Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

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Dolphin Jumping @ SXSW

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They call it jumping the shark when a TV show reaches the end of its prime.

I’m not sure what they call a conference that does the same, but assuming I can co-opt the saying for events, methinks SXSW Interactive may be closer to the shark’s teeth than ever.

I first attended SXSW Interactive in 2000, while I was living in NYC. I had a speaking engagement on one of the panel discussions, and it was literally weeks before signs emerged that the dot com bubble was going to start to burst.

Headhunters were everywhere, jobs were abundant (particularly for developers), the parties were crazy. This, of course, was only weeks before the infamous Barron’s article appeared that announced all the dot com startups were running out of money.

It was a heady time, but little did we know the headwinds we were about to face.

Of course, this was at the dawn of what we were soon going to call “social media.” The authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto were in attendance, and explained to us all how the network was a conversation and that the world was about to change, but mostly nobody listened.

This was well before Friendster, or Myspace, or LinkedIn, or Facebook, or Twitter. We were still using Listservs and email distribution. Social was what we did on happy hour Friday night…and at all the SXSW parties.

Flash forward to 2013. Social media is an industry. And 27,000+ people invade Austin every March looking for….a job? Insights? A drunkfest?

I’m not looking for a job. I’m definitely looking for insights. The drunkfest we’ll have to wait and see…but logistics matter.

I’ve talked to two people this morning already, one a close colleague, another a complete stranger from Philly, who complained they had travelled to an offsite location from the Austin Convention Center to attend a session, but the sessions were already filled, and the line to get back via the shuttle was 30-40 people long and it was raining.
UPS explains it all when they talk about “logistics.” All this virtual convening in a physical space is fantastic, but only if the physical space can facilitate the virtual conversation.

Despite having distributed and automated the registration and badge pickup process this year — that alone is a huge step forward — the fact that the venues can’t accommodate the interested attendees suggests that SXSW Interactive 2013 could be the beginning of its end.
I’ll reserve my complete judgment until we get a little further into the conference.

But if SXSW Interactive hasn’t completely jumped the shark, I think I definitely saw at least a few dolphins swimming around down there in Town Lake…and they looked hungry.

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Written by turbotodd

March 8, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Opening Up The Clouds

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Yesterday was a big day for the clouds.

Not only did we encounter a lot of mentions around cloud computing here at IBM Pulse 2013 and its growing importance in the IT realm, we also heard from IBM in an important announcement that all of its cloud services and software moving forward would be based on an open cloud architecture, OpenStack.

This move will ensure that innovation in cloud computing isn’t hampered by locking businesses into proprietary “islands.” For without industry-wide open standards for cloud computing, businesses won’t be able to fully take advantage of the opportunities associated with interconnected data, including mobile computing and business analytics.

As part of a first major step here, IBM unveiled a new private cloud offering based on the open sourced OpenStack software that will speed up and simplify managing an enterprise-grade cloud.

Now, businesses will have a core set of open source-based technologies on which they can build enterprise-cloud services that can be ported across hybrid cloud environments.

Based on customer-driven requirements, the new software, called IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator, gives clients greater flexibility by removing the need to develop specific interfaces for different cloud services. 

With the new software, companies can quickly combine and deploy various cloud services onto the cloud infrastructure by lining up the compute, storage and network resources with an easy-to-use graphical interface. 

The new IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator allows users to perform the following:

  • Build new cloud services in minutes by combining the power of pattern-based cloud delivery, with a graphical orchestrator for simple composition of cloud automation;
  • Reduce operational costs with an orchestrator that can automate application deployment and lifecycle management in the cloud: compute, storage and network configuration, human tasks automation, integration with third party tools, all delivered by a single cloud management platform and;
  • Simplify the end user consumption of cloud services, via an intuitive self service portal, including the ability to measure the cost of cloud services with metering and charge-back capabilities.

In addition, IBM also announced new versions of software that use open standards to help companies better monitor and control their enterprise cloud deployments. 

