Turbotodd

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

Archive for November 2009

IBM Acquires Guardium

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In the most unclosed guarded super top secret acquisition of 2009, IBM has officially announced it has acquired Guardium, a market leader in real-time enterprise database monitoring and protection.

(I kid, because I started hearing about this acquisition in the blogosphere before Thanksgiving).

Guardium’s technology helps clients safeguard data, monitor database activity, and reduce operational costs by automating regulatory compliance tasks.

Guardium is a privately held company based in Waltham, Massachusetts, and financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

You can read more details about the deal here.

This acquisition builds on IBM’s business analytics strategy, including the range of offerings available through IBM’s recently-announced Business Analytics and Optimization Consulting organization, which includes 4,000 consultants, a network of analytics solutions centers, and an overall investment of more than $12B U.S. in organic growth and acquisitions.

IBM will integrate Guardium within IBM’s Information Management Software portfolio , which has more than 35,000 experts dedicated to helping clients use information as a strategic asset to transform their business.

This marks the 28th acquisition to support IBM’s Information Management strategy.

Written by turbotodd

November 30, 2009 at 8:23 pm

Back In Black Friday?

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For those of you in the U.S., I hope you had yourselves a very happy (and long) Thanksgiving weekend.

They’re never long enough.

So did anybody out there go and do a little shopping?

It seems that quite a few of you certainly went shopping online.

Me, I beat the rush, heading over to Amazon on Thanksgiving Day to buy a couple of new photography toys.

But it was Black Friday, as we’ve come to coin the shopping day after Thanksgiving, where things really heated up.

comScore just released its numbers overnight, and indicated that Black Friday reached $595M U.S. in U.S. online holiday spending, up 11 percent over last year.

For the first 27 days of November, $10.57B had been spent online, a 3 percent increase over the corresponding days last year.

For Black Friday deal seekers, it was clear the discount shoppers were out in force, with the number of visitors to coupon sites growing 17 percent over last year, at 3.3M visitors.

And it was ShopLocal.com which ranked as the most visited comparison shopping site on Black Friday (2M visitors on Friday), helping turn local Web inquiries into local “brick and mortar” sales.

Now for the drumroll….the five top online retail properties surpassed four million U.S. unique visitors on Black Friday, with Amazon garnering a 28 percent increase unique visitors over last year, followed by Walmart (22 percent), Apple.com (39 percent), Target (2 percent), and BestBuy (24 percent).

Overall, a strong start to the holiday shopping season, but as they ask on Broadway, does it have legs?

Larry Dignan over at ZDNet cites discounts and promotions as having led to the early pop, and it’s clear that the Amazon v. Walmart match is proving to be the event of this holiday season.

Of course, it’s way too soon to tell who has been naughty, nice, or profitable, and who’s simply giving away the online store to get customers in and spending.

Santa still has plenty of rounds to make, including today’s round of “Cyber Monday,” when we worker bees head back to the office corporate networks to shop during our lunch break.

But the early holiday online shopping signs at least offer some hope that the kiddies will get more than charcoal this year.

Written by turbotodd

November 30, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Many Thanks

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This is going to be one of the first times ever that I didn’t travel somewhere for Thanksgiving.

That alone is like a holiday.

My parents are out traveling around western Louisiana in their current home, a motor coach.

I want to first give thanks for them.  They made me, they brought me up, they sent me packing, and they helped me become the Turbo I am.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.

I also want to give thanks for my sister.  A long time ago she decided to take the road not typically taken, but recently she seems to have found her way back.  I am most thankful for her.

I’m also extremely thankful for my extended family scattered across the mid-south and here in Texas, south, middle, and north.

I also want to give a special thanks for all the American soldiers and military families situated around the globe.

Thank you for your service, your bravery, your sacrifices, for your good humor and attitude in tough situations.

Many of the American people think about you on an ongoing basis, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also on bases around the globe.  Coming from a family filled with military veterans, I think about you all often, and really appreciate what you do for our country and its people.

I am also thankful for my colleagues at IBM.

First, because they put up with me, but more importantly, because they are world class people to work with.

