Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ray Ozzie - Dawn of a New Day

Back on June 15, 2006, Ray Ozzie took over the role of Microsoft Chief Software Architect from Bill Gates. In that role Ozzie has been responsible for oversight of the company’s overall technical strategy and product architecture pretty much behind the scenes, letting Steve Balmer handle much of the public face of the company. Ray's been an innovator in the computing industry for the past 35 years or so and probably best know for his role in the development of Lotus Notes.

He's in the process of transitioning out of Microsoft over the next few months and yesterday published a pretty significant memo to his Executive Staff and direct reports at Microsoft on his blog at ozzie.net. He titled the memo Dawn of a New Day. It's a must read - I bet I've read it at least 20 times over the course of today. I'll be reading it lots more. My favorite piece:

.... the power and responsibility to truly effect transformation exists in no small part at the edge. Within those who, led or inspired, feel personally and collectively motivated to make; to act; to do.

We get down on ourselves, the economy, politics, the day-to-day grind that just seems to come at us from all directions. Love Microsoft, hate Microsoft - it doesn't matter - give Ray's post a read - you'll end up reading it over and over again. You can find it linked here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mobile Broadband Spectrum Demand

The Federal Communication Commission has released a really interesting report titled Mobile Broadband: The Benefits of Additional Spectrum. The report takes a detailed look at the the current use, growth and need for new wireless broadband spectrum and also estimates the value created by making new spectrum available. Here's some background:

The National Broadband Plan has recommended that the FCC make available 500 megahertz (MHz) of new spectrum available for wireless broadband, including 300 MHz for mobile flexible use within five years. In addition, back on June 28, 2010, President Obama directed in an Executive Memorandum that 500 MHz of new spectrum be made available for mobile and fixed broadband use. The report is an attempt to make some predictions and justify the need for additional spectrum using estimates of various factors affecting aggregate mobile network capacity and mobile data growth. Here's some highlights:

  • Mobile data demand will outstrip available wireless capacity in the near-term
  • Mobile data demand is expected to grow between 25 and 50 times current levels within 5 years.
  • Analysis suggests that the broadband spectrum deficit is likely to approach 300 MHz by 2014.
  • Making available additional spectrum for mobile broadband would create value in excess of $100B in the next five years through avoidance of unnecessary costs.
  • Making new spectrum available has historically taken between six and thirteen years
The report claims the $100B estimate of value creation is narrow, as it does not account for the broader social value created through mobile broadband, which some economists estimate as multiples of the private value. Here's some interesting data on how we are using current services and devices:
  • 42% of consumers are estimated to own a smartphone, up from 16% three years ago.
  • PC aircard users consume 1.4 gigabytes (GB) per month -- 56 times the amount of data used by a regular cell phone.
  • AT&T, the exclusive US carrier of the iPhone, has seen mobile network traffic increase 5,000% over past 3 years.
  • Users of Clearwire’s fourth generation (4G) WiMAX service consume 7 GB per month -- 280 times the amount of data used by a regular cell phone.
I like to think of broadband the way I think of garage space - you can never have too much. Be sure to check out the full FCC report linked here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

EMarketer Report: Corporate Blogging Goes Mainstream

I get asked a lot about blogging - especially by academic people. Typical questions/comments are usually along the lines of:

  • Is it worth the time?
  • I started a blog and wrote a few posts but nobody looked at it.
  • I'm not sure what to write about.
  • What's the value?
  • What's the return on investment of the time it takes to post?
  • Do you think other apps like Twitter and Facebook have replaced blogs?
  • Is blogging dead?
I've found my blog to be one of our NSF ICT Center's most effective dissemination and marketing tools but still have a hard time answering these kinds of questions.

eMarketer just made it a little easier with a new report titled Corporate Blogging Goes Mainstream. I have not seen the full report but was able to pull some interesting information out of the report press release:
  • Blogging has grown into a vital marketing tool for all types of companies, including Fortune 500 marketers and mom-and-pop retailers.
  • 34% of US companies will use a blog for marketing purposes this year, a proportion that will continue to grow to 43% by 2012.
  • While blogging still tends not to rate such high usage as newer forms of social media like Facebook and Twitter, it still has many strengths, including full control over branding and advertising, integration with all corporate web properties, no limits on post length and the existence of a full, easily searchable repository of information. And studies have noted blogging’s usefulness for lead generation.
  • By October 2009, according to a Cision-led study, nearly two-thirds of US journalists reported they used blogs to publish, promote and distribute what they wrote. And according to PRWeek and PR Newswire, about a third of journalists used corporate blogs as research sources in 2010, up from a quarter last year.
Here's an interesting graphic from the eMarketer report showing the growth in marketing blogs from U.S. companies.

