IT Myths

InfoWorld addresses six “urban legends from the tech trenches … and the realities behind them”:

IT Myth 1: Server upgrades matter
Reality: Dont pay extra for upgradability; youll never need it

IT Myth 2: Eighty percent of corporate data resides on mainframes
Reality: Try 50 percent, or even less

IT Myth 3: All big shops run multiple platforms
Reality: This ‘myth’ is closer to fact than fiction

IT Myth 4: CIOs and CTOs have a greater need for business savvy than tech expertise
Reality: Tech chops matter more than ever

IT Myth 5: Most IT projects fail
Reality: It all depends on how you define failure

IT Myth 6: IT doesn’t scale
Reality: Virtually any technology is scalable, provided you combine the right ingredients and implement them effectively

Smartphone Primer

From NewMobileComputing discusses the “air interface”, the hardware, software, shape and frills in the purchase of a smartphone. His recommendations:

Step 1: Assess your needs! If you do not assess your needs you might end up spending a lot more money than you intended for features that you might not ever use. Also if you do not adequately assess your needs you might end up a device which is too complicated, that does not work as you intended it to, and it might end up causing stress and frustrations that had been unforeseen.

Step 2: Upon Assessing your needs, choose two or three devices that work for you, in addition to checking out the technical specs and OS of the devices also see what sort of bundled software it comes with.

Step 3: After you pick the devices look at merchant websites like Handago that sell software for smartphones and PDAs to determine if the extra software you need you can get on the device.

Step 4: Window shop! You might find a cheaper price elsewhere for the device that you intend on buying! Beware of scams though! You might try comparison shopping systems like PriceGrabber or Dealtime.

Step 5: Finally, you are almost ready to make a purchase, are you absolutely sure that this is what you want? Wait for a couple of weeks, re-assess the situation, think about it again and if you decide that this is what you want, go for it! (don’t forget to mail in the warranty card!!!!)

I recently bought a Nokia 6600 – replacing my 40-month Motorola phone. It is good, not great. I haven’t yet still got around to using most of the “smart” features.

Turning Random Chance into Runaway Success

Susan RoAne writes about the eight traits of people who do “who see the opportunity, perceive a possibility and parlay it into something positive, which has a measure of success. They dont just see opportunity, they seize it. They are observers who pay attention: to issues, problems, perplexing situations, and to people. Whether their moment of serendipity turned into a job or business, or two tickets to the Olympics or even the opera, they are OPEN! Because of that, they create their own luck.”

1. They talk to strangers.
2. They make small talk.
3. They drop names.
4. They eavesdrop and listen.
5. They ask for/offer help.
6. They stray from their chosen paths.
7. They exit graciously without burning bridges
8. They say YES when they want to say NO.

Spectrum as Public Good

Clay Shirky writes about the need for a shift in thinking:

Unlicensed spectrum is different. In addition to all the regulatory complexities, an enormous philosophical change is being proposed. Transmuting spectrum from licensed to unlicensed changes what spectrum is. This change is possible because of advances in the engineering of wireless systems.

This matters, a lot, because with the spread of unlicensed wireless, the FCC could live up to its mandate of managing spectrum on behalf of the public, by allowing for and even encouraging engineering practices that treat spectrum itself as a public good. A public good, in economic terms, is something that is best provisioned for everyone (an economic characteristic called non-excludability) and which anyone can use without depleting the resource (a characteristic called non-rival use — individual users aren’t rivals for the resource.)

Financial Outsourcing

The New York Times writes about what is now a secular trend:

seemingly a myriad of financial institutions including banks, mutual funds, insurance companies, investment firms and credit-card companies are sending work to overseas locations, at a scorching speed.

From 2003 to 2004, Deloitte Research found in a survey of 43 financial institutions in 7 countries, including 13 of the top 25 by market capitalization, financial institutions in North America and Europe increased jobs offshore to an average of 1,500 each from an average of 300. The Deloitte study said that about 80 percent of this went to India.

Deloitte said the unexpectedly rapid growth rate for offshore outsourcing showed no signs of abating, despite negative publicity about job losses. Although information technology remains the dominant service, financial firms are expanding into other areas like insurance claims processing, mortgage applications, equity research and accounting.

“Offshoring has created a truly global operating model for financial services, unleashing a new and potent competitive dynamic that is changing the rules of the game for the entire industry,” the report said.

Michael Haney, a senior analyst at research firm, Celent Communications, said: “With its vast English-speaking, technically well-trained labor pool and its low-cost advantages, India is one of the few countries that can handle the level of offshoring that U.S. financial companies want to scale to.” .

In a recent report “Offshoring, A Detour Along the Automation Highway,” Mr. Haney estimated that potentially 2.3 million American jobs in the banking and securities industries could be lost to outsourcing abroad.

TECH TALK: Reinventing Computing: Five Goals

There are five goals which a new solution set in computing needs to meet:

Solve the Six Challenges simultaneously: The six challenges of affordability, desirability, accessibility, manageability, security and ubiquity need to be addressed all at the same time. Many previous efforts have focuses on one or two of these challenges, and that is simply not good enough.

Make CommPuting as a Utility: The combination of a computer connected to the Internet needs to be available just like electricity, water or telephony as a utility. The goal should be to make computing and Internet access available for no more than a rupee an hour (about Rs 700 or $15 per month). This should include the computer itself, the software that goes with it and the basic applications that are needed, access to a useful library of content (for example, education and entertainment channels), broadband connectivity (at a minimum speed of 512 Kbps), along with 24×7 support.

Enable Human-centred Computing: The way users interact with computers needs to change. As Don Norman writes in his book The Invisible Computer: I dont want to use a computer. I want to accomplish something. I want to do something meaningful to me. Computing needs to put users at the centre, not the technology. This may seem like a tall order given that there has been little innovation in the human-computer interface over the past decade. But, as we look at new users, there is an opportunity to do things differently and build what Jef Raskin calls the humane environment.

Integrate with Cellphones: The two big additions to the world in the past few years have been the widespread deployment of cellphones (more than a billion users worldwide, and growing especially rapidly in the developing countries) and the concomitant spread of wireless networks both for voice and now, increasingly for data. Taken together, the cellphone is the personal device which is likely to be with us all the time. But, because it is both personal and portable, it is necessarily small. While not being a replacement for a computer, it can be an adjunct device think of it as a microcontent client. So, the world of computing and mobile communications need to converge to deliver information in real-time.

Construct the Memex: In a world awash with data and search engines able to point us to millions of pages on every topic, what is needed is the implementation of the vision of the Memex a memory extender put forth by Vannevar Bush in 1945. The Memex or its modern day equivalent, the Semantic Web would point us to the right sources of information, allow us to extend what others have written keeping our context in mind. This would make the Web infinitely more useful and personalised.

Tomorrow: Seven Revolutions

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