» Archive for the 'David M. Goldes' Category

CompuServe Requiem

Friday, July 3rd, 2009 by David Goldes

The original CompuServe service, first offered in 1979, was shut down this past week by its current owner, AOL.  The service, which provided its users with addresses such as 73402,3633 and was the first major online service, had seen the number of users dwindle in recent years.  At its height, the service boasted about having over half a million users simultaneously on line.  Many innovations we now take for granted, from online travel (Eaasy Sabre), online shopping, online stock quotations, and global weather forecasts, just to name a few, were standard fare on CompuServe in the 1980s.

CompuServe users will be able to use their existing CompuServe Classic (as the service was renamed) addresses at no charge via a new e-mail system, but the software that the service was built on, along with all the features supported by that software, from forums for virtually every topic and profession known to man to members’ Ourworld Web pages, has been shut down. Indeed, the current version of the service’s client software, CompuServe for Windows NT 4.0.2, dates back to 1999.

CompuServe members can convert their existing addresses to the new e-mail system at the CompuServe Mail Center.

David M. Goldes is president and senior analyst at Basex.

Google Breaks Microsoft Search?

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 by David Goldes

The fun never ends in the Microsoft v. Google wars. Chris Vander Mey, Goole’s senior product manager for Google Apps, acknowledged that certain programs, such as Windows Desktop Search, that work directly with the outlook data file “don’t currently work well” with Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook.

According to a  post by Vander Mey on Google’s enterprise blog, Windows Desktop Search will not properly index Google Apps Sync data files. In order to prevent indexing from running indefinitely, the Google Apps Sync installer disables it.

Microsoft’s Outlook product manager, Dev Balasubramanian, writing in an official Microsoft blog, said Apps Sync includes a “serious bug/flaw” which disables Outlook’s ability to search data such as e-mail and contacts.   He also provided a fix which involves editing the Windows registry, something many users may not wish to do.

Balasubramanian further stated that the problem impacts Outlook’s search capabilities, not just Windows Desktop Search because Outlook search “relies upon the indexing performed by Windows Desktop Search.”  Google contends that Outlook search will work even if Windows Desktop Search does not.

David M. Goldes is president and senior analyst at Basex.

Traveler Alert – Data Roaming and the T-Mobile G1

Thursday, June 11th, 2009 by David Goldes

We’ve recently heard from multiple knowledge workers who used their T-Mobile G1 smartphones on overseas trips.   All had a common complaint: they followed T-Mobile’s recommended guidelines to turn data roaming off yet they still received a bill for hundreds of dollars of data usage during the trip.

A report from our client RJ, a road warrior who flies to Europe several times per month, was typical.  After purchasing his new G1 and turning data roaming and data synchronization off, his bill for data roaming was $319.55.  T-Mobile customer service did agree to credit him for the charges without arguing the point – but the customer service representative also said that the G1 will turn data roaming back on regardless of what he does and that “you have to either keep the phone home or keep it off during your trip.”   “It’s sophisticated,” the representative added.  The rep suggested renting a phone from T-Mobile for future trips or unlocking the G1 so RJ could purchase and use a local SIM.

We spoke with T-Mobile to better understand the issue at hand.  A spokesman confirmed that data roaming can be turned off and supplied a written statement issued by the company in December 2008.

It reads:
If a T-Mobile customer would like to use their T-Mobile G1 while outside the country, they should contact Customer Care before they leave to ask that the WorldClass feature be added to their service at no additional charge.  If they choose, customers can also disable data roaming on the G1.  This can be done by going through the following steps: Home Screen > Menu > Settings > Wireless Controls > Mobile Networks > Data Roaming.

There is, however, a caveat:
Some third party applications available for download on Android Market require access to the Internet and have the ability to turn on data roaming when in use. Customers are informed whether an application will use this feature prior to downloading, but should also be aware when traveling outside the country.

As RJ’s customer service rep put it, “It wasn’t your fault.”

David M. Goldes is President and Senior Analyst at Basex.

Wolfram Alpha – Better Search?

Friday, May 15th, 2009 by David Goldes

Wolfram Research announced the launch of the Wolfram Alpha computation engine.  The new tool is intended to provide specific and precise factual answers to questions rather than present a list of Web sites which may or may not contain the correct answer.  A key problem in search technology today is that such systems provide “results” instead of answers.  50% of all searches fail as a result; we have found that 50% of searches people believe succeeded also failed in some other way, by not providing the most up-to-date, accurate, or correct information although the individual conducting the search believes the answer is correct at the time.

