Thursday Jan 21, 2010

A fitting farewell...

With all due credit to James Gosling...

[Read More]

Wednesday Jan 20, 2010

Anticipation

Ever feel like something exciting is just around the corner,  yet sad about the changes as well? I lived in the UK for 3 years while working for IBM, and made some great friends there. At the end of my time I was SO excited to be coming back to SF, yet so reluctant to leave my friends. Not too different from my current feelings, and that of many of my colleagues.

Monday Aug 31, 2009

Not to bury, but to praise

Sun got a lot right

[Read More]

Wednesday Jul 09, 2008

Re-orgs redux

Does re-organization really address the root cause business issues, or mask them for some number of months?

[Read More]

Wednesday Aug 29, 2007

How valuable is information?

There's a lot of discussion about sharing information, and some of it focuses on how to measure the value of the information. This is a vital question, because it costs time and money to improve how we share information. If you can show a value, it can justify the expense.

There are numerous ways you can measure this value, and it actually varies depending on the information being shared and the purpose the users have for it. If the information is seen that may be considered valuable, or if it's downloaded, or if it's actually reused. Likewise the feedback from users - a rating of the value, or even an estimate of the time they saved, can be used to measure value.

 My aim was to create a single value indicator, from a combination of factors, with as little extra effort as possible. Display the value to potential future users, to help them decide which information they want to look at. Let them see the details if they want, so that they can determine whether the factors which contributed to this indicator are significant to them.

The result was published as a research disclosure - my understanding is that rather than go to the expense of filing for a patent, by filing such a disclosure we protect the ideas that we created.

Thursday Aug 23, 2007

SUNW = JAVA; What's in a name?

When I first heard this I was shocked and disappointed.

Shocked because, as a Sun employee, I thought we deserved a heads-up
before it was public (still waiting for an update on why that did not
happen)

Disappointed because I felt it was sending a message to lots of
loyal Sun employees that "the hard work you have done to make Sun
relevant in the marketplace has not been enough, and we need to change
stock symbols so that people can find us"

Having read the earlier comments, I now feel OK - the company is
still Sun.

How many people "discovered" Sun because its stock symbol
was SunW = 0.

How many MIGHT discover us because of the linkage with
JAVA = >0. That's enough for me. Don't get the company's name and
reputation mixed up with the stock symbol - that's a mistake I was
making, and now I'm over it.

Tuesday Aug 21, 2007

Something old vs. something new?

Today I am reminded how hard it is to communicate, and how much work there is in supporting communities. We are working on improving the support for several of our technical communities at Sun, and yet we are struggling with how best to communicate and collaborate within our own team.

Combined with that is the challenge to prioritize between bringing improved functionality (aka web 2.0) vs. addressing the "boring" old issues our users face every day - how do we help them do what they are doing today, while trying to also show them new ways which will some day be more useful?

 My concern is that it is very easy to see how much new exciting technology is out there, while losing sight of the users' everyday concerns. It's a version of the old "win the battle, lose the war" - we can successfully deploy new stuff which gets ignored or rejected because there is no obvious relationship to the old problems.

Maybe this will all look better after some lunch...


 

Wednesday Aug 01, 2007

CEpedia OneStop CE 2.0 - what's this all about?

There are @3200 CEpedia users, @2500 OneStop users and many of them (you?) want to know what's happening with those 2 systems and what is CE 2.0.

Right about now most non-Sun employees may have tuned out, but just bear with me for a moment here and it might be worth your while (and if it isn't, what a wonderful opportunity to flame me, or whatever the current term is!)

Basically CEpedia and OneStop are 2 different systems we use at Sun to try and improve the information sharing within our customer-facing technical community. There's alot of information in most of their heads and/or laptops, and we are constantly trying to help them share it with each other so that our customers benefit - better answers to their questions such as "how would I..." or "have you ever...?"

OneStop today is a typical website - a collection of html pages which are editable by their owners. Terrific content because of the passion and knowledge of their owners.author, but sometimes a little out of date because those authors are either busy solving customer challenges or else working on new Sun products/services/solutions.

CEpedia is a wiki we established a year ago to support our Customer Engineers (CEs) - kind of like Wikipedia (do i need a tm here?) for CEs. It has the advantage of wikis - easy to update by anyone who can access, so it can be kept very much up to date.

Now if I haven't lost the non-Sun audience, here's where I think it gets more interesting. Our plan is to:
  • merge OneStop and CEpedia into a wiki with access control so that not just anyone can edit everything (after all, you wouldn't want me to be updating anything remotely approaching technical content - trust me on this), but updates are easier and therefore more frequent.
  • We also want to host this outside of our intranet so that initially our partners can also have access, including update capability where appropriate. Over time we would like to share as much as possible of this information with everyone, but that will take more "cleansing" of what information should be public knowledge and what needs to be restricted
  • Additionally, we are introducing various Web 2.0 concepts - tagging, RSS / Atom aggregation, AJAX, voting/comments to drive search results, etc. so that we obtain the benefits of this more participatory technology (aka the Wisdom of Crowds) at the same time as understanding how to leverage this technology better for our customers.
This future vision we are calling CE 2.0 - basically a Web2.0 experience for our CEs, partners, eventually customers, developers and others. Stay tuned.

