So next time you're faced with getting data off of obsolete media, check with the local government offices first rather than some expensive tech specialists; they may just have what you need, and not in a storage closet, but in everyday use.
07 December 2013
02 December 2013
Early TV adopted many of the features of movies and especially theater, as did the early movies, which were mainly (except for a few innovative directors) filmed plays.
It will be interesting to see what happens as ebooks evolve. I suspect one place where we might see the future of ebooks is in graphic novels, many of which have broken out of the narrative sequence of books, and even the frames of comics.
18 November 2013
But just as, in legal markets, there are always those in banks and Wall Street seeking to push the limits for the sake of making buckets of dough, there are those, in illegal markets, who will do the same. It would be simpler, cheaper, and more efficient to legalize and regulate/tax drugs, because the Internet will continue to make it easy for frictionless commerce.
15 November 2013
My advice? Forget flashy new tech and stick to old-fashioned credit cards swipes.
21 October 2013
Now, online signup has been around forever (or at least since the start of the Internet), and should be a no brainer. But, as always, the government decided to build its own (mistake #1), use the usual legions of contractors (mistake #2), and not do any standard load analysis (mistake #3). Result, of course, has been near disaster as well as huge cost over runs and overly complex plans to "fix" the mess.
"Buy, don't build." They could have simply bought a sign up system from another insurance organization, such as, for example, Kaiser which has a system large enough to suit. But, no, we're the government and we do our own thing.
13 October 2013
Obamacare - NY Times (they should have at least studied all the problems of portals from years ago)
Food assistance in 17 states - NY Times
Online college applications - NY Times
There is no excuse for technology failures of this kind, except, of course, for ignorance and incompetence.
23 August 2013
So the Nasdaq had a pricing problem and was turned off for 3 hours. NY Times And as the article points out, this is only the latest in a long series of glitches, crashes, and "technical problems." Trading is becoming all electronic and the electrons are created and transmitted by technological systems so complex that no one understands them and finds it hard, if not impossible, to fix when they blow up.
The stock market is only one place where technology is taking over. Manufacturing is becoming more a process of robots, cars are computers with wheels, appliances have a mind of their own, and communication is now a "feature" of the Internet. So we should not be surprised that technology, which is, after all, built by fallible humans, fails suddenly and, sometimes, catastrophically.
26 July 2013
These guys made it look easy, and it was. How could major retailers and banks, who supposedly have IT security people and worry about their customer's data (they do, don't they?) been like corner candy stores knocked over by a smash and grad 2-bit thief? Simple - the Internet is not secure, never will be, and all the laws and regulations are meaningless because the people who suffer -- you and me -- are not the corporate persons whose technology security proved full of holes like Swiss cheese. Make them suffer and perhaps they will get more serious about security.
29 June 2013
So get over it, all you Crackberries out there, and find a new technology to hug.
25 May 2013
Moving financial transactions online, as this NY Times article shows, may perhaps save time and make you more efficient (although often less secure), but it can also wall off accounts from people who should have access, such as your heirs or people who need to handle your affairs in case you are incapacitated.
A lot of the living people affected by this problem are of a generation where the automatic assumption is that paper documents are all that is required, forgetting that financial institutions went online to, among other things, save the money associated with creating and mailing paper. And many people don't bother to download a copy of the records, leaving them frozen in an institution's databases.
Yes, this makes estate planning a little bit more complicated, but I'm sure you would rather work a bit more than block your heirs from inheriting.
20 May 2013
Once you stop hyperventilating, the reality hits. Most things are not made entirely of one substance, which means that making them would require either retooling for each material, or having multiple printers, sometimes to make small runs. Yes, 3D printers could lead some clever folks to make some things entirely out of plastic, but that is a small subset of all manufactured products.
And Business Week admits that widespread use of 3D printing (assuming that were even possible) could reinforce the trend in manufacturing to use technology, not people, to make stuff.
And even worse, many of the articles show 3D printers making things that contribute to the use of oil to make plastic, rather than reduce the stuff people buy.
10 May 2013
As this NY Times article shows, clever, innovative thieves can easily use technology for illegal purposes. And make it more efficient as well, looting thousands of ATMs of millions of dollars in a few hours. And they took advantage of outsourcing as well, both debit card processors and foot soldiers to visit the ATMs - what a business school case this makes.
02 May 2013
Those of you out there of the geek persuasion might want to consider this a business opportunity.
29 April 2013
28 March 2013
More recent examples, of course, our friendly neighborhood Facebook, and Google, which has imposed "new, improved features" for REPLY and SEND on Gmail.
Google could be excused somewhat, since its staff of techies has no clue about ordinary people and the way they interact with software. Facebook, on the other hand, has no excuse.
