Friday, December 24, 2010

Ben Goldacre: Bad Science kills

CLICK on the picture to play the video

Here's Ben "Bad Science" Goldacre presenting on how non-evidence-based medicine can kill you and thousands of your friends.

Ben's book, titled Bad Science, is great as well, and it comes highly recommended.

He had to take out a chapter to avoid litigation by Mathias Rath, who travelled to South Africa and widely publicised claims that vitamins can cure AIDS. This fell into line with the South African AIDS denialists.

Ben posted that chapter on his website, and it may be one of the most important things ever written in the area of critical thinking. Lack of responsible treatment for AIDS kills hundreds of thousands of people in Africa alone.

When people like Ben win, lives are saved. The more people who know about him, the better. He's a true hero of skepticism.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Service Delivery is Giving the Customer What they want

Discharge your rage and stay healthy

People who remain calm in stressful situations also have higher rates of depression and obesity, in addition to poorer overall health.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham in England collected health data for 1,300 people over a 14-year period. They also gave them each a stress test, which determines how a person's blood pressure and heart rate respond to stressful situations.

The more a person's vital signs remained unchanged during the stress test, the more likely they were to develop depression and obesity over the next five years -- and the more likely they were to report they were in poor overall health.

So, the saying shouldn't be "serenity now, insanity later"; rather, it's more like "serenity now, total physiological malfunction later."

Take some time to develop acceptable ways to release your emotions on a regular basis and stop carrying this added burden of emotional baggage.

Let it go! But don't aim it at anyone!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Google targets email Continuity market

Google has expanded its Postini-based enterprise cloud security and corporate compliance tools with the launch of Google Message Continuity. Firmly aimed at the business continuity market the new service helps ensure that businesses always have access to email.

Google Message Continuity works by replicating email accounts hosted on Microsoft Exchange Servers in the cloud, using Gmail, Calendar and Contacts. If the Microsoft Exchange Server fails, or requires scheduled maintenance or downtime, all that businsses have to do is log into Gmail and continue regular, up-to-date email communication through Google. 

Since Gmail and Microsoft Exchange are constantly synchronized with each other, users can seamlessly switch from one email environment to the other. Additionally, features such as asynchronous replication that are built into Google’s architecture help ensure that data won’t be lost at any point.
More information here at

Gartner's Top Predictions for IT organisations in 2011

Gartner, Inc. has published its top predictions for IT organisations and users for 2011 and beyond. Analysts said that the predictions highlight the significant changes in the roles played by technology and IT organisations in business, the global economy and the lives of individual users.

More than 100 of the strongest Gartner predictions across all research areas were submitted for consideration this year. This year's selection process included evaluating several criteria that define a top prediction. The issues examined included relevance, impact and audience appeal.

"With costs still under pressure, growth opportunities limited and low tolerance to bear risk, IT faces increased levels of scrutiny from stakeholders both internal and external," said Darryl Plummer, managing vice president and Gartner fellow. 

"As organisations plan for the years ahead, our predictions focus on the impact this scrutiny will have on outcomes, operations, users and reporting. All parties expect greater transparency, and meeting this demand will require that IT become more tightly coupled to the levers of business control."

"Gartner's top predictions showcase the trends and disruptive events that will reshape the nature of business for the next year and beyond," said Brian Gammage, vice president and Gartner fellow.

"Selected from across our research areas as the most compelling and critical predictions, the developments and topics they address this year focus on changes in the roles that technologies and IT organisations play: in the lives of workers, and the performance of businesses in the wider world."

Last year's theme of rebalancing supply, consumer demand and regulation is still present across most of the predictions, but the view has shifted further toward external effects. 

This year's top predictions highlight an increasingly visible linkage between technology decisions and outcomes, both economic and societal.

The top predictions which have clear implications for the business continuity profession include:

By 2015, a G20 nation's critical infrastructure will be disrupted and damaged by online sabotage.
Online attacks can be multimodal, in the sense of targeting multiple systems for maximum impact, such as the financial system (the stock exchange), physical plant (the control systems of a chemical, nuclear or electric plant), or mobile communications (mobile-phone message routers). 

Such a multimodal attack can have lasting effects beyond a temporary disruption, in the same manner that the Sept. 11 attacks on the US had repercussions that have lasted for nearly a decade. If a national stock market was rendered unavailable for several weeks, there would be lasting effects even if there was no change in government, although it is also possible that such disruptive actions could eventually result in a change in leadership.

By 2014, 90 percent of organisations will support corporate applications on personal devices.
The trend toward supporting corporate applications on employee-owned notebooks and smartphones is already under way in many organisations and will become commonplace within four years. 

