Monday, May 31, 2010

New Facebook malware attack is spreading

Send in the iPad clones: Asus, MSI show off new tablet PCs at Computex

This year’s installment of Computex is getting off to a fast start when it comes to tablet PCs that hope to compete with the iPad.

While most top-tier computer companies haven’t provided details on devices that will go head-to-head with Apple’s tablet, two of the major Asian brands have unveiled their challengers at the Taiwanese expo.

Hoping to make the biggest splash, Asus is introducing two flavours of Eee Pad—a 10-inch model (EP101TC) that will run Windows Embedded Compact 7 and the 12-inch unit Eee Pad EP121 (pictured). This uses Intel Core 2 Duo CULV processors and Windows 7 Home Premium.

Windows Embedded Compact 7 is the latest version of Windows CE and is purportedly the basis for the Windows Phone 7 OS, but most buyers would presumably be more interested in the full Windows 7 experience.

Asus promises the EP121 will offer 10 hours of battery life, but the company provides little other info about the EP101TC, other than to say that Windows Embedded Compact 7 provides “engaging user experience and delivers instant connectivity to the Windows world”.

The good news is that the Eee Pads will be priced from $399 to $499. The bad news is that the devices won’t be available until the first quarter of 2011, giving Apple even more time to capture more than its market share.

MSI also announced a new tablet running Windows 7 Home Premium, but it’s going with an Intel Atom Z530 processor instead of CULV CPUs.

The WindPad 100 will come with a 10-inch display, 2GB of RAM, and a 32GB SSD drive. It is slated to arrive sometime in 2010 for around $499, but opinions are less than encouraging.

The prototype demo suffered from slow load times for applications. That’s a definite no-no running up against the iPad, which everyone can agree is quite responsive whether or not you’re a fan of the device.

If MSI can’t produce better performance from the final version of the WindPad 100, it has an alternative up its sleeve in the form of the WindPad 110, which is based on Nvidia’s Tegra 2 processor and will run Android instead of Windows 7. thought to be priced around $399, there’s nothing official on pricing or a release date.

So, until then hang on to your iPad.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Time for a Fair Trade iPhone?

The suicides at Foxconn have highlighted the issue of highly stressful working conditions in the global electronics industry. Foxconn has responded with psychologists, punch bags, swimming pools, and asking employees to promise not to kill themselves.

But these moves do nothing to change the actual working conditions. Suicide numbers are a big red herring because even if they go down, huge numbers of workers will still suffer from low wages, long hours, and many other tough and unhealthy working conditions.

A recent BBC documentary series, “Blood, Sweat and Luxuries” took six young British consumers and placed them exotic locations working in the same jobs as locals, and having to survive on the same wages.

It’s an eye opening series because it showed the horrible work conditions that billions of people face daily, every week, for years, and decades. These were strong, healthy, young British adults, yet they would pass out from the back breaking work, suffer panic attacks, and many other maladies, after just a few hours on the job.

They carried huge amounts of dirt in Ghana’s gold fields; they processed leather in stinking abattoirs in Ethiopia; they dug deep holes in coffee plantations; and they had to work in an electronics factory in the Philippines where workers prepared tiny components for disk drives, processing one component every 3 seconds.

If they even took a moment to glance up from their tasks, or be distracted, they would fall behind in their quota and have their wages docked. It was incredible how much work had to be done for so little money by so many people. And the reason they were paid so little is that the electronics factory had to accept tiny profit margins in order to win its contracts.

All the large tech companies such as Apple, Nokia, Dell, etc have agreements with their suppliers that they do not employ children, and that they will abide by certain standards to protect workers. But it’s not clear how these are monitored, enforced, or how much in common they share across the electronics industry.

What is common across the electronics industry is a relentless focus on reducing manufacturing costs, and the largest manufacturing cost is labor; which is why employees are pushed to work faster, while maintaining high quality work, and at the lowest wages acceptable.

Phishing attack uses tricky 'tabnapping'

Saturday, May 29, 2010

12 Practical Business Lessons From Social Psychology

It’s been said many times that business is all about people. That being the case, perhaps we should stop reading management books for advice and start looking at social psychology. Very simply, social psychologists study how people interact with others – their families, friends, and yes, business partners.

Smart marketers and executives have been using the findings of this growing field for decades to close sales, hold effective meetings and get their way in negotiations. But rather than putting you through an academic psychology lesson, we condensed the most useful concepts into one article.

The Foot in the Door Phenomenon
Foot in Door
The Concept: If you’re wondering how to convince superiors, employees or customers to do what you ask, try using the foot in the door phenomenon. This refers to the tendency of people to do something huge if they have already agreed to something much smaller. Your friend should be much more open to helping you decorate your entire house for a dinner party if, for example, he already helped you pick out decorations.

How You Can Use It: This handy principle has countless applications in the business world. Hand lotion and beauty supply kiosks at the mall use it all the time. If you can get a person to talk to you for a couple of minutes and rub some lotion on their hands, you’ve got your foot in the door, and they are much more likely to buy from you than if you had just screamed a sales pitch at them.

The Door in the Face Phenomenon
Door in Face
The Concept: Another classic persuasion tactic is known as the “Door in the Face Phenomenon.” Using this approach, you make your actual request look reasonable by first making an outrageous request that the person will unquestionably turn down. When they turn you down, you then ask for what you really want, which now looks trivial in light of what you asked for a moment earlier.

How You Can Use It: Let’s say you want your company to approve funding for a team of five marketers to research a new advertising campaign. Rather than simply asking for this funding and risking being shot down, use the door in the face principle.

Ask your company for twice the amount of funding for a team twice as big as what you need. This will almost certainly be disapproved, but don’t fret; you didn’t need that amount in the first place. Act like you’re really going to work hard on cutting the funding down to the bone and reworking your proposal.

In a few days, come back and propose the funding request you wanted all along. It will look as though you found a way to accomplish the same tasks for half the price with half the personnel. Social psychology research states that you are much more likely to get what you want by doing this.

The Serial Position Effect

Serial Position

The Concept: A truly sharp marketer should understand how our brains process information. The “Serial Position Effect” (developed by Hermann Ebbinghaus) assists by explaining how we remember items we see or hear in lists. Ebbunghaus discovered that things shown at the beginning of a list and at the end of a list are remembered best. This was later titled the “Primacy Effect,” and the “Recency Effect.”

How You Can Use It: This powerful concept can affect what the millions of people seeing your advertisements, listening to your radio promotion, or reading your sales letter, remember about your product.

If you have five benefits that your product provides over the competition, think long and hard about which ones you want to stick deep into your audience’s memory. Place those items at the beginning and end of your pitch.

This way, prospects will remember these benefits when they see your product on a shelf or think about the commercial they just saw.

