Monthly Archives: March 2002

Filters Block 'Sinful Six'

Filters Block 'Sinful Six'.

“Meyer says that companies typically start out blocking what filtering firms call the 'sinful six' categories: pornography, gambling, illegal activities, hate sites, tasteless material and violent content. Then, the businesses begin looking at ways to raise productivity.

That was the approach of John Belich, application support specialist at the St. Petersburg, Florida, public library system. After setting up the usual filters on porn and hate sites, Belich used Websense to block employees from using instant messaging or downloading MP3 files — two activities that wasted time and sapped hard-drive space. The results were visible. ” [Wired News]

Sadly, the St. Petersburg Library is officially declared not shifted. So I can't listen to music while I'm at work or use instant messaging to ask questions at the SPPL? They obviously don't understand how IM could help with internal communications. Sad, sad, sad. Et tu, St. Pete?

” 'The reality is, the employee who wants to goof off will goof off regardless,' he said.”

Why do so many managers and executives view computer-literate employees who are smart enough to use the internet as slackers? This mentality was very prominent in libraryland when the internet first hit our radar, but now it's become a necessary and integral part of our working lives. Don't you want your employees to be information-literate, too? I understand the goof-offs, but this is a poor attitude to have towards the people that you want to make your organization succeed. [The Shifted Librarian]

The Tipping Blog – How Weblogs Can Turn an Idea into an Epidemic

The Tipping Blog – How Weblogs Can Turn an Idea into an Epidemic

“Of course, every epidemic needs both a host and a virus to spread. If weblogs are the host organism, then the virus is nothing less than the humble hyperlink. In retrospect, links are the perfect vehicle for an ideavirus! Each link represents a new web page, complete with the promise of tantalizing new content to tempt the reader. And most important, a link can replicate from one weblog to the next with shocking speed….

Perhaps the biggest change is the blurring of the distinction between Mavens and Connectors….

The Paul Reveres of the world are much more common online than offline. The reason is simple: offline Connectors have to be outgoing extroverts with lots of friends. But Online Connectors, on the other hand, don't have to be be extroverts at all. In fact – and this happens quite often online – Online Connectors are often quite shy and introverted Mavens.” [at Microcontent News, via Redwood City PL's LibLog]

I'm sure this was highlighted while I was on vacation, but I'll grab every opportunity to highlight Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point to librarians. We could learn a lot from it. [The Shifted Librarian]

Email, Web at Work – Is the Free Lunch Over?

Yahoo! News – Email, Web at Work – Is the Free Lunch Over?

Brace yourselves, corporate drones: one of the last bastions of work place relief — sneaking in some online shopping or snickering over an email joke — could be destined for universal banishment.

Major corporations are increasingly classifying employee email and Internet privileges as potential security hazards, distractions or worse, costly legal dangers in the making.

As a result, companies are considering dramatically curtailing, or even abolishing completely the freedoms, on which employees have grown increasingly reliant over the past few years.  [Privacy Digest]

Bob Walder

Bob Walder: For those of you looking for a low cost (i.e. free) firewall solution and who have a spare, low-powered machine hanging around with a network card or two in it I can heartily recommend IPCop. You can download the source if you must, but the easiest way is to download the ISO image, burn it on a CD and boot from it – a program is included on the CD to make a boot floppy if your older PC does not support CD booting, and the installation takes you through everything you need to do to get your firewall up and running in no time.

It is based on a stripped down and hardened version of Red Hat 7.2, though still with the 2.2.x kernel, since it is based on IPCHAINS. Once it is connected to the network, most of the admin can be done via a nice Web-based interface, and you can always SSH to it or log on at the console to edit a few config files yourself if you want to add a few awkward IPCHAINS filter rules or change your Snort configuration. Yes, it even includes the Snort IDS and Squid Web cache – both disabled by default, but easily enabled and with minimal-to-zero configuration required to get them working.

Based on the Smoothwall 0.9.9 GPL product but with a much friendlier bunch of developers behind it, you should give it a look if you want a basic firewall/IDS/Web cache solution for zero outlay and minimal hassle.

