Latest read: Outliers: The Story of Success

I’m not sure why it took so long to read Malcolm Gladwell‘s latest book Outliers: The Story of Success but I’m sure glad its just as enjoyable as his books The Tipping Point and Blink. As defined scientifically Outliers is an observation that is numerically distant from the rest of the data.  Gladwell not only shares compelling stories regarding outliers, but shines in conveying the impact of globalization for math students, airline pilots and more importantly control tower operators in NYC.

Gladwell shares that “The Story of Success” is really interesting when you dig deep into statistics. Gladwell addresses this with hockey players.  Yes, hockey players.  There is something amazing about playing a game on ice. Hockey requires speed and grace.  The fact that its not played on grass, sand or wood makes you wonder if there is “one talent” shared by the best hockey players in the world.

Researchers found that great players actually all fall within birth dates ranging from January to April for hockey and even for most soccer teams.  And as Gladwell points out the best hockey players like Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretsky, Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemiux and Dominik Hasek all have birth dates that allowed them to play against kids a year younger than them — and to no surprise they were handpicked (at some early stage) to further develop their skills.

Gladwell has taken an interesting angle regarding “success” in what some might even call perfection.  Gladwell tells the story of Bill Joy who not only happened to be at the University of Michigan at the right time (to study computing) but more importantly, took the time to spend countless hours learning and programming when he received access to the mainframe at school.  Actually Gladwell adds up those hours in his chapter called “The 10,000 hour rule” and points out that ‘talent’ can be achieved in 5 years when you practice 5.5 hours everyday.  Once you cross that measurement you have positioned yourself for success. Joy invented BSD Unix and Java.

The same 10,000 hour rule even applied to The Beatles who “had to play for 8 hours” in a strip club in Germany before crossing the Atlantic and ultimately rock n roll fame.  Can you imaging some chap telling his wife he saw them play for hours and hours…funny, but true.  Wonder what the impact would have been in America if word had gotten out about how they perfected their music?

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Adobe’s PowerPoint killer ?

Billed as a collaborative slideware application Adobe Labs has launched Presentations.  Yet after building a series of prezos and testing the waters I must admit: I was expecting a lot more with Adobe’s online reputation.

adobe_presentations
adobe presentations

At first glance you may ask is this Adobe’s PowerPoint Killer?  Actually the real competition is with SlideRocket, a strong online presentation tool that has been online for a couple of years and gathering high praise. Both Keynote and SlideRocket take a strong visual approach to authoring slide presentations.

Look at Photoshop.com to see how powerful visual tools can be migrated from the desktop to the internet.  In the end desktop competitors PowerPoint and Keynote along with online competitor SlideRocket are much more robust presentation tools.

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Chinese cyberattacks on US Government

This does not leave me sleeping well at night.  It should bother you:

“When the US Department of Defense is the target of no fewer than 128 information infrastructure attacks per minute from China, and we discover that while DoD is almost universally using off-the-shelf Microsoft Windows systems while China is engaged in working toward 100% military deployment of security hardened FreeBSD, it becomes clear that there’s definitely something wrong with US information security policy.”

Source: TechRepublic

The amount of cyber attacks from foreign countries is pretty amazing.  K12 School Districts are not amune from foreign attacks either.

Tags: China, network, The Great Firewall of China, globalization, national security, Microsoft Windows, Censorship, education, technology, trends

Latest read: Who Controls the Internet?

Think the internet is still the wild west?  Think again.  In a new update of Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World law professors Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu share how the long arm of foreign governments still can stretch the illusion that the internet (and thereby globalization) are shrinking the world.

On the surface you may believe — even in 2009 that you can still say anything, do anything or hack any computer around the globe without impunity because you can hide inside the internet.

Goldsmith and Wu challenge Tom Friedman’s (The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century) position that globalization is opening up communication in countries that have long suppressed their citizen’s ability to speak freely.

China for example. Or think about the European Union.  Is the EU able to dictate how Microsoft releases software?  Think again.  When Microsoft published it’s passport technology it was rejected by the EU.  Rather than pay a fine Microsoft added the tougher security standards dictated by the EU for all customers worldwide.  Those standards are even tougher than those used in America.

Can France tell Yahoo or eBay what products to sell?  They can and they already do.  This book is written from a legal standpoint since both teach at the Law Schools of Harvard and Columbia respectively. Is it strange to see government control over the internet?  Would this be different if today was September 10 2001?  Goldsmith and Wu share their insight to the way Law helps and hinders the internet.  From simply selling memorabilia to cybercrime you learn gaping holes exist even today to prosecute offenders and criminals.

The “I Love You” virus that cost US companies millions of dollars originated in The Philippines, but since there is no law against this type of crime in the The Philippines the US was unable to arrest the known hacker.  Similar rules apply in Russia. When the FBI arrested a hacker who extorted millions from US companies, Russia did not acknowledge this type of crime and did not agree to extradite, so the FBI was forced to release the criminal.

Goldsmith and Wu share the legal case between Yahoo and the country of France that forced Yahoo’s online store to pull Nazi related memorabilia even though Yahoo is an American based company.  But Yahoo’s remote offices in France proved to the key error Jerry Yang overlooked.  Yahoo has stumbled a lot lately.

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