buzzword compliance

Fun with webcam-chat-phishing Yahoo robots.

nina.skies 9:01: nina.skies wants your attention!
Sean Gallagher 9:02:   nina.skies wants your attention!
nina.skies 9:03: Hello there!!!
Sean Gallagher 9:03:  Hello there.  What can I do for you?
nina.skies 9:03: how are you doing????
Sean Gallagher 9:03:  I am fine!!!! Who is this???
nina.skies 9:04: soo what are you doing right now???
Sean Gallagher  9:04: I am working on an investigative report on IM phishing.
nina.skies 9:04: I not doing much im actually bored of chating around would you like to  have some fun???
Sean Gallagher 9:05: This is a robot, isn’t it.
nina.skies 9:05: IDK any ideas???
Sean Gallagher 9:06: This is definitely a robot

[block user nina.skies]

buzzword compliance

Tech buzz from the veterinarian

Mooch got his ear pierced today. A centimeter-wide hole in his right ear is testament to a bite from something–I’m guessing another cat, but maybe something he was trying to eat.  In any case, as the vet talked with me and looked at Mooch’s extensive medical history, he remembered that I had been an editor at Ziff Davis, and was a a tech journalist. So he took the opportunity to rave about his Palm Pre.

He was most excited about the “home brew” applications he had installed, which required him to get to the Linux command line on the Pre.  And how he had installed a hack of the GPS and the networking on the Pre that allowed him to remote login to his Pre, and fetch the GPS location of the phone if he had lost it.

He let me look at his for a few minutes, because–surprise–I have been so deep in the world of defense tech lately, I haven’t even had a chance to look at a Pre on a store shelf, let alone evaluate one.  And yes, after a cursory examination of the Pre, even with its microscopic keys, the Pre has moved up on my list of potential replacements for my Blackberry 8700c. (I absolutely loathe screen-typing on the iPhone–I need physical feedback, being a touch typist.)

That is, if I ever get free of AT&T, what with every other member of my family on an AT&T phone, and two of them on iPhones.

Baltimore, buzzword compliance, dot-communism, Friends, work

Nesting, flocking, and the solitary geek

i have now been a telecommuter for almost 15 years – nearly three times as long as I’ve spent in “traditional” work environments. Sure, I’ve spent time in the office on each of those jobs–some more than others. But it’s always been clear to me that I have been operating at a handicap by not physically being in the office–both professionally and psychically. The benefits to my family have usually outweighed those–we haven’t had to move from Baltimore, where we can afford to live comfortably (relatively speaking) and the kids have had stability; I haven’t had to deal with daily commutes, and have had more time to participate in my family’s life (at least until the last couple of years), and there have been other direct and indirect lifestyle benefits.

But I’ve been going out of my fucking mind.

My current company is at least geographically relatively close, compared to previous employers — a 75-mile drive, an hour-and-a-half commute off peak. I spend most Mondays in the office just so people know I exist. It’s certainly less of a grind than my last corporate gig, where I spent nearly every other week flying to New England, and the folks at the office park Sheraton knew me by name. That job drove me to the edge, to dark places I never want to go again, with the lost hours in airports, on Southwest, on the 128 to Needham, in a bad hotel restaurant, in cubeland trying to figure out why things were so fucked and what it was exactly I was supposed to be doing since nobody knew I existed even when I was there.

But I digress.

There is a great deal of what I do that is best done in isolation, with no interruptions. I find that I write best in the dark hours, when the house is quiet, and there are no interruptions– or at least that’s when I am *able* to write. But the inspiration for writing has to come from a more social world, and my brain needs other people to engage it sometimes.

That became clear to me when I stood up and guided a session at the recent SocialDevCampEast here in Baltimore, and then participated in several more. Part of it is ego, and part of it is just plain human need — I like the feedback that comes with gettting up and talking and thinking on my feet, and I like talking about things I’m passionate about. As solitary as I am most of the time, I am a social animal, and given my usual isolation, I find that I need approval and acceptance all the more so when I get the opportunity.

In other words, I’m a needy, egotistical serial loner. Quite the personality profile.

But, as it turns out, a lot of other very smart people are also needy, egotistical serial loners looking to be more social. One of the conversations at SocialDevCampEast was about co-working.

Dave Troy, who I used to occasionally co-guest with on the Marc Steiner Show (on what was then WJHU, along with Eric Monti) , is leading ab effort to bring co-working in the style of Philadelphia’s Indy Hall to Baltimore. Co-working, for the uninitiated, is a social approach to independent info-working, providing the professional and creative benefits of networking and idea bouncing for those who might itherwise spend the day talking to their cat.

So far, the Beehive group has been meeting at Blue House, a Fells Point coffee shop, and doing Tuesday and Thursday “jellies”-sessions where people loosely show up and work in each other’s company and leech off the establishment’s wifi. But plans are in the works for an actual shared space in Canton.

I, unfortunately, have yet to get to a jelly. But I think I’ll be trying to frequent the shared space when it opens, being as it beats driving to Falls Church for a day in the office.

buzzword compliance, dot-communism, work


I’m listening to a speaker from Hampton Roads Transit sing the praises of Google Transit. Last night, the folks from Alabama’s Homeland Security showed off Virtual Alabama, a statewide geospatial application built on Google Earth, which incorporated county data and aerial imagery with utility, law enforcement, school district and other data to create an all-seeing first responder’s application–allowing users, for example, to overlay sex offender data on school bus routes.

Government, especially local and state, loves the word free. And Google’s geospatial and other data standards have made them even more dear to them, since local government data has been locked up in GIS and other databases that would cost millions to integrate independently.

Also, it’ll make the transition to googlement that much easier when the googleplex takes over the world.

buzzword compliance, gallagheria

government 2 dot oh

I am at the Government Leadership Summit today in Williamsburg, where I just moderated a panel on Intellipedia, a MediaWiki-based wiki that the us intell community is using to share data.

And as I type this on my Blackberry, folks from the Navy, State Department and GSA are talking about blogging. You wouldn’t think there would be so much regulation standing in the way of government talking to itself–let alone the public–via Web 2.0 tech. Procurement, congressional oversight, policy and administrative rules are all tooled against direct communication.

*and an edit from a real computer*

After taking in the whole conference, and looking at what 3 cups of coffee and a crackberry wrung out of me, I figured maybe I should expand on the buzziness above.

I had been away from covering government stuff for almost 15 years before this January. And as much as things have changed, the people in government IT largely haven’t. The average age of the Federal IT workforce is 47, according to a factoid I heard yesterday–which I’m going to have to get a cite for, but based on the folks I’ve seen at various events, it seems on target. Unlike the commercial world, there has long been a culture of risk-avoidance, and resistance to change is embedded in both the regulations and culture. One person I spoke to talked about how regulations are to the point that government employees now have to basically break them in order to get anything done.

Another problem is that there’s a dependency on contractors to do much of the deep technical work in government IT, and contracts are generally driven by specifications from within government. Cross pollination of new ideas — and a flow of fresh blood into the Federal IT gene pool– is something that hasn’t been made easy by the way the government does business.