Better Communication: Technology Isn't Always The Best Solution Tue 04 Jan 11

Kiddo Discussions Bindaas MadhaviIT folks get a lot of knocks for poor communication skills.   In response we typically react by increasing the number of emails we send out and the announcements we post on our company's intranet.  Ultimately we are shocked to learn all this extra effort doesn't improve the perception of IT as poor communicators.

This is like the comic situation of meeting a foreigner who doesn't speak your language and assuming that they will surely understand you if you simply speak louder.  The sad reality is that when people refer to our poor communication skills they are often referring to the quality of our communication rather than the quantity.

Simply increasing the amount of poorly done communication doesn't make things better.  We need to change our style instead.  Email and intranet posting can be great ways to communicate, just not for all situations.

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Why IT Must Embrace Facebook, Twitter, iPhone Wed 01 Sep 10

Consumer technologies are infiltrating the corporate world. Learn to leverage them.

Brave New World alles-schlumpf I like TED. TED is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to "Ideas Worth Spreading." They have conferences where they bring together thought leaders from the world of technology, entertainment and design (hence the acronym).

The great thing about TED is that for those of us who don't actually get to attend its conferences, the talks are posted on its website. The downside is that there is a lot to see and you can spend a lot of time there. (Or is that an upside?)

That is why I was happy to see an article by John Brandon, 8 must-see TED talks for IT pros, where he's found some talks about interesting new technologies that should interest IT professionals. Brandon doesn't just list the talks but also reviews them and has some consumer analysts give a "reality check" on how ideas such as this come to market.

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Top Five Technology Fanboys Wed 18 Aug 10

Apple has its lovers. Microsoft and Google have fanboys who love to hate them.

A popular theme for technical writers is to compare one product or technology with another. PC vs. Mac, iPhone vs. Droid, IE vs. Firefox, etc.

These debates include well-reasoned disagreement and other critical commentary. They also gather a lot of fanboy reaction. Fanboys are the folks who never let manners get in the way of their passion. They are loyal no matter what. Loyalty trumps facts and personal attacks suffice as sound, logical reasoning. Believing the best defense is a good offense: "You're a moron/idiot/shill/[insert favorite derogatory term here]," is the best way to showcase your analytical rigor for a real fanboy.

When you look at it in this light, the PC vs. Mac debate isn't all that different than Yankees vs. Red Sox or Ford vs. Chevy. Different topics, same passion.

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Why Windows 7 Tablets Won't Kill iPad Wed 04 Aug 10

Apple's tablet is for consumers. Microsoft should aim for business users.

Despite previously killing a tablet PC initiative, Microsoft is reportedly feverishly working with its partners on Windows 7-powered tablets. Some think this is an attempt to catch up to Apple by creating an iPad killer.

While I think there may be a place for a Windows-powered tablet, I definitely don't think Microsoft can produce an iPad killer. It's just not going to happen, nor should it.

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Where's My Flying Car? Wed 07 Jul 10

Unlike futurists, IT has to deliver on its possibilities.

Flying car marcus_jb1973 Massachusetts based Terrafugia, Inc. recently announced that it has successfully completed its flight test program for its "Flying Car." Terrafugia hopes to have the first delivery of its beta prototype in 2011.

While Terrafugia's endeavor may very well be successful, it won't be what we felt we were "promised" by all those earnest futurists back in the 1950s up through the dawn of the space age. I'm not knocking Terrafugia. I applaud their efforts.

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Don't Blame Google For Grabbing Your Data Wed 09 Jun 10

Why people should secure their own Wi-Fi networks, and what the IT industry can do to help.

Google street view car croila Google was taken to task recently when it was discovered that it had captured private payload data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks while its Street View cars traveling to collect data for Google's location-based products.

On the official Google blog, Google owned up to collecting this data mistakenly "even though we never used that data in any Google products." Google added that it collected only fragments of payload data. Despite this, a number of European governments and at least one U.S. state attorney general are launching investigations into Google's alleged invasion of privacy.

While I certainly cannot condone Google's actions, I am a little puzzled by the reaction. Where is the call for personal responsibility? People should be safeguarding their own data.

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The Hidden Price Of Free Applications Wed 26 May 10

Access to our personal data is the price we pay for ''free'' services on the Internet.

Privacy issues, the Internet and social media in particular have been getting a lot of attention lately. Facebook has become the poster child for privacy concerns about the data we divulge online.

The villain in all of this isn't the technology, since technology isn't inherently good or evil. The issue is how technology is used. That is driven by the business model of the Internet and social media.

Google, Yahoo, Facebook and others of their type provide so-called "free" services. These companies are funded through advertising. Twitter has been the most notable holdout on monetizing its services, but that won't last forever.

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Driving E-mail To The Cloud Wed 12 May 10

With the right applications, e-mail in the cloud could be a productivity boon.

Autoroute à emails There has been a lot of discussion about companies moving their email systems from in-house operations to a cloud application--in other words, to a hosted platform on a remote server or data center. Much of the talk centers around two topics: cost and functionality.

The cost question explores whether or not going to the cloud saves companies enough money (or any at all) to make it worthwhile. Arguably, large IT shops may be able to provide email services less expensively than using the cloud. For smaller operations, the savings aren't always enough to entice people to take the plunge.

Much of the functionality question deals with whether or not the cloud's calendar/scheduling functionality--as characterized by Google apps--is good enough to replace the in-house Outlook/Exchange standard. As the incumbent, Outlook seems to have the edge. Google hasn't been able to make an overwhelming case yet.

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Your Online Reputation Matters Wed 07 Apr 10

A positive online reputation is important for both individuals and companies

Avatars brtsergio We've all heard the stories of Joe, a job candidate who was a shoo-in to get that great job until the hiring manager decided to take a look at the candidate's Facebook page. Suddenly some photos of a wild party and comments that his hobby is getting wasted every weekend scuttled Joe's prospects. Joe doesn't get the job and has no clue about why he seems to be so unlucky.

Our online reputation matters. We know this anecdotally, from what we've seen and done as hiring managers, and now there is some data to support this. In January Microsoft published survey results of how our online reputations affect our job prospects. Three-quarters of U.S. survey respondents said their companies have formal policies that require hiring personnel to research applicants online; 70% of hiring personnel rejected candidates based on data found online.

As people become more aware of this, I've seen a number of articles about managing your so-called "digital dirt" and a simple internet search turns up many more. I've even heard that this has spawned a new industry where companies will help you clean it up. Rather than rehash all of the tips on how to clean up your online reputation, I'd like to address two other aspects.

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Taking Control Of Your Technology Wed 24 Mar 10

Why going offline for a day isn't the answer.

Il Castello di San Gaudenzio I just returned from an extended business trip in Europe. While there, I had the opportunity to stay in some interesting hotels, including a renovated castle from the 15th century. The flashback in time gave me a jolting perspective on just how much technology has become part of our lives.

The castle was a reminder of how much simpler (and more difficult) life was back then. Later, while coming back through the international transfers at Heathrow, security decided to do a hand search of my briefcase.

Out came my laptop, followed by the wireless mouse, smart phone, USB flash drives, Web cam, digital camera, GPS, e-reader, noise-canceling headphones all with their associated cables and power adapters. As I stared down at the overflowing bin of gadgets, I was struck by the amount of personal technology we use and how much a part of our daily life it's become--not to mention understanding why my briefcase seemed so heavy.

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