Saturday, December 31, 2011

Apple iPhones Outsell Android Smartphones

The Apple Inc. iPhone reportedly outsold Android devices at AT&T corporate retail stores by a whopping 7.8-to-1 ratio between Dec. 1 and Dec. 27.

According to The Mac Observer, those AT&T stores sold about 981,000 iPhones during the period, accounting for a heavy 66 percent of the turnover.

By comparison, the same stores sold about 126,000 Android devices over the period, accounting for a light 8.5 percent of the turnover.

The report noted that even basic flip and slider phones did better than the Android devices, as the same stores sold about 128,000 of those dinosaurs.

Research In Motion Ltd. -- makers of the BlackBerry line of smartphones -- finished third in sales, as AT&T moved only about 74,000 of them. Microsoft Windows Phone 7 phones reportedly did even worse.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dalai Lama Discusses Women's role in Global Peace - Video

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is asked to sum up his feelings, at the end of the morning session at the Peace Summit in Vancouver, BC, Canada. The moderator is Sir Ken Robinson.

The influencing machine: Brooke Gladstone - Video

An animated short from the book "The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media" written by Brooke Gladstone and illustrated by Josh Neufeld. For more information, go to:

Also read more on Books and Graphic novels here Brain Pickings

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Facebook: Subscribe Button for Web sites

Facebook has added a 'Subscribe' button for third party websites.

The Subscribe button was already available to pages since September and now this feature is already available for user profiles and websites. In a blog post written by Facebook developer Stoyan Stefanov, the Subscribe button is a "social plugin any site can add to give visitors the option to subscribe to contributors in one click."

Stevanov also described how this feature works stating that "the Subscribe button for websites works just like the button on Facebook; once clicked the user will begin seeing the public posts of the person they have subscribed to in his or her News Feed. The subscribe action is also shared -- allowing others to subscribe directly via the News Feed stories, and further increasing viral distribution."

Facebook Has Subscribe Button for Web sites - International Business Times

Google+ Photos to Have 'Find My Face' Recognition

Google announced that their social networking site, Google+, would incorporate a new feature that would make facial recognition technology available for pictures that will be uploaded in Google+.

This new feature is dubbed as "Find My Face" and it is described as a feature wherein "Google+ can prompt people you know to tag your face when it appears in photos."

Users can still have control over which tags that they would accept or reject as well as opting to turn off this feature in their Google+ settings. Matt Steiner, an Engineering Lead for Google wrote in his blog post regarding this new additional feature for Google+.

Steiner also added that this feature would be "rolling out in a few days" and feedback regarding this feature would be appreciated.

Read More here: Google+ Photos

Social Media and Data Analytics: Where the Demand is in 2012

Smartphones and tablet computers may continue to dominate the tech world next year but the big money may be harvested from one lesser known segment of the industry - data analytics.

Analytics for one, according to Agence France Presse (AFP), gives companies clear picture on how to utilise their advertising funds, which run to billions of dollars as the current year.

"Analytics is really the core of what will be happening in everything from medical research to advertising," freelance tech analyst Rob Enderle was reported by AFP as saying on a report Friday last week.

The services' energy is very much focused on understanding emerging trends and patterns that influence customers' behaviours in determining their choice of products, Enderle said.

"Big analytics toward the end of the year became the big term and into next year it will be the big term," Enderle told AFP.

Enderle believes that data analytics will play crucial roles in various fields where the power of computer-aided analysis would be most welcome and useful - from advertising, medical breakthroughs and political exercises.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Daniel Goldstein: The battle between your present and future self - Video

Every day, we make decisions that have good or bad consequences for our future selves. (Can I skip flossing just this one time?) Daniel Goldstein makes tools that help us imagine ourselves over time, so that we make smart choices for Future Us.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jerusalem and Google Street View - No Hiding Place

A Google Street View tricycle captures scenes of Jerusalem's Old City
Picture: CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA / Rex Features

Donkervoort GTO - Dutch supercar

The new Donkervoort GTO uses the 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo from the Audi TT RS and, despite being the firm's largest-ever car, still weighs just 700kg - half the weight of a VW Golf.

The Caterham-style car a hefty 150mm wider and 350mm longer, says the firm, to accommodate Audi's longitudinally-mounted five-cylinder engine.

This motor has also been lightened by 30kg, again to aid weight distribution and handling.

Lewis Mumford on the city - YouTube

Before the end of 1961 the New York publishing company Harcourt, Brace and Co. had the first edition of Lewis Mumford's highly successful book The City In History ready for publication. Two years later, in 1963, the National Film Board of Canada funded the production of six documentaries, each lasting 27 minutes, for a series entitled Mumford On The City. The closing titles confirm that the material for the films, based on The City In History, was prepared by Mumford himself.

Read more here

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Rising Cost of Weapons and Ammunition

Is Ammo The New Gold? Full Infographic

Lego’s latest design research: What girls want

Legos are perennially hot toys. It’s evident in their sales figures, with revenues skyrocketing 105 percent since 2006 (stated in the privately held company’s 2010 annual report).

In 2010, Lego achieved more than $1 billion in U.S. sales for the first time.

Lego has also been praised as an innovative company, one that has re-designed its toys and strategy over the years to obvious financial success. So what’s next?
In the December 19 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, Brad Wieners goes behind the scenes at Lego’s Danish headquarters to uncover the design tactics behind Lego’s newest goal: to appeal to girls.

As Wieners reports, a new line of 23 products called Lego Friends, aimed at girls 5 years old and above, will hit American stores on January 1, after European debuts in France on December 15 and in the U.K. on December 26.

The idea to hold off after the holidays in the U.S. was to offer more display space than the toy line might receive during the Christmas shopping season.

Here’s how Lego determined how to come up with what it hopes is a set of products that will be as appealing to girls as earlier Lego blocks and figurines have been to boys, according to Wieners’ insightful and detailed report:
  • The company relied more on “cultural anthropology” than traditional focus groups, reflecting the successful process Lego used in 2005-2006 to design new Legos to appeal to contemporary boys
  • Lego searched for leading internal product designers and sales and marketing staff within the company, then assigned these top performers to work with outside design consultants
  • The design and strategy teams then worked in small groups to observe and interview girls and their families over a timeframe of numerous months, conducting research in the United States, the U.K., Germany, and Korea
Lego found that
  • Girls like “harmony,” or “a pleasing, everything-in-its-right-place sense of order”; warm, welcoming colors; and precise detailing on toys
  • Yes, little girls enjoy role-playing as their favored style of play
  • Girls like to construct, but in a style that differs from that of boys. Boys like to build to build what they might find on a photo on a toy box, kit-style. But girls like to tell stories and re-design their constructions as they create them.
  • Boys play with figurines in the third-person, while girls project their identities on their toys
The result of Lego’s latest research is a set of curvy, versus angular female figurines, along with new blocks in pretty, pastel shades.

They’ll be packaged so that girls don’t feel pressure to create a scene as if they’re playing with a boy’s model kit.

The 29 new characters, which represent nine nationalities, come with Lego-written biographies.

The mini-dolls are imagined to live within a community called Heartlake City to help encourage–and appeal to–the storytelling process.

