Turbotodd

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

Archive for May 2011

Memorial Day Travel Whisperer

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Happy Tuesday.

How was your long holiday weekend (for those of you in the U.S.)?

I know, hard to believe Tuesday could come around so quickly.

But let’s wallow in the long weekend just one moment longer.

Question: Have you ever ever wondered what kind of practical insight can be garnered from the social media, by what I like to call “social intelligence”?

Okay then, we’ll use data regarding the Memorial Day weekend travel as an example.

Before the long  weekend, IBM Research and IBM Global Business Services conducted an analysis of blog posts, Tweets, news sites, and other social media in the US which indicated that fewer travelers expected to cancel their Memorial Day Holiday trips compared with last year — and this despite the dramatic rise in the price of gas over the past six months.

During the project, analytics software was used to scan thousands of publicly-available social media postings relating to travel and Memorial Day.

The analysis focused on two six-month periods, November 20 to May 20 in both 2010 and 2011.

It identified more than 11,500 individual references to travel and Memorial Day, and revealed that 1.6 percent of posts in 2011 referenced canceling Memorial Day trips versus 2.8 percent in 2010.

Further analysis suggested that in 2010, with fuel costs hovering in the mid- to upper-$2.00/gallon range, online Memorial Day references tended to focus on the overall cost of travel (driving, hotels, entertainment, etc.)

This year, the references centered around the holiday itself, and references to gas prices were not substantially higher than in 2010.

See the topic cloud below for a visual representation of some of the key mentions from 2011.  In last year’s cloud, “travel cost” was the most mentioned meme.

IBM Fellow and CTO of IBM Global Business Services had this to say about this type of an approach can help businesses:

“As a marketplace of ideas and opinions, the Web can appear raucous and chaotic at times — but there is insight contained in all that data. A better understanding of what people are saying online can help retailers, hoteliers, transportation officials, and others with the extremely complicated process of forecasting demand.”

To learn more visit the IBM business analytics and optimization Website.

Written by turbotodd

May 31, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Calling Dr. Watson

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My good buddy Scott Laningham from developerWorks recently conducted a Q&A with IBM Rational software guru Grady Booch.  You can check it out in the video down at the bottom of this post.

He also talked to the “hat lady.”  I’m not going to explain who the “hat lady” is.  If you don’t know who she is, you can find out via the video!

And FYI, Booch is going to be doing a keynote at Innovate 2011 about the Watson technology (remember Watson V. Jeopardy!, where the computer won back in February??). Booch is going to go deep on the subject from the Innovate stage in Orlando.  You can learn more in Scott’s interview.

Speaking of Watson, as we head into a long holiday weekend here in the U.S., let it be known that IBM announced earlier today the expansion of its Health Analytics Solution Center in Dallas, Texas.

Some background: Since opening in Big D in late 2009, the HASC has worked with more than 150 hospitals, health plans, and other healthcare organizations to drive smarter healthcare.  It provides clients access to health analytics experts, tech architects, and specialists, as well as to hundreds of health industry experts from across IBM.

As part of HASC’s expansion, the center is incorporating some of the same technology used in IBM’s Watson. Using sophisticated analytics to understand the meaning and context of medical information, advanced health analytics is increasingly being used to help healthcare orgs gain new insight from the explosion of health data growing at the rate of 35 percent per year!

You can learn more about this new expansion here, and about IBM’s smarter healthcare initatives here.

In the meantime, have a great, long, restful holiday weekend, and please, for those of you in the American family, don’t forget to remember those who have given their lives in the service of this country.

Until next week…and now, here’s Scott, Grady, and the “hat lady!”

Written by turbotodd

May 27, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Pickpocketing My Google Wallet

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So are you seeing a theme here yet?

Yesterday, we heard about how three of the nation’s four largest banks are about to launch a system called “ClearXchange,” which will let customers transfer money from their checking accounts using a mobile number or email.

Today, Google pulls out its Google Wallet, an application that will make your phone your wallet.

But I already have a wallet, you say, why would I need a digital one?

Because, says Google in its introductory blog post, it will make life easier for you to pay for things and to save on goods you want and give merchants more ways to offer coupons and loyalty programs to their customers!

That’s why!  So take the dang wallet, will ya?!

Google Wallet, of course, will be bundled with Google’s social group buying attack dog, Google Offers.

It runs over NFC (available on Google Nexus S 4G from Sprint today, but coming to other mobile phones near you soon), and because it will work with MasterCard’s PayPass systems, it will have over 300K merchants on board in the trial that starts later this year in select major cities.

