Archive for Sept 2002

                    Information Additive Codecs and P2P Networks

                    I was just reading a great paper on using Information Additive Codecs (IAC) on P2P Networks on Doug Kaye's web site. Interesting stuff. As I understand it, the ability to receive content abstractions out of order allows multiple downloads to be recombined to create the original, even in the presence of lost packets. This means, that you can get data streams from multiple peers simultaneously and reconstruct them into the original content without the peers having to coordinate their actions. I was wondering if anyone has done any work in this area that uses IACs in the presence of byzantine faults. My gut tells me
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                    XML and the Recreation One-Stop

                    Interior Secretary Gale Norton was in Salt Lake City on Saturday to celebrate National Public Lands day. She was joined by my boss, Governor Leavitt. I am surprised that there seems to be no local press for the event. Usually when a cabinet secretary comes to town to talk about public lands, there's a lot of interest. There was an Interior press release (naturally) and a story earlier in the week saying the event would take place. The thing I want to highlight from the 90 minute event is the use of XML on the recreation.gov one-stop. If you go to
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                    Jamcrackers and Shared Services

                    In the old days of floating logs down rivers, there were times when the log raft would get all jammed up and unable to move. Into this uncertain situation came a fellow called a jamcracker. The jamcracker's job was to look over the log jam and find the points that, if changed, would break up the jam and let the logs flow freely. The job was extremely dangerous and the jamcracker frequently used dynamite to do the job. This is not unlike the situation found in a modern shared service groups. Organizations have a love/hate relationship with their shared service
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                    Utah Legislature's Kid's Page

                    Today, while perusing the the Deseret News, I found out that the Utah Legislature just launched a kids page. You'd think that there would be a better way for me to find out about things like this. You'd be wrong. The Legislature's kids page is geared toward helping kids understand the legislative process and is, in my opinion, well done. Utah.gov also has a kids page. You'd think that they'd want to coordinate with us and get their page featured on the Utah.gov kids page or even the homepage since Utah.gov is supposed to be the web site for all
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                    Provo's No Wrong Doors Policy

                    Friday, I had the opportunity to visit with some folks from Provo City. There are a couple of interesting developments there: First, they've adopted a "no wrong doors" philosophy. As implemented, there is a single number and customer service center that customers use to get answers to all their city questions and help with any problems. You can call them about a broken water main or problems with your cable (Provo runs a municipal cable concern). They've used a product called eWorks to create a CRM application that works for all they do. Right now, each department has a task
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                    Wireless Internetworking

                    An article in Wired by Negroponte discusses wireless internetworking---the concept of having wireless hubs that are smart enough to route and talk to each other. That way, my wireless network talks to my neighbors, which talks to a neighbor further away, and so on until the wireless system drains to the larger Internet. I've seen this work. A Utah company, called United Internetworking (founded by Jay Carlson) has built working hardware and software that does this exact thing in the 5GHz band. Its actually very cool to see. The article goes on to say: Reallocating spectrum won't happen overnight. It
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                    ACIO Meeting

                    Today was the first meeting of the team of Assistant State CIOs (ACIOs) that have been appointed from each agency. There are still a few Cabinet level agencies that have not made an appointment, but we had a good group and it gave me great hope. Here are the things we talked about: DCIO appointments: Kevin Van Ausdal (Tax), DCIO for IT Al Sherwood, DCIO for Plans and Policy Dave Fletcher, DCIO for eGov ITPSC agenda for Thursday Cancellation of WAN rate structure change Legislative audit Q&A Future meetings with agency IT staffs Email consolidation project Enterprise architectures If you're interested
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                    Three Great Items from Dave Fletcher

                    Dave Fletcher posts three great items on IT in Utah on his blog today.
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                    New Rate Structure

                    I've written before about the need for transparency in cost, particularly in a government setting. We're in the middle of a rate setting process, whereby we decide what rates our central services organizations can charge in FY2004. As part of the this rate process, ITS, our central IT services organization is proposing to change how they charge for network connectivity. In the past they have charged per port. They are proposing charging per person. The cost would be linked to each user ID (UID) in the Utah Master Directory (UMD). I'm fully in support of this for a number of reasons:
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                    Dictionary.com Word of the Day: Cronyism

                    The recent Legislative Auditor's report on hiring practices has some leveling the charge of "cronyism" (has a nice, government ring to it, doesn't it?). Dictionary.com defines "cronyism" as follows: Favoritism shown to old friends without regard for their qualifications. Since every hire I've made has been specifically with regard to qualifications for the job, this word does not apply. I'm committed, as I always have been, to finding the best person for the job. If you've got questions about the report , or anything else, drop me a line. I don't bite.
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                    Extensions in URLs