While other toy manufacturers are likely to keep in mind Lego’s new, gender-based research for their own future designs, it’s likely that they will also be watching how the public reacts to the new line.

Wieners points out that although there have been critics of Lego’s perceived inattention to girls’ tastes in the past, there are already skeptics who question the design strategies of creating obviously “feminine,” and arguably stereotypical, feminine toys–even if the research backs up that girls around the world very well may want them.

Why Does Asian Food Taste So Different?

This graphic shows the backbone of the flavor network: "each node denotes an ingredient, the node color indicates food category, and node size reflects the ingredient prevalence in recipes.

Two ingredients are connected if they share a significant number of flavour compounds, link thickness representing the number of shared compounds between the two ingredients.

Read more: Asian Food

Friday, December 16, 2011

BCI updates business continuity dictionary

The Business Continuity Institute has published an update (Version 2) of its Dictionary of Business Continuity Management Terms. Edited by Lyndon Bird, the dictionary provides a comprehensive glossary of business continuity terms.

Definitions given in the glossary include terms from the BCI’s GPG2010 and the BS 25999 standard, with some additional comments in some cases ‘to improve clarity and understanding’.

Other definitions are consolidated definitions from various source documents.

View the Dictionary of Business Continuity Management Terms Version as a PDF.

Banking: Social Media Challenges

Financial institutions (FIs) should integrate social media approaches into their marketing and customer service processes.

Most FIs are fairly clear that engaging customers, building brand awareness, and building brand affinity are why they’re involved with social media.

Engagement may be the objective, but “engagement” isn’t accomplished through persuasion.

10 rules: Ethics for IT consultants

Applying a set of ethical rules to business matters can protect you, your employer and your clients. In times of trouble or doubt, they will help you determine right from wrong.

However, you could just apply the big rule of rules: 'Treat your clients as you want to be treated', but in business, you often need specific guidance. We hope the following rules will serve you well.

1: Be honest

You could lie about your strengths, your background, your expertise, and even the hours you spend on a project. It might be the largest temptation you face because there are so few auditing features in place. The client has to take a leap of faith when hiring you. Don’t violate that trust for any reason, especially not to keep the job.

2: Say no when necessary
Clients hire you for your opinions, your experience, and your knowledge. Giving them anything less violates their trust and will eventually bite you back, hard. The client might not act on your advice. A disagreement might even lead to a parting of the ways, so it’s difficult to speak up when you disagree, but you must.

3: Wait when necessary
On the other side of No 2 is Timing, or knowing when to wait. It’s unethical to push your point of view beyond discovery. It’s your job to present what you’ve learned and make your best recommendation. It’s not your job to force your recommendation.

4: Concentrate on the client at hand
When charging a client, you belong to that client. Take their perspective. Don’t troubleshoot another client’s problem; don’t even think about another client’s project. If you must take a call from one client while at another client’s facility, be discreet. Never say, “I’ve got to take this call” and turn your back on a client in their own facility! If possible, turn your cellphone off during these conversations. “Give me a minute to turn off my cellphone so we’re not disturbed,” goes a long way.

5: Lock the backdoor on your way out
Developers like to code a backdoor that no one else knows about. It’s a failsafe method for gaining access when all normal routes fail. When you leave a project, provide documentation for locking or even destroying your backdoor. You have no ethical reason for maintaining it.

6: Maintain confidentiality
Due to specialisation, some consultants have multiple clients in the same field. There’s nothing inherently unethical about it. There are lots of IT projects that aren’t competitive, so providing those skills to competitors won’t put them at risk. Two firms fighting to be the first to market a specialised phone app won’t both hire you as a developer but both might hire you to update their disaster preparedness plan.

To protect yourself and your clients, provide full disclosure when working for competitors. In addition, be extremely careful when contracting proprietary details, there’s a fine line between tying your hands and protecting each client’s interests.

7: Respect management’s confidence
Just as you shouldn’t violate confidentiality between clients, you shouldn’t spread confidential information through layers of the same company. When the client shares confidential information with you as part of the discovery process, don’t share that information with others in the company. For instance, if you learn from the CEO that the company is preparing to outsource its customer service department, you can’t warn your best friend, who works in customer service.

8: Don’t stir the pot
Every company has its own drama. Stay out of it. The only views your client is paying you for are those that support your IT position. Keep to your consulting views and leave all the personnel drama to the folks in Human Resources.

9: Report unethical behavior
If, during the discovery process, you learn that the manager in charge of your project is doing something unethical or illegal (related to the company), you have an obligation to report your findings (not your suspicions) to someone in a position to intercede. However, it may be just as unethical to exclude the manager in question from the process. Call a meeting to present your evidence but invite the manager, too. Take the high road and then find another job, because you can’t survive this one.

10: Don’t create a dependency
Don’t covertly create a dependency just to maintain a relationship or cashflow with a client. A project might yield a new maintenance or support contract, but it must grow from need and mutual agreement, not pretense or trickery.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Windows Phone SMS attack - YouTube

Attackers can send a maliciously-crafted SMS to a Windows Phone, causing it to reboot and disable messaging functionality. "The flaw appears to affect other aspects of the Windows Phone operating system too," reported WinRumors.

"If a user has pinned a friend as a live tile on their device and the friend posts a particular message on Facebook then the live tile will update and causes the device to lock up." WinRumors and Khaled Salameh, the researcher who discovered the vulnerability, are in the process of disclosing the flaw to Microsoft.

"At this stage there doesn't appear to be a workaround to fix the messaging hub apart from hard resetting and wiping the device."

Social Media and Influence Measurement

Google: Behind the numbers [infographic]

Monday, December 12, 2011

Making the Invisible Visible - YouTube

Find out more and take action at:

Making the Invisible Visible is an Amnesty International street art project highlighting the plight of six individuals who have suffered human rights abuses.

The project is a unique collaboration between German street art collective Mentalgassi and creative team Lisa Jelliffe and Kirsten Rutherford from Wieden + Kennedy London.

The installations use special lenticular fence posters. Launched in London last year to highlight the case of Troy Davis, this year the campaign can be seen in 26 locations across 6 European cities.

Each installation depicts a close up of an individual's face. The image is invisible from front on, only becoming visible to those approaching the fence. A plaque on each site alerts passers-by to an Amnesty International website where they can take action in support of each of the individuals featured.

Thanks to Ghosting Season for their track 'Dead Man's Switch' available here:

UK Rich & City Elite Fund Cynical Tory Party

Never in the history of political party funding have so few bought so much political influence for so little says GMB

Total donations to the Tory Party in the third quarter of 2011 were £2,891,436 according to the recent figures published by the Electoral Commission. The donations from companies and individuals linked to finance, hedge funds, private equity, property and other city activities were £1,684,708 according to a new GMB analysis of the data. This is 58.3% of the total.

Rich & City Elite Fund Tory Party

Brain Technology can improve their visual performance

Scientists discovered that brain technology can help people learn new things and it doesn’t require much concentration at all.

In theory, if a person were to use the new method, he could look into a computer screen and learn a new language.

ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratory and Boston University researchers used brain technology to help people improve their visual performance in areas such as memory, motor, and rehabilitation.

For example, if a person wants to be a good athlete, then his brain pattern should align to those seen in a professional through real-time feedback. Or if a person needs to be treated after an accident, his brain patterns could be changed to match the baseline. That’s all in theory for now, but the study shows promising results.