For example, IBM SmartCloud Monitoring Application Insight helps businesses monitor the real-time performance and availability of applications hosted on a cloud and being delivered via the Web, hosted on public cloud platforms and IBM SmartCloud. 

Two new beta programs, that use analytics to predict changes in scale and usage, are now available. In addition, new integration between IBM SmartCloud ControlDesk and IBM Endpoint Manager automates and extends the ability to control cloud services for compliance, regulation, and security to various “end points” or devices, such as mobile phones, medical devices and car engines. 

The integration of these two products is made possible through open-standard OSLC.

The development of open industry standards has proven a critical turning point in the success of many technologies, such as the Internet and operating systems. 

For cloud computing to grow and mature similar to its predecessors, vendors must stop creating new cloud services that are incompatible. A recent report by Booz & Company warned that without a more concerted effort to agree on such standards, and leadership on the part of major companies, the promise of cloud computing may never be reached.

About IBM, Cloud, And Open Standards

IBM is applying its experience in supporting and validating open standards from Linux, Eclipse and Apache to cloud computing. Working with the IT community, IBM is helping to drive the open cloud world by:

  • Creating a 400-member strong Cloud Standards Customer Council that grew from about 50 members at launch;
  • Sponsoring OpenStack Foundation as a platinum and founding member and as one of the top code and design contributors to all OpenStack projects;
  • Driving related cloud standards, such as Open Service for Lifecycle Collaboration, Linked Data in the W3C and TOSCA in OASIS, to enhance cloud application portability;
  • Dedicating more than 500 developers on the open cloud projects and;
  • Working closely with the OpenStack Foundation, along with its 8,200+ members from 109 countries and 1,000 organizations.

 IBM is one of the world’s largest private cloud vendors with more than 5,000 private cloud customers in 2012, which increased 100 percent year-over-year. IBM’s cloud portfolio, called SmartCloud, is based on a common code of interoperability, allowing clients to move between IBM’s private, hybrid and public cloud services.

IBM Orchestrator is expected to be available later this year. IBM SmartCloud Monitoring Application Insight is expected to be available in the second quarter of the year. The analytics beta programs are expected to be available by the end of March.

Go here for more information about cloud offerings from IBM.

Written by turbotodd

March 5, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Dont Not Look Back

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It’s a rare feat that I’ll sit down and watch the entire Academy Awards ceremony end to end, but that’s exactly what I did last evening. 

I didn’t have an opinion one way or the other about Seth McFarlane as emcee going into the evening, but after seeing the reports of his apparent Twitter lynching, I’m sure glad I stayed off social media for the most part during the event.

Of the entire evening, I have to say I was laughing way out loud in my living room at the sock puppet rendition of the Oscar-nominated Flight. Coke sniffing, tequila swilling sock puppets flying a plane upside down?  All they needed was the Pets.com sock puppet to fly in save the day (although we saw how well THAT worked out for Pets.com!)

I thought McFarlane struck a fine balance between properly insulting the Hollywood clerisy and appropriately celebrating the film arts.

On which topic, I wanted to debrief on a particularly notable celebration, the Honorary Awards, one of those awards that were awarded prior to Oscar night. This year, one of those awards went to D.A. Pennebaker, a pioneer and downright legend in documentary filmmaking circles.

Arguably, Pennebaker’s work, and the work of those he influenced, has had a resultantly more powerful historical impact than many of the celebrated filmmakers in attendance last evening.

Pennebaker, along with a small cohort that included the likes of Richard Leacock, Robert Drew, Albert and David Maysles (and a handful of others) in the form of Drew Associates helped to create the notion of cinema verite, or “truth in film.” In 1960’s Primary, Pennebaker and team documented John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey’s campaigns in the 1960 Wisconsin Democratic Primary (and which resulted in one of the most famous “stalking” shots in cinematic history of then candidate JFK). 

With this film, Pennebaker and crew also demonstrated the power and impact that could be brought about with the synching of film and sound (using the then relatively-new Nagra tape sound recorders) on the move — that is to say, where the documentary filmmaker could “follow” their subject in the field.