I also came across this site which has a whole bunch of useful utilities on there, such as a Windows-based protocol analyser and a minimal-footprint Web server, amongst other things. [Bob Walder's Diary]


BBC.  Mira, Microsoft's new portable digital screen/tablet technology that connects to a hub PC, will be “out by Christmas” for around $500.  This is how Microsoft plans to soak up excess compute cycles on today's fast PCs:  use XP profiles to allow everyone in the home to have a digital screen/tablet that connects to a hub PC.  The key is multiple simultaneous users on the same hub for mail, multimedia, and browsing.

I suspect the vision is that there will eventually be a hub PC (HomeStation) you can put into a closet.  Base stations to recharge the tablets for each user.  Connections to roaming wireless networks for remote access to the home hub.  Convergence with personal storage device technology to add dozens of Gb of portable storage for local playback of multimedia.  Convergence with wireless phone technology so that you could use your hub's contact manager for easy communications management.  Nice. [John Robb's Radio Weblog]

The Economist

The Economist.  World-wide population growth will soon turn into a decline. “…in the past decade, it has become increasingly clear that countries whose reproductive zeal had fallen below the 2.1 magic number were not isolated cases.”  For industrialized nations,1.85 is the new magic number.  The unexpected news was that developing nations are slowing their growth to the industrial “magic number” faster than earlier estimates. [John Robb's Radio Weblog]

Google toolbar

If you are not using the Google toolbar in your browser, get it.  One of the best items on it is the PageRank meter.  It provides immediate info on how well your site is doing in authority (as determined by cross linking and clicks on Google returns).  When you pass your mouse over it, a number will be displayed.  However, more granular info is available via green bar under the word: P-a-g-e-R-a-n-k.  The scale looks like it is logarithmic.  That means that each number in authority, or letter in the visual display, is ten times more authoritative than the one previous.  For example, my site is a full “R” or ten times more authoritative than a full “e” my site was rated three months ago.  Very cool.  [John Robb's Radio Weblog]

Ernie the Attorney

Ernie the Attorney blogs his thoughts on K-Logs.  He has an example from the legal world:

>>>But, an industrious paralegal named Connie goes to court everyday to file things, and she is always learning the newest filing requirements because she is there in court everyday and learns first hand all the lastest court gossip (i.e. they're getting picky about the font size requirement for pleadings).  Her blog puts that information out there.  And so when people are going to file something they check her blog first to make sure their pleading complies.  Or Connie keeps an updated list of court phone numbers on her blog site.  Then she adds the updated list of operating hours for the local courts.  A couple of months go by and the office manager decides to have someone comb through Connie's blog and “data-mine” the information that is in there that can be formally set out and put on the firm's intratnet site and to assign Connie the task of keeping it updated.<<< 

K-Logging allows her expertise to bubble to the surface.  Her knowledge isn't a static thing, it is something she is constantly improving as she makes trips to court.  Sharing her discoveries makes her a corporate resource.  Once it's known her posts on this topic are useful, she could easily categorize (using Radio) those posts related to filing requirements.  Categorization will automatically create a new weblog dedicated to that topic with its own URL.  That category specific K-Log could then be attached to the appropriate section of the Intranet.  To maintain it, she would merely need to click on that category every time she makes a post that relates to filing requirements.  Easy. [John Robb's Radio Weblog]


I hope Matt continues to build out this financial site.  I don't know what his background is, but it is a good idea.  High quality analysis on breaking financial news in key sectors is a perfect weblog topic.  Imagine a weblog on financial news related to a given sector (wireless vendors for example) by an industry insider.  He/she could easily dissect each press release, filing, product announcement, etc.  He/she could even provide first hand reports on how products are doing in showrooms or what the industry rumors are.  Nice.  The data could also be packaged and sold as a retail product (a PDF or Word doc).  I know of one independent Internet analyst that sold a report on Internet companies he tracked for $100.  9,500 people purchased the report.  This is a business model.  I am sure this model would work for technology topics too.  You could even use Befree to track affiliate revenue ($10 a sale) for sales generated by promotions on the sites of other webloggers. [John Robb's Radio Weblog]