Thursday, September 30, 2010

A message to all multimedia companies seeking to purchase the Empoprises blog empire

I've working on a couple of high-priority projects and keeping odd hours as a result - EXTREMELY odd hours - and therefore haven't had much of a chance to religiously follow the tech news. So I didn't learn about the sale of TechCrunch to AOL until I heard Episode 152 of the Braindead Techcast. (For the record, TechCrunch's own announcement of the deal is here.) If you haven't heard the techcast, Steven and Sean spent some time talking about the possible valuation of other properties as a result of this sale. Would Mashable go for over $50 mililon? Would the Braindead Techcast itself go for $1 million?

This, of course, raises the obvious question - what would Empoprises go for? And who would buy it?

As all of the leading multimedia companies know, Empoprises is a massive empire of vertical blogs that cover various topics - Empoprise-BI for business, Empoprise-MU for music, Empoprise-IE for California's Inland Empire, and Empoprise-NTN for NTN Buzztime news. These blogs are obviously a complementary fit to a new of multimedia companies with a whole bunch of money, so I fully expect to be in the wonderful position of sorting between scores of multi-million dollar offers.

So, who do I sell to?

Oprah is an obvious choice. She already has a significant online presence at, and I'm sure that many of the topics covered in the Empoprises blog empire will fit in quite nicely with Oprah's current online offerings. Let's face it, the mom who fathered her own children goes hand in hand with the California girl who sells wishes.

But it's probably more likely that Empoprises will be sought by a firm that needs to boost its online image, and while Empoprises would certainly boost Oprah's image, the boost would be relatively small. So, which firm is in such desperate straits that it will pay any amount of money to acquire such a valuable property as Empoprises?

No, not BP. There's not really a good fit between BP and Empoprises.

If you haven't figured out the answer yet, it's MySpace.

As Steven and Sean noted, the acquisition of TechCrunch allows AOL to be a major content provider without having to use the AOL brand - a brand that, for whatever reason, has become tarnished over the last couple of decades.

Now the MySpace brand, for whatever reason, has also become tarnished. For example, the wise folks at Neowin started a thread about the site, and the 38th message in the thread read as follows:

That sites still up?
Wow, I thought it died a long time ago.

But what if MySpace recast itself as a content provider, and de-emphasized the MySpace brand and emphasized the Empoprises brand instead. Imagine the revolution that would occur!

So, multimedia companies, go ahead and leave your bids as comments to this message. But I may not be able to contact you immediately - the odd hours and stuff, you know.

In defense of my profession - proposals are hard

Now I cannot share war stories from the proposals that I write for my own company, because all of the proposals that I write are perfekt and of the highest qualtiy. However, I can certainly share war stories about the proposals that other companies write.

This happens to be a local one, from my home city of Ontario, California. It seems that the city solicited bids for some Federally-funded traffic light projects in the city, but Liset Marquez reports that one of the bidders found a problem with a competitor's bid.

Christopher Morales of San Dimas, who was the second-lowest bidder, wrote to Ontario officials that the low bidder, Bell Gardens-based CT & F, did not follow all of the federal guidelines.

Ontario's city engineer, Louis Abi-younes, talked with representatives of the Federal Highway Administration and determined that there WERE problems with CT & F's bid.

Oh, and there were problems with the bid of the competitor who reported the issue in the first place. Yes, the second-lowest bid also had errors. And it didn't stop there.

Federal Highway Administration staffers also determined that the second- and third-lowest bidders had also incorrectly filled out the forms, Abi-younes said.

The best solution was to reject all the bids, he said.

Let's face it - when multiple bidders have problems with the forms, then the agency has to look at its procedures. Or, in this case, agencies, since both the city of Ontario and the Federal Highway Administration were involved.

The good news? The Linux market share quadrupled between 2004 and 2010

Mind Booster Noori is a dedicated person. M.B.N. went through a ton of revisions of a particular Wikipedia page, compiled them, and posted the evolution of operating system usage on a quarter-by-quarter/month-by-month basis between late 2004 and August 2010.

I'm not going to steal M.B.N.'s thunder by copying the table - you can see it here - but this example goes to show that statistics can be spun in any fashion.

One way to look at the numbers is to note that the market share of Linux has quadrupled over the period - something that Linux fanbois would consider a rousing success.

Not that the Apple fanbois have anything to complain about - Apple market share doubled.

And because of these dramatic changes in the operating system landscape, the market share of Windows operating systems declined.

All the way down to 88.92%.

All that means is that it's just a little bit harder to bring an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. But the difference between 88.92% and 96.34%, while of some concern, isn't of paramount importance to a Harvard dropout.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shopping in India may eventually be familiar to Americans and Europeans

Not that I'm particularly an expert in this topic, but if I were to travel outside of my comfort zone in Ontario, California, I'd face the fact that the businesses in the place that I visited would probably be different from the ones at home. For example, if I were to go to India, I highly doubt that I'd run into an In N Out Burger. (For numerous reasons.)

But eventually, two well-known chains - one from the United States, the other from Europe - may end up in India:

India may decide in two to three months whether to allow companies including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Carrefour SA to open retail stores in Asia’s third-largest economy, an official said.

As the BusinessWeek article, an appearance by the U.S.-based Wal-Mart and the France-based Carrefour would have to overcome some current restrictions in Indian law:

Indian laws, aimed at protecting the interests of owners of small stores, limit overseas investment to single brand retail or wholesale outlets. Industry groups such as the Confederation of All Indian Traders oppose foreign investment in retail.

Right now, Wal-Mart is getting around this by working through an Indian partner, and has opened a grand total of two stores in the country.

But India is a desirable destination, according to the India Brand Equity Foundation:

The BMI India Retail Report for the third-quarter of 2010, forecasts that the total retail sales will grow from US$ 353 billion in 2010 to US$ 543.2 billion by 2014. With the expanding middle and upper class consumer base, there will also be opportunities in India's tier II and III cities. The greater availability of personal credit and a growing vehicle population to improve mobility also contribute to a trend towards annual retail sales growth of 11.4 per cent. Mass grocery retail (MGR) sales in India are forecast to undergo enormous growth over the forecast period. BMI further predicts that sales through MGR outlets will increase by 154 per cent to reach US$ 15.29 billion by 2014. This is a consequence of India's dramatic, rapid shift from small independent retailers to large, modern outlets.

So it appears that a shift is already happening. The question is how long it will take.

Another detriment to the open workspace

I pine for the days when I had an office, but I've been a cubicle-dweller for the last decade-plus. And I consider myself lucky that I don't have to work at a long workbench with no cubicle partitions - those things can make you go crazy.

And there's one other problem with them - they don't let you sleep at work.

Immediately, many of my readers - or some in certain parts of the world, including my home country - had a negative aversion to my "sleep at work" statement. It's ingrained in many of us, according to Jessica H. Lawrence.

If you saw someone grabbing a quick snooze at their desk or on an office couch, what would your immediate, split-second gut reaction be? "Lazy" or "slacker" seem to be the first words that would come to most people's minds. We have built our corporate cultures around the idea that if you can not see someone doing something that appears to be important, then they must not be contributing anything.

But Lawrence quotes Tony Schwartz to dispel that notion.

As author Tony Schwartz discusses in his book "The Way We're Working Isn't Working" just like we have sleep cycles during the night, we have cycles of higher and lower alertness during our waking life. These cycles are called ultradian cycles and every 90 minutes or so, your body gives you signals that your alertness is getting low: You start feeling restless, your attention wanders or you get that general antsy feeling that you need to be doing something else. Most of us have learned to plow through these low periods -- grab another cup of coffee or a piece of candy and we can keep going.

That method of pushing through may feel somewhat effective, but in the end it just ups our level of stress hormones eventually rendering us less effective.

Read more in Lawrence's article, The Benefits of Napping.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why world sporting events are better than world fairs

You would think that a World's Fair, which is designed to promote business, would have a permanent positive impact on the host city. This thought would be incorrect, since most buildings at a World's Fair are torn down or moved after the event is over. It's in the rules: the end of the [Shanghai] Expo, the BIE's rules require that all of the pavilions be demolished or moved. And so, if there's an Eifel Tower, a Crystal Palace, or a Montreal Biosphere among them, there's only until October 31 to know it in its natural habitat, the fabulously expensive and elaborate Shanghai Expo 2010.

