Jeff Potts
KM Whirled: Collaboration, Portal, Content Management, Search, and a dash of personal info most people won't care about


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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

This is my last post to my Radio Userland blog. After five years of Radio I've decided to move to WordPress. The new blog is at

The main reason I'm moving is because WordPress is server-side. I'm tired of only being able to blog from my local Radio Userland install on my laptop (yes, I know you can use POP3 accounts).

Radio was a good tool for what I needed and I'm glad I started with it. But, I'm really looking forward to moving forward with WordPress.


10:09:25 AM    

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Alfresco is an open source enterprise content management solution founded by one of the co-founders of Documentum.

Alfresco Enterprise Network Release Candidate Announced. Alfresco, Inc. announced that it is making available the Alfresco Enterprise Network Release Candidate. This integrates closely to the JBoss Cache, JBoss Application Server and Hibernate utilizing the underlying scalability and high-availability features. Alfresco utilizes JBoss Cache's ability to distribute and maintain data caches, making it possible to build large-scale systems which allows Alfresco to deliver cached data at in memory speeds. Alfresco also utilizes the clustering, failover and load balancing facilities of the JBoss Application Server to increase scalability. Content models are more complex than traditional relational database tables. Alfresco utilizes Hibernate to control the content management schema. Alfresco complements these products with content replication and use of Aspect-Oriented Programming (AOP) to integrate to different, configurable authentication systems. Features of the Alfresco Enterprise Network are single sign-on through Aspect-Oriented Programming (AOP) across the JBoss Portal and portlets,fail-safe content services, a massively parallel content grid, and distributed high availability within the data centre and between disparate data centres. [Gilbane Report News]

12:52:20 PM    

This is an interesting thread on Slashdot. Someone asked about capturing, organizing, and sharing knowledge in an IT department and the majority of folks are responding with various wiki tools and open source portals. Although the question was directed at the needs of an IT department, the advice is probably applicable to any department in an enterprise, provided the UI of the chosen tool scores high in the usability department.

Knowledge Management for an IT Department?. Slashdot Sep 30 2005 8:25PM GMT [Moreover Technologies - Knowledge management news]

The key issues, as I've mentioned before are:

  • it has to be easy to contribute content
  • it has to be easy to find content (via search and possibly taxonomy browsing)
  • it has to be secure
  • it has to have all of the "-abilities" (eg, scalability, extensibility, usability, etc.).

Something like a combination of blogs, wikis, possibly a document repository, and a search engine for the whole thing ought to do the trick.

11:37:52 AM    

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe, by Bill Bryson. One of his earlier works. Not as funny as his others but still good, particularly if you've ever travelled to Europe.

South: The Endurance Expedition, by Ernest Shackleton. The author's first-hand account of the expedition. Actually, I'm horrified to admit that I found this a bit hard to get through. I've already read and re-read the story so slogging through the details of being ice-bound in Antarctica was trying at times.

A Voyage for Madmen, by Peter Nichols. Very, very good. It is the story of the first successful solo circumnavigation and, simultaneously, the first round-the-world race. If you have never read Moitessier's Long Way, read it as well. This one doesn't get you into Moitessier's zen-like mindset.


5:17:26 PM    

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

EMC to Resell WoodWing's Smart Connection Enterprise. WoodWing Software announced that EMC Corporation will resell its Smart Connection Enterprise software as part of the EMC Documentum Enterprise Publishing Solution (EPS), a new content management solution that provides editorial design and layout capabilities. WoodWing's Smart Connection Enterprise is an Adobe InDesign and InCopy integration tool that enables workflow flexibility through management, organization and document security standards for editorial production. The integration of WoodWing Smart Connection in EMC Documentum EPS allows publishers to manage their editorial production workflows, using the same print content and related ancillary content for publishing to the Web or other emerging channels such as wireless devices. Documentum EPS is built on the unified EMC Documentum enterprise content management (ECM) architecture, enabling users to utilize the full ECM capabilities such as digital asset management, web publishing, XML support, workflows, security, content rendering and localization. Smart Connection Enterprise serves complex workflows and environments, where searching files and/or the content of a story or specific keywords or metadata is required, and comes with support for MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and Sybase. The server runs on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Solaris. [Gilbane Report News]
2:02:33 PM    

This is worth a read. It has definite applicability to corporate use of wiki and blog technology. The key paragraph is

The Wiki and the Blog are complimentary companion technologies that together form the core workspace that will allow intelligence officers to share, innovate, adapt, respond, and be—on occasion—brilliant. Blogs will cite Wiki entries. The occasional brilliant blog comment will shape the Wiki. The Blog will be vibrant, and make many sea changes in real-time. The Wiki, as it matures, will serve as corporate knowledge and will not be as fickle as the Blog. The Wiki will be authoritative in nature, while the Blog will be highly agile. The Blog is personal and opinionated. The Wiki is agreed-upon and corporate.

Andrus goes on to add additional supporting components to the core of blogs and wikis which consists of search, feedback, and an underlying document repository.