To do this, a person could look at computer screen to obtain a specific activation pattern in their brain. Furthermore, this study found that the subjects improved their performance without actually being aware of what they were learning.

Wait? Really? The experiment used decoded functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to improve the subjects’ ability. The subjects also participated in neuro-feedback training so they could match their brain activity to the desired visual performance.

The study was published in the journal Science.

“So we have to test if the method works in other types of learning in the future,” ATR’s professor Mitsuo Kawato said in a statement. “At the same time, we have to be careful so that this method is not used in an unethical way.”

Things to do while waiting for SAP ROI - Make a Snowflake from paper - YouTube

Recommended paper size: Hexagon with a side length of 10cm (approx. 4in)
Resulting model: Hexagon with a side length of 5cm (approx. 2in)

This video describes how to fold the origami snowflake designed by Dennis Walker. Dennis's video is also accessible to you.

Dennis' website:
More origami:

Things to do while waiting for SAP ROI - Make a Christmas Tree from paper - YouTube

Save money and have fun making your very own attractive, chic and unique Christmas decorations. There are lots of attractive recycled papers and materials available from arts, crafts and stationery shops or you can use any nice patterned papers, catalogues or magazines you come across too.

The good news is when they start to look a little tired, or you decide you want new colours / patterns, the old ones can simply be recycled and you can quickly and easily make replacements. Enjoy!

Twitter's redesign open for comment

This week, Twitter announced a "major" redesign of its popular micro-blogging service, in a move aimed at attracting new users and big brands with a simpler, more intuitive interface and more opportunities for companies to show off their stuff. The new look will be rolled out in the coming weeks across, Twitter apps, and TweetDeck. (Watch a video demonstration here.) Here, four things you should know:

1. Is it easier for new tweeters?
Twitter's message to "newbies" here is "try it, you'll like it," says Stephen Shankland at CNET. Twitter execs say the big empty text box on the old site was alienating for first-time users, so now the emphasis is on helping newcomers find content that interests them. The new interface has several friendly tabs, and potentially confusing concepts like hashtags have been re-branded for new users with less threatening action verbs, like "discover." "The new version of Twitter is a faster, simpler way to stay close to everything you care about."

2. Is it friendlier to brands and advertisers?
Companies will be able to launch customised, branded pages and show embedded multimedia. Twitter says it's aiming to be "an even more compelling destination" for companies. Experts caution that Twitter must be careful that it doesn't "compromise users' experience" by getting too cozy with businesses. "It may make Twitter's members feel that its commercial interests are being put ahead of their own," says one digital consultant.

3. Is Twitter approaching the Facebook look?
The branded pages "look like a blatant borrowing" from Facebook, says Paul Sloan at CNET. And that's not the only part of the redesign reminiscent of Mark Zuckerberg and Co. While photos used to be a pain to tweet, they now handily appear as part of a tweet — sound familiar? "A big part of Facebook's appeal — and something that keeps users coming back and sticking around — is that it's an easy place to share and store your photos." Now Twitter is, too. New profile pages are also very Facebook-like. This "redesign sends a clear message to the social networking universe: Facebook, we're coming for you,"

4. Are Conversations easier to follow?
"One of the more annoying things about the old Twitter design was the inability for users to follow conversations easily." No longer. Under the redesign, conversations and comments pile up beneath the original post, another Facebook look-alike move.

Do-it-yourself iPhone Projector - YouTube

The first person to invent a DiY projector by someone named Dylan who tags himself as a Household Hacker. The video shows how to make your own version of iPhone projector.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Intercontinental Ballistic Microfinance: See five years of Kiva lending

Intercontinental Ballistic Microfinance from Kiva on Vimeo.

Kiva, a micro-finance site, lets people around the world lend small sums of money to help small businesses get off the ground, particularly in the developing world.

Since starting in 2005 more than 685,000 people have received loans through Kiva. The majority of those loans appear in this video.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Samsung: Amazing Screen Technology - Flexible AMOLED - YouTube

Samsung has released a video purportedly showing a prototype of its flexible screen tablet computer in action. We found it on YouTube and embedded it below. Have a look, as a faceless pair of hands goes globetrotting, unfolding a tidy screen to take happy pictures, translate languages, conjure up menus (or something like that – it’s hard to tell!) and pull other rabbits out of a chirpy hat, all to enthusiastic Korean narration.

The busy production is hardly convincing – the product has a mock-up sense about it - but nevertheless it gives a good idea of what one of these things might look like. Presumably the screen will use OLED (organic light emitting diode) technology. OLEDs are natural light sources, available today in rigid form. But they should soon emerge in flexible varieties, auguring radical changes in architecture, construction, and IT as designers build light sources into the fabric of houses, furniture, skyscrapers, you name it. As we reported last month, Samsung hopes to deliver flexible screen phones in early 2012, followed by bendy tablet PCs.

Internet Access versus Population

With this map you can visualize the global digital divide.

It shows more than 80,000 populated places in blue and about 350,000 locations of IP addresses in red.

White dots indicate places where many people live and many IP addresses are available.

The IP address locations are taken from the GeoLiteCity database by MaxMind.

The database of populated places is taken from The visual style is largely inspired by Eric Fischer's wonderful Flickr-vs-Twitter maps.

Also, here you can find a high resolution version and the separate layers for population and internet addresses.

Virologist Develops Highly Contagious and Lethal Strain of H5N1 Bird Flu Virus

A molecular virologist at Erasmus University in the Netherlands has engineered a new H5N1 bird flu virus so lethal that it would kill 59 percent of those infected.

Dr. Ron Fouchier and his team, who used ferrets as test subjects, found five genetic mutations to the virus. Based on these mutations, they were able to develop a new H5N1 strain that became airborne and infected ferrets in different cages.

The increased rate of infection indicates the new strain can potentially become as contagious as a normal cold. The H5N1 virus, which originally only affected birds, crossed over to humans in 1997 and first struck in Asia.

It eventually spread all over the world until it killed more than 300 people. Considering the 59 percent mortality rate of the new H5N1 strain, many fear that it would result in a pandemic on a global scale.

Read more Virologist Develops Highly Contagious and Lethal Strain of H5N1 Bird Flu Virus

Monday, December 5, 2011

There's no such thing as Root Cause? Discuss!

Continuous improvement enables better decisions with better data, which drives better business performance — as long as you never stop looping the Decision-Data Feedback Loop, and start accepting that there is no such thing as a root cause.

Read the full article here: No Such Thing as a Root Cause?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Social Media: Listening and Online Reputation Monitoring 2011 report

Today marks the publication of Econsultancy's 2012 Online Reputation and Buzz Monitoring Buyer's Guide, containing profiles of 15 leading vendors and advice for companies trying to choose a tool and to get the most from the technology. 

The report follows separate research we published in November which shows that an increasing number of companies are paying for reputation monitoring software.

According to the State of Social Report, published in association with LBi and bigmouthmedia, the proportion of companies using paid-for technology for reputation monitoring increased from 16% in 2010 to 25% in 2011, including 17% who also use free tools for social listening.