But a sporting event often necessitates permanent infrastructure improvements. Although these may come at a heavy cost, at least there's the possibility of reusing them after the event is over.

An example is the Commonwealth Games, taking place in India this week. The Times of India documented one such improvement:

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated India's first sports injury centre at Safdarjung hospital on Sunday. Officials claimed the centre, built at a cost of Rs 70.72 crore, will cater to athletes taking part in the Commonwealth Games and once the event is over, will provide world-class treatment to sportspersons in the country.

More here.

Incidentally, a crore is equal to 10 million, so we're talking about 707,200,000 rupees, or a little over US$15 million.

Phones aren't becoming computers - computers are becoming phones

I had an incredible, mind-expanding thought when I observed someone playing solitaire. It's probably not an original thought - I'm sure a lot of self-styled "social media experts," as well as some people who truly DO understand social media, have had similar thoughts.

Until that moment, I had naively assumed that computing power was being shrunken and made mobile. In other words, your phone (or other mobile device) was becoming a computer.

But then something occurred to me. The statement below would have been true when I first encountered a personal computer - in this case, a dedicated computer for BASIC programming - in the early 1970s.

If there were only one computer in the entire world, you could still do a lot of things with it.

If there were only one telephone in the entire world, it would be useless.

Remember - both Bell and Watson had to have telephones for their experiment to work.

But is my "useful computer" statement still true today? If there were only one computer in the world of 2010, solitaire would be just about the only thing that I could do with it.

Yes, I could listen to music - but I wouldn't be able to scrobble it. That wasn't important to me in the 1970s, but it's important to me today.

Yes, I could write, but I couldn't write a blog post and have people read it. I could write something, print it on a piece of paper, and post it in the laundromat, but it wouldn't be the same.

And forget about Facebook, Starfleet Commander, FriendFeed, electronic mail, or many of the other things that I do online. All of those activities depend upon the existence of multiple computers.

So perhaps it's more appropriate to say that our computers are becoming "phones."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gist puts someone in control, but I'm not sure if it's you

Whatever you can say about ReadWriteWeb, they can write good headlines. This headline caught my attention recently - LinkedIn Competitor Has 100 Million Profiles, Wants You to Claim Yours.

OK, maybe not recently - the post was written September 13, but at least I bookmarked it to look at it now. This is (part of) what Adrianne Jeffries said: is a database of dynamic, information-rich user profiles that can be accessed via the Web or inside your email or other communication-management tool, or on your mobile device.

The database is populated with the people who have signed up for Gist's public beta and their contacts. There are 100 million profiles of people and companies behind Gist's wall, collected over about a year. Now, Gist wants users to "claim" their profiles by updating their own data (and potentially making some information public).

So do I have a profile?

The "vast majority" of the 100 million people in Gist's directory don't know they have Gist profiles, CEO and founder T.A. McCann said.

So do I have a profile? I went to the Gist website and couldn't find a search box (not that I expected to be able to do so), but I did find this statement:

New Gist social profiles automatically discover information about your contacts and put you in control.

Well, it puts you in control - provided that you sign up for a account. So I guess that means that it puts in control, doesn't it?

Not that is doing something out of the ordinary. There are a number of services, some of which are legitimate, that will let you know that they have information about you, or perhaps about your relatives or friends. They'll give you this information, but you have to sign up for the service yourself (thus providing additional information that the service can use to advertise to others). And in some cases, you also have to pay a fee.

(For the record, is free during the beta period, but reserves the right to charge for services in the future.)

And for those who protest and say that this is un-American (or un-Canadian, or un-Australian, or whatever), frankly there's no reason why any organization can't compile any publicly available information about you, put it in a database, and charge people to see it. Let's face, even the Electronic Frontier Foundation collects information about its website users. Specifically, here are a few example of how the EFF collects information:

EFF collects and retains information you submit to us. It is up to you whether to submit information to us, and how much information to provide. If you choose to become an EFF member or register for the EFF Action Center, we ask for your name, title, email address, city, state, postal code, country of residence, and phone number, and we may invite you to select a password. For online donors and shoppers, we also ask for your credit card number. We also maintain records of our members' use of the Action Center, and you may wish to indicate your particular interests in your Action Center profile. If you use the EFF Shop, you are asked to provide personal information, such as a shipping address, necessary to complete your transaction.

We may ask for additional personal information when you provide feedback or comments, or otherwise communicate with us. We are pleased to receive anonymous donations, but please note that your personal information is required if you choose to donate using our online form.

Now obviously the EFF is going to be very open about what it does with the information it receives, since it wants to be a model for what other groups should do. And some of the information that it collects, such as the identities of online donors, is quite possibly mandated by governmental tax laws.

But did you know that the EFF uses information that you provide so that it can make money? In effect, that's what they do:

If you choose to complete the "Please tell us why you became a member of EFF" field when donating, this information may be shared with the entire EFF staff and board, and select unattributed quotes may be used to promote our mission, such as including a relevant quote in a grant proposal.

So the next time that you write "EFF is wonderful, and I love the way they fight all the moneygrubbers," consider that EFF could, in a sense, use that statement to grub some money for themselves.

Oh, and in a way EFF has one clear parallel with; in both cases, members of the organization provide information about people who are NOT members of the organization:

If you invite another person to join EFF or take action in one of our alerts, we will ask for that person's name and online contact information. We use this information to contact and, if necessary, remind that person that he or she has been invited to join EFF.

So bear in mind that ANY organization can compile information about you, and there's really no reason why organizations should be prevented from compiling publicly available information.

In fact, I could share some more specific information with certain of my readers, but to access the information that I want to share, you'd have to sign up for the brand new Empoprises Secure Information Service, and provide the service with your name, address, e-mail address, telephone number, the password to the MySpace account that you had a few years ago...and your bank account number, so that I can withdraw your membership fee and place it with my cousin, a senior minister in Nigeria.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

#oow10 - what happens when the firehose is not spraying in your direction

To put this in perspective for the six-plus billion people who have never attended Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, let me explain that when you are there, the experience is overwhelming. The streets around the Moscone Center are clogged with over 40,000 people, all wearing red and white badges, all talking about "stacks" and things like that. In fact, some streets are completely closed down - not only to handle the crowds, but also to allow the construction of additional facilities to take care of everyone. It completely dominates your life - so much so that if you want to get away from the madness for a bit, it takes a great deal of effort to do so. In past years, I have likened the experience to a firehose, and the description is pretty apt.

It's an entirely different experience if you're not there, and you're just monitoring it from a few hundred miles away.

I attended Oracle OpenWorld for several years in a row. Initially I'd just go up for a couple of days, but recently I've been staying for the entire week, flying up on Sunday morning to participate in the Oracle PartnerNetwork activities, and flying back home to southern California late Thursday afternoon or early Thursday evening.

This year, because of the change in my work duties, I didn't go to Oracle OpenWorld this year. (Actually, technically I shouldn't have gone to Oracle OpenWorld 2009 either, but I had already registered for the conference by the time my company's reorganization was announced.)

I'm working on two major projects right now, but I figured that I would cover Oracle OpenWorld 2010 from afar, providing a literal outsider's perspective on the announcements and events. I actually started well before the conference. For example, here are the Oracle OpenWorld 10-related posts that I've written since the beginning of August:

(August 4) Oracle OpenWorld Unconference move for 2010?

(September 6) Phillips and Hurd - one thing in common, but only one's at Oracle

(September 15) You know it's Oracle OpenWorld when they get ready to close Howard Street

(September 15) #OOW10 Five tips to follow Oracle OpenWorld 2010 on Twitter

(September 17) Larry Ellison's Sunday #OOW10 keynote will be interesting, for a variety of reasons

And then the conference officially began.

On Sunday morning, when I'd normally be on a plane heading to San Francisco or Oakland, I was in church.

On Sunday afternoon, when I'd normally be leaving my hotel to go to the Oracle PartnerNetwork event, I was working on one of my two major projects.

And by Sunday evening, when I'd be listening to the Sunday evening keynote...well, I already shared that story. I listened to about five minutes of Ann Livermore (and I didn't think she was as bad as everyone made her out to be), but my wife and I went out to dinner before Larry Ellison started speaking. I had to read about his announcements after the fact.

And by Monday morning...I was back in the office, feverishly working on my two projects. Oh, I'd read the occasional item in Google Reader, and I monitored the tweets surrounding Ellison's Wednesday afternoon speech for a few minutes, and I peeked into Twitter Wednesday night to see how the Treasure Island event was going.