Blogging is not going away - it is just going mainstream. Looking to market your business, academic program or establish yourself as a subject matter expert? Don't forget about the blog.

Be sure to check out the eMarketer report press release.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Paper City Goes Green High Performance Computing - Holyoke, MA

I've been swamped with proposal work - the end of this week is a a major National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education submission deadline - and have not had a chance to write about the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center groundbreaking in Holyoke, MA held on October 5.

I've written about this project in the past - the idea was launched over a year ago by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Massachusetts, Harvard University, Boston University, and Northeastern University. Each school kicked in $10 million and Massachusetts kicked in $25 million from a state fund that provides money to improve roads and other public works to support economic development. At the groundbreaking both Cisco and EMC announced $2.5 million contributions to the project for a total of $80 million committed.

I've been fortunate to have been involved with the planning process (on a technician / workforce / education / economic development level) and it's been interesting to watch the process and progress of the center. Some said it would never happen but - the ground was broken a couple of weeks ago so...... it's happening!

The center has the potential to turn around the first industrially designed city in the U.S. Holyoke was built around a series of man-made canals extending from the Connecticut River that were designed to provide water power to run paper mills. Holyoke once had so many paper mills it's nickname was (and still is) "Paper City". Most of those mills shut down years ago but now - new life for an old New England mill town.

Governor Deval Patrick
missed the ground breaking because he was out on Cape Cod, attending the funeral of PFC Clinton E. Springer II who had died in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 24.

The Governor did come to Holyoke after the funeral though and got the chance to attend a Town Meeting following the groundbreaking. We had John Reynolds there with his camera and he got some great video of the Holyoke Mayor Elaine A. Pluta and Governor Patrick.

I don't think I've ever been this excited about a technical project - computers, networks, high-performance research including microbiology, genetics, chemistry, physics..... all performed in a green environmentally friendly way. The economic development potential and the kinds of companies and people the center will attract are potentially huge. It will be very interesting to watch. Pretty cool stuff!

To see more pictures, here's a link to my October 5 event Flickr photo set.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

SharePoint As An Academic Learning Management System (LMS)?

Over the weekend I had an interesting email exchange with a business owner who runs one of the larger IT companies in Western Massachusetts. He's looking to hire some student interns from our college with Microsoft SharePoint experience. I've been a SharePoint fan for a while now and currently use it as a collaboration/file sharing/communications/etc tool for a national economic development project managed by the American Association of Community Colleges.

I got to thinking after that email exchange - with some added pieces (including a FERPA compliant gradebook), SharePoint has the potential to be a pretty nice Learning Management System (LMS). A few minutes and a quick web search later I found it is already being done by companies like SharePointLMS.

I'm not an LMS design expert but I do use one almost every day. I am sure there are shortcomings using applications like SharePoint as an LMS but - there are strengths and weaknesses with any software based application including the current crop of academic LMS's.

It makes sense to take a look at products like SharePoint and their classroom potential. The more real-world skills and experience our students graduate with the better when it comes to getting that first job.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why Broadband Service Is So Poor In The U.S.

In an October 4, 2010 editorial titled Why Broadband Service in the U.S. Is So Awful And one step that could change it, Scientific American discusses the poor condition of U.S. broadband service when compared to much of the rest of the world. Here’s a couple of key points (we’re all way too familiar with) from the piece:

  • The U.S. came in dead last in a recent study that compared how quickly 40 countries and regions have been progressing toward a knowledge-based economy over the past 10 years.
  • A decade ago the U.S. ranked at or near the top of most studies of broadband price and performance.
From the top of the list to the bottom – what happened in the last 10 years? Scientific American traces the start of our problems back to 2002 when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reclassified broadband Internet service as an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service.” This reclassification allowed infrastructure owners (essentially telco and cable companies) to keep their infrastructure private (some would say monopolize), stifling competition.