Attitudes Follow Behaviour: Resolving Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance

The Concept: Cognitive dissonance is a fancy term for when people have opinions, behave contrary to them, and change their opinion to fit how they acted. For example, if you normally despise handguns, but join your buddy at the shooting range one day, you might leave thinking about how “guns aren’t really that bad if you use them safely.”

Simply by holding and shooting one yourself, your brain begins thinking positive thoughts about it. Similarly, a “boring” task might later be remembered as “not being all that bad” or even being “fun” because, after all, you did it.

How You Can Use It: What this means to you is that if you can get your customer to perform a small task, such as a little game or survey online, the customer may begin making some positive assumptions about what you sell.

This especially works for businesses operating in controversial markets, such as gambling, tobacco or other vice-related products. If you can find a harmless and fun way for potential customers to get involved with your products and services they will be more likely to become loyal buyers down the line.

Two Routes to Persuasion

Routes to Persuasion

The Concept: Not everyone processes information (including product demos and advertisements) the same way. Generally speaking, there are two types of audiences, depending on your product/service.

Your audience is either attentively thinking about your message, or they are distracted. These two audiences take two different routes to understanding your message.

The involved group takes what is known as the “Central Route,” meaning that they focus on what you are saying closely, develop counterarguments and respond based on what they eventually decide your product is all about.

If your ad or pitch was strong and convincing, these people will probably buy. If it was weak or not convincing enough, there’s little hope of them buying.

How You Can Use It: The distracted audience takes a very different route to understanding your pitch known as the “Peripheral Route.” These people focus on irrelevant parts of the pitch that randomly interest them.

The speaker’s good looks, for example might interest them more than the information in the pitch. Simple language is also important for this kind of audience. For example, if you’re selling a market research service, classic adages such as “look before you leap” will probably work better than “perform proper market research before investing.”

Perceived Expertise

Percieved Expertise

The Concept: Let’s face it – most of us give more weight to what “experts” say. Most people would sooner listen to a warning about the health hazards of eating fast food, for instance, if it came from a renowned nutritionist than from a self-righteous teenager.

How You Can Use It: What makes someone appear to be an expert? One tactic that has been used by marketers and politicians is to begin your pitch with something the audience already agrees with. This makes the speaker seem intelligent and makes the audience eager to believe more of what he or she has to say.

Of course, being introduced as an expert never hurt either. A comment about an approaching asteroid from “Dr. Robert Kimmel, Chair of Astrophysics at Harvard University” will surely be taken more seriously than, “Robbie Kimmel, local guitarist and college student.”

Finally, social scientists find that speaking confidently greatly improves believability. A study performed by Bonnie Erikson in 1978 proved this by having college students rate the credibility of two supposed “witnesses” to an accident.

One spoke very clearly and confidently and the other one hesitated and stumbled over his words a bit. One by one, each student said the confident speaker was much more credible. Perhaps it’s time to buy your TV or radio guy a course in effective speaking!

Perceived Trustworthiness

Percieved Trustworthiness

The Concept: Trustworthiness of the speaker is another factor critical to any kind of visual marketing. No trust, no sale. Fortunately, how trustworthy you look can be controlled almost entirely by you.

How You Can Use It: Our outward behaviors have a lot to do with whether trust us or not. One behaviour that seems to carry a lot of weight is eye contact. Researchers have found that if video-taped witnesses in court looked their questioner straight in the eye rather than down or around, they were seen as more trustworthy.

You can also appear more trustworthy by seeming like you’re not trying to influence an audience. “Hidden camera” TV commercials utilize this tactic all the time. Social psychology experiments have found that people who don’t think they’re being watched are comfortable being completely honest.

People also find others trustworthy when they argue against their own interest. Thus, a message about risks of cigarette smoking seems much more sincere coming from the tobacco companies than it would if were given by an anti-smoking politician up for re-election. People might link the politician’s anti-smoking speeches to his political agenda, whereas they cannot do this with the tobacco companies and are much more likely to absorb the message as true.

The Mere-Exposure Effect

Mere Exposure

The Concept: Sometimes repetition alone can make a message more believable. Social research has found that people tend to eventually believe things they’ve been told many times, simply because they’ve repeatedly heard it. Studies show that people rate false statements such as “Mercury has a higher boiling point than copper” as true if they were made to read them a week before.

How You Can Use It: This concept is why companies run the same advertisement three times during a one-hour television show. The first time the audience sees the ad they might just ignore it. However, a week later they may have seen the ad 20 times, and by that point they have begun to accept its message and view favorably the product it advertises.

Distraction Disarms Counter-arguing


The Concept: Audio and visual messages are much more effective when the audience can be somewhat distracted by background clutter just long enough to inhibit counter-arguing. Mild distraction often preoccupies the brain just long enough to stop it from inventing a reason to say “no.”

How You Can Use It: Many radio commercials utilize this tactic. The words promote the product being sold while background music or intermittent comedy distracts us from thinking too deeply about the words.

Be careful not to distract so much that ad is not processed, however. Extremely violent or incredibly sexual advertisements are often ineffective because the audience is simply too distracted by what they’re viewing to pay attention to the message.

The key is to strike a balance such that your message is understood, but not deeply analysed or argued by the audience.

The Self- Reference Effect


The Concept: Remember – a marketer’s job making sure the audience understands and remembers the sales pitch. One handy way to achieve this is known as the “Self-Reference Effect.”

The Self Reference Effect refers to the tendency of people to effectively recall information about themselves. Most people are primary concerned with themselves. Thus, memories pertaining to what we think about the most, mainly ourselves, are held longer and recalled easier.

Studies have shown that, when asked to compare ourselves to a short-story character, we remember that character better than if we compared them to someone else.

How You Can Use It: When planning a new marketing campaign or presentation to the board, it is important to keep this principle in mind, as it can greatly influence what your audience walks away remembering.

Try focusing on the basic lifestyle and personality traits of your audience. Once you have these squared away, design your new message to match these traits. This makes your message personally meaningful to them and boosts their chance of remembering what you said.



The Concept: Priming is when various stimuli (sights, tastes, smells) automatically trigger thoughts of similar stimuli. The smell of crisp fall air, for example, might trigger thoughts about the holiday. As a result, simply smelling the fall air might make you crave pumpkin pie or apple cider, even though no food is in front of you.

How You Can Use It: Priming is a classic sales tactic that has been used for decades, and you can put it to use for your business immediately. The key is to find some kind of neutral stimulus that is clearly related to your product.

A perfect example of this can be found at any movie theater. As soon as you walk through the door your nostrils are overcome with the smell of buttery popcorn.

