Category Archives: People & Technology

Immediately Conduct an Audit of Your Home Network – It May Be Wide Open to Hackers

It seems to be a normal practice for network device manufacturers (like HP and IOmega) to leave the password protection wide open on all sorts of network devices like printers, scanners, security camera systems, network storage devices, and so on.

I suspect this is done to make the devices easier to install and use, increasing their user friendly feel while lowering the cost to support. Sadly the side effect is that hackers can easily connect to these devices and access your saved data. So while your computer may be secure with a password, your network devices may be wide open to hacking.

To protect yourself dive back into the manuals for your home network devices and learn how to activate the security functionality. Be sure to pick a difficult password to break that contains numbers, special characters, and most importantly words not found in any dictionary.

Listen to music all day long for free on YouTube

OK… this is not news, but an excellent moment to mention that there is nothing that can permanently stop the flow of free music and information. I know the music industry and the millions of intellectual property owners worldwide will continue to fight to keep a price tag on their content creations but in the end, information wants to be free, and will be.

I’m still pissed at Apple for buying and crapping out Lala.com, a competitor. While in a search for more free music online my wife pointed out that I can listen to free music all day long on YouTube. Thanks Julia!

I’m not saying everyone should give up and give it away free today. Just saying that those that begin preparing for the day where their business models will need to adapt will be the ones to stay in business.

Apple sends Lala.com to the virtual electric chair tomorrow

Apple Inc. bought the online music service Lala.com back in 2009 and now Apple is shutting down their former iTunes competitor. (see news story at WSJ)

This kind of thing makes me sick.

It’s also a good example of what can happen when a company gets too big and uses its strength to squash a rival. You see instead of competing with Lala.com, Apple choose to simply buy them and shut them down. I guess that’s one of the perks that come with success, you can eat your competitors.

But I shouldn’t complain too much, I’ve been a cheer leader for Apple since they were small and part of the real mechanism behind Apple’s growth. So we can’t really blame the giants for their size if we’re not ready to change our voting (spending) habits.

I for one will think twice before I take another bite of this bitter Apple… and Linux is looking more and more user friendly every day.

Google must know everything. Why worry?

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California and left with the lingering impression that Google must know everything.

I realize this is the stuff of science fiction and conspiracy theory but I think we’re at a place in time where fiction is becoming reality. Shoot… just look at the technology in your own pocket and then look around your house; then think back to what life was like 20 years ago.

Speaking of time slipping by, on this date twenty years ago the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, were 23 and 22. Google got its start in March of 1996 as a research project by  as a school project, specifically it was the Stanford Digital Library Project. You can read the complete history on wikipedia but I wanted to put into perspective that in the short time Google has existed they have been able to concentrate an enormous amount of information, wealth, and power.

But like all centers of power they are also double edged swords simply due to their size. Brands like Google and Apple have earned a lot of public trust, but now that they have acquired so much power, can they still be trusted?

It’s kind of like having an immortal benevolent giant as a pet who is really good at taking care of himself. As he grows he becomes more and more helpful. In fact soon you begin to depend on him for everything and he seems perfectly happy to look after you. But at some point living with giants can get a little dicey when they forget who’s in charge.

This is the potential problem with immortal benevolent giants. When power concentrates and the human scale is forgotten we all become at risk of experiencing the other side of the double edged sword. No conspiracy theory here… just a bit of philosophical rambling and something to noodle over the next time you’re out surfing the information waves.

Survival of the fittest, and the fittest adapt and innovate

As our technological world races faster and faster we see a common trend emerging. Innovation and meeting people’s needs always will always beat the competition in the long run.

Google appears to be at war with Microsoft as far as I can tell. Visit Google with Internet Explorer and in the top right of the page you’ll be strongly encouraged to switch to Google Chrome. I’ve been using Chrome on my Mac since they released it and I’m simply stunned at the stability and speed.

I’m not exactly your average computer user either and have years of experience managing teams of online application designs and web usability researchers. Not bragging just saying I’ve seen a lot of good and bad software and Google Chrome is amazing… an Internet Explorer Killer.

Apple has been rumored for months to have a breakthrough tablet in the works. Having watched Apple leapfrog the industry for a couple of decades now I suspect this new device will have the potential to stomp all over mono-function devices like Kindle and the print industry, just like it’s doing to the music industry. Apple could be positioned to steal more market share in print and recorded media markets.

Both of these examples illustrate the how the old-school digital and print world is loosing customers everyday because someone else from another industry is entering their information distribution world and stealing it away… simple because the newcomers aren’t bogged down in old-school thinking.

Survival of the fittest, and the fittest adapt and innovate.

Oh… by the way… television is next to go. Early adopters, like me, have already given up on that dreadful box and get our information and entertainment far more efficiently online. As Telcos speed up the internet more users will go online for their TV fix.

Social Media is quickly replacing Mainstream Media

I’m not the first person to have this realization; and I’m sure it will be a few years before this becomes a glaring reality. The internet is doing a much better job of keeping us informed, entertained, and connected than the mainstream media. People are shifting their attention from the big media channels and refocusing on other people.