Social Media: How will it change your company's raison d’être

Social Media and close coupled customer contact is increasing the delta between what our customers THINK can be done, and what can REALLY be done.

As a company, this delta is an important factor to take into consideration. The fact is, companies have been profiting from operating in their own space-time dimension for decades – it’s the arbitrage of an inefficient market.

We have accepted things like “please allow 48+ hours for a response” because we could not penetrate the system or affect the process; we lacked the power to find out.

Now, however, the differential response times between companies are exposed for all to see, and some companies are willing to share their own benchmarks for response times. Unfortunately, in most cases these are unattainable, especially for companies that are not structured around real-time response.

You cannot have a real-time response strategy if your staff responders are not empowered in real-time and your employees cannot be empowered in real time unless the entire company moves around that pivotal point.

However, the difficult question your company must ask, is not how your company can make this change towards being pivotal; rather, it needs to ask whether it should make this change.

Business is all about constraints, and economics the study of scarcity. Resources applied to customer services do not magically appear because we wish them to; Lavoisier’s principle of mass conservation is as true for corporate resources as it is for chemistry (though, Lavoisier was beheaded)

In short, using a quote from the US Marines; your business has to pick the hill it wants to die on.

You can read more of this article at BrandSavant

World's First Mobile Phone (1922) - YouTube

A couple of years ago, British Pathé uncovered some striking footage from 1922 showing two women experimenting with the first mobile phone. A spokesman for the archive said: ”It’s amazing that nearly 90 years ago mobile phone technology and music … was not only being thought of but being trialled.”

“The phone even has a lid which makes it the first flip-phone we are aware of, although it is probably not going to win any design awards.” He added, ”We would be delighted to hear from anyone who can tell us anything about the film, from where it is shot to who the women might be or even about the phone itself.”

For another gem from the British Pathé archive, don’t miss The King’s Speech (1938), which gives you a glimpse of King George VI making a speech to open an exhibition in Scotland — the same king that became the subject of the 2010 Academy Award-winning film.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy 2011 - Final Version Published

After a consultation period which ran from 22 March to 17 June 2011, the Department of Health has now launched the final version of the UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy 2011.

The plan aims to create more flexibility and clearer communication between all parties involved in the Government response to a pandemic.

The UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy 2011 sets out the main phases of a pandemic and the likely scenarios under the following conditions:

  • Low impact
  • Moderate impact
  • High impact.

In each scenario there a four clear sections:

  • Nature and scale of the illness – what defines the need for the pandemic to have reached this level i.e. widespread disease;
  • Key healthcare delivery – specific actions and guidance for healthcare providers;
  • Impact on the wider society – considerations on how this may be affecting the local community; and
  • Public messages – reassurance and specific information for the general public.

The plan builds on the guidance from 2007 and lessons learnt from the H1N1 (2009) influenza pandemic, and the latest scientific evidence.

The document is broken down as follows:

1. Introduction
2. The challenge of pandemic influenza
3. The strategic approach to pandemic preparedness
4. Key elements of pandemic response
5. Communication and public engagement
6. The health and social care response
7. Whole of society response
8. Further information.

Section 7 (Whole of society response) contains general business continuity information and provides details about the assumptions that organizations should make when developing pandemic preparedness strategies.

Organizations are told to consider the impacts of staff absence and the impacts of interdependencies. If organizations are planning to increase the proportions of staff that work from home as a business continuity measure they are advised to ‘discuss this with their telecommunications providers well in advance to allow them to put the necessary hardware and software in place’.

Assumptions include:

  • The UK Government does not plan to close borders, stop mass gatherings or impose controls on public transport during any pandemic.
  • Organizations should work on the assumption that most of their staff will not have access to vaccines.

Read the document as a PDF.

Human error is the biggest cause of IT disasters

A survey to analyse the key factors that cause major SME IT incidents and service failures. The findings show that human error accounted for 47 percent of incidents, followed by server failures at 29 percent and power and communications provider failure at 15 percent. Fire, flood or ‘Acts of God’ accounted for 9 percent of outages.

Human error can include anything from placing a server under an air conditioner - that then leaks, to classic finger trouble - where operators irretrievably break a server and don't have a backup. Other impacting factors identified included a second disk failure - after its mirror has previously failed and not been fixed, or issues, such as deployment failures or bugs in custom code.

Survey results show that human error causes the highest occurrence of service failures, whilst incidents like fire and flood are understandably less common, but do still occur. It was also found that quite a lot of incidents, which initially appear to be related to pure hardware or software failure, actually have an element of human error involved with them.

Power and communications failures proved to be reasonably common but are often quite short lived, and because most companies don’t have a recovery service that can get them working again very quickly, they tend to just tough them out.

A key problem for companies is predicting how long the service is likely to be out of action and then deciding when it’s worth trying to initiate a recovery process.

The key message from the survey results is, perhaps that prolonged outages do happen and are more often caused by the every-day rather than the rarer fire, flood or acts of God.

Many smaller and medium sized companies who have limited IT support, have less ability to respond quickly and effectively to an IT outage. It is therefore advised that they consider the risks of a prolonged IT outage carefully, and look to develop and implement a fully managed disaster recovery (DR) service from a specialist provider who can guarantee to restore their systems within an acceptable period of time.

Carrier IQ RootKit on SmartPhones - YouTube

So, it seems that there is a rootkit hidden in millions of Android, Symbian, BlackBerry, webOS and even iOS handset that logs everything we do.

The rootkit belongs to a company called Carrier IQ and it seems that it has low-level access to the system that allows it to spy on pretty much everything that you do with your handset.

On the face of it this seems like an extremely serious breach of security, privacy and trust was discovered by 25-year-old Trevor Eckhart.

Here’s a video showing how everything, including text messages and encrypted web searches, are being logged. It’s truly horrifying.

More information about Carrier IQ. If youd like to talk about it, post below, tweet with #CIQ or if you have a board discussion about it post the URL here. I will be doing NO moderation.

While your out there thank the @EFF for letting me continue :)

Why are you looking at CarrierIQ for information and not HTC? Look at how many devices have Carrier IQ hidden. HTC is just including 3rd party software. They have privacy policies everywhere for their programs, this is not just an HTC/Android issue.

Visit for more info.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Meeting of Minds

Today we are presenting a fascinating new paper by a team of psychologists, including Kurt Gray, Joshua Knobe, Mark Sheskin, Paul Bloom and Lisa Feldman Barrett and here the scientists frame the mystery they want to solve:
Do people’s mental capacities fundamentally change when they remove a sweater? This seems absurd: How could removing a piece of clothing change one’s capacity for acting or feeling? In six studies, however, we show that taking off a sweater—or otherwise revealing flesh—can significantly change the way a mind is perceived. In this article, we suggest that the kind of mind ascribed to another person depends on the relative salience of his or her body—that the perceived capacity for both pain and planned action depends on whether someone wears a sweater or tank-top.
To understand why sweaters and tank-tops influence the kind of minds we perceive, it’s important to know about the different qualities we imagine in others. In general, people assess the 'minds' of others and it doesn’t matter if it’s the “mind” of a pet, an iPhone or a perceived deity. This assessment is aligned along two distinct dimensions.