Without even seeing the popcorn or being asked to buy it, you find yourself making your way to the concession stand because you suddenly feel like the movie wouldn’t be the same without the snacks.

This is classic priming, and all five senses are susceptible to priming by intelligent marketers and businesspeople.

Prevent Employee Social Loafing

Social Loafing

The Concept: Have you ever noticed, perhaps in college or around the office, that when groups are assembled to complete a task, it always ends up that a couple of members do most of the work while the majority of members do almost none of the work?

This is a social psychological phenomenon known as “Social Loafing,” and it happens everywhere and in absolutely every profession. Social loafing is defined as the tendency for people to put less effort into a task when they are in a group than when they are alone.

How You Can Use It: Social loafing can seriously drain a team’s performance. The good news is that the causes of social loafing are known and consistent. Social loafing happens when no one is personally accountable.

When the group is judged as a whole no matter what its individual members do, loafing is almost sure to occur.

The sure-fire way to make sure that all of your employees are contributing equally to the task at hand is to assign them to groups, but assure them that they will be personally monitored and evaluated on their contributions to the group.

The more someone thinks they will be judged personally, the less social loafing you have. This allows you to make the most of the talent you have on staff and almost always produces stronger results than the vague “group evaluation” does.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ken Robinson at TED: Bring on the learning revolution!

In this poignant, funny follow-up to his fabled 2006 talk, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a radical shift from standardised schools to personalised learning -- creating conditions where kids' natural talents can flourish.

eHealth, EMR and Web 2.0

eHealth, EMR and Web 2.0

While telemedicine may seem a cold and impersonal approach to patient care, physicians say it's exactly the opposite. And they are quickly embracing it as a way to foster a more intimate relationship with patients and educate them about treatments prior to office visits.

"We're getting very positive feedback from patients," said Dr. Eric Christianson, assistant medical director of the emergency room at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview. Fairview now has 36 physicians who are beta-testing patient Web 2.0 services powered by software from SaaS provider American Well.

Physicians take shifts during which they commit to being available for online sessions with patients. Fairview's hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekend.

American Well partnered with Microsoft to use its HealthVault EMR service (Electronic Medical Records), which allows patients to securely store their entire medical history online. Test results and radiological images can also be uploaded to the online records. Patients control access to their information and must specify who can see the records. Google Health is another popular online EMR service also being used to access patient information online.

BlueCross and BlueShield of Minnesota makes the online patient services available to employers, who then offer it to employees. There is a $10 or $20 co-payment fee for members, and nonmembers can use the services for $50 per session. In other states, however, BlueCross and BlueShield offers the services to any member, regardless of employer.

Social networking sites get in the game

It's not only secure videoconferencing, IM or e-mail that's being used to bolster communication with patients. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are also being used by physician practices and hospitals to disseminate health information and create online communities where patients can share their experiences.

Continue Reading

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Concern about pandemic flu has positive impact on personal hygiene behaviours

Concern about pandemic flu has positive impact on personal hygiene behaviours

Fear of the H1N1 virus appears to be the driving factor behind the adoption of preventive behaviors, according to a study published in the June issue of AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, (APIC).

Researchers studying the public response during the recent H1N1 outbreak in Hong Kong concluded that fear about the pandemic prompted residents to frequently wash hands and wear face-masks.

A team led by Joseph T.F. Lau, PhD, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, investigated the prevalence of self-reported preventive behaviors in response to the influenza A/H1N1 epidemic in Hong Kong, including wearing face-masks regularly in public areas, wearing face-masks after the onset of influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms, and frequent hand-washing. Previous research shows that both frequent hand-washing and wearing face-masks can control the spread of influenza.

The study's results showed that 47 percent washed hands more than 10 times per day, 89 percent wore face-masks when having influenza-like illness (ILI) and 21.5 percent wore face-masks regularly in public areas.

The authors note that pandemic outbreaks "have had a sustained impact on personal hygiene and protective behaviors. Our study showed that people with a higher level of mental distress due to A/H1N1 were more likely to adopt some of the three preventive measures." They go on to say that emerging infectious diseases "provide a window of opportunity for health education to improve personal hygiene."

According to the authors, these preventive behaviors can play an important role in controlling pandemic influenza, but they cautioned that there is a lack of data on their adoption by the public and see a need for more research.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Apple iPhone: Protestors Press for Answers on Foxconn Suicides

Protesters from SACOM (Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour) burn effigies of Apple products during a demonstration near the offices of Foxconn in Hong Kong.

The founder of Taiwan's Foxconn Group broke his silence over a string of suicides by its employees in China, denying the deaths were related to conditions at the technology giant's factories

Picture: AFP/GETTY

Monday, May 24, 2010

Project Managers Need to Engage IT At the Right Time | CIO - Blogs and Discussion

Making the alignment between requirements gathering and the IT analysts has much to do with the people that are assigned to create the project objectives i.e. the Project team. Specifically, this normally falls under the remit of the Project manager.

Issues with requirements management cannot be blamed on the IT organisation, the analysts or the process. If there is a mismatch, then that falls squarely at the feet of the PM.

I firmly believe that, given a sound set of well defined requirements, a professional and effective IT organisation will deliver on them. The problem comes in when the requirements are not clearly defined or contain too many assumptions.

Assumptions are the enemy of us all! Without tight constraints, most creative IT groups will typically over-engineer the project just because it's a) fun to do b) something they can experiment with i.e. use a new technique or tool on c) better to cover you're ass! So, again the issue is not where you ended up but where you began.

Get the right start

To get to the requirements right from the sart. You need the right people to define those requirements and, although they play a key role in the project and it's succesful delivery, these are not the IT people.

If you let the IT people define the requirements they will follow a different track, the business will dis-engage and you will be on a diversive course from the beginning. You will find yourself acting as referee and peacekeeper between the two entities, which means you will not be spending enough time on your real job, as PM. In the end the business will blame you, as PMs and IT for the project's failure to deliver on their needs.

The only people to define the requirements are the business people and end users. Try to keep IT people involved but kept at a safe distance from this part of the process.

IT people are very keen to be creative and can easily start designing a product, even before it is fully defined or fleshed out. IT people are excellent at telling you why something cannot be done rather than how it can be done. Therefore, the requirements must be well designed before IT starts any work.

They will determine how to get things done and overcome most obstacles. This is what IT people are really good at.

Therefore we should allow IT to do what they are good at and give the opportunities to succeed. Let the right people design the requirements and leave the design to IT.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Observations: Three puzzles from Martin Gardner (1914-2010)

Observations: Three puzzles from Martin Gardner (1914-2010)

News of Martin Gardner's death began circulating on Saturday night. For those of you who are unfamiliar with his work, here's a taste of the kinds of puzzles he was famous for bringing to the world. You can read a profile of him here. Rest in peace, Martin.

