Musings on personal and enterprise technology (of potential interest to professional technoids and others)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

10 Tech Essentials for Emergency Evacuations - eWeek 17dec2007

GPS with live traffic-updates is listed as the very first of these 10 "tech essentials for emergency evacuations"... not merely a convenience to avoid traffic jams during the daily commute :-)

Other interesting items listed here include a cellphone signal booster kit; wind-up radio and phone charger; and portable fuel cell power pack:

  • eWeek digital edition excerpt of "10 Tech Essentials for Emergency Evacuations" :

  • Slideshow, including specific brands that meet the requirements described:
10 Tech Essentials for Emergency Evacuations: "10 Tech Essentials for Emergency Evacuations

When the firestorm erupted in San Diego in October, there was a sickening feeling of déjà vu that descended on local residents. Almost exactly four years ago, similar wind conditions had blown a handful of wildfires into raging torrents of flame, burning..."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

[enhanced search], security among RIM software updates - InfoWorld/Yahoo! News

Some interesting features described below, in upcoming RIM updates to BES and to the device software, including search/retrieve messages on the server (even if no longer on the device)... Of course the speed of retrieval will presumably remain at least as slow as for most users searching their messages e.g. via Outlook from conventional wired computers (presumably neither Google nor Microsoft can enable the Desktop Search speed improvements of pre-indexed email on the blackberry, until some time in the future when blackberry device storage capacity will be able to handle many more GIGABYTES of index data ;-)

Click-to-call, security among RIM software updates - Yahoo! News: "...Enhanced e-mail handling will include several new features. Users will be able to search for and retrieve messages on their enterprise e-mail servers that are no longer stored on their BlackBerries. Also, the devices will be able to render HTML and rich text e-mail messages, including font colors and styles, images, hyperlinks, and other elements. After downloading Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel*** files, users will now be able to edit them on the BlackBerry, thanks to Documents to Go software from DataViz that is being integrated into the mobile platform.

Even within e-mail encrypted with PGP or S/MIME, BlackBerry users will be able to view attachments, according to the company.

RIM also has some good news for enterprises that want to more easily manage and lock down their employees' devices. They will be able to drill down and define which applications on a BlackBerry can access its GPS functionality as well as enable or shut down specific Bluetooth profiles and set how long the device is 'discoverable' using Bluetooth. The less time a phone is discoverable by other Bluetooth devices, the less chance an intruder has to hack it, although this method of breaking into a phone hasn't been widely exploited.

A Web-based device management console is also coming, allowing users to control settings and install software from any Web-connected computer. In addition, administrators will now be able to update users' devices over the air....

RIM expects to ship its BES version 4.1.5 software for IBM Lotus Domino and for Microsoft Exchange by the end of February. They will be free upgrades for customers with BES version 4.1.0 or later, while others can buy the upgrade for $999 or purchase a Technical Support Services contract. The price of the BES for new customers will remain at $3,999 per server with 20 user licenses included.

Version 4.5 of the BlackBerry device software will be required to use many of the end-user features; it will be available in the first half of the year, depending on carrier. It will be a free download from RIM and carrier Web sites. The ability to edit Word and PowerPoint documents will come with version 4.5, but ***Excel editing capability will be in a later release, expected in the latter part of this year."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Pragmatist's Guide to Structuring IT Asset Data, Scott Parkin, eWeek, 2008-01-18

A nice article describing the real-world ILM challenges for IT asset management. The ITSM benefits of of linking the asset's service-incident history to the incident-management system, including hard and soft costs per outage, seem significant. However, this does not seem common among the vast majority of the COTS helpdesk systems I have seen over the years, and certainly not among the Service Management modules of major ERP systems, let alone with integrated continuous auto-discovery/maintenance of all hardware and software assets found on the network... sigh....

Here is a snippet from the full eWeek article :

"... Track initial acquisition costs, including asset purchase, required peripheral or supporting devices, operating system and software (as needed), and service contracts:

Most of this data will come from purchase orders; some will need to be calculated as a pro-rata share of a bulk purchase or license agreement.

For new purchases, update your purchasing process to include calculating and tracking this data in your asset record; for existing assets you will need to create a project to go back and aggregate/calculate this information and add it to your asset records.

Track ongoing maintenance costs, including annual service contracts, upgrade or replacement parts and the costs associated with Service Desk incidents for each device.
Ideally, this information is collected at the time of purchase or service and is immediately attached to the asset's service history record as a function of your established process. You should update your Incident management process to support this, whether you update the asset record manually or through automated technology.
This can be the single most daunting task in the mix; extracting and aggregating historical data for existing assets is a gargantuan task. Many organizations choose to simply start tracking this data as of a specific date and leave existing data unstructured. This is a good method for those organizations that are resource-constrained and willing to wait for highly qualified data.
Identify replacement costs for hardware, software and infrastructure elements. Remember to include both disposal costs for existing assets and install/deployment costs for new assets.
For commodity items such as end-user hardware (desktop, laptop) and software, these costs should be predictable within a range and will tend to be updated once a year as new contracts are negotiated.
For high-impact or high-value items, the cost of purchase may only be a small part of the total costs, and those costs may be difficult to estimate. This data is intended for planning purposes and should be reviewed at the time of planning, so supply a best estimate with supporting documentation to be used as a starting point for further research, not as an authoritative declaration.
The key benefit here is being able to quickly view approximate costs for individual assets, to aggregate that data by department or cost center and to use that data in research and planning efforts...."

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Review: Firefox 3 Beta 1 - session saving vs. losing extensions (InformationWeek)

[Note: Please also see addendum below]

some of the tradeoffs to be aware of, as one plans to get on the Firefox3 upgrade treadmill (specifically, ff3 beta1). The session-saving can be done via (numerous?) extensions even w FF2, however of course it will be nice not to need an extension to do that within ff3:

Review: Firefox 3 Beta 1 -- Packed With New Features And Rock Solid -- Firefox -- InformationWeek: "...If you close the browser while multiple tabs are open, Firefox asks you whether you want to save the tabs, which will re-open next time you open the browser; or just close the browser, in which case next time you start the browser, you'll start with a fresh session.

On the down side, none of my extensions work in Firefox 3. That's not surprising; the first beta of a new version of Firefox usually breaks extensions, and developers revise them to be compatible in the coming months..."

As per
"... Firefox can be made to open using the last session by going to, 'Tools > Options > Main' and setting the 'When Firefox starts' option to: 'Show my windows and tabs from last time'.

I have to say that I can't get this to work in my current Profile, even with all extensions disabled. It does work when using a new Profile though. I'm not sure why that is at present. Anyway, you could try that setting. Using extensions is another option. Here are a couple that can do it:

Tab Mix Plus - Session Manager

mart's site ...could be worse.