Firstly, we grade other peoples' minds in terms of agency, Whereby Human beings have lots of agency but goldfish less so. Secondly, we also think of other peoples' minds in terms of the ability to have experience, to feel and perceive.

The psychologists suggest that these dual dimensions are actually a duality, and that there’s a direct tradeoff between the ability to have agency and experience. For example, if we endow someone with lots of feeling, then they probably have less agency, and if someone has lots of agency, then they probably are less sensitive to experience.

In other words, we automatically assume that the capacity to think and the capacity to feel are in opposition. It’s a zero sum game.

This work also raises important philosophical questions. Ever since Descartes, it’s been suggested that people are natural dualists, dividing the world into an immaterial realm full of souls and a physical world full of objects.

This simple framework, however, appears to be a bit too simple. Instead, the psychologists propose that humans are actually Platonic dualists, following Plato’s belief that there are two distinct types of mind: a mind for thinking and reasoning and a mind for emotions and passions.

What’s surprising is how easily we switch between these different mental capacities. All it takes is a peek of skin before a thinker morphs into a feeler.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

London's Tower bridge: Vintage Image

Never before seen photograph of the construction of Tower Bridge being constructed have been unveiled after a stash of hundred-year-old photos were found in a skip.

The 50 sepia pictures, dating back to 1892, reveal in incredible detail the ingenuity behind one of the capital's most popular tourist destinations.

The discarded pictures, which were retrieved by a caretaker who was looking after a building being turned into flats in 2006, have spent the last five years in a carrier bag underneath his bed.

The 59-year-old, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that after the occupants of the Westminster office building moved out, the album and a number of documents were thrown into a skip outside.

He said: "I took the ledgers to the Tower Bridge Museum because I thought they might have some historical value. I told the man at the museum that I had also found some photos but he told me they already had plenty of those.

I didnt know what to do with them so I wrapped them in some brown paper and put them in a bag under the bed." We will have a gallery of the images on the Telegraph site later today.

Picture: David Willoughby / Barcroft Media

Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory - YouTube

Daniel Kahneman's most sustaining and fascinating facets are the notions of the experiencing self and the remembering self, underpinning the fundamental duality of the human condition — one voiceless and immersed in the moment, the other occupied with keeping score and learning from experience.

I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.” ~ Daniel Kahneman

Kahneman spoke of these two selves and the cognitive traps around them in his fantastic 2010 TED talk:

Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy -- and our own self-awareness.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Using good governance to control cloud risks

Cloud computing provides organizations with an alternative way of obtaining IT services and offers many benefits including increased flexibility as well as cost reduction. However many organizations are reluctant to adopt the cloud because of concerns over information security and a loss of control over the way IT service is delivered.

These fears have been exacerbated by recent events reported in the press including outages by Amazon and the three-day loss of Blackberry services from RIM. So what approach can an organization take to ensure that the benefits of the cloud outweigh the risks?

To understand the risks involved it is important to understand that the cloud is not a single model. The cloud covers a wide spectrum of services and delivery models ranging from in-house virtual servers to software accessed by multiple organizations over the Internet. A clear explanation of this range is described by NIST. This document describes the five essential characteristics that define the cloud, the three service models and the four deployment models. The risks of the cloud depend upon both the service model and the delivery model adopted.

When moving to the cloud it is important that the business requirements for the move are understood and that the cloud service is selected meets these needs. Taking a good governance approach, such as COBIT, is the key to safely embracing the cloud and the benefits that it provides:

  • Identify the business requirements for the cloud based solution. This seems obvious but many organizations are using the Cloud without knowing it.
  • Determine the cloud service needs based on the business requirements. Some applications will be more business critical than others.
  • Develop scenarios to understand the security threats and weaknesses. Use these to determine the response to these risks in terms of requirements for controls and questions to be answered. Considering these risks may lead to the conclusion that the risk of moving to the Cloud is too high.
  • Understand what the accreditations and audit reports offered by the cloud provider mean and actually cover.

Read more of this article

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why do Americans Use Social Media?

Two-thirds of online adults (66%) use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn. These internet users say that connections with family members and friends (both new and old) are a primary consideration in their adoption of social media tools. Roughly two thirds of social media users say that staying in touch with current friends and family members is a major reason they use these sites, while half say that connecting with old friends they've lost touch with is a major reason behind their use of these technologies.

Other factors play a much smaller role: 14% of users say that connecting around a shared hobby or interest is a major reason they use social media and 9% say that making new friends is equally important. Reading comments by public figures and finding potential romantic partners are cited as major factors by just 5% and 3% of social media users, respectively.

The survey was conducted Apr. 26-May 22, 2011. Read the full report for more information about the degree to which different age and ethnic groups value social media.

See the full report for more details, including differences among age and ethnic groups when it comes to what they value most in social media.

The times they are a changin' - YouTube

There are two types of bosses: the one that changes as a continuous learning experience and understands the motivation of the others, those who do not (yet).

And in these two basic attitudes one can also reflect the success with their employees. It can be simplified to identify the following two types of managers:
  • Those who accept change as something continuous vs. those who see it as a one-time task.
  • Those who see their success as something temporary vs. those who strive constantly to maintain it.
  • Those who believe that anything is possible vs. those who think their future depends on the past.
  • Those who allow change vs. those who hide behind operating procedures, to keep everyone under control.
  • Those who see life as a permanent and lasting learning experience vs.. those who think they have reached their "target" and will no longer move.
  • Those who keep their teams alive and alert to changes vs. those who allow their teams to "doze off".
  • Those who view change as an impetus for dialogue, and a potential insight to see improvement vs. those who see change and dialogue as intrusive, annoying and /or bothersome.
  • Those who radiate energy and personal motivation vs. those that show fatigue and negative emotions.
  • Those who think they can gain something vs. those who are afraid of losing something.

Mistakes in Not Making Mistakes

The past year seems to have yielded various waves of content celebrating making mistakes. Advancing the “failure at the heart of innovation” theme seems to have become a cause célèbre for the creativity and innovation set.

Celebrating mistakes as part of innovation was the topic of a July Innochat on Twitter on innovation failure and, most recently, a Wall Street Journal article on “Better Ideas through Failure.”

I grew up with a clear perfectionist streak (or whatever term you would use to suggest whatever is deeper, wide, and more permanent than a “streak”), I wrestle with a gleeful attitude toward failure.

Yet between Kathryn Schulz’s TED talk “On Being Wrong” and recognition of my own experiences where learning from something that did not succeed as planned has led to much better future results, openness to errors clearly has its place in creativity and innovation.

However, I think celebrating mistakes in and of themselves is an easy banner for behaviours that don’t come easily to many people or many organizations, for that matter.

It’s not so much organizations are celebrating failure as the willingness to move forward on efforts before everything is figured out and an appreciation for learning when something doesn’t go right.

Being Bad at Making Mistakes
What really needs to happen in an organization to benefit from an apparent willingness to celebrate and reward failure?

Instead of listing behaviors for celebrating mistakes (which I started to do but failed to complete), it’s much easier to list mistakes individuals and organizations make at making mistakes.