But I had other priorities.

And it helped me to understand something. Although Oracle OpenWorld is a huge experience when you're there, it's a minor blip to the rest of the world.

I always wondered why the Oracle OpenWorld-related hashtags were NEVER trending topics on Twitter, despite the fact the everyone around me seemed to be tweeting about the conference. The answer becomes apparent once you're not standing in the direction that the firehose is pointing.

In a way, Oracle OpenWorld is kind of like FriendFeed. When you're there, it seems gigantic. When you're not there, it seems inconsequential. Remember the big hullabaloo in February when FriendFeed went down and, in the words of MG Siegler, both remaining users were pissed? Some FriendFeed users took offense to that statement...even though in relative terms it was true. For whatever reason, FriendFeed usage has declined since the Facebook acquisition, and even if usage had stayed the same, the number of FriendFeed users is nowhere near the number of Twitter users. And the fact that most in the tech press refer to FriendFeed in the past tense just exacerbates the situation.

So it is with Oracle OpenWorld. What would happen if Oracle, for whatever reason, decided to cancel Oracle OpenWorld 2011? Now a lot of my personal friends and acquaintances would be extremely upset, and it would be a major catastrophe to them. But most of the world wouldn't care.

In fact, I know one person who would be EXTREMELY happy if Oracle OpenWorld would just go away. Back when I wrote about the closures of Howard and Mason streets, I received a comment from a woman named Diana. This is (part of) what she said:

The above closure will be EXTREME hardship for those who are mobility compromised and live at 149 Mason Street! Am I supposed to walk a block and stand at a street corner, when I cannot do so without a wheelchair, and when the Medi-Cal system has not yet processed my wheel chair prescription--and may not for a while? I use Paratransit which comes right to my door at 149 Mason St., on the corner of Ellis and Mason. How can I walk a block to meet them if they cannot come to my door? Not to mention the dangerous neighborhood to stand around in that I will find if I even COULD go a block in either direction. Drug dealers galore, thieves, etc. Did anyone there ever even give a thought to those of us who can't get around except by muni, Paratransit or cab? How can we get where we need to go without walking? This is absolutely unfair and unacceptable!

So while I'm thinking about a place where I can get beer and Oracle Technology Network building blocks, Diana is living in the real world and has real worries.

I still want to get around to exploring Oracle's cloud initiatives at some point. Perhaps I'll start by reading something that Jake Kuramoto wrote back in 2009.

But, like I said, I have two other projects that I'm working on...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Always remember a company's interests may not be your own

When you're trying to predict how a company will react to something, it's always important to remember who a company's interests lie. made this clear in a post entitled "Why MySpace Hates Musicians.

But MySpace loves musicians, you say. They offer all this cool stuff and want musicians to flock to the site.

Think again.

The social network has nothing to do with helping people connect to their friends or helping musicians reach out to their fans; it’s owned by a corporation and we’re their product—the audience. The customer is the other companies that want to place their pixelated banner ads in front of our eyeballs.

What does this mean for musicians?

For musicians, that means that it doesn’t matter if they are green and don’t eat meat—MySpace has all the right to sell your fans the products of the very companies that are burning the world down and inform them of the best place to buy rib eye steaks if they see fit. It doesn’t really matter.

After noting that the musicians are there solely to attract advertiser revenue, Hypebot says that MySpace is even worse than radio:

On radio, the customers are still the advertisers, but the reward for getting played is that you get access to their wide-audience. On MySpace, you bring your own audience into the equation and don’t even get the braagging rights of a hit single.

Kinda like the bars that require bands to bring a certain number of fans in order to be allowed to perform. I know of one band who didn't bring enough fans, and its set was cut short to make way for a Van Halen cover band.

Oh, and as long as we're talking about companies who are not your friends, see what yelvington says about Apple and other companies:

Apple fanbois need to understand this. Apple is not your friend. Google fanbois need to understand this: Google is not your friend. Microsoft is not your friend. And so on....

Steve Jobs may be a megalomaniac, but don't blame it on him, because this isn't his fault. This is how corporations work. It's fundamental.

A corporation is a legal "person" with many of the rights that you and I have, but having no conscience and operating only for its own benefit. If a human being acted like a corporation, we'd lock him or her up in a prison or mental institution as a psychopath. It has no care for others. Its only imperative is self-interest (to deliver profits to shareholders) and it will destroy others in its path in its relentless drive to get bigger and richer.

And that is certainly true. If a corporation doesn't maximize profit by gouging poor people and laying off half its workforce, it could be subject to a shareholder lawsuit.

To keep the shareholders at bay, corporations like Apple have to protect their interests.

Did you see Newsday's wonderfully funny commercial for its iPad app? It gushes about how "the new Newsday app is better than the newspaper in all kinds of ways" ... except for one, as the dad in the video smashes the iPad by trying to swat a fly.

It was all over the Internet for a day or so. Then, according to Network World, Newsday received a letter from Apple's lawyers threatening to pull "all of our apps" from the iTunes marketplace.

Fun's over. Abuse of power? Evil corporation? It's in their nature. Doesn't make any difference whether the corporation is Apple, Google, the cellphone companies, or even BP. They are not your friend.

A link between high motivation and burnout? (2002 story of a call center supervisor)

I've talked about the steamier side of call centers in two previous posts in this blog (one in August, one in September), but admittedly call center sex, when it even exists, is an extremely small part of the job. Normally, call center work is mentally exhausting work.

In 2002, Connections Magazine posted an anonymous article from a former call center supervisor. She was not the high-pressure boiler room type, according to her own account.

I was a manager who spent years closing and consolidating telephone answering services and call centers. I was forced to become a manager that voluntarily shouldered sadness, frustration, and anger in addition to carrying a full load of regular work. Often times, I was criticized for making everyone feel warm and fuzzy. The reality is that without the people there is no bottom line. The tougher the work you have to do, the more compassionate you have to be. I played a role that prevented companies' self-destruction. I was disobedient to the social order to get the job done.

Eventually, this person who closed and consolidated call centers was laid off herself. This gave her time to reflect and think about how she herself had her own sadness, frustration, and anger to deal with. And she reflected on the different types of people who worked at call centers.

To understand burnout you have to take into account that highly motivated individuals are most susceptible to job burnout. The hardest hit is service providers like us. Burned out employees are most likely your best employees, the ones that care. These employees overindulge and overindulgence is a sort of narcotic. These individuals can be counted on to know what needs to be done and do it. They put in long hours even if the time is "face time." The burned out employee will work himself or herself to death and if they can, they will hide the burnout or least they will try to hide it. Being highly motivated is like an internal prison or a sickness at best. Always trying to top the last project, thinking, "If I could only make just one more sale or break some type of industry average or standard."

She then offered these eleven suggestions:

Don't allow employees to work long hours
Make goals achievable
Be candid about burnout during employee orientation
Provide ways for employees to express anger
Show that you appreciate their sacrifice
Don't rely on the same people over and over
Give employees compliments often
Offer flexible work hours
Create a reward system that includes comp time
Keep in touch with the front line
Have fun and laughter in the workplace

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Yes, the blind CAN lead the blind (Brainovi)

The Braindead Techcast, hosted by Steven and Sean, recently highlighted a DVICE story about the Brainovi, described as a "Braille GPS."

The Brainovi uses a combination of spoken directions relayed over a Bluetooth wireless earpiece, and a physical 3D map created on the pin matrix surface of the Brainovi. The user can enter their destination verbally, and the Brainovi calculates the route.

Yanko Design has more information about the device, including pictures - which, at least for those of us who are sighted, will give us an idea of how the device works.

Which, incidentally, points out another issue that the blind face, and one that I've actually encountered in my day job. As many tasks become image-based (including, for example, verification that two fingerprints belong to the same person), how can the images become accessible to the blind? Now in some cases, simple images can be rendered "visible" to the blind through the use of tooltips and alternate text for images, but what happens when a complex picture, such as a picture of a fingerprint or a picture of an electronic device, needs to be presented to a blind person?

If anyone has any knowledge of this area, please share in the comments.

