mm416: Obama a pragmatic politician – we’re shocked, shocked

June 20, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Barack Obama announced Thursday that he would reject public financing for his campaign, after claiming this primary season that he would follow the lead of his Republican opponent. McCain had already announced (he had no choice, that well is pretty dried up for him) that he would rely on public campaign finance for the general election.

Obama is taking much heat from all sides for this change of position. For example,

nytimes

The Two Obamas

Op-Ed Columnist | By DAVID BROOKS | Published: June 20, 2008

God, Republicans are saps. They think that they’re running against some academic liberal who wouldn’t wear flag pins on his lapel, whose wife isn’t proud of America and who went to some liberationist church where the pastor damned his own country. They think they’re running against some naïve university-town dreamer, the second coming of Adlai Stevenson….

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mm415: Blast from the Past! No. 28

June 19, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.

lhc250x46_thumb2

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last summer, originally posted September 15, 2007, and originally titled “U.S. Pilot helped clear the fog of war”.

MUDGE’S Musings

Got to tell you, like most of us, I have long since developed war fatigue. And I’m nowhere near the front. All I seem to be able to do is wring my hands and whimper, “Get our soldiers out of this!”

But, I have a soft spot for technology, and this is a technology story, about Iraq. But of course, wars are fought by women and men. And this is even more a story about a creative and determined man who took on as his mission to sell a particular technology to the command structure.

So we’ll take a look.

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mm414: McCain vs. Obama takes to the skies

June 18, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

The Government Accountability Office has tossed the Northrop Grumman/EADS refueling tankers contract back to the Air Force. This is a big relief to Boeing, which was stunned in March when they lost out in a competition that could be worth as much as $40 billion.

Boeing filed a protest after the consortium of Northrop Grumman/EADS, EADS being the European aerospace giant that has been competing savagely, and successfully, with Boeing for the world’s commercial airline business for more than 30 years, was chosen by the Air Force to provide 179 KC-45A aerial refueling tankers. The KC-45A is based on the popular Airbus A330 twin engine widebodied airliner. Boeing’s submission was based on the Boeing 767, a similar aircraft, but a decade older design.

If you took the trouble, faithful reader, to refresh your memory regarding the March award by clicking on the link above, then you know that this story is a true Washington lobbyist soap opera.

washingtonpost

GAO Agrees with Boeing in Air Force Tanker Contract

By Dana Hedgpeth | Washington Post Staff Writer  | Wednesday, June 18, 2008; 2:04 PM

The Government Accountability Office has sustained a protest from Boeing on a $40 billion contract awarded to rival Northrop Grumman to build new aerial refueling tankers for the Air Force, saying “a number of significant errors” had been made in the evaluations of the heated competition.

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mm413: Computers: Not helpful for poor kids?

June 17, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© has been an enthusiastic observer of Nicholas Negroponte’s idealistic One Laptop Per Child initiative since it started getting close to launch late last year.

By one count, in fact, this would be the 18th such post, a sizable fraction.

But, it seems such a good idea: provide millions of dramatically attractive PCs to governments at a rock bottom price (original target, $100) to be distributed to school children. The hope: in the same way that cell phones have bootstrapped the developing world into the maw of 21st century communications without requiring the arduous and costly laying of trillions of miles of copper wire to every last remote corner of the planet, connect kids in deprived lands to the 21st century via the Internet.

Well, the launch price last November was closer to $200 than $100, but the dollar (not to speak of the price of oil — not just fuel for transportation, but even more valuable, if underappreciated, as the feedstock for the manufacture of plastic, a key component of absolutely every computer of any cost) is not what it was in 2005 when the program was formulated. To bring faithful reader up to speed on this topic, we’ve provided a handy list of those 17 previous entries.

One Laptop Per Child @ L-HC

mm088: Meet the XO
mm089: Amateur mapmaking…
mm099: A $99 Desktop…
mm149: India’s take…
mm153: By a Laptop, Get one…
mm162: Laptop with a Mission
mm170: Technology and Ed …
mm179: OLPC for India after all?
mm189: OLPC cranks up!
mm203: OLPC: News; discouraging word
mm212: Cheap computing…
mm219: OLPC — Harvard speaks
mm232: Li’l green laptops a hit in Peru
mm247: OLPC — reviews are coming in
mm249: OLPC – News, and a review
mm267: XO – A Missionary Position
mm382: One Laptop Per Child…Windows

Some intriguing, if disturbing, research hit the news this past week.

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mm412: Choice Two

June 16, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

As I start to write this post, it’s 8:56pmCDT, pretty late to begin a project on a Monday night.

Mondays. (Or, I guess Sundays. If you observe the Sabbath on a Saturday). (Or, I guess Saturdays. If you observe the Sabbath on a Friday).

