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Be on the wave or under it™

The News – 05/02/04

In this Issue:

Recommended Reading

I realize this is the only newsletter you’ll ever need, but if you want more in-depth detail, check out:

Stan Hustad’s
The Coaching Connection

Management Signature's
The Express Read

Alert SNS Reader Follow Ups

Alert SNS Reader Roger Hamm suggested an interesting topic for today’s newsletter: What has happened to all the interesting tips uncovered by Alert SNS Readers in the past? Since I periodically like to do follow up on the material I include in SNS, and since Alert SNS Readers are the eyes and ears of this newsletter, this sounded like a very good idea. So below, you’ll find out the current status on several Alert SNS Reader items from the past, mostly from 2001.

06/01/01: Alert SNS reader Mike Todey sent along a reference to incredible data base research at the University of Rochester (NY). At a conference on lasers and optics in Baltimore, researchers reported that they had invented a way to use light to do a database search of 50 items in a way that can't be duplicated in any particle-based computer.

Today: Dr. Ian Walmsley has apparently moved on to Oxford and is into even weirder things, but probably not involving database searches at this point. And it’s hard to find out if anyone is carrying on the research at Rochester. Why the heck are academic Websites so doggone uninformative?

07/09/01: Alert SNS Reader Andrew Hargreave passed along an item regarding the ruling by the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection against Acme Rent-A-Car in their practice of fining car renters $150 per speeding infraction. Acme knew the renters were speeding by using data from the Geographical Positioning System (GPS) units in their cars. The decision was based on the fact that Acme failed to properly word their contracts when they indicated that fines would be imposed for speeding. Commissioner Jim Fleming also stated that the practice of renters being fined is illegal. However, the practice of tracking vehicles with GPS is still a legal practice.

Today: Poor Byungsoo Son. Son rented a car in San Francisco and ended up with a $3,405 bill instead of the $260 he expected. Seems Son drove with his family to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon and returned via Southern California and up Highway 1 to San Francisco. Son hadn’t noticed the addendum to the contract that said he would have to pay $1 a mile if he took the car out of the state. The Payless Ford Escort he rented was one of the approximately one quarter of the rental cars in the United States that are equipped with a tracking device. So the roadrunner loses this round. Better watch that fine print.

08/10/01: Alert SNS Reader David Dabbs sent in a pointer to Robert X. Cringely’s polemic, “The Death of TCP/IP: Why the Age of Internet Innocence is Over.” Cringely blames Microsoft and its “business decision” not to include security in its operating systems or applications for the sorry state of affairs today. Then he gets all conspiracy theory paranoid on us and suggests Microsoft’s Grand Plan is to make the TCP/IP protocol that runs the Internet unusable so the company can ride to the rescue with its own proprietary protocol.

Today: Two and a half years later, the MS Grand Plan doesn’t seem to have taken over the Internet. But you just wait.

In the same issue, Alert SNS Reader David Dabbs noticed that UPS is implementing what was being called the largest wireless LAN and short-range wireless Bluetooth network. It involves a wireless Bluetooth ring-based scanner that workers throughout its worldwide distribution hubs will use to scan barcodes on packages and transmit the information through a hip-based 802.11b wireless terminal.

Today: UPS features the ring scanner in its pressroom, but the device in the picture hardly looks like it would fit on my finger. Nonetheless, UPS says, “And in 2005, when UPS completes the deployment of more than 9,000 wireless access points, 55,400 Bluetooth ring scanners and WiFi terminals to 1700 package facilities worldwide, the company will be operating the world's largest wireless local area network.” Yeah, but they have to do something about that awful “Brown” ad campaign.

08/17/01: Alert SNS Reader Andrew Hargreave sent along an item on toymaker Hasbro’s innovative viral marketing efforts to market their new peer-to-peer handheld game, POX. They asked kids to name the coolest person they knew, tracked down that person, asked him or her, and went on until they found someone who said, “Me.” Hasbro then indoctrinated the coolest person and gave him or her a bunch of POX gear, including some to give away to friends.

