Online Apps & Google Docs

Online applications, such as Google Docs, are one of the new tools for both online collaboration and personal productivity.

A recent article pointed out that a Microsoft Word document in Gmail can now be opened in Google Docs. That happened today when I sent a Word document to Justin K and the document opened in Google Docs when he clicked on his Gmail attachment. It was great we could collaborate on the document without having to email things back and forth after the initial email I sent. (The only reason I sent him the Word document instead of doing the entire transaction in Google Docs is habit -- I'm used to starting word processing documents with a blank Word document.)

Online applications, and there are lots of them out on the web trying to become your defacto productivity suite, may one day be standard tools for knowledge workers. They have a ways to go, though, before people used to Microsoft Office will be ready to trust and utilize them fully. Several reasons for this are:
  1. People need to be able to work whilst offline. I'm pretty sure one needs to be online for the standard Google Docs to let you work on your files. Articles have indicated various web apps have offline components, but none of the ones I use regularly have that feature as far as I know. Once the online app designers understand people need to work both online and offline, the issues of synchronizing need to be ironed out.
  2. Security & privacy are concerns. If your documents are stored online, who else will be reading them or searching them for information? What privacy rights do you have, and will your local government agency be given the opportunity to continually scan what you write in order to keep you safe from terrorists?
  3. Reliability and backup issues will become very important after the first lawsuit is won by someone whose valuable business information stored and manipulated by online apps is lost. Even if the EULA says the online app or storage company has absolutely no responsibility for the safety or security of your data, it seems like the user doesn't have the power to control that data on the app's servers, so how can the user be the responsible party?
  4. Cost will be another factor. I don't mind using Google Docs, Gmail, Gcalendar, etc, when they are free. But if I have to pay $5 or $10 per month for personal use of my online productivity suite, I'll go back to using MS Office or OpenOffice for most of my work and only use limited-feature online apps which will likely always be free. At some point, however, the online apps will be reliable enough for many (most?) small businesses and entrepreneurs to use instead of a productivity suite installed on their office computer. For those situations, it will be worthwhile to pay for the use of that online suite.
  5. Integration between the various apps in an online suite is important. A person will be most effective using an online suite if the apps have the same look, feel, and commands. Information should be movable between the various apps either easily or automatically.
I read yesterday that Google announced a premium online suite they will be releasing shortly. If we're lucky, many of the above issues will have been solved, or will be solved within the first year of Google releasing the online suite.

If you haven't used one of the online apps for collaboration, give it a try. Use Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, or a similar online app. Have other people edit your document online and learn some of the advantages of online apps. They might not replace MS Office or OpenOffice on your home computer in the near future, but there are definite advantages to online apps for some tasks.

What online apps do you use?

(If you don't currently use any apps but are interested, contact me, and I'll be happy to connect you with some good apps to try out.)



Challenges of Organizing an Ad-Hoc Tech Project

Organizing an ad-hoc tech project has its challenges, as evidenced by a project currently in the early stages -- the Fireseed OMECC streaming supercomputer project.

This project is transitioning from a casual conversation phase into an organizational and project definition phase. Making that transition is highlighting a few of the challenges in organizing an ad-hoc tech project, as outlined below. Most of these challenges would relate to any ad-hoc project between loosely connected knowledge workers, not just tech-focused projects.

Four challenges observed thus far on the OMECC project (Open Milwaukee Educational Computing Cluster) are:
  1. Time available from project members
  2. Defining goals and roles
  3. Identifying project members
  4. Early stage engagement
Let's first look at Time. Most Americans whom I know who potentially would work on this project have very little 'free' or discretionary time in their lives. That means an ad-hoc project will require them to take time from some other activity and allocate it to the ad-hoc project. The project, therefore needs to have a compelling feature from their point of view. Just today someone told me a minor tech project, getting a wiki for the WSMS group off to a good start, is a good project but they're doubtful they'll be able to contribute much of their time to the project.

Once potential project members have tentatively committed to being part of the project, the next challenge is to identify times when project members are able to collaborate in real time, either in-person or via remote tools such as teleconference, videoconference. Identifying the best time for these group meetings, getting commitment to participate in the scheduled meetings and communicating the information all takes...TIME!

Defining Goals & Roles is next. Because this is an ad-hoc project, the project members who come together will unquestionably have widely differing goals and agendas for a project. Getting input from everyone to both help define what the project should be and to get buy-in from the project members needs to be done skillfully to be effective. Doing this primarily using remote collaboration tools with people who have not worked together extensively and who have unspoken agendas is tricky. Make sure everyone's motivations for participating (agendas) are defined and understood by others on the project team.

Once the project has been defined and the goals documented, it is much easier to define roles. However, once again, if people haven't worked together a lot and aren't knowledgeable about and comfortable with other potential members of the project, it will still take a while to agree on roles of the various members.

Identifying Project Members. This step is woven throughout the other issues highlighted here. Because this is an ad-hoc project, there may (will?) be project team members moving off and onto the project team as people's priorities and life situations change. The larger and better connected the 'community' is from which project members will emerge, the easier this task will be. Doing an ad-hoc tech project in Silicon Valley is orders of magnitude easier than doing a similar project in the Midwest USA. But hey, you either move or deal with your challenges. Until we all move to Silicon Valley, we'll just work on better connecting and communicating amoungst the Midwest tech community. Identifying project members will be much easier if the tech community makes a priority of effective networking and develops usable tools for promoting and enabling collaboration on these ad-hoc projects.

Early Stage Engagement is Critical. Because of the aforementioned issues, fostering early stage engagement is critical to the success of any ad-hoc project. If a core project team of twelve people are highly engaged in and committed to the project, that project will either be successful or will be clearly understood by the twelve to not be an appropriate project to work on. The secret to ad-hoc project success, ergo, is to find twelve good team members whose time, interests, monetary resources and skills will converge to highly engage them in the project. Once highly engaged, those twelve will quickly drive the project to a clear path forward or to an early, but necessary, re-treading or retirement.

In short, what's needed for any ad-hoc tech project, such as the Fireseed OMECC project, is an interested project manager/leader with advanced people skills not easily found in your average geeky tech enthusiast crowd. Did I see someone raise their hand?


Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 30 January 02007, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 6:45 - 9:00 pm weekly gathering upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

Top Three Tech Issues in The Past Seven Days

  1. Windows Vista Release – Huge not because of the significance of its technical innovations, but because its impact will be measured in the billions of dollars in direct Microsoft sales and in the billions of dollars from increased hardware needs.
  2. Intel and IBM/AMD’s New Transistor Technology – I’m not knowledgeable enough to explain or understand the details of the new transistors with reduced leakage current, but Gordon Moore says it’s the biggest advance in 40 years.
  3. China Anti-satellite Missile Test – The US still has military concerns regarding the Russian bloc, but the recent satellite-killer missile test makes it clear that the main military superpower over the next 20 years, other than the US, is likely China.