Pia Beathe Pedersen becomes a Norwegian trade union rallying cry

I ran another Norwegian article through Google Translate. This article, Oppsigelse i NRK på direkten, was rendered by Google Translate as "Termination in NRK on the fly." Here's one passage that caught my eye:

Nylig sa programlederen Pia Beathe Pedersen opp sin stilling i NRK i direktesending, og gjennom å publisere avgangen på NRK – i protest mot ”vikarbruken” i NRK. Pedersen oppgir at av NRKs 3 700 ansatte – er 1 200 midlertidig ansatte, og hvor vikarene utnyttes på det groveste. Ledelsen beskyldes for å bruke rigide og antikvariske ledelsesmetoder.

This basically repeats some stuff that I didn't mention in my initial post, which included translated passages from Pedersen's letter. Basically, it repeats Pedersen's statement about the large number of temporary employees at the NRK network, and that they are not treated all that well.

Toward the end of the new article, there's another impassioned paragraph:

Jeg opplever at Pia Beathe Pedersens oppsigelse er et fortvilet rop i et nyliberalistisk system. Men det gjelder nå som før – vi trenger et sterkt LO både nasjonalt og internasjonalt (ILO) – for å bremse på nyliberalistenes framferd! Sammen er vi sterke! Vi må jobbe systematisk og holde fanen høyt oppe for at arbeidstakere skal kunne ha anstendige lønns- og arbeidsvilkår både nasjonalt og internasjonalt! Pia Beathe Pedersens reaksjon og oppsigelse blir fort glemt – det blir ikke fagbevegelsens systematiske arbeid for tryggere jobber og et bedre arbeidsmiljø!

Here's how Google Translate rendered this paragraph:

I find that Beathe Pia Pedersen dismissal is a desperate cry of a neoliberal system. But there are now as before - we need a strong LO both national and international (ILO) - to curb the nyliberalistenes conduct! Together we are strong! We must work systematically and keep tab high for workers to have decent wages and working conditions, both nationally and internationally! Pia Pedersen Beathe reaction and termination is quickly forgotten - there is no trade union systematic work for safer jobs and a better working environment!

Somehow I have the feeling that I haven't stumbled upon the Norwegian version of Rush Limbaugh.

The article appeared at Veggavisen ("Wallpaper") and was written by Jørund H, a district secretary for a local trade union organization. (And you thought that Lillehammer was just inhabited by winter sports enthusiasts.)

And, in case you're wondering, NRK is unionized. In fact, a strike was narrowly averted in May. However, I would assume that temporary workers are NOT part of the union.

Ironically, the existence of the union probably gives NRK financial incentives to hire so many temporary workers in the first place.

But even if the unions can't look out for temporary workers, there's always the European Union.

This Directive sets out a general framework applicable to the working conditions of temporary workers within the European Union. The aim of the Directive is to ensure that temporary workers have a minimum level of protection and to help develop the temporary work sector as a flexible option for employers and workers alike. The Directive establishes the principle of non-discrimination, with regard to essential working and employment conditions between a temporary worker and a worker recruited directly by the user undertaking to which the temporary worker is posted.

Somehow I suspect that Jørund H is not impressed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Against the wind" is more than a rock moneymaker

Perhaps this observation belongs in my music blog, but I believe that Bob Seger has only written one song in his life, and he keeps on rewriting it. Seger's song has lyrics that say that when he was younger, things were wonderful, and now he's older. The song has different names - "Night Moves," Mainstreet, "Still the Same," "Old Time Rock & Roll" - but it's pretty much the same song.

One time Seger released the song with the name "Against the Wind." A true song of youthful rebellion...and a moneymaker for Seger; the song was a top ten hit in the U.S. and Canada.

But even if you're not a rock star, you can get benefits from going against the wind. Steve Johnson wrote about this, using restaurants as an example. Every restaurant wants to stand apart from the crowd in some way, which gave Johnson an idea.

Here's my favorite idea: do you really want to be unique? Then FORBID children in your restaurant. There are many family-friendly restaurants but this isn't one of them. This happened with a restaurant in Washington state and the mothers went insane. They felt it was their RIGHT to annoy everyone with their damn kids. But the owner said, I don't have high-chairs or chicken fingers or a play room. I serve adult food to adults. If you don't like it, don't dine here. And adults flocked to this unique atmosphere.

I couldn't find out anything about this restaurant in the state of Washington, but I did find out about a restaurant in the state of North Carolina. This particular restaurant is more lenient, since it does allow children. As long as they're not screaming.

There's a new item on the menu at Olde Salty Restaurant on Carolina Beach. And it may be hard for some parents to digest. No screaming children. Brenda Armes, Olde Salty's owner says, "If they find it offending, I suggest that they find another restaurant to eat at that does tolerate it, because we're not going to."

Armes is tired of hearing her customers complain about screaming kids while they're trying to dine. So she put up these signs inside and out. She says, "It has brought us in more customers than it's ever kept away."

Some spectacular business and other successes have resulted from counter-programming, including the entire fast food industry (which was not the slow food industry), the Rolling Stones (who were perceived as not being good like the Beatles were), and Barack Obama (who was associated with the word "change").

So how can going "against the wind" bring financial benefits to YOU?

The other side of the Kennedy Tesch controversy - a Madison Heights Wolverine speaks

Last Friday, I posted an item entitled Kennedy Tesch escapes organizational chaos in the Madison Heights, Michigan cheerleading squad? The reason that I referred to "organizational chaos" is because of the multiple stories that were reported to Kennedy's mother, Jennifer Tesch, regarding objections to a cheer that the Madison Heights Wolverines cheerleading squad was performing. For those who didn't hear, this is the cheer that the mother of the 6 year old Tesch objected to:

"Our backs ache, our skirts are too tight, we shake our booties from left to right."

The mother went to the media, the cheerleading organization kicked the family out of the program, the coach referred to the mother as a "lunatic," and the coach was suspended.

This post received several comments, including one from Allison:

Are you kidding? If my kid was in that organization, I'd yank her out immediately and head for a more positive environment. What a snakepit!

I replied:

The strange part is that the decision to remove the Tesch family was reportedly unanimous. I don't know if that means unanimous from the board, or unanimous from the parents also. Or perhaps the board were the only parents that showed up that night. Or if a truly cross-representative group of parents agreed with this, then it's a snakepit with groupthink. (Or, alternatively, we haven't heard the whole story about the Tesch family.)

This elicited a reply from someone called "proud wolverine,", which I will reprint here in full:


The reporting on this was biased and most of it is based on lies or in the words of Roger Clemens things have been misremembered. Here are the facts:

1. Jennifer raised objections to the cheer. The GM and President said this was the only complaint ever raised about the cheer and it would remain until the next scheduled board meeting.

2. Mrs. Tesch didn't like the answer. She made everyone aware of that. I guess she felt it was an emergency that couldn't wait. She secretly recorded the girls and provided it to the media which aired it the Friday before Labor Day. The girls faces wern't blurred out as is standard prtocol with minor children. The parents of the girls were outraged. The Tesch's brought several relatives to the next practice who threatened the coach. The media also showed up. We were told by the league not to comment and asked the media to leave. It was so bad that practice had to be cancelled.

All the parents from the flag cheer team voted on the cheer. If one parent would have voted to have it removed the cheer would have been discontinued. None of them did and the cheer was retained.

The Board meets and removes the Tesch family unaniously. This is a no brainer. Every parent signs a parental responsibility statement and Mrs. Tesch violated most of it by her behavior. It wasn't a lynch mob. A simple presentation of the facts.

Mrs Tesch then began a smear campaign on radio stations who were biased in every way. You know every story needs a victim a vilain and a hero. They decided that we were the vilain and that our organization that has been doing this cheer for decades was intentionally parading our daughters around like tramps. They said there were sexual conotations to it. Mrs. Tesch (the victim) was obviously the only level headed person in the city, and the media of course was there to protect the kids from our perverse program.

4.Lisa Ernest (coach) who has a heart of gold if you knew her, went on a radio show and had a heated debate with the hosts and Mrs Tesch. Certainly Lisa let her emotions get the best of her. While she may not have a dynamic way of orally expressing herself she is a great person. She was suspended for violationg the no media order from the league. The poor girl while trying to defend this program was made a fool of by the hosts of the show. She was so distraught that their entire family went away for the weekend and missed Saturday's game. (I know, no sympathy for the vilain in the snakepit)

Then Mrs Tesch went on her national media campaign.

