. Although this can mean linking it with an RSS feed or with your Twitter updates, the best Facebook pages have custom updates.

I have rarely performed any custom updates in any of my three Facebook fan pages (although I have added some source material on occasion), so 90% of the fan page content consists of RSS feeds from the blog in question. Obviously this approach needs rethinking. When I created the FriendFeed groups that also primarily consisted of RSS feeds (both my own stuff and third-party material), I remember that someone said it wasn't worth his/her while to look at such a page. That person was probably right.

But on the other hand,

Don’t overwhelm your fans. Facebook isn’t Twitter; update often, but not too often. Posting 10 updates a day might annoy your fans and cause them to block your updates from appearing on their newsfeed.

For Empoprise-IE and Empoprise-MU, this probably isn't much of a problem, but occasionally on Empoprise-BI I'll get a little post happy, and if I start sharing all of the Empoprise-BI posts PLUS other relevant business material, it may become a little overwhelming. I'll have to think through this and strike the proper balance.

So I'll work on these items. In the meantime, here is a widget (with streams) for the Empoprise-BI fan page, and widgets (without streams) for my other two Facebook fan pages. If you're a Facebook user, I encourage you to visit and check my progress in personalizing the feeds from the pages.

Empoprise-BI on Facebook

Empoprise-IE on Facebook

Empoprise-MU on Facebook

Rethinking ethanol, and not just because of neutraceutical values

I just ran a local-interest ethanol post in my Empoprise-IE Inland Empire blog, and to accompany the post I included (via Creative Commons goodness) antaean's picture entitled "Blue Skies Over Corn Fields."

But I just as easily could have used a different picture.

You see, you can make ethanol in other ways:

Experts are looking at the fuel potential of watermelons as millions of tons of the fruit not sold in the market can be converted to clean-burning ethanol to power cars and airplanes.

Researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture in Lane, Oklahoma made the finding in a study published in the journal “Biotechnology for Biofuels”....

The original paper itself can be found at the Biotechnology for Biofuels website. The title of the paper is Watermelon juice: a promising feedstock supplement, diluent, and nitrogen supplement for ethanol biofuel production. Here's part of what Fish, Bruton, and Russo state:

Two economic factors make watermelon worthy of consideration as a feedstock for ethanol biofuel production. First, about 20% of each annual watermelon crop is left in the field because of surface blemishes or because they are misshapen; currently these are lost to growers as a source of revenue. Second, the neutraceutical value of lycopene and L-citrulline obtained from watermelon is at a threshold whereby watermelon could serve as starting material to extract and manufacture these products.

OK, I know nothing about neutraceutical values, but the targeting of only the bad 20% of the crop addresses one of my concerns - namely, that if farmers are persuaded to divert crops to ethanol production, food prices will rise, resulting in more poverty. If this 20% of the crop can't be sold anyway because of our love for beauty, then using it for ethanol is a win-win situation.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Will litigation slow enterprise adoption of social media?

There are some companies that have adopted social media, and some that have not. Those who support wide adoption of social media have identified various reasons why some companies haven't gotten on the broadbandwagon, including "their executives are calcified," "they don't want to relinquish lack of control," and "they're, like, not cool and stuff." But perhaps potential litigation may be another reason why social media adoption may slow - or, in some cases, stop.

I was reading this Rob Preston column in InformationWeek, and a couple of his statements jumped out at me:

IT organizations already are responsible for helping ensure that their companies comply with myriad financial reporting, privacy, security, and other regulations. But that pressure will only intensify, Gartner says, as security attacks escalate and wide-open social media generate "increased concern over the extent to which personal data and the safety of minors are threatened by criminals."

Now Preston, of course, is writing to an audience of IT professionals, so he's naturally going to worry about IT becoming overburdened. But notice that Gartner statement about "safety of minors." In many cases, including some frivolous ones, claims are made that some overreaching activity is being done "for the children."

But read on.

For more than a decade, companies have filed lawsuits against their enterprise software suppliers, blaming them for cost overruns, inadequate functionality, even their weak financials. Gartner maintains that enterprises will sue their IT suppliers with greater frequency now that governments are more inclined to grease the skids. The firm notes, for instance, that healthcare providers have asked the Obama administration to hold software vendors liable for any "failures" caused by their implementation of federally mandated software.

Now this obviously isn't limited to social media endeavors - the lawyers could just as easily go after your back-office business intelligence software. But social media software keeps on cropping up in these discussions, including this one from The Hartford.

