August 2003 Archives

Recovery looks real

According to an article in Business Week the economy is showing signs of strength and will begin to demonstrate robust growth in the near future. I hope so! Even though I am getting some consulting work, I need a lot more of a back log before I can say I am successful. IT spending has been really poor for the past several years so growth and greater innovation will be a welcome relief.

Online Communities

I have had a hard time setting up online communities or even discussion groups that can sustain themselves. I am, in fact, an enthusiastic early adopter of any new collaborative technology. I like to build libraries of documents, I like posting questions and answers, but I loose intrest after about three months. I have never been able to sustain my enthusiasm for a community or online team for more than three months.

I am very impressed, therefore, when an organization or the media says that they have figured it out. In a recent article in OJR, News Sites Still Figuring Out What to Do With Online Communities, the author gives examples of several sites that are doing it right. I would add the Harvard Business Review too, since they have good forums at Working Knowledge.

I drove from Ithaca to Boston tonight

It took 9 hours! There was sooo much traffic! First in Binghamton, where there was road work; and then on the Mass Pike. Normally it takes about 6 and half hours. Luckly, I had my iPod. I listened to Stevie Ray Vaughn, Pharoh Sanders, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Carla Bley, Charlie Mingus, Taj Mahall, Albert King, Mission of Burma, The Ramones, and Elvis. All in all, it was a high volume night; very caffinated. Now I am relaxing at home. Whew. Remember Love Story, I think they drove back and forth from Harvard to Cornell in about 5 hours.

BTW, I forgot how good Mission of Burma was. What a great album.

I tend to come down on the side of Acrobat. I now have used both tools for designing and receiving data via forms ande Adobe's approach makes more sense than Microsoft.

Look at Adobe's interactive income tax form. That document is licensed, by the Document Server for Reader Extensions, to unlock the form fill-in and digital signature capabilities of the reader. Filling in a form and then signing it digitally is an eye-opening experience. It's more interesting now that the form's data is schema-controlled and, Myers adds, can flow in and out by way of WSDL-defined SOAP transactions. The only missing InfoPath ingredient is a forms designer that nonprogrammers can use to map between schema elements and form fields. That's just what the recently announced Adobe Forms Designer intends to be. I like where Adobe is going. The familiarity of paper forms matters to lots of people. And unless Microsoft's strategy changes radically, those folks are far likelier to have an Adobe reader than an InfoPath client. [Full story at]

Among the comments I've received on this piece was one from Philip Brittan, chairman of Droplets, who pointed to an earlier blog entry that says in part:

The question on everyone's tongue now is how these products [Acrobat and InfoPath] will compete with each other. A deeper question is how they will compete with HTML/XForms and whether they will indeed progress towards being full application delivery platforms. It seems that there is market pressure for a platform to provide a continuum of capabilities from document publishing to application delivery. Maybe docs, forms, and apps are really all meant to be the same thing. But how we'll achieve that is still far from clear. []

ESPN Classic Boxing

Tonight I watched ESPN Classic Boxing and saw Roberto Duran and Rocky Marciano who were both such great, solid fighters. Here are the fights shown tonight: 9 p.m. - Sonny Liston vs Leotis Martin (1969); 9:30 p.m. - Roberto Duran vs Hiroshi Kobayashi (1971); 10 p.m. - Rocky Marciano vs Rex Layne (1951); 10:30 p.m. - Max Baer vs Primo Carnera (1934). What a treat to see these fights that I would never normally be able to see. It happens each Tuesday.

I am in the same WiFi boat

I have written about WiFi before and I am beginning to see the logic of the free service. Steve at ASK STEVE.COM encapsulates my views in this post:

"What is the secret to Wi-Fi success? Give it away. So suggests an article in the September 2003 issue of Wired magazine. It seems that there hasn't been such a flurry of excitement, activity and investment since the dawn of the commercial Internet. Some see Wi-Fi as the answer to the tech industry's post-bubble doldrums. Others see it as another bubble �� and predict that it will burst much sooner than the last.

Personal experience to date gives me mixed feelings on the matter. I've been a subscriber to T-Mobile's HotSpot service since it became available, shelling out $30 per month for the privilege of jumping online at T1 speed at nearly any Starbucks I can find. And I do. I probably use it at least 20 days per week for up to three hours a day -- sometimes more. That comes our to around $1.50 per day and well under a dollar per hour of usage. I wouldn't want to pay that much for my connection at home, but I can't take my DSL connection with me on the road. So do I feel it's worth the price? I'd like it to be cheaper, but yes I do. Would I want to pay more than that? Probably not -- and that's the problem for other folks who want to charge for their Wi-Fi. And even for those who just want to give it away."

La Femme Nikita

I watched the DVD of La Femme Nikita, the film by Luc Besson this evening. What a friggin' good movie. I saw the film years ago and have never forgotten it. The filming of the violence is frightenly graphic and the use of color is superb, especially the blue in the pharmacy. She is a really beautiful sociopath without a conscience. I also love Victor, the cleaner, who show up to turn a bad situation into a bloody mess.

Since I tested the Beta versions of Office 2003, I have been looking for the release dates and an indication of the pricing for the product. Here ia a pretty complete description of the offering and the price points in the UK. Good indication of the price here in the US.

Somerville WiFi Hot Zone

All of Davis Square in Somerville Massachusetts will have free wireless access to the internet. Michael Oh, who has done the same thing on Newbury Street in Boston, is working with the City of Somerville to make WiFi access ubiquitous and free. This is a much better idea than Hot Spots, since it covers a wider area. It also makes Davis Square a great place to work and to hang out with your computer.