Pennebaker has also been a pioneer in making a record of musical performance, starting with his filming of Bob Dylan’s 1965 English tour, entitled Dont Look Back, but also other important artists including Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie.

Dont Look Back was the first draft of the basic script for music videos nearly 20 years before they exploded onto the scene with MTV. 

And love him or hate him for it, Pennebaker helped paved the way for what came to be known as “reality TV” — one could pretty easily connect a straight line from Pennebaker’s cinema verite work to Cops — although Pennebaker’s contributions to the documentary medium have been much more substantive in terms of subject matter and thoughtfulness, and it’s a shame that the medium hasn’t evolved more broadly with the promising foundation that Pennebaker and his associates laid down fifty plus years ago.

If you’re interested in checking out his work, I would certainly encourage you to screen Primary and Dont look Back. There’s also Monterey Pop and Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

And, of course, that ever campaign-insider flick, The War Room, which took us inside the first Bill Clinton presidential campaign “war room,” where the likes of James Carville and George Stephanopolous worked to keep the Clinton campaign spinning and vibrant. 

To steal from that early campaign slogan: “It’s the documentary, stupid.” 

Written by turbotodd

February 25, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Go Danica

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You probably know her best for her star turn in the infamous GoDaddy TV spots (particularly during the SuperBowl).

But newly-adapted Sprint Cup Series driver Danica Patrick got known this past weekend for her need for speed, surpassing even longtime Nascar guru Jeff Gordon for the pole position in this weekend’s Daytona 500.

Danica’s No. 10 Chevrolet SS turned in a lap at 196.434 miles per hour, enough to put Patrick in the pole spot for Nascar’s most prestigious race. Considering that the U.S. television ratings for the Daytona 500 have been the highest for any auto race during the year since 1995, one might wonder if a marketing conspiracy was afoot.

Actually, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Nascar just changed its marketing firm, dumping Jump Company in St. Louis for the very same firm IBM hired to lead its marketing renaissance in 1993, Ogilvy and Mather. 

New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott explains it all in a column timestamped yesterday, the gist of which explains that Ogilvy and Mather is going to bring the drivers front and center in the new initiative.

First, they’ll be featured in a series of TV ads that “presents drivers in larger-than-life poses,” and also encourages drivers to aggressively contact fans and followers in the social media.

This is definitely not my redneck uncle’s tobacco-chewing, Budweiser-sipping Nascar.

Many moons ago, circa 1999, I tried to convince my own marketing amigos in IBM’s advertising organization that we should be all over Nascar. They laughed me out of the room — we go in more for golf and tennis, and to just keep things fresh and intellectually challenging, every once and again some chess and Jeopardy! 

But I knew then, as so many do now, that Nascar races were excellent venues for CEOs to conduct business, many of whom would fly in and out for Nascar races, and that the sport of Nascar was poised for a significant uptick in popularity as its reach stretched beyond Bubba-dom.

Just as importantly, the amount of data that the cars and races generated was, to my view, a virtual feast for sponsorship by an information technology company, especially one like ours that specializes in database and business analytics technologies.

And so, it seems, the time for more technology in stock car racing is ripe.

Forget for a moment Danica Patrick’s partnership with domain registrar GoDaddy.

Nascar CEO Brian France just recently announced in a CNN interview that the organization is seeking sponsorship from tech companies like Apple or Facebook or Google, explaining that adding technology will help make Nascar more relevant to a new generation of fans.

And the technology angle apparently isn’t limited to only car sponsorships. In an awkward but fascinating demo at this year’s CES keynote address, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs explained how an app created by Omnigon Communications would offer Nascar fans customized viewing across multiple smartphones, tablets, and TVs powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

He brought Nascar driver Brad Keselowski onstage to help demo the new app, and if you can get past their awkward presentation in the video below, you can actually start to see they might be onto something here in terms of what I would call “real-time sports customization.”