This whole thing was emotionally taxing for all of us John. Surely the easiest thing to dowas get rid of the cheer. I don't beleive it is that simple. No organization, regardless of intention, can please everyone. What other cheers might she object to, or anyone else for that matter? These girls work so hard at this. Cheerleading will always have a stigma attached to it. That is a reality that none of us can deny. There is a whole sector of activists out there that beleive that cheerleading is demeaning to women. So is it the cheer or cheerleading that people are offended by? All that I can say is that we love our kids and feel completely comfortable with this cheer. I could do with or without it. I am proud to be a Wolverine and am appalled at some of the comments that have been made. Excuse us if we are slightly defensive. Our lives shut down for five months every year to provide a great environment for the children of Madison Heights. I wish someone would ask these kids about this cheer or our program. A lot can be learned from them. You would find that they think that those that are upposed to this cheer are very insecure and childish. We did kind of track the oppinions of folks in between tears. It's about 50/50. We can live with that. On a positive note. Wolverine pride has never been stronger. This has become a rallying cry for us. Two of our squads will probably make the super bowl. I hope that some of you will come to a game and see for yourselves before casting your next stone. These kids are great and truly above this contraversy. Go Blue.

Proud Wolverine also left another comment at the post:

I can't remember a story where facts are ignored, and the media just says whatever they want to. The Madison Heights Wolverines is a proud organization and has been active in this commun ity for decades. Like any organization we have a system of redress. Yes, Jennifer did not like the cheer, voiced her concerns, and it was going to be discussed at the next board meeting. Instead of talking to other parents and gaining their support she chose to secretly film the team and began this media frenzy based on lies, and a twisting of the facts. The board didn't even get a chance to address it. She could have had Kennedy sit out that cheer until the matter was resolved. The fact is that the Tesch family violated team rules (not for going to the media) by disrupting practices, making threats, and exploiting the young girls on the team. I feel terrible for Kennedy as her parents took a trivial issue and used it as an excuse to behave badly in a childish attempt to get their way at all costs. The Wolverines will continue to instill pride, generosity, and discipline in our young people. There is a waiting list to get on all of our squads. This cheer dispute has only made our organization stronger and more unified. We will use your comments to demonstrate to these children how sic and cruel people can be while trying to force there twisted moral code on everyone else. Thankfully we live in a country where your approval is not required. You raise your children and we will raise ours. We are very saddened by what Kennedy has gone through as no child should have to endure that. Her mother and the media are responsible for all of it.

After reading proud's comments, I have two of my own.

First, if Jennifer Tesch acted irresponsibly in filming the girls without obscuring their faces, what of the media organizations themselves who allegedly aired the video unedited? (Hulu's video of the NBC report obscures all but Kennedy Tesch.) This is probably a good question for Thomas Hawk, or for any of you who know the ins and outs of photography law and practice.

Second, I should note that I am not a fan of the gag order that was imposed by the cheerleading organization. But I have to admit that such gag orders are commonplace all over. Most if not all of us are under all sorts of self-imposed gag orders all the time. And if you think that the Madison Heights Wolverines' request to not speak about the controversy is a terrible black eye for sports, ask Mark Cuban and Steve Kerr what they think about LeBron James. Yup, if the Wolverines are imposing gag orders, it's just preparing the girls for later life.

However, Pam Martens objects to the Wolverines' actions:

Jennifer Tesch, mother of six year old Kennedy Tesch, learned that her child was being asked to recite the following chant as a cheerleader for the Wolverines cheering squad, a group that includes five and six year old girls: "Our backs ache, our skirts are too tight, we shake our booties from left to right." She immediately took her complaints over the suggestive chant up the ladder of the Wolverines management. When she was told the chant would stay, she went to the media. Within days, she was publicly humiliated on local radio by the cheerleading coach and young Kennedy was summarily kicked out of the squad.

The primary complaint was that Kennedy’s mom broke a cardinal rule of both small town despots, exalted religious leaders preying on children, and financial crime syndicates: what happens “in the family” stays “in the family.”

But Martens then compares the Wolverines to...well, to Goldman Sachs:

During the same week, in lower Manhattan, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which regularly rubber stamps dubious class action settlements for the same serially corrupt Wall Street miscreants, docketed in a complaint from three former Goldman Sachs women: Cristina Chen-Oster, Lisa Parisi and Shanna Orlich. The women allege what is universally accepted by any sighted individual who has ever walked inside a Wall Street firm and observed secretarial desks lined up in the hallways with women, while plush, glass paneled private offices are inhabited by men of a fair complexion. That is, the women allege that Goldman Sachs rung every ounce of talent and production out of them, then failed to pay or promote them on a par with their male counterparts.

And, of course, as so many women before them have documented, if they were too talented or too ambitious, they had to be stripped of their dignity and put in their place via the sexual harassment/assault enforcement squad.

As far as Martens is concerned, THAT is the lesson that the Wolverine girls are learning for later life. Although that may be a bit of a stretch.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

So why doesn't Hot Dog on a Stick sell sliders?

This is a personal view, but in my opinion there are two women's restaurant uniforms that are extremely unsexy. One of those is the Hooters uniform; sorry, I just don't care for it. The other uniform that I find extremely unsexy is the Hot Dog on a Stick uniform. I couldn't find a Creative Commons picture of the uniform that I could include in this blog post, but you can see the uniform in all its inglory in this Minyanville item, Worst Work Uniforms: Hot Dog on a Stick.

But at least Hot Dog on a Stick has a reason for its uniform unsexiness - according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin's David Allen, the uniform is over 60 years old.

Hot Dog on a Stick's first Fair was in 1948. [Dave] Barham, an idea man, had trailers custom-built with big windows to show off both the food preparation - he called it "exhibition cooking" - and the uniformed young women.

"He invented `sex sells,' a little bit," Gary [Barham, his son] said.

But Allen's article wasn't about Hot Dog on a Stick per se. It was about the Giant Slide at the L.A. County Fair, a slide which will be torn down next month. It turns out that Dave Barham had a hand in that, too.

The Giant Slide was another way to draw attention to the stand. Barham saw a similar slide in San Bernardino and decided he should have one too, only bigger.

His brother, Jack, engineered it and a friend, Fred Pittroff, set up the scaffolding. (Pittroff went on to oversee more than 40 other Giant Slides across the country and in Australia.)

Gary Barham remembered a hitch the first year: The humps sped up riders so much, "they were probably zipping through the fence" at the bottom. He said the humps were fixed overnight.

Other than replacing the wooden steps with metal ones, the ride has stayed basically the same, Barham said.

And now I know why the slide is yellow.

Monday, September 20, 2010

#OOW10 Night One (well, five minutes of it, anyway)

It's strange how your priorities change when you're not in the midst of the firehose.

I had every intention of listening to the Sunday evening keynote online. I wanted to hear what both Oracle and HP had to say (and not just for the soap opera reasons). Oracle was sharing the keynote online at, so I would be able to hear it, even though I'm not in San Francisco. (Actually, one year when I WAS in San Francisco, I went back to my hotel room to listen to the Sunday keynote online; I wasn't feeling well that evening and didn't feel like braving Moscone.)

And I did listen to the keynote - for about five minutes.

You see, my wife and I wanted to go to dinner, and we had to do some shopping for the daughter, and I had to do some shopping for "Project Joe," and this, and that...

But I enjoyed the five minutes that I did hear, which featured Oracle's good buddy Ann Livermore of HP. The tweets that I saw while Livermore spoke characterized her speech as boring and devoid of innovation, but I thought that she made some good points.

First off, she made the point that Larry Ellison wasn't the only company acquirer in the room, and that HP had been making acquisitions of its own. (See my previous post.)

Second off, she noted that HP has an extensive services business. Although she didn't say it, HP (with its EDS acquisition) and IBM are known for offering services; Oracle really isn't.

Maybe Livermore isn't the most riveting speaker in the world, but she knew what she was saying.

In addition, it was worthwhile to hear Livermore since, as Jean-Louis Gassee recently speculated, she, or co-presenter David Donatelli, may end up running HP at the end of the day.

But I missed Larry Ellison's speech, which (obviously) Oracle itself covered. And it appears that Oracle is starting to provide services also, though not quite of the EDS variety:

"What is cloud computing?" he asked rhetorically. "It's elastic, it's virtualized, and you pay only for what you use."

He then introduced the Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud, the world's first and only integrated middleware machine. "It's a cloud in a box," said Ellison, "that you scale from a quarter rack up to eight racks as a cloud.