                    Ugo Cei has been having a small dialog on his blog about using extensions in URLs. I've recently be contemplating the same thing because we discussed it in my class last Monday when we were talking about Tim Benners-Lee's "Cool URIs Don't Change." Ugo says: What's the point of having extensions in URLs? What if someday you adopt a system whereby you can serve your content in different formats (HTML, WML, RSS, PDF, etc.) to different devices or users based on the User-Agent HTTP header? And all from the same URL? Would it still make sense to use the .html
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                    How Many Data Centers Does an Organization Need?

                    The State of Utah has 22,000 employees working in the executive branch in roughly 30 agencies. We operate two primary data centers that house the mainframes and numerous smaller hosts. Still, many departments continue to operate "data centers" although most are merely machine rooms. As I contemplate this situation, I'm left to wonder how many data centers a relatively small organization really needs. Companies larger than Utah and more spread out geographically (such as Siebel and Oracle) run all of their operations out of a single data center with provision for an emergency business continuity center (Siebel's production data center
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                    Wireless is Cool

                    As I type this, my iPAQ is syncing with my laptop using Bluetooth. To sync the calendar, it has to communicate with the Groupwise server over a Sprint wireless connection. No cables anywhere in sight. Wireless is cool! As an aside: its pretty slow and you can see the battery meter moving when you do it. So, you can only be wireless as long as the power holds out.
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                    Presenting Information in a Human Voice

                    InfoWorld reviewed the recent Seybold publishing industry conference in San Francisco: Tim Bray, one of the co-creators of XML, spoke Monday alongside Seybold. He discussed what he sees as other defining changes in the industry, such as improved graphical user interfaces, and stated in passing that as far as tagging data goes, "nobody is doing it" in the publishing business. In addition to touting XML, Bray, now chief technology officer at Antarctica Systems, promoted Weblogs as a promising tool for publishers. Weblogs are Web sites that feature chronological entries by an author, or "blogger" (for Web logger), and typically reflect
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                    Enterprise Architectures

                    When people hear the word architecture in the context of computers, they're likely to think of hardware or, at best, systems. An enterprise architecture is much more general than that. An enterprise architecture is a basic structure or design for all the agency's real-world businesses, such as licensing or law enforcement, related information flows and the technologies that handle them. It's an exercise in system design and analysis, more than anything, and is meant to ensure that components cooperate and share data. [Government Technology News] The Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 requires that all Federal agencies create an enterprise architecture. To
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                    Emery DSL Connection Not Working? Blame Lightening.

                    From Joel Finlinson's Radio Weblog: [Got a] call from Norm in Emery saying that he cannot connect to the Net. He'd called Emery Telecom and they said that his DSL modem had been fried in the lightning storm yesterday. He went to pick up a new one and about 35 other people were getting new ones too at the same time. He put it in and it still didn't work. The tech support folks now say that its the NIC in the PC and I told him that we'll send Doug out that way to replace/check it out tomorrow.
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                    Visit from Jeff Henley of Oracle

                    I had the opportunity to go to lunch today with Jeff Henley, the CFO of Oracle. Jeff was also good enough to come over to the Capitol and speak to a group of IT managers and Product Managers about Oracle's experience with eBusiness. I'm sure most people won't believe it, given the content of his talk, but I didn't tell him what to say. In fact he came because the Governor had met him, listened to his message and asked him to come and talk to IT folks in Utah. Jeff talked about Seven Tenets for Business Prosperity, his rules
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                    Building Cross Agency Applications

                    One of the biggest challenges to eGovernment is the mecahnisms we use to fund government activities (state and federal) and the traditional organization that the funding leads to. This has come to be called "stovepiping." People have railed against it in the past, but with the recent focus on eGovernment and homeland security, we've come to see more and more how disfunctional it can be in the 21st century. Al Sherwood writes today about one of Utah's efforts to break down some of these stovepipes: I've been fortunate to get in on a project that is in my opinion headed
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                    China Reroutes Google

                    A recent ZDNet article talks about how China is rerouting requests for Google and Altavista to internal search engines, presumably ones that are more politically friendly to the regime in China. Michael Robinson, chief technical officer of Beijing-based Clarity Data Systems is quoted in the article saying: This is escalation. They're not acting as administrators. They're acting as hackers. They're impersonating authority that they don't in fact actually have. While I certainly sympathize with Mr. Robinson, I think the Chinese government (and probably most governments) would take considerable exception to the last sentence. While we techies like to pretend that somehow the
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                    A New iBook Arrives