The main driver for adoption of mobile devices will be employees — i.e., individuals who prefer to use private consumer smartphones or notebooks for business, rather than using old-style limited enterprise devices. 

IT is set to enter the next phase of the consumerisation trend, in which the attention of users and IT organisations shifts from devices, infrastructure and applications to information and interaction with peers. This change in view will herald the start of the post-consumerisation era.

By 2013, 80 percent of businesses will support a workforce using tablets.
The Apple iPad is the first of what promises to be a huge wave of media tablets focused largely on content consumption, and to some extent communications, rather than content creation, with fewer features and less processing power than traditional PCs and notebooks or pen-centric tablet PCs. 

Support requirements for media tablets will vary across and within enterprises depending on usage scenario. At minimum, in cases where employees are bringing their own devices for convenience, enterprises will have to offer appliance-level support with a limited level of network connectivity e.g. access to enterprise mail, schedules, and help desk support for connectivity issues and data transfer.

Additional details are in the Gartner report ‘Gartner's Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users, 2011 and Beyond: IT's Growing Transparency’ which is available on Gartner's website.

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Insight: Guy Clapperton on Show Me The Money

..With the continual emphasis on freemium business models and the ’give it away’ culture, Journalist and Broadcaster Guy Clapperton delivers a digitial reality check in which he asks us the famous phrase: show me the money!

Guy Clapperton is the author of "This Is Social Media" (2009) and has been using what he’d identify as social media since 1993. He’s as much interested in the changes in behaviour that electronic communications have brought about as in the technology or the social networks themselves.

He has been a freelance journalist in the technology and business arenas since 1989. You might have seen him on the BBC, read him in the Guardian, the Times, the Sunday Telegraph or most of the broadsheet national newspapers.

He has been freelance since 1993 and this has taught him, no matter what the superficial appeal of a business or technology idea, to sanity-check it for potential profits every time. Read more on his Alumni profile.

Watch Guy’s Insight in HD, along with other videos and speaker bio. His Twitter account

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Evolution of Malware - An video Interview with Eugene Kasperksy

In the latest edition of the Lab Matters video series, Ryan Naraine talks with Eugene Kaspersky about the state of the malicious Web and the evolution of malware from:-
  • intrusion; viruses and worms, through 
  • Cyber crime; botnets to
  • Cyber Warfare; Stuxnet and beyond.

7 things to consider when writing corporate sustainability reports

Ernst & Young figures that something like two-thirds of major global enterprise businesses (the so-called Fortune 500) are now publishing a corporate sustainability or corporate responsibility report of some type. But what information should be included or excluded from these disclosures? How often should they published? Who should contribute information? Should financial analysts be explicitly briefed, especially since more of them apparently include these considerations in company valuations?

Those are among the broader questions explored in an Ernst & Young report called “7 Questions CEOs and Boards Should Ask About ‘Triple Bottom Line’ Reporting.”

The thing is, even though the Securities and Exchange Commissions is asking public companies to be more forthcoming about environmental-related risks and the Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on greenwashing, most of these reports are released voluntarily.

According to the report, here’s the risk of keeping triple bottom line reporting — information about a company’s environmental and social activities impact the planet, people and profits — to yourself:

“Companies that do not release sustainability information may appear less transparent than competitors that do, coming across as laggards even if they aren’t. And those that report incompletely, or which insufficient rigor may find that if reporting becomes mandatory and standards are tightened, glaring discrepancies may appear between past reports and newer ones. All of these factors have created momentum in the direction of more openness and more reporting.”

After reading the report and the questions it poses, I have these seven observations on best practices for crafting corporate sustainability or responsibility reports. I encourage you to download the entire Ernst & Young analysis, though, because it will really help your team start asking the right questions — regardless of whether or not you are already disclosing this information.

  1. Study your industry sector to understand which of your competitors are doing this.
  2. Understand the viewpoint of your major shareholders or institutional investors. According to Ernst & Young, there are two big resources to consult: the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment and the Principles for Responsible Investment.
  3. Probably the most widely used framework for triple bottom line reporting today is the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Reporting Framework, which suggests information that should be included and how it should be presented. The GRI reporting framework is relatively mature: it currently is undergoing its third revision, and some of the latest updates are expected in early 2011.
  4. Make the collection of information you need for corporate sustainability reporting a part of core processes — and job mandates. Otherwise the data could be cumbersome to gather or it simply will not be a priority for your executive team.
  5. Consider getting a third party to verify the information you are reporting. Even though this isn’t necessarily required today, it will demonstrate a higher level of transparency plus you may get some valuable feedback on things your company can do better.
  6. Be careful about how you disclose data from division to division or business unit to business unit. The people reading this report will naturally be inclined to make comparisons and if the information is reported differently, your message could appear disjointed. This also harkens back to the first point on this list: You need to understand how your competitors are talking about similar information — otherwise the wrong conclusions could be drawn.
  7. Don’t forget to use the information you gather for this reporting exercise as real key performance indicators that can help your company become more efficient overall. Period.