Firms that would never consider lacking for insurance covering fire, flood, professional malpractice, or discrimination are almost completely exposed to what could go wrong in the Information Age. Furthermore, the uncertainties associated with technology will match the brisk pace of technology developments themselves. This means the technology risk for CIOs isn't a steady-state phenomenon -- rather, it's a very dynamic one to be contemplated regularly. Emerging and recent technology advancements such as cloud computing, Web 2.0, and smartphones will mean new unintended consequences for the CIOs that leverage them.

Rob Preston correctly notes that The Hartford is trying to get people to buy their cyber-risk insurance, but people aren't going to bother buying it unless there is a real threat.

And if you need a real-world example of how social media implementation can lead to litigation, take the skank story. (Please.) You'll recall that Google, which provides blogging services to numerous blogs (including this one), was sued by Liskula Cohen after an anonymous blogger used Google software to refer to Cohen as "skanky." Google was legally compelled to reveal the identity of the anonymous blogger, who then announced that she would sue Google herself.

For some companies, social media may not be worth the headache.

Intended consequences for the cable industry?

A press association that doesn't like people to link to its articles recently noted that the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a cap on cable system ownership.

But I think that MediaMemo still likes it when it link to its articles, so I'll quote from them:

If the court’s decision holds up, it could well start another round of dealmaking similar to the one we saw at the beginning of this decade in which the industry consolidated to about half a dozen major players.

So what will big companies like Comcast do? While some expect them to try to secure more programming, Peter Kafka wonders if something different will happen:

But what if the company deploy its assets to bulk up with more subscribers instead? Investors in Cablevision (CVC), the smallish, New York-based cable system that is a perpetual supposed takeover target that never gets taken over, like the idea: CVC shares are climbing modestly in a flat market.

Now some could argue that the Feds will come out against this and try to reinstate the caps, ostensibly leading to more competition in the market and better deals for consumers.

But that analysis assumes that the cable industry is competing against the cable industry. It isn't. Cable providers are competing against satellite, people who still get their TV from antennas, and this here thing called the Internet. So it may be in the interest of the Feds to allow Comcast to bulk up to compete against Dish, Google, et al.

Let's face it, even when formerly competitive environments are reduced to a single company, the remaining company has trouble surviving. Remember that Sirius XM is still losing money.

Prodject part six - What about Agile?

Before I get to the topic at hand, I want to take this opportunity to catch everybody up who missed the previous five posts in this "Prodject" series. Here are links to the prior entries:
  1. Introduction

  2. Who is Donald McNaughton?

  3. Managing product management

  4. What is product management?

  5. How are products managed?
OK, now let's get back into the subject of this post in the series.

In case you didn't already know this, part of the reason that I blog is to figure out things that I don't already know about.

While Donald McNaughton outlined his thirteen steps to manage a product, I received a tweet from Val Workman:

@empoprises #PMV any idea on how this applies to Agile?

I responded:

@valworkman i confess i'm not knowledgeable on agile and can't evaluate mcnaughton's described process vs. agile #pmv

Now that the presentation's over, it behooves me to figure out what this danged Agile thing is all about. The best place to start is with the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

The Wikipedia writers contrast Agile with the waterfall model with which I am more familiar:

The waterfall model is the most structured of the methods, stepping through requirements-capture, analysis, design, coding, and testing in a strict, pre-planned sequence. Progress is generally measured in terms of deliverable artifacts: requirement specifications, design documents, test plans, code reviews and the like.

The main problem with the waterfall model is the inflexible division of a project into separate stages, so that commitments are made early on, and it is difficult to react to changes in requirements. Iterations are expensive. This means that the waterfall model is likely to be unsuitable if requirements are not well understood or are likely to change in the course of the project....

Agile methods, in contrast, produce completely developed and tested features (but a very small subset of the whole) every few weeks. The emphasis is on obtaining the smallest workable piece of functionality to deliver business value early, and continually improving it and adding further functionality throughout the life of the project. If a project being delivered under the waterfall method is cancelled at any point up to the end, there is nothing to show for it beyond a huge resources bill. With the agile method, being cancelled at any point will still leave the customer with some worthwhile code, that has likely already been put into live operation.

But regardless of what Agile is, Donald McNaughton made a significant point later in the presentation. Specifically, an organization should become EFFECTIVE before it becomes EFFICIENT.

