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Infrastructure on the Skids

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 1/25/14 (8:58pm)

"High speed" Internet provider AT&T tells me that my connection speed sucks but instead of trying to fix it, they're throwing in the towel and lowering my monthly rate.

"About Your AT&T High Speed Internet Service - We regularly test the speed of your AT&T High Speed Internet service to ensure you have the best Internet speeds possible. Recently we sent a letter to let you know that our testing has found that your modem speed is slower than the speed shown in the AT&T High Speed Internet Terms of Service. We're moving you to a lower-priced plan more in line with your current speed, although we cannot guarantee specific speeds."

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And Now From the People Who Gave Us 'Smart Tags'...

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 2/20/13 (1:38am)

Kind of ironic ad considering it's from the people who (almost) gave us 'smart tags'. Background info...

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Perils of Outsourcing Your IT Expertise

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 12/24/12 (3:51am)

This article on the differences between the Obama and Romney campaign operations has been making the rounds. I think the best approach to its catalog of hits and misses is a healthy dose of skepticism. I mean, did the fate of Romney's campaign really hinge on whether they put together a documentary film showing "how Romney had helped average people in personal ways"? Who knows? Anyway, what really caught my eye, was this comment about the organization of Obama's IT team:

As [Harper] Reed assembled his team, he insisted on being given leeway to hire some of the best techies in the country, from ­Facebook, Craigslist, Twitter. Moreover, he insisted the team be largely internal, rather than have the enterprise be divided up among outside consultants.

Meanwhile according to this great article in Ars Technica, the Romney campaign was stricken with a severe case of outsource-a-ritis:

... [T]he Romney campaign did what many corporations have done in tight times—it kept its IT budget in check and heavily outsourced technology relative to its budget, keeping only a few strategic efforts in-house. At the same time, top executives took care of their own base, bringing in their own companies and those of friends to provide key services. While it wasn't exactly a consulting feeding frenzy, the Romney campaign left most of its technological fate in the hands of outsiders—and even internal projects like Orca were dependent on quick fixes from outside talent.

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Blast from the Past (1985): Tech-savvy Educators Choose ... LaserDisc!

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 6/18/11 (10:53pm)
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"Rapidly changing technology confronts an educator with difficult choices in selecting new equipment. Will today's state-of-the-art equipment be tomorrow's Edsel? Obviously, educators must be careful in choosing a particular technology, making certain that it will play an important functional role in the educational system. The Laser Videodisc system is such a technology."*

________
*Schwartz, Ed. "The Educator's Handbook to Interactive Videodisc" (1985), p1.

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Living the Digital Life - Amtrak Edition

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 8/21/10 (3:10pm)
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Roy's got a post on all the digital paraphernalia he was lugging around on a recent trip to Boston. This reminded me of my own experience going to Springfield -- and how attached I still was to the 'Cloud' no matter what the circumstances were.

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Humanities -- the Salvation of Technology?

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 7/26/10 (9:19am)

Friend of mine from my undergrad days. Being an English major, it's nice to read reaffirmations such as this one by Daniel Paul O'Donnell in The Edmonton Journal, called 'Humanities, Not Science, Key to New Web Frontier':

Bill Clinton - All Thumbs at Personal Computing

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 3/16/10 (2:17pm)

In a wide-ranging article on Bill Clinton and his role as a former president, this sentence about his inability to operate a computer stood out:

The man who ushered in the Internet age still does not use a computer, much less a BlackBerry, but keeps up with blogs and sites like The Huffington Post through clips printed out by aides.

Aides print out web pages for him to read? Who knew?

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Real-Time Web: It's More Than Just Twitter

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 8/30/09 (12:18pm)

I liked the article in BusinessWeek on the 'Real-Time Web'. It being BusinessWeek, they naturally devoted a significant portion to speculation on how to make money from this emerging trend and I had to laugh at the illusive precision of there being "at least $5 billion to be made on the real-time Web". What, just $5 billion?

Anyway, to give them their due, they correctly identify the trend:

History Repeats Itself as U of I's Global Campus Goes Belly Up

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 5/21/09 (10:19pm)

NYUonline (2001):

New York University is closing down its for-profit electronic learning operation, NYUonline, and moving some of its curriculum and staff into its School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

U of I Global Campus (2009):

[University of Illinois] trustees meeting in Chicago voted to follow a faculty task force plan to scrap much of the current version of Global Campus.

NYUonline (2002):

In two and a half years of operation, NYUonline received nearly $25 million from the university, but enrollment remained anemic at best: just 500 students at its peak.

U of I Global Campus (2009):

The $10 million program had only attracted about 360 students as of last month.

NYUOnline (2001):

The university blames last month's closure of the distance-learning company, called NYUonline, on the economy.

U of I Global Campus (2009):

...[Prof. Nick Burbules] said, a global recession has changed conditions under which the older initiative was established.

NYUonline (2001):

"I believe that the value of our work -- some of which will continue to be carried on by the university, and some non-academic portions of which may be acquired by third parties -- will become even clearer with time," [NYUonline CEO Gordon] Macomber said in the release.

U of I Global Campus (2009):

Burbules said the 2.0 model draws from the UI's experience with the initiative. "I think what is driving this process is the belief that the mission of expanding the online offerings is important," he said. "I give [U of I President White] full credit for inspiring this work, and I personally believe it is the future of higher education."

Note, there were significant differences between the programs, though stated goals tended to shift over time. Nevertheless, what the two shared was an inability by the people in charge to truly understand what the technology was capable of and what it wasn't. Decision-makers themselves had no strong background in online content development for higher education. This lack of background made it hard to evaluate alternative strategies. Instead of identifying successful initiatives already in place and extending those, they chose to concoct their schemes out of whole cloth.

The outcome should come as no surprise.

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