Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New Jersey to ban Plastic Bags

This is actually really cool. I was stunned to read today's paper and read that the NJ State Assembly is proposing legislation to ban the use of plastic bags at grocery stores by 2010. Many grocery stores, especially progressive ones like Whole Foods and Dave's (local RI chain) have been aggressive in promoting the use of cloth bags that shoppers bring back and forth, but this is a really interesting move.

Good for New Jersey as they try to shed the images from the opening of the Sopranos of Elizabeth, NJ and the NJ Turnpike just outside the Lincoln Tunnel. I guess they're trying to put the "Garden" back into the "Garden State".

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bush Pardons Thanksgiving Turkey

Yes, the annual pardon of the turkey. This "fluff piece" was reported by just about every news outlet on the planet. But what wasn't reported by anyone was the Presidential Signing Statement that went along with the pardon. While the turkey was spared execution, President Bush reserved the right to subject the turkey to waterboarding, electrocution and sleep deprivation.

There was also an unconfirmed report that the turkey was invited to go quail/campaign contributor hunting by Vice President Dick Cheney.

A senior staffer commented on background that he overheard the turkey saying "I think I would feel safer at Michael Vick's house." Apparently due to lack of news reaching Guantanamo where the turkey was being held prior to today's pardon, the turkey was unaware that Vick turned himself into authorities yesterday to begin serving his jail sentence early. There have been no further reports on the health and welfare of the turkey since today's proceedings concluded. Tom the Turkey, our prayers are with you.

Knicks Lose Again

I think I'm going to have to start getting creative with these headlines. This is going to happen a lot. Tonight the Knicks were clobbered by at home by 26 points by the visiting Golden State Warriors. Marbury started and was torched by Baron Davis. But this is one case where you can't blame Stephon. When Davis is on, he's unstoppable. Just ask the Mavericks.

But the best part is this report on the game from the AP:

Marbury scored 18 points, but the Knicks were never in the game in the second half and were booed often over the final three quarters. So was coach Isiah Thomas, who saw no results from his decision to demote Marbury last week and heard "Fire Isiah!" cries on a few occasions during the game.

I'm positively giddy. Isiah will never get fired, but you can dream :)

On a related note, I listed to "The B.S. Report with Bill Simmons" podcast today which featured a great interview with Gus Johnson, announcer for the Knicks. It was funny and bizarre at the same time. I'm going to have to listen to this one again, because I can swear that Gus supported both Isiah and Steph. The Kool-Aid must really be flowing in the Garden. I can understand that Isiah was one of the greatest point guards of all time, but why people try to give his absolutely horrific post-playing career a pass because of it is beyond me. The guy just isn't cut out to do much else than sign autographs at card shows. The only thing that made me realize that there is still hope for Gus is that he was extremely honest saying that the Knicks have no chemistry and that Marbury is cannot the leader for this team.

Marbury Starting Again for Knicks

The truth is truly stranger than fiction. Stephon Marbury, the player that the ENTIRE TEAM voted to suspend after abandoning it in Phoenix, is back in the starting lineup after 3 games. Boy, the dirt he must have on Isiah. Does anyone think this will turn around a 2-7 team? The whole thing is almost comical -- check that -- it's fall down laughing funny, especially if you're rooting for the team's demise as I am. I trust the only person laughing louder than me is Larry Brown.

Isles #5 In Yahoo! NHL Power Rankings

Wow, 2 hockey posts in 1 day! Well for a team that almost nobody picked to be in the playoffs, the Islanders are in pretty rare air. Today's Yahoo! Power Rankings has the Isles climbing to #5!

Oh Yeah, Hockey

I got a comment from a friend of mine from High School who found my blog that asked why hadn't I written about hockey yet? I haven't spoken to him in years, but he attributed his interest in hockey to my fervor for the New York Islanders during our high school years, when the Isles were a dynasty. Ah, those were the days. Bossy, Trottier, Potvin, Battlin' Billy Smith and of course Al Arbour.

So as any good Islanders fan would, I have chosen the day after the Isles beat the Rangers to write my first piece on hockey. Nothing gets better than that. And "goalie for life" Ricky DiPietro notched his 100th win of his career. Only 13+ years to go.