The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community. Bill Ives finds a nice report on the use of new technology within the intelligence community...

The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community. Here is an article by Calvin Andrus of the CIA on how they can use blogs and wikis to help them change, The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community, which is not a bad idea. As... [Portals and KM]

[McGee's Musings]

Note that the Stanford Law School link to the PDF does not require registration.

I definitely like the idea of using the repository as a sort of loosely organized collection point for raw knowledge. At Navigator we call this the "unstructured data warehouse". It needs to be secure and I suppose it needs some amount of organization but the key is to make it easy for employees to contribute, easy to administer, and as open as possible.

Then, on top of that you add tools to glean intelligence from the warehouse (ie wikis) and a mechanism for expressing opinions about that separately (blogs). Index the whole shooting-match with a search engine and you've got something.

The final ingredient is incentive. You've got to make it beneficial for employees to leverage this infrastructure (and painful if they don't!).

1:02:22 PM    

Sunday, October 02, 2005

I'm trying out a new approach (new for me, anyway) to writing doc. Over the years I've gotten so tired of messing around with Word. Assuming you get your styles to cooperate the format you wind up with is the format your doc will be in forever. Sure, you can go to PDF using Distiller, but what about other formats, like HTML? Ever seen the HTML Word produces? Yuck!

I've always wanted to write my doc in a simple XML vocabulary and then transform it into the desired format. I took a look at Docbook, and that looked promising, but it seemed like too much for what I needed. Plus, I didn't have a structured authoring tool.

Thursday I came across Apache Forrest. I had seen Forrest before while messing around with Cocoon but had never taken the time to explore it. As it turns out, it was just what I was looking for. It is a simple XML-based publishing system. Under the covers it uses the power of Cocoon to turn a simple XML format into a basic web site, PDF, or whatever format you need. Forrest is simple to get up-and-running, but the format, as simple as it may be, is a bit too painful for unassisted plain-text editing. So I still needed a structured authoring tool.

A colleague reminded me that James Clark wrote a mode for Emacs called nxml that works with RelaxNG Schemas. He also wrote a tool called trang that converts RelaxNG schemas into RelaxNG compact syntax, which is something nxml can understand. Both are easy to install.

So now, thanks to Apache Forrest, Emacs' nxml-mode, and trang, I've got a sweet little XML publishing setup.

9:24:30 PM    

Monday, September 26, 2005

Massachusetts Makes Smart Move Official. Switch to OpenDocument format will make state documents more accessible to the public because anyone can have the software to read the format. [eWEEK Linux]
10:21:24 AM    

Steve Jobs' commencement address at Stanford. By David Gurteen

Thanks to Tom Peters for pointing me to this speech of Steve Jobs. Every young person starting out in life should read this! Here is just a taste:
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking, and don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it, and like any great relationship it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don't settle.

[Gurteen Knowledge-Log]

Here's the link to the address if you want to go straight to it. --Jeff

10:17:33 AM    

Recipe for a CMS disaster.

InfoWorld has published a case study of a CMS disaster, caused by a lack of author involvement in the project. To quote:

The new system I was developing would be an improvement, but I knew it would take time for our users to become productive in the new environment -- and they were not known for their patience. I was particularly worried because our project plan didn't include any opportunity for interaction with the users.

Some of these problems could've been resolved through the use of requirements captured in a narrative format, along with supporting scenarios. But as indicated in the article, user involvement throughout the project is critical.

[Thanks to CMS Watch.] [Column Two]

10:09:55 AM    

Autonomy continues to try to justify concept search versus keyword search.

"Say I'm interested in the effect of oil pollution on the penguin population of Alaska. Although that's the idea someone is looking for they will walk up to a search engine and just type 'penguin'."

"They would never walk up to a librarian and just say 'penguin'. And that's the Google effect. We've been trained to assume the search engine is dumb and that takes a little un-training in enterprise."

The tough part is that a lot of people use Google throughout the day. If I am jumping back-and-forth between Google and an Autonomy-powered portal, for instance, how realistic is it to expect me to shift gears between keyword and concept search? I have seen the power of concept-based searching and Autonomy, specifically, but the "un-training" is much easier said than done.

"Search is going to become a lot more than typing words into a box. It's going to become about alerting. This has just happened, or this has just happened in your Malaysia office or we're getting an awful lot of complaints coming into the call centre about this problem with the product," said Lynch.

I agree with this as well. Maybe Autonomy should give up on user-executed search in the Enterprise and focus on behind-the-scenes alerting, clustering, and mining of unstructured data.

Quotes are from: Interview: Mike Lynch, founder of Autonomy. Sep 19 2005 8:36PM GMT [Moreover Technologies - Knowledge management news]

10:02:12 AM    

Sunday, September 25, 2005

There seemed to be a lot of interest in load-testing WDK applications with something other than Mercury LoadRunner. Here is an article I wrote that gives an introduction on using Apache JMeter to perform load-tests against Documentum WDK applications.
11:41:36 PM    

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