Customized Bumper Stickers via the web

BumperActive is live!. The BumperActive site is live and running: build your own bumper stickers (like this one), on the cheap at get them shipped to you as a one-off. Your friends (and people who see your sticker) can order more. Fund your charity! Express your PoV pithily! Put stickers on things!

The sticker design here — I WarChalk WiFi — is the first sticker I put on my new laptop. I get tons of compliments on it.

(Funny stuff: Kyle from BumperActive has put together a table in which he catalogs all the celebrities who did “Got Milk?” ads and also took a public stance on the war.)

Link Discuss (Thanks, Kyle!) [Boing Boing Blog]

Who says the web isn't contributing to the advancement of society? Something fun for the weekend.

Hacking the Xbox

A (dangerous) primer on hardware hacking. Andrew “bunnie” Huang, whose presentation on hardware hacking at ETCON last month was nothing shy of brilliant, is selling his book, “Hacking the Xbox” online for $24.95 (pre-order now and get it for $19.99!). This, after his publisher backed out of the deal for fear of the DMCA.

This hands-on guide to hacking was cancelled by the original publisher, Wiley, out of fear of DMCA-related lawsuits. Now, “Hacking the Xbox” is brought to you directly by the author, a hacker named “bunnie”. The book begins with a few step-by-step tutorials on hardware modifications that teaches basic hacking techniques as well as essential reverse engineering skills. The book progresses into a discussion of the Xbox security mechanisms and other advanced hacking topics, with an emphasis on educating the readers on the important subjects of computer security and reverse engineering. Hacking the Xbox includes numerous practical guides, such as where to get hacking gear, soldering techniques, debugging tips and an Xbox hardware reference guide.

“Hacking the Xbox” confronts the social and political issues facing today’s hacker. The book introduces readers to the humans behind the hacks through several interviews with master hackers.

“Hacking the Xbox” looks forward and discusses the impact of today’s legal challenges on legitimate reverse engineering activities. The book includes a chapter written by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) about the rights and responsibilities of hackers, and concludes by discussing the latest trends and vulnerabilities in secure PC platforms.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Chris!) [Boing Boing Blog]

Something to order and put in my to read/to learn pile. Taking things apart is still one of the absolute best ways to learn anything. I’m right there with Ed Felten on the importance to intelligent tinkering as one of the fundamental engines of innovation that has driven our economy over time. Dumb ideas like the DMCA are the predictable but ultimately doomed, IMHO, efforts to preserve the status quo for those who once innovated but now prefer to clip coupons and litgate.

Some quotes for the day

A couple of quotes to pass along. The first courtesy of Adam Curry:

qotd may 28. Thomas A. Edison: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” [Adam Curry: Adam Curry’s Weblog]

The second courtesy of the Dear Abby column in this morning’s Chicago Tribune:

“The story–from ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ to ‘War and Peace’–is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind, for the purpose of gaining understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” – Ursula K. LeGuin, 1979

Improving the interaction between individual and organizational intelligence

Collective intellect augments individual. Scott Leslie wrote in his EdTechPost blog: “Don't you just love when, in the process of thinking about an issue,… [Blog of Collective Intelligence]

George Por began thinking about organizations and knowledge management long before most of us. It's good to see him sticking a toe into the blogging waters. There is particularly thought provoking diagram in his post here that is worth a look at and is worth spending some time thinking about. He's trying to get at how individual and organizational knowledge might interact to their mutual advantage. That leads to the question of how you might design things to make this interaction more effective.

Getting up to speed on wikis

Wikis are now on the radar screens of many of us grappling with using technology effectively in knowledge work. Ward Cunningham’s book,The Wiki Way:Quick Collaboration on the Web, has been on my bookshelf for some time now and I’ve visited a handful of public wikis. Lately there’s been a spate of posts in the blog world about wikis. I’ve gathered up and made a first pass at organizing the ones I’ve encountered into what might be a reasonable order (based on my current level of ignorance).

One thing that did help me get a better grasp on wikis was listening to David Weinberger’s talk at Seabury Western two weeks ago. David was drawing attention to the collaborative effort to produce the Wikipedia, which is essentially an open source model effort at creating an online encyclopedia. I had always been puzzled by the free-for-all editing capability inherent in the wiki technology. The analogy that finally made it clear for me was to a whiteboard in a conference room. Those frequently become shared design spaces as markers change hands. Wikis are the same idea moved to the web, which suggests to me that they are likely to be more useful inside organizations than elsewhere.

