Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Messaging Apps Vary Widely When It Comes to Privacy - WSJ

Messaging Apps Vary Widely When It Comes to Privacy - WSJ

This article again demonstrates the trade-off users are making when their chat apps offer additional, "intelligent" features and bots. Something, somewhere has to read that text to figure out what you want to do with it. But where that happens can make a big difference - as to who might be able to gain access to that data in malicious ways.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy Equilux Day

Time to Re-Align Your Priorities
Once again, we find our selves on the cusp of the big seasonal change. Between hot and cold, short-sleeves and long-sleeves, green and brown,  light and dark, Heffeweizen and Stout. The shortening daylight at the end of the workday makes it all too obvious that autumn is here in the northern half of the planet.

This is a great point in the year to take stock of things and make sure that we are keeping things in balance, perspective, and properly prioritized. Some areas to consider:

  • your projects - are you balancing the needs of internal (budget) and external (scope, schedule) stakeholders? Do you have the right amount of focus on both short-term project requirements and long-term business and relationship goals? Where do you fall short and where are you over-extended?
  • your products - how are you balancing the needs of users vs. the priorities of business? Are the two aligned and if not, how do you compensate?
  • your life - that's what we're here for. Make sure you keep everything in perspective:  The Six Work/Life Balance Habits Of Resilient People | Huffington Post   Also, Happy-ish is one of my favorite recent discoveries on Netflix. It's a shame it was dropped after one season, and a shame more programs aren't this honest.
 Twice a year, the world aligns in a way to almost perfectly balance day and night, everywhere. Take advantage and do the same in your life, and your career.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Re-think That Thing


A couple of mundane, weekend chores helped remind me about the ever-present need to re-visit assumptions. They were no where close to being exciting - and bordered on the inane, but for different reasons they reminded me about tasks that we take on in our projects, and the assumptions we operate on.
Exhibit #1 - two many household electronics, not enough outlets. We all know this one: where am I going to plug this new thingamajig in to keep it charged? Well about a week ago I decided I had enough plug-swapping and needed to expand the capacity of select outlets in my home. The act of pulling one plug out, temporarily putting in another, then repeating the whole cycle ad infinitium, ad nauseam was beginning to irk me.
So we were at Target and I started buying outlet expanders: a six-outlet tap here, a power strip there, etc. etc. At the checkout when the cashier announced some ridiculously large number, and my wife asked what the heck we had purchased. I coolly decreed that it was all necessary and non-discretionary. But truth be told I was unnerved at how expensive outlet-expansion was going to be...
At home I plugged in a dazzling new surge protector here, a USB-expansion outlet there, but all the while that number at the checkout was bothering me. It made me curious - was there another way? A quick rummage through the house revealed: an under-utilized 3-way tap here, an un-loved power strip there, a still-in-the-box adapter up in that closet. Before long, I had assembled pretty much everything I needed to replace that shopping bag. Moving one or two items to different, empty outlets was the final step. At the end of it all, I was able to return every one of the items I purchased back to the store.

Exhibit #2 - a mountain of snow, and a path to the bus. Unless you lived under a rock last month, you probably heard about the blizzard event on the east coast. There was plenty of white stuff blocking roads and sidewalks for days on end. The school system finally decided to re-open it's doors, but there was no easy way for my young kids to walk to the bus-stop. On the corner crossing, Mt. Snow-everest stood in their way.
So I took to shoveling that corner. I started from one end - towards the middle things got rough. Lots of snow to move and it was wet and heavy at this point. I started from the other side - same story: going somewhere, but not nearly fast enough for me. So I climbed on top of this mess and surveyed around - and just for the heck of it, started shoveling there. Low and behold, the snow up top was kinda light - a lot easier to move from the top-down. In a matter of minutes I had reduced that great big mound of impasse to a manageable level. Now with an even level of material, I made quick work of the rest of the path.

Two different examples, same important story: check your assumptions in order to minimize your effort. Do you really need to spend that money, to accomplish what you need? Do you already have resources at hand your not fully utilizing? And if you must go through that effort, can your change your approach to ease the workload for everyone involved? These are all things that we should constantly be on the lookout for in our project lives.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Yes - Project management is hard, even for the big guys

Project management 'failure' behind absence of Apple Maps updates at WWDC - report

So I noticed this article just now, referencing the 2014 iOS 8 release, and it's lack of map features. I would gather from this that either the maps team at that time, or possibly Apple overall had a weak PM culture that contributed to this. We all know Apple has a great product management culture, where good practitioners will focus on the strategic nature. Good Project management on the other-hand requires mastery of the tactical, which I suspect might be difficult in a culture like Apple's, especially with the laborious back-end discipline that is part and parcel to geo data.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Google's Bad Latitude Attitude

Google's announcement yesterday (I learned from the E-mail below) wasn't a shock for most familiar with the app, and keeps up a pattern of Google shutting down apps that don't fit nicely into it's plan for Google + world domination.