Today: A search at KB Toys online turned up no hits on Pox. A search at ePinions revealed a review of Pox from January 2003. A Google Groups search found no chatter later than October 2002. And a search at Hasbro unearthed no info on the toy. Looks like it didn’t make the cut.

Also in that issue, Alert SNS Reader David Dabbs passed along an item concerning a PDF virus called Outlook.pdf. The worm was worrisome because it was one of the few uncovered that exploited he Adobe Acrobat platform.

Today: A search at McAfee turned up the original notation of the worm, but there doesn’t seem to have been much activity, since the worm was hard to spread, requiring the full version of Adobe Acrobat to propagate. A search on PDF only turned up three variants of the original worm. So the Adobe Acrobat environment is either hard to use or unattractive to worm writers.

08/24/01: Alert SNS Reader Roger Hamm sent a pointer to an innovation that many of us superannuated geezers will appreciate. Instead of having to swallow a pole for an upper-GI series, you soon may be able to swallow a wireless camera-in-a-capsule to check things out.

Today: According to maker Given Imaging, to date more than 80,000 patients worldwide have swallowed the M2A and experienced the advantages of Capsule Endoscopy. Sign me up.

09/08/03: Alert SNS Reader Pete Simpson (my partner in The WiMAX Guys) sent along an item about a relic of the dotcom craziness: the digital picture frame.

Today: Time magazine featured Wallflower Systems’ wireless digital picture frame in a gadget roundup last October, and the company still appears to be ongoing, adding the Wallflower Plus to a product line that includes Wallflower Classic. How time flies. But, really, who needs a thousand dollar picture frame?

Briefly Noted

  • Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: It’s here: A wireless networking company called The WiMAX Guys. Our main business is new installs for people who want to set up wireless hotspots such as hotels, warehouses, apartment buildings, and office buildings. We also sell a knowledge-based Web portal called the MAX K-Base. Check out our main Website at

    I provided some background info for my colleague, Marcia Jedd, who prepared an interesting white paper called Six Ways to Increase Marketing ROI. Check it out.

    My article, Why Your Company Needs a Professional Wireless Network, was published in the Reside newsletter, which also published my article about Short Messaging Service (SMS), Wherever they go, there you are.

    My second article for Fawcette Technical Publications’ Enterprise Architect magazine, Companies Collaborate on IT Practices, reports on a best practices sharing effort called Project Avalanche. The project has now turned into an IT software cooperative called Avalanche Corporate Technology.

    Coming Soon: A new eBook, Be On the Wave Or Under It™ will collect the best of SNS’ insights over the last couple of years, along with additional material from CTOMentor white papers and new material. It will make a great gift for associates and friends in need of a guide to the latest and greatest technology. Watch for more information in upcoming SNS issues.

    Several issues ago I debuted SNS Begware, an opportunity for you, gentle reader, to express your appreciation by tipping your server via PayPal. See the sidebar for more info. Total in the kitty so far: $86.48.

  • The Raw File – In a recent SNS I commented that I had 40 pages of material waiting to get into an SNS issue. Well, upon looking it over, I decided much of it was past its freshness date. Since SNS is dedicated to delivering the scoop on the latest and greatest, this stuff no longer qualifies. However, on the off chance that there are Alert SNS Readers out there who just can’t get enough, I’ve collected all this aging info into a page called The Raw File. This page is the raw information I gather for SNS articles. It’s not pretty, and some may be a little incoherent, but chances are there are still things in TRF that might be news to you. So therefore, use The Raw File at your own risk – it’s 35+ pages of the best stuff from 2003 that didn’t make it into SNS.
    The Raw File

  • A Chicken at Your Service: Alert SNS Reader Todd Mortenson sends along a link to a fowl with apparent low self esteem. Some guy in a chicken suit will do your bidding. Really. It shows how good computer language parsing is getting.
    Subservient Chicken