"That's one big honkin' cloud."

I guess that fits the definition of an extremely private cloud. More later.

Ellison also talked about an "Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel," and briefly talked about Oracle Fusion Applications - but Ellison will say more on that during his traditional Wednesday keynote.

Meanwhile, Oracle OpenWorld moves on, and the Monday sessions will begin shortly...and I'm paying attention to entirely different news - which, for obvious reasons (I am a Safran employee), I have nothing to say about at this time. Other than to note that, based upon previous experience, an acquisition such as this can take some time to finalize, based upon all the worldwide government approvals that are required.

Disconnected with reality - phone numbers don't need to die just yet

We techies are a fun folk, but sometimes we forget that we live in a world in which billions upon billions of people don't have iPhones or use Twitter.

Chad Catacchio recently wrote a post entitled It will be hard for many, but phone numbers need to die. First, here's Chad's rationale:

Over the last decade, I’ve owned a lot of cell phones. So have lots of my friends. Sometimes when you get a new phone, you change your number, or you change your number for another reason.

Sometimes when you change your phone you don’t migrate all of your contacts over to the new phone (because there still is no perfect solution to this).

Sometimes you don’t speak to people on the phone for years, they change jobs, careers, etc, and their phone numbers change. Yes, there are solutions to all of this, but none are simple. But in this “age of the Internet”, why are we still so attached to these meaningless numbers?

Catacchio then looks at the issue from a technical perspective, and realizes that there are obstacles to overcome, but they can be overcome. For example:

I asked just this question to a Google Voice engineer during a Google event a couple of weeks ago, and he said that while it would be difficult, it could be possible (when someone at Google says “it would be difficult” you kind of have to take that at face value). Basically he said that there is no way to take the phone number out of the equation – as I said above, telephony networks need phone numbers to work. However, it could be possible for one person to enter an email address, which the calling system would then convert to a phone number to make the call, and then show the email address on the other end of the call.

Of course, this all makes sense in a world in which people have Google Voice...and have e-mail addresses. And to be fair, Catacchio realizes that this is not universally the case:

Others will point to the fact that phone numbers are such an ingrained part of world culture that they can’t disappear. Certainly in some parts of the world where Internet/mobile data access is limited or non-existent, phone numbers need to stick around at least as long as the data networks take to catch up. So I’m not expecting this to happen overnight, and like I said, it will be painful.

Pity those folks in poor undeveloped the United States of America. Yes, before you decide to convert the telephone system to an e-mail system, you might want to make sure that people can still connect. Yahoo Answers:

Since when can't you take home textbooks in public school in Washington State?

Grandkids don't have textbooks to take home for study. They have to go to a computer to do their studies. They don't own a computer.

The assumption I'm making, of course, is that the grandkids' parent(s) don't have a computer either. And while the grandkids' family may be poor, there are people who have some disposable income, but choose to use it on other things:

help us please! we are a household of 3 adults and our monthly power use is around 900kwh per month. most lightbulbs are led halogens or cfls, we don't own a computer (there is a laptop i borrow once a week). there is a 52" plasma television that gets used about 20 hours a week. we don't own: *a heatpump *any spaceheaters *a dehumidifier *a heated towel rail *a spa pool *a playstation our water is heated with a standard hot water cylinder thats 12 years old cook with a combination of induction elements and a conventional oven heat with a woodburner i've been measuring all the appliances and i can't get it to even touch that amount. the wiring on the circuit board and various switches is dodgy as hell, as the house is from the sixties and it's been chopped and changed and added to by various electricians over the years. the hot water cylinder isn't on another meter like ripplecontrol or night it's on the economy. there are two meters and switches/fuses are children of switches above them and the power supply for the meters are different. is it possible i'm being metered twice for the same power because of the dodgy wiring? but anyway, i'd like to know how many kwh your family uses. how many people. how do you heat. how do you heat your water. thanks.

If you look at the number of people without computers, the numbers are staggering. An April 2009 report included the following:

According to Nielsen’s National TV panel, around 80.6% homes in US possess a computer in their home. Around 91.6% of these households have Internet connection. This shows that there are more American homes without computers than homes having a PC without any Internet access. Thus, the major challenge in providing web access to all the Americans is the lag in PC penetration.

Even if you assume that roughly 10% of the households are accessing the Internet via non-computer devices such as iPods, that still leaves almost 10% of United States households unreachable.

Now people can't afford phones either, so many phone companies offer a lifeline service that enables such people to have phones at reduced rates. Would the phone companies agree to have a lifeline service to provide free netbooks to people so that they can access e-mail? I doubt it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A request (actually, two requests) for NetworkedBlogs users

If you are a user of the NetworkedBlogs application, please do me a favor and take a minute, go to, scroll down to "Help confirm the author" (on the right), and confirm that I am the author of the Empoprise-BI business blog (this blog).

And if you're feeling doubly generous, go to, scroll down to "Help confirm the author" (still on the right), and confirm that I am also the author of the Empoprise-MU music blog (not this blog, even if I post music-related posts here on occasion).

Thank you for your time. It's definitely appreciated.

People they come together (harpooning information on AT&T's Blackberry Torch offering)

If you're not subscribing to my music blog, then perhaps you missed this post that I shared a few minutes ago, based upon this AT&T Blackberry commercial.

As I mentioned in the earlier post, I could have taken that post in several different directions, but chose to focus on the music. I'd like to take a moment, however, and explore one of the other issues raised by the video.

Or I could have taken the social media angle, and noted how multiple information sources can be brought together to serve a single purpose.

While the commercial seeks to emphasize that AT&T and Blackberry can bring all of these different sources into the palm (whoops) of your hand, the truth is that this coordination of information goes well beyond this service or this hardware platform.

Let's look at all the information sources that appear in the commercial. I'll probably miss some of them, but we'll still get a lot.

You start with an electronic mail application, which includes a short message.

Next, you are reading a book online.

After that, you switch to a music application and start playing a song.

Then you watch a TV show online.

Next, you use an online map to plan a trip.

Then, you look at a picture of your starting location.

Then you go to an online social network (that started in the northeastern United States, naturally) and share a status update. Because this is a social network, your friends respond with text (and picture) responses.

Which prompts the sharing of a picture from ANOTHER picture service, Yahoo's Flickr. (Yup, co-opetition again.)

Then you use the phone's voice-activated search system to search for something.

And we're only halfway through the commercial. You still have calendar applications, alarm clock applications, game applications, and who knows what all.

Now there are some people who spend all of their online life on a single service, and that service is the focus of all of their online attention. Yet there are others who are jumping around between multiple services. I happen to fall in the latter category, and this post itself falls into the latter category. Some people will go to to read it, others to Google's Feedburner, others will get here via Google search, others will see a link to it via another service (Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, Google Buzz). Maybe someone will see it in Google Buzz, and I'll respond to the person on Facebook. Or maybe someone will walk up to me one day and talk about the Moby post. (Then I'll ask, "Which one?")

And then there's a whole other level beyond this. Someone will be searching for random information about the Blackberry Torch from AT&T, and will look at this post along with other information about the device.

#blamecancer for this, um, move

Back in 1991 I was in an auto accident. I was driving in Monterey Park, California when my car was hit from the side. The car ended up flipping over, and my seat belt literally saved my life; without it, my head would have become one gruesome mess. As it was, the only injury that I sustained was when I accidentally swung my fingers into a fan at the office where my car was towed.

That incident was extremely minor in the scheme of things, but it had, and still has, a definite effect on my outlook on life. I can't imagine how I'll deal with the situation if I should ever have a life-threatening illness.

Well, Drew Olanoff HAS face a life-threatening illness, and his life was spared. Many things have resulted from this, including

And now Olanoff has made an announcement:

Mid-October I’m going to do something awesome, I’m going to move to India for 3 months.

I’m taking everything I have, the technology, the social, all of it…and we’re going to hit New Delhi, Mumbai, and beyond.

In response to the question "Why?" Olanoff answered:

Why not.

He also briefly said:

I’ve been through a lot of stuff, and you only live once.