Friday Jul 20, 2007

deleting links in Open Office

I found this handy set of tips in this blog:

OpenOffice automatically detects Links in copied text

Deleting or removing links is not very obvious. Here are two solutions to this.

1) Click with the right mouse button, choose Character from the context menu. Select the tab Hyperlink and delete the URL.

2) Select the hyperlink text and open the menu Format then choose Default. All formats including the hyperlink are deleted.


Friday Jul 13, 2007

Web 3.0 - syndication and aggregation

I have described elsewhere the problem I see with the participatory web, aka web 2.0 - there are too many different ways to put information into it, resulting in the sharing of that information being fragmented across the users of the various sites - del.icio.us, flickr, youtube, facebook, myspace, ning, digg, etc.

One possible workaround to this problem is what I am using right now to write this - scribefire. It enables me to publish this rant to as many blogs as I care to tell it about - i.e., syndication. So I can reach the readers of my blogspot and my blogs.sun.com entries with the same info.

The reverse (or corollary?) of this is aggregation - collect information from various sites and deliver them to the user - so far this still feels like too much content coming at me from these many sources to be able to assimilate in the few hours a day I have to spare.

This still leaves the problem of proliferation of content, but perhaps that gets solved in web 6.0...

Thursday Jun 14, 2007

If you don't get RSS (or WIKI) yet

If you haven't quite grokked RSS or ATOM feeds yet, and I have to admit that I am still wrestling with the concept, there's a superb (I don't use this word lightly!) video that is short, sweet, engaging, comprehensible - can you tell I like it? RSS in Plain English.

At the risk of using material for a future blog entry, the same folks also did Wikis in Plain English - same comments as above apply

Thursday May 03, 2007

Web 2.0 - the rest of the story

If you saw this story in today's SF Chronicle, or in Linda Skrocki's blog, you will have seen the problems DIGG got into when it tried to censor something its users didn't want censored. Without getting into the discussion of DRM (digital rights management) and whether you agree with the recording industry being able to protect their content (a TOTALLY different topic, with lots of passionate opinions), I think this story shows something broader about Web 2.0 - what do you do when (or if) the crowd is not "right" or "wise"?

This has come up elsewhere in discussions of MediaWiki and how anyone can put erroneous information out there, and until now I had always bought the argument that the erroneous information would get quickly corrected by "the crowd" and therefore little harm done. But this incident points out, what if alot of people want to put out information "we" (whoever "we" are) don't want them to? You remove one reference, they add another. What if there are more of "them" then there are of us?

I guess it's just an extension of free speech, but the implications are vast. Because of the reach of the internet, a determined bunch of people can reach alot of folks with information we may not want them to have - such as how to build IEDs to blow up more people? (Probably already out there somewhere, but hopefully not easily found today?)

This free, unfettered access to the digital world may have some very mixed blessings... 

 

Wednesday Mar 21, 2007

The Wisdom of Clouds

Am I the only one who doesn't "get" tag clouds?

I understand that they can be used to represent the tags users have provided for various information, and that they show larger/smaller font based on the frequency of individual tags being used. Because of this, I can get hints as to which tags have been found to be useful by more people. 

I also understand that there are many different sites or apps which support tag clouds - technorati, del.icio.us, flickr, etc. 

What I don't get is how "we" - the creators of the new, full-participation web which has lots of names - are going to leverage multiple different sets of tag clouds, as well as search technology and browsing capability, to help "us" - the users of the new, full-participation web - to store and find things more easily.

But that's probably just me being me - I'm sure you get it! 

 

Tuesday Mar 20, 2007

Blog's worth, how much is your blog worth?

I am reminded of a song that was popular in the UK in the early 80's when I worked there for IBM - it went something like "job's worth, job's worth, it's more than my job's worth..."  The sense was that whatever you are asking me to do is so onerous that it's more than my job's worth to do it, i.e., I'll quit first.

 Anyway, after that trip down memory lane, I saw an interesting link from the Sun Global Systems Engineering (GSE) divas blog (they are two job-sharing communications folks for that part of the organization). It takes you to a technorati routine which calculates how much your blog is worth based on the links to it. So I will try here to paste this information in for my blog, and you will be able to tell just how technical (or not) I am. Here goes...



My blog is worth $2,822.70.
How much is your blog worth?

Friday Mar 02, 2007

Deleting links in Open Office

I love Open Office (actually StarOffice, since I work for Sun, but same thing) - I really do! It does 99% of what I would want M$ Office to do, and of course costs nothing. That nasty 1% sometimes can be frustrating, though. Deleting hyperlinks is one of those. It seemed to me that once upon a time I found an actual option to remove hyperlink, but I'm d\*\*ned if I can find it now. And there is no reference to it in help text.

So what did I do? I googled! What an inspiration - and found a blog with some neat pointers that solved my problem (plus some grumbling about the dreadful UI, and poor help text - oh well). I am creating this blog entry so that I can find the info again the next time I have this problem, and so you can too!

 

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