  • Windows Features Better TCO? A recent study of the Total Cost of Ownership of two popular server platforms, Windows 2003 and Linux, indicates that Windows provides a better value. This is the first non-Microsoft-sponsored study (by Yankee Group) I’ve seen that has come to this conclusion. However, keep in mind that most of the advantage Yankee found related to switching costs for current Windows shops. Nonetheless, I’d be surprised if Yankee truly took into account the cost of patch management, considering the practically weekly release of operating system patches out of Redmond.
  • Microsoft Software “More Secure,” According to Microsoft: In a bit of self-congratulatory back patting, Bill Gates declared recently that Microsoft’s two-year-old Trustworthy Computing initiative (see this SNS) has delivered more secure software. The evidence? The number of "critical" and "important" security bulletins issued in the first 320 days of availability for Windows Server 2003 was nine, according to Gates, compared with 40 in the same period for Windows 2000 Server. Well, great! Just don’t assume Windows Server 2003 is four times as secure as its predecessor.

  • What’s Google Up To? A recent story pointed out by Alert SNS Reader Roger Hamm belongs in the Things That Make You Go, Hmmmm Department. "Google is building a huge computer with a custom operating system that everyone on earth can have an account on," writes Jason Kottke, a Web designer and developer, in his Weblog,, recently. One clue is Google’s new free email service, the terms of which allow Google to not only data mine your email while you’re a customer, but also allow them to keep your emails after you quit!

    Kottke continues, “Google knows what people write about, what they search for, what they shop for, they know who wants to advertise and how effective those advertisements are, and they're about to know how we communicate with friends and loved ones. What can they do with all that? Just about anything that collection of Ph.Ds can dream up.”

    Industry analysts compare what Google is creating to a Web-based operating system, providing everything a user could need, and obviating the need for a true, multi-function operating system like Windows or Linux. Already Twin-Cities-based coffee house advertising company SurfThing is providing on-site Internet PCs running a crippled version of Linux instead of paying the freight to install Windows. Could be a trend.

  • Your House is Smarter Than a Vintage Bug: But not much. Alert SNS Reader  Jacqueline Miller forwards an item that states that the average middle-class house today is about as smart as the original Volkswagen Beetle from 55 years ago. But while cars have gotten very smart, houses have not. The article compares the old Beetle, and the current house, with the scarily accommodating VW Phaeton, which electronically opens the door, adjusts the seat, seat belt, mirrors, steering wheel, and air-conditioning and starts the car without the driver ever having to put the key in the ignition. Try convincing your house to let you in without your key.

    The inside of the car is even smarter, with four climate-controlled zones and 28 solar cells in the sunroof to power a ventilation system that cools the car when it is parked in the sun.

    But houses are getting smarter, and retirement homes are starting to sport some real smarts, the kind that builders hope Baby Boomers will demand such as those in the Smart Medical House. The house features sensors and monitors that can keep track of traditional vital signs, such as blood pressure and pulse and respiration, “but will also measure the “new” vital signs, such as gait, behavior patterns, sleep patterns, general exercise, and rehabilitation exercise, among others,” according to the article.

    It all sounds great, but if I read another article using the phrase, “aging boomers” I truly will scream. All those out there not aging, please call and tell me your secret!
    Architectural Record

  • Keeping Evil Wi-Fi Spirits at Bay: This all too plausible ad will unfortunately be taken seriously by some.
    Wi-Fi Spray

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About The Author

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Can’t Get Enough of ME?

In the unlikely event that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the free software from This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts to your Weblog.

I’ve dubbed my Weblog entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at Let me know what you think.

Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of the latest emerging trends.

In Memoriam

Gerald M. Ellsworth

March 14, 1928 - July 5, 2003

In Memoriam

Jane C. Ellsworth

July 20, 1928 - July 20, 2003