Finally, here are four reports that Ernst & Young suggests consulting for great ideas in corporate sustainability reporting:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Silver Tsunami - Dispelling

Just a decade ago, experts warned of increased labour shortages as the baby boomers marched into retirement en masse but with an aging population facing the prospect of living for decades on shrunken retirement funds, not surprisingly, greying individuals plan to keep on working for as long as possible.

This "silver tsunami" has received a mixed response in the workplace. On the one hand, many employers have been slow to adapt to the changing needs of older workers and perceive them to be costly and troublesome to maintain and hire.

Data shows that people over the age of 55 find it harder to land jobs than their younger counterparts, even though age discrimination is illegal in many countries.

On the other hand, some enlightened companies are working to recruit, retrain and otherwise engage these 'older' workers.

These workers bring a lifetime of skills to their jobs and can be highly motivated and productive members of the workplace.

Many of the stereotypes that prevent employers from hiring and making good use of older workers are mere myths and bigotry.

Here are some frequent myths:
Myth. Older workers cost more than younger ones and are less productive on the job.

Reality. Both concerns are untrue. While older workers may take longer to recover from injuries, studies show that they use fewer sick days on the whole than their younger counterparts.

Private Health care costs are actually less for older workers because they no longer have small children as dependents.

When it comes to job performance, older workers frequently outdo their younger colleagues. Older workers have less absenteeism, less turnover, superior interpersonal skills and deal better with customers. The evidence is overwhelming, older workers perform better on just about every level.

Myth. People at or near retirement age tend to lose interest in their jobs.

Reality. Studies find the opposite to be true.In a report titled, "Working in Retirement: A 21st Century Phenomenon," the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, it reported that those who worked past retirement age became more, rather than less, engaged and satisfied with their jobs.

Au contrire, the belief that older workers resist learning new things, older workers ranked "job challenge and learning" as a top source of satisfaction with their work.

Myth. Older workers in the workforce keep younger ones from getting jobs.

Reality. While it may be "a widespread belief that you have to get older people to retire to open up the career ladder and jobs for young people," the opposite again is true.

Ignorance of this fact caused many French college students to join the massive street protests last fall against raising the retirement age from 60 to 62.

Policies in countries that encourage workers to retire early actually have a damaging impact on youth employment.

This is because the growing number of retirees forces governments to finance their rising pension costs by raising taxes, which causes employers to scale back hiring or pay workers less.

In such cases, employers don't want to hire more young employees. The old notion of a fixed sum of jobs is just absolutely wrong."

Many myths about older workers reflect 20th century views of retirement that have proved to be short-lived.

Historically, the idea of people working full-time and stopping completely is an anomaly of world history.

The notion of retiring at age 65 came in with the Social Security system and employer-based pensions. But full retirement was never what most employees wanted. What they want is to keep working in some fashion. They want to change the way they work, but not stop altogether.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world?

Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.

Reality is broken, says Jane McGonigal, and we need to make it work more like a game. Her work shows us how.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Self-Reflection in a modern age

The Art of Re-inventing Retail Management at Xmas - Art Kleiner of S+B

Many retailers will be looking back this holiday season, comparing their sales to past years. They should also be looking ahead to next season and 2011.

Below are a number of links to several s+b articles which suggest that the pressure on retailers during the next few years, stemming from changes in technology and customer habits, will be even tougher to deal with than the financial pressures of the recent past.

Perhaps the biggest change is the rise of mobile commerce []: a world where most shoppers have smartphones and the store boundaries have eroded.

New academic studies [] confirm that online commerce will indeed permanently cannibalize bricks-and-mortar sales.

Big changes are also coming in luxury retail [] and in a general movement towards minimising the provision range to create simpler, less overwhelming choices [].

Consumer habits are going through a "spend shift" [] toward value and frugality. How can retailers cope with all this?

Possibly by reinventing themselves with a distinctive edge. There's much guidance on this subject in the new consumer and retail electronic newsletter [] from our parent firm, Booz & Company.

Each reinvention strategy will be different, but every retail enterprise will need one.

Thank you Art Kleiner

Opportunity for growth in IT based Brain Training and Cognitive learning

The rise in interest in Dementia, Alzheimer's, Brain Training and more generalised health reforms may well lead to an opportunity for reim­bursable brain assess­ments, ser­vices and evidence-based non-invasive inter­ven­tions.

