I wish you and your family a very happy and prosperous New Year!
2009 promises to be an interesting year on the business and technology fronts and hopefully more businesses will realize that they can save money and/or make money by wisely applying technology to automate processes, exposing internal processes to customers, vendors and partners, facilitating better employee and customer communication and collaboration and though the use of business intelligence tools to make better decisions!
Information security will continue to be a major issue for three reasons:
- Businesses of all size collect more data than ever before and in many cases, give little or no thought to the security of it
- Hackers and thieves increasingly realize the value of information and are aggressively trying to steal it for a variety of malevolent purposes such as corporate espionage and/or identity theft
- There is growing government regulation and consumer concern about information privacy and security, which is a good thing, but can have serious consequences for companies that don’t take security seriously!
I’ll talk about all of these things and more in the New Year, stay tuned!
As someone who has done a fair amount of public speaking gigs, I’m always looking for ways to improve my presentations and found this article full of good information.
I think you will to and woudl appreciate any other tips or feedback!
I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!
As the article states, this flaw is particularly nefarious and dangerous because hackers can deploy infected sites which can compromise the security of your computers(s) n you visit the site, it does not require that you download anything to get infected.
How does this affect you if you don’t visit one of these infected sites? It doesn’t! However, you could easily be duped into visiting an infected site and your system would then be surreptitiously subverted. Even worse is that fact that due to the techniques used in the attack, your anti-virus and anti-spyware software (you DO have anti-virus and anti-spayware software, DON’T YOU?) will neither detect nor clean the infection!
Here’s an example of how you could get infected. You receive an e-mail that looks legitimate, but it’s really a phishing e-mail. It might look like it came from your bank for example, and it urges you to take some action. You act on the request, but are directed to an infected web site which then silently infects your system.
Microsoft has acknowlegded the critical nature of this problem and issued an immediate patch (today). This underscores the urgency, under normal patch release cycles, patches are typically released weekly on Tuesday.
The bottom line is that you need to get this patch, the sooner, the better. If your computer(s) are set up to receive automatic updates from Microsoft and you have a persistent Internet connection, the patch will be applied automatically. If this is not the case, or you’re not sure, you can go to windowsupdate.microsoft.com to get this and any other patches you might need.
If you are not getting your updates automatically, I strongly suggest that you do. The exact method will vary depending on the version of Windows you are using. Visit the Microsoft web site for information on how to configure this feature on your computer.
Is Google preparing to violate #6 (You can make money without doing evil) of their Corporate Philosopy?December 14, 2008
I ran across a disturbing headline on the DrudgeReport today “GOOGLE admits staff will ‘pick and choose search results’…” which got my attention and the underlying article, “Google cranks up the Consensus Engine” from The Register prompted this post.
For years, Google has steadfastly maintained that search results are ranked and selected without the opportunity for prejudice by advanced computer algorithms (software programs for you non-geeks), thus ensuring the best possible search results. In fact, they claimed on the Google News site: “The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program.”
At this point, few would question that Google has the biggest and best index of the billions of web pages out there, and they produce the best search results. I always start searching at Google and probably 99% of the time, find what I was looking for there. And you can be sure that any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert worth his salt will tell you that you must get good rankings in Google if you want your site to be found.
When you couple their huge database and excellent results with the fact that the results are not subject to skewing due to human intervention, you really have the best of all worlds, or so it would seem.
But just this week past week, Google indicated that editorial judgments will play a key role in Google searches. REALLY? So now I can’t be sure that I will get the best results becuase some “editor” can insert his or her personal bias into the results? I find this a truly shocking admission and a very wrong-headed approach.
Google has nearly a total monopoly on web searches and can silently steer tens of millions of people world-wide in any direction they might want. If it’s done based on the relevance of the content in the pages compared to your search terms, great! That’s what you as a searcher want. But it it’s done to intentionally direct seraches to particular content for any other reason, that’s a whole different ballgame!
To give you an idea potential for misdirection and misuse and general trickeration, you need to see the current seach statistics. Based on the most current stats I could find (using Google, ironically), there were nearly 12 billion searches in the month of July in the US alone! Google maintained its leadership in search with 61.9% of these searches while Yahoo got 20.5% and Microsoft was bringing up the rear with 8.9%.
