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People are the key to success!


The News - January 4, 2009

"To believe in yourself and to follow your dreams, to have goals in life and a drive to succeed, and to surround yourself with the things and the people that make you happy - this is success! – Sasha Azevedo


The power of a movement lies in the fact that it can indeed change the habits of people. This change is not the result of force but of dedication, of moral persuasion.– Stephen Biko


Top Picks

Countries in tug-of-war over Arctic resources
“One of the planet's most fragile and pristine ecosystems sits atop a bounty of untapped fossil fuels.  Melting polar ice is making the Arctic more accessible to shipping and other industry.  The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 90 billion barrels of oil, 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are recoverable in the frozen region north of the Arctic Circle.”


Study: Diamonds link comet to mammal extinction
“Tiny diamonds found in the soil are "strong evidence" a comet exploded on or above North America nearly 13,000 years ago, leading to the extinction of dozens of mammal species, according to a study.

Diamonds found in North American soil suggest a comet led to the extinction of dozens of mammal species.  The scientific report also suggests the cataclysm also reduced the population of the earliest people to inhabit the region and triggered a 1,300-year-long cold spell that stretched around the world.”


Global Warming Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg
“Defense experts have also started to see the link between climate change and conflict. A 2007 CNA Corp. report, supervised by a dozen retired admirals and generals, warned that climate change could lead to political unrest in numerous badly hit countries, then perhaps to outright bloodshed and battle. One key factor that could stoke these tensions is massive migration as people flee increasingly uninhabitable areas, which would lead to border tensions, greater demands for rescue and evacuation services and disputes over essential resources.”


The Warming Earth Blows Hot, Cold and Chaotic
“For the time being, no one knows whether this temperature drop heralds a lasting retreat from global warming or a temporary dip. Last summer was relatively cool world-wide, for example, while global land temperatures in October were the warmest for that month in more than a century, government weather records show. … In matters of climate, the unusual is becoming routine, as higher temperatures make weather patterns more unstable.”


Book and Product Recommendations

The Governance of Green IT

“The economy and environment have combined to create quite a challenge. On one hand, there is a push to reduce capital investment and operating expenses. On the other, organizations are implementing green strategies to reduce the environmental impacts. Within this context, information technology is struggling to provide services that support the organization. To sustain support, IT must implement processes to ensure proper value creation and protection of organizational goals. To this end, this book sets forth the Green IT process that will enable value creation and protection in the areas of data center power and cooling.”

Order it at:

Note: An overview of the Green IT process was given in a webinar at Jupitermedia on July 2, 2008.


IT Audit / Internal Audit / Compliance

The Risks of 'Security by Compliance' - Interview with ISACA's John Pironti
“In an exclusive interview, Pironti discusses:  The risks of 'Security by Compliance'; Top risk management/compliance issues of 2009; What will be the most in-demand skills and job opportunities for information security professionals.”


The Safeguard Madoff Victims Missed
“As the list of wealthy individuals, institutions, and charities that have lost millions, even billions of dollars in the Bernard Madoff fraud case continues to grow, other investors have been asking an important question: Why was there no independent custodian holding the securities and other assets Mr. Madoff's firm was said to be investing?”


IT Process Improvement / Quality Management

How to capitalize on green-IT computing
“Old notion: Green computing is expensive and low-yield. New order: Green offers easy ways to save cash.”


The Impact of Cloud Computing on IT Departments and Personnel
“While the potential of cloud computing can't be denied, it is not realistic to expect (or maybe fear) that cloud computing will solve infrastructure and staffing issues in IT departments in general and in data centers in particular.”


A Crystal Ball Look into the 2009 Data Center
“With 2008 closing, it's time to look into the crystal ball and see what the future holds for the data center industry. Data center experts around the world envision a year of innovation, which they hope will alleviate or possibly even resolve today’s data center challenges.”


Energy Efficiency: The New SLA
“For years, IT organizations have been charged with ensuring the performance, availability, and security of their environments. Now, as more and more data centers are nearing their power and cooling capacities, a new SLA has emerged. Today’s IT managers must now also manage energy efficiency—not as a one-time event, but as an ongoing business imperative.”


Security and Risk Management

Critical security projects escape the budget ax
“Old notion: In tight times, table or trim back all projects. New order: Move forward. To delay is to lose out on savings and innovation.”


SSL cert. hash hacked on PS3 farm
“In New Year's eve's IT Blogwatch, Richi Jennings watches bloggers watch the MD5 hash algorithm get broken -- by a farm of PlayStations -- with worrying consequences for SSL digital certificates. Not to mention seasonal blinkenlights…”


Google’s “Browser Security Handbook”
“This document is meant to provide web application developers, browser engineers, and information security researchers with a one-stop reference to key security properties of contemporary web browsers. Insufficient understanding of these often poorly-documented characteristics is a major contributing factor to the prevalence of several classes of security vulnerabilities.   Although all browsers implement roughly the same set of baseline features, there is relatively little standardization - or conformance to standards - when it comes to many of the less apparent implementation details. Furthermore, vendors routinely introduce proprietary tweaks or improvements that may interfere with existing features in non-obvious ways, and seldom provide a detailed discussion of potential problems.”