The ‘net

  1. The cost of monoculture http://www.kanai.net/weblog/archive/2007/01/26/00h53m55s
  2. China net use may soon surpass US http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6293345.stm
  3. Chinese communist leader wants to 'purify' internet http://www.itpro.co.uk/internet/news/102956/chinese-communist-leader-wants-to-purify-internet.html
  4. Bubbl.us: Simple Effective Idea Organization http://www.solutionwatch.com/538/bubblus-simple-effective-idea-organization/
  5. The Blogosphere Sounds Off on Hyper-Local http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/070125-065557
  6. Upside down for net-stealing neighbors (read this, Bob P) http://www.ex-parrot.com/~pete/upside-down-ternet.html
  7. YouTube to pay for User Generated Content http://blogs.zdnet.com/social/?p=75
  8. MOO for photographers http://www.moo.com
  9. Top 10 Hacks on Flickr http://thomashawk.com/2007/01/top-10-hacks-on-flickr.html
  10. Sing (or Hum) and Search (I’ve been wanting this search engine for a long time…) http://www.resourceshelf.com/2007/01/26/sing-or-hum-and-search/
  11. LinkedIn Raises Nearly $13 Million More http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/01/28/linkedin-raises-nearly-13-million-more/
  12. Wellsphere Launches Wellness 2.0 http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/01/28/wellsphere-launches-wellness-2/
  13. 27 Tips for Teleconferencing http://webworkerdaily.com/2007/01/28/27-tips-for-teleconferencing/
  14. The Top 100 Alternative Search Engines http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/top_100_alternative_search_engines.php

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

  1. NEC’s New Technology Fights IP Phone SPAM http://www.playfuls.com/news_05972_NECs_New_Technology_Fights_IP_Phone_SPAM.html
  2. Vint Cerf: one quarter of all computers part of a botnet http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070125-8707.html
  3. N.Y. scanners spark union cries of "geoslavery" http://tinyurl.com/2yfqs8
  4. Quebec police cybercrime squad takes crimebusting into 21st century http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/news/shownews.jsp?content=n012704A
  5. Hackers Actively Exploit New Microsoft Word Flaw http://www.newsfactor.com/story.xhtml?story_id=12300CLQ5HMR
  6. CA Predicts More Attacks on Experienced Users http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,2087584,00.asp
  7. Vista's beauty lies in layers of organization, security http://www.latimes.com/technology/chi-0701280342jan28,1,645890.column
  8. Vista's legal fine print raises red flags http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/175801
  9. Vista "upgrade" drops compliance checking, requires old OS to install http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070128-8717.html
  10. Courts Turn to Wikipedia, but Selectively http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/29/technology/29wikipedia.html

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. Free T-Mobile Hotspot for Vista Users http://www.betanews.com/article/Free_TMobile_Hotspot_for_Vista_Users/1169666834
  2. Toronto Readies Massive Downtown Hotspot http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20070124/tc_cmp/196903043
  3. Owner of PalmOS changes name to GarnetOS http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070125-8708.html

Open Source

  1. Free software group challenges educational software patent http://tinyurl.com/2fvg88
  2. IBM contributes ID software to open source security project http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=4367
  3. (180 degrees from open source) Microsoft copies BlueJ, admits it, then patents it http://blogs.zdnet.com/Burnette/?p=245


  1. Google Metaverse, Made in China? http://gigaom.com/2007/01/26/google-metaverse-made-in-china/
  2. Fox subpoenas YouTube over "24," "Simpsons" episodes http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070125-8700.html
  3. Google announces overhaul of Google Video strategy http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070125-8699.html
  4. Bring back old-school Google Image Search http://lifehacker.com/software/image-search/bring-back-oldschool-google-image-search-231377.php
  5. Google Book Search: Buy your books by the chapter http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070123-8685.html
  6. Google defuses Googlebombs http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070126-8714.html
  7. Google gets back on Intel track http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070126-8713.html
  8. Google's Powerline Play http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=115564&WT.svl=news2_1

General Technology

  1. Intel Reinvents the Transistor http://www.betanews.com/article/Intel_Reinvents_the_Transistor/1169872301
  2. 802.11n Draft 2.0: draft hardware in the clear http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070123-8679.html
  3. Intel speeds up delivery of faster Wi-Fi http://news.com.com/Intel+speeds+up+delivery+of+faster+Wi-Fi/2100-1044_3-6152489.html
  4. MS Office 2007 File Compatibility Pack http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=941B3470-3AE9-4AEE-8F43-C6BB74CD1466&displaylang=en
  5. U.S. unveils non-lethal heat-ray weapon http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2007/01/25/heat-ray.html
  6. India gets serious about space http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070124-8688.html
  7. China confirms test of new anti-satellite missile http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/world/16532118.htm
  8. Global warming: impacts of temperature increases http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L25695323.htm
  9. Virgin Galactic eyes Sweden for European space tours http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2007/01/26/galactic-sweden.html
  10. The joy of the hack http://www.skrenta.com/2007/01/the_joy_of_the_hack.html
  11. Inside the Lucasfilm data center http://news.com.com/2100-1026_3-6153647.html
  12. 100 Gigabit Ethernet http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=278398

Economy and Technology

  1. HP accused of spying on Dell's printer plans http://news.com.com/2100-1014_3-6153158.html
  2. eBay Delisting All Auctions for Virtual Property http://games.slashdot.org/games/07/01/26/2026257.shtml
  3. Fuels industry seeks its 'ethanol 2.0' http://news.com.com/Fuels+industry+seeks+its+ethanol+2.0/2100-11395_3-6153349.html
  4. Mossberg Review: Vista best for Microsoft crop, but it's no Apple http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=118344&ran=87842
  5. Vista marks end of an era for Microsoft http://www.ft.com/cms/s/c850f0f0-af1e-11db-a446-0000779e2340.html
  6. Vista: Changing the World One PC at a Time http://www.technewsworld.com/story/55422.html
  7. The Age-Old Question: Mac or PC? http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jan2007/tc20070129_832843.htm



Innovation/Tech/Entrepreneur Events ==> Projects

The best result of innovation, technology and entrepreneur events is when those events lead to new relationships which, in turn, lead to collaboration on worthwhile and interesting projects.

Everyone's goal when attending or participating in one of the above events should be to make at least one new relationship with someone they find interesting and to pursue some type of post-event activity with someone they talked to at the event. With luck and planning, you'll walk away from each of these events with several mutually beneficial new relationships and several strengthened relationships if you already knew some of the people at the event.