At that at this point, there does not appear to be any indication that anything unethical or biased has been done. But the door to purposely steering searchers based on some type of political predilection or for monetary gain is cracked open and what lies behind it is not good for businesses or consumers. Not mention the chilling effect on intellectual honesty and the ability for any side of an issue to make their position known. This situation is not unlike a librarian purposely excluding items from the card catalog to ensure that only the “right” information is accessed by the patrons.
So I have to ask, what happened to Google’s now famous motto, number six on their corporate philosophy, “You can make money without doing evil”. http://www.google.com/corporate/tenthings.html
Is this evil? Not yet, but it certainly is not good and bears watching by every web user who uses Google to get unbiased search results.
If Google continues down this path, then all Google users MUST be made aware that Google may not be the best source for unbiased results and if all traces of me disappear from Google, you’ll know that rule #6 sadly is no more.
Stay tuned, I plan to follow this story closely and will blog as new information becomes available. In the mean time, if you too find this distubing, spread the word and let Google know that you might take your search business elsewhere.
I’d venture a guess that you didn’t spend time and money (possibly a lot of money) to build your web site for fun. If you want to get the maximum bang for your buck, you not only need to ensure that the site is easy to use and presents a professional appearance, it must be customer-centric!
While you likely have certain goals and objectives for your site, you are unlikely to hit them unless you have clearly defined your audience and then speak to them in their language, which is what customer-centric is all about.
You must craft your site so that it uses the language of your visitors and that your visitors can quickly and easily navigate to get the information they seek. Web users are increasingly sophisticated and less patient than ever. Instant gratification is the word of the day and there is an ever increasing amount of competition on the web. Why not? The barriers to entry are low and customers increasingly turn to the web to find products and services. When was the last time you used a phone book to find a business?
Stop for a second and think about how you use the web. How many pages of search results are you willing to peruse? For most people it’s three or less pages before they either rework their search or try a different search engine. When you find a site that seems to have relevant content, how much time will you spend there if you can’t quickly and easily find the information that you (the customer) want? I’d bet it’s less than a minute.
As you think about your site and it’s message, strive to build a site that gets visitors to the ”sweet spot”, the place where your visitors get what they want and ultimately do what you want (whatever that might be). A customer-centric web site that has a large sweet spot will deliver the maximum ROI for you.
Here’s a nice concise article that with some great tips and links to additional resources on this topic. I encourage you to check it out: Office Hours: Why a customer-first perspective is best for Web content.
Finally, ensure that you implement some kind of web analytics tool (I’ll blog on this the future) to analyze usage patterns which will help you determine how effective the site is and how to tweak the site over time based on usage patterns to continually increase the size of the “sweet spot”. Google Analytics is a powerful tool that is easy to implement, easy to use and best of all FREE. If you don’t currently have any type of web analytics, you are really missing the boat, get Google Analytics now!
OK, this is a tangential topic, but something I talk about all the time. I read this article (below) and it uses Ted’s own words to explain that his success was not based solely on technical skills and vocational knowledge, it also was heavily dependent on wisdom, common sense and soft-skills.
NOTE: I’m not a big Ted Turner fan on several levels but it’s neigh impossible to deny his incredible success and accomplishments.
According to the author, Ted built the foundation of many of these skills in college studying the classics as well as business. While I’m not a psychologist nor a captain of industry like Ted, I believe there is much truth in this article. Too many people, especially in my industry, focus on the technology and technical skill, and lose sight of the fact that for most businesses, technology is an enabler and rightfully should exist primarily to serve the needs and demands of the business.
Successful technologists (or any type of specialist, engineers or accountants for example) understand business and communicate effectively with all stakeholders in an organization as well as with their customers and colleagues. For years, I’ve been telling colleagues, co-workers and students that soft-skills (written and verbal communication, listening, empathy, critical thinking, persuasion, compromise, ethics, etc) are equally if not more important than raw technical knowledge and expertise. And time and time again, I have been proven right by highly competent technical folks who fail miserably because the can’t or won’t employ these soft-skills.
Many people can be trained in relatively short order to perform one or more technical jobs well. Soft-skills can take years to learn, decades to hone and a lifetime to master. Worse, these skills and traits often seem contrary to the personality style of a typical technician. However, I contend that these skills are absolutely invaluable in the increasingly fast-paced, information-centric world of the knowledge worker. They prepare you for success in any endeavor, especially if you have common sense (which seems to be woefully uncommon these days) and if you can fluently translate complex business and technical processes and procedures between the business and technical folks.
Don’t take my word for it, take Ted’s… Read the article, it’s worth your time.
Bring wisdom to task at hand