I’m famous!

Look, ma! I’m in a magazine.

The new issue of Operations Research Management Science (OR/MS) Today is out.  You can read the digital version of the magazine here.  And in it, as promised, on page 28 is my blog, being referenced in the paper on Social Media Analytics authored by Rick Lawrence’s group on Predictive Modeling Business Analytics and Mathematical Science.

Blogging and corporate responsibility

When it comes to blogging, commenting on forums, using Twitter or Facebook and in general engaging in any kind of online social networking, my one rule has been the one of if you wouldn’t want your mother, your significant other (wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend) or your boss to know, don’t say it. Using profanity, discussing a hot coworker, depicting how trashed you got last Saturday night, complaining that you didn’t get a raise or posting pictures of you peeing on the side of your company’s HQ — are all examples of things that, if you know what’s good for you, you probably shouldn’t be doing online.  But if you think about it, the realm of things that you should or should not be discussing openly online could be much broader than that.  Exactly how broad and where the boundaries of this realm lie is very different for every person, with some topics and behaviors falling into a very gray area.  It all becomes even more uncertain when you consider who is impacted, negatively or positively, by your actions.

One of those “gray” areas is criticism.  Criticism for the sake of criticism is, in my book, nothing more than bitching.  But, on one hand, it is very popular and brings readers to your blog and followers to your Twitter.  On the other hand, for a lot of people, it represents the very value of social networking and the wisdom of crowds.  Many of us have come to rely on blogs and customer reviews when making purchasing decisions.  I myself am a strong believer in sharing the negative and positive experiences with products and companies that I encounter.  But is sharing a negative opinion always a responsible thing to do?

When I say that Acme Anvils make the worst anvils in the world and that mine broke after dropping it off a Rocky Canyon cliff and that Acme Anvils’ customer service was rude to me and offered no help and that I would never deal with them again, who am I impacting?  Am I only impacting myself and Acme Anvils?  If the answer is yes, then I am doing a good and responsible thing by sharing and warning others would be Acme Anvils’ customers to stay away.

But what if my company has, perhaps even unbeknown to me, a large contract to provide services to Acme Anvils?  Am I still doing a good thing even though I may be potentially endangering the relationship my company has with Acme?  What if Acme Anvils will find my blog post and will terminate the contract based on how my organization’s managers perceive Acme Anvils?

Do I, as an employee of an organization, have a corporate responsibility to not express my negative opinions about my company’s clients?

The answer to that question becomes even more ambiguous, if you consider future, potential clients.  It is possible that at the time of my post, my company has no relationship with Acme Anvils. However, 6 months later we are competing for a piece of business and we lose the deal because of something I had said on my blog.

On the other side of this question is my employer itself.  As a company, how far do I go to ensure that my employees don’t say bad things about my current clients and target accounts?  And do I have a right to ask an employee to take down a post?

I don’t have all the answers but would be curious to find out what your experience has been.

What do you think?

Winter Olympics = time for my road bike

Winter Olympics XXI are on but I’m not much for winter sports.  I grew up way too far south to ever have any permanent snow or to develop any taste for playing in the cold frozen water.  The sun is out, the roads are clear and dry, it a little cold and windy – but what the hell.  I figured today was a perfect day to get on my road bike for the first time in 2010.  Nothing major, just 10 miles at a leisurely pace with an occasional sprint.  After several months of not riding a road bike, you don’t want to overdo it on the first day out.  It is too easy to try to go out there and to try to push yourself to ride as fast and as hard as you did at the end of last year, but if you’re like me, if you were inactive for several months, you’re just gonna hurt yourself.  I was in no mood for getting hurt, so I took it easy and it felt good.  The speed, the nimbleness of the bike through the turns, the bike answering to bursts of acceleration – it all felt good.  Made me realize how much I did miss it during these cold months.

So, all you folks always criticizing Chicago for its bad weather.  While you dig out from under all that snow that was dumped on you, I was out there riding today.  And riding a road bike, not just a mountain one with big off-road tires.

First GRANITE User Group West Technical Meeting

We have discussed the idea of holding a Technical meeting in the Western Suburbs on the months opposite the Loop meetings. At yesterday’s GRANITE meeting, we decided that PSC will have the pleasure and the honor to host the first of these meetings at its Schaumburg office on Monday, March 15th from 3pm – 7pm.  Our office is on the 5th floor in suite 500.  (Google Maps link is here.)

We also decided that the main topic of these meetings will be XPages. Specifically, Mike McGarel and Roy Rumaner will be starting everyone off on how to build an XPage application. Where do you start, what do you need to know and how does it work with an existing Notes application.