1. Reversed Trousers
Each end of a 10-foot length of rope is tied securely to a man’s ankles. Without cutting or untying the rope, is it possible to remove his trousers, turn them inside out on the rope and put them back on correctly? Party guests should try to answer this confusing topological question before initiating any empirical tests.

2. Crazy Cut
This one looks much easier than it is. You are to make one cut (or draw one
line)—of course, it needn’t be straight— that will divide the figure into two identical parts.

3. Out with the Onion
Arrange four paper matches on a table as shown at right. They represent a martini glass. A match head goes inside to indicate the onion of a Gibson cocktail.

The puzzle is to move just two matches so that the glass is re-formed, but the onion—which must stay where it is—winds up outside the glass. At the finish, the glass may be turned to the left or the right, or even be upside down, but it must be exactly the same shape as before.

The figures below are not a solution, because the onion is still inside or because three matches have been moved.

Follow this link to see the solutions

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Let the Students Go Digital - Analogue is dead

All this week, all over the country, students have been sitting in serried ranks, crouched over desks, manually driving biros over screeds of virgin paper, to the accompaniment of the stifled yawns and squeaking shoes of invigilators. The exams in question are modules of the AS and A2 papers, and they continue into February, in subjects ranging from archaeology to travel and tourism; yet this is no more than a precursor, an amuse-gueule to the grande bouffe in the summer, when literally millions of students, at GCSE, A-level, and indeed degree level will undergo the same ordeal. This ritual has gone on, unchanged in essence, since Cambridge University first introduced written exams in 1792. But isn't it time we re-examined the whole notion of examinations?

It seems obvious, but is seldom remarked, that students are being obliged to do something that they never do or need to do in real life: write with a pen for two or three hours non-stop. Nobody does that any more. The teachers and academics who will be marking the papers don't do it. Professional writers – novelists, playwrights, journalists – don't do it. Pens are for postcards, diary entries, phone messages, making notes, and doodling in boring meetings. For extended, continuous writing, we use computers.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New steps toward a universal H1N1 flu vaccine

New steps toward a universal flu vaccine |

Researchers at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine have developed a novel influenza vaccine that could represent the next step towards a universal influenza vaccine eliminating the need for seasonal immunizations. They report their findings today in the inaugural issue of mBio?, the first online, open-access journal published by the American Society for Microbiology.

"Current influenza vaccines are effective against only a narrow range of influenza virus strains. It is for this reason that new vaccines must be generated and administered each year. We now report progress toward the goal of an influenza virus vaccine which would protect against multiple strains," says Peter Palese, an author on the study.

The main reason the current seasonal vaccine is so strain-specific is that the antibodies it induces are targeted at the globular head of the hemaglutinin (HA) molecule on the surface of the influenza virus. This globular head is highly variable and constantly changing from strain to strain.

In this study the researchers constructed a vaccine using HA without its globular head. Mice immunized with the headless HA vaccine showed a broader, more robust immune response than mice immunized with full-length HA, and that immune response was enough to protect them against a lethal viral challenge.

"Our results suggest that the response induced by headless HA vaccines is sufficiently potent to warrant their further development toward a universal influenza virus vaccine. Through further development and testing, we predict that a single immunization with a headless HA vaccine will offer effective protection through several influenza epidemics," says Palese.

In a related article, also appearing in the inaugural issue of mBio?, Antonio Cassone of the Instituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy, and Rino Rappuoli of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Siena, Italy, comment on the research and movement in the future towards universal vaccines.

"Recent research demonstrating the possibility of protecting against all influenza A virus types or even phylogenetically distant pathogens with vaccines based on highly conserved peptide or saccharide sequences is changing our paradigm," they write. "Is influenza the only disease that warrants approaches for universal vaccines? Clearly it is not."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Unprotected WiFI Users Face Fines in Germany

Internet users in Germany, whose wireless networks are left password unprotected, can be fined up to 100 euros, according to a recent ruling by Germany’s top criminal court.

The ruling is in response to a musician’s lawsuit against a user whose unprotected wireless network was used for downloading and sharing music over P2P.

Just how realistic is the ruling, from a security perspective? Is a weak password protected wireless network, any different than the one with no password security at all?

“Private users are obligated to check whether their wireless connection is adequately secured to the danger of unauthorised third parties abusing it to commit copyright violation,” the court said. Internet users can be fined up to euro 100 ($126) if a third party takes advantage of their unprotected WLAN connection.”

The ruling is not just missing the emphasis on the importance of strong passwords, but it also “doesn’t expect users to constantly update the security of their wireless networks“.

Moreover, it’s not even building awareness on the fact how the choice of the encryption protocol, can greatly slow down a potential attacker, in a combination with strong password.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Great Firewall of China blocks EU trade into China

China's internet "firewall" is a trade barrier and needs to be tackled within the framework of the World Trade Organisation, Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission, told reporters in Shanghai today.

Dutch-born Kroes, who is also in charge of Europe's digital agenda, said the firewall was a trade barrier as long as it blocked communication for Internet users, preventing the free flow of information.

"It is one of those issues that needs to be tackled within the WTO," said Kroes, who served as European Commissioner for competition until 2009.

Kroes spoke at the China headquarters of video-sharing company Tudou, a rival of Google's internationally popular video-sharing platform YouTube that is blocked in China.

Chinese law requires internet companies to block or remove objectionable content, including pornography and any information deemed sensitive by the ruling Communist Party.

Social media platforms popular overseas, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Flickr, are all blocked in China for fear they will provide a platform to organise or share illicit information.

"I am pushing wherever I can just to get European enterprises a level playing field in China and the other way around. It should be reciprocal," she said, adding that the amount of disruption from the firewall varied for each business.

The US has also explored taking China's internet restrictions to the WTO. In the past, the WTO has upheld China's right to censor printed and audiovisual content.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Difficulties facing the EuroZone

DDoS Attacks Targetting Web Servers over PCs

Security experts have warned of a new distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that targets full on web servers rather than individual PCs.

The hackers infect servers with an application and, through a very simple software program, are able to identify the URLs they want to attack and hit them in a click of a button.

Imperva, the security firm which discovered the attacks, has the source code for the original application, along with screenshots, showing it only contained 90 lines of PHP code.

“Although servers are typically harder to compromise than PCs, by capitalising on their greater horsepower, the hackers create a much more efficient and powerful DDoS tool using servers as the attack platform,” said Imperva in a statement.

“By using web servers, the attackers are even less detectable. Trace backs typically lead to a lone server at a random hosting company.”

Amichai Shulman, chief technology officer at Imperva, has claimed that unlike most DDoS attacks, this is not a one off and the attacks “will be ongoing.”