This parallels the thinking behind the SEI-CMM and related processes, and probably just about every other process out there. If you don't know what you're doing, how can you do it better? Work on figuring out what you're doing - write down a process, measure yourself against it - and then you can figure out how to improve. McNaughton's implication was that Agile addresses efficiency rather than effectiveness, and that you have to do other things before you can decide whether Agile is right for you.

Which brings us to James R. Chapman's project management principles.

Less less less - how do you like the possible 401(k) cutoff reductions?

We have a mental mindset that assumes that things will always increase - a mindset that influences our business thinking. For example, since we assume that population always increases, we assume that the market for various generic goods will also increase. And because most of us have only lived in inflationary times, we assume (absent other factors) that wages and benefits will also increase.

Not so fast. links to USA Today:

The IRS will announce 2010 contribution limits for 401(k) plans in October, based on a formula tied to the inflation rate in the third quarter vs. the year-ago quarter. For 2009, most workers can contribute up to $16,500 to their 401(k) plans, plus an additional $5,500 if they're 50 or older.

Unless inflation picks up in August and September, the IRS could be forced to reduce the cutoff to $16,000 in 2010, according to an analysis by Mercer, a human resources consultant. The threshold for catch-up contributions could be reduced to $5,000. This would mark the first time the IRS has reduced 401(k) contribution limits.

But this is just an analyst's estimate. What does the IRS say?

The IRS is reviewing the relevant law, IRS spokeswoman Nancy Mathis said in an e-mail. With some inflation figures still outstanding, it's too early to speculate on limits for 2010, she said.

Perhaps it's just me, but if the ending calculations indicate that the 401(k) contribution should be decreased, approximately 535 people who work in Washington, DC will officially deplore this situation, emphatically state that the evil IRS should not break the backs of working people who are responsibly saving for retirement, and will pass an emergency stimulus bill preserving the current cutoff limits.

Or am I too cynical?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Prodject part five - How are products managed?

As I previously noted, the product manager (or whatever you call him or her) is responsible for managing the product portfolio. And there are various ways in which this could be done.

The most common way to do this is with the hallway conversation. Here's an example:

BILLY: Hey, Jim!

JIM: What's up, Billy?

BILLY: Wouldn't it be cool if the user could incorporate blinking icons into our spreadsheet product?

JIM: Well, some would like it, I guess. How long would it take to do it?

BILLY: Already done. Jane and I coded it last week.

JIM: Anyone tested it?

BILLY: Jane and I did.

JIM: Will the customers like it?

BILLY: Of course! What's not to like?

JIM: Cool!

Now some people would argue that the organization that employs Jim, Billy, and Jane is completely without process. Those people are incorrect; this organization has a process. The process is undocumented, and many of us would sniff our nose at it, but it is a process.

Donald McNaughton shared a process in his presentation - or, more accurately, a process outline. He didn't go into detail about what should take place at each step in the process. But anyone who's seen any industry process will recognize the aspects of McNaughton's process outline, which has thirteen steps. Here are the steps as I tweeted them:

  1. idea screening

  2. product manager

  3. project proposal

  4. product coordinator

  5. (cross functional) portfolio mgmt committee

  6. project team

  7. project plans

  8. stage & gate

  9. project team leader (review @ each gate)

  10. portfolio mgmt committee (review @ each gate, maybe kill)

  11. monthly project status update

  12. product coordinator

  13. #prodmgmt review
Some of you are familiar with what's going on here, while some of you may not be. Suffice it to say that this process, in parallel with other processes with which I am familiar (specifically Motorola's "M-gates" process, an adaption of stage gates), includes the following basic approaches:

  • Decide what you're going to do before you do it. Whether you use detailed financial analyses or stick your finger in the air, you need some way to convert an idea into an approved project.

  • Track progress. Divide your project up into stages (perhaps major stages, perhaps major and minor stages). Motorola numbers its M-gates in reverse order, from M-15 through M-0. Much of my work at Motorola centered around M-11. I knew what subtasks were required to reach M-11, and who had to do them.

  • Review. McNaughton mentioned two types of reviews - a stage review, and a scheduled review. In the first review, you look at all of the stuff that needed to be completed for the stage, and then decide whether you can to proceed, delay before proceeding, or kill the project altogether. In the second review, a group of people gather on a weekly or monthly basis to see how the project is going. You can't just rely on the stage review - what if you never complete all the work for a stage? The scheduled review will catch that.
Now there are various ways in which you can implement this. Motorola, as I have mentioned, had their own way of doing this. When our division was part of Motorola, we tailored Motorola's methods to our own business needs. (Automated fingerprint identification systems are managed differently than radios and cellular telephones.) FriendFeed has their own way to introduce products, as does Beatrice.