Any way you look at it, the first day of the work week is the tough one. The alarm clock, which if one is fortunate, stayed off for the entire weekend, resumes working its mischief on schedule, in Mr. & Mrs. MUDGE‘s distressing case, at 5:10am. That’s a hurtful note, indeed.

So, an advantage of beginning the day with the roosters, is that one has the capacity to end the day reasonably early. And, as is typical, the nine-hour workday, and the two-hour round trip commute still had me home and ready to hit the ‘Sphere at a very reasonable hour.

But there were responsibilities that had prior call on my precious blogging time tonight. Spent the past 2-1/2 hours reconciling bank accounts and paying my various creditors and other mid-month obligations, something I might have done when fresher yesterday, had my good friends at Comcast cooperated and left me with a connection I could depend upon while accessing my on-line banking resources.

By the time service had restored itself just as mysteriously as it had gone away, two lengthy waits in customer service jail plus an hour or two later, the impetus to do the responsible thing had seeped away, restored in full tonight, thankfully.

Now, faced with limited access to blogging resources (suitable computer, software [see the Blogging Process Hall of Fame in the sidebar], and most of all, time) yr (justifiably) humble svt has arrived at two tactics to honor the blogger’s prime directive: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

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mm411: Comcast rant no. 3,219,586,773,089,246,129,6…

June 15, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

In the 3-1/2 weeks since our previous Comcast disappointment, our monopoly ISP has been behaving itself. Of course, we were away during most of the past week (if you somehow missed our Boston coverage, here’s the most recent), but it only took less than 36 hours since returning for a really pernicious issue to appear, for the first time in this grizzled veteran’s experience.

It’s an intermittent phenomenon: suddenly the modem loses connection, then slowly reconnects. Stays connected for about 90 seconds; then the cycle repeats.

For hours.

It’s really impossible to conduct any activity at all on the Internet when one’s connection interrupts for a minute, every 90 seconds.

Contacted support. Found the same bipolar experience as previously experienced. The first person I talked to, after about a 15-minute wait (always a good indicator of system wide issues!) had absolutely nothing to offer except scheduling a technician visit. No diagnostics. No word of any system issues. Nothing. Concluded the call in disgust, without scheduling a visit.

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mm410: Shallow thoughts

June 14, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Back from Boston. Gotten some rest. Feeling more like myself. But not ready for deep thoughts, and yr (justifiably) humble svt found some topics on the web today worth pursuing in depth. But not today.

Sunday, 15-June-2008, is Fathers’ Day, an even more contrived observance than is Mothers’ Day. Pursuing the Left-Handed Complement archives, it seems that I let the day go by without note last year. Not a big deal.

My father, and my father-in-law, both good men and great role models, are deceased. My children, who I hope rate me similarly (but that’s for them to evaluate, and the jury is still out!), are mostly unavailable this weekend. Received a gift from the L.A. branch of the family, lovely framed pictures of our seven-year-old grandson and five-year-old granddaughter; definitely made my day.

My older son and his wife (and our local grand-dog) left early this morning for an out-of-state visit to his wife’s parents, to celebrate Fathers’ Day there. Can’t fault that; my kids haven’t seen those really good people since their wedding last July.

My youngest, the artist and vampire, leads a life that is 180° offset from his parents. He works, or performs, until the wee hours of the morning (home by 6am), so we see him rarely.

So, this weekend, a Father’s Day without fathers (permanent condition), and without children (in person — we have hopes for a Skype video call later today with the grandchildren).

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mm409: Blast from the Past! No. 27

June 13, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

What a great day to post this! I’m headed home from Boston, and sincerely hoping that I need not loathe nor fear any of the experience.

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.

lhc250x46_thumb2

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last summer, originally posted September 12, 2007 and originally titled “Fear and loathing at the airport.”

MUDGE’S Musings

We’ve tackled the unpleasant topic of air travel a couple of times this summer.

As a subject of interest, it won’t go away.

A couple of recent cases in point, about a week old, but worthy of attention nonetheless.

We begin with Business Week, recently demoted from its 35-year reign as MUDGE‘s #1 absolute all time favorite business magazine by the new (160-year old!) #1, The Economist, the best magazine on the planet. But, BW is always a fine read, and this was the cover story for the Sept. 10 issue:

bw_255x65_thumb1

Long lines, late flights, near collisions—everyone is unhappy with the state of the U.S. air travel system. Unfortunately, no one, especially not the FAA, seems able to do anything about it

When Marion C. Blakey took over at the Federal Aviation Administration in 2002, she was determined to fix an air travel system battered by terrorism, antiquated technology, and the ever-turbulent finances of the airline industry. Five years later, as she prepares to step down on Sept. 13, it’s clear she failed. Almost everything about flying is worse than when she arrived. Greater are the risks, the passenger headaches, and the costs in lost productivity. Almost everyone has a horror story about missed connections, lost baggage, and wasted hours on the tarmac.. More than 909,000 flights were late through June of this year, twice the level of 2002.

