Monday, December 21, 2015

About Cloud Storage

What do you know about Cloud Storage? Everyone is talking about it, some people are using it, some aren't sure if they are, and as with any major shift in technology or computing, there's a lot of folklore and wives tales swirling around the concept. So let's talk about it straight.

Straight Talk

The questions on everyone's lips are, "Is it safe to use cloud storage," and "how will this change what I do when I save documents and media files," and "which cloud storage choice is best for me?"

In the first place, when we talk about cloud storage, we're actually talking about a place in some company's data center where your data resides. This is in contrast to your own hard drive in your own safe, secure home computer or home office.

But is it safe? Cloud storage seems to put your data out of your reach, and in someone else's control. How can that be good? On the other hand, just how safe is your data on a hard drive at home? Let's tell the truth about that first.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Email Has Failed Us - What To Do Now?

It's been a long time for most of us since email was something other than a depressing form of slavery in our work and social lives.

Either we receive too much unsolicited and irrelevant email for us to find the useful messages, or we chain ourselves to an hour or more each day answering correspondence just to keep the pile from growing out of hand.

From the other side, it's also become common for us to send a carefully crafted message to someone and discover that they have only scanned it briefly, or that they've never even seen it in the blizzard of messages they receive. And heaven help us if they are trying to manage both work and personal email accounts separately.

I used to teach a micro-class in productivity that addressed some of this and offered tactics to keep the email pile to a manageable level. (Okay, I still teach the class, but I think the focus will begin to change.) We can talk all day about tactics, and maybe even adopt some of them as habits, but the root cause will not disappear.

There is good news however!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Google Contacts Beta

Dear Google Friends,

The new Contact interface is terrible. Please understand that I'm a strong advocate for Google - some would call me a fanboy. I really want Google to succeed and to demonstrate that a corporation can grow large and successful without turning to evil. rolodex

BUT -- the new contacts subsystem is terrible. It's sluggish, it's inconvenient, it's often inexplicable, and it's absolutely NOT an improvement on the very functional and completely satisfactory predecessor that was once integrated with Gmail.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Gamification - We're Not Playing Here

In retrospect I'm not sure why, but I kind of expected a bit more from this article at ELearning Industry -- Gamification Benefits in Workplace Training"

The title drew me in. I was hoping that it would offer some lucid and effective arguments to the instinctive (and sometimes subconscious) resistance to gamification in corporate learning system design.

Instead, the article's primary thesis seemed to be, "people play games anyway, so just give in -- and besides, it's fun!"

This really misses the point.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How You Manage Passwords

Okay now, tell the truth.

With all the passwords you have to manage just to do your job and stay in touch with friends and family, you cannot possibly have a separate password for every account you manage, can you?

Some systems want you to have the password be a certain length, some want you to use at least one digit and one special character, (but it can only be from a certain subset of acceptable characters,) and some insist that you change the password on a periodic basis.

So you do what almost all the rest of us do. You use a standard personal password for most of your trivial accounts (like the Hilton Honors program and the Starbucks rewards program and your local gardening community forum site), and something special and (hopefully) secure for your online banking or your important social media accounts. But even with that strategy,  it's unlikely that you can keep all those passwords in your memory. So you write it down somewhere, don't you?!

Yes you do! Even the more progressive companies that require you to maintain credentials are beginning to acknowledge this age-old fact. No security system is stronger than the Post-It™Note.

So what are your alternatives? There are two. We'll talk about one today because it's something that's completely within your control

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

P@$$w@rdS Must Die!

...okay look here.

Every one of us wrestles daily with the problem of both protecting our online assets, and reliably gaining access to them. It's crazy, and as Cloud Computing comes into its own for mainstream use, the problem is going to just get more unmanageable.

Let's talk about passwords a little bit, and maybe we can agree on what's reasonable for the future.

When individual computers used to be a Big Damned Deal, we could rely on some primitive measures to protect them. First, there were only a few people who knew what to do with them, and then they had the only boot disks, so the machine couldn't even start unless they were there.

It's sort of appalling that entire offices actually did meaningful business with one or two "IBM compatible" computers in them, and with these marginally trained jealous harridans to guard them.

But then something happened to change everything...

Monday, April 13, 2015

Why We So Afraid of that Cloud?

You'll hear a lot of folks flinging the term around today, some as an epithet, others as a panacea. Cloud computing, or simply The Cloud has come to mean a lot of different things to different people and industries.

Some will tell you that it's a magic elixir that opens a new age of computing and business solutions and makes things possible that never were before. Others will tell you that it's a dangerous trend and that it cedes control of our corporate and cultural data assets to a faceless service provider determined to dissolve our privacy and likely to compromise our proprietary knowledge.

Neither is completely true and we'll see a shift begin from dominance by the latter myth to dominance by the former. If the two camps were tasked with carving up Grandma's best pie, the anti-cloud forces would by far take away most of the delicious calories.

From my observations, and given my opinions about what's possible with The Cloud, it seems that perhaps the division should be canted slightly in the other direction.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Do You Know or Do You Understand

You've been fooled. We have ALL been fooled.

We were brought up in an education model that prizes knowing things.

If you proved in school that you know a thing, you got a gold star.

If you faced a list of ten things and proved that you knew 9 out of 10, we gave you a score and told you that it was good. We told you that if you knew fewer than 7 of the 10 things, you had failed.

The details, and the levels may vary, but don't get wrapped up in fascination about the margin of variance. The principle is, we taught you that knowing stuff was good and not knowing stuff was bad. We taught you that knowing more things made you better, and knowing fewer things made you less valuable.

We created a relationship to knowledge in our culture that prized knowing things as the gold standard, sometimes at the expense of understanding. Certainly, although we have sufficient means to measure understanding of a knowledge domain, we've failed to use those tools consistently, and we definitely missed the opportunity to place the emphasis there.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Location Aware

...some long time ago, I wrote a bit about location aware services but things have changed a lot since then. Gowall has gone-alla, and Foursquare has morphed into Swarm with Foursquare behind it. Instagram, Facebook, Yelp! and Twitter all have strong location-aware tie-ins now, and the game is really just now heating up in the US and abroad.

The importance of this increases as more activity among millennials and Gen-Y flows away from desktops and onto mobile devices. More and more the marketplace is saying, "if you want to talk to us, you need to come out here where we are."