As for this coming Sunday’s Daytona 500, the smart money would suggest Danica Patrick doesn’t have good odds for pulling off a checkered flag, even with the pole position.  She’s a Sprint Cup rookie and has some formidable competition (including “co-poler” and three-time Daytona victor, Jeff Gordon).

But as Patrick herself said in interviews earlier this week, her gender ought not be the issue. 

“I was brought up to be the fastest driver,” Patrick explained, “not the fastest girl.”

That being said, Nascar, and Madison Avenue, may very well be the ones most cheering Patrick on at the finish line for Daytona this weekend.

Because a victory by a female rookie in the sport’s top annual competition might just be the thing that convinces a whole new generation of fans, both male and female, to pay more attention to Nascar throughout the rest of the year.

Written by turbotodd

February 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm

The Snowstorm From Hades

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For those of you in the northeast, I feel for you. 

The coming snowstorm sounds like a monster, and reminds me of my first big storm when I was living in the New York area, the “Blizzard of 1996.”

If memory serves, it really kicked in on Sunday, January 7. I was living in the White Plains area, and had walked down to a local bar so I could watch a Dallas Cowboys football game on their TV there.

I remember the snow starting to fall in the first half.  By the end of the game, snow completely covered the sidewalk outside.

I walked home through the snow, and it was still coming down pretty consistently and pretty heavily.

I had no idea.

When I awakened the next morning, I looked outside and snow was piled up halfway up the door of a car parked across the street.

I was speechless. Growing up in north Texas, it was a HUGE deal to ever see ANY snow.  To see it fall like there was an endless supply…well, I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing.

New York City had pretty much shut down.  Before it was all over, they were dumping snow into the Hudson River, as there was nowhere else to put it.

IBM offices were closed on Monday, and I think Tuesday, that week, but I remember being able to work from home through a phone line.  Yes, a phone line.  You know, with a modem.  Where you dialed up to your server and got that really annoying connecting noise when the modem finally coupled.  

I can still hear that sound today, 17 years later, like it was yesterday.

My recommendation to my friends in New York, Boston and in between: Run to the store, buy yourself plenty of food and water, a bottle of whiskey, some candles and batteries, and just hibernate. 

If it’s good enough for bears, it’s good enough for we humans, especially in a mjor snowstorm.  Sounds like a perfectly good opportunity to read that latest book you’ve been putting off.

Oh, that, and make sure you go out and play in the snow.  You don’t want to let all that white stuff go to waste!

P.S. I’m expecting to fly up to New York City on Monday for a business trip, so I’d appreciate you all clearing the runways at JFK sometime over the weekend.  ‘Kay, thanks!

Written by turbotodd

February 8, 2013 at 1:43 pm

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Tiger’s New Roar

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Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want to get an update on The Farmers Insurance golf tournament at storied Torrey Pines in San Diego, stop reading NOW.

As of Monday afternoon, it looks as though professional golfer Tiger Woods is going to begin his golfing year with a big bang, currently at 15 under and five strokes ahead of last year’s victor, Brandt Snedeker.

I happened to be at Torrey Pines exactly six years ago this week, on a business trip, when Tiger also won (at that time the tournament was sponsored by Buick), and that also happens to be the first (and only) time I’d ever seen Tiger play live. 

This, of course, was well ahead of the 2008 U.S. Open, which Woods also won in a playoff against veteran player Rocco Mediate, and also a full year and a half ahead of Woods’s “personal” issues.

So what’s different this time around?  In 2007, Snedeker was a tour freshman, and Woods pretty much owned professional golf.

In the past six years, however, a lot has changed, including the fabric of the tour. Irish phenom Rory McIlroy since appeared on the scene, and he’s now the one in the Nike spotlight, having just signed a very lucrative deal (and also dealing with the transition to playing with Nike equipment).

Woods, on the other hand, was off in the wilderness, and only last year, after much coaching and a full swing overhaul, did he return even close to looking like the Tiger of old.

What’s old is new again, because these past several days in San Diego, the old Tiger has become the new Tiger, or the new Tiger the old…or something along those lines.