Thinking through the personal perfectionist demons I’ve had to try (and still try) to slay, here are eight mistakes that can shut you off from productive failure:
  1. Being afraid of fear
  2. Not being able to manage or tolerate ample levels of risk
  3. Becoming easily embarrassed – either personally or organizationally
  4. Failing to properly frame and learn from experiments
  5. Being uncomfortable with unanswered questions
  6. Doing a bad job of making assumptions which allow you to keep making progress
  7. Focusing too strongly on too much detail
  8. Not being able to fix things as you go

To read the full article visit the Innovation Excellence website

UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy 2011 published

After a consultation period which ran from 22 March to 17 June 2011, the Department of Health has now launched the final version of the UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy 2011.

The plan aims to create more flexibility and clearer communication between all parties involved in the Government response to a pandemic.

The UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy 2011 sets out the main phases of a pandemic and the likely scenarios under the following conditions:

  • Low impact
  • Moderate impact
  • High impact.

In each scenario there a four clear sections:

  • Nature and scale of the illness – what defines the need for the pandemic to have reached this level i.e. widespread disease;
  • Key healthcare delivery – specific actions and guidance for healthcare providers;
  • Impact on the wider society – considerations on how this may be affecting the local community; and
  • Public messages – reassurance and specific information for the general public.

The plan builds on the guidance from 2007 and lessons learnt from the H1N1 (2009) influenza pandemic, and the latest scientific evidence.

The document is broken down as follows:

1. Introduction
2. The challenge of pandemic influenza
3. The strategic approach to pandemic preparedness
4. Key elements of pandemic response
5. Communication and public engagement
6. The health and social care response
7. Whole of society response
8. Further information.

Section 7 (Whole of society response) contains general business continuity information and provides details about the assumptions that organizations should make when developing pandemic preparedness strategies.

Organizations are told to consider the impacts of staff absence and the impacts of interdependencies. If organizations are planning to increase the proportions of staff that work from home as a business continuity measure they are advised to ‘discuss this with their telecommunications providers well in advance to allow them to put the necessary hardware and software in place’.

Assumptions include:

  • The UK Government does not plan to close borders, stop mass gatherings or impose controls on public transport during any pandemic.
  • Organizations should work on the assumption that most of their staff will not have access to vaccines.

Read the document as a PDF.

Communications: 60 Hudson Street, Manhatten, NY

Bundled, Buried & Behind Closed Doors from Ben Mendelsohn on Vimeo.

We keep thinking and reading about the Internet as a cultural phenomenon, but what about its palpable physicality? In 2010, it was estimated that the world produced over one thousand exobytes of new data, or one trillion gigabytes.

Most of it doesn’t stay put — instead, it travels through the world’s servers, but where exactly does it go? That’s precisely what Ben Mendelsohn set out to answer in Bundled, Buried & Behind Closed Doors, a fascinating short documentary for his masters thesis at The New School.

The film takes us inside 60 Hudson Street in Lower Manhattan — a deceptively nondescript building that houses one of the world’s major nodes of the Internet. The rest…well, you’ll have to see for yourself:
"It’s really vital to remember that the Internet is physical. The Internet can be touched, it is material and it exists — because so much of the rhetoric surrounding current concepts of ‘cyberspace’ suggests that it’s somehow just this sort of magic, etherial realm that exists ‘out there’ almost on its own.” ~ Stephen Graham, Professor of Cities and Society, Newcastle University"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Replace Windows Explorer with a free, feature-rich file manager

Bill Detwiler exmaines five free file managers that might make IT pros and power users dump Windows Explorer.

The average Windows user would probably never consider using a file manager other than the one built into the operating system–Windows Explorer. But, TR Dojo viewers aren’t average Windows users. They like to optimize, customize, and just plain tinker with their computers, especially the operating system.
Well, during this TR Dojo episode, I discuss five, free file managers that you can use instead:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Where Do Good Ideas Come from - YouTube

One of our most innovative, popular thinkers takes on-in exhilarating style-one of our key questions: Where do good ideas come from?

With Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson pairs the insight of his bestselling Everything Bad Is Good for You and the dazzling erudition of The Ghost Map and The Invention of Air to address an urgent and universal question: What sparks the flash of brilliance? How does groundbreaking innovation happen? Answering in his infectious, culturally omnivorous style, using his fluency in fields from neurobiology to popular culture, Johnson provides the complete, exciting, and encouraging story of how we generate the ideas that push our careers, our lives, our society, and our culture forward.

Beginning with Charles Darwin's first encounter with the teeming ecosystem of the coral reef and drawing connections to the intellectual hyperproductivity of modern megacities and to the instant success of YouTube, Johnson shows us that the question we need to ask is, What kind of environment fosters the development of good ideas? His answers are never less than revelatory, convincing, and inspiring as Johnson identifies the seven key principles to the genesis of such ideas, and traces them across time and disciplines.

Most exhilarating is Johnson's conclusion that with today's tools and environment, radical innovation is extraordinarily accessible to those who know how to cultivate it. Where Good Ideas Come From is essential reading for anyone who wants to know how to come up with tomorrow's great ideas.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spotting an Ineffective Leader

It’s important to realize that just because someone is in a leadership position, doesn’t necessarily mean they should be. To put it another way, not all leaders are created equal.

The problem many organizations are suffering from is a recognition problem – they can’t seem to recognize good leaders from bad ones. In the text that follows, we address how to spot ineffective leaders pointing out a few things that should be obvious, but apparently aren’t:

  1. Poor Character: A leader who lacks character or integrity will not endure the test of time. It doesn’t matter how intelligent, affable, persuasive, or savvy a person is, if they are prone to rationalizing unethical behaviour based upon current or future needs they will eventually fall prey to their own undoing…
  2. Lack of Performance: Nobody is perfect, but leaders who consistently fail are not leaders, no matter how much you wish they were. While past performance is not always a certain indicator of future events, a long-term track record of success should not be taken lightly. Someone who has consistently experienced success in leadership roles has a much better chance of success than someone who has not. It’s important to remember unproven leaders come with a high risk premium.
  3. Poor Communication Skills: Show me a leader with poor communication skills and I’ll show you someone who will be short-lived in their position. Great leaders can communicate effectively across mediums, constituencies, and environments. They are active listeners, fluid thinkers, and know when to dial it up, down, or off.
  4. Self-Serving Nature: If a leader doesn’t understand the concept of “service above self” they will not engender the trust, confidence, and loyalty of those they lead. Any leader is only as good as his or her team’s desire to be led by them. An over abundance of ego, pride, and arrogance are not positive leadership traits. Long story short; if a leader receives a vote of non-confidence from their subordinates…game over.
  5. One Size Fits All Leadership Style: Great leaders are fluid and flexible in their approach. They understand the power of, and necessity for contextual leadership. “My way or the highway” leadership styles don’t play well in today’s world, will result in a fractured culture, and ultimately a non-productive organization. Only those leaders who can quickly recognize and adapt their methods to the situation at hand will be successful over the long haul.
  6. Lack of Focus and Follow-Through: Those leaders who lack the focus and attention to detail needed to apply leverage and resources in an aggressive and committed fashion will perish. Leaders who do not possess a bias toward action, or who cannot deliver on their obligations will not be successful. Leadership is about performance…Intentions must be aligned with results for leaders to be effective.
  7. Not Forward Looking: No vision equals no leadership. Leaders satisfied with the status quo, or who tend to be more concerned about survival than growth won’t do well over the long-run. The best leaders are focused on leading change and innovation to keep their organizations fresh, dynamic and growing. Bottom line – leaders who build a static business doom themselves to failure.
  8. Disconnected from the Market: Leaders not attuned to the needs of the market will fail. As the old saying goes, if you’re not taking care of your customers, someone else will be more than happy to. Successful leaders focus on customer satisfaction and loyalty. They find ways to consistently engage them and incorporate them into their innovation and planning initiatives. If you ignore, mistreat, or otherwise don’t value your customer base, your days as a leader are most certainly numbered.
  9. Not Invested: Leaders are fully committed to investing in those they lead. They support their team, build into their team, mentor and coach their team, and they truly care for their team. A leader not fully invested in their team won’t have a team – at least not an effective one.
  10. Not Accountable: Real leaders are accountable. They don’t blame others, don’t claim credit for the success of their team, but always accept responsibility for failures that occur on their watch. Most of all, leaders are accountable to their team. I’ve always said that leaders not accountable to their people will eventually be held accountable by their people.
  11. Not Focused: Leaders who are not intentional and are not focused, will fail themselves and their team. Leaders who lack discipline will model the wrong behaviors and will inevitably spread themselves too thin. Organizations are at the greatest risk when leaders lose their focus.
  12. Lacking Vision: Poor vision, tunnel vision, vision that is fickle, or a non-existent vision will cause leaders to fail. A leader’s job is to align the organization around a clear and achievable vision. This cannot occur when the blind lead the blind.

