San Francisco’s Wild and Wacky World of Technology

Fact: San Francisco’s municipal IT continues to self-destruct, according to new reports this weekend.  According to an IDG story (San Francisco hunts for mystery device on city network), “With costs related to a rogue network administrator’s hijacking of the city’s network now estimated at $1 million, city officials say they are searching for a mysterious networking device hidden somewhere on the network. The device, referred to as a terminal server in court documents, appears to be a router that was installed to provide remote access to the city’s Fiber WAN network, which connects municipal computer and telecommunication systems throughout the city. City officials haven’t been able to log in to the device, however, because they do not have the username and password. In fact, the city’s Department of Telecommunications and Information Services (DTIS) isn’t even certain where the device is located, court filings state.”

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How Not to Predict Stock Performance

Google hasn’t had a great week on the stock market so far, but it isn’t often that you get to use the words “Google stock” and “kick ’em while they’re down” in the same sentence, so…

I like my own little subtle “inside jokes” a bit too much sometimes. If you’re sharp-eyed you’ll have noticed that on the left-hand margin, down a ways, is an RSS feed featuring the latest news stories which include the phrase, “the next Google.” Yes, I use Google News itself to drive the RSS feed, ha ha.

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Silverlight 2.0: It’s “1 better than 1.0”

Last week I was visiting an intelligence community facility which has been known for several years for housing some of the brightest and most innovative adopters of Web 2.0 approaches for classified systems. I could say who and where, but then I’d have to… well, not kill anyone, just apologize to all my other friends at other agencies who think they’re the cat’s meow on classified Web 2.0. (With any luck this anonymity now makes each of them think, “Wait, who’s more advanced than we are?  How can we catch up??!”)Well, it turns out they’re excited about something new & cool they would like to use.

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Patents, Microsoft, and the Future

Fact: According to the latest annual report on patents released this month, the number of patents awarded in 2007 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was down a full 9.5 percent from 2006’s all-time high. In addition, some 80 percent of the companies on the list of top recipients (including IBM, repeating for its 14th straight year at the top of the list) received fewer patents than they had the year before.  Only one American company in the top 25 earned more patents in 2007 than it had the year before: Microsoft.

Analysis:  One of my minor hobbies is reading patents, for example in the field of information retrieval, and I got the bug as an undergrad from my idol Thomas Jefferson, founder of both my alma mater and the U.S. Patent Office and the first patent examiner himself.  Patents are a great indicator of the future – the future of an idea, a technology, a company, a nation.  I enjoyed a great visit to IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center last year, and was enthralled by one design element in the hallways: the wallpaper in the tech demo area was actually small-type listings, floor to ceiling, of the previous year’s patents.  Amazing!  And plenty of fun to read. But in 2007 IBM Corp. received 3,148 patents, down more than 500 grants from the previous year. By contrast, as Network World reported “Microsoft charged into the top 10 with 1,637 patents [and] ranked No. 6 on the annual list after failing to crack the top 10 the previous two years,” with an increase of nearly 12 percent in its patents from the year before.

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