He advises companies to be on the look out and monitor Google presence to check if they have been compromised.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jason Goldman, outlines the Future Revenue Plan for Twitter

Jason Goldman , vice president of products at Twitter, however, says Twitter's first plan for generating revenue, its spread as a political tool throughout the world as well as other advances are all simply pieces of a long-thought-out plan of management.

There have been some surprises along the way, but that's just part of Twitter's journey, added Goldman, who joined the social networking firm in 2007.

In an interview this week, Goldman talked about the plan announced last month for generating advertising revenue, what businesses want from the microblogging site, who he follows on Twitter and what he thinks about tweeting on Apple's new iPad tablet.

What's your 'promoted tweets' plan announced last month?
The first phase is to get a better understanding of how well promoted tweets perform and how well users react to them. Once this is done, we will roll out promoted tweets to be shown on Twitter clients. Beyond that, we're going to continue to refine and include promoted tweets outside of just search. Have relevant tweets in your user timelines.

What are other revenue generating parts of the new business plan?
Promoted tweets is the big thing we're focused on. Another is the commercial accounts product. It's more speculative. It's about services we can provide for businesses to make their use of Twitter more affective. It's a feedback mechanism to let them see what users think of them. We may charge for that service. We may not. We're going to see stuff on that later this year.

Any other advertising plans in the works?
No. We continue to learn and be open to other ideas but they have to pass the test. We're making a bet with promoted tweets. We're not working on other advertising plans. I'm not saying we won't someday, but we're not working that right now.

Is business use of Twitter increasing?
We haven't categorized users as businesses or not ... but it's a minority. We have started working with businesses to build more services for them. They're looking for ways to understand the effectiveness of what they're doing on Twitter.

So much of the activity happens outside of, so they need to know what happens through a longer lens at the whole ecosystem. How many people were engaged in the tweet I wrote on desktop clients compared to the tweet I did on a mobile phone?

Read more of this article on Computerworld website

Leo Babauta of ZenHabits Offers you the Golden Ticket

'Regular bloggers and contributers will know the name Leo Babauta – creator of the blog ZenHabits, among other successful blogs.

Leo’s famous for taking Zen Habits from nothing to one of the biggest blogs in the world with over 150,000 subscribers within a seemingly short period of time.

Off the back of his success he’s written a best selling book and launched a number of popular e-books. He works full time on what he does and is always experimenting with new ways to build his web presence.

So, it begs the question; How does one of the top professional Bloggers make money in a marketplace that seems to give everything away for FREE?

Well, this new business model is not so different from the old business model in that you first need to establish or identify a good customer base (subscribers) and secondly, you need to know what that customer base wants or needs that the competition is not providing.

Now your customers, or potential customers, may think they know what they need or want, 'now'. If you ask them they will probably tell you that they need more of, and it'll be more of the same, but it should be faster, cheaper, easier, more convenient, renewable, ecologically sound, greener, etc.

They may even talk about the 'future' but the chances are they may not know what that 'future' looks like and that's where you come in. You are the one that will enable them to envisage, and hopefully, experience the 'future,' now.

You have to remember that Henry Ford's customers only wanted more of the 'now', cheaper and faster horses, but he sold them the 'future', the automobile.

Watch this very amateurish video and ask yourself, 'Why is he so successful, what is he selling and how can I apply that to my business?

If, you have trouble coming up with the correct answers, come back to me and I will explain it further or we can develop a more focussed solution that will directly benefit your business.

Stolen Serco Laptop Exposes 207,000 Army Reservists

A Serco laptop stolen from a government contractor last month contained more than 207,000 names, addresses and Social Security numbers of U.S. Army reservists.

The U.S. Army Reserve Command began alerting affected reservists on May 7 via e-mail. Col. Jonathan Dahms, chief public affairs for the Army Reserve, said the personal data was contained on a CD-Rom in a laptop that was stolen from the Morrow, Ga. offices of Serco Inc., a government contractor based in Reston, Va.

The laptop was one of three stolen from the Serco offices, but it was the only one that contained sensitive personal information, Dahms said.

Serco held the data on reservists as part of its contract with the U.S. Army’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation division. As a result, Dahms said, some of the data on the missing laptop may belong to dependents and spouses of U.S. Army reservists.

The e-mail sent to affected service members expresses regret over the incident, but offers little other consolation. From the letter:

The US Army takes this loss very seriously and is reviewing current policies and practices with a view of determining what can or must be changed to preclude a similar occurrence in the future.

At a minimum, we will be providing additional training to personnel to ensure that they understand that personally identifiable information must at all times be treated in a manner that preserves and protects the confidentiality of the data.
Dahms said, however, that the US Army is looking at further steps to protect the identities of those whose personal information was potentially exposed by the theft, although he declined to name any specific solutions.

“We did have an extensive meeting with all key staff at U.S. Army Reserve Command to see what we can implement to make sure our soldiers and families are protected,” he said.

More than seven million consumer records have been exposed in at least 264 data breaches so far this year, according to the latest figures from the Identity Theft Resource Center, a San Diego nonprofit.

The ITRC has tallied some 38 other incidents of data loss or theft involving the government and/or the military so far this year, breaches that exposed nearly 300,000 records.

Inductive Game Theory and conflict

Quantitative studies of behaviour traditionally rely on Jonathan Nash's 'Game theory' and Nash's Equilibrium, to investigate the logic and probability surrounding conflict. Game theory seeks to identify normative strategies that maximise payoffs for individuals in the face of uncertainty.

Although Game theory has been very useful for determining which of a predefined set of strategies will best produce stability, given certain assumptions, its has not proven to be very useful for determining what the natural strategy set is, or which strategies individuals are using out of equilibrium.

Multiple Players
Game theoretic models are also not practical for studying strategies when interactions involve multiple players interacting simultaneously. This is the case in many complex animal and human systems.

Inductive Game Theory
Santa Fe Institute Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellow Simon DeDeo and Institute faculty members Jessica Flack and David Krakauer believe they have developed a new method, which they call 'Inductive Game Theory.'

They have applied this new method to a time series of fights, gathered from detailed observations of an animal society model system. "With these approaches, we can better identify those strategies likely to generate periods of intense conflict," DeDeo says.

Conflict Triggers
"Fights are not explained by 'rogue actors,' or single aggressive individuals, but by complex interactions among groups of three or higher, and the decision to fight is very much dependent on historical events i.e. the memory of what happened in previous conflicts," says Krakauer. (As we all know our perception of events are not always accurate. Memories and historical recollection, can be distorted and otherwise influenced, internally and externally.)

