Thursday, August 06, 2009

Cybercrime Must Be Dealt With

The risks of depending on any single social networking or microblogging platform were once again revealed by today's Twitter and Facebook outage. These outages also highlighted the need for a national response to DOS and other forms of "Cyber Terrorism."

Unless the government begins "sanctioning" those who conduct these attacks as a matter of national security, they will continue indefinitely. Individuals and organizations who fail to secure their computers and companies who produce insecure computer operating systems and software are complicit in these attacks. Most attacks would be significantly more difficult, if not impossible to conduct, if perpetrators lacked easy access to the tools (bot computers) used to conduct their attacks and the targets themselves were better hardened.

Want to discuss this with me more? I invite you to join me on Plurk ( a microblogging platform similar to Twitter, but with a threaded discussion format many people who have tried it prefer.

Friday, February 29, 2008

New Google Sites Application Misses Mark

After waiting expectantly for the release of Google Sites, the successor to Jotspot, for more than a year, I must confess I'm pretty disappointed in the result. The user interface is clunky and non-intuitive and offers little new in the way of collaborative tools, other than Joomla-esq shared web page editing.

What happened? Google already has a terrific widget enabled web page creation tool. It's called Blogger! Why didn't they use that technology to make dropping various functional elements onto a page easy?

The ability to quickly create an Intranet/Xtranet of four to twenty pages is what most of my SMB clients are looking for. Doing this with SharePoint has always been too developer and infrastructure intensive, leaving us to recommend products like WebOffice (formerly and Blue Tie as web-based collaboration tools.

BlueTie in unique in that it offers unique ways for partners to monetize the solution and generate a unique ongoing revenue stream. In fact, BlueTie was recently recognized as an OnMedia Top 100 Winner.

Google has missed the mark badly with its Google Sites application. It's unfortunate, because it takes the pressure off Microsoft to improve SharePoint's ease of use and Cisco to lower the cost of WebOffice.

Until Google releases a Google Sites application that is significantly easier to use and functional, I will continue to recommend WebOffice, Blue Tie or our own TeamPro application as a Intranet/Xtranet solution.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sprint's $99.00 Cell Phone Plan Trumps AT&T, Verizon & T-Mobile

Sprint's $99.00 Cell Phone Plan Trumps AT&T, Verizon & T-Mobile and ushers in a new era of competition that is destined to reshape personal communication and be huge win for consumers. The average cell phone bill in the U.S. is $55.00. The average home phone bill, with unlimited long distance is about $35.00. It won't take people long to figure out that for $9.00 extra a month, they can have their cake and eat it too!

Those wagering against Sprint's success need to place their bets carefully. Unlike AT&T and Verizon, who have a significant terrestrial (land line) businesses, Sprint has no such liabilities. If AT&T and Verizon decide to continue the price war, they will wind up further cannibalizing their own land line business. All this at a time when they are investing heavily to build out their networks with fiber to compete with the Comcast and other cable companies.

T-Mobile's HotSpot@Home Talk Forever offering is another potential loser in the unlimited use price war. Even with their new $9.99 p/month price point, the limited number of phones and WiFi hotspots that support this service, make it available to only a small minority of cell phone users.

Although it will take some time for us to see the true impact of this "war" on the major cell service providers, including Sprint, the negative fallout for Helio could be much quicker. Helio has based its "success" on providing unlimited data and optional unlimited voice services, delivered via Sprint's network and bundled with unique, high-end devices that are optimized for data (chat/web) functions. They are now faced with the uphill battle of convincing potential customers that their uber-phones make it worth dealing with a boutique vendor, while seeing the margins that subsidize that hardware drop to razr (pun intended) thin levels.

As attractive as the new pricing is, Sprint's new chief executive, Daniel Hesse, still has his work cut out for him. The Nextel merger has been a disaster and due to a hemorrhaging of Sprint/Nextel customers, the company's stock price and balance sheet is in the toilet.

To succeed/survive, Sprint needs to give up on Nextel and focus all their energy into transforming their retailer base into Value Added Resellers (VARs). As long as they continue to sell only the commodity of the connection and subsidized phones, they will have little to differentiate them in the market.

A VAR approach to the market would focus on positioning their new unlimited plan as a home/SMB phone replacement. A great solution to make this possible is the XLink home phone gateway. This device allows you to use your home phone handset(s) with your cell phone's service, to take and make calls using your cell phone number. The VAR strategy also means selling software and training.

Their are literally thousands of software programs for the Palm, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and Web 2.0 platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc, from games and diet management programs to sophisticated medical information applications. Every software program sold to a PDA or smartphone user has the potential to add $5.00 - $150 to the bottom line and unlike cases & chargers, be a recurring source of revenue. Technical training, a $48.7 Billion market, is another potential high profit area. Teaching companies or even individual customers how to use the latest generation of PDAs and smartphones with always-on data services for calendaring, scheduling, project management or even remote access could be a highly lucrative business.

It will be interesting to see how the new unlimited "price war" progresses. One thing is almost certain, the consumer is going to be the ultimate winner!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Comcast's "New" Strategy Lie, Cheat & Deal

Lately, Comcast has been throwing lots of money around to try and convince people that they are the fastest and best value in high-speed Internet service. Although the truth (integrity) of much of the propaganda pushed by their attractive, demographically correct spokes person is questionable, until yesterday I was never compelled to blog about it.

I've been driven closer to writing about this, as I continue to experience "mysterious" performance related problems with my various non Comcast product related high bandwidth activities, such as video conferencing and Vonage.

Despite a number of complaints to Comcast Technical "Support," these problems seem to be getting worse. I find it suspiciously coincidental, that the problems associated with my Vonage VOIP service did not start until Comcast began offering their own "Comcast Voice" product in my area!

So what changed yesterday? Word began to circulate that Comcast had solicited otherwise uninterested people to take up seats at an official FCC public hearing in Boston, resulting in many genuinely interested people and press representatives being turned away! Hundreds of people, many of whom had taken the day off of work to attend and voice their concerns about the importance of an "open" Internet were prevented from entering the hearing, because it was

Since this story broke, Comcast has actually admitted to paying people to fill up seats, in an attempt to "stack the room." You can view the report HERE. One of the paid attendees is on record as saying he was "just getting paid to hold someone's seat" and said he was clueless about the actual purpose of the meeting.

This incident is a blatant example of corporate malfeasance. The FCC should levy a significant punitive fine on Comcast AND hold another Boston hearing. Future hearings, should be held at venues that are large enough to accommodate anticipated crowds. A web-based registration component should be used, with a limit on one ticket per originating IP address.

I encourage you to tell the FCC to stop the large Telecom vendors from blocking Internet traffic that is not tied directly to one of their revenue producing products. Tell the FCC we need Net Neutrality legislation today!