He’s pretty much owned the leaderboard, and despite a fogged out Saturday third round, his patience has been a virtue — not to mention his short game, which has been virtuoso — and never mind, his long drives straight up the middle, and his (typical) laser-lined iron shots.

After his U.S. Open victory in 2008, Tiger revealed he would miss the remainder of that season due to knee surgery, and for those of us who watched the showdown with Mediate, it was pretty clear Woods was in a lot of pain.

This year, Woods seems healthier than ever, his game seems remastered (pardon the pun), and if he keeps it together the last three holes, he will have won once again on the course he played so much of growing up.

Then, more importantly, he strolls into the rest of 2013 — including the first major of the season, The Masters, in April — looking as though he could be a real contender, in the majors, the tournaments he enters, and of course, the now-cherished FedEx Cup.

Despite his ups and downs in recent years, Tiger still demands attention, thankfully more now on the course than off.  You need only have watched the coverage these past few days of Woods to see the galleries looking bigger than ever, scaring the Tour freshmen but seeming to bolster Wood’s confidence in all his shotmaking.

Make no mistake, 2012 was a great year for golf, what with Bubba’s curved wedge shot to win out over Louis Oosthuizen in a playoff at Augusta, and McIlroy’s missing the cut at the Olympic Club, and probably most notably, the U.S.’ failure to win back the Ryder Cup. 

But Tiger taking Torrey by four or five strokes out of the gate in 2013, with Rory gazing on from off the side of the green, along with a host of new names we’ve never heard looking for a piece of the PGA action.

Well, let’s just say 2013 might be an even bigger year than 2012 for professional golf, and a bigger one than that for Tiger Woods. 

Written by turbotodd

January 28, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Turbo Imagines Searching Through His Facebook Graph

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Facebook had the world waiting for its news yesterday.

There was interminable hyperbole about what the announcement would bring.

Facebook was preparing to conquer the world of mobile.

Facebook would FINALLY be introducing a mobile phone.

Facebook was going to send a coding team to Mars to write a search engine for Martians.

That last part I made up.

But hey, why not, everyone else in the world was conjecturing what was the primary topic of the looming announcement?

Being a marketer, I was caught up in it like everybody else, and also just as much in the dark.

Which was kind of the point.

There’s no question Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken a few pages from the Steve Jobs “secrecy in marketing” playbook.

Announce you’re going to have an announce, be as positively vague as possible, and then wait for the speculation onslaught to begin.

In the end, it was all about search, which has for Facebook’s short life been one of its more miserable capabilities, so in that respect, the news was welcomed.

Facebook was going to fix its search capability, allowing its users (albeit initially in a limited beta) the opportunity to search their Facebook social “graph” across a range of functions: People, pictures, interests.

The fact that it took two displaced Google engineers to come into Facebook to build this function adds only a wee bit of irony to the equation.

I, for one, immediately went and asked to participate in the beta, though my invitation will likely loom ignored in Zuck’s inbox for some time.

In the meantime, I will wait impatiently for the opportunity to go out and search my high school Facebook sub-graph to discern, once and for all, the most popular band during our golden years (My money’s on AC/DC, but Pink Floyd might give them a run for their “Money”).

Or, to discover via the serendipity that is inevitably going to characterize Facebook’s search graph, that Austin still largely prefers Uchi (in South Austin) to Mushashino (off Mopac) for its finer sushi, although the latter is always a good escape valve for the Uchi unagi lines snaking along South Lamar.

Or to find out that Facebookers around the world who root for the Chelsea Blues pretty much detest anything to do with Manchester United, with the exception of one person on the planet (me).  I like ‘em both, but perhaps that’s just my attempt to pick TWO winners to try and make up for the recent massive deficit left by the wandering Dallas Cowboys.

No, much of this I already know, and Facebook search will simply be my new vindication engine, confirming the best and worst I thought of humanity in one fell graph searching sweep.

I just wonder if the new search graph is going to tell me something I don’t know.

Excuse me while I run over to Google to see if I can find out.

Written by turbotodd

January 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm

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