How are places like Japan and Korea different? Countries that are beating the pants off us require infrastructure companies to wholesale access to independent providers. This means consumers in these countries have many options from companies competing on price and service. Simply said, broadband competition is good but unfortunately, we don’t have it.

Can we fix it? The Scientific American editorial also discusses the net neutrality debate. Here’s another piece:

A separate debate—over net neutrality, the principle that Internet providers must treat all data equally regardless of their origin or content—has put the broadband crisis back in the spotlight. Earlier this year a federal appeals court struck down the FCC’s plan to enforce net neutrality, saying that because the FCC classified the Internet as an information service, it does not have any more authority to ensure that Internet providers treat all content equally than it does to ensure that CNN treats all political arguments equally.

In response, the FCC announced its intention to reclassify broadband Internet as a telecommunications service. The move would give the FCC power to enforce net neutrality as well as open broadband lines up to third-party competition, enabling free markets to deliver better service for less money.
Sounds great but…. current FCC chair Genachowski has said that although he regards the Internet as a telecommunications service, he does not want to bring in third-party competition. The Scientific American editorial speculates this move may have been intended to avoid criticism from policy makers, both Republican and Democrat, who have aligned themselves with large Internet providers such as AT&T and Comcast that stand to suffer when their local monopolies are broken.

The Scientific American editorial is an excellent read along with the growing number of reader comments. Check it out.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Verizon Wireless - 4G LTE In 38 Major Metropolitan Areas By The End Of The Year

Yesterday, at the CTIA Enterprise & Applications™ 2010 conference, Verizon Wireless president and chief operating officer Lowell McAdam reviewed the companies launch plans for 4G LTE in 38 major metropolitan areas along with about 60 commercial airports in the U.S. The company has a nice coverage map, shown and linked here.

According to a Verizon Wireless press release, expect 4G LTE average data rates to be 5 to 12 megabits per second (Mbps) on the downlink and 2 to 5 Mbps on the uplink in real-world, loaded network environments.

As an educator, this piece of the press release really excites me: In addition to the 38 major metropolitan areas, Verizon Wireless is launching its 4G LTE network in West Lafayette, Ind., home of Purdue University. The public university is using several innovative software applications on Verizon Wireless’ 3G network that improve student engagement and success, and Verizon Wireless is working with Purdue to explore the next phase of how 4G LTE technology can improve e-learning across the nation.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Google TV Minisite Launches

Google has launched their Google TV minisite and it looks pretty slick - especially when you take a look at (and think about) the apps potential. Matt Burns has an excellent post over at CrunchGear on the launch. Here's a nice list of what he's found so far:

  • Apps are going to be a key feature and will include Pandora, Chrome, Twitter, Amazon, Android Gallery, and “starting early next year,” apps from the Android Market.
  • Major TV networks such as HBO, TNT, TBS, CNN will have some sort of swanky video portal. This could possible be the device’s killer function.
  • Fling, play audio or video on your phone on Google TV “with the press of the button.”
  • YouTube is properly formated for a larger screen. Possibly a version of Leanback.
  • You’ll be able to browse the web — or use apps — while watching TV. Think picture-in-picture.
  • Google TV doesn’t launch to live content, but rather a customizable homepage with shortcuts.
  • Google Queue: A DVR for the web. Build a list of websites, video podcasts, YouTube videos and watch them later — okay….
  • “Over-the-air updates” Really? As opposed to updates via the constant Internet connection?
Here's a short Apps for Google TV video.

Love the Google TV line Your smartphone has apps. Now your TV does too.

The 10 Best IT Certifications Podcast

Over the weekend, Mike Q and I recorded a podcast discussing Erik Eckel's 10 Best IT Certifications for 2010 post along with Mike's recent blog posts on IT certifications. You can listen to the 35 minute podcast in your browser by clicking the play button below:

If you have iTunes installed you can subscribe to our podcasts by clicking here.