Each event should also result in one or more post-event relationship activities. At a minimum your event follow-up should include emails to those you talked with and a couple in-person meetings. Meeting for coffee, a meal or drinks to talk about common interests is a starting point. At some point during your post-event meeting you can bring up some of the issues, ideas or opportunities which were discussed at the event.

Ask the person you're meeting with if any of those things really caught their attention or are things about which they are passionate. If the other person is excited about some of the same things you were interested in, pursue that line of discussion and see if it might lead to further meetings or some type of project or venture. If they didn't have any of the same areas of high interest as you, suggest some other people you know who might want to talk with them about their interest points. Then ask the other person if they know of anyone who's really into the topics you found fascinating at the meeting.

The purpose of these events is to network. The purpose of networking is to collaborate. And the purpose of collaborating is to produce a worthwhile and interesting product or service.

Go to the events with the idea that you'll meet some new people, enjoy the event and learn a thing or two. But also go to the event with the goal of coming away with at least three post-event meetings which may lead to a project in an area about which you are passionate.



TECH cocktail & CM3/I-94 Tech Community

The third TECH cocktail event happened in Chicago on 25 January 2007, with nearly 600 people participating in a casual networking event for "...bloggers, technology enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and other business professionals interested in the technology arena in Chicago..."

TECH cocktail was launched in May 2006 by two Chicago guys, Frank Gruber and Eric Olson, with the first TECH cocktail event happening in June 2006. They wanted to connect the entrepreneurial and tech community in the Chicago area and are thus far doing a great job providing events where interested people can gather and network. If you didn't make it to one of the first three TECH cocktail events, subscribe to the blog, keep an eye out for TECH cocktail 4 and show up in Chicago to meet some new people.

Because the Midwest US doesn't have a Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley, we need to work a little harder to create an innovation, technology and entrepreneur community with critical mass. Creating that critical mass and maintaining effective communication and collaboration in this region requires that a group of people passionate about building and sustaining the community work together, planning and implementing relevant events and projects.

TECH cocktails are one example of the needed community-building events. Similarly structured events in other midwest metro areas will go a long ways toward connecting people who will enjoy and get a lot out of this type of community.

There are some good reasons to develop a Midwest innovation, tech and entrepreneur community along I-94, connecting Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Minneapolis. The CM3/I-94 metro areas already have a good connection with the quarterly rotation of BarCamps in the four cities. The first Minneapolis BarCamp happened in the spring of 2006, followed by BarCampChicago in summer 2006, BarCampMilwaukee in fall 2006, and soon, BarCampMadison in winter 2007. Because I-94 connects these four cities, it's a relatively short trip to travel between any of the four.

Each of the CM3/I-94 cities has outstanding resources, companies, people and advantages. People in these cities have many common traits, goals and backgrounds, but they also have different ideas and approaches that will lead to innovations, new companies and new ideas when they work together and learn from each other.

Justin Kruger and I have enjoyed meeting and spending time with people from the tech communities in each of the four metro areas. We participated in BarCampChicago and a number of other Chicago area tech/innovation/entrepreneur events. We participated in BarCampMilwaukee, which Justin initiated after immensely enjoying BarCampChicago. Justin also launched Fireseed, Milwaukee's only casual think tank and a number of other Milwaukee area tech projects, with more to come. We will be participating in BarCampMadison on March 3 - 4, and hope to get involved with more events and projects in Madison. We had a great time at the Minneapolis MinneDemo in December 2006 and plan to participate in the next Minneapolis BarCamp in a few months. Another BarCamp opportunity for both Midwest people and for others around the country and around the world is BarCampUSA in August.

If you think connecting the CM3/I-94 metro areas sounds like a good idea, as well as a good time, join Justin and me, as well as others we haven't met yet who are doing the same thing. Keep an eye out for interesting events and projects in those areas. Blog about the events and projects. Participate in them. Make a conscious effort to connect with people in each of those four cities. And invite others to join in with you on your Quest.

It's not only a flat world, it's a flat Midwest. Contact me if you want to work together on this!



LinkedIn & Global Connections

LinkedIn is one of the more highly rated social networks for professionals who want to connect with other professionals in their region, throughout their country or around the world.

As a result of starting two businesses, becoming involved in numerous innovation, technology and entrepreneurial events and projects, and reading "The World Is Flat" and "Never Eat Alone", connecting extensively with interesting people both locally and globally has become a personal goal. Connecting with those people can best be done with a combination of offline and online tools and activities.

LinkedIn is one of the available online tools. One way LinkedIn connects people is through the feature allowing members to send to other members an invitation to connect with them. Yesterday I responded to three such invitations. One invitation was from a Wisconsin person. Two invitations were from people in Europe. The Wisconsin contact will probably result in more frequent re-connection due simply to the likelihood of in-person meetings and having more things in common with each other.

However, the international connections are equally or more intriguing because of possibilities for learning more about other cultures and the global economy and because of chances for serendipitous collaboration. The 'flat world' concept of developing person-to-person contacts around the globe based on personal knowledge and passsions rather than only on government or company affiliations is a concept with which I fully agree. My global network, while larger than it was five years ago, is nowhere near as extensive and effective as I am working for it to be five years from now and almost non-existent compared to the networks of other people I know.

Connecting other people who have a lot in common and may collaborate on worthwhile future projects is a lot of fun. In the past three years I've met several hundred new people. During the same period I've personally connected thirty to forty people with new contacts. I'm continually striving to improve the ability to stay connected with people I meet and interact with them in ways they will find beneficial and enjoyable. It takes time, and I'm a rookie at doing this, but if you give it a go you'll find it's unquestionably worth your time.

LinkedIn is one networking tool to use for connecting and interacting. It's a tool I am working to use with increasing effectiveness.

What tools, online or offline, do you use to grow, maintain and mutually leverage your networks?

(If you blog and are interested in helping someone who is doing a survey about why people blog, consider doing the short survey at: http://www.whydoyoublog.com/survey.)



Changing The World: BarCampMadison

Life is a Journey, not a destination, so choose paths on your Journey that will change the world, even if it's mostly changes which only you notice.

One of the rewarding aspects of innovation and entrepreneurism is they allow you to change the world. Sometimes those changes are highly visible with worldwide impact, such as the printing press, the personal computer or the internet. Other changes are quite visible even though they have less impact, such as teflon, Post-It Notes and the iPod. Most of the changes are smaller still, and may be noticed only by a few people or even just you, such as starting your own business, helping implement a small improvement at the organization where you work, making the effort to initiate a new relationship, just telling someone they did a good job or helping them complete a difficult task.