So a few quick thoughts:

  • I would love to be able to get into hockey again. But after the strike the NHL, which is making over $2B in revenue and in the black, decided to air their games on the Versus network rather than ESPN...or any other channel that is carried by cable. Great decision Mr. Bettman. I know the rinks are full, but now the only people who will be part of the fan base are those who actually go to the games. The only games I even have the opportunity to see are Bruins (boo!) games on NESN, which isn't available in hi-def by me. So it's impossible to really watch. So maybe I'll go to a P-Bruins game or even venture up to the (TD Banknorth) Boston Garden this year. But otherwise, except for the "Melrose Line" podcasts, it's impossible for me to follow what's going on and become the fan that I used to be. I still have my Denis Potvin jersey in the closet, but it doesn't get much use anymore.

  • The Isles are surprising again this year. Just like last year, no one expected them to be competitive. In fact, I think I recall seeing several pundits pick the Isles to be at the bottom of the standings. After the losing almost half of the scoring from last year (Ryan Smith, Jason Blake, dare I say Alexei Yashin), it was hard to argue. But I just think that it goes to show how GREAT of a coach Teddy Nolan is.

  • Was there anything cooler than having Al Arbour come back and coach his 1500th game for the Islanders earlier this month? Well one, thing, have the team come back and win in the third, by beating the Penguins 3-2. Al Arbour was as much of a symbol of the glory years of the Islanders franchise that I grew up with in high school as any player or member of the organization (props to Bill Torrey). I thought that it was a great idea and was happy to see that he's still got some coaching left in those old bones. Watch this Al Arbour tribute video

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Seriously Cool: Oracle CRM OnDemand

I was at the SIIA OnDemand conference last week as was lucky enough to see Anthony Lye, SVP of Oracle's CRM Ondemand business talk about Oracle's SaaS strategy and preview some extremely cool Web 2.0/Social Networking aspects of their new release. I thought there were a couple of important take aways for me. Some of them were covered by Phil Wainewright in his blog. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed by this presentation. This was so far from what I expected from Oracle. It was refreshing and exciting news. Everyone else in the business should watch out.

Oracle: OnDemand is for the Enterprise: I found it interesting that unlike many of the large, established ISVs, Nye was very clear that for Oracle, SaaS is NOT a SMB strategy. Clearly a swipe at SAP (at least to me). It was also a not so subtle swipe at in my opinion because he was reinforcing the size of companies that are deploying Oracle CRM OnDemand, implying that most of Salesforce's clients aren't.

Web 2.0 Apps Rock: I thought that Lye was suprisingly honest that CRM really hadn't changed since Tom Siebel introduced his product over a decade ago (I don't recall how long it really is). Lye also mentioned that they realized that sales people hate CRM systems because it never actually helped them in their job...although it "solved" management's problem of projecting sales. So the CRM team re-thought their approach to the CRM application space as part of the version 14 release. That was a big driver towards providing the Web 2.0 mini-applications that he demonstrated. These applications are really targeted towards helping sales people be more effective. And OMG, these apps were way cool. Heavily borrowing certain UI elements from Apple's iPhone & Leopard OSX, Lye demonstrated how sales people could flip through various documents using an Apple 'Cover Flow' style UI. One of the cool elements was the preview technology that they had where you could mouse over a document and see a preview, no matter what the format, similar to Apple's Quick Look technology. The different applications that he showed included:

* Campaign management tool: This allowed sales people to choose from a variety of pre-developed templates for different campaigns. Besides the UI stuff mentioned above, what was cool was the addition of social tools where each sales person could vote on how useful/effective they felt each campaign was, using Technorati or Digg style ratings. Therefore the best campaigns should rise to the top and the effectiveness of the sales people should improve.
* Document sharing application: This app allowed sales people to browse through sales decks, collateral, white papers, etc. to find what they needed. Here is where the 'cover flow' and 'Quick Look' style technology was demonstrated. Again, the social "voting" capability was built in.

Mashups that Matter: Lye also talked about, but didn't demonstate how the application would allow managers to better understand the effectiveness of their sales people based on a variety of metrics that would help predict which lead should go to which sales person. It was not clear whether this is a future concept or something that's part of the new release. This Lye thought was a mashup with value, as opposed to simply providing the sales person with a Google map of the prospect/client. Lye also mentioned that they were also incorporting mashup capabilities that automatically flowed in news, press releases that were relevent to the specific client/prospect to ensure that sales people were constantly updated on what was going on with the client's business and therefore could proactively react when new opportunities arose.