And when I mean world class, I mean world class around the world.  It has been a wonderful year of meeting so many more of you during my travels, and for that I’m also most thankful.

I’m also very thankful for having been put into the orbit of the Internet way back when, which has not only become my bread and butter but which has allowed me to watch my world get smaller and smaller and yet more and more fascinating over these past 15 years.

Even as the planet seemed so big, the Net has made it smaller and smaller every day and has also brought me into contact with people from around the globe and with experiences and backgrounds so different from my own, and yet I constantly seem to discover a common humanity wherever in the world I am, and for that I am also thankful.

I am extremely thankful for my friends, both inside and outside IBM, and both inside and outside my industry.  I have had the blessed fortune of meeting so many interesting and smart people in my world at Big Blue, and your constant challenging of me, the status quo, of the IBM enterprise…well, it’s a rare privilege.

There are so many more I could thank, but I think you get the idea.

Lastly, thank those of you who have read this blog regularly (or irregularly) over the past 4 1/2 years.

It’s always so great to hear from you all, and your reactions to what I have to say, and to your own thoughts…know that I’m especially thankful for that rare privilege.

No matter where you are in the world, I wish all of you out there a very happy Thanksgiving…it’s an idea of a holiday whose bounty the entire planet should be able to enjoy.

Written by turbotodd

November 25, 2009 at 11:03 pm

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South to North

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I’m back in the Estados Unidos after a productive and enjoyable trip to Argentina.

What did I learn while I was there?

One, the sun is very powerful in South America.  I spent my last afternoon there to take a quick tour on one of those turistico buses (highly recommend, especially if you’re short on time).

You know, the kind with no tops on them, where the sun can shine right down on your head and forehead?

Yeah.  Estupido turista.

Two, I learned that while the social media is alive and well in Latin America, I would suggest based on my observations and discussions with our teams there that its use is a little more tepid and cautious in Latin America, particularly within business.

Personally, particularly with sites like Orkut and Twitter, there’s substantial and widespread use, but the business uptake is slower than other parts of the world.

Three, the Internet communications and marketing opportunity is much more substantial in the mobile space than in the land-line Internet (that is, if you’re interested in raw numbers).

By way of example, EMarketer’s “Digital Atlas,” which I consulted before I headed south, reveals that Internet users in Brazil last numbered around 67M, while mobile phone users were in the range of 150M.

Similar disparities between mobile and landline access exist in other countries in Latin America as well, including Mexico and Argentina.

Four, I reaffirmed how much it sucks to get sick while traveling abroad.  But, as mentioned in this blog, I was fortunate to be able to head over to Dr. IBM right there on the site to get some medicine to stave off the nastiness.

Here I am, a week later, still illin’, but I was very thankful to stave off the illness while on the ground there.

Five, I learned that it is possible to get a full night’s sleep in economy class, particularly with the help of some other medicine (in my case, doctor-prescribed sleeping pills).

In fact, such sleep can make all the difference in the world (although admittedly, it’s easier when you’re not jumping so many time zones).

Personally, I don’t mind so much the long flights, but in coach they can be quite painful if you have legs longer than 2 feet, so the ability to totally sack out can help put about 70% of the time on the plane into unconsciousness, which is the perfect way to shorten the plane ride.

(As for you people who stay awake for the duration of 10-13 hour flights, you may want to check to see if you’re related to some of the characters on “True Blood” [vampires].  I don’t know how you do it.)

Six, I can’t or don’t keep up with what’s going on in the world very well when I’m on the road.

Despite having a BlackBerry that lives up to its promise as a “world phone” (Since I got it in January, it HAS worked in every city I’ve been to around the globe), one simply doesn’t have much free time to check in and keep up when you’re bouncing from one meeting or dinner to another.

The whole point of making these trips is to meet one’s colleagues on the ground and spend quality time, so that’s the priority.

So, I’m still playing catch up on the news flow (email and otherwise).

Seven, I still love my Nikon CoolPix camera and my FlipVideo camera…both allowed me to easily (and very portably) capture sights and sounds from the journey without having to lug around a lot of equipment.

Eight, I can’t wait for the World Cup next summer.  I really enjoyed being around a bunch of honest-to-God futbol fans, and my excursion to see the Boca Juniors play Arsenal was a highlight of my trip.