Future coverage is promised on Drew's blog,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's Saturday, but Sunday's coming - #oow10 roundup with edible stacks

This tweet from Glenn Goodrich (@cabbagee) caught my eye:

97 days until Christmas. 1 day until OOW #OOW10

But Glenn lives in Novato, so he doesn't have to travel from another state, or another country, to get to San Francisco. A lot of people who aren't Oracle ACE Directors (and since there are so few Oracle ACE Directors, that means "a lot of people") are traveling to San Francisco today. (Because I live in the state, I'd usually fly up first thing Sunday morning when I attended Oracle OpenWorld; it gave me an extra day of quiet before the madness.)

As of this morning I haven't seen any #oow10 tweets that explicitly mentioned Oracle Database, but Jeannette L. Browning (@jlbrowning) tweeted a link to an IBM Oracle blog. Yes, Oracle OpenWorld is that weird wacky world of co-opetition in which Oracle, IBM, HP, and others all gather under the same roof. While IBM certainly has an interest in promoting DB2, it also recognizes that it has to support its customers who are using Oracle.

So as all the big players compete on a stack-by-stack basis, I began thinking about stacks of pancakes. I'm not really a pancakes person myself, but I began wondering where one could get a stack of pancakes in the Moscone Center area. I checked Google Maps, and the first suggestion that came up was a sponsored listing for Roots Restaurant at the Orchard Garden Hotel at 466 Bush St, San Francisco CA 94108. However, I was unable to find pancakes on their breakfast menu. I'm not sure whether Roots Restaurant specifically bought the search term "pancakes," or whether they just bought the search term "breakfast" and Google assumed that they had pancakes, or something like them. (They do have a breakfast burrito.)

A better bet is the Americano Restaurant, 8 Mission Street, San Francisco CA 94105, whose breakfast menu (PDF) includes banana pancakes served with pecan butter and Vermont maple syrup.

View Larger Map

Now I'll admit that I haven't ever eaten breakfast at either of those places, but (as I noted in my 2009 OpenWorld/Foursquare post) I would eat breakfast at the Cafe Mason, 320 Mason St., San Francisco CA 94102 (Foursquare page here). However, I never had the pancakes.

View Larger Map

But regardless of where you eat, if you find hardware at the bottom of your pancake stack, send it back - even if you ordered your eggs Sun-ny side up.

Philippine call center sex AND Facebook

Somehow when I wrote my post about Sex and the (Filipino call center) city back in August, I missed this little story:

A certain call center agent named Edwardson Base was arrested and locked in jail earlier today for allegedly uploading a sex video on Facebook.

According to the story, it is alleged that after Base and his call center girlfriend broke up, he uploaded the video in an attempt to blackmail her into re-entering the relationship. Instead, she filed a police complaint.

Techpinas goes on to say that Base was charged with breaking two laws: the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act of 2004 and the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009.

The blog MyKiRu IsYuSeRo compares and contrasts this case with another video scandal that apparently erupted before the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009. However, the Katrina Halili-Dr. Hayden Kho Jr. scandal did not involve blackmail or call center sex - or, frankly, any sex at all, although Halili lost endorsement deals after the steamy video was released.

Because, you see, the Philippines is still a rather traditional country, as was noted in this comment to my August post.

We hope that we retain the old Filipino practice about having sex. Marriage first before sex. We don't want the rate of STD to increase.

Well, I went to YouTube and searched for a video of Hayden Kho and Katrina Halili, and after viewing the video, I have to admit that by U.S. standards it's fairly tame. In fact, we've seen it all before.

Oh! This Twitter user will NEVER answer you...because she's dead!

Sometimes it seems like Twitter isn't really meant for conversation. It doesn't really lend itself to conversation like FriendFeed does; Twitter is more like a bar in which you shout things and don't really respond to anyone.

Well, I've found a Twitter account that I can guarantee will never respond to you. Why not? Because the tweeter is dead. But still tweeting.

I found out about this dead tweeter from Forrest @themediadude, who tweeted:

Jackie Kennedy is on Twitter

Yes, even though she's dead, and even though she never heard of Twitter, Jackie is there a-tweeting.

And you'll notice that Forrest referred to her as Jackie Kennedy, not Jackie Onassis. There's a reason for that, according to the link that Forrest shared:

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is using Twitter to re-create Jacqueline Kennedy's weekly glimpses into the life of a presidential candidate's spouse, repurposing the newspaper columns she wrote in 1960. The first tweets, expressing her dismay at not being able to campaign in person, were posted Friday — 50 years to the day that her first syndicated column was published.

Here is one of the tweets from @JBK1960:

"You can imagine how frustrating it is to be in Hyannis Port reading all that he's doing and not participating in any way."

Perhaps it's just me, but I think that the iPhone's fart app is more useful than this particular Twitter account. My first question - what useful goal is served by repurposing these articles in Twitter form? Wow, now we know what the wife of a presidential candidate was writing about fifty years ago.

My second question - what does this have to do with Jackie Kennedy? Let me give you a hint - when the wife of a presidential candidate just happens to start writing a newspaper column in the last two months of the presidential campaign, there's a pretty good chance that she didn't write it, and even if she did, it probably doesn't reflect her true views. Based on her subsequent history of non-extensive campaigning for various Kennedys, I have a feeling that Jackie Kennedy didn't particularly care for the campaign trail as much as her husband did, and she was probably extremely grateful for the excuse to stay away from the hordes of people.

My third question - was Jackie really concerned about all that she was reading about her husband's activities - or was she more concerned about all that she WASN'T reading about her husband's activities? As the conversations about Jeter the cheater have reminded us, public figures in 1960 were not subject to the extensive scrutiny that public figures in 2010 deal with today. Despite being away from his wife, there is a possibility that John didn't feel all that lonely.

But hey, Twitter's the cool thing to use, so let's use it.

Coming up - James Madison tweets from the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Larry Ellison's Sunday #OOW10 keynote will be interesting, for a variety of reasons

I won't be in Moscone North on Sunday night, but I'll definitely keep track of Larry Ellison's keynote that evening. You can follow the conference on Twitter, you know.

Oracle describes the keynote as follows:

Join Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's welcome keynote on Sunday evening, September 19, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., as he previews Oracle OpenWorld and offers his unique insight into the product innovations that will be revealed and the key announcements that will be made throughout the week.

"This is the biggest, most innovative, and probably most important year in terms of product releases in Oracle's history," Ellison has said.

And it is big. The Sun acquisition has been formally approved by various governments, and Oracle now wants to execute on its latest iteration of the stack, all the way from hardware to applications. I confess that I don't really follow the fusion applications market, but I'm sure that some of those people are salivating right now.

Oracle dutifully mentions the next part of the Sunday night presentation, as follows:

In the same keynote, Oracle President Safra Catz will join HP Executive Vice President Ann Livermore as Livermore addresses how to Leverage IT to Create Business Advantage from Your Datacenter to the Cloud.

But this paragraph is more notable about what it doesn't say. First off, President Charles Phillips is not mentioned, because (as was previously noted in this blog) he has resigned. Second off, it doesn't mention his replacement, former HP head Mark Hurd. Third off, it doesn't mention that Ann Livermore is showing up at Oracle OpenWorld anyway, despite the fact that Oracle and HP have been making threats to each other over item number two (including something that I neglected to mention on this blog - namely, that Hewlett Packard is suing Oracle over its employment of Hurd).

I'm terrible at predictions, but I somewhat suspect that Hurd will not make an appearance at Oracle OpenWorld until later in the week.

Kennedy Tesch escapes organizational chaos in the Madison Heights, Michigan cheerleading squad?

Perhaps it's a good thing that Kennedy Tesch was kicked off of the Madison Heights, Michigan cheerleading squad.

View Larger Map

Whatever you might think about the appropriateness of six year old girls cheering about their tight skirts and their booties, the organization of the cheerleading squad appears to be in complete chaos.

First let's look at how MSNBC described the decision-making process:

A former cheerleader and cheerleading coach herself, [Jennifer] Tesch didn’t think the cheer was appropriate for a 6-year-old [her daughter Kennedy]. But when she voiced her objections, she received what she believes was the classic runaround.

“The general manager was kind of like, ‘Well, we’ve been doing it that way for years and that’s the way it’s going to be,’”...

She then approached the squad’s coach, who told Tesch she “didn’t really have any power,” and to take it up again with the general manager. So Tesch met with the general manager and coach again, who told her the Wolverines’ governing board was aware of her concerns, but that the cheer was mandated by the state’s cheerleading association.