Now some organizations may have very complex processes. I'd be willing to bet that a company that's providing a Space Shuttle component uses a different process than the one that the FriendFeed folks used. The important thing is to use the process that is right for you.

What about Agile?

Prodject part four - What is product management?

Forget about the semantics. Forget about whether we call something product management, or product marketing, or marketing, or portfolio management, or whatever. Whatever you call it, what is the product management function supposed to do?

In his presentation, Donald McNaughton stated that the product management entity has the responsibility for managing the portfolio.

But how?

If insider leaks happen by accident...prevent the accident?

Dark Reading recently published its findings on the source of insider leaks:

According to a report...issued by research firm IDC and sponsored by RSA, 52 percent of respondents characterized their insider threat incidents as predominantly accidental, while only 19 percent believed the threats were deliberate. Twenty-six percent believed their insider issues were an equal combination of accidental and malicious threats, while 3 percent were unsure.

Not a lot of digging was done into why accidental leaks occurred, but there was some speculation:

One of the most common offenses in enterprises is the maintenance of expired user accounts, the study says.

"Out-of-date and/or excessive privilege and access control rights for users are viewed as having the most financial impact on organizations," IDC says. "In years past, IDC has estimated that as many as 60 percent of all accounts on most systems are expired. This large number of expired accounts means that insiders who no longer have a relationship with the firm continue to use the firm's IT resources, [such as] network, email, applications, and data.

In the comments area, TCronin suggested a solution - whitelisting Internet access to certain people and sites, thus reducing the chances for accidental exposure of sensitive data. In the comment, TCronin paraphrased a conversation (TCronin couldn't remember the source) about this proposal:

Presenter: presents the whitelist policy as the proper way to manage internet access. Audience member: If I do that, all my employees will leave the company. Presenter: …And I know a few people in India willing to fill those positions.

What will this do?

In this manner, no drive-by downloads are likely, phishing is not a likely threat (except via email) and other threats are also mitigated.

So, is this a wise recommendation?

Virtual money off the farm - fantasy sports insurance

I've previously noted how people are paying real money for virtual things, such as buying coins to use in Farm Town. Well, it's not just the agriculturalists who are forking out the green into the ether. Consider this post from Yardbarker:

Some of you may have heard about the new insurance available, that provides protection against something, many of us hold dear to our hearts. I’m not talking about life insurance, health insurance, auto or even home insurance. I’m talking about insurance on something that millions of Americans, up until now, have not had a chance to insure. Something that many of us have been burned on for many years.

Fantasy Football Insurance!

Yes, there is an insurance that covers the fee that you pay to get into a fantasy football game, payable if one of your players gets injured.

For a nominal fee (from what I can tell is about 10% of your league's entrance fee), they will insure your fantasy team starters against season ending injuries.

The way it works: if you have any of the Top 50 ranked players in the league on your team, and the player has an injury that prohibits him from playing a X% of games, your policy will pay you back your league entrance fee.

Chris Cooley is considering buying the insurance...if he can convince his wife.

But who the hell knows, as poorly as I show up each year in my league, she might cough up the cash for this new protection.

You yourself can buy the insurance for fantasy football, and other fantasy sports, by going to

So how come Farm Town and fantasy football can monetize, but other sites can't?

Prodject part three - Managing product management

As I was getting ready to listen to Donald McNaughton's webinar, I happened to see this Val Workman tweet:

Posted comment on @ms5 blog post about Integrated Product Management, Today's #PMV webinar also addresses #prodmgmt

The link redirects to a post by Michael Shrivathsan entitled Product Management vs. Product Marketing - 2 Departments or 1? Two of Shrivathsan's four recommendations are as follows:

1. Have one department play both “Product Management” and “Product Marketing” roles. You can call the department either name - the specific choice doesn’t matter much.

2. We should stop believing the incorrect notion that one person cannot play both roles. In their popular book Built to Last Collins & Porras say the following: The “Tyranny of the OR” pushes people to believe that things must be either A or B, but not both. I believe the vast majority of our industry suffers from this flawed notion that one person cannot play both roles. Instead, we must embrace what Collins & Porras call “The Genius of the AND”.

