Monthly Archives: February 2004

The one thing your business needs to grow

The one thing your business needs to grow.

Want to grow your business? Harvard Business Review's Frederick Reichheld says there's one thing that's dramatically more important than anything else: are your customers willing to recommend your product or service to a friend? If they are, he contends, your business will grow. If they aren't, it won't.

Williams Moore's “Brand Autopsy” weblog for that link and commentary on that article.

This rule even applies to Microsoft. Expensive marketing can attempt to overcome this trend, but in this day of word-of-mouth networks that are very strong, if you don't have the best product in a category, word will get out very quickly.

[Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger]

What's the Context?

What's the Context?. Legal Services + Social Networking…. Posted Feb 27, 2004, 12:17 PM ET by Judith Meskill

Demir Barlas writes that Miller & Chevalier, a Washington, D.C. law firm, has installed Interface Software’s Social Networking system to connect their ~120 lawyers and professionals. Not likely bedfellows but the utilization of Interface’s solution has, according to Sturgis Sobin, chairman of the international department of Miller & Chevalier, created new business: “In the past year, we’ve had a couple of instances where the software identified an existing relationship we’d never have been aware of otherwise,” says Sobin. “One of those engagements generated more than a million dollars in new business.” A most practical application of Social Networking Services [The Social Software Weblog]

Marc's bit….

Yet another example of social networking as a feature, not a stand alone market.  Maybe eventually hopefully like soon enough some day folks will stop trying to ask “how do you make money from social networking” and instead will say “what can I use social networking for?”

In other words – as danah likes to sayWhat's the Context?  [Marc's Voice]

Wireless Nodes of Thought

Wireless Nodes of Thought.

One of the things I really like about Michael Stephens' Tame the Web site is that he provides firsthand reports about the implementation, maintenance, and discussions of technology in his Library. While at PLA, Michael shares his thoughts about public librarians and technology, expressing the need for us to get unwired.

Elsewhere, Aaron Schmidt provides a similar service by writing up recent experiences with the wireless network at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library. Emphasis below is mine, and I'll note that TFML is a relatively small library surrounded by many larger ones in neighboring suburbs. Be sure to read the whole thing.

Wireless and My Library

“I wasn’t quite aware how popular our wireless network was until it ceased to operate correctly. The problem was simple enough, but it took about a week to correct. In this period of time I was called upon many times to help people connect their laptops to the network. To tell them that they wouldn’t be able to connect for a week was a gut wrenching experience. I was the driving force behind the implementation of the network at the library, and I knew having to turn people away wasn’t helping the success of the project. However, people seemed very understanding, especially when I offered them a wired connection with speed well beyond their DSLs at home. I recorded the phone numbers of the people I had to turn away, and called them once the network was again up and running. While statistics haven’t been formally kept yet, I think the estimate of 2-4 people per day using the wireless network is a very conservative one. I’m only at the library a portion of the time it is open, and only in the public areas a portion of that time. It is likely that more people are using it than I’ve seen.

People have been using the wireless network for a variety of different reasons, and in a variety of different ways. Some people use it as a backup for when their connection at home is down, others are starting to depend on it. One patron decided to buy a laptop with 802.11g capability and cancel her home ISP upon hearing about the wireless network at the library. While she often used the wired connection in the library, it wasn’t until the wireless network was implemented that she decided to cancel her Internet service at home. Perhaps this is because of how convenient network can be. The patrons, as of now, use it on their terms, wherever they are comfortable in the library, and have all of their programs and files….

There is one thing subtle but neat thing about the wireless network that any library with one can do: brand your network. Instead of having generic names for your SSIDs, or even ones that read 'Circ,' 'Reference,' etc…, brand them with your library’s name. Ours read, 'Thomas Ford Youth Services,' 'Thomas Ford Reference,' etc…” [LISNews.com]

Both Michael's and Aaron's posts dovetail nicely on the topic of “teaching moments,” too. [The Shifted Librarian]

New WinZip vulnerability

New WinZip vulnerabilityAs if you weren't already paranoid enough about ZIP files…

The recent MyDoom virus required you to open a ZIP and then execute one of the files inside the attachment. But a new vulnerability announced by iDEFENSE allows arbitrary code execution just by opening the ZIP file. Note that as of yet I haven't heard of any known malware exploiting this problem, but history shows us that's it's only a matter of time before the next wave hits.