If you enjoy changing the world, come to BarCampMadison on 3 - 4 March 2007 in Madison, Wisconsin and share your interests, knowledge and world-changing spirit with other participants. For those who don't feel like they change the world, or don't make big enough changes, register for BarCampMadison today, then show up in early March and participate in the event with some interesting world-changers. We guarantee the chance to make connections and build new relationships that will lead to changes in your world and in that of others around you. Spend a few hours or a couple days with people who are passionate about technology and about sharing with and learning from others who are likewise passionate about technology.

One opportunity to change the world is to come prepared to lead a session. By opening up for others a new window on the world of technology, you'll have an impact on other participants. And by discussing their questions and suggestions about the topic of your session, your window will be made a little larger, and you'll see more through that window.

Whether the changes you make are large ones or small ones, make BarCampMadison one of the wayposts on your Journey. You won't regret it. Who knows where life will lead after you experience the new people, the new ideas about technology, and the new changes brought to you courtesy of this technology unconference?!



Mac, Intel GPUs and OpenID / NNf

This week's NEW NET issues list has some quite interesting articles and posts, ranging from Steve Jobs' history with trademarked names to online identity discussions.

The # 2 post linked below in the "Economy and Technology" section points out that Steve Jobs has a prior history of naming products irrespective of other company's products legally carrying a similar moniker. Apple ended up paying nearly $2 million to have the legal right to call their revolutionary 1984 computer a Mac. My personal opinion is that if Steve wasn't insistent on having what he felt was the right name for the product, he'd probably have made compromises on the technical aspects of the product also.

Arstechnica has an enlightening article about Intel joining nVIDIA and AMD/ATI in the competition for your GPU dollars (graphical processing unit, aka video card). Intel's move should prove beneficial for the consumer and for computer graphics innovation in general as long as that move doesn't result in nVIDIA being bought or driven into the ground as a result of Intel's infamous no-holds-barred marketing practices.

Several posts talk about personal identification and authentication on the web. If you haven't looked into OpenID, consider reading the # 1 post below in "The 'net" section where Jeremy Zawodny poses the question of whether OpenID has reached the tipping point.


NEW NET at Atlanta Bread Company tonight !

Below is the final list of issues for the Monday, 23 January 2007, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 6:50 pm weekly gathering at Atlanta Bread Company (West) by the Fox River Mall, 650 North Casaloma Drive, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net

  1. The Tipping Point for OpenID http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/008379.html
  2. Web 4: Seth’s Vision of a Future (Better) Web http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/01/web4.html
  3. Revolutionhealth.com: online health site opened http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-case/its-time-for-a-revolutio_b_38923.html
  4. Yahoo offers new Web site for personal finance http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070119/tc_nm/yahoo_finance_dc
  5. At Mashup Camp, geeks plot future of Web http://news.com.com/2100-1012_3-6151162.html
  6. A Verified, Authenticated Alternative to Today's Internet http://www.infoworld.com/article/07/01/19/04OPsecadvise_1.html
  7. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Vodaphone Seek Common Code for Conduct Abroad http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/16506383.htm
  8. Geni Overwhelmed With Early Popularity http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/01/20/geni-blew-it/
  9. A Real Music Store Sprouts Online http://www.wired.com/news/columns/listeningpost/0,72523-0.html
  10. New MailFoundry product fights latest spam techniques http://wistechnology.com/article.php?id=3637
  11. Throwaway Identities http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/throwaway_identities.php

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

  1. Pentagon and CIA snooping Americans' financial records http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070116-8634.html
  2. Privacy protection: The government is no help http://www.infoworld.com/infoworld/article/06/06/16/79260_25OPsecadvise_1.html
  3. Swedish bank loses $1.1m to online fraud http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6279561.stm?ls
  4. Find Out If Your Social Security or Credit Card Numbers are on the Internet http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/01/22/find-out-if-your-social-security-or-credit-card-numbers-are-on-the-internet/

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. LG's KE850 PRADA official: iPhone says, wha? http://gadgets.engadget.com/2007/01/18/lgs-ke850-prada-official-iphone-says-wha/
  2. Skype Calls Out New Global Pricing Plan (sign up before Jan 31) http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,2085502,00.asp

Open Source

  1. Linux Foundation Formed With Backing From HP, IBM, Intel http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=196902279
  2. Adobe releases Flash 9 for Linux http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070117-8642.html
  3. Cisco's iPhone Violates GPL, Expert Says http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20070117/tc_pcworld/128565


  1. Google wants to be YOUR Internet http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2007/pulpit_20070119_001510.html
  2. Google's big bandwidth acquisitions http://glinden.blogspot.com/2007/01/googles-big-bandwidth-acquisitions.html
  3. Telcos Target Google in ‘Neutrality’ Fight http://gigaom.com/2007/01/20/google-netneutrality/
  4. Google Moving Into In-Game Advertising; In Talks To Buy AdScape Media http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/google-moving-into-in-game-advertising-buying-adscape-media/
  5. The library of Google http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=8215

General Technology

  1. Sun Tapes Out Rock Sparc Chip, Gooses Clocks on Niagara Sparc T1 http://www.itjungle.com/breaking/bn011807-story01.html
  2. Comedian Ralphie May at home with his Macs http://news.yahoo.com/s/macworld/20070118/tc_macworld/may20070118
  3. Windows on the Mac changes everything http://money.cnn.com/2007/01/19/technology/fastforward_parallels.fortune/
  4. With An 80-Core Chip On The Way, Software Needs To Start Changing http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20070119/tc_cmp/196901935
  5. Traditional phone use dropping http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070118/ap_on_bi_ge/cell_phones_only
  6. Canon Announces Two New PowerShots http://news.yahoo.com/s/zd/20070118/tc_zd/198909
  7. It's official. Wii use can cause weight loss http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070119/tc_nm/nintendo_wii_weightloss_dc
  8. Sun servers heading back to Intel chips http://news.com.com/Sun+servers+heading+back+to+Intel+chips/2100-1010_3-6151872.html
  9. Intel plans GPU to compete with nVIDIA and ATI http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070123-8680.html
  10. Get Your Tech News in 20 Minutes Per Day http://valleywag.com/tech/how-to/get-all-the-tech-news-you-need-in-20-minutes-a-day-230603.php

Economy and Technology

  1. On LI, 64 students win Intel science contest http://www.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/ny-liinte0118,0,2959650.story
  2. "Mac" Name Was Also Trademarked By Another Company http://blog.wired.com/cultofmac/2007/01/steve_jobs_trad.html
  3. Despite HP's Gains, Dell Remains On Top Of PC Shipments http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20070119/tc_cmp/196901784
  4. Is Silicon Valley strangled by SOX? http://news.com.com/2100-1014_3-6151059.html
  5. Motorola announces 3,500 job cuts as profits slump http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070119/bs_afp/uscompanymotorola
  6. IBM stock sinks despite profit leap http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070119/ap_on_hi_te/earns_ibm
  7. Apple posts record quarterly profit, but stock prices stumble http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070118/bs_afp/usitinternetcompanyearningsapple
  8. I.B.M. to Introduce Workers’ Networking Software http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/22/technology/22ibm.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
  9. Second Life: It's not a game http://money.cnn.com/2007/01/22/magazines/fortune/whatsnext_secondlife.fortune/



OMECC Streaming Supercomputer Applications

One pre-launch action item for the OMECC streaming supercomputer is defining initial applications for which the computer will be used.