  • Why Wiki Works – [link courtesy of Corante: Social Software, which has been following the Wiki discussion in depth]
  • Why Wike Works/Not
  • Why I Don’t Like Wikis Email – [Also from Corante: Social Software] – Some interesting observations about visual presentation in wikis and email vs. better laid out web pages and how this interferes with the usefulness of wikis (at least on the public web).
  • Email Doesn’t Self-Organize – [from Ross Mayfield] – quoting Ward Cunningham

    Cunningham also points out that you can go away from a wiki and come back at any time to pick up a conversation without much inconvenience, which isn’t the case with e-mail-centric group discussions. “E-mail doesn’t self-organize,” he emphasizes.

  • The Cunningham quote comes from What’s a Wiki? an overview article by Sebastian Rupley at Extreme Tech.
  • Wiki as a PIM and Collaborative Content Tool [via Sebastian Fiedler] – which appears to be a good overview with lots of links.
  • From the other Seb in my aggregator (Sebastien Paquet at Seb’s Open Research) comes Why Meatball Matters.

    Meatball Wiki is a little-known gem in the jungle of online community-related material on the Web. What is it about? A whole lot of fascinating stuff – in founder Sunir Shah’s words:

    It philosophizes about the nature of hypertext, government, and identity. It talks about user interfaces, community building, and conflict resolution. But it also contains technical analyses of indexing schemes, wiki architecture, and inter-wiki protocol design.

    Sunir has recently been busy writing up a nice summary of what’s significant about Meatball, as part of a work portfolio he’s preparing to get into the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University of Toronto.

    I believe Sunir understands Wiki philosophy better than anyone else I know. His contributions to framing the concept and patterns of soft security that underlie the social architecture of Wikis are what made me an early convert to Meatball. If only Sunir had kept a blog instead of a home-brewed diary page, he’d surely be well-known in social software circles today.

    Hopefully, as the Wiki way slowly seeps into the mainstream Internet mentality, its perceived weirdness will subside and collaborative hypermedia communities like this one will get the recognition (and linkage) they deserve.

James Robertson of Column Two on KM Standards

James Robertson of Column Two consistently provides useful insight and resources on knowledge management and information architecture topics. Recently, Robertson had a series of posts that compiled an inventory of available standards on knowledge management.

Success and failure in software project management

WhatIsFailure agile 15 May 2003

CHAOS report says only 34% of projects succeed.

The Standish Group’s CHAOS report has been talking of billions of wasted dollars on IT projects for many years. The 34% success rate is actually a improvement over 2001’s figure of 28%.

But what do we really mean ‘failure’? The chaos report defines success as on-time, on-budget and with most of the expected features. But is this really success? After all Windows 95 was horribly late yet was extremely successful for Microsoft’s business.

Rather than saying that a project is failed because it is late, or has cost overruns – I would argue that it’s the estimate that failed. So the CHAOS report isn’t chronicling software project failure, it’s chronicling software estimation failure.

So what counts as success? If we could measure it the answer has to be Return on Investment. Sadly this is usually next to impossible to measure. In the end it’s a fuzzy sense of business satisfaction relative to the cost of the project. This may be an unsatisfactorily fuzzy definition, but many business activities are just as fuzzy. Otherwise computers would be CEOs.

[Martin Fowler’s Bliki]

Since I’m on a project management kick at the moment, let’s pass along this interesting observation from Martin Fowler. It is certainly popular in IS circles to bemoan the inability to hit project targets. But Fowler makes an important point. The usual assumption is that it is a failure of project management, usually on the part of someone peddling project management tools or someone hoping to take IS down a peg or two.

Fowler is closer to the truth. The superficial resemblance between software development and construction in the physical world obscures the fact that often what we are doing in software development is more R&D than it is general contracting. Knowing which parts of the project are routine and which might be pushing the envelope requires a more sophisticated form of estimating and budgeting than vanilla project management techniques.

Geneaology of programming languages

Geneaology of computer languges. I'm sure I'm late to the blogosphere with that one, but what the heck, I was away from blogs for the past three days.

[The Scobleizer Weblog]

This is a partial geneaology of programming languages from Fortan, Algol, and Cobol to C#, Java, and Python. I'd take it with a grain of salt (It misses the morphing of Smalltalk into Squeak for example), but it does offer some interesting perspective.