The moral of this story is leaders need to be honest, have a demonstrated track record of success, be excellent communicators, place an emphasis on serving those they lead, be fluid in approach, have laser focus, and a bias toward action. If these traits are not possessed by you or your current leaders, you will be in for a very rocky road ahead and a less succesful future.

8 Great Twitter Tools That Will Get You Tweeting

Here are some twitter tools that will make you more efficient and get you Tweeting like a Pro:

1. BufferTweet With Better Results

Whenever you are reading an article, and not quite sure, whether Tweeting it right now was a good idea. It might have been very early in the morning or late at night. By putting all your Tweets into a Buffer, they will be posted for you at the optimal times, well spaced out over the day. You can add Tweets your Buffer right from the article with the browser extensions with just one click.

Pro Tip: What helps a great deal is that Buffer provides you with analytics for each Tweet that you post. You will learn about the number of clicks, retweets and reach right inside the App.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet like a Pro

2. TwylahGive Your Tweets A Longer Life

As a matter of fact, a Tweet’s life is only very limited. If you want to prolong its life, Twylah is a wonderful way to do it. The App automatically displays all Tweets from your stream on a beautiful Twitter Brand Page for you. It will give your followers a chance to learn about the topics you are Tweeting without having to study your Twitter stream beforehand.

Pro Tip: Twylah also offers you to send a “Power Tweet”, which will allow you to post a Tweet to a Twylah page. This page is surrounded by a lot of other relevant content and has shown to increase engagement with a Tweet considerably.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet Like  Pro

3. MarketMeSuiteYour Powerful Social Media Dashboard

Only recently the paid-only MarketMeSuite has opened up its service to be free for everyone. It boasts a ton of great features that make it well worth giving a go. You can create reply campaigns, pull in RSS feeds and compare the Klout score of the users you are interacting with you. On top, you can also collaborate with other’s through the App’s multiple user setting.

Pro Tip: What we like best about MarketMeSuite is that all its features are explained in comprehensible videos as soon as you sign up for it.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet Like  Pro

4. TweriodFind Out Your Best Times To Tweet

Ever wondered which times of the day would be the best for you to Tweet? Look no further as Tweriod, as the App gives you a wonderful analysis of when you will be able to reach most followers. The App takes into account how well your Tweets have performed at various times and when your followers used to Tweet the most.

Pro Tip: What we like best about Tweriod is that the algorithm excludes Twitter Tools which schedule or auto-tweet as this obviously means your followers aren’t online.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet Like  Pro

5. TwilertGoogle Alerts For Twitter

This is an App we suggest you might give a go if you are trying to monitor a brand or search term on Twitter continually. Similar to Google Alerts, Twilert can set up any term and then be notified about any activity on Twitter about it. This was particularly helpful if you can’t spend too much time on Twitter each day, yet need a daily digest email to be informed.

Pro Tip: If you give it a go, take a look at the great filtering options ranging from mood, languages and date filters.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet Like  Pro

6. TweetWallyTurn Tweets Into Blogposts

Similar to an App called Storify, TweetWally is a wonderful solution to bring life back to your Tweets. You can take your own stream, do a search or follow a hashtag and make beautiful collections of any Tweets you find valuable. This can be very useful if you are following an important event, conference or else.

Pro Tip: Once you have made your collection you can easily embed all Tweets as a blogpost and offer it as an innovative piece of content for your readers.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet Like  Pro

7. ParrotFishGet More Insights Into Tweets On

ParrotFish from labs is a wonderful productivity tool to save you a lot of time. It displays all links from Tweets you come across with rich text preview. This means you can read up on the post from the link, before clicking through. We found this to be a great way to stay focused on reading news and not get distracted by clicking on posts which aren’t worth my time.

Pro Tip: The Chrome Extension also comes with a functionality to save items to Instapaper directly from, we believe this is a huge efficiency boost.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet Like  Pro

8. TweetLevelConnect with the right people on Twitter

Whilst building your network on Twitter, it is often key to make those people you engage with relevant and impactful for your niche. TweetLevel offers a wonderful solution to search other Twitter users by a number of different parameters. For example you can search by influence, trust, engagement or popularity. It then makes it very easy for you to follow and start talking to these people right from the App.

Pro Tip: On top of users, you can also search by topics and key words. This will give you a wonderful display of graphs and pie charts around this topic.

8 Twitter Tools to Tweet Like a Pro

These are the top 8 Tools that will help you the most to put Twitter to work. They all allow you to do things faster and more efficiently, yet they still require you to be active and not on auto-pilot.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gary Ennis @nsdesign explains why BT Care are not using Twitter correctly - Youtube

Gary Ennis
from gives a fast and furious intro to social media. November 2010, Glasgow Event organised by

Sunday, October 30, 2011

‘Lean startups’ can happen anywhere

Lean Startups and the entrepreneurial energy that fuel them, aren’t just limited to lone visionaries in garages or spare bedrooms.

In today’s hyper-competitive global economy, large organisations need to have startups under their roofs to survive and thrive.

A couple of decades back, some visionaries were floating the idea of “intrapreneurs,” motivated innovators within organisations that pull together ideas and resources to make new things happen.

In his latest book, Eric Ries, creator of the Lean Startup methodology, builds upon this idea, and outlines the 5 key principles that should make up the foundation of any lean startup effort and, tellingly, the key takeaway is that startups can happen anywhere, at anytime:

1. Entrepreneurs are everywhere. Ries argues that startups are everywhere, which he defines as an “institution designed to create new products and services under conditions of extreme uncertainty.” Groups of people working within Fortune 500 corporations or large government agencies, could meet the definition of a “startup.”

2. Entrepreneurship is management. Ries argues that “entrepreneur” should be a job title in all companies, regardless of ages and sizes.