Time to patch your copy of WinZip!  [Office Development, Security, Randomness…]

SitePoint

SitePoint.

Nathn Matias offers an intelligent review of Tinderbox at SitePoint.

“It's like no content management system I've ever used….. Tinderbox is a truly open-ended writing tool. It can be used to build Websites, keep track of contact information, produce flowcharts, and visualize database records. And these are just the obvious uses.”

“Tinderbox, which uses XML as its native file format, stores information in notes. These notes can be organized and linked many ways: in a hierarchy, in a two-dimensional map, or in any other structure you think of. It's as simple as drag and drop.”

One nice thing about Matias's review is that he describes a variety of good ways to use Tinderbox for getting work done. It's common for magazine reviewers to limit themselves to working through the tutorials or trying the obvious, familiar tasks, but Matias does a lot of real work with Tinderbox. The color scheme of the example map view in the first screen shot, for example, shows care and flair. The discussion of different tasks — taking notes on historical events, building a recreational web site — makes the review worth reading, even for experienced Tinderbox users. It's not merely a consumer guide to making the purchase decision.

It's also nice to see that Matias gets the point — even though he's not naturally inclined to the Tinderbox way.

“Tinderbox takes time to understand. It's unlike any piece of software you've ever used, and, unless you have time to learn it, Tinderbox might not be the software for you. On the bright side, the process of learning Tinderbox is also unique. Much of the learning process involves freeing the mind from the beaten-down assumptions and flat limitations we get from using word processors.”

He describes himself as ” a hardcore free/open source software fanatic:, but concludes in the end that “this is one of the few software packages I believe is well worth the money.”

[Mark Bernstein]

Laszlo Mugs

Laszlo Mugs.  We recently wrapped up version 2.0 of the Laszlo Presentation Server. In celebration of the new components, I opened a couple of Cafe Press stores to special-order some custom Laszlo schwag. It was a fun excuse to check out Cafe Press. Its an amazing business where you can create your own T-shirts, mugs or whatever with custom graphics. The site is very easy to use and I highly recommend it.

So… the stores are open and mugs are sold at cost. I'm posting links here for Laszlovians, Laszlo developers and other fans.

available at http://www.cafeshops.com/laszlofanclub and at http://www.cafeshops.com/laszloweekend … [Sarah Allen's Weblog]

WiMax: To be or Not to be

WiMax: To be or Not to be

New Jersey’s Star-Ledger has a solid piece exploring the potential of WiMax: It’s nice to see a paper like the Star-Ledger get the story right. The piece offers a nice balance between describing why there is excitement around WiMax but also why the vision for it may not come to fruition. I wrote a story about WiMax which is scheduled to run Monday for the Seattle Times that also takes a close look at the pressures against WiMax as well as the hype around it.

The best chance for major WiMax success in the United States will be if Nextel decides to use it. While it could be used by a cable or DSL player, the chances of that are slim, but not for good reason. I spoke with the president and CEO of Wi-LAN, a company working on WiMax gear, who says cable and DSL providers would be ideal users for WiMax but he doesn’t see it happening. “I think it’s more a psychological barrier than anything else,” he said. “They’re very used to wires. They need to get used to wireless.” Also, if one of the big landline players was interested in WiMax, they would most likely want to deliver it over licensed frequencies, which also becomes a barrier.

Otherwise, if no major player deploys WiMax in a big way, it may be used in pockets in rural areas. If they become very successful using it, WiMax could follow Wi-Fi’s footsteps and bubble up in popularity from small or community users. Municipalities could also build WiMax networks. But the Star-Ledger article quotes Paul Kolodzy, head of the Wireless Network Security Center at the Stevens Institute of Technology and a former FCC advisor, who says that WiMax may not be secure enough for use by emergency groups.

In other WiMax news, I hope that this ZDNet story doesn’t become a trend. The piece says that BT is already using WiMax in four rural locations. Unfortunately, that’s impossible. WiMax is the term an industry trade group, the WiMax Forum, gave to its interpretation of the 802.16 standard. WiMax gear will be equipment that is certified by the WiMax Forum, just like Wi-Fi gear is certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance. The WiMax Forum doesn’t expect to begin certifying products until later this year. It will be unfortunate and confusing to the market if companies start saying that they’re using WiMax gear. It will defeat the purpose of actually certifying gear. [Wi-Fi Networking News]