When I'm not taking pictures of trash cans, or whatever it is that I do in the Empoprises blogs, I work as a product manager. I have worked in relatively small organizations (which were part of big organizations, but my groups themselves have been relatively small), and have been exposed to both the unified organization (in which product management and product marketing report to one person) and the separated organization (in which different department heads lead product management and product marketing). Specifically, I've been in two separated organizations. However, I can't tell you whether separated organizations work or don't work, because in both cases, there were external factors that affected departmental performance:

  1. In the first case, we had one person heading product management and another person heading product marketing. The two groups worked well together, from my recollection. Then the product marketing director suddenly quit, and the product management director ended up heading both groups.

  2. Subsequently, product management and product marketing were separated again, and the product marketing't exactly inspire the direct reports. Two of them found new opportunities, one of them quit, one of them was fired (wrongfully), and one of them was transferred to the product management organization. That product marketing director eventually left the company, but I never did officially hear the exact means of departure.
Under these turbulent circumstances, I can't say whether separating product marketing from product management really hurt us. I worked well with the senior product marketing expert...who eventually was drafted into a product management position for a critical new product.

But even when product management and product marketing were segregated, we still have to divvy up some of the product management work. I don't want to go into great detail on this, but one of our products has a number of components, so we have often thought it best to have one product manager look at the server side of the product (use of Oracle database, use of Linux, etc.) while another product manager concentrated on the workstation side (use of Windows, the entire user experience, etc.).

So if you don't perform a product management vs. product marketing split, you may have to do a product management vs. product management split. I noted that there may be issues with this. Let me illustrate one of those issues, while noting that the example described below did NOT happen. As far as I know.

WidgetCorp produced a product called the OmniWidget. Because WidgetCorp strongly believed that one person should perform both product management and product marketing, the tasks were not segregated. However, because OmniWidget was, two product managers/marketers were needed to do the job.

Robert was assigned to product manage/market the user experience. Because of the people that Robert talked to, he decided that his purpose in life was to make sure that everything was shiny, new, and information-rich. (Not data-rich; information-rich. There's a difference.)

Alex, on the other hand, was assigned to product manage/market the background functions that would make everything work. Because of the people that Alex talked to, he decided that his purpose in life was to provide superior hardware and software that would provide a stable, predictable experience.

Then WidgetCorp received a bid from a company that needed an internal information system.

Alex immediately went to work, reading the bid documents, questioning the stakeholders on present workload needs, looking at their estimates of future needs, and designing a server subsystem with the required reliability, using well-designed hardware and software components.

Robert also went to work, reading the bid documents, questioning the stakeholders on underlying needs, and also researching some of the offerings that were on the horizon, about to be released.

Robert had a lot of friends, and one of them told him about some 3-D goggles with voice recognition and community interaction. Robert immediately determined that this product would provide the customer with an excellent solution.

As the time came up put the bid response together, Robert ran into the war room, waving the v0.9 specs for Goggle, and proclaiming, "We've got it!"

Alex ignored him and continued his presentation: "During the timeframe of the bid, it may be too risky to introduce Oracle Database 11gR2, so my preliminary recommendation is to stick with Oracle Database 11gR1. If 11gR2 is released and appears stable, we can consider a database change during the stage 7 review."

"Who needs Oracle?" asked Robert. "Goggle has its own built-in database!"

"But can it support 200 inquiries per hour from 8 am to 5 pm, with a possible peak hour workload of 300 inquiries per hour?" asked Alex.

"Hey, once people try Goggle out, they'll be launching 1,000 inquiries per hour at midnight!"

"But how will they launch inquiries at midnight when they're outside the firewall?"

"Goggle has its own built-in VPN tunnel!"

In essence, there's no one way to divide up the work that's better than any other way. Dividing between product management and product marketing requires coordination. Dividing by any other method also requires coordination. And if you have a huge product line, it may not be possible to have all the parties report to a single manager.

The important thing is that IF product management and product marketing are in separate organizations, steps have to be taken to make sure that they work together. Then again, the same steps have to be taken between product management and product development, and between product management and product test, and so forth.

OK, that was a bit of a digression. Let's get back on track and see what Donald McNaughton had to say. Let's start with the question: what is product management?

More choo choo stories

Another mass transit post (see my previous one), but this one focuses on trains rather than buses - specifically, high-speed rail in the United States.