The Fireseed streaming supercomputer, also known as the OMECC project (Open Milwaukee Educational Computing Cluster), is in the early stages of planning. One step of this planning is to identify what computing work will be done on the OMECC. An initial educational phase of development work on the project will be to develop the programming approach under which the hardware will function. This programming approach will be done keeping in mind the following draft list of supercomputing applications or challenges:
  1. Nuclear Fusion Reactor Simulation
  2. Active Indexing For Databases
  3. Artificial Human Intelligence
  4. Population-based Decision Making
  5. Protein Folding
  6. Nanotechnology Simulations
  7. Weather Simulation
What other challenges would you suggest be tackled with the Fireseed streaming supercomputer project?

For more background on streaming supercomputers, check out Mattan Erez's research page at http://www.stanford.edu/~merez/research.html.



An Inconvenient Truth

The Appleton Library had a showing last night of "An Inconvenient Truth", a movie by Al Gore about the global warming crisis, followed by a short discussion period.

The movie had a powerful message and was well-done, although the overt Democrat vs. Republican moments in the film may cause some liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats to ignore the objective and quantitative facts in the film which warn of both US and global catastrophe potential. The audience at the Appleton Library seemed to accept the film's message and want to effect the changes recommended in the film, but that was likely a result of 'preaching to the choir.'

In my mind, the biggest impact of the film is spurring the general public in the US to collaborate with others passionate about global warming. This collaboration will, with hard work and good karma, result in a critical mass of informed, action-oriented citizens pushing for changes in the US which reduce CO2 in the atmosphere and slow or reverse global warming. Although I didn't do a lot of online searching today, it appears critical mass has not yet been reached.

Addressing global warming is an excellent opportunity for Web 2.0 collaboration and communication tools to show how effective they are for allowing and facilitating remote participation in large and small projects. That is one area I plan to research more in upcoming weeks.

Two points of high interest to me in the film were:
  1. The dramatic and consistent statistics used by Al Gore to demonstrate with facts the looming disaster which could be caused by climate change -- those statistics don't leave room for waffling or multiple interpretations.
  2. The apparent fact that, although popular press articles about global warming are split 50/50 as to whether it is a critical issue with severe repercussions, there appears to be little or no disagreement in knowledgeable scientific articles as to whether climate change is a huge problem.
A future post on this blog will summarize the evidence I find online about Wisconsin and US efforts to reduce global warming which have sprung from Al Gore's presentations and people's viewing of "An Inconvenient Truth."



OMECC - Open Milwaukee Educational Computing Cluster

A Fireseed project currently called OMECC is being developed to build a streaming supercomputer (Open Milwaukee Educational Computing Cluster).

Justin, the founder of Fireseed, Milwaukee's only casual think tank, met today with Luke and myself to discuss next steps on the way to forming an OMECC project group and launching the project. We discussed potential tasks, such as nuclear fusion simulation, for the OMECC supercomputer, ballpark project costs, potential project participants, hardware and software issues and project funding. It was agreed the next step is to write and submit a 250 word abstract to the 2007 Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan contest for the OMECC project.

The goal of the Fireseed OMECC is to build a low cost supercomputer which will rank in the top 500 supercomputers in the world in terms of computing power (teraflops). The low cost is made possible by the tremendous simulation capabilities enabled through multi-core processors on top-end consumer graphics cards. To the best of Justin's knowledge, Milwaukee does not currently have a supercomputer available to organizations or individuals at a reasonable cost for simulation research and other high-end computing work. One goal of the OMECC project is providing this resource for Milwaukee and Wisconsin.

This supercomputer will be available for development work on streaming supercomputer programming and for other demanding computing tasks in which Wisconsin companies are interested. It will also be used as a platform for further development work on next-generation versions of this novel class of supercomputers.

If you have an interest in learning more about this project or in collaborating on the project, please contact Justin or me. Get involved now, help shape the OMECC project, and help make this project a reality!



Resistance to Technology: "Machines That Think"

All tech enthusiasts, including everyone who is participating in BarCampMadison, March 3 - 4, 2007, should read at least the introduction to Isaac Asimov's book, "Machines That Think."

In that intro he talks about robots, computers and fear, which is a subset of human resistance to technology. He makes some excellent points about how every period in human history has resistance to change, especially technological change. He explains how people romanticize the traditions and practices of their youth, or even of their grandparent's youth, although those traditions and practices had no inherent virtue. In fact, when those traditions and practices were originally established, they were often decried as being radical and a change for the worse.

It would be good for tech enthusiasts to read Asimov's book for two reasons. First, to give them a sense of perspective which will allow them to better understand the technology resistance of those who are less enamored of computers, robots and other cool tech toys and tools. Second, they are very likely to enjoy the stories on both an entertainment fiction level and on an innovation-inspiring level. They may need to stop reading periodically to write down some project ideas sparked by the stories in this anthology.

Do you object to your "pants being smarter than you", or to your machines doing some of the thinking that you used to do (can you say "Google")? Or do you see the possibilities for the future, possibilities which we are only just now beginning to explore?

The rate of change and technological development is just starting to pick up speed. We're approaching the bend in the 'hockey stick' curve of the knowledge economy. Understand and be prepared for the resistance most people will have to the upcoming change.

Most importantly, hang on to your hat, 'cause we're in for a wild ride!

(For an interesting commentary on some of Asimov's robot writings, check out 3 Laws Unsafe.)



Apple Phone / NNf

This week's NEW NET issues list is longer than usual as a result of the MacWorld conference and CES in Las Vegas, as well as lots of other interesting developments in the tech world.

The most talked about tech item this past week was the new Apple Phone, which Steve Jobs introduced as the iPhone. Many people had been wondering what Apple would call their iPod phone when it was finally announced, because Cisco already owned the trademark for the iPhone name. Apparently, Steve's RDF (Reality Distortion Field) couldn't let a silly thing like a trademark get in the way of using the name he preferred. Yesterday I finally saw an article (# 8 below in Mobile Computing and Communicating) that voiced the same thought I'd had upon hearing about the Apple "iPhone."

