David Kirkpatrick

March 10, 2010

Treasury eases rules on exporting free speech tools

Filed under: Media, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:21 pm

This move just makes sense.

From the link:

Looking to facilitate what it calls free speech rights in countries that don’t look favorably at such liberties, the US government today said it would ease the regulations around exporting Internet-based applications such as e-mail, blogging and social networking software to Iran, Sudan and Cuba.

Specifically the Treasury Department said it would add general licenses authorizing the exportation of free personal Internet-based communications services – such as instant messaging, chat and email, and social networking – to Cuba, Iran and Sudan. The amendments also allow the exportation of related software to Iran and Sudan, the department said in a release (the US Commerce Department controls software exports with Cuba). Until now all such exports were would have broken federal laws.

November 13, 2009

Could email be better?

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:41 pm

And by better, the question is really could it be more efficient. The answer is yes, but can it be more efficient? Probably not, but that’s not stopping these guys at Defrag 2009 from mulling the possibilities.

From the link:

Wading through e-mail is one of the primary woes of office workers everywhere. Despite many theories on how workers should process their incoming messages, most people still seem to feel buried in the flood. This week at Defrag 2009, a technology conference in Denver focused on tools and technologies for handling online data, experts suggested that the best strategies for fixing e-mail might rely on information and strategies drawn from social Web technologies.

“E-mail is kind of this giant, endless task list, and you’re really the slave to a lot of stuff that comes to you,” said Lili Cheng, general manager of Microsoft’s future social experiences labs. She believes that incoming messages need to be organized and sorted in a more automated fashion.

October 5, 2009

IBM throws down a cloud gauntlet

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:46 pm

By undercutting Google’s  business email service at $36 a year against Google’s $50 annual rate. IBM, old and hoary as it might be, has a strong track record for supporting enterprise-level applications, and a strong case on the difference between consumer and enterprise support — a serious cloud computing issue — but at the end of the day I don’t see Big Blue cutting too far into Google’s expanding empire.

From the link:

Without providing specifics, Google says its corporate users now number in the “hundreds of thousands.” Some companies, including Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc., switched from IBM’s premium e-mail service that costs substantially more than Web-based e-mail.

Now, IBM is counter-punching. IBM thinks the timing for its e-mail alternative is ideal, given that Google’s service suffered a highly publicized outage that locked out corporate customers for nearly two hours last month.

“Candidly, Google has shown itself to be weak” in some areas of e-mail, said Sean Poulley, an IBM executive overseeing the company’s e-mail service. “There is a world of difference between supporting a consumer-grade service and a business-grade service.”

August 17, 2009

USPS expected to lose $7B in 2009

Filed under: Business, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:50 pm

The US Postal Service is in real financial trouble. Jobs are being cut drastically, post office closings loom, red ink flows freely and mail volume is way, way down.

From the link:

Mail volume has plunged more than 12 percent this year, meaning that the Postal Service handled some 20 billion fewer pieces of mail, the largest decline since the Great Depression. By 2010, volume is expected to fall by an additional 10 billion pieces, while the service’s debt could top $13 billion. At the same time, the service is dealing with healthcare and retirement costs that postal officials insist are debilitatingly high. A law passed three years ago mandates preretirement contributions to an employee healthcare fund, payments that now amount to more than $5 billion per year.

The economic downturn is one reason for the sharp decline in mail volume. But the larger and more systemic issue is that Americans have abandoned stamps and letters in favor of online bill payments, digital advertising, and E-mail. In 2000, about 80 percent of U.S. households paid their bills through the mail. Now, 56 percent do so. The volume of advertising mail fell 20 percent in the past year. Personal letters, meanwhile, are estimated to make up only 6 percent of mail traffic.

June 5, 2009

C-level finds email most valuable

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:16 pm

I’d hazard a guess most people, and not just executives,  find email either the top or tied at the top for the most valuable data on a hard drive.

Now for a casual user who  backs up nothing and has a priceless collection of photos or video email could come in second, but many ordinary users who do at least rudimentary backing up of documents, images and other like data fail to back up email folders, and even such mundane-seeming items such as favorites or cookies. After a failure all of these will be missed, probably more than realized.

Back to c-level executives, I can completely see where email is the most critical datato get back. The email inbox is truly a virtual inbox of work-to-do, information to process and documents to attend to. Losing that can be devastating. Too many executives allow the inbox or other email folders become the de facto storage spot for very important information.

Food for thought, and a lesson to remember — back up thoroughly and often.

From the link:

With so much valuable and confidential information in our inboxes, it’s no wonder 81% would recover that data first. There’s a strong legal argument for better backup, too. 

E-mail is the most valued business document, according to a recent survey from Kroll Ontrack Inc.

Kroll asked 200 business executives across Canada, the U.S. and Europe which business documents they would most prefer to recover in the event of data loss. Eighty one per cent reported they would save their mailboxes.

E-mail is of critical importance because it contains so much information, said Dave Pearson, senior storage research analyst with IDC Canada.

“Test contracts to vendors or clients, confidential memos … all sorts of work documents, process documents, presentations, sales materials, all those things pass through your e-mail at different times,” he said.

Large organizations, especially those subject to lawsuits, should have a centralized backup repository for their e-mail, Pearson suggested. “It just makes the discovery process so much easier and so much less expensive for them,” he said.

But many companies still lack a well-thought-out e-mail archival policy. “A lot of companies may not realize how much of their business is contained in their e-mail or how many confidential or important things are said in e-mail that they need to keep track of,” said Pearson.