My back-of-envelope calculations suggest that a high speed rail system in the United States might have a tough time of it, compared to more densely populated areas such as Europe and Japan. Yonah Freemark disagrees:

...a well-designed high speed intercity rail project between the two largest cities in Lone Star State (Houston and Dallas) would likely produce a net economic benefit–not at all the white elephant Glaeser suggests. In this more comprehensive model that takes into account trivialities like regional population growth and a reality-based route, the annual benefits total $840 million compared with construction and maintenance costs of $810 million. Which is to say, our numbers show that HSR pays for itself rather handily.

True, but I wouldn't built that high speed rail line between Calexico and Baker just yet.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What are your "most obscure" Google Reader feeds?

There's a Google Reader discussion (how do you link to Google Reader discussions?) on an item originally shared by Jesse Baer regarding the Jason Kottke post on Power Reading with Google Reader. During the course of the discussion, one participant wondered about the more obscure feeds that these power readers read.

This moved me to wonder why my more obscure feeds are.

To find out, I went to Google Reader, clicked on "Trends," then went to Subscription trends and clicked on "Most obscure."

Now right off the bat, I discovered that many of my "most obscure" feeds were either ego feeds (e.g. the feeds to my blogs) or feeds that I use directly in my blogging (such as the SimplyHired feed of job openings at NTN Buzztime). But I did find some interesting feeds buried away in there.

This blog is intended to help shed some light on the fingerprinting process. The process can sometimes be confusing, especially when you have to figure out where to go and who can fingerprint you. Let me be your magical mystery tour guide through the world of fingerprinting!

This blog is a place for members and friends of CentrePoint to discuss the messages heard at CentrePoint Christian Fellowship. Feel free to make comments. I would love to dialogue with you.

Pastor Cedric Reynolds
CentrePoint Christian Fellowship
6251 Schaefer Avenue
Chino, CA 91710
(909) 591-7555

Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail is a 501c(3) non-profit community organization that supports the completion and enhancement of the Inland Empire Pacific Electric rail-trail conversion project. Federal non-profit ID #83-0415924.

Now I'll grant that these are not necessarily general-interest blogs, but they're interesting nonetheless.

So what are the obscure feeds in YOUR Google Reader account?

Prodject part two - Who is Donald McNaughton?

The Ryma webinar that I mentioned in the last post was given by Donald McNaughton. Here's what Ryma says about him:

About the Presenter: Donald is a principal with Oliver Wight. He consults with companies to help them take advantage of the Oliver Wight Sales & Operations Planning template, a high-level process for managing and integrating all of a company's resources and has a particular strength in engaging people from all levels of the organization. He has consulted with a number of multi-national companies including Flowserve, Caterpillar, CTS, Motorola, Nestle, GlaxoSmithKline, Lilly, Schering-Plough, and Artesyn Technologies. His experience spans multiple industries including foods, pharmaceuticals, consumer electronics, and heavy equipment engineering. Donald has worked in Africa, Europe, and the Americas giving him the ability to effectively communicate with a wide range of audiences.

As I noted via Twitter, information on McNaughton is also available via a PDF file at the Oliver Wight website.

But before we look at McNaughton's material, I want to spend a moment on Managing Product Management.

Learning business principles from Demi Moore's FriendFeed habits

I found a post from Dare Obasanjo in someone else's Google Reader shared items (Rob Diana's, I think). This wasn't the RSS post, but another post of his entitled Where FriendFeed Went Wrong. And Dare has access to data that no one else has access to - his wife:

For the past few years, I’ve been watching services I used that were once the domain of geeks like Robert Scoble’s inner circle have eventually been adopted by mainstream users like my wife. In general, the pattern has always seemed to boil down to some combination of network effects (i.e. who do I know that is using this service?) and value proposition to the typical end user. Where a lot of services fall down is that although their value is obvious and instantly apparent to the typical Web geek, that same value is hidden or even non-existent to non-geeks.

It turns out that some geeky services, such as Google Reader, offered enough of a value proposition to Dare's wife that she ended up adopting them. Heck, she even blogs (and don't forget, blogging's hot again this week). But FriendFeed offered no clear value proposition to her, apparently.

But we don't just have to rely on Dare's wife to judge the value of FriendFeed. We can also rely on someone else - Ashton Kutcher's wife. Yes, Demi Moore is a FriendFeed user. I talked about her in a comment at Obasanjo's post, which I'm reproducing in full here.

Perhaps Demi Moore's experience is illustrative here.