Shakespeare's Macbeth was performed from July 18 through August 10 2003 on the Boston Common. My son, Oliver Poole, played Macduff's son, who is slaughtered along with his mother, by Macbeth's thugs. These murders set the stage for the final confrontation between Macbeth and Macduff. The entire production was well concieved and staged by Steve Mahler and the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. Jay O. Sanders plays Macbeth, and, because he is so physically big, he is a very commanding and convincing Macbeth. I have seen the play 5 times and it keeps getting better. Several years ago, I saw Jay Sanders in "The Taming of the Shrew" at the Delacorte in NYC. He was great in that show too.

Trillian 2.0 beta

Trillian Pro is a very powerful Instant Messaging tools with lots of features. I downloaded the 2.0 beta, and have been very satisfied, no problems to speak of, yet. I like the sounds and the new skins, it makes the application look more appealing.

Ed Cone got an weblog-exclusive email interview with North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. It shows how much power this new P2P publishing model is gaining.

The Real Mingus Web

Charlie Mingus is my favorite jazz artist. The complexity of the orchestration and especially the way he uses trombones in his band completely blows me away. Whenever I am in NYC, I go to see the Mingus Big Band. There are a number of good sites on Mingus; the one I mentioned in the title of this post, The Charlie Mingus Home Page, and a discography on Amazon.

As I listen, I will post the albums on the left hand side of this blog.

Google News Alerts

This is a great way to stay up to date on developing stories. Google presents news sources from all over the web and very promptly can make you aware of any changes. As Google says, you can: monitor a developing news story, keep current on a competitor or industry, get the latest on a celebrity or event and
keep tabs on your favorite sports teams.

Webcasting at the Tate

Through David Gurteen Knowledge Letter I found a series of thirty webcasts from the Tate on various subjects. Webcasting opens up Tate's events to visitors who are not based in London, enabling them to experience and participate in online presentations.

The one that caught my interest was Theodore Zeldin's talk called "The Camera at Work". The Camera at Work series explores historical, sociological and aesthetic issues related to the photographic representation of work. It coincides with Tate Modern��s major exhibition Cruel and Tender

They present a superb series of talks by artists, curators and social critics.

Almost 10 years after the plugged-in people of Quebec adopted it, France has embraced "courriel" as an official translation for "e-mail", a web-friendly version of the clumsy "courrier electronique" that authorities had tried to enforce. "It turns out that 'courriel' went down well here and has started being used, so we've made the abbreviation official," said Florence Desmouliere of the official French division of the Culture Ministry that helps coin new words. The use of "courriel" is now obligatory for French civil servants, but France's language gurus turned up their collective noses at some of Quebec's other offerings.

French Canadian surfers use "pourriel" for spam, mixing "poubelle" (garbage) and "electronique". Chat is "clavardage", from "clavier" (keyboard) and "bavardage" (chattering). But the arbiters of what is and isn't French have rejected these -- for the moment. "The language in Quebec is slightly more familiar than ours," explained Desmouliere. "It's different, more colourful. We like it a lot, but we don't quite have the same criteria. (Reuters)

"The Stones are embracing new technology. The Rolling Stones are using wi-fi to help their Forty Licks world tour go more smoothly. Behind the scenes of the Stones' gigs wireless access points are speeding up the preparation of the stage for the band's performance. By using radio links instead of cables the Stones' production company can set up a venue-wide computer network far faster than normal. A mobile wireless computer network that can be set up and torn down in an hour has been created by Clear Channel Entertainment, the production company the Stones is using to help stage its Forty Licks world tour." BBC

Apparently, they have about 140 laptops that all connect to a network via 3Com access points and PC cards.

What Ralph Knows

I have started a new Weblog on TypePad, another vendor of hosted Weblogs.   I have been interested the TypePad functionality for some time, and have stayed close to the introduction.   So... I will no longer post to this Weblog.   I may try to migrate some of the content to TypePad, since some of the content here is very important to me, and I hope my readers.

Switching from Radio to TypePad

I switched my Weblog from Radio Userland to TypePad to take advantage of the newer functionality available in Typepad. My previous weblog was called "Ralph Poole's Weblog". Check it out, I am very proud of the effort. I posted from October 2002 through July 2003. and got very good readership. I have been following MoveableType and TypePad for the sometime, and when it became available, I switched.

My previous weblog, which I will close, covered technology, content management, knowledge managmenet, music, theatre, books and movies. It started as a log of my job search, but quickly and very organically, started to include my other interests. Since then, I have started my own company, called Coherence Group, and have started to sell consulting services.

This new weblog will focus primarily on information, content and technology: "What Ralph Knows" or doesn't, or aspires to know. Who knows!

I have missed Christopher Lydon

Christopher Lydon was my favorite WGBH talk show host and despite the fact that I still listen to "The Connection", I prefered his approach. Naturally, I wondered where he was. So, today, I was pleased to find the Whole Wide World with Christopher Lydon, a seven series radio program on globalization. The project is described like this:

The Whole Wide World with Christopher Lydon decodes the riddles of the new race, the new map, the post-Cold War 21st century system known as "globalization". Through the voices of artists, economists, refugees, historians and plain folk, we created this seven-part series to encompass the trends that could kill us �� viruses, habitat collapse, starvation, terrorism and war �� and the technologies and cultural connections that could rescue us. Each program features voices both famous and obscure, such as that of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, psychologist Steven Pinker, novelist Zadie Smith, and prophetic political scientist Samuel P. Huntington. Our programs weave literary voices and an extraordinary range of musical texture into every hour and engage listeners in critical topics of discussion.

In addition, Chris has a weblog called "Christopher Lydon".

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