Knowledge Lost

Two articles caught my eye in last weeks Melbourne Age IT section. The first was about two Californian business men who are setting up cruise ships 5.3km of the coast of Los Angeles where they will employ 600 software developers per ship and have them working 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week. These foreign workers will be classed as seamen and be able to come ashore without requiring visa’s. The ships will cost $US10M a piece to fit out. At first I thought this had to be an April fools day joke, but apparently they are very serious about this. One has to wonder where we are heading with such goings on. I guess the ships aren’t heading anywhere and what about the workers?

The second article was about the large numbers of qualified IT staff that have been let go from Australian companies in the last 3 or so years in the name of downsizing. It seems that these companies are now realizing that they’ve lost a vast amount of knowledge from this process, knowledge that will be quite costly to recover, assuming of course that it can be. This also ties in with offshore development (and on cruise ships) and makes me wonder whether all of the valuable information that is built up off-shore can be transferred back to its owners, or do they write that off in exchange for the money they save using off-shore development.

As far as I’m concerned building and retaining knowledge and the intellectual property that flows from that is fundamental to the long term success of any business. It’s what gives us the edge.

Managing Knowledge Pt 1

I spend a reasonable amount of time reading about and looking at Knowledge Management (KM) style software. Lots of different types of programs can be used or abused into performing knowledge management tasks. These range from storing bits and pieces of information in Word Documents or text files (or PDF files!), to Outliners and Notepads with Trees to structure and categorize information, to ever more complex programs that morph trees and display them as graphs, or in other visually exciting and sometimes useful ways. For example programs like Grokster use circles within circles where you drill down deeper and deeper to see things of interest. (Surfulater customers who visit the forums will have seen threads about this there.) The higher end knowledge management tools tend to be quite complex and expensive beasts indeed. Continue reading “Managing Knowledge Pt 1”

Should I laugh or cry?

Three US boffins built a programme designed to create research papers with random text, charts and diagrams.

Two bogus papers were submitted to a computing conference in Florida, and one of them was accepted.

I really can’t believe this. What a sad state of affairs we find ourselves in when such obvious gibberish can be accepted by anyone with half a brain, let alone someone vetting papers for a computer conference. Continue reading “Should I laugh or cry?”

Surfulater V1.60, B0.0 released

Surfulater V1.60, B0.0 has been released. One thing that has been bugging me for a while with Surfulater is that after jumping around from article to article there was no way to backtrack to an article I’d recently seen.

Fortunately I know the developer very well and hold some sway about what gets done and when. So with a small nudge I was able to get a content navigation history list added.

Content history navigation buttons

Now I can move backwards and forwards through a list of the last 30 articles and folders I’ve seen or pick any one from a drop down menu and jump directly to it. This will definitely make revisiting content in my knowledge base easier.

Other changes in this release include the ability to use the Delete key in the knowledge tree, visual tweaks, information about our Web site update, our new Blog and various bug fixes.

Please, please do tell us your Surfulater likes and dislikes. If you’ve looked at Surfulater and decided it isn’t for you, we would greatly appreciate knowing why, and what we can do to accommodate your needs.

Surfulater’s evolution is immutably tied to what you tell us you want, so speak up if you want to have a say.

Password company spams

I can’t believe this but it’s true. A colleague of mine received the spam e-mail below the other day from a company that wants us to store all of our passwords, drivers license details, travelers cheque references and other valuable information in their virtual safe.

How can any company that purports to safely and securely look after all our sensitive information have the slightest tiny weeniest bit of credibility, if they are forced to send spam in order to try and drum up some business. Would you trust any of your passwords with them? I sure as hell wouldn’t. Continue reading “Password company spams”

Podcasts – what and why?

There was a post over at one of my favourite sites Codeproject yesterday asking if anyone was into podcasts, to which I replayed yes. If you don’t know what podcasts they are quite simply small radio shows that you can download and play on your MP3 player, iPod, PC or any other device capable of playing MP3’s.

Podcasts like the web cover a broad range of information and interests. To date my focus has been on listening to marketing and business related podcasts.

The thing I really like about podcasts (apart from the content) is that I can acquire information without having to sit in front of my PC.

I download podcasts and copy them to my HP iPaq PDA. Then plug in the headphones, start the music player playing the podcast and put the PDA in my pocket. Most times I listen while I’m doing chores around house, or I’m out for a walk. This is great because I don’t have to try and find some free time which doesn’t exist anyway and I get to feed my brain during times which it otherwise wouldn’t be doing much.

In addition to Podcasts you’ll find audio books available on the Web which are played just like a podcast.

The Podcasts I’ve enjoyed listening to the most so far are by Ben McConnell & Jackie Huba over at Church of the Customer. The content is fresh and interesting and Ben and Jackie have an upbeat very easy to listen to style. Their most recent podcast is Word of Mouth Summit highlights and interviews which I’ll be listening to today.

I’ve been looking at a few programs that enable you to subscribe to podcasts and automatically download new ones as they become available. So far none have particularly grabbed my interest. I’ll likely write more on this later.

Advice from a Bootstrapper

Dr. Jeffrey R. Cornwall writes:

I just finished several weeks of teaching about bootstrapping to my students. I wrapped up the unit with a visit from Charles Hagood, co-founder of The Access Group, which was the feature of a recent Entrepreneurial Showcase at this site. Charles shared his advice on being a successful bootstrapper:

1. Cash is King. Enough said!

2. Sometimes Less is More. Having fewer resources can force a business to be more flexible and more resourceful. For example, Southwest Airline’s business model grew out of the limited number of planes that they had to work with during their start-up.

3. Keep Your Priorities in Order. Never compromise your ethical principles, even when money it tight.

4. Enjoy the Ride. Love what you do in your business and enjoy each day. That will make the lean times easier to take.

5. Cut Costs, Not Quality. Focus your money on customers when money is scarce.

6. Impress Your Customers, Not Yourselves. Don’t waste money competing internally over who has the best stuff. Invest it in your customers and in your product.

7. If You Have $1 Left in the Bank, Spend in on Marketing. Even when the market is not buying your product stay in front of them so they will remember you when things pick up.

8. Always Look Bigger and Tougher Than You Are. See my post from earlier today for ideas on this.

9. Continuously Reassess Your Business for Wasteful Spending.

Being an Entrepreneur is very rewarding when everything comes together, however getting to that point is quite a challenge. Even more so when you wear many different hats and have to juggle from one roll to the next; sales, marketing, product development, qa, web presence etc. We really do need all of the help we an get.

There is a lot of good information to be found on the web on Entrepreneurship, running a small business, marketing etc. and unfortunately also a lot of “me too” dross.

Jeff Cornwall’s, The Entrepreneurial Mind is well worth reading if you have the slightest interest in Entrepreneurship.

Information Organisation

David Weinberger writes:

We’ve organized knowledge into trees, from Aristotle to Linnaeus to Dewey. You get a tree by doing the basic thing of lumping and splitting, and then splitting the lumps until you get to a lump that is too unitary or miscellaneous to bear any more splitting. But lumping and splitting has been constrained by physical limitations. For example:

1. A thing has to go in one pile or another. For Aristotle, this was expressed as the Law of Identity (A is A and A is not not-A), a pretty basic rule. Continue reading “Information Organisation”