Friday, April 23, 2010

Linux for Serious computing

For those of us that are still wondering if open source has a role for mission critical application, the business site Focus has put together an impressive collection of examples.

It was not long ago when Microsoft Windows had a tight stranglehold on the operating system market. Walk into a Circuit City or Staples, it seemed, and virtually any computer you took home would be running the most current flavor of Windows. Ditto for computers ordered direct from a manufacturer. In the last decade, though, the operating system market has begun to change. Slightly more than 5% of all computers now run Mac, according to Linux is hovering just beneath 1% of the overall market share in operating systems. And although that might sound like a small number, Linux is far more than just a fringe OS. In fact, it's running in quite a few more places than you probably suspect. Below are fifty places Linux is running today in place of Windows or Mac. For easy reading, they are divided amongst government, home, business, and educational usage.

For full article go to 50 Places Linux is Running That You Might Not Expect

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

GSM Calls cracked with $1500 and OS Software

In news that should concern any Government Agency or business person darkreading has published news of a planned presentation on just how easy and cheap it is to crack GSM phone calls with current technology. GSM is an encryption that 80% of mobile phone companies relies on to keep conversations secure. Maybe that was appropriate when the standard was adopted, but increased computer power and algorithm development has overturned that view.

Researchers Prepare Practical Demonstration Of GSM Encryption Cracking Technology - wireless security/Security - DarkReading
"GSM has been considered insecure for some years -- however, it is a huge development that the theoretical attack on the GSM encryption cipher is now a reality," says Stuart Quick, operations manager at Henderson Risk Ltd., a London-based security and risk management services firm. "There is now a very real and imminent threat that GSM voice communications will be compromised, and users must start to consider how they can increase the security of their valuable/commercially sensitive calls they make."

The demonstration could also cause some companies to consider separate encryption of cell phone calls, according to one vendor that offers such technology. "Our research shows that 79 percent of organizations discuss confidential or sensitive information at least weekly on mobile phones," says Simon Bransfield-Garth, CEO Cellcrypt Ltd. "The news that GSM has been cracked will be very worrying for anybody who discusses valuable or confidential information over their mobile phone."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Twitter guidelines Template Shared by UK

The US Marines have just announced the banning of Social media tools over their network. That is one strategy, but problematic where users are not isolated on overseas posts. Organisations and Government Agencies generally have to come to terms with the fact that many of their employees are connected. If not at work, then certainly at home. Moreover, a total ban prevents effective use of a potentially powerful work tool. The generous offer to share his work by Neil Williams offers a good basis for organisations to develop their own strategy document for Twitter.

Template Twitter strategy for Government Departments
Template Twitter strategy for Government Departments
by Neil Williams 21. July 2009 10:39

Guest post by Neil Williams, head of corporate digital channels at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Neil blogs at and is @neillyneil on Twitter.

You might think a 20-page strategy a bit over the top for a tool like Twitter.

After all, microblogging is a low-barrier to entry, low-risk and low-resource channel relative to other corporate communications overheads like a blog or printed newsletter. And the pioneers in corporate use of Twitter by central government (see No 10, CLG and FCO) all started as low-profile experiments and grew organically into what they are today.

But, having held back my JFDI inclinations long enough to sit down and write a proper plan for BIS's corporate Twitter account, I was surprised by just how much there is to say - and quite how worth saying it is, especially now the platform is more mature and less forgiving of mistakes.

So in case it's of use to others who are thinking of doing the same, I've turned BIS's Twitter strategy into a generic template Twitter strategy for Departments (PDF file) [Scribd version ]

Lesson from the Challenge of Open government

Several Government organizations in Australia, US and UK have been experimenting with engaging Citizens in the process of Government. There's a big gap between expectations and the responses. I'm concerned at the number of people that take the opportunity to 'vent their spleen' with off topic and sometimes quite rude behaviour. Federal computer week has this report analysing the approach the US Government has taken, and what can be done differently. It's worth a read for anyone interested in Gov2.0 initiatives.

Open Government Initiative provides plenty of lessons -- Federal Computer Week
How Lena Trudeau would do things differently the next time the government seeks citizen engagement

* By Brian Robinson
* Jul 15, 2009

President Barack Obama’s Open Government Initiative states its mission simply: create a two-way dialogue between the American people and their government and develop policies that benefit from the diverse perspectives of an engaged citizenry.

An experiment in online policy development

The first work order for the Obama administration’s Open Government Initiative is to develop a formal directive that will establish the ground rules for a more open and transparent government.

One method chosen to help complete this task was itself open and transparent: a three-phase series of public online forums, each featuring a different collaboration tool and each with its own goals.

* Phase I: Brainstorm. Members of the public were invited to share their ideas on how to make government more open. Site visitors could post ideas, discuss and refine others' ideas, and vote the best ones to the top.
* Phase II: Discuss. Blog posts generated online responses and discussions about the best ideas identified during the brainstorming phase.
* Phase III: Draft. Participants could use a wiki — think of a collective word-processing document — to collaborate on policy proposals to address the challenges identified in the discussion phase.

But first, the administration wanted to have a public dialogue about how future dialogues might best take place. The meeting spot they chose for the kick-off confab was online, through a series of three Web-based forums during a six-week period starting in May.

But a funny thing happened on the way to collective enlightenment. People have a lot on their minds, and given a platform to say it, particularly a national one, they will say it, whether it’s on topic or not.