Steve's no dummy, and there are lots of lawyers at Apple responsible for making sure things like patents and trademarks are in order. Additionally, Apple has been talking with Cisco for several years about an agreement to use the iPhone name. Hence, the primary reason for calling the iPod phone an "iPhone" without a signed agreement with Cisco was likely for the publicity that will result. If Steve's RDF extends its reach to the legal system, Apple might even get to keep the iPhone name for their phone. But if Cisco ends up winning the legal tussle, and Apple either has to change the name or pay Cisco a licensing fee, the Apple phone will still have gotten a lot of mileage out of the controversy over who can use the name "iPhone."

(To give a flavor of different impacts of the Apple Phone, ten articles in this week's issues list are about the new phone.)


Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 16 January 02007, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 6:50 pm weekly gathering upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

The ‘net

  1. GravityZoo: It's a WebOS Jim, But Not As We Know It http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/gravityzoo_review.php
  2. 2007: The year of the "expert wiki"? http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070112-8604.html
  3. Chinese Web could remain slow until late January http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070111/tc_afp/asiaquakeinternet
  4. Weebly offers free, easy Web site creation http://venturebeat.com/2007/01/14/weebly-offers-free-easy-web-site-creation/
  5. Findory rides into the sunset http://glinden.blogspot.com/2007/01/findory-rides-into-sunset.html
  6. Wikipedia battle over iPhone trademark http://www.tuaw.com/2007/01/15/wikipedia-battle-over-iphone-trademark/

Security, Privacy & Digital Controls

  1. Senator to FCC: Don't even think about a broadcast flag http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070111-8596.html
  2. Canadian coins bugged, U.S. security agency says http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2007/01/10/rfid-defence.html
  3. Choosing Secure Passwords http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/01/choosing_secure.html
  4. Canada unveils $432m border [security] plan http://archive.gulfnews.com/world/Canada/10096695.html
  5. Do-it-Yourself Phishing Kit Found Online http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,128524-c,cybercrime/article.html
  6. 'Pocket phisherman' kit discovered by RSA http://tech.monstersandcritics.com/news/article_1242377.php/Pocket_phisherman_kit_discovered_by_RSA
  7. Senators introduce bill to restrict Internet, cable, and satellite radio recording http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070112-8609.html
  8. AntiVir personal edition http://www.downloadsquad.com/2007/01/14/antivir-personal-edition/
  9. Privacy rights and pinpoint surveillance: the TWAIN meet http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070115-8617.html

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. Apple’s iPhone http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/16425155.htm http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/01/09/BAGIBNFK493.DTL&type=tech http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16566968/site/newsweek/ http://www.sauria.com/blog/2007/01/09/what-is-iphone/
  2. UPDATE on Cisco's iPhone Trademark http://blogs.cisco.com/news/2007/01/update_on_ciscos_iphone_tradem.html http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070110-8594.html
  3. Hands on with the Nokia N800 http://arstechnica.com/nws.ars/post/20070109-8575.html
  4. Verizon Draws More Attention To Telco's Dubious Math Skills http://techdirt.com/articles/20070110/094524.shtml
  5. Skype says time is not ripe for cellphone version http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070111/wr_nm/electronics_show_skype_dc
  6. Want an iPhone? Beware the iHandcuffs http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/14/business/yourmoney/14digi.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
  7. Apple Bullies Bloggers, Again http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/01/13/apple-bullies-bloggers-again/
  8. Apple Will Use iPhone Trademark Lawsuit For Publicity http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20070113/tc_cmp/196900716
  9. Delays in Transferring Land Line Phone Number to Cell Phones http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/telecom/2007-01-15-number-usat_x.htm
  10. AT&T To Phase Out Cingular Name, Reclaim Its Wireless Brand http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20070113/tc_cmp/196900400

Open Source

  1. The MVPs of Open Source http://blogs.zdnet.com/open-source/?p=906
  2. Sun's Fortran replacement http://news.com.com/Suns+Fortran+replacement+goes+open+source/2100-7344_3-6150063.html
  3. Open Source Developers Build on Amazon Web Services http://www.techweb.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=196900347
  4. Campcaster - Open Source Radio http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/01/campcaster_open_1.html
  5. Oldies but Goodies: The Network Really Is the Computer http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/01/oldies_but_good.html


  1. Google 3D drawing tool: SketchUp 6 Is Out http://blog.outer-court.com/archive/2007-01-11-n37.html
  2. Mock-up: What if Google Made a Yahoo-like Start Page? http://googlewatch.eweek.com/content/today_in_stupid/mockup_what_if_google_made_a_yahoolike_start_page_1.html
  3. Google, Microsoft Improve Online Mapping Apps http://news.yahoo.com/s/cmp/20070111/tc_cmp/196802780
  4. Google Talk + AIM = When? http://juberti.blogspot.com/2007/01/google-talk-aim-when.html

General Technology

  1. iRobot releases bot for modding http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070110-8586.html
  2. BitTorrent accelerator chip to power home media devices http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070112-8605.html
  3. John Carmack on the State of the Game http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070111-8601.html
  4. ATI brings CableCARD to the PC with Digital Cable Tuner http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070109-8576.html
  5. Apple announces AppleTV http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070109-8581.html
  6. AMD announces DTX open standard for SFF PCs http://www.digitimes.com/mobos/a20070110PR203.html
  7. Lack of interoperability stunts powerline networking http://news.yahoo.com/s/infoworld/20070111/tc_infoworld/85064
  8. Int’l Space Station: Indian students chat with Sunita Williams http://www.andhracafe.com/index.php?m=show&id=17144
  9. Removal Tool for OEM Garbage Software http://www.yorkspace.com/pc-de-crapifier/
  10. PCI-SIG releases the PCIe 2.0 spec http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070115-8623.html
  11. DisplayLink: wireless USB monitor ICs announced http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070115-8621.html

Economy and Technology

  1. Scoble: Netflix is Dead http://www.hackingnetflix.com/2007/01/scoble_netflix_.html
  2. PayPal to combat phishing with key fobs http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070112-8608.html
  3. New PayPal key to help thwart phishers http://www.infoworld.com/article/07/01/10/HNpaypalphishers_1.html
  4. eBay buys StubHub, online ticket reseller, for $310M http://venturebeat.com/2007/01/11/ebay-buys-stubhub-online-ticket-reseller-for-310m/
  5. PayPal expands protection coverage for eBay customers http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070110/wr_nm/ebay_coverage_paypal_dc
  6. No cellphone? No BlackBerry? No e-mail? No way? (It's true.) http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/20070111/tc_usatoday/nocellphonenoblackberrynoemailnowayitstrue
  7. TechStar Launches http://www.feld.com/blog/archives/002136.html



Cantenna: The Results

Just a short note to readers on the results of installing a wireless 'cantenna' for my daughter in her college apartment (as described in the 03 Jan 2007 post, "Cantennas and Better Wireless Signals."