And if you think the Summer from Hell is over, fasten your seat belt. The FAA predicts 1 billion passengers a year will take to the skies by 2015, a 36% increase from the current level. FAA officials say this year’s Labor Day crunch could become an everyday flying fiasco within eight years, costing America’s economy $22 billion annually.

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mm408: Boston, Day 3, concluded; and Day 4, last day!

June 12, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Day 3, concluded

We ran out of words, and steam, last evening, having only covered the morning sessions of the Enterprise 2.0 conference from Boston Day 3. We’ll try to catch up here.

20. Mash-Ups: Are they the killer app for Enterprise 2.0? David Berlind, moderator

Panelists were Charlotte Goldsbery, Denodo Technologies, Lauren Cooney, Microsoft, Nicole Carrier, IBM, and Michaline Todd, Serena Software.

Berlind introduced the concept of mash-ups, a means of knocking together disparate elements and applets into a web page. Advantage: build it in hours. Risk: brittle, as they depend on outside service providers who may have reliability issues.

A useful distinction was made later. Portals and dashboards also build from disparate elements, but their elements only report and do not interact with each other. That interactivity is what distinguishes a mash-up.

All of the speakers have stakes in this field, IBM’s Mash-up Center, Denodo, Serena Business Mash-ups and Microsoft, who has had a consumer version, Popfly available and who apparently plans a commercial tool soon.

Challenge to enterprise IT: what kind of data can we deliver to the business in a safe way: rules, privileges, policies.

Panel believes that it will be 6-months to a year before business users will be able to build their own. A sample of what’s available on the web right now is Yahoo Pipes.

Examples of business related mash-ups:

  • event registration: showing hotel, map, photo from Flickr, weather
  • emergency response organizations: counter-terrorism situational awareness
  • retailer: an inbound shipment monitoring dashboard (weather, piracy)
  • avian flue data pushed onto remote devices
  • a customer visit: weather, golf-courses, Eventful.com, restaurants
  • HR: applicant search on Facebook, MySpace, etc.

Application enrichment, but it’s brittle.

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mm407: Boston, Day 3

June 11, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

So this is the third episode of what has turned out to be a quadruple-duty blog post.

1. I endeavor, as always, to edify faithful reader of this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© on a daily basis. I take very seriously the blogger’s Prime Directive: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

2. The event at which I am attending, the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, Massachusetts, eats its own dog food in the sense that it provides space for participants to blog, contribute to a wiki, etc. So, I am posting these efforts in the blog space, although I am certain that for most participants, after a day filled with conference activities, and an evening filled with beyond the venue dining and/or entertainment (conjecturing about them, not describing your diligent and well behaved correspondent), the idea of writing, much less reading other people’s blogs in whatever time remains is probably far-fetched.

3. I am also posting these efforts on one of our fledgling blogs at the Heart of Corporate America, where, as I’ve mentioned, I am working with the technical review board considering which of the tools in this evolving market we should be adopting. I naturally gravitated to that space during the time I have worked with the team, and probably have been as active blogging in their test spaces as anyone (read: not very). The overall effort is crying out for a user champion who does more than attend meetings; so far we haven’t much evidence of one.

4. As a business traveler, I have what apparently is an old-fashioned self-impetus to file a trip report for management. I say old fashioned, because when I sent my department head last year’s report (I don’t get out very much) apologizing for it taking about a week after I returned, she replied that so far, of the more than half-dozen people from the department that had attended the event, mine was the only such report thus far received. Under those circumstances, I hereby declare that these several days’ efforts will serve for that report.

Once again, I recorded six hand-printed (as a left-handed person — the title of the blog, after all! — I gave up cursive writing as soon as I could get away with it) for the day’s lengthy sessions. As I begin to write this, at 5:00pmEDT, there is still one final session to go before the day is over, although as it is scheduled for one of the break-out rooms, and is likely to be oversubscribed, a pretty common occurrence this week, I may break to attend, and promptly return after being shut out. Not a total disappointment for a person who’s been sitting in sessions since 8:00am….

Okay, now it’s well after 8:30pm, and I’ve added more than another full page of notes from the final session. Whew! Hope my stamina is up to the challenge!

13. Enterprise 2.0 Tools: A Critical Evaluation: Tony Byrne, CMS Watch

CMS Watch is a software rating consultancy, and Tony Berne, its founder spoke quite eloquently despite the 8:00am starting time. Some of my fellow attendees, coming off a conference evening that might not have been as boring as mine (although, rest assured faithful reader, that I am always inspired and energized blogging for you!), questioned the necessity, not to say appropriateness of an 8am start time. This was just one element of a logistics topic that there will perhaps be an appropriate time to consider.

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