Lest you think I'm leaving out some offenders here, one could also mention Microsoft and, perhaps the leading proponent of FascistWare, the folks at Apple.
I'm sure you have your own candidates. Seems to me time for the 99% to rise up in protest and demand that attention be paid.
19 March 2013
But sometimes they simply generate unusable, hard to dispose of waste, as noted in this NY Times article about cathode ray tubes (CRTs). And then the waste becomes society's problem, an "externality" in dry economic terms, which means a cost not to the businesses making money, in this instance, on flat screen TVs and monitors, but to the society in which those items are sold and used.
One solution is to add in the cost of disposal to the product, which is a noble idea, but sadly far too late to prevent the mounting CRT problem.
15 March 2013
How sad that all this creativity is wasted on flagrant consumerism rather than solving real problems, like extracting a budget from Congress, or children without medical care, or the impossible cost of education, or breaking up "too big to fail" banks.
23 February 2013
Just another indication, as if we really needed it, that the technology which is supposed to grease the skids of business and social interaction also creates frictionless transactions for businesses and criminals intent on invading your privacy.
15 February 2013
In addition, despite Japan's reputation as a technology-mad culture, it still views business as a personal affair. For example, the photo at the top of the article shows a typical Japanese office, with people crammed closely together, and writing things down. PCs are in use in Japanese business, but they have never replaced paper as a transaction medium.
This excellent HBR article, "The Right Mind-set For Managing Information Technology," by M. Bensaou and Michael Earl compares the Japanese person-centered and American technology-centered approach.
30 December 2012
But BD, as this NY Times article points out, is dependent on math, and we all know that way lies pain and suffering, such as caused by the Great Recession which was in essence a math-based disaster. In fact, many political policies are based on math with underlying assumptions, and look where that has gotten us.
Since at least the 19th century we have had a touching faith in math and science, believing it to be the truth. But what even the smartest guys in the room keep failing to understand, is that facts and assumptions are not the same thing. Much statistical analysis based on BD depends on assumptions, which are, at their best "educated guesses." So business decisions based on BD math could be completely wrong.
I don't agree that "intuition" is all that useful, but if the article is saying that BD math should be tested using common sense, then nothing could be truer. Spreadsheets are not "the truth" until after they are checked.
27 December 2012
So many people have such touching faith in technology, party because they have been told by the popular media, consultants, biz school profs, VCs, and various "experts" that The Cloud is The Next Big Thing. But technology fails, and the more dependent you are, the worse the effect. And outsourced technology, such as the Cloud, is no better than the people and processes that manage it. Of course, that is also true of the technology you own and manage, but once people outsource, they seem to lose sight of that fact.
In addition, complex technology, such as The Cloud, can fail abruptly because it is a Frankenstein monster, cobbled together from parts that aren't necessarily meant to work in concert, poorly understood in operation, and next to impossible to manage since you can only manage what you know.
Does this mean you shouldn't use The Cloud? If it is your best option, then you have no choice. But you need to plan for disaster, which Netflix and Amazon obviously didn't.
09 December 2012
Poor management, or no management, lack of sponsorship, unwillingness to change, big projects, no experience with big projects, all the Standish Group's CHAOS studies reasons for failure show up in the Air Force project, in many other Defense Department projects, many US government projects, and many corporate IT projects.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." The Life of Reason, Vol. I, Reason in Common Sense, George Santayana (1905-06)
06 December 2012
All those who sing the praises of technology as an enabler of economic growth and endless good times forget (or ignore) the fact that criminals are not all stupid goons. As I have pointed out before (this will be on the test, students), almost every technology introduced in the late 19th and early 20th century has been used in criminal schemes. This doesn't mean I am (gasp!) anti-technology, just that I have a broader world view than the gurus, consultants, VCs, popular media, etc. who worship at the altar of "Technology Will Save Us."
30 November 2012
It isn't just stored emails that come back from the dead; there is the "Reply All" function that can create havoc, as this NY Times article shows. Ignorance of digital communication extends to lack of understanding about "Reply" vs. "Reply All," or at least to forgetfulness about the difference. This despite the fact that people spend an average of 15% of their work day on email.
The "Reply All" disasters have led some companies to ask people to forgo "Reply All," or to try to block the "Reply All" function. Even Microsoft is working to provide a "Reply All" block.
So think a minute before you reply.
25 November 2012
As I pointed out in earlier posts, criminals are sometimes smart people who use technology to commit crimes better and faster (greater productivity), create new crimes (disruption), and hide themselves from the law.
Now, as this NY Times article shows, prostitutes in India, thanks to cell phones, have become "independent entrepreneurs," disrupting the brothel business. but also making it much harder to control the spread of AIDs.