Last week, Federal Computer Week asked three experts to assess the methods and results of OGI’s preliminary experiment in online public engagement.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Can UI be an Access Issue

Techpresident has reported on the developing interest in access to Government information through an interesting perspective - 'obfuscating' user interface. Political Exclusion Through Bad UI | techPresident Political Exclusion Through Bad UI
Nancy Scola | June 17, 2009 - 12:43pm | 1 comment | Email This!

There was one illuminating exchange in yesterday's otherwise vapid Senate confirmation hearing of Julius Genachowski. Senate Commerce Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) raised the idea that the impression that the Federal Communications Commission is "captured by industry" isn't helped by the fact that, to borrow from a 2007 GAO report, "it is nearly impossible to find information on the FCC's website...and much of the data filed with the commission is not even accessible online." Meanwhile, said Rockefeller, FCC staffers are personally calling telecom industry stakeholders to let them know when important votes and other events are coming up.

In other words, the FCC's website at is a case study in obfuscation through ugliness, an unequal political playing field tilted worse by horrid user interface. Genechowski, who studiously avoided making any news during the hearing, responded in broad strokes: "If confirmed, my goal would be for the FCC website and new media operation to be a model for the government." But the exchange still puts a new point on why new media work is so important, no more so than at a powerful agency like the FCC.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Using the Meltdown for Effective Change in Government

The Meltdown is an opportunity to reorganise Government as well as Business. New York Times has published an article (referred by @timoreilly - thanks). It's really critical to implement Government Service Transformation. As John Suffolk (UK CIO)recently said "You can't shrink to greatness." We can't just cut costs; we have to create more value.

Op-Ed Contributor - Small-Town Big Spending -
One is the observation of Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, that “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Another comes from my boss, Jeff Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric, who has warned, “This is not a cycle; it’s a reset.”

Taken together, these remarks challenge us to go beyond trying to quickly fix the immediate problems of toxic mortgages, risky banks, a struggling American car industry and escalating health care costs. If the American people are tuned into the need to change the irresponsible, inefficient practices and systems that created those problems, why not enlist them to take the next step and radically change the antiquated public structures that exist beyond the Beltway?

Here are a few examples. It’s estimated that New York State has about 10,500 local government entities, from townships to counties to special districts. A year ago a bipartisan state commission said that New Yorkers could save more than a billion dollars a year by consolidating and sharing local government responsibilities like public security, health, roads and education.

One commission member, a county executive, said, “Our system of local government has barely evolved over the past one hundred years and we are still governed by these same archaic institutions formed before the invention of the light bulb, telephone, automobile and computer.”

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Security Software Bots for Government

The challenge is to create in depth security. Attacks have become more sophisticated so this network of distributed routines or Bots allows internal coordination of a response and handles multiple attack vectors.

Borg-like cybots may patrol government networks | Military Tech - CNET News
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory has created software that uses colonies of borg-like cyberrobots it says will help government agencies detect and fend off attacks on the nation's computer network infrastructure.

The Ubiquitous Network Transient Autonomous Mission Entities (Untame) differs from traditional security software agents in that its cybot "entities" form collectives that are mutually aware of the condition and activities of other bots in their colony (PDF).

When these cybots detect network intruders, they communicate with one another, preventing cybercrooks from creating and using a diversion in one spot within the network to then break through in another.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Nearly Dean Hubbard

Columbia Business School Spring 2006 Follies spoof on The Police's "Every Breath You Take" featuring imitation Dean Glenn Hubbard and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. The interpretation is that Dean Hubbard hasn't taken the appointment of Chairman Bernanke over himself as well as one could hope.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Open sourcerers - At The Whiteboard - ZDNet

The momentum in open source support for Government environments is grtowing, and the hybrid development environment is one reason. This little video from zdnet editor Dan Farber is a quick 3 minute overview.

Open sourcerers - At The Whiteboard - ZDNet: "A new breed of software developers is taking advantage of the open-source community and development process, building hybrid applications and creating differentiation on top of open-source standards.

Host: Dan Farber, editor in chief, ZDNet
Length: 00:03:13"

Monday, April 03, 2006

Linux News: Implementation : Governments Go Online -- Without Windows

More help for e-Government developers through a new portal site.

Linux News: Implementation : Governments Go Online -- Without Windows: "Electronic governance promises to cut corruption and improve transparency, and open source Latest News about open source software offers a way to break South Asia's technological dependence on industrialized countries, experts say.

Open source software such as Linux is non-proprietary, less complex, more efficient and freely available to anyone -- unlike Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Latest News about Microsoft Windows operating system, says Mike Reed, director of the United Nations University International Institute for Software Technology (UNU-IIST), based in Macau, China.
Market Domination

'Linux is now the fastest-growing software and powers eight of the 10 fastest supercomputers in the world,' Reed said.

Open source software like Linux is embedded in many types of electronic devices, like mobile phones and cameras. Open source is also starting to cut into the near complete domination of the personal computer market by the Windows operating system, he said."

To assist these e-governance attempts and to help other countries get started, the UNU has established an interactive information clearinghouse on the Internet Get Linux or Windows Managed Hosting Services with Industry Leading Fanatical Support. that it calls

In addition to having instructional how-to materials online, the portal will make available software and research papers, as well as contact information for others who have or are setting up e-governance in their own countries.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Australian Liberal (Conservative) Administration ex-staffers

The cheeky and indomitable website has created an interesting list of where many of the staffers from the current administration have gone.
Crikey Website - Where 200 ex Howard staffers are now
There does seem to be an interesting list of lobbyists in the collection.