Interaction of Players
"These results suggest that an individual agency has been over-emphasised in social evolution," says Flack. "We need to re-examine the idea that a single individual or nation can directly cause turbulent periods in history, and consider the possibility that what predicts long periods of conflict is how we respond to the actions and reactions of both our friends and our possible enemies in their conflicts."

Jessica Flack believes, "This new empirically-grounded approach to conflict is a crucial step towards designing better methods for prediction, management and control." I hope she is right in this assumption and that it does make the world a safer place.

Aggressive acts
Clearly, a single entity can invoke an action that is intended to provoke an aggressive reaction (Pearl Harbour) but the decision for conflict is an option not an inevitable response, and is based on a large number of factors.

Pre-emptive aggression
Pre-emptive strikes (Hiroshima and Nagasaki), are intolerable unless you convince your 'allies' that it's not, because it's for the 'greater good', but these past events invoke different reactions within us, simply because they are now historical events and they can sit uncomfortably in our memories.

This in itself may make it difficult to predict our reaction to future conflicts, dependant on whether we have a) read about similar events in the history books or b) experienced them directly or indirectly through our friends and partners.

The Santa Fe Institute
The Santa Fe Institute ( is a transdisciplinary research community that expands the boundaries of scientific understanding. Its aim is to discover, comprehend, and communicate the common fundamental principles in complex physical, computational, biological, and social systems that underlie many of the most profound problems facing science and society today.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Agile Development and Project Management

Agile development has become very popular for a number of reasons. First, it emphasises constant communication with the end client, throughout the development process but especially through the more contentious pieces.

This is said, not only to help limit scope-creep and increase customer satisfaction, but also to aid the project management control and success rate..

Ask any executive in any major financial institution these days and they will tell you that they support 'agile' '..because it allows developers to build and demo their results regularly.'

The customer can then keep tabs on development throughout the cycle, enabling you to correct as needed. Clearly, this means more effort and input from the customer, but in the end, it is infinitely preferable to the common misalignment or worst, the wrong product.

The Customer is King
Because the customer needs are constantly a factor in agile environments, development teams are more alert and more reactive. This helps them to become more engaged with the customers' experience and be more market-driven.

“The Agile PMO Role”Some years ago, around the birth of Agile, Tamara Sulaiman, a project management consultant, wrote an article entitled "The Agile PMO Role". In it she asserts that “agile teams are (or should be) cross-functional, self-organising and self-managing.”

So, with admirable characteristics such as these, it's no wonder that agile teams are so much in deman.

Gerd Leonhard Video: The Future of Communications and Social Media

The Third Billion - Women entrepreneurs?

The Third Billion

A huge and fast-growing group of people are poised to take their place in the economic mainstream over the next decade, as producers, consumers, employees, and entrepreneurs. This group’s impact on the global economy will be at least as significant as that of China and India’s billion-plus populations but its members have not yet attracted the level of attention they deserve.

If China and India each represent 1 billion emerging participants in the global marketplace, then this “third billion” is made up of women, in both developing and industrialised nations, whose economic lives have previously been stunted, underleveraged, or suppressed.

These women, who have been living or contributing at a subsistence level, are now entering the mainstream for the first time. We estimate that about 870 million of them will do so by 2020, with the number conceivably passing 1 billion during the following decade.

Their presence as economic actors will be widely felt, because they have long been over-represented in the ranks of subsistence agriculture and other resource-based forms of work. As they move into knowledge work, in domains ranging from manufacturing to medicine to education to information technology, their sheer numbers will hasten the integration of the regions where they live into the larger economy.

To date, the potential of women as economic players has been under-realised. The reasons became evident recently in a Booz & Company analysis of data from the International Labour Organization (ILO), a United Nations constituent that tracks global workforce statistics.

Globally, many women could be considered “not prepared” (lacking sufficient education, usually defined as secondary school); others are “not enabled” (lacking support from families and communities); and a significant number are both.

The specific characteristics of these two major constraints vary widely, according to local social, cultural, and economic conditions, but as the constraints are alleviated — through increased migration to cities, the expansion of educational opportunities, changes in local laws and cultural norms, and investments in infrastructures that support greater workforce participation — the Third Billion’s movement into the middle class will accelerate.

The pattern of this emergence will probably shift from a graduated incline to a graph that looks more like a hockey stick.

We derived the Third Billion figure by combining the estimated number of “not prepared” and “not enabled” women between the ages of 20 and 65 in 2020, using data from the ILO.

Most of these women — about 822 million — live in emerging and developing nations; about 47 million live in North America, western Europe, and Japan.

Some argue that the women of China and India should not be included, since they are part of the first 2 billion; if those women are omitted, the number of women meeting our criteria would still reach 525 million by 2020. Counting those still under 20 and newborn female children, it could easily expand to a billion within the following generation.

No matter how the numbers are counted, a billion or more women are clearly about to participate more fully in the mainstream economy. This represents a significant force in such regions as Latin America, Asia, the Pacific Rim, the Middle East, eastern and central Europe, and Africa.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Project Management: Keeping your Ducks in a row

Project Management is all about getting your ducks in a row - leading and managing a number of complex tasks in a single project, whilst keeping it flowing along smoothly and calmly.

Where do we begin?
The basic premise of project management is that you must have a project plan to have a successful project implementation. This is the basis for any project management process, guideline, model or framework.

Simply stated,project management is about planning the work and then working to the plan. So why is it that so many projects with a plan are failing?

Clealy, the problem must have to do with the plan and how it was developed. Having said that, there are many problems that can occur during the development of a project plan but the most fundamental problem is how the project is started and how the plan is developed.

Open a fully functional project management tool or drop a good project methodology book and it'll probably fall open at the task list page. So, the PM is compelled to be task orientated from the off, also known as 'bottom up' development.

Unfortunately, most successful project planning requires the opposite approach 'top down' development, the Work Breakdown Structure or WBS.

Some PMs will forceably argue that entering tasks into the project management tool means they are creating the WBS, and this may appear acceptable to the lay person. However, from a true project management standpoint, they are not designing the WBS from the top down, it is being designed from the inside out.

The problem is not the tool or the methodology but the interpretation of both by the PM and they way he/she chooses to use these tools and methids for the development the project plan.

The only way to start from a good footing is to have a well managed workshop. Gather the technical experts together in a large room with a blank wall and start brainstorming.

Together, under the leadership of a good, unbiased project manager, using sticky notes and marker pens, create the WBS from the top down. Once this is established it can be refined and entered into the tool of choice. This use of PM methodology will produce a much more accurate, effective and collaborative plan.

Much of project management success has to do with the fundamentals. Often these fundamentals are forgotten or over-ridden by the eagerness to use some new, sophisticated tool, to the detriment of the project. Keeping it simple will bring you a greater success rate.

