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Friday, July 19, 2002

User-centered Software Design

I've been looking for an Information Architect/Information Retrieval specialist to help me better understand the basics of good information systems design. I'm amazed at the wealth of knowledge available to us all via the weblog community and how some of the people in it make complex things so comprehensible.

James Robertson at Column Two posted this helpful example created by Donna Maurer, showing how user stories clarify and enhance requirements documents.

It is an interesting approach and one that I, being neither an engineer nor designer, like quite a lot. It gives the software designer a human goal to achieve.

I thought the accessibility series over at dive into mark used this pretty well, too.

Personas and scenarios. Donna Maurer has written a very practical blog entry on using personas and scenarios. To quote Donna: These were so powerful! It is amazing how much extra information stories can give.
[Column Two]

Triangulating on Shared Knowledge

Today John Robb made a thought-provoking post on Yahoo! Groups: K-Log and it should be passed along. The essay he refers to really hit home given some of the research and study I'm currently doing, and it is well worth reading. There is much good thought taking place right now on how to bring people within a business together on both emotional and intellectual levels. I think the scandals rocking corporate America have a lot to do with that. [...more]

Migrating Weblog to Different Server, Fixing Links

This thread in the discussion group covers setting up a Meta redirect tag in pages on the Radio Communty Server so that calls to that server will be sent to the new one.

Also see this thread:$16813?mode=topic&y=2002&m=7&d=19

Making Companies Human

A nice complement to today's thoughts on klogging and business strategy.

Weblog as the interface to a person.
Time for people. Paolo Valdemarin: Time for people. "Time for anonymous companies is over, we have all had enough, it really looks like it's time for people, time for weblogs." [Jake's Radio 'Blog]
Also this comment by Paolo:
I have had a company web site for about the last 7 years, but I have never received much feedback from it. Since I have opened my blog I'm receiving lots of messages from people all over the world. This is happening because they perceive the weblog as the interface to a person, while the company site belongs to a faceless entity, even if for some of those 7 years, behind that company web site there was only one person: me. [emphasis added]

If you start connecting the dots between the weblogs and k-logs space with the recent books such as Free Agent Nation , Bobos in Paradise, and The Rise of the Creative Class you can see the acceleration of a fundamental shift in the relation between employer and employed.

Pay attention; it will affect you. [McGee's Musings]

Building Business Relationships via the Blog

If you read only one post today, make it this one. This post from Rick came across my aggregator and triggered my thinking. When I put it with the post from Jim and the essay from John I wound up triangulating on The Power of Shared Knowledge.

Put Your Business Where Your Blog Is.

Just put together a few thoughts on how blogs serve as business relationship-builders. I now have a couple examples of this blog leading directly to business relationships that are playing a significant role in sales opportunities. Those relationships would not have existed but for the blog.

While leads me to a new mantra: put your business where your blog is.

[tins ::: Rick Klau's weblog]

Military Intelligence and Photoshop

Military mathematicians have uncovered new pixel manipulation techniques with potential to automate complex photo-retouching tasks.

Is this the next killer Photoshop plug-in?.

Oh, this is TOO easy. If this becomes a commercial product, retouchers are either gonna love this or, if they charge by the hour, go broke overnight.

Link [Claudia McCue's Radio Weblog]

from the news article...

[...] While working on ways to improve surveillance images, the U.S. Navy discovered an innovative technique to restore damaged photographs and works of art, according to a press release issued last week by the Office of Naval Research.

The new method promises to eliminate much of the hand labor and guesswork currently involved in art restoration, since a computer now can handle much of the process. [...]

Printcafe Scheduler

I believe this refers to the latest release of what used to be Kerens, a print scheduling system based on Eli Goldratt's Theory of Constraints.

Printcafe Shows New PrintFlow, PrinterSite Internal & Logic Upgrade at Conference
"PrintFlow is an amazing new technology," said Doug Ehmann, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of The Sheridan Group, a large publication printer. "It?s fast and can consider many more constraints and options than is humanly possible. We investigated other technologies to help us with scheduling, but none could manage in real-time our complex and critical processes." [WhatTheyThink]

While this product is not particularly suited to digital or demand-driven print operations, it is encouraging to see Theory of Constraints being applied in printing. TOC principles, along with such ideas as single-unit-flow and cellular manufacturing, are critical to efficient demand-driven operations.

