About Me

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I'm an Australian, based in the Washington, DC, area, with extensive experience in the US, UK/Europe and Australia. I have also lectured in IT and Law related topics at King's College, London, and at The Australian National University.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Snow in April!

Ridiculous! We have been having a number of days in Washington, DC, in the upper 20s Celsius (low 80s Fahrenheit)... and then Jasmine and I woke up Saturday morning to see a light dusting of snow outside! The weather forecast tells us that there's a chance of more snow, too.

According to The Washington Post (login required):

Washington has had the occasional snow dusting in April. But the last time the city got more than an inch in the month was in 1924, when five inches fell, Weather Service meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Michael has reminded me why I disabled comments on this site

My brother, who (like me) uses Blosxom for his website, has reminded me why I gave up on comments on this website. Michael writes:

664 real comments on this site, 18361 I manually said no to, 32111 were blocked based on originating IP, and 5007 contained a bad word. Andrew currently donates 506 mb of disk to hosting just comments.

My experience with comment spam was similar -- and it took more time than it was worth to try to block the spammers. Even now, when I look at my website log, there's a huge amount of traffic from spammers trying to use long-disabled comment links.

Earth Hour

David had an interesting post on Friday about his participation in Sydney's Earth Hour. The Earth Hour idea is pretty interesting: Sydney households and businesses were urged to turn their lights out for an hour on Saturday night to demonstrate commitment to reducing greenhouse emissions. Although it saved power on the night, the event was probably more significant as a high profile way of promoting an environmental cause -- even to people who chose not to participate.

It's interesting that the event has received a huge amount of publicity around the world. This morning, Google News was showing more than 400 hits for "earth hour" from the world's media. Here's an example of the international coverage from CNN.

Wikipedia, Citizendium and reality

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia anyone can edit. Citizendium takes the Wikipedia idea, but adds expert oversight in an attempt to become more accountable.

The Go-Go Blog comments (probably fairly) that:

I hope ... that the emergence of Citizendium inspires Wikipedia to take steps towards better highlighting content contributions from verified experts.

Stephen Colbert claims that the Wikipedia model is great because it brings democracy to knowledge: you can make anything true by putting it in Wikipedia and getting people to agree. See the havoc that his call to arms caused!

The Magic of Magic Quadrants

As someone who works frequently with Gartner Magic Quadrant documents, I was intrigued today to read an interesting critique of the Magic Quadrant approach in The Register.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant is an elegant idea. Basically, it takes a class of IT products, and compares them on a graph with axes for ability to execute (y-axis) and completeness of vision (x-axis). Companies strive to get as close to the top right (complete vision, strong ability to execute) as possible. The simple view which the graph portrays of the market is backed up by a more detailed prose report.

There are other similar approaches to ranking competitive products, for example in Forrester's Wave reports. Interestingly, the Forrester reports use more than the two axes, by plotting companies as different-sized dots to show further company information. Forrester also releases very detailed analysis, often in vast spreadsheet documents, to back up its conclusions.

The critique in The Register is based on the idea that the very simple Magic Quadrant graphs could display much more information than they do, by adding colours, different-sized dots and arrows to show trends. That is probably true: but perhaps the real problem is that readers are too lazy in their absorption and interpretation of information. People often talk about the Magic Quadrant graph, but how many of them actually read the whole report that accompanies it?