Monday, May 10, 2010

New version of Yahoo IM worm hits Skype

New version of Yahoo IM worm hits Skype - CNET News

On the heels of a worm that was installing backdoors on Windows systems via Yahoo Instant Messenger comes a new worm that is even more sophisticated in its social engineering and payload, security firm Bkis said on Friday.

The malware arrives via instant message through Yahoo or Skype with any one of a number of messages, including "Does my new hair style look good? bad? perfect?" or "My printer is about to be thrown through a window if this pic won't come out right. You see anything wrong with it?" Bkis wrote in a blog post.

The message includes a link to a Web page that looks like it leads to a JPEG, or image file. When the link is clicked on, the browser displays an interface that looks like the RapidShare Web hosting site and offers up a ZIP file for download. The extracted file is actually an executable file with a .com extension.

The malware, which Bkis has detected as "W32.Skyhoo.Worm," disappears if the computer does not have Skype or Yahoo Messenger installed. It automatically sends messages with varying content and malicious links to contacts in the victim's IM list and automatically injects a malicious link in e-mail messages and Word or Excel files that the user is composing, Bkis said.

The worm also connects to an IRC server to receive remote commands, blocks antivirus software, uses a rootkit technique to hide its files and processes and automatically copies itself onto USB drives to spread, according to Bkis.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Warning! How I’d Hack Your Weak Passwords - by Lifehacker

Note: This isn't intended as a guide to hacking *other people's* weak passwords. Instead, the aim is to help you better understand the security of your own passwords and how to bolster that security.

If you invited me to try and crack your password, you know the one that you use over and over for like every web page you visit, how many guesses would it take before I got it?

Let's see… here is my top 10 list. I can obtain most of this information much easier than you think, then I might just be able to get into your e-mail, computer, or online banking. After all, if I get into one I'll probably get into all of them.

1.Your partner, child, or pet's name, possibly followed by a 0 or 1 (because they're always making you use a number, aren't they?)
2.The last 4 digits of your social security number.
3.123 or 1234 or 123456.
5.Your city, or college, football team name.
6.Date of birth – yours, your partner's or your child's.
Statistically speaking that should probably cover about 20% of you. But don't worry. If I didn't get it yet it will probably only take a few more minutes before I do…

Black Hats
Hackers, and I'm not talking about the ethical kind, have developed a whole range of tools to get at your personal data. And the main impediment standing between your information remaining safe, or leaking out, is the password you choose. (Ironically, the best protection people have is usually the one they take least seriously.)

Brute Force
One of the simplest ways to gain access to your information is through the use of a Brute Force Attack. This is accomplished when a hacker uses a specially written piece of software to attempt to log into a site using your credentials.
has a list of the Top 10 FREE Password Crackers. Please use this information in a responsible manner. If you do use them, do so to improve your system security.

Security Breach
So, how would one use this process to actually breach your personal security? Simple. Follow my logic:

You probably use the same password for lots of stuff right?
Some sites you access such as your Bank or work VPN probably have pretty decent security, so I'm not going to attack them.

However, other sites like the Hallmark e-mail greeting cards site, an online forum you frequent, or an e-commerce site you've shopped at might not be as well prepared. So those are the ones I'd work on.

Software aids
So, all we have to do now is unleash Brutus, wwwhack, or THC Hydra on their server with instructions to try say 10,000 (or 100,000 – whatever makes you happy) different usernames and passwords as fast as possible.

Once we've got several login+password pairings we can then go back and test them on targeted sites.

Interrogating cookies
But wait… How do I know which bank you use and what your login ID is for the sites you frequent? All those cookies are simply stored, unencrypted and nicely named, in your Web browser's cache. Use cleaning software to remedy that problem.

Speed is relative
How fast can all this be done? Well, that depends on three main things, the length and complexity of your password, the speed of the hacker's computer, and the speed of the hacker's Internet connection.

Assuming the hacker has a reasonably fast connection and PC here is an estimate of the amount of time it would take to generate every possible combination of passwords for a given number of characters. After generating the list it's just a matter of time before the computer runs through all the possibilities – or gets shut down trying.

Lowercase and Uppercase
Pay particular attention to the difference between using only lowercase characters and using all possible characters (uppercase, lowercase, and special characters – like @#$%^&*). Adding just one capital letter and one asterisk would change the processing time for an 8 character password from 2.4 days to 2.1 centuries.

Remember, these are just for an average computer, and these assume you aren't using any word in the dictionary. If Google put their computer to work on it they'd finish about 1,000 times faster.

Now, I could go on for hours and hours more about all sorts of ways to compromise your security and generally make your life miserable – but 95% of those methods begin with compromising your weak password. So, why not just protect yourself from the start and we can all sleep better at night?

Believe me, I understand the need to choose passwords that are memorable. But if you're going to do that how about using something that no one is ever going to guess AND doesn't contain any common word or phrase in it.

Here are some strong password tips:
  • 1.Randomly substitute numbers for letters that look similar. The letter ‘o' becomes the number ‘0′, or even better an ‘@' or ‘*'. (i.e. – m0d3ltf0rd… like modelTford)
  • 2.Randomly throw in capital letters (i.e. – Mod3lTF0rd)
  • 3.Think of something you were attached to when you were younger, but DON'T CHOOSE A PERSON'S NAME! Every name plus every word in the dictionary will fail under a simple brute force attack.
  • 4.Maybe a place you loved, or a specific car, an attraction from a vacation, or a favorite restaurant?
  • 5.You really need to have different username / password combinations for everything. Remember, the technique is to break into anything you access just to figure out your standard password, then compromise everything else. This doesn't work if you don't use the same password everywhere.
  • 6.Since it can be difficult to remember a ton of passwords, I recommend using Roboform for Windows users. It will store all of your passwords in an encrypted format and allow you to use just one master password to access all of them. It will also automatically fill in forms on Web pages, and you can even get versions that allow you to take your password list with you on your PDA, phone or a USB key. If you'd like to download it without having to navigate their web site here is the direct download link. (Ed. note: Lifehacker readers love the free, open-source KeePass for this duty, while others swear by the cross-platform, browser-based LastPass.)
  • 7.Mac users can use 1Password. It is essentially the same thing as Roboform, except for Mac, and they even have an iPhone application so you can take them with you too.
  • 8.Once you've thought of a password, try Microsoft's password strength tester to find out how secure it is.
Guard email passwords
Another thing to keep in mind is that some of the passwords you think matter least actually matter most. For example, some people think that the password to their e-mail box isn't important because "I don't get anything sensitive there."

Well, that e-mail box is probably connected to your online banking account. If I can compromise it then I can log into the Bank's Web site and tell it I've forgotten my password to have it e-mailed to me. Now, what were you saying about it not being important?