                    A new iBook arrived in my office on Friday. Ever since OS X was introduced, I've been intrigued my Apple's new offerings and wondered if using Macs would be a viable option for State of Utah employees. I've spoken to some of the logictical issues before, but haven't had any recent personal experience with Macs. Some first impressions: Its beautiful and very well executed. Everything about it, hardware and software, makes you want to play with it. Some of its "gee whiz" but other stuff is useful and neat. Things "just work." I've used the wireless networking, SMB compatibility (Windows sharing), and
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                    Fall Means its Time for Class Again

                    Each fall, I teach a course on enterprise computing at Brigham Young University. The class differs from the content of this weblog in that it is oriented to hard core computer science and systems engineering issues whereas this site tends to deal with softer, but larger issues like processes, people, and IT in large organizations. The course is lab oriented: students start off with a raw box, load Linux on it and get going. For the rest of the semester, they are responsible for loading everything we Apache to Postgresql to Tomcat to JBOSS and building a functioning n-tier client-server
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                    A Culture of Candor

                    In a previous life, a fellow executive and I used to bemoan what we called "hypocritical politeness." That may not be the best term for it, but what we were trying to fight was a culture that valued not hurting someone's feelings more than it valued telling people what they needed to know to get their job done, make improvements, etc. People were being polite, but they weren't being helpful. In this article from CIO Insight, Warren Bennis (a professor at USC) discusses a "culture of candor." There are a number of worthwhile quotes: The tragic weakness of most organizations
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                    Wireless Mobile Productivity Devices

                    Ray Ozzie opines on wireless mobile productivity devices (i.e. notebook computers) and concludes that "In terms of the value that we can get from our own personal computers and the Internet, however, we're still at the dawn of a new era. An era in which software matters, and architecture matters." He says: The browser has served us well. It has provided a means by which we can have universal access to applications, transactions, and published information. But in the meantime, the PC has become a powerhouse: cpu, gpu, storage, price. The Great Conversion to notebook computers is well under way, and it's
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                    My Hate/Love Relationship with Internet Explorer: An Open Source Story

                    Infoworld had an article this week on IE not locking down correctly. What happens is that IE will display the lock symbol, when a proper SSL connection has not truly been established. More details can be found in the original report by Mike Benham. This is on top of the fact that since I started using XP, I get asked about a jillion times a day if I want to install the Java runtime environment (which XP doesn't support) Yes, I know you can tell it not to ask you anymore, but I let it keep telling me so I
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                    Licenses for Radio

                    If you're a State of Utah employee using Radio to create a blog and you're listetd on my utah.gov blogroll to the left, you can contact Cherilyn in my office for a license number. As I've said, I'm willing to buy 100 of them.
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                    South Dakota Puts All State Forms Online

                    From Al Sherwood's IT in Government Webloga piece on South Dakota putting all forms online: PIERRE, S.D. -- Gov. Bill Janklow unveiled a one-stop Web site last week for more than 1,100 state forms. The South Dakota Service Direct page went live on the state's Web site last Thursday, Janklow said, allowing citizens and businesses to search for and access nearly all state forms through one Web page. Each form on the Service Direct Web site has links to information about the form, as well as a downloadable copy for printing and mailing. In many cases, officials said, the site
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                    Intel Sells Utah-based LANDesk Unit

                    Intel's desktop management software is developed at their Salt Lake City facility. They announced today that they're selling it to a group of venture capital companies. At least one of the companies, vSpring, is based in Utah. Utah seems to have a few companies working on desktop management software. Utah-based Altiris is another example. I've written here before about desktop management. I believe that in the last few years the ubiquity of the network and the development of software like LANDesk and Altiris has made desktop management a real possibility. The benefits are many. Among them lower costs and increased
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                    Warflying on a Nice September Morning

                    Last week, Dave Fletcher pointed me at this article on warflying--just like wardriving, but using a plane. Now, it turns out that I had all the requisite gear except for a portable GPS that plugs into my laptop (the plane has two, but I didn't want to tap into them). Here's my list of gear: Airplane: A Piper Turbo Arrow that I own with a friend. Laptop: An IBM T-30. GPS: A Garmin eTrex Venture. I bought this at Circuit City for $170 and it comes with the cord to hook to the laptop. Software: netstumbler A WiFi card supported by netstumber:
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