Back in March, founder Stephen Wolfram wrote on his Web site that, “[F]ifty years ago, when computers were young, people assumed that they’d quickly be able to handle all these kinds of things … and that one would be able to ask a computer any factual question and have it compute the answer.”  We all know that’s not how things turned out simply by going to Google, currently the most popular online search tool, and entering a search query.

Wolfram Alpha, according to Wolfram himself, understands questions that users input and then calculates answers based on its extensive mathematical and scientific engine.

The system is scheduled to go live later today at www.wolframalpha.com.  We’ll find out then whether Wolfram has found a way to build a better search tool.

David M. Goldes is the president of Basex.

Lowering Your Information Overload Exposure

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 by David Goldes

Information overload describes an excess of information that results in the loss of ability to make decisions, process information, and prioritize tasks.  The Basex Information Overload Exposure Assessment service provides companies with actual measurement of the problem and specific recommendations to lessen its impact.

Organizations of all shapes and sizes have already been significantly impacted by information overload, a problem that costs the U.S. economy $900 billion per year in lower productivity and throttled innovation.  Over the past year, we’ve been working with companies to reduce information overload in their organizations and they have seen almost immediate benefits in increased efficiencies, cost reductions, and improved information flow.

Basex helped one client, a global leader in communications, recapture approximately 12 percent of time lost due to information overload, valued at an estimated $2.8 million per annum. For another client, Basex helped reduce the company’s exposure by 18 percent with a commensurate increase in employee efficiency and effectiveness, translating into an annualized savings of several million dollars.

This week, we are introducing the Basex Information Overload Exposure Assessment, a service that helps companies pinpoint opportunities to reduce the amount of information overload and simultaneously reduce costs within their organizations.  In a time of less is more, the ability to recapture what would otherwise be millions of lost dollars may mean the difference between profit and loss.

Find out more at our new Information Overload microsite.  An Information Overload Self-Assessment Tool is available to help you take the first steps in analyzing your organization’s exposure.

David M. Goldes is the president of Basex.

EBay Hangs Up on Skype… But Who Will Call Next?

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 by David Goldes

EBay purchased Skype in 2005 because it had the resources to do so.  At the time the deal was announced, Jonathan Spira wrote that “the purchase of Skype serves notice to the telecommunications industry that voice is merely another service delivered in a data setting.”

Since then, Skype has indeed become a telecommunications giant, albeit one that didn’t seem to have any of the promised synergies with its new parent.  This week, after months of speculation on the company’s future, eBay announced that it will sell Skype via an IPO in 2010.

Before that happens, Skype will have to resolve an intellectual property dispute with Skype founds Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis.  Joltid, a company they founded, retained ownership of the peer-to-peer technology Skype uses and this was licensed back to eBay.  Recently, Joltid said that eBay was in breach of their agreement and eBay has asked a U.K. court to intercede.

The 2010 date gives eBay lots of time to continue to shop the company.  Negotiations with Skype founds Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis reportedly fell through but, absent the founders’ involvement, does it still make sense for Skype to operate as an independent company?  After all, how extensible – or profitable -  is Skype’s most-used feature: free calls to other Skype users.  The company has over 400 million of them (the figure was 405 million at the close of 2008) and revenue for the year was up an impressive 44%.   In addition, Skype is first starting to explore the business market – and that market is willing to pay for certain services.

The list of potential buyers most frequently mentioned is noticeable for an absence of telecommunications companies such as Deutsche Telekom, AT&T, Verizon, and BT.  Any one of these could build an instant bridge to the future of telephony by acquiring the company.  We’ll find out which telecoms company has a true vision for the future when we see an announcement of Skype’s sale in the next three to six months.

David M. Goldes is the president of Basex.

Encarta: 1993 – 2009

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 by David Goldes

Perhaps not surprisingly, Microsoft announced, via a notice posted on the MSN Web site, that it would stop selling Encarta CDs as of June and discontinue the online version of Encarta by the end of 2009.

Microsoft’s move is a recognition on the part of the company that the business of publishing information has once again changed dramatically.  In the early 1990s, traditional print publishers, such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica, found in Microsoft a formidable competitor when Microsoft launched Encarta on CDs and included copies of it in Microsoft Windows.  Microsoft purchased non-exclusive rights to the Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia, which continued separately as a print edition until the late 1990s; the company had reportedly approached Encyclopaedia Britannica first but its owner, worried that sales of the print edition would be hurt, turned down the offer.