Drive-by Hacking
Often times people also reason that all of their passwords and logins are stored on their computer at home, which is safe behind a router or firewall device. Of course, they've never bothered to change the default password on that device, so someone could drive up and park near the house, use a laptop to breach the wireless network and then try passwords from this list until they gain control of your network — after which time they will own you!

Pay attention
Now I realise that every day we encounter people who make a lot of noise and over-exaggerate points, to move us to action or for their own benefit, but trust me this is not one of those times. There are 50 other ways you can be compromised and punished for using weak passwords that haven't been mentioned.

I also realise that most people just don't care about all this until it's too late and they've learned a very hard lesson. But why don't you do yourself a big favour and take a little action to greatly strengthen your passwords. You know it makes good sense.

Are ERP systems still relevant solution in a global market?

When ERP systems started to emerge, 20+ years ago, it was to address a market that had little understanding of a truly global marketplace. It was never intended to address a rapidly expanding dynamic environment. It was built for expansion in a local market not universal growth, as we understand it today.

As far as these early ERP systems were concerned the world was 'flat', or at least it was smaller and easily accessable over the local phone system provider's infrastructure.

Today's global marketplace is just that, a global market where you have to meet greater expectations, be more flexible in your systems and still manage to work within the localised environment applicable to each country. This is no easy task for an organisation and it needs effective tools to support it.

Far too often we come across ERP systems that are creeking and groaning, trying to stretch it's business model to somehow reach out into a real global market when it was developed for a more simpler local environment. One size does not fit all.

Given the major investments made in developing an ERP system you would not expect organisations to throw it out and start from scratch, even if that is what is required. The shareholders and marketplace would not tolerate it. So, instead, most providers either plugged in a 'global module' to the existing system or tried to patch in quasi-global architecture and thus added additional overhead to an already top-heavy system.

At the risk of stating the obvious, neither of these approaches embraces a true global data model, and thus blocks and frustrates any attempt at an accurate worldwide view of business transactions, reporting, forecasting, and all business-as-usual operations. It would appear that you and your organisation are living in a parallel universe, whereby your vision is not being matched by your ERP system.

Shoehorn approach
I am always surprised to discover the number of CEO's and stakeholders who still believe that you can impose an ERP system on an organisation and it will somehow circumnavigate all the internal problems that it faces; the local managers, the cultural difficulties, the silo mentality, the low morale, the lack of profit margins, etc.

The dream being sold to weary executives in the form of ERP systems, is that it will provide the organisation with good business practices overnight and will not only give you back executive control but it will pour calming oil on the somewhat chaotic and troubled waters of an undefined and struggling environment.

The scenario that you can control an un-manageable situation by turbo-charging it and making it operate faster, is more than a little flawed and is the stuff of nightmares. The obvious outcome of this is that you will either shake the operation so violently that it falls apart or you will crash headlong into a metaphorical wall.

The Gambler's Dilemma
The gambler's dilemma is whether to invest more into a loss making situation in the hope of recovering your losses or the more difficult option of cutting your losses and walk away. Unfortunately, too many organisations have experienced this dilemma at first hand and many are still trying hard to either a) dis-engage themselves from their ERP system provider and walk away with some of their honour in tact or c) to continue to justify the unjustifiable, the $Mns spent on a system that hangs like an albatross around your neck.

ERP systems are now seen as a legacy system for a less than global marketplace and should be retired gracefully. We are looking for the next new thing, based on where we are and where we want to go. We do not need parasitic systems that simply draw energ from the organisation simply to maintain the status quo, in the way that ERP systems do.

We are in a truly world-wide marketplace and have been for the last 10+ years. We need systems that will drive and support us in this boundless and boundary-less environment. System that can embrace the global and cultural differences that we encounter as an organisation. These may be multifaceted and will certainly need to be flexible and dynamic, but at the same time they need to be an informed aid to establishing tight control and strong management.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dalai Lama gives Hope in Aftermath of Tibet Earthquake

A photograph of the Dalai Lama lies amidst the rubble of a collapsed building in the town of Jiegu in Tibet.

Jiegu was the hardest-hit in last week's Tibetan earthquake that devastated the oppressed region.

Fear of pandemic influenza clogs Emergency Depts |

Fear of pandemic influenza clogs Emergency Depts -

A study of emergency department (ED) activity before and during the H1N1 influenza pandemic highlights the role public fear and panic can play in unnecessarily straining medical facilities and will aid in ongoing preparations for public health emergencies, according to the authors.

When EDs experience surges in patient volumes and become overcrowded during a pandemic, the quality and timeliness of medical care suffers, noted William M. McDonnell, MD, JD, who will present study findings Tuesday, May 4 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

To determine how public fear over H1N1 influenza and presence of the disease in the community affected use of a paediatric ED, Dr. McDonnell and his colleagues compared usage rates during three one-week periods.

Fear week was a period of heightened public concern before the disease was present in the community. Flu week was a period of active pandemic disease.
Control week was a period prior to the onset of concern.

Results showed that parents brought their children to the ED in increased numbers during 'fear week.' Compared to the 'control week,' the number of patients was up by 16.3 percent, and children ages 1-4 years comprised 54 percent of the increase.

When H1N1 later arrived in the community (flu week), the ED saw a second surge in patient volumes. The number of patients increased 22.4 percent compared to the 'control week,' and children ages 5-18 years accounted for 91.7 percent of the increase.

"Our study shows that public fear of disease, even when the disease is not present, can bring about the problems of emergency department overcrowding," said Dr. McDonnell, assistant professor of pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine and adjunct professor of law at S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah.

"As we continue developing our public health emergency planning programs, we must ensure that responsible news media coverage of public health issues provides the benefits of a free and vigorous press, without unnecessarily harming the public health."

To see the abstract, go to

H1N1 influenza hits older children

H1N1 influenza hits older children |

Children hospitalised with pandemic H1N1 influenza in 2009 were older and more likely to have underlying medical conditions than children hospitalised with seasonal influenza during prior flu seasons, according to a study to be presented at the Paediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Population-based surveillance of 5.3 million children for laboratory-confirmed influenza was conducted in 10 states during the 2003-2009 influenza seasons and in the early 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Investigators used the data to compare the demographics, medical history and clinical course of children younger than 18 years who were hospitalised with seasonal influenza vs. those hospitalised with H1N1 flu.

Results showed the median age of children hospitalised with H1N1 influenza was 5 years, compared to 1 year for those hospitalised with seasonal flu in 2003-2009. In addition, children with asthma, hemoglobinopathies such as sickle-cell disease and a history of prematurity made up a larger proportion of all children hospitalised with H1N1 influenza than with seasonal flu. However, one-third of children hospitalised with H1N1 influenza were previously healthy.