I’ve blogged  previously of the “MoSoLo” movement — well, this here’s some gas for the fire (“Mobile,” “Social,” “Local”), cause I think mobile commerce just got a major flamethrower thrown into the mix.

Wah wah wah,” peeps will cry in their best Charlie Brown adult voices, “It isn’t perfect. It isn’t secure. It isn’t Apple!”

Exactly.  And it will probably also be good enough.

Good enough to get this MoSoLo party started where the nexus of social and mobile and local come together to help us find and buy stuff, at the point of purchase, without dinero in our hands or a credit card.

Sarah Perez over at RWW lets slip the dirty little secret: “You don’t have to be a Citi card holder to try it out.”

But it sure helps.

Even if it were completely exclusive, sounds like to me a brilliant move on Citi’s part to find itself some new customers!

Can’t be havin’ all those other credit card and iPhone users be doin’ deals when Google can have itself a mobile-opoly!

And anyway, as Perez explains, this is all about mobile advertising, where Google will be able to “track transactions all the way through from the first time a user clicks on an ad in Google’s search results to the time of checkout at the point-of-sale.”

Unicorns for everybody!  M0-commerce, Nirvana!?

Or, depending on your POV, “How very Minority Report.”

Funny!

Just so long as the billboard eyes don’t follow my every move!

Nope, serially, you non-Citi-ites can get a free virtual card which you can load up with dinero from any account, and Google’s even giving away ten bucks for free to help kick-start your personal mobile shopping party in the aisles.

As for my poor iPhone 4, she’s feeling so left out of this Google Wallet party…I may just have to take her to do some shopping…at a real world Best Buy!

Written by turbotodd

May 26, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Bank On The Run

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The Washington Post reported earlier that three of the nation’s four largest banks are about to launch a system called “ClearXchange” that will let customers transfer money from their checking accounts using only a mobile number or email address.

The three banks include Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Wells Fargo & Co., and they expect to add other financial institutions later as they work to build an industry-wide utility for moving money around.

I’ve been with an Internet-only bank since 1996, so for my money, this is long overdue.  Of course, it does beg the question as to how this squares with a service like PayPal.

PayPal being, of course, the e-payments market leader, and which according to this post processed some $27.5 billion (U.S.) in payments in the first quarter.

But enough about money on the move…let’s get Rational for a brief spell.

I mentioned in a prior post that the IBM Innovate software  and systems innovation conference is transpiring in Orlando, Florida, June 5-9.  That’s just around the corner.

You can still register to attend here, and if you’re not sure if you want to make the trip yet or not, try out the sample agenda builder here, which might just tip the balance and send you on your way.

Our world class Rational social media team will be providing expanded coverage of the event this year.  You can follow some of the key social streams (including Twitter, YouTube, and live video coverage via LiveStream) on the IBM Innovate conversations site.

This year, folks can also submit questions for panelists directly from our social spaces for the Day 4 keynote expert panel discussion.

And of course, you won’t want to miss “The Guild’s” Felicia Day, who will be Innovate 2011’s special guest emcee.

In a recent interview with our Smarter Planet blog, Felicia provided a big reveal: Her brother worked for IBM and has been to Innovate numerous times!

Stormy Weather

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I think I can speak for all of us here in the U.S. south and mid-west when I say we’re soooo over this seemingly never-ending storm and tornado season.

I watched CNN with rapt attention yesterday afternoon as the storms made their way through north Texas and into Oklahoma, and was horrified at the funnel clouds dropping left and right.

After the entirely tragic E5 storm that devastated Joplin, Missouri, Sunday, I, like so many, was concerned we would see more of the same through Oklahoma.  It was still bad there, of course, but fortunately not quite that bad.

In the Dallas area, several tornadoes touched down in the metroplex as well, and a couple of funnels dropped but didn’t stick around, near my hometown of Denton.

The Washington Post Capital Weather Gang cites the fact there have been approximiately 1,000 tornadoes this season, nearly 500 perished (with Joplin being the most deadly tornado since 1950 with 122 people dead).

Even worse, technology doesn’t seem to be faring well in terms of prediction.  As Andrew Freedman writes, “this tornado season has obliterated the notion that massive investment in a national severe weather forecasting infrastructure and early-warning network ensures a low tornado death toll.”

There’s likely no silver bullet that will entirely prevent such tragedies, but I like Capital Weather’s suggestion: Follow @capitalweather (or your local Twitter weather-related ID) for breaking weather alerts.

