DIY Cufflinks

You know how it is, you grab a couple of shirts, fling them into your back, and rush out of the door (late) for your plane, neglecting to notice that one of the shirts you’ve grabbed in such a hurry requires cufflinks. Cufflinks that you haven’t had the presence of mind to pack.

Well, you probably don’t know how that is… on account of the fact that you probably have a heap more common sense (and “organisation skills”) than I have.

So, you won’t ever need to manufacture your own cufflinks.

But I had to this morning.

I grabbed two complimentary sewing kits from the hotel reception (each containing 2 buttons) and made these…

A picture of my DIY cufflinks

I haz sewing skillz

Cloud and the Patriot Act: A big red herring served with a large helping of paranoia sauce

I’ve been watching, with more than a little bemusement, some of the commentary surrounding the implications of the US patriot act on the security and privacy of data that is held in the cloud. Here is my perspective (perspective being something rather lacking in some of the commentary).

Here’s the essence:

  • Yup, the Patriot Act gives substantial powers to key law enforcement agencies
  • Yup, the Patriot Act asserts jurisdiction over any US corporation, or any corporation having a business connection with the US…
  • BUT, even if the patriot act doesn’t apply to you, it’s likely that US law enforcement could still get your data, by invoking a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the government of whichever country your data is stored in
  • The patriot act does not give US law enforcement agencies a right to roam freely through your data
  • Other countries have almost identical laws
  • For the paranoid among you, this means that none of your data, wherever it is held is safe…
  • Of all the security risks you face when it comes to cloud computing, the patriot act comes very low down the list
  • Some questions you should ask yourself
  • Some questions you should ask your provider
  • Sure… some data should never be exposed to any risk of seizure, but please use your common sense
  • If you’re still paranoid, the only solution for you is to get off the net completely, live in a shack in the forest and make yourself a tinfoil hat
  • ADVERT : If you’d like me to speak at your conference ask for a quote

HP To Keep PC Division

HP has announced that it has completed its evaluation of strategic alternatives for its Personal Systems Group (PSG) and has decided the unit will remain part of the company. The official release is here

My take :

  • HP has made the right decision but there’s work to do with the Personal Systems Group
  • HP needs to sort its strategy out
  • HP needs to sort its board out
  • HP needs to kill WebOS
  • HP needs to rediscover the thrill of innovation

For the detail….

Continue reading

IBM’s next elephant wrangler will be Ginni Rometty

Yesterday, IBM announced that Ginni Rometty will succeed Sam Palmisano as CEO in January next year. Palmisano will remain on board as chairman.

Here’s what I think…

  • Ginni Rometty has been my front runner for the job for a long time, and last year I was certain she’d get the job
  • Ginni is the right person for the right time for IBM
  • It’s a healthy thing that Sam is staying on as Chairman
  • IBM’s rejuvenation has been built on the shoulders of many giants
  • IBM’s approach to succession management is something a number of firms can learn from
  • Looking forward, IBM’s future depends not just on keeping the elephants dancing, but in getting them to dance in sync
  • OH.. And one final thing (that really shouldn’t need to be said)

As usual, if you’d like to read more, then click on “More”

Microcontrollers… Pic vs Arduino vs mbed logo Logo for Arduino




I’ve been indulging my inner-nerd for some time, by playing with Microcontrollers. Why have I taken up such a geeky passtime? Well these things are flipping magic! For a few dollars you can build a little computer that is capable of doing stuff!

If you’re still shaking your head, then maybe this post isn’t for you, but if you have an interest in embedded development and microcontrollers do read on.

For some time now I’ve been doing “silly little projects” using Pic microcontrollers – Burglar alarms, power supplies, a couple of battery chargers (including a solar battery charger), and some radio controlled stuff.

It’s been on-and-off – it rather depends on my workload, but there’s a corner of my office that always has a breadboard with various bits hanging off it.

Then a couple of weeks ago, someone mentioned the Arduino project to me – he’d used an Ardiuno to create an awesome remote controlled BBGun. So I bought an Arduino dev board.

Then I discovered the mbed project – which uses a surprisingly powerful ARM-based processor at the heart of a surprisingly easy to use development board.

Well blow me down… there’s some very clever stuff going on, and I’m planning to get hold of an mbed board in the next couple of weeks and start playing.

My initial reaction is that the Pic microcontrollers still offer the best transition from prototyping into production, but the Arduino and the mbed platforms offer the best entry point to microcontroller development. The fact that the processor used by the mbed board is so awesomely powerful has also got me going more than a little bit.

Over the next few months I’m going to be tinkering with each of these devices, and I’ll keep you all informed.

HP sells its HALO video conferencing product for $89 Million

HP has just announced the sale of its HALO video conferencing product to Polycom for $89 million. See the NY times story here

While I know that analysts are meant to be above “snark” (ha ha) but this is a real “TOLD YOU SO!” moment for me, made all the more yummy by the fact that when I was demoed Halo by HP in 2006 I made two key comments –

  • It was (and still is) horridly expensive (At $500,000 per room)
  • It was utterly closed – I asked about interconnection with things like Microsoft NetMeeting, Skype and other video conferencing technologies

Neither of these comments seemed to go down well at the time, indeed my thoughts on openness actually caused a slightly patronising smirk to appear on the face of one of the executives who was briefing us.

There is an important lesson here, Tech companies have a very natural tendency to cherish the technology that they own, and this can lead to a degree of myopia when it comes to understanding how that technology will play out beyond the lab and the corporate koolaid.

It’s difficult when someone tells you that your baby is ugly (or in the case of Halo – fantastically expensive and not at all sociable), but success in the world of Tech depends as much on the products you were willing to can (or dramatically revise) as it does the ones that you run with.

All this leads me to HP’s latest “HALO” – WebOS.

Somewhat like HALO WebOS has much to recommend it – It’s a very very nifty mobile operating system, it has some open source street cred as it’s based on Linux. But it’s still going to fail in the market place.

Because the quality of your tech is only one ingredient in the souffle of success – Ecosystem, licensing, development support and “cool” are all equally important. Alas, its strength notwithstanding – WebOS has none of  these.

Alarmingly HP CEO Leo Apotheker has been quoted saying:

I happen to believe that WebOS is a uniquely outstanding operating system. It’s not correct to believe that it should only be on HP devices. There are all kinds of other people who want to make whatever kind of hardware they make and would like to connect them to the Internet.

Whoever briefed Leo (and I’m guessing he’s only ever used a Blackberry because while WebOS is very good – it’s nothing like “uniquely outstanding” when set against some of the best Android devices or the iPhone.) was being, at best, “disingenuous” in pitching WebOS that way.

My advice to HP is – “Step away from the WebOS koolaid”. Set aside any thoughts you have of WebOS taking over the world. If you think that the future of mobile operating systems lies with a Linux core (and there’s every reason to think it might well) then take that expertise and produce a kick-ass Droid variant.