Demi, of course, is a prolific Twitter user. She signed up for a FriendFeed account and asked the question, "Ok trying out friendfeed....any suggestions?" She got over 400 comments (I think I buried a comment somewhere in there). As of August 26, however, a FriendFeed search that she never posted another item directly to FriendFeed; her FriendFeed account basically echoes her Twitter account. Similarly (again as of August 26) her profile indicates that she has never commented on an item, or liked an item.

Now FriendFeed lovers such as myself can rant and rave about this or whatever, but the fact remains that Demi has found no compelling reason to use FriendFeed. The same holds true for millions upon millions of others who love Facebook, Twitter, AOL, or whatever.

And that, my friends, is why FriendFeed sold itself to Facebook.

Prodject part one - Introduction

The following "Prodject" series of posts looks at ideas for managing a product project, and about managing a product in general. Although I will cite other sources, much of the discussion originated at a Ryma "Product Management View" (PMV) webinar (which I mentioned in a previous post).

To refresh your memory, here's the webinar description:

About the Webinar: Ryma's Aug 26th webinar will be presented by Donald McNaughton. Many have talked about Product Management being a Team Sport. Other's indicate it's a cross-functional effort including members of Marketing, Development, Strategy, Engineering, Services, Support, Operations, and so forth.

Few have attempted to integrate the various activities of these organizations into one corporate wide product initiative. Even fewer have succeeded.

Donald will articulate the business value of an Integrated Product Management effort, and identify common issues preventing success. He will share with us some of his approaches and explain why he recommends particular methods over others. At the end of the day, have you ever wondered if there was a better way? You know whole organizations aren't plotting against you, but maybe there are days when it seems like it? If so this is a webinar for you.

Next: who is Donald McNaughton?

Another #pmv Product Management View webinar will start shortly

I don't know if there's still time to pre-register, but the information is here.

Ryma's Aug 26th webinar will be presented by Donald McNaughton. Many have talked about Product Management being a Team Sport. Other's indicate it's a cross-functional effort including members of Marketing, Development, Strategy, Engineering, Services, Support, Operations, and so forth.

Few have attempted to integrate the various activities of these organizations into one corporate wide product initiative. Even fewer have succeeded.

Donald will articulate the business value of an Integrated Product Management effort, and identify common issues preventing success. He will share with us some of his approaches and explain why he recommends particular methods over others. At the end of the day, have you ever wondered if there was a better way? You know whole organizations aren't plotting against you, but maybe there are days when it seems like it? If so this is a webinar for you.

As I write this, the webinar hasn't started yet. However, based upon reading a Val Workman tweet, I have also read this blog post from Michael Shrivathsan entitled "Product Management vs. Product Marketing - 2 Departments or 1?"

Nokia may have the trendy netbook field all to itself - Apple may not play

Is it wishful thinking that Apple's new product will be a netbook?

We already know that Apple's Tim Cook has dissed netbooks in the past, so it would take a major turnaround for Apple to suddenly declare netbook love.

However, we continue to see speculation that Apple is planning a netbook. In a recent post on Nokia's netbook, I quoted the following from BusinessWeek:

This may be a move by Nokia to grab initiative from rival Apple. In the past several years, the iPhone maker has managed to grab significant share in the lucrative, fast-growing market for smartphones away from Nokia. Apple is also rumored to be developing a tablet netbook. With this announcement, Nokia may be trying to beat Apple to the punch.

Well, today I just read a Mashable post entitled "Steve Jobs Is Laser Focused on the Apple Tablet Netbook."

Actually, I just lied to you. The actual title of the post is "Steve Jobs Is Laser Focused on the Apple Tablet."

And certain rumors in the Mashable post, some taken from the Wall Street Journal, appear very non netbook-like:

Mr. Jobs killed the project twice in recent years, the first time because the battery life was too short, and the second time because there was insufficient memory.


There’s still no word on device specs, what operating system it will use, and when exactly it might launch.

The Wall street Journal article is not accessible, but someone at DailyTech read it. Here's some additional speculation that Mashable didn't quote:

According to the WSJ, Apple may be pressured to release its tablet at $499 or less, due to the plethora of Windows and Linux netbooks priced in the same range.

Apple's tremendous secrecy makes it hard to determine fact from fantasy....

In fact, DailyTech also notes the following:

In a brief email Mr. Jobs reportedly [told] the WSJ, "Much of your information is incorrect."