Radio vs. Traction -- A Personal View

Jim McGee asked, so I thought I'd try to find an answer.

Jim McGee asks:

Traction? How about Radio?. What more do you get than buying individual licenses for Radio which you can get for about 1/10 the cost of Traction? [ McGee's Musings]

Jim is referring to the review (quoted below) of Traction Server by Jon Udell in InfoWorld, and since I'm trying to get a little traction of my own -- developing a strategy for small to mid-size business information/KM infrastructure -- I decided to investigate it from a business perspective.

Here are the areas I thought important to consider in comparing Traction to Radio: [more...]

How Does This Differ From Just Posting a Link to an Article

How does this differ from just posting a link to an article? If you post a link to a web-published article doesn't it get a new version of itself everytime you open it up (barring cacheing, of course)? Some of these PDF breakthroughs just leave me wondering "Why..."

Can PDFs be smart? Coptech thinks so
Company releases software that syncs PDFs to update them as new releases come available, calling the documents ‘SmartPDFs.’

Is FBI Behind Security Hole

With federal agents now surfing the web, monitoring your TV habits via the cable guy, and issuing warrants to bookstores for your purchase records, could this be just another hidden attempt by DOJ and America's favorite jack-booted teddy bear to let agents spy on the average American citizen and see what we're reading?

Nah, of course not. That's silly. Only an unpatriotic, paranoid, conspiracy theorist could think such a thing.

This is a breach, but a fairly minor one since credit card numbers are not exposed. It's a little eerie to have your purchase records available, but no reason for real concern. After all, if you're not guilty of anything why should you worry about people knowing what books you buy. We're all just one big, happy family. (Oh, Mom -- that book on lesbian women's studies I bought last year was a gift. I certainly don't read such things...) The Hole Story. It's a minor flaw compared to others in the e-commerce privacy-breach annals, but a hole found in's site again raises the question: Why do they take so long to fix? By Danit Lidor.
[Wired News]

Multi-Author Weblog Tool Description and Discussion

Radio discussion thread describing install and use, and discussing initial reactions to the Multi-Weblog Author tool. This looks like a very cool thing. AFIK, it takes a group of RSS feeds from individual weblogs and aggregates them into posts on a single page or category.

I can see this being very useful for group journaling as described in "In the Same Room Does Not Mean on the Same Page", for tracking software development projects (when combined with threaded discussion, doc mgmt, RCS, etc.), and for lending a sense of coherence to a group of company weblogs across departments or even the entire enterprise.

A scenario: (I need to draw a picture of this) I can see a sort of pyramid structure -- each individual has a weblog where they narrate their work and record important insights, experiences, or problems. Each has a category for Team, Department, Division, Company, etc. where they post items relevant to a specific audience. The Team Leader runs a Multi-Weblog Author Tool, aggregating the "Team" feeds from each employee. Someone at Department, Division, and Company levels do the same.

These aggregate weblogs generate their own RSS feeds and could, again, be subscribed by any individual in the company -- leading back to each employee and providing the opportunity to comment and contribute at all levels of the organization.

This is real transparency. Combined with a culture that doesn't penalize people for saying what they think, this could be a powerful way to keep employees informed and to let employees inform the company.

Author Names in Multi-Weblog Author Tool

Thomas Burg is using Radio as a multi-author k-log and an internal reporting tool. He is looking to automatically add the author's name to each post. This thread in the discussion group cover a source macro and customizing the RSS file.

Radio and Ampersand in RSS Readers

Broken news feed, AmphetaDesk error, ampersands, white space, and XML. I didn't realize it, but Radio does something improper with ampersand characters -- some non-conformaing XML thing. By using & in my post I create an RSS feed that some XML-compliant readers can't read.

The problem isn't permanent -- it happens only as long as the &-item remains in the feed. As son as Radio has aged the item enough (I guess) it falls out. So the problem isn't permanent and Radio feeds appear to break randomly. As Morbus Iff says:

- for XML to be considered valid, all &'s need to be turned into /&. Radio doesn't currently do this, and Radio feeds break all the time.

I'll have to be more careful in the future.

Display Preformatted Text With Radio

This thread in the Radio discussion group covers forcing Radio to include external text files, code segments, and other preformatted text without modifying each occurence. Addresses path issues, the file.readWholeFile verb, and Macintosh path idiosyncracies.

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