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To Advertisers, Privacy Just Isn’T Practical

Published on Dec. 14, 2007 at midnight by XC

I was just reading an article from the Associated Press discussing the strategy of a new start-up advertising company. Now, advertisers want to put little black boxes in ISP data centers to analyze what we do on-line. ISP’s are going for it, because they get a share of the revenue generated by advertisement campaigns that utilize the harvested data. Customers can ‘opt out’ of being tracked, that’s going to go over like a fart in church with privacy advocates.

It seems to me, the more we use the Internet, the more we learn about ourselves. The more we learn about ourselves, the tighter we cling to the wish to keep our discoveries private. The more insular we become, the more we isolate ourselves and feed this interesting cycle.
Meanwhile, advertisers hope to catch up and make money hoping that you realize some MP3 player is a necessity. Your pesky cookie and Javascript blocking gets in the way of them feeding you what they think you want.

I look at advertisements in the same context that I look at any other kind of SPAM, ads are highly annoying unless of course they happen to be interesting. I would never entertain SPAM that promised me discount prices on Viagra without a prescription, but many people would. Buying the better erection on-line allows someone to feel that they’ve preserved their privacy.

I’d read unsolicited mail that appeared to lead me to cheap hobby stuff, such as robotics kits or computer parts.

Category: Ideas
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How Will I.T. Contractors Retire?

Published on Dec. 10, 2007 at midnight by XC

I am happy to see that plenty of jobs are available in specialized I.T fields such as virtualization. I’ve been digging through the hundreds of head hunter web sites the past few days just to test the water and noticed that many of the posted opportunities offer contract positions.

If you aren’t exclusive to one company, contract work can net you significantly more at the end of the year than conventional full time employment, even considering the costs of paying your own insurance and other things that employers typically do for you in non-contract employment.

The postings that I saw are alarming (in similarity) because many demand well beyond 40 hours of work per week. This means, as a contractor, you would be exclusive to a company without benefits or the ability to advance yourself independently of the company. In essence, its the typical 50+ hour grind without benefits of any kind.
Most interesting to me is the trend to not post the compensation range with the job description. I contacted some of the employers asking about compensation prior to applying for a few positions, none of them wanted to talk to me until they had my resume in hand. Some wanted a non-disclosure agreement signed and submitted with my resume in order for it to be considered. What sense does that make? Are workers actually buying in to this human DRM mentality?

Its becoming painfully obvious to me that I.T. employees are valued similar to baseball cards.

Category: Ideas
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Revenge Of The Nerds

Published on Nov. 27, 2007 at midnight by XC

I saw a re-run of “Revenge Of The Nerds” recently, the gears in my head have been turning ever since.

In seventh grade, the captain of the school wrestling team stuffed my head in a toilet and flushed it several times. Not any toilet, a ‘public school boy’s room’ toilet.

In eighth grade, an over-developed jock ambushed me and stole my shoes. Another no-neck used to muscle me into making his electronics projects. We’re not even going to discuss the things that happened in the Apple II lab.

I can think of many additional unpleasant events that occurred in between the two events above, suffice it to say that things not mentioned were just like the things that many reading this blog also experienced when surrounded by nerd-haters.
Now, “the nerds” are the ones who make the stuff that the world at large demands. Turnabout is fair play, I suppose, but the seeds of technology industries are often opportunistic, not deliberate. Our success (and the fact that women now favor smart skinny guys) can’t quite be counted as ‘revenge’, events just favored us. We managed to drop the dreadful “n” word (nerd) though, in favor of “geek”.

Its cool to be smart, that trend doesn’t seem inclined to fade in any future that qualifies as likely. What will be the “real” revenge of the nerds? I think “legacy of the nerds” might be a better term.

Category: Ideas
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A Freelancer’S Guild?

Published on Nov. 3, 2007 at midnight by XC

I’ve been looking at lengths for an organization of freelance I.T. professionals who combine efforts and forces to help each other. I’ve found some rather informal groups, none that looked like they were likely to stay operational for long.

There are writer’s guilds, programmers guilds, various scientific and research guilds, however I could not find one that was setup specifically to serve the needs of freelance I.T. people.

Some examples of what I’m hoping to get (after paying dues of course) would be:

Discount / group health insurance rates
Legal resources
Overflow help (being able to pull in people quickly to large projects)
General networking / chit chat
Escrow services

There are many things that such a group could offer its members, listed above are just a few simple examples.
Maybe I’m not searching for the correct things, or perhaps such a group has not been founded. I’m not talking about freelance job sites (though they do offer a few of those features), I’m talking more along the lines of a professional group.

I’ve often thought about starting such a group myself, however it would require a chunk of cash to seed, my chunks tend to vanish quickly to all of those wonderful folks who send me monthly bills.

If anyone knows of a group such as this, please leave a link and some info in the comment form. If you happen to be a venture capitalist, this type of group is sorely needed and would be rather lucrative once marketed.

Category: Ideas

Hosting Control Panel Standards Are Needed

Published on Oct. 19, 2007 at midnight by XC

Last week, I set off to do something rather simple, I wanted to make a very simple control system for Xen that could plug into just about any web hosting control panel. My goal was to make one application that could be easily modified to fit into any kind of panel.

This project has turned out to be a bit of an adventure. Every control panel has its own way of doing things, many have their own built in (proprietary) web server that serves the control panel to you. None of them have a standard plug-in specification that lets me write something once that will work anywhere.

Giving it a bit of thought, I think that its time for some standards.
IAAS (infrastructure as a service) is what drives SAAS (software as a service). The web hosting industry is what provides IAAS, we really need to make an open standard that allows developers to create sub systems (such as hooks for Xen, OpenVZ, Linux KVM, etc) that can plug into any proprietary system. Specifically, API’s are needed for the following:

Accounting
Re-seller privileges and quotas
Common OS abstraction
Common interface hooks

Lets take my original idea for a Xen plug-in as an example. Wouldn’t it be neat if you could just drop my application into place and instantly allow your re-sellers to create their own virtual machines up to resource quotas that you set? Writing that to work with the 3 – 5 major (popular) control panels would take the better part of two years.

Category: Ideas
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