Shifting Behavior

I stopped watching TV a while back. I’ve also found that everything I want to know is quickly found online from an even wider range of sources. I also have a very strong opinion of the TV News. It’s like a terrible microscope for all that’s disturbing in the world. Watching the TV News now feels like subjecting myself to a slow torture.

Entertainment is also shifting to the internet. You’ve probably noticed that many television networks, radio stations, magazines, and newspapers are trying to compete for attention by publishing their content online. The trouble is that these giants have a faster growing new competitor that can’t be beat. We are beginning to entertain each other with videos, writings, photos, audio recordings, live chat, micro blogging, etc.

Every day more people are discovering and connecting with other people through the internet. We’re beginning to entertain and inform each other and our attention is being drawn away from the mainstream media.

The giants are quickly trying to modify their business models to account for this new competitor. They will always retain a market share but their size will inevitably shrink as advertising dollars move with the shifting audience and companies like Google are perfectly positioned to absorb this new audience.

The Near Future

The future trend is that more and more people will begin to migrate from mainstream media and focus their attention on their growing social networks. This will happen for several reasons:

  • People will prefer to spend more of their time connecting with other people.
  • People will loose their craving for news and commercial interrupted entertainment because they will already be getting the information they want from their social networks.
  • People will become increasingly frustrated with the biased and diluted coverage of the television news media and prefer the flexibility of quickly checking multiple sources for facts.
  • People will continue to reject paper as a communication medium.
  • People will enjoy how they feel when they are disconnected from the one-way communication channels. The interactivity of the internet will be preferred.

I also think current media channels will be abandoned in this order… IMHO

  • Print News (Newspapers & Magazines: already on a fast decline.)
  • Television News (Beginning to face competition with free online news and social network websites like Twitter.)
  • Print Entertainment (Newspapers & Magazines)
  • Television Entertainment (More television entertainment will continue to be moved to the internet but advertising revenue will drop over time.)
  • Radio (Radio can be easily ported to the internet without much disruption in advertising revenue.)
  • Print Books (Books will last the longest because people make a personal connection to paper books.)

The Future Now

I’m personally looking forward to this peer focused future… in fact I actually think some of us are there now. All you have to do is turn off the big guys and start to listening to each other. It’s a bit ironic that making this simple choice and breaking old habits can instantly transport us to the future. I wonder what Einstein would say about that? Who knows… maybe time is just in our heads.

Give One Get One – OLPC

give-one-get-one.jpgWhen you donate $399 to The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project they will send one laptop to your child and one to a child in a developing country. This ends December 31, 2007. $200 of the donation is tax deductable. (since you’re getting one of the laptops). Shipping and handling is extra.

If you don’t want one for your child you can simply donate $200 for each laptop you want to send to a child in a developing country.

Give One Get One Now

More about the OLPC laptop

Web2.0 Benefits In A Large Enterprise

Many people point to interface interactivity (Ajax JavaScript usually) and mash-up functionality or data when talking about Web2.0. I personally think that these two things are simply symptoms of the underlying phenomenon which is really a change in the way people think about themselves, their projects, and the people around them. Yes I think Web2.0 is a cultural revolution not a technical one.

You see the underlying common thread of Web2.0 is that people are sharing with each other. They have learned that it is better to build their websites to talk to other websites. This makes it easier to collaborate with people who have built complimentary tools and services. It also makes it easier for end users to use the information and functionality, RSS is probably the best example.

So the true Web2.0 revolution is that people intentionally build their technology to be flexible and interconnected. Their motivation is survival and success. Websites are more successful if they provide value to users (end users and peers) and people are more successful when they find ways to form partnerships and relationships with other people. For instance a group of friends help each other out. A single isolated individual has only themselves to rely on.

To see how a large enterprise benefits from the true benefits of Web2.0 you only need to extend my logic a tiny bit father and take an honest look at the most common people problems in a large organization, bureaucracy.

Red tape (cumbersome bureaucratic processes) tend to form when the size of an organization reaches a size when people are unable to understand all the social structures around them. It is a protective reaction. People begin to created request forms, document processes, ask for sign-offs on work performed, and so on. Projects slow down and costs go up. But is bureaucracy really a reaction to size or is it a reaction to a misunderstanding about where each person fits in and how they contribute to the larger effort?

The Internet is large and people there are not creating bureaucratic red-tape as a requirement to empower and collaborate with each other. It’s not size that creates bureaucracy, it’s people intent. In a large organization people loose track of the big picture. They are also compensated (judged, evaluated, rewarded) based on performance. Performance is defined by the organization and this is the problem.

The real problem is that people in a large organization are often not given the same reasons to collaborate with their peers the way web2.o dotcom people are by their environment. In the real world people have found that facilitating collaboration and making themselves more usable (in every way imaginable) makes them more successful. In a large organization people have found that spending their budget, meeting their numbers, protecting their teams reputation, and making their boss look good make them more successful. Did I hear an ah-ha? Good.

So the fix is simple and some big companies (like Toyota) have figured it out. To eliminate bureaucracy and get back to speeding your organization to success you simply have to give people a reason to change their intent. In other words reward them for collaboration. Do not encourage red tape by rewarding those common behaviors. Change your organization by helping people change the way they see themselves and their success.