If anybody needs a blogger to cover next summer’s World Cup, I’m so on that plane to Johannesburg…business, coach, or even luggage class.

And nine, regarding my iPod Touch: I don’t leave the country without it.

Since I got the “touch,” it has become my best friend while traveling.  I now download books, games, music, podcasts, and even movies to carry with me on the road and to help pass the time, to Tweet, to read, to chill…it’s one of the first things I pack just to make sure I don’t forget it.

All that said, it’s nice to be back in Austin in time for the Thanksgiving holiday and a whole meal of American football.

Written by turbotodd

November 24, 2009 at 1:41 pm

New Mainframe Products

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While Google introduces their new Chrome OS (which I’m hearing will be widely available in one year?  Did I mishear that?), IBM announced 10 new products today to help companies using IBM System z mainframe technology.

The new software products help companies lower their application management costs by optimizing their System z mainframes to handle more workloads (vis a vis server consolidation).

One of the unique capabilities of mainframes are they can host many application services on one system, which has helped System z achieve one of the industry’s lowest application costs per user.

Minimal application costs are muy importante for companies which rely on multiple applications to run their business.

The new products include IMS 11, several new products from WebSphere, as well as IBM Problem Determination tools and Rational development tools.

You can visit the IBM Mainframe Web site to learn more.

 

http://www.ibm.com/mainframe

Written by turbotodd

November 19, 2009 at 7:20 pm

The Argentinian Bohemian Rhapsody

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I am feeling mucho better in Buenos Aires.

So much so that I ended up at the Kilkenny Pub with mi amigos last evening near the central business district.  I’ll come back to that.

First, let me just say muchas gracias to the IBM doctor who diagnosed me and prescribed me with some magic pills.

Anybody who has traveled on international business can attest to the fact that getting sick while abroad is pretty much one of the suckiest things that can happen to you (that, and losing your passport).

But, to my good fortune, IBM Argentina had a doctor on the premises and helped me get much better very quickly.

Time on the ground on these journeys is precious, particularly the face time with your colleagues.  It’s really the most precious thing we have, and after having to miss one team dinner Tuesday evening I wasn’t about to miss another.

So, after a long and productive day of meetings and discussions (the content of which I won’t be revealing — to the chagrin, I’m sure, of our competitors), my Latin American and HQ colleagues headed out for some dinner.

We ended the evening at the Kilkenny Pub which, I’m also sure, one must find quite absurd.

The quest to go to an Irish Pub while near the bottom of South America became a mandate when my Canadian colleague Dave was astounded at the fact I’d never had a Kilkenny beer.

I’ve been a lot of places and I’ve drank a lot of different kinds of beer, but guilty as charged, I’d never had a Kilkenny.

Mi new Argentinian amigo Pedro knew just the place, so after a late dinner we set out there.

Pedro explained why, exactly, it was that Argentina had a plethora of English-type pubs, and the explanation is, simply in a singular word, globalization.

When the Argentinian economy started to grow and as more foreign companies moved in, the English pubs came with.

The best part of the story, however, is arriving at the Kilkenny Pub only to discover…DOH!…they had run out of Kilkenny.

Does globalization explain that one?

Perhaps not, but having no Kilkenny didn’t keep Pedro from an hilarious public display of affection for the Rolling Stones, as he demoed his painfully home-made “Tattoo You” lips tattoo for the troops gathered around our booth before Dave led us in an unharmonious but team-building rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

A la table, there were: 2 Americans, 1 Brazilian, 1 Canadian, 1 Mexican, 1 Argentinian…and a wandering Russian troubadour who heard the commotion and stopped by our table to help us finish out the tune:

I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouch, Scaramouch, will you do the Fandango
Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening me
(Galileo) Galileo (Galileo) Galileo, Galileo Figaro
Magnifico-o-o-o-o
I’m just a poor boy nobody loves me
He’s just a poor boy from a poor family
Spare him his life from this monstrosity —
Freddie Mercury, Queen

Though Freddie Mercury may not likely have been proud of the singing, I think he would have approved of the enthusiasm and fellowship.