Social Networking a big focus for Oracle: Related to the Web 2.0 apps that they showed, Lye also reinforced that these apps will start to find their way into many Oracle apps. In particular, the social networking aspect of the apps is part of Oracle's enterprise application strategy. Lye indicated that they are putting a lot of effort & R&D dollars around social networking.

Pods & Grids: My recollection (and my technical understanding) is a little fuzzy here, but I believe the main point is that at some point a univesal multi-tenant architecture loses performance and coupled with the fact that energy costs have doubled in the past few years, and are expected to double again in the next 5, you want to get the most out of the infrastructure you have. So they introduced a pod structure which allows you do mix and match your computing/hosting infrastructure to optimize performance and ensure that from a datacenter perspective you're maximizing the utilization of the infrastructure at all times. You can group any number of servers together to host a single instance, multiple similar clients in a MT architecture.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Marbury Keeps it Interesting

Well maybe Marbury will be playing in Italy sooner than we all thought. After yesterday's startling news (how can we really be started by anything this knucklehead does anymore), that Stephon Marbury...Isiah's Boy...left the Knicks during their roadtrip, the clock on both his and Isiah's career starting ticking ever louder.

There were news reports beginning with the New York Daily News that Marbury was done as a Knick. That was followed by a great article by Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojarnowski that if Marbury goes, Isiah would be soon to follow. Unfortunately for Knick fans, somehow Dummy Dolan gets to stay no matter how this plays out. I even read an article today that said that Steph and Isiah came to blows on the flight out to Phoenix (a YouTube moment for sure if someone has the video).

But today it seems as if Marbury returned to the team, albeit $180K lighter, and is playing tonight versus the Clips. But wouldn't you know it, the Knicks, even with Z-Bo and Steph back on the court lost to the Elton Brand-less Clips and dropped to 2-5. What a shame.

They sure do keep it interesting at the Garden.

Bush Sure Can Pick His Friends Well

OK, so this isn't news, but Bush's ability to completely misread the reliability of his "allies" is almost uncanny. While I could be referring to almost anybody, in this case I am talking about Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf...a key ally in the war on terror. Well except for allowing safe haven to Osama and Al-Queda in South Waziristan. But why pick nits.

As many of you know by now, Musharraf imposed emergency rule (i.e. declared martial law) last week, disbanded their parliament, dismissed and detained a number of judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry who was originally suspended by Musharraf in March 2007 and later reinstated to Pakistan's Supreme Court in July.

Oh, he also jailed, Imran Khan, a former Pakistani cricket captain who turned to politics and founded the Justice Party, and placed opposition leader Benazir Bhutto under house arrest Wednesday. All in all, a busy week for General Musharraf.

Rumors tonight say that Musharraf has agreed to step down as head of the military by the end of the month. But he has rejected calls to end the state of ermergency and leave the political stage altogether. Anybody believe this guy? I don't.

You sure can pick 'em George.

My First Social Media Release

Well I finally put out my first Social Media Release (Symphony Services Helps ISVs Adopt Oracle SaaS Platform)!

Ever since I started getting up to speed on Social Networking and Social Media, and learned about SMRs, I wanted to try one. Well it took several months, and some convincing and education of my PR firm, but we did it. For any of you PR professional who are experimenting with social media and SMRs, I'd appreciate any feedback. I guess we'll know soon whether this gets any different treatment than a traditional release.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Halloween Fun

I just wanted to pass on a couple of funny things I saw around this Halloween:

The first one is a good friend of mine who actually dressed as quarterback Michael Vick. I have no idea how his wife let him out of the house like that. That being said, I thought it was really funny when I saw it...a little disturbing...but really funny.

The other item was a quote from President Bush about Dick Cheney's costume. Clearly he's been watching Jon Stewart on the Daily Show for some time. Not just after Lynne Cheney's appearance last month. I guess this is the funny, personable side of Bush everyone talks about that has been hidden the past 6 years.

This morning I was with the vice president. I was asking him what costume he was planning. He said 'Well I'm already wearing it,' and then he mumbled something about the dark side of the force.

President Bush, on Vice President Dick Cheney's Halloween Costume