Bet­ter assess­ments, tax­onomies, deci­sion sup­port sys­tems and inte­grated research efforts will enable the field to mature and inte­grate into main­stream care a new gen­er­a­tion of dig­i­tal tools to assess, enhance, and treat cog­ni­tion.

Currently, there are no magic pills or gen­eral solu­tions to encourage brain health and flexibility, but there is a toolkit of grow­ing value when used appropriately.

We con­tinue to pre­dict that between now and 2015 brain fit­ness will become a main­stream con­cept, hope­fully sup­ported by a brain-based remedial framework. A concept that con­sumers and insti­tu­tions will have access to much enhanced dig­i­tal toolk­its and plat­forms, and that a grow­ing ecosys­tem will enable this growth.

Unfor­tu­nately, all the ground­break­ing research and inno­va­tion has been occur­ring with­out a par­al­lel growth of qual­ity con­sumer edu­ca­tion and pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment.

Cog­ni­tion remains an elu­sive con­cept in pop­u­lar cul­ture, which lim­its the abil­ity of con­sumers and pro­fes­sion­als to make informed deci­sions. This may well be the major bot­tle­neck lim­it­ing the field’s poten­tial to deliver real-world ben­e­fits and move up the remedial benefits curve.

Unfortunately, only informed demand will ulti­mately ensure the devel­op­ment of a ratio­nal and struc­tured marketplace.

Inno­v­a­tive part­ner­ships will be required to chan­nel the grow­ing amount of inter­est, research, tools and, yes, con­tro­versy, into a bet­ter struc­tured and sus­tain­able mar­ket­place.

It is fore­cast that the world­wide mar­ket will range between $2-8 bil­lion by 2015, depend­ing on how well the impor­tant cat­e­gory bot­tle­necks are addressed.

This presents sig­nif­i­cant oppor­tu­ni­ties for inno­va­tion, invest­ment, busi­ness devel­op­ment and, ulti­mately, enhanced brain health and fit­ness of an aging society.

Executive Summary | SharpBrains

Terry Pratchett and Alzheimer's

Most science fiction readers and writing fans will know that Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with having Alzheimer's.

A condition which I am reluctant to call a disease until it has been clearly identified as such or better defined.

Terry Pratchett is also determined to write about his experiences with or within the condition, for as long as he can, and as always, he has been very lucid and open about how the condition manifests itself and affects his life.

He is also not alone in raging against the debilitating condition and the difficulty in finding an effective treatment for it or an approach to avoiding the onset of the condition in the first place, if possible.
…it is strange that a disease that attracts so much attention, awe, fear and superstition is so underfunded in treatment and research. We don't know what causes it, and as far as we know the only way to be sure of not developing it is to die young. Regular exercise and eating sensibly are a good idea, but they don't come with any guarantees. There is no cure. Researchers are talking about the possibility of a whole palette of treatments or regimes to help those people with dementia to live active and satisfying lives, with the disease kept in reasonably permanent check in very much the same way as treatments now exist for HIV. Not so much a cure therefore as - we hope - a permanent reprieve. We hope it will come quickly, and be affordable.

When my father was in his terminal year, I discussed death with him. I recall very clearly his relief that the cancer that was taking him was at least allowing him "all his marbles". Dementia in its varied forms is not like cancer. Dad saw the cancer in his pancreas as an invader but Alzheimer's is a slow unwinding of me, losing trust in myself, a butt of my own jokes and on bad days capable of playing hunt the slipper by myself and losing.

Another appropriate quote is taken from Pratchett's Unseen Academicals has Havelock Vetinari speaking terry's own words about natural evil.
I have told this to few people, gentlemen, and I suspect never will again, but one day when I was a young boy on holiday in Uberwald I was walking along the bank of a stream when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. A very endearing sight, I'm sure you will agree, and even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued and dragged on to a half-submerged log. As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and I remember to this day the sweet pinkness of its roes as they spilled out, much to the delight of the baby otters who scrambled over themselves to feed on the delicacy. One of nature's wonders, gentlemen: mother and children dining upon mother and children. And that's when I first learned about evil. It is built in to the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.

A call to rise above the casual cruelty of nature. Terry Pratchett has been afflicted with a disease which has, currently no known cause or cure. It is a condition that is slowly destroying his 'mind' and/or his current view of himself.

Perhaps the greatest fear of all, is that we lose the very intimate recollection of who we are because our perception of 'self' is all we have to identify ourselves as individuals and thus, separate ourselves from a collective entity.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Speed of the Internet - Flash mob goes terribly wrong - Video

Tom Scott's Ignite London talk "Flash Mob Gone Wrong" is a fictional account of just how badly a flash mob could go.

It's got an eerie ring of plausibility, largely because each of the steps leading up to the disastrous ending actually happened, just not all together. It's a freaky way to spend five minutes