The Yagi antenna, usb wireless adapater and connector cable didn't arrive until my last day in Arcata, but fortunately all the correct parts were sent and received in good order. After a quick check to make sure the new antenna and wireless adapter worked, I walked to the hardware store to get parts to make a stand for the Yagi antenna. A few dollars worth of parts, including a 30" long piece of 1.5" diameter pvc pipe, with some easy connecting of pieces, and we had a strong, reliable signal. Prior to setting up the Yagi, the wireless reception was spotty, varying from weak to non-existent. Once the Yagi was hooked up, the signal strength was either strong or very strong, and the daughter was happy! The only caution note is that the connector coax cable was high quality, but large diameter and extremely stiff. Give yourself five or ten feet more than you think you need for the connector cable so the large bending radius doesn't cause installation problems for you.

For anyone who would like the option of connecting an external wifi (802.11 b/g) antenna to their computer, I'd highly recommend the equipment from Air802.


Technology That Really Helps Non-Geeks

Technology exists that truly helps non-geeks enjoy life more than they would without that technology, but what are some examples of this?

Research will be done over the next two weeks to determine what technology tools and techniques are most valuable to those people who are not tech enthusiasts. If you have a suggestion for something that belongs in this category, please mention it in a comment on this blog post or send me an email.

Non-geeks should adopt technology tools that have been around for a year or two so the early adopters have had time to work out some of the bugs. In most cases, waiting for a piece of technology to mature not only gets rid of a lot of the bugs but also gives you more features for a lower price.

With some products, waiting a year or two may not get rid of all or almost all the bugs or features that could only be enjoyed by someone who loves technology. An example of this is Windows computers. Innovation and the global economy are responsible for some tech products never becoming truly user-friendly. Frequent improvements are expected and delivered in these products, and those improvements mean changes in the way things work. The last thing non-geeks want is technology that changes on them every six months.

People who generally find technology more annoying than fun need to be able to ignore most of the interesting tech services and products that their tech enthusiasts friends, along with the media, are continually oohing and ahhing over. Reality is a long way from perception with respect to new technologies.

In light of the above criteria, what are some technology services or products that really do help non-geeks? Below are a few examples.
  1. Digital cameras: It is almost impossible to buy a camera that isn't digital. For the average person, digital cameras have lots of benefits (see the photograph almost immediately, take nearly unlimited pictures, store them compactly) and few, if any, negatives.
  2. Online maps: Once you start using Mapquest, Google Maps, Yahoo Maps or any of the other online mapping services, you'll wonder how you did without it.
  3. In-car GPS: Some of the in-car GPS (global positioning system) navigation guides have progressed to the point where they're a great help to non-geeks. A non-geek friend recently took a road trip with his son to visit colleges in several different states. He didn't look at maps prior to the trip to figure out their route, but just relied on the GPS navigation system that came in the rental vehicle. He had no problems using the unit and was totally happy with how well it worked. He seemed sure that piece of technology did at least as good a job of navigating as he would have.
  4. Mac computer: The Mac computer is a perfect computer for someone who doesn't want to learn a whole lot about computers, but wants to do email and look at websites mentioned in the newspaper or in magazines they read.
  5. Global search for personal computers - When you have hundreds or thousands of word processing documents, pictures, songs and other assorted files on your personal computer, it was challenging to quickly find the particular file you're looking for with the older search tools. The new global search functions for personal computers can find whatever file you're looking for, wherever it is on the computer. These new search tools, such as Google's Desktop Search or the Mac Spotlight search function, don't just search by the file name, but will search for file content. You can easily find such things as an email you sent to Aunt Martha in 2005 telling her about the great birthday party your daughter had or all the files you have that discuss global warming or alternative energy.
If you want technology to make your life better, use tools and services that have stood the test of time and that your friends aren't complaining about too much. And call myDigitechnician if you need some help!


Cantennas and Better Wireless Signals

Getting a good wireless signal to your laptop in various situations is a combination of science and art that may include cantennas.

The highly useful but 'caveat emptorish' Wikipedia, as of 5:07 pm, CST, today, says a cantenna is a "directional waveguide antenna for long-range Wi-Fi used to increase the range of (or snoop on) a wireless network. Originally built using a Pringles potato chip can, a cantenna can be constructed quickly, easily, and inexpensively using readily obtained materials...The term 'Cantenna' originally referred to a product sold by Heathkit Co. in Benton Harbor, MI."

Sometimes your standard laptop wireless configuration (built-in, PC card wireless adapter or USB wireless adapter) gives you only a weak wireless connection, or possibly no connection even though there's a wifi access point in the area. That happens to be the case for my daughter who is a senior in college. She has no internet access in her apartment (long story) but she is very close to a laundromat that has a free wifi hotspot. Sometimes she gets a weak wifi signal, but it sometimes won't connect and other times cuts out after very short connection times.

Some searching was done on the net for answers to this weak wifi signal problem, and the situation was discussed with a few people. We figured out a couple kludges, but didn't come up with what seemed like a clean solution.

At the NEW NET gathering on 02 Jan 02007 we discussed cantennas and the scarcity of usb wifi adapters with external antenna connectors. After kicking around a couple ideas and looking at the Wireless Hacks book, Andy M did some online searching and came up with the perfect solution.

I called the company that sells the perfect solution, Air802 LLC, and discussed combinations of their equipment that should work well for my daughter. We ended up choosing the wireless USB Adapter 802.11b/g With External Antenna Connection #USB-ADG-1, the 2.4 GHz Yagi 10dBi Antenna #ANYA2410, and a 10' coax adapter cable with an N connector on one end to go to the antenna and an RPSMA connector to go to the USB wireless adapter. The gentleman I talked to was friendly, helpful and answered all my questions. He said he started selling the USB wireless adapters with the antenna connector because boat and RV owners kept asking for them.

Next week we'll see how well this solution works. I'll be in California visiting my daughter and will set up the equipment to try and provide her with a net connection. If for some reason it doesn't work well for her situation, we'll just experiment with the equipment for myDigitechnician purposes in Wisconsin. If it works very well, it might even make sense to recommend a similar setup for some of the myDigitechnician clients who have problems getting good wireless signals on their home networks.



Favorite Wikis

Wikipedia is (probably) the largest wiki on the internet, but what are your other favorite wikis in terms of good aesthetics or making information easy to find, good wiki engines for people new to wikis, and good for a highly scalable wiki that can handle thousands of simultaneous users?