Backing up e-mail is a high priority in the enterprise and a vital practice for IT, according to George Goodall, senior research analyst at London-based Info-Tech Research Group Inc.

E-mail is very much the lifeblood of any organization, he said. “Many people, especially executives, use e-mail as a knowledge repository … the problem is, it’s a very difficult thing to backup and more importantly, it’s difficult to restore.”

May 30, 2009

Google Wave

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:24 pm

I don’t see this overtaking email, but it’s an interesting idea. You have to hand it to Google, it really does get outside the box to find brand new utilites and apps.

From the link:

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has put his reputation behind a project launched today by a team from Google Australia which seeks to overthrow email as the dominant mode of internet communication and replace it with a new hybrid.

“What we are seeing with Wave really rethinks how communication works,” Brin said today. “I think you will see a form of interaction that you would not have previously imagined.”

Christened Wave, the new system is a combination of email and instant messaging and document-, maps- image- and video-sharing all housed in one spot (screenshots can be found here).

Much like a conference call, it also allows for conversations between more than two people to happen simultaneously. And it can happen in different languages using an instantaneous translation tool.

And because it all takes place inside a web browser, there is no special software to download or plug-in – which means it can be used from any computer or internet-enabled mobile phone.

Update 6-1-09 — More on Wave from CIO.com.

November 25, 2008

Improve your email communications

With tips from this press release. If you’re reading this I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you do some amount of email communications.

The release:

How to improve email communication

Developing strategies to mimic face-to-face interactions

In a new article in the current issue of American Journal of Sociology authors Daniel A. Menchik and Xiaoli Tian (both of the University of Chicago) study how we use emoticons, subject lines, and signatures to define how we want to be interpreted in email. The authors find that “a shift to email interaction requires a new set of interactional skills to be developed.”

Unlike face-to-face conversations, email interactions leave out tone of voice, body-language and context, which can lead to misunderstandings. While these authors agree that there are difficulties, they believe that no way of communicating is actually superior to another.

Menchik and Tian argue that face-to-face and internet-based contexts each require a set of distinct interaction strategies. “People can cultivate ways of communicating in online contexts that are equally as effective as those used offline,” they write. “The degree to which … individuals develop unique conventions in the medium will determine their ability to communicate effectively.”

The research focuses on “the case of a well-known scientific organization that decided to replace occasional meetings of a research panel with ongoing email interaction.” The panel encountered numerous problems conversing via email. But the researchers identified several ways people were able to overcome these barriers.

“People innovate in response to the challenges of a new context for the communication of essential elements of language,” the authors write.

Capital letters, use of quotations, emoticons, exclamation points, punctuation, bullet points, style and even color help the sender communicate the meaning of a word or message. For example, “I feel betrayed” reads differently from “I FEEL SO BETRAYED!! ;)” where the capital letters and winking smiley face indicate sarcasm.

Participants also maintained their conversational flow by cutting and pasting from previous emails and using subject lines that referenced previous discussions. In email listservs these devices help address comments to a certain individual and help the discussion to stay on topic.

Signatures, disclaimers and other information about the person’s state of mind were also commonly used when writing an email. The authors found that subjects felt more comfortable communicating once they knew a little about each other, like the information included in a signature. They also found that indicating the frame of mind as a disclaimer, (i.e. “I wrote this at 5AM” or “on a blackberry while on vacation”) helped prevent the email from being misinterpreted.

Developers have picked up on these cues with the advent of linguistic monitors such as Eudora’s MoodWatch feature. This program tries to indicate to the sender that their email might be considered inflammatory, and to the receiver that they are about to receive such an email.



May 19, 2008

Deconstructing …

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:26 pm

… one of the more pernicious anti-Obama emails making the rounds. Anyone who’s received the “Celeste & Loren Davis” anti-Obama email and doesn’t realize it’s utter bullshit needs to head to the Snopes page and do a bit of catching up. (In fact, if you regularly receive crazy emailed claims, bookmark the snopes.com home page and check in often for the latest hoaxes making the rounds. It’ll do both you and your email circle a world of good.)

Now for the good stuff on this mail — over at the New Republic, Douglas Wolk put together a hilarious deconstruction of that bit of lunatic hate prose cast over the land by Celeste and Loren.

From the TNR (second) link:

Keep that in mind, and the message’s apparent errors and inconsistencies start to fall into place. In the seemingly counterfactual, hateful sentence “Obama IS a muslim and he IS a racist and this is a fulfillment of the 911 threat that was just the beginning,” the slashless “911” isn’t a reference to September 11, 2001; it isn’t even slang for “emergency.” It’s a reference to the total number of parallel dimensions. The “Obama” they’re talking about here isn’t, of course, the Christian politician from our world who gave the “A More Perfect Union” speech in March; it’s the alternate-universe version, who is naturally our Obama’s opposite in every way–sort of like Ultraman, the evil Clark Kent of Earth-3. He also comes from a universe in which “Muslims” are some sort of bloodthirsty invaders who support the dimension-resequencing scheme, a bit of meaning-reassigning linguistic play along the lines of Tom Stoppard’s Dogg’s Hamlet.


January 23, 2008

Missing White House email

Filed under: Politics, Technology — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:47 pm

This story has been playing out for a long time now, and I’m still dismayed it hasn’t received more attention.

Essentially, at the end of the day either the Bush 43 administration is supremely incompetent, or it has systematically engaged in cover-up for quasi — or more likely il — legal activities.