Thursday, May 29, 2008

How secure is YOUR System - really?

Revision 3 is a well-funded, reputable operation. They know what they are doing. Yet Media Defender (MD) managed to find (or place possibly) illegal copyright material on their website. When the material disappeared, this may have triggered a ferocious Denial of Server attack by MD. Bit torrent files have become essential to the Health sector and open source communities (the only way we could download the last version of Fedora successfully was to revert to using a Bit Torrent client). This article explores what happened and it's important for management as well as techies to understand our exposure to potential problems like this. The core belief underlying ITIL today is that our business (Government or Private) absolutely relies on our systems. For Rev 3 the costs will be added up, and this will be a case study worth following.

Inside the Attack that Crippled Revision3

on May 29th, 2008 at 07:49 am by Jim Louderback in Polemics

As many of you know, Revision3’s servers were brought down over the Memorial Day weekend by a denial of service attack. It’s an all too common occurrence these days. But this one wasn’t your normal cybercrime – there’s a chilling twist at the end. Here’s what happened, and why we’re even more concerned today, after it’s over, than we were on Saturday when it started.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why should I Deal with You?

Staying with the theme of motivating the workforce and keeping your company in business ....

Why Should I Do Business with You? - Harvard Business Online's Bill Taylor
This consultant, whose firm has conducted thousands of “mystery shops” and interviews with front-line employees at retail banks, told the gathering that during their visits, his researchers always ask bank employees a simple question: “As a customer, why should I choose your bank over the competition?” And two-thirds of the time, he said, front-line employees have no answer to that question—they simply “make something up on the fly.”

How can any business expect to outperform the competition when its own employees can’t explain—simply and convincingly— what makes them different from the competition? This question isn’t just for bankers. Gary Hamel, the influential strategy guru at the London Business School, makes the case that most companies, in most industries, suffer from a kind of tunnel vision: They chase the same opportunities that everyone else chases; they miss the same opportunities that everyone else misses.

Seriously Different - Offer New Employees a bonus to Quit

Game changing practices. True insights are rare but Bill Taylor has gone on a rave -

I spend a lot of time visiting with companies and figuring out what
ideas they represent and what lessons we can learn from them. I usually
leave these visits underwhelmed. There are plenty of companies with a
hot product, a hip style, or a fast-rising stock price that are,
essentially, one-trick ponies—they deliver great short-term results,
but they don’t stand for anything big or important for the long-term.

Every so often, though, I spend time with a company that is so

original in its strategy, so determined in its execution, and so
transparent in its thinking, that it makes my head spin. Zappos is one of those companies. Two weeks ago, I paid a visit to Zappos headquarters in Henderson, Nevada, just outside Las Vegas, and spent time with CEO Tony Hsieh
and his colleagues. I could write a whole series of posts (and just
might) about what I learned from this incredible operation. But I want
to focus this post on one small practice that offers big lessons for
leaders who are serious about changing the game in their field—and
filling their organization with people who are just as committed as
they are.

Bill Taylor has been around - his resume includes:

agenda-setting thinker, writer, and entrepreneur. His new book, Mavericks at Work, has been a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller. As cofounder of Fast Company,
he launched a magazine that earned a passionate following among
executives and entrepreneurs. He is an adjunct professor at Babson
College and a former associate editor of Harvard Business Review.

Why Zappos Pays New Employees to Quit—And You Should Too - Harvard Business Online's Bill Taylor
So the value proposition is a winner. But it’s the emotional connection that seals the deal. This company is fanatical about great service—not just satisfying customers, but amazing them. The company promises free, four-day delivery. That’s pretty good. But most of the time it delivers next-day service, a surprise that leaves a lasting impression on customers: “You said four days, but I got them the next morning.”

Zappos has also mastered the art of telephone service—a black hole for most Internet retailers. Zappos publishes its 1-800 number on every single page of the site—and its smart and entertaining call-center employees are free to do whatever it takes to make you happy. There are no scripts, no time limits on calls, no robotic behavior, and plenty of legendary stories about Zappos and its customers.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Agile techniques - Why User Stories

Extending the discussion of Consulting Techniques and adapting Agile, approaches, this article by Mike Cohn is still relevant today. I've included a snippet from his discussion with a meaningful example. The bottom line is that a clear story line is critical to ensuring a report is effective.

Mountain Goat Software - Advantages of User Stories for Requirements
IEEE 830–style requirements have sent many projects astray because they focus attention on a checklist of requirements rather than on the user᾿s goals. And lists of requirements don't give the reader the same overall understanding of a product that stories do. It's very difficult to read a list of requirements without automatically considering solutions in your head as you read. Carroll, for example, suggests that designers “may produce a solution for only the first few requirements they encounter.”6 For example, consider the following requirements:7

3.4) The product shall have a gasoline-powered engine.

3.5) The product shall have four wheels.

3.5.1) The product shall have a rubber tire mounted to each wheel.

3.6) The product shall have a steering wheel.

3.7) The product shall have a steel body.

By this point, I suppose images of an automobile are floating around your head. Of course, an automobile satisfies all of the requirements listed above. The one in your head may be a bright red convertible, while I might envision a blue pickup. Presumably the differences between your convertible and my pickup are covered in additional requirements statements.

But suppose that instead of writing an IEEE 830–style requirements specification, the customer told us her goals for the product:

* The product makes it easy and fast for me to mow my lawn.
* I am comfortable while using the product.

By looking at goals, we get a completely different view of the product: the customer really wants a riding lawnmower, not an automobile. These goals are not user stories, but where IEEE 830 documents are a list of requirements, stories describe a user’s goals. By focusing on the user’s goals for the new product, rather than a list of attributes of the new product, we can design a better solution to the user’s needs.

Consulting Tricks - Finding Subheadings

An old consulting trick is to work out what you want to say in a series of phrases, and then expand the content under each phrase with the evidence and detail. This creates a coherent structure for the report. Mike Cohn has a template he uses (more detail on the link) to collect requirements. Add some templates for higher level stakeholders - e.g. Executives, shareholders, Government, that may not be able to participate directly, and you can use this across the management spectrum.

Advantages of the "As a user, I want" user story template | Mike Cohn's Blog - Succeeding With Agile™
Advantages of the “As a user, I want” user story template

In my user stories book and in all my training and conference sessions on user stories I advocate writing user stories in the form of “As a , I want so that .” While I consider the so-that clause optional, I really like this template.

Friday, May 16, 2008

How the Web will change with Gen Y

A thoughtful overview of changes. The unknown, though is how the financial meltdown will change those who have never experienced a serious recession if it becomes prolonged.

Why Gen Y Is Going to Change the Web - ReadWriteWeb
Gen Y is taking over. The generation of young adults that's composed of the children of Boomers, Generation Jones, and even some Gen X'ers, is the biggest generation since the Baby Boomers and three times the size of Gen X. As the Boomers fade into retirement and Gen Y takes root in the workplace, we're going to see some big changes ahead, not just at work, but on the web as a whole.