Healthcare / Bio-Informatics / Care Delivery Organizations (CDOs)

Healthcare compliance gets boost from national HHS privacy framework
“New Medicare provisions for digital prescriptions and expanded HIPAA influence, quietly put forth in a Health and Human Services framework earlier this month, mean more organizations will need to grapple with healthcare compliance issues protecting patient information in 2009. The e-prescription program will include incentives in 2009 and begin including disincentives for continued paper use in 2012.”,289483,sid183_gci1343805,00.html


ECRI’s Top 10 Health Technology Hazards
ECRI has released their second annual study on health technology in hospitals.


City to Pay Doctors to Contribute to Database
“Experts say it is the most ambitious government effort nationwide to harness electronic data for public-health goals like monitoring disease frequency, cancer screening and substance abuse. It follows the Bloomberg administration’s aggressive focus on everyday health concerns — which has included startling anti-smoking advertisements in subways and requirements that chain restaurants post calorie counts — and frequent use of statistics to drive public policy on crime, homelessness and other issues.”


Blue Cross, Zagat to rank doctors
“With the Zagat ratings, Blue Cross members won't find any data on a North Carolina physician until there are at least 10 surveys on the doctor, to help avoid skewed data, Bradley said. And comments will be screened to eliminate anything inappropriate”


Budget Office Sees Hurdles in Financing Health Plans
“One bright spot in a generally bleak picture was the estimate of potential savings from a requirement for doctors and hospitals to use health information technology, including electronic medical records, as a condition of participating in Medicare.  Such a requirement could save the federal government $7 billion in the first five years and a total of $34 billion over 10 years, by reducing medical errors and avoiding unnecessary tests and procedures, the budget office said. It ‘would also lower health insurance premiums in the private sector,’ the report said.

[Note:  The FY2009 HHS budget for healthcare is interesting: ]


National Health Information Network Set to Launch, Sort Of
“The Nationwide Health Information Network will become reality very soon when the Social Security Administration performs a preliminary test of the new system in February 2009. The NHIN's trial run will be used to determine benefits eligibility for the SSA's 2.6 million annual disability claims.”


If we shopped for health care as we do for cars
“As Michael Leavitt ends four years as secretary of health and human services, he offers this attention-arresting arithmetic: Absent fundamental reforms, over the next two decades the average American household’s health care spending, including the portion of its taxes that pays for Medicare and Medicaid, will go from 23 percent to 41 percent of average household income.”


Human Error / Safety / Environment

Insurance Co. Blames Global Warming for an Especially Disastrous Year
“Munich Re’s report points out that 2008 was the tenth warmest year on record according to the World Meteorological Organisation, which means that the 10 warmest years have all occurred in the past 12. Several recent studies have suggested that global warming may not be increasing the frequency of cyclones and hurricanes, but it is making big storms more intense.”


Global warming: Reasons why it might not actually exist
“2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved, according to the Telegraph's Christopher Booker. Sceptics have long argued that there are other explanations for climate change other than man-made CO2 and here we look at some of the arguments put forward by those who believe that global warming is all a hoax.”


Cooling global warming hysteria just one story of '08
“First, the scientific debate over climate change has entered a new phase. This change is reflected in, though hardly constituted by, petitions signed by natural scientists of various kinds disputing the so-called consensus that human-caused CO2 is responsible for global warming.”


New NASA report details final minutes of Columbia
“A new NASA report released Tuesday details the chaotic final minutes of Columbia, which disintegrated over Texas on Feb. 1, 2003. The point of the 400-page analysis is to figure out how to make NASA's next spaceship more survivable. The report targeted problems with the spacesuits, restraints and helmets of the Columbia crew.”
The NASA report itself is at:


Skeptics skip the long view
“As the chart at right covering the past 10 years shows, that makes it the third year in a row of falls. Draw a trend line between 1998 and last year and it slopes downwards.  So at least global warming has halted, hasn't it? That is one way of looking at it. Evidence that the earth is cooling certainly has put a new bounce in the step of climate change sceptics.  However, the news does not look so good if we take the longer-term view.”,25197,24866329-7583,00.html


Ocean acidification, global warming, and the Great Barrier Reef
“Perhaps it’s time to begin talking about global warming and acidifying oceans in the same breath, rather than as related-but-separate issues.  In mid-December, The Monitor ran a story on research showing that some areas of the world’s oceans are acidifying faster than marine scientists had predicted even three years ago.  The culprit: the excess carbon dioxide that human industrial activity and deforestation are pumping into the atmosphere — and that the oceans are absorbing.”


Global News / Business / Economics

Medical travel catches cold

“Medical travel from North America and Europe has been the next big thing for more than a decade, and it still is. Western travelers - as opposed to expatriates living in Asia - remain a tiny fraction of Thailand's healthcare market. That may be partially attributable to a side effect of the 2006 coup and its chaotic democratic aftermath: like most central government agencies, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has ceased to function effectively.”