Si, there have definitely been some ups and downs and bumps along the road to globalization.

But in the midst of all the pain and disruption it has caused along the way, there are equally filled moments of human synchronization and serendipity and the slow unveiling of a global connective tissue that can help stifle all the pain and disruption — and in the process reveal our underlying grace and collective humanity.

Such was a moment last night here in Buenos Aires, at least for me anyhow.

And seriously, don’t cry for me, Argentina.

I’m laughing all the way to the bank with tangoing Tattoo You Lips!

Written by turbotodd

November 19, 2009 at 1:41 pm

If I Only Had A New Brain

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IBM’s gonna help me get a new brain.

I’ve had the old one for a while now (I’m not going to say how long), and it’s probably about time to think about a trade-in.

I’m gonna miss my old brain if I really go through with this.  I have a lot of good memories from the last XX years.

What has happened is, IBM today announced some significant progress towards creating a computer system that can simulate and emulate the brain’s ability for sensation, perception, action, interaction and cognition.

The cognitive computing team, led by IBM Research, has achieved significant advances in large-scale cortical simulation and a new algorithm that synthesizes neurological data — two major milestones that indicate the feasibility of building a cognitive computing chip.

BlueMatter, a new algorithm created in collaboration with Stanford University, exploits the Blue Gene supercomputing architecture in order to noninvasively measure and map the connections between all cortical and sub-cortical locations within the human brain using magnetic resonance diffusion weighted imaging.

Mapping the wiring diagram of the brain is crucial to untangling its vast communication network and understanding how it represents and processes information.

Scientists, at IBM Research – Almaden, in collaboration with colleagues from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, have performed the first near real-time cortical simulation of the brain that exceeds the scale of a cat cortex and contains 1 billion spiking neurons and 10 trillion individual learning synapses.

Additionally, in collaboration with researchers from Stanford University, IBM scientists have developed an algorithm that exploits the Blue Gene supercomputing architecture in order to noninvasively measure and map the connections between all cortical and sub-cortical locations within the human brain using magnetic resonance diffusion weighted imaging.

Mapping the wiring diagram of the brain is crucial to untangling its vast communication network and understanding how it represents and processes information.

These advancements will provide a unique workbench for exploring the computational dynamics of the brain, and stand to move the team closer to its goal of building a compact, low-power synaptronic chip using nanotechnology and advances in phase change memory and magnetic tunnel junctions.

As the amount of digital data that we create continues to grow massively and the world becomes more instrumented and interconnected, there is a need for new kinds of computing systems – imbued with a new intelligence that can spot hard-to-find patterns in vastly varied kinds of data, both digital and sensory; analyze and integrate information real-time in a context-dependent way; and deal with the ambiguity found in complex, real-world environments.

Businesses will simultaneously need to monitor, prioritize, adapt and make rapid decisions based on ever-growing streams of critical data and information.  A cognitive computer could quickly and accurately put together the disparate pieces of this complex puzzle, while taking into account context and previous experience, to help business decision makers come to a logical response.

For more information about IBM Research, please visit www.ibm.com/research.

Technical insight and more details on the SyNAPSE project and recent milestones can also be found on the Cognitive Computing blog at http://modha.org/.

Written by turbotodd

November 18, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Soy Enfermo

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Soy infirmada en Buenos Aires.

It’s inevitable when you travel for business you’re gonna get sick, although I try to avoid it like the plague.

Otherwise, my time in Buenos Aires has been quite bueno so far (including the soccer match), and fortunately so far I’ve not been hindered by the apparent global BlackBerry outage.

Of course, if you’re a Lotus Symphony user, there’s always this new mobile solution, which provides for a portable version of Symphony that can be used in Keepod USB devices.

The new tool lets users launch Symphony directly from the USB device without leaving a trace of the data, or the application, on the host computer.

As for me, if I’m not feeling better soon, I’m hopeful that my IBM Research friends can help me with my malady.

ZDnet’s “Between the Lines” blog is reporting that IBM Research created a new and fast medical diagnostic testing system that’s based on a silicon chip, which uses small samples to test for multiple diseases.