Microsoft continued to enhance Encarta by purchasing and incorporating into it Collier’s Encyclopedia and the New Merit Scholar’s Encyclopedia.

Yet Encarta’s time in the sun was fleeting as online information resources, such as the Wikipedia, grew in size (it now has over 10 million articles in over 260 languages).  By comparison, Microsoft’s online Encarta offering currently has 42,000 articles and the complete English language version has only somewhat more than 62,000 articles and is updated much less frequently than the Wikipedia.

“Encarta has been a popular product around the world for many years,” Microsoft wrote in its posted notice. “However, the category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed. People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past.”

David M. Goldes is the president of Basex.

Cut and Paste

Thursday, March 19th, 2009 by David Goldes

Cutting and pasting, who doesn’t take this simple and age-old concept for granted?  Even before the advent of desktop computers, layout artists, armed with X-Acto knives and glue, manipulated text for documents and presentations.  The technique has been used in desktop computers for decades and most PDAs and smartphones also support this function – except for one: the Apple iPhone.  That all changed this past Tuesday.

Once Apple releases iPhone OS 3.0 this summer, iPhone and iPod touch users will be able to select text from one source, for example a flight number in an e-mail, and paste it into another application, an airline’s flight information Web page for example.  Since the introduction of the iPhone, Apple has maintained that it would add cut-and-paste and copy-and-paste functionality once it had developed a user interface worthy of the iPhone.  The feature works by tapping on the text, dragging it to the new location or application, and tapping once again.  To undo, simply shake the iPhone.

Apple is adding other functionality as well, which we’ve covered in this issue and we’ll report on how well this works as soon as it becomes available.  In the meantime, prepare to discard your X-Acto knives.

David M. Goldes is the president of Basex

Assess Your Organization’s Information Overload Exposure

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 by David Goldes

Information Overload costs companies billions of dollars in lowered productivity and throttled innovation and its impact on the bottom line isn’t something you can ignore. But how much does it cost your organization?

Information overload causes:

  • Diminished comprehension levels
  • Lower individual efficiency
  • Compromised concentration
  • Lost opportunities

Raising awareness of the problem is the best first step so, as part of our Basex InfoBox series of online events, we are inviting you to attend a workshop on Assessing Your Organization’s Information Overload on Friday, March 13, 2009 at 12:30 p.m. EDT/9:30 a.m. PDT.

You are invited to attend as our guest.

In this one-hour session, you will learn:

  • How to begin to assess your organization’s exposure, financial and otherwise, to Information Overload
  • What tactics and strategies other companies are successfully using to fight Information Overload
  • How to assess the toll on knowledge workers
  • How to lessen the impact of Information Overload on the bottom line
  • Six key ways to help reduce the impact of Information Overload on your organization right now

Be sure to join us on March 13.

David M. Goldes is president and senior analyst at Basex.

Google Gaffe: Gmail Outage Shows Pitfalls of Online Services

Thursday, February 26th, 2009 by David Goldes

Google’s Gmail system was down for 2.5 hours earlier this week, the sixth such outage in the past eight months.  It isn’t unusual that an e-mail system crashes, but most such occurrences are limited to one organization.  When Gmail, a service Google touts to businesses as more reliable and easier to use than Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes/Domino, goes down, it makes headlines – as well it should.

Applications that exist “in the cloud,” such as Gmail and Salesforce.com, come with risks that are not readily apparent to many people, especially relatively unsophisticated users and managers in smaller organizations.  Gmail was first introduced in 2004; a business version of the offering was released in 2007.  Its pricing model, $50 per user per year, is very attractive to many organizations that lack the ability to manage their own IT infrastructure.  Yet outsourcing your e-mail, which essentially is what using Gmail amounts to, is far different than outsourcing other aspects of an operation, such as the company cafeteria.  Unless cooking is your core competency, there is no reason to keep that operation in house.  But e-mail is the lifeblood of almost every organization today; rather than pick up the phone, people send e-mail – and they expect that it’s received promptly on the other end.

Just imagine if all of the phone lines to your office failed – not today but ten years ago, when the telephone was the most important means of communication (along with fax, I should add).  That’s what Gmail’s users were facing on Monday.  The silence was deafening.

In addition, after five years and 30 million users, many of them corporate accounts, Google still considers this a beta product.  Apparently, based on the adoption rate, companies have had no compunction about using beta-ware for mission critical e-mail services.

Would a non-cloud based system perform better?  Perhaps not, but when it fails, not everyone would go down at once.

David M. Goldes is the president of Basex.