They are going to use Declan Lynch’s excellent 54 step tutorial as the focus of this project. At the first meeting we will be walking everyone through the first ten steps (more if time permits) in his tutorial. We will then ask everyone to do the next ten on their own before the next meeting.

If you want to start reading through the tutorial before the meeting, it can be found at http://www.qtzar.com/blogs/qtzar.nsf/htdocs/LearningXPages.htm

Please let us know if you are interested in this idea and if you are going to attend this meeting. If you have any other topic ideas, we are also open to hearing them.

We would like to get a count of how many people will be attending.  That will determine which room we will use for the meeting.  Roy started a thread on LinkedIn.  Please respond there or on our blogs.

Abbott lays off all of its Lotus developers

A couple of weeks ago Abbott Laboratories in Chicago let go all of its Lotus Notes developers.  Interestingly enough, they kept, at least for now, all of the contractors.

This may be a cost cutting measure.  But it sounds like another company making a strategic decision about the future of their Lotus Notes development efforts.  Sure, it will take some time to move existing Notes apps to SharePoint or some other technology.  And, sure, some apps may always remain in Notes.  But those apps will be in support and maintenance mode, with new development being shifted into some other technology, SharePoint being the most obvious suspect here.

In the mean time, there are a few more unemployed Lotus Notes developers walking around Chicago.

Census 2010 – a few thoughts

The government moves in mysterious ways and our government, perhaps, even more mysterious than others.

If you’re like me, you probably just finished watching Super Bowl XLIV.  I watched it in bits and pieces during a gathering at a friends’ place but, for some reason, one ad that captured my attention was the one for Census 2010.  The ad ended with a URL http://2010census.gov.  It also mentioned Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and every other vastly popular social network and I’m all about that, so I just had to check it out.

The census website looks pretty cool.  It gets extra props from me for featuring a snapshot of Chicago on the home page.  Now, if you’re thinking of getting a jumpstart on getting your census form and filling it out online now, you’ll be disappointed — you can’t do it.  In fact, even after April 1st, the National Census Day, you will NOT be able to complete your form online at all.  Not this time.  According to the site, the Census Bureau is “experimenting with Internet response for the future”.  Experimenting?  For the future?  Furthermore, the census form is not even available as a PDF to be printed off the web.  And before you will receive your form, first, you will receive a few days’ notice with a letter from the Census Bureau Director.

The website goes on to say: “Earlier in the decade, we researched an Internet option for 2010 and found that it:

  • Didn’t provide enough protection for individual census responses
  • Didn’t increase the percentage of people who responded
  • Didn’t save money”

“Earlier in the decade”?!  This research was conducted in 2000.  You would think that in 2009, as the Census Bureau was getting ready for Census 2010, someone, perhaps even the newly appointed US Government CTO, would’ve pointed out that in 9 years the world of technology and the Internet has progressed so far that research results from 2000 are no longer valid.  Apparently, the Census Bureau and statistics don’t always go hand-in-hand.  Otherwise, the Bureau would’ve known how much broadband has changed the Internet landscape of America; how many more homes now have Internet service vs. the numbers from 2000; how many purchases and other transactions are being conducted over the web; how many wi-fi enabled Internet connected mobile devices are out there.  Instead, the Census Bureau is promising to conduct another research in 2010 with results to be applied to Census 2020.  Scary!

If you think about all the paper, the printing costs, the mailing costs, the costs of humans sorting through all the returned forms — having a simple online form would it make it all so much more cost effective.  Oh well, not this time.  I can follow the Census Bureau on Twitter using my BlackBerry, but I can’t use the same BlackBerry to tell the Bureau how many people live in my house.  I use the Internet on a regular basis to submit information much more important and sensitive than whether I own my home and my “race”.  I, for one, would have no qualms over completing my Census form online.  What about you?

The census web site is very adamant about the fact that your census information is protected.  It says that “By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with anyone, including the IRS, FBI, CIA or any other government agency.”  The Census form itself is only 10 questions.  The questions all appear rather innocuous.  It is not clear to me how the CIA, for example, would benefit from knowing that I own my home and that there are 4 people living in it.  On the other hand, if you’re on the terror watch list or on the FBI’s most wanted list and you participate in the census, I WANT that information and your address to be made available to the proper authorities.

It seems sadly ironic yet sadly appropriate that the National Census Day falls on April Fool’s Day.

If you have any insight into this, I would love for you to share it.

Lotusphere Comes To You dates are announced

IBM has posted dates for LCTY events.  More information is here.

Chicago happens to be the first city on schedule for North America.  The Chicago event is on March 11th.

Lotusphere 2010 had a great deal of interesting information on LotusLive, Project Vulcan and overall future plans for the Lotus product line up.  If you didn’t make it to Orlando this year, spending a day at a local LCTY event is going to be well worth your time.  And did I mention? There will be food.