The implications of the research are substantial, and the results are being published in the December issue of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Meanwhile, muchas gracias to mi amigo Koran here in Buenos Aires for the Claritin D — here’s hoping I Live Claritin Clear for the next few days!

Written by turbotodd

November 17, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Cloudy With A Chance Of Prosperity

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Reuters has a story this morning that has IBM launching a new cloud computing service that is “aiming to take on companies such as Amazon.com Inc, Google Inc, Microsoft Corp and Salesforce.com Inc.”

The “Smart Analytics Cloud” is allegedly IBM’s biggest cloud computing service yet and would be the first to adopted internally.

That’s a grand idea.

If we IBMers can’t beat on that cloud and make it weep, then it stands a pretty good chance of helping you run your critical business applications.

When it comes to internal testing on our intranet, we’re like a collection of Formula One race car drivers in a demolition derby: Lead, follow, or crash (in a good way…you know, the kind that helps you learn.)

As Reuters observes, business interest in cloud computing has picked up since Amazon started offering storage and computing services over the Web .

As I surfed looking for more info on this announcement, I stumbled upon this TechCrunch post, which provides a bit more detail.

It explains that the new “IBM Smart Analytics Cloud” will be unveiled internally with more than a petabyte of info, and will provide 200K of IBM sales and development folks with actionable business intelligence.

Called “Blue Insight,” the service will gather information from nearly 100 different information warehouses and data stores.

Anything to help those of us inside the blue cloud to find information mo’ faster and mo’ better is a good thing.

Not that we don’t have a lot of great IT and information resources already, but like any business, we can always get better and we can certainly get faster.

Written by turbotodd

November 16, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Goal!!!!!!!!!!

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Greetings from the Paris of the South.

Buenos Aires, that is.  I landed here yesterday morning and though I’ve been on the ground right at 24 hours, I’ve already fallen in love with the place.

I was told this would be the case, but like any futile love, I resisted for as long as I could hold out but just didn’t have the willpower to resist.

I’m not here on vacation, but I did come in a day early to make the inevitable breakup that much harder.

As is my custom in cities I’ve never visited before, I went for a long walk to help fend off sleeplessness from the plane and jet lag, and found myself yesterday afternoon at the huge Sunday flea market on Defensa, a street right near my hotel.

Though not much of a shopper, the scenery on Defensa on a Sunday is not unlike that which you would see Washington Square Park on a weekend, only it’s on a street instead of a square.

I even saw a man without a head who apparently made his living having his picture taken with turistas like myself.

Hard times.

My real order of business for day one of my new love affair was to attend my first ever South American soccer (futbol) match.

I knew the joke was on me the moment I met my new friend, Tony, on the circus tour bus which almost didn’t get us to the game.

Tony, who hails from London, is a lifelong Arsenal (the one from the Premiere League) ticketholder, and who himself played in an amateur Sunday league until he was 38:

“What’s an American doing going to a soccer match?” he asked incredulously.

Ha ha ha.

Well, Tony, there are a few of we U.S. Americans hho graduate from soccer mom-dom to become actual fans of the beautiful game.

Describing the Buenos Aires game experience itself requires a whole other post to do it total justice (including the getting to the game, which is half the story).

Me, I was just worried about wearing the wrong colors and already trying to figure out in advance how to explain to my mom that she would need to contact the American embassy to get me out of jail for choosing the wrong color shirt.

But as fate would have it, I ended up wearing pretty neutral colors, until I found myself in the home stand (separated by glass and steel barriers from the “away” side…that, and concertina wire), in which case my side was chosen for me: Arsenal all the way, baby.

I have to go get some work done in advance of my meetings, but to whet your appetite for a more descriptive post about my first foreign futbol experience (other than the telly), let me just include the quick video byte below.

Hint: Focus on the sound.  This was before the game had even started, as the riot police made their way onto the field (a purely offensive play on their part).

After this experience, I’ll just say this: American sports fans have no clue what real fandom is.

This small stadium of probably no more than 20K fans made more noise, more continuously, with more passion and enthusiasm, than all the American sporting events I’ve attended in my lifetime.

I’ve definitely fallen in love.

Written by turbotodd

November 16, 2009 at 1:53 pm

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