Gazprom Says Ukraine May Disrupt Gas Supply to Europe
“OAO Gazprom, supplier of a quarter of Europe’s gas, warned customers that Ukraine may disrupt supplies by siphoning fuel from transit pipelines should Russia’s gas exporter stop deliveries tomorrow morning.”


Russia, Ukraine say gas dispute won't hurt Europe
“Overshadowing their confrontation was the specter of 2006, when a similar dispute interrupted gas shipments to many European countries for three days. But both Russia and Ukraine now have strong interests in proving to Europe they can be reliable energy partners, and they assured other European nations they would not be affected.”


Is China's economy hitting a great wall?
“Today, China has woken up to a new reality, one that economists say could make 2009 the most challenging period China has faced in years: declining exports, slower growth, rising unemployment – and the spectre of social unrest rippling across the country.”


US News / Business / Economics

How Bad Will the U.S. Economy Get?
“If Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart are correct (they looked at 18 postwar banking crises), much worse”


Ten Business Predictions for 2009
“Recession will run rampant but housing prices will hit bottom—finally. Also: Consumers lose the bling, 3D's resurgence, and more crystal-ball calls.”


Will This Bold Shakeup Save Dell?
“After stepping back into the chief executive job in January 2007, Dell began a program of steep cost cuts and layoffs. And as part of an effort to regain lost market share, he pushed the low-cost, direct-sales PC maker to turn out fresh, compelling products consumers will be more likely to want to buy.”


Consumer Electronics: Innovate or Die
“The problem at the heart of the industry today is that CE companies still design for their original, early adopter geek audience. Tech geeks drove the development of the CE industry when it was new and there was a steep adoption curve. But, now that grade schoolers and hockey moms carry iPhones, consult their GPS for driving directions, bank online, and share family photos on Flickr, CE companies need to do more than rely on consumer curiosity to stay alive.”


Bailing Out Detroit's Bailout Plans
“Our government has said it will provide $17 billion to keep Detroit running for a few months, but there is a catch. The bailout money came with some stiff requirements, which were probably a reaction to the government's handing hundreds of billions of dollars to banks and Wall Street without any quid-pro-quos.”


GM, Chrysler May Lead Sales Slide to Cap 16-Year Low
“Sales dropped 48 percent from a year earlier at Chrysler, 41 percent at GM and 33 percent at Ford Motor Co., based on the average estimates of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Toyota Motor Corp. may report a 40 percent slide and Honda Motor Co. may say its total was down 36 percent, Brian Johnson, a Barclays Capital analyst in New York, said in a Dec. 31 note to investors.”


Technology & Science

Microsoft specs out 'pay as you go' PC scheme
“Microsoft's plan would instead monitor the machine to track things such as disk storage space, processor cores and memory used, then bill the user for what was consumed during a set period.”


Server makers get Goooogled
“Elements of Google's most secretive product--its unique PC server design--is beginning to ripple throughout the rest of the industry.  Like many companies with giant Internet data centers, Google uses big clusters of commodity x86 servers. But unlike its competitors such as Yahoo and Microsoft, it has created a motherboard design tailored for big data centers.”

James Urquhart wrote an interesting piece too about how future server designs will look very different than today’s general purpose servers:


NASA Reports
While writing the entry for the Columbia Crew Survival Investigation Report release, I found the URL for NASA’s reports.  It’s quite interesting and has everything from budgets to strategic plans.


Cloud Computing Journal: Data Storage Has Been Taken for Granted
“In this series of articles (which represent a paper I am writing), I will attempt to examine key areas where a Cloud Optimized Storage Solution (referred to as COSS through the remainder of this document) can both bolster the general availability of the cloud at large and concurrently provide appropriate performance for the cloud application set based on Service Level Agreements (SLAs).”


Storage Investment Priorities for 2009

“Although we re facing a continued economic downturn in 2009, the growth rate of storage and storage requirements is not abated. IT professionals are facing tightened budgets with very little capital, making it difficult for them to acquire new technologies. Yet, whatever capital investments are made must be maximized to the fullest extent which means they ll choose the storage solution that will best meet their needs while looking for a quick return on investment and a return on assets, or ROA. In this economy, it will be important for IT professionals to stick to the fundamentals and focus on ROA and the ability to break even quickly.”


NASA's rovers mark five years on Red Planet
“NASA said the rovers had made important discoveries about the wet and violent conditions on ancient Mars.  They had returned 250,000 images, covered more than 21km (13 miles), climbed a mountain, descended into craters, struggled with sand traps and ageing hardware and survived dust storms, NASA said.”


Who The Hell Writes Wikipedia, Anyway?
“The bulk of Wikipedia is written by 1400 obsessed freaks who do little else but contribute to the site, says a post racing up the Hacker News charts. The post pulls this number from an essay Aaron Swartz wrote more than two years ago, based on some comments by Jimmy Wales.”




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