But upon talking to the association’s director, Tesch said she was left scratching her head. “[They] told me that they don’t mandate cheers at all, and she would talk to the general manager of the Wolverines,” she told Vieira.

MomLogic described what happened next:

Jennifer and Duane Tesch, of Madison Heights, say their daughter, Kennedy, was unanimously voted off of the Madison Heights Wolverines flag football cheerleading team during a team meeting Tuesday night. The meeting was held to discuss concerns the Tesches voiced last month regarding one of the team's cheers:

"Our backs ache, our skirts are too tight, we shake our booties from left to right."

But instead of seeing their concerns with the cheer resolved, the Tesches saw their little girl booted from the team.

Understandably upset, the Tesches went to the media (which is how they eventually ended up on the TODAY show). By that time, the "powerless" coach was talking to the media herself:

The team’s coach, Lisa Ernest, went on a local morning radio show program and blasted Tesch. “I’m directly quoting this lunatic,” Ernest said of Tesch. “She said, ‘I don’t mind the booty-shaking so much, but it’s the back aching and the skirt being too tight I don’t understand.’ ”

If Ernest thought that she was defending the general manager, she was in for a shock. The Wolverines (according to their own website) threw their coach under the bus:

On 9/15/2010 Lisa Ernest, Head Coach for the Flag Cheer Squad was suspended pending termination during an investigative period. For the benefit of the children, on 9/16/2010, Lisa Ernest resigned her position.

Mrs. Ernest was a volunteer coach for the program, she is not and has never been an elected board member with the organization and had no responsibility in the decision to part ways with the Tesch Family.

Let's review, shall we?

First, the general manager basically said "that's the way we've always done it."

Second, the coach said she had no power.

Third, the general manager and coach said that the board was aware of the Tesch family's concerns, but that the state cheerleading association had mandated this particular cheer - something the association denied.

Fourth, the board (admittedly with the support of various parents) threw the Tesch family out of the program.

Fifth, the coach called the mom a "lunatic" because she didn't want her six year old cheering about her tight skirt and booty.

Sixth, the board canned the coach, making it very clear that the coach...well, that the coach had no power.

Essentially, this is what's going to happen here. Now that NBC (and not just Fox) has criticized the Madison Heights Wolverines, there is a very slight chance that the board will be forced to can the general manager too. But that is very unlikely, unless the state cheerleading association seeks to decertify the Madison Heights cheerleading squad.

So, citizens of Madison Heights, if you want to see a well-run cheerleading association in which six year olds cheer about their tight skirts and booties, you'll probably be able to do so for years to come.

And if your kid is in the organization...keep your mouth shut.


So @twtrank gives @WarrenWhitlock the Heisman and casts aspersions on @blockrealestate

If you're starting a business, you may choose to make an effort to inform potential customers about your business. If you're an artist, maybe you'll paint a portrait of an art collector. If you're a caterer, perhaps you'll offer free samples to offices.

And if your firm rates/ranks people, then you'll let people know where they rank.

@twtrank provides such a ranking service, and they recently tweeted the following:

@WarrenWhitlock is currently the #141 ranked athlete on Twitter with a score of 15. #HIAY

(Incidentally, I have no idea what the #HIAY hashtag stands for. Warning to all: incomprehensible hashtags waste valuable microcharacters.)

Now you may be wondering who Warren Whitlock is, so let me help you out. He's not on the Washington Redskins roster. He's not on the Boise State men's hockey roster.

In fact, Whitlock is not an athlete at all. According to his Twitter profile, he's the "[a]uthor of 1st book on Twitter, Publisher, Blogger and Social Media Radio Show Host."

And as a blogger, he expressed his thoughts on this particular tweet. While I encourage you to read Whitlock's post, the title says it all: "Don’t wast (sic) time on @Twtrank."

Apparently this is not the first time that @Twtrank has rated Whitlock. According to Warren, it has been rating his musical talents. Of course, Whitlock admits that his high musical rating is deserved:

Word of my prowess in playing a strereo is pretty widespread.

But at least Whitlock can laugh at his rankings. What if you're using Twitter to run your business? And what if @twtrank ranks you in a non-businesslike category? Ask @blockrealestate:

Thus is a dubious honor: “@twtrank: @blockrealestate is currently the #39 ranked drinker on Twitter with a score of 23. #HIAY

Imagine if this was a potential client's first impression of Brian Block...and imagine if the potential client believed the tweet. (Or imagine if one of my online LDS friends got ranked in that category.)

@Twtrank is tied to the website How interesting are you?, and although I can't find any description of the service, it appears that you have to opt in to be rated.

But what about the ratings? Even Louis Gray, who wrote about the service back in March, wasn't too sure about the algorithm:

You'll find the site has preloaded a number of questions, including whether you like to cook, whether you are a nerd (I only got 1 point and demand a recount!), or if you are a "real gamer".

Personally, I anticipate that U.S. News and World Report will incorporate @twtrank into its college ranking system. And, for those who don't know me or know where I got my undergraduate degree - that's a joke.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Here's an acronym - BCI

I ran across the acronym "BCI" recently. It stands for "brain-computer interface." It was mentioned in a Scientific American page that discussed "the recent success at Andrew Schwartz’s lab at the University of Pittsburgh where macaque monkeys fed themselves using a robotic arm controlled only by their thoughts."

The apparatus used to implement the BCI was a little more complex than a joystick, however:

In Schwartz’s lab, an electrode placed beneath the skull of the macaque can detect spikes from single neurons. The pattern of neurons firing is then translated into code that a computer can understand.

The applications are endless...although I'm not sure whether the BCI would malfunction if TV Azteca reporter Ines Sainz happened to walk by.

Historical perspective on "Jeter the cheater" and the downfall of society

The story is all over sports radio today, but in case you haven't heard it, Derek Jeter was at bat in a Rays-Yankees game last night. A pitch came inside and hit his bat, but you wouldn't have known it by watching Jeter. Andrew Johnson:

With one out in the frame, no one on and the Yankees trailing 2-1, Jeter squared to bunt against Qualls. As he spun away from Qualls' inside pitch, the ball appeared to strike Jeter and he immediately grabbed his left arm in apparent pain. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale awarded Jeter first base, something the New York shortstop didn't argue, but Rays manager Joe Maddon did, leading to his ejection.

After the game (which the Yankees lost, by the way), Jeter was a little more honest:

Derek Jeter didn’t play coy after the game. He was asked what that ball hit in the seventh inning, and Jeter answered as simply as possible.

“The bat,” he said.

Jeter showed bunt and tried to spin out of the way when the pitch came inside. The ball made contact, the bat went flying and Jeter grabbed his left arm. Joe Girardi and Gene Monahan came sprinting out of the dugout. Jeter remembered the on-field conversation being pretty simple. Girardi asked Jeter if he was OK, and Jeter said yes. From there, it was all about selling the bit.

“Geno did more acting than I did,” Jeter said.

Opinions varied on the matter. In last night's broadcast, Tony Bruno reserved his criticism for the umpires who didn't hear the crack of the bat. This morning, Colin Cowherd noted that this is nothing new - it's just that we have more cameras today than they did even 20 years ago, much less 100 years ago.

But others feel differently:

Driving into work this morning, I listen to Mike Greenberg, Mike Golic and Tim Kurkjian attempt to one-up each other with praise for the display. Kurkjian used words like genius and brilliant. Greenberg only added that, unlike Kurkjian and Golic, he didn't even think that the action should be considered cheating.

Has the whole world gone mad?

Brett Perryman goes on to say:

Faking injury is among the easiest, most natural of evil human instincts for children to master. They use it to manipulate, just as Jeter did. He put on a pathetic, childish display, nothing more....

What Jeter did was in line with corking his bat. He picked up his golf ball and moved it a few feet to improve its lie. He planted a deflated football for the opposing team's game winning field goal. What he did broke the two cardinal rules of sport - he cheated the competition, and he cheated fans. It was positively dispicable, and I find it disgusting that so many seem to be fine with it.

There are two issues here - the integrity of the game, and the integrity of Derek Jeter. I won't deal with the former here, but I would like to make one comment on the latter. Or, more accurately, I'll let someone else make the comment:

Ironically, Charles Barkley has become my hero for his "I am not a role model" statement, which was certainly not his intent. We should not be holding up Charles Barkley, or Derek Jeter, or Donald Trump, or Bill Gates, or any "public figure" as a role model. All humans err, and we're bound to be disappointed.