3. Validated learning. The main purpose of a startup is to learn about customer needs. Run frequent experiments to see what ideas stick, and more importantly, which do not.

4. Build-measure-learn. A successful startup needs to operate within a continuous feedback loop. This loop consists of turning ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and “learn whether to pivot or persevere.”

5. Innovation accounting. Startup leaders still need to focus on the “boring stuff.” : measurement, milestones, and prioritisation of work. “This requires a new type of accounting for startups, and the people who hold them accountable.”

While startups may seem chaotic and more driven by passion than management, sensible and accountable management is still needed but the bottom line is that it can and will happen anywhere and everywhere.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

5 questions to improve your results!

Here are 5 great questions to help your business thrive in any economy:

  1. How many leads am I generating each day from my website / blog? Our sites should be a constant source of highly targeted sales leads. If your site is not currently generating as many leads as you can handle, you need to fix that immediately. I’m constantly amazed how many business owners pester people for leads at networking events, when their website or blog could be generating high quality leads for them every day.
  2. How easy would it be, for someone to write a manual, which explained how to do my job? Whilst every human being is of equal value, those in business with the highest commercial value do work that matters, which can’t be neatly explained in a manual.
  3. What am I doing, to ensure that the next 12 months will be better than the last 12 months? If business hasn’t been good over the past year, we need to change our direction. It’s way too easy to mistake movement for progress and end up working hard, doing the wrong things. If hard work alone were the secret to success, our grandparents would have been millionaires.
  4. If my business was perfect in every way, what would it look like? Write your answer down in as much detail as possible. Include everything, from; the type of projects you would be working on, your profit figure and the length of your working day, to the number of hours you would work each week and the location of your business. The clearer a picture you can build of your ideal business, the easier it becomes to direct your current business into that image.
  5. If my business were to stop trading on Monday, how easy would it be for my clients or customers to replace me? This is similar to question 2, but is focused on the unique value of your business. The easier it is for people to replace us as providers, the more volatile our client list will be and the harder we will find it to attract new clients.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Institute of Risk Management issues new guidance on risk appetite

The Institute of Risk Management (IRM) has published new guidance on the subject of risk appetite and tolerance aimed at helping organizations better understand the risks they take when pursuing their strategic objectives.

IRM's guidance document has been endorsed by the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and Alarm, the public risk management association.

IRM Deputy Chairman Richard Anderson, the main author of the report, explained: "Risk appetite today is a core consideration in any enterprise risk management approach for organizations of all types, yet there is little widespread understanding about what it means and how it can be applied. In the light of the explicit requirement in the UK Corporate Governance Code for boards to understand the nature and the extent of the risks that they face, IRM decided to take the lead on drawing together some practical guidance on the subject, aimed at board members as well as risk professionals.

We are particularly pleased that other respected professional bodies are supporting our work - risk is everyone’s business and a common understanding and approach helps us work together to address this challenging area."

Anderson continued, "Our underpinning precept is that organizations can only progress by taking those risks that they need to embrace and managing down those that they wish to avoid.

Our recommended approach to risk appetite, based on the wide experience of our members and also benefitting from an extensive consultation exercise earlier this year, is intellectually rigorous as well as highly practical.

We think we have managed to outline a process which should be proportionate to an organization's risk management maturity, capability and culture and, most importantly, supported by appropriate data.

Nevertheless, we do not think that this is the last word on the subject in such a fast-moving environment and we are extremely interested in receiving feedback on this work."

The IRM paper Risk Appetite and Tolerance is available for free download at

Managing cloud risks

Adopting cloud computing may save money, but how does it change risk? The cloud allows the procurement of IT services from both internal and external suppliers to be optimized because the services are delivered through the Internet in a standard way.

The cloud is not a single model, but covers a wide spectrum from applications shared between multiple tenants to virtual servers used by one customer and hosted internally.

The key benefit of a cloud approach is one of scale; the cloud provider can potentially offer a better service at a lower cost because the scale of their operation means they can afford the skilled people and state-of-the-art technology necessary to deliver a secure service.

In general, a large cloud provider is likely to provide a better and more secure IT service at a lower cost than a small to medium sized enterprise could provide itself.

While the public cloud offers applications shared by multiple customers, the private cloud provides applications and infrastructure that are dedicated to a particular organization.

It allows organizations to outsource the management of their IT infrastructure while retaining tighter control over the location and management of the resources.

The price to pay for this is that the costs are likely to be higher than for a public cloud because there is less potential for economy of scale, and resilience may be lower because of the limit on service resources available.

The information security risks associated with cloud computing depend on both the service model and the delivery model adopted. The specific risks depend on the organization and their individual requirements.

The common security concerns across this spectrum are ensuring the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the services and data delivered through the cloud environment.

The approach to managing risks from the perspective of the cloud service user is one of due diligence - ensuring that the requirements are clearly understood, the risks are assessed, the right questions are asked and the appropriate controls are included in the service level agreements.

The principal information security related issues that organizations adopting cloud computing need to address are summarized below. Because of the wide spectrum covered by the cloud, their priority will depend on the cloud model adopted and the individual circumstances:

- Ease of purchase: anyone can buy access using a credit card. Your organization may already be using a cloud service without a proper assessment of the risk.

- Service contracts: those offered by cloud providers are often ‘take it or leave it’ and may contain less onerous obligations on the provider than a normal SLA. Key issues include: who owns the data, and how difficult would it be for you to get it back?

- Compliance: identify the business requirements for compliance with laws and regulations and ensure that the cloud provider is able to answer how they will meet these needs.

- Service location: identify the legal issues that relate to the jurisdiction of the geographic location of the cloud provider, the service and the data, and ensure that service contracts address these issues.

- Data security: identify and classify the business data that is involved and specify the security requirements for this data in terms of confidentiality, integrity and availability.

- Availability: identify the service availability requirements and assure that the provider is capable of meeting these.

- Identity and access management: specify the business needs for identity management and access control and assure that it will be delivered securely.

- Insider abuse of privilege: confirm that the cloud service provider has processes and technology to properly control privileged access.

- Internet threats: determine the level of protection needed against Internet-based threats and ensure they the steps to be taken both by the cloud provider and internally are adequate.

- Monitor: Within the cloud service, meet the business and legal requirements of the client while separating the data relating to different clients.

Taking a good governance approach, such as COBIT, is the key to safely embracing the cloud and the benefits that it provides. COBIT provides guidance to:

- Identify the business requirements for the cloud-based solution. This seems obvious but many organizations are using the cloud without knowing it.

- Determine if the functionality is currently provided by an existing internal service. If so what are the options?

- Determine the governance needs based on the business requirements. Some applications will be more business critical than others.

- Develop scenarios to understand the security threats and weaknesses. Use these to determine the risk response in terms of requirements for controls and questions to be answered. Risk IT: Based on COBIT provides an ideal framework for this.

- Understand what the accreditations and audit reports offered by the cloud provider mean and actually cover.

Cloud computing can reduce costs by providing alternative models for the procurement and delivery of IT services.

Many organizations have already adopted an outsourcing approach to internal functions that are not core and this approach naturally extends to IT.

However, they need to consider the risks involved in a move to the cloud and good governance provides a way for this.

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