A quick look just now at WikiMatrix showed MediaWiki and 76 other wiki packages on the main page. Another site I read about has over 100 wiki engines. Wikipedia uses MediaWiki and so do a number of other wikis I've used (BarCampMilwaukee, BarCampMadison, Fond du Lac Linux Users Group). This weekend, WikiSpaces was used to set up a test project wiki for the NEW Appleton Toastmasters, a member of Toastmasters International. PmWiki is the choice of a WikiGnome whom I know, the global barcamp site and MinneDemo use PBwiki, and I've read good things about Socialtext, Central Desktop, and several others but have not used them.

Wikis are a good online tool for encouraging and allowing collaboration by a group's members. There is a fairly short learning curve to be able to contribute text information to a wiki page. Some of the other parts of wikis, such as embedding third party applications or formatting the pages with CSS code that looks good in all web browsers, or at least the top three or four browsers, can be challenging and require a modicum of expertise to do well. The infrastructure supporting the wiki is also important if more than ten or twenty people may be editing the wiki at the same time.

Because wikis are designed for collaboration, sometimes between thousands of people, it is important to have people who help develop and maintain a highly usable wiki format and structure. When it's possible for many people to edit wiki pages with their own thoughts, 'information' and rants or ramblings, it's easy for a wiki to quickly get overgrown, jumbled and hard for visitors to wade through. All wikis need one or more 'caretakers' to prune, trim and train the site so it grows in a useful, attractive, inviting style.

If you are aware of wikis used by large organizations (hundreds or thousands), or wikis that many people contribute to (other than Wikipedia), please put links for those wikis in a comment on this blog post. Thank you!


Below is the final list of issues for the TUESDAY, 02 January 2007, NEW NET (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 6:50 pm weekly gathering upstairs at Tom's Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA. We're meeting at Tom's because people have expressed a desire to periodically meet at places other than Mister Churro. Tom's has free wireless, good food and a nice upstairs area where we'll meet.

The ‘net

  1. Super Deals on Good Software http://www.giveawayoftheday.com/ (Lisa – note the Game Giveaway of the Day)
  2. MySupermarket Comparison Site http://searchengineland.com/061227-051325.php
  3. Yahoo likes these hackers http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/business/16307089.htm
  4. ProfileLinker Takes Meebo Approach to Social Networking http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/28/profilelinker-takes-meebo-approach-to-social-networking/
  5. And By The Time Anyone Reads The Sneaky Fine Print On AT&T's Concessions, The Merger Will Be Done http://techdirt.com/articles/20061229/001833.shtml
  6. Throw the bums out http://www.yelvington.com/20061229/throw_the_bums_out
  7. Q&A With Jimmy Wales On Search Wikia http://searchengineland.com/061229-193718.php
  8. Wanted: More Broadband http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20061227/tc_pcworld/128332
  9. The Best Web 2.0 Software of 2006 http://web2.wsj2.com/the_best_web_20_software_of_2006.htm
  10. 2007: Web 2.0 Companies I Couldn’t Live Without http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/01/02/2007-web-20-companies-i-couldnt-live-without/
  11. China-based Browser Maxthon Going Global in 2007 http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/maxthon_global.php
  12. Mozilla Does Microformats: Firefox 3 as Information Broker http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/mozilla_does_microformats_firefox3.php

Security & Privacy

  1. Government may not need warrant to search your e-mail http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061227-8504.html
  2. OneDOJ: a new national law enforcement database project http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061229-8522.html
  3. 'Happy New Year' Worm Spawns Computer Zombies http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/76jDiV7j04XEc7/Happy-New-Year-Worm-Spawns-Computer-Zombies.xhtml

Mobile Computing & Communicating

  1. Verizon to Allow Ads on Its Mobile Phones http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/26/business/media/26adco.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin
  2. Wi-Fi Is Hitting the Road in Cars From Avis, but Technical and Legal Bumps Lie Ahead http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/02/technology/02avis.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Open Source

  1. TurboLinux Device May Jump-Start OS Migration http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/9GchkwJDCnTKgC/TurboLinux-Device-May-Jump-Start-OS-Migration.xhtml
  2. Windows screwup forces Ubuntu shift http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=36635


  1. Google Preps Blogger For The Enterprise http://www.internetnews.com/ent-news/article.php/3650906
  2. Google Talk Getting Some Sort Of Phone Service http://google.blognewschannel.com/archives/2006/12/26/google-talk-getting-some-sort-of-phone-service/
  3. Google to Write an 'Integrated Story'? http://www.internetnews.com/ent-news/article.php/3650566
  4. Experts say Google will be No. 1 in visitors in '07 http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2006-12-27-webleader_x.htm
  5. Blake Ross has a "tip" for Google: stop using "tips" http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061229-8520.html
  6. Matt Cutts: My thoughts on recent Google tips http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/my-thoughts-on-recent-google-tips/
  7. Google: The real lesson from this week http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/the-real-lesson-from-this-week/
  8. In Silicon Valley, the Race Is On to Trump Google http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/01/technology/01search.html?ex=1168232400&en=ad47077c00fe61f4&ei=5099&partner=TOPIXNEWS

General Technology

  1. Public Debut of eCoupled Intelligent Wireless Power http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/061227/nyw028.html
  2. 2006 Year-In-Review: Aerospace http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?ContentBlockID=9139db57-2a39-49b6-a769-71b4838f98ca
  3. Russia to Build Space Launch Pad in French Guyana http://www.mosnews.com/news/2006/12/27/guyana.shtml
  4. Samsung demonstrates fuel cell laptop http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061227-8505.html
  5. Videoconferencing meets... dinnertime? http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061226-8494.html
  6. Millions miffed at poor quality from holiday HDTV purchase http://www.engadgethd.com/2006/12/30/millions-miffed-at-poor-quality-from-holiday-hdtv-purchase/

Economy and Technology

  1. Internet Marketing Best [Blog] Posts of 2006 http://www.techipedia.com/2006/12/25/internet-marketing-best-blog-posts-of-2006-the-year-in-review/
  2. Online shoppers overwhelm iTunes store http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061228/ap_on_hi_te/itunes_slowdown
  3. The 20 Most Innovative [Tech] Products of the Year http://www.pcworld.com/printable/article/id,128176/printable.html
  4. Fords are expected to feature Windows http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061230/BUSINESS01/612300331
  5. LCD TVs now hottest holiday gadget http://news.com.com/2100-1041_3-6146383.html
  6. Google and the Third Age of Computing http://www.skrenta.com/2007/01/winnertakeall_google_and_the_t.html
  7. Google’s run is more than half done http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ratcliffe/?p=237