I liked Latitude, but the writing was on the wall for some time and I noticed that almost all of the ~ dozen or so of my contacts who were using the app have long-since stopped updating their positions. For me, it was a handy way of collecting history, sharing general location to most friends, and sometimes showing specific location to a few select users, at select times. The API was also useful for developers to extend location functionality into other realms,like Jeffrey Fridel's reverse geocoding functionality for Adobe Lightroom. (which worked mostly, sometimes....

And I hate check-ins: just one more useless "feature" IMHO. I didn't have to check-in w/ Latitude though to still have it be useful for me.

Alternatives? OpenPaths is an altruistic-sounding, privacy-concerned group, that I've tried out somewhat in the past. There are other apps that sound promising on the AppStore, like this one for geotaging photos on non-GPS'd cameras... For me the selling points will be privacy, battery management and functionality related to history. To be continued...


Earlier today, we announced that Google Latitude is no longer part of the Google Maps app, and we're retiring Latitude on August 9, 2013.
This means that after August 9, your Latitude friends list will be deleted and you'll lose the ability to share your location with them. There will also be some changes to Location Reporting and Location History, including changes to third-party applications that use Google Latitude. Please see our FAQs for more information.
We understand some of you still want to see your friends and family on a map, which is why we've added location sharing to Google+ for Android (coming soon to iOS).
Thank you for using Google Latitude.

The Google Latitude Team

© 2013 Google Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043

You have received this mandatory email service announcement to update you about important changes to the Google Latitude product.

Friday, May 24, 2013

the new Google Maps - a 'blank' canvas ...

It’s new – and empty :)





From: Google Maps [mailto:google-maps-preview@google.com]
Sent: Thursday, May 23, 2013 9:55 PM
Subject: You're in. Get ready to try the new Google Maps.


Welcome to the new Google Maps. Preview now »


A map made just for you

The new Google Maps is redrawn for every search and click you make. This means you always get a map that highlights the things that matter to you and what you're trying to do.



Let us know what you think

We're excited to share the new Google Maps with you before launching it to the world. Please use the feedback link in the top right corner of the map to help us improve your experience.














© 2013 Google Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Redefining 'open' in the face of crisis response

Concert Crowd (Osheaga 2009) - 30000 waiting for Coldplay
Last week was yet another test of geospatial and GIS technology in the face of a natural disaster. At the very height of election season, mother nature re-affirmed her role as a king-maker and undoubtedly influenced the incumbent president's chances.

Superstorm Sandy's impact might indeed live up to the hype that preceded it. But the challenges for emergency management officials remain the same: identifying the priorities, and moving the right assets and resources into the right place at the right time. This storm is no different, the response has already drawn criticism from many sides, including FEMA's supplemental power generation.

Geospatial technoligies have seen a proliferation of 'open' and interconnected components in the last few years. REST APIs and OGC standards help, but it is still much easier to connect systems, than it is to connect people. The challenge remains - getting the right people the right information at the right time. With every new GIS portal launched, the promise of a Common Operating Picture fades from view. When questions of "which portal do I use?" reverberate across the list-serves, sharing shapefiles via E-mail help soothe the pain of COP-creep.

Encouragingly though, it is now easier to connect people with the technology. While silos and fiefdoms may not like talking to each other, the crowd will now push them to action. Even FEMA has praised the collaborative efforts of groups like Humanitarian Open Street Map and their application to validate damage assessment photos from the Civil Air Patrol. The abundance of crowd-sourced data and applications helps to augment (and QC) the 'authoritative' versions. Evidence of this also includes two road-closure sites maintained side-by-side in Fairfax Co. Virginia.

All maps lie - they hide truths and obscure facts. By their very nature, they must present a viewpoint that is myopic - limited by the variables and symbology chosen by their creator. The challenge for those in the profession is to discern the burning questions that decision makers face, and tell a story that best illustrates a path forward. We have plenty of techno-talent, geo-lingo-jargon-experts and princely fiefdoms. It's encouraging to see democratic systems that help feed swift solutions to bridge the gap of what-do-we-know and what-do-we-do.