Between that and the civil warning sirens going off, that would be enough to send me running for cover, especially in this insane storm season.

Finally, if you missed the other breaking news today, CNBC anchor and co-host of “Squawk Box” Mark Haines died unexpectedly overnight at his home.

This is truly sad news, as he was a welcome host in mine and so many millions of homes trying to stay abreast of breaking business news.

Thoughts, prayers, and good wishes to the entire CNBC family.  It can’t be an easy day for them to be on the air.

They’ve set up a web page for Mark Haines remembrances here.

Written by turbotodd

May 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Posted in weather

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From Russia With Bailouts

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Das vi dan ya.

That’s “goodbye” in Russia.  So I should probably learn hello.

Answers.com explained it’s dobro pozalovat.

So, dobro pozalovat to Yandex, the Russian search engine, which followed short on the heels of LinkedIn’s IPO and went public earlier today on the Nasdaq, raising some $1.3B (dollars, not rubles).

Apparently, the issue was some 17 times oversubscribed, surprising considering that Yandex only has about 64% market share (although it is still the largest Web site in Russia).

Also a done deal: Twitter buys TweetDeck for roughly $40M.  This has been rumored for some time, but apparently it’s really happened this time.  Really.  Seriously.  #ftw

Is this the beginning of a great Twitter consolidation?

When a TweetDeck falls in the virtual Twitter forest, does it even make a sound???

Well, I’m just glad to see someone out there’s making some deals.

After watching HBO’s docudrama rendition of Aaron Ross Sorkin’s 2010 book about the financial crisis, Too Big To Fail, last evening, one might start to wonder.

I read the book.

The movie’s probably easier to consume in many ways, minus all the boring financial mumbo jumbo details, although it nearly made me ill to replay that denouement from the fall of 2008.

But, I have to say, William Hurt made for a wonderful SecTreas Henry Paulson, understated and steely, and James Woods cracked me up as vulgar Richard Fuld, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers.  And Paul Giamatti as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke…another classic performance by Giamatti.

The movie seemed to raise a central question: Was Paulson the hero who saved the day or the insider who protected the interests of his industry?

You get to watch the film (or read your history book, if you’re so inclined) and be your own judge.

But kudos to the HBO team for making a compelling film about what could have easily become a trite and boring re-enactment.

It was anything but boring…now, having seen it and completely paranoid, if I could only figure out a way to move all my retirement savings into a small bomb shelter immune from market movements if not the elements!

Written by turbotodd

May 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Big Golf, Big Data

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How did it get to be Monday so quickly?

Well, it’s here now, and I guess we just have to deal with it.

A quick congrats to David Toms for winning the Crowne Plaza Colonial PGA tourney in Ft. Worth, Texas, over Rapture weekend.  The end of the world may not have appeared, but boy did Toms’ putter show up.

For diehard golf fans, the Colonial is a special golf tournament, celebrating the life and career of one of the greatest golfers ever, Ben Hogan, who was born in nearby Stephenville and who won the Colonial five times (the last time in 1959).  Hogan died in Ft. Worth back in 1997.

Toms, who lost The Players Championship in a playoff last week, came back this week in Ft. Worth swinging (literally!) to beat Charlie Wi and a diverse field to get his name etched on the Colonial Wall of Champions.

I, for one, am glad Toms came back to win, as I was not really eager to see the world end suddenly, particularly during the weekend of such a classic golf tournament.

But the world can end in different ways, particularly with all that voluminous data floating around out there that’s so difficult to keep track of.

On Friday, IBM unveiled some new software and services to help clients with their “big data” needs.

Why this now?  Consider the fact that 83 percent of 3,000 CIOs surveyed in IBM’s 2011 Global CIO Study said that applying analytics and business intelligence to their IT operations is the most important element of their strategic growth plans over the next three to five years.

Specifically, IBM announced new, patented software capabilities to analyze massive volumes of streaming data with sub-millisecond response times and Hadoop-based analytics software to offer scalable storage to handle tens-of-petabytes level data.

IBM also announced 20 new services offerings, featuring patented analytical tools for business and IT pros to infuse predictive analytics throughout their IT operations.

You can read more about this announcement here.

And go here to get the bigger view on bigger data.

I don’t know how much more effective these new tools will be in predicting the next ending of the world, but I’m pretty confident they can help companies make more sense out of all those endless information streams overwhelming them.

Written by turbotodd

May 23, 2011 at 5:08 pm

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