Friday, September 30, 2011

The Truth Fairy

While reviewing the seemingly endless stream of posts on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook and the other services I follow, I was reminded of a great resource everyone should use, a lot.

As more and more people rely upon information they find on the internet or receive in emails, we need a quick way to fact check. It is very important to validate information, particularly if it is coming from a less than totally authoritative source.

You have probably received emails from friends and co-workers with startling information, warnings of a virus that will eat your hard drive or get rich quick via email schemes. Beyond the now infamous Nigerian scam, there are many false promises of money for forwarding email and equally untrue warnings of impending doom if you even use your computer on a certain date. These hoaxes often contain details, screen shots, error messages and even instructions to be followed. They look, sound and feel like the real deal.

A healthy dose of skepticism is highly advised. Should you receive one of these messages your first instinct should be to visit www.SNOPES.com. This site is an excellent way to quickly and reliably determine if there is any truth at all to what you are being told. Snopes has been collecting and reporting on internet hoaxes for many years and has an extensive library covering almost every conceivable category. Browse the site and I guarantee you will see many items that look familiar.

Search on Snopes for the the subject line or a key phrase from your suspect message and it will immediately confirm or expose the truth.

No one is quite sure why people create and send these hoax messages around. Other than the obvious attempt to dupe you out of your money, a chain letter scam and false virus warnings really serve no purpose. Perhaps these messages start out as a prank. Then your friends, neighbors and relatives, believing it to be true, genuinely want to alert you to the opportunity or danger. The authors are relying upon the good intentions of people, knowing they are likely to share. Like the old shampoo commercial, each person sends it to everyone they know and it multiplies exponentially.

The Truth Fairy
So, the next time you get one of these gems in your inbox, don't get excited, scared or annoyed. Don't forward it to everyone you know. Check it out with Snopes. Once you know it is a hoax, do yourself and everyone else a favor and don't pass it on. Instead, politely pass a link to this column back to the person who sent it to you in the first place.

Maybe next time they too will check the facts before spreading the hoax.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why Max Indeed? Is the Contest Over?

You hear a lot about 3G and 4G cellular service. Carriers have been bragging in print advertising, on-line and television commercials that they have the fastest and most reliable networks. These networks each have a different underlying technology and if you have ever wondered why your Sprint phone won't work on the AT&T network this is the reason. Inside the phone are electronics that use a specific standard of communication with the towers.

The world was originally split between CDMA and TDMA. Later, GSM came on the scene. What these acronyms mean is not important. But choosing your carrier meant you were in one camp or the other and this had an impact on where and how well you phone would perform. The US and a few other parts of the globe  used CDMA but the majority of the rest of the world used GSM.

All of these so called 3G technologies have been improved and increased in speed and capacity. A new standard called WiMax emerged bringing extraordinary speed to smart phones. About four years ago it was embraced by Sprint and introduced as the first 4G network. This was a departure from the traditional CDMA technology found in Sprint (and Verizon) phones. AT&T and T-Mobile enhanced their networks with faster variants of the GSM standard but couldn't really match the performance of WiMax.

A few weeks ago I wrote about AT&T introducing LTE to their network in a couple of cities. Verizon has rolled LTE out to most of their major cities. LTE is the 4G successor to GSM and has proven to outperform WiMax.

While there have been some developments that promise to deliver a supercharged WiMax, it would appear the battle is over and LTE has won. Sprint is making noises and is rumored to have started converting their network to LTE. Their partner, Clearwire, is also making the change.

If this is true it will be the first time all major carriers will have adopted a single global standard. This is significant for a number of reasons.

When all the carriers use the same technology on their towers, customers will have more towers to provide capacity. This should dramatically improve coverage and performance. These new standards can support more calls as well, so even within carrier this has the effect of increasing capacity.

It might also mean one day we will reach nirvana and unravel the phone from the carrier. Much like the ability to take your phone number with you when you change carriers, you may be able to keep your phone. This is how it works in Europe and other parts of the world. Changing the SIM or personality chip is all that will be required to move from Sprint to Verizon or AT&T.

There are still a number of business and technical reasons which will  keep your phone married to a specific carrier. But having everyone on the LTE band-wagon is a move in the right direction.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

TED

The internet is a vast and endless universe of information and activities. It is a black hole that can suck every last free minute of your day if you allow it. The DNA of the internet is the hyperlink, that highlighted, underlined phrase that takes you to yet another site. Every web page is riddled with these links. They are hard to ignore and so we click and down the into the rats nest we descend, never to emerge again.

There are many ways to be entertained, educated and informed on the internet. Certainly we all know about the most popular information sources such as Wikipedia, travel and navigation planning, banking and finance and, of course, the endless array of entertainment sites including all the social networks like Facebook and blogs like this one.

But the next time you have ten to fifteen minutes to spare, do yourself a favor. Skip posting that "like" or +1 on Aunt Sally's photo of her French poodle's new hair style, hold off on checking your stock portfolio's latest  performance and postpone viewing the next episode of season 3 of Entourage. Iinstead visit  TED.COM.

Of all the hundreds of noteworthy sites I have visited on the internet, none compare with TED. TED is a collection of high quality video presentations delivered by brilliant artists, authors, educators, researchers, scientist and other accomplished professionals on an astounding variety of topics. The talks are brief but always engaging, fascinating and frequently amazing. There is even a category called "jaw dropping."

If you are ever in the mood to fly to Saturn, delve into the mystery of the human brain, listen to a virtuoso or learn about the Ngram viewer, TED is the place to go. Unlike hyperlink syndrome that bounces you from one site to another, TED will keep you riveted to your screen for the entire length of every talk. Moreover, based on your choices, TED will suggest other talks you might want to watch. Be prepared, however, because you may never leave the site.

TED is free and regularly updated with new material . It is very well organized and a great alternative to television, video games and chat rooms. I highly recommend you and your whole family spend some time there.

Let me know what you think of the site and if there were any specific talks you particularly enjoyed.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Small Token Of Trust

One of the more difficult issues with the internet and access to computer systems in general is accurate identification and reliable authentication of people. To properly govern the use of any system or the data it contains, we must know a person's identity. Based on who you are we can allow or refuse access to portions or all of the information. But beyond knowing the identity presented, we must authenticate you. In other words, we need a way to know you are really you and not just someone simply claiming to be you.

In the real world we have physical evidence of our identity. To cash a check we may have to show a valid drivers license while at the airport we might have to produce a passport. These are documents issued by trusted authorities which serve as acceptable evidence of who we are. Our fingerprints, retinal image or other biometrics can provide near irrefutable proof.

Computers, on the other hand, typically rely on user accounts and passwords to indicate who is using the system. For more secure systems additional methods of authentication may be brought in to play. E*Trade, for example, once issued physical tokens to all its brokerage customers. These devices displayed a continuously changing code in an LCD window which had to be entered when you signed in. You, in sole possession of the token, were the only person who would have access to this code at the time of sign on. Even if someone learned your account and password, they would lack this extra key needed to successfully get in.

Most of the methods, even the most sophisticated, still leave systems vulnerable to attack. Every attempt to access a computer system across a network relies upon a standard of communication called Internet Protocol or IP. IP is the postal system for computers. Something called a TCP packet is like the envelope in which you place your message. Unfortunately the bad guys know how intercept these packets and sneak a peek at what's inside. Encryption of the content is encouraged for this reason. If the message in the packet is all in code it is no use to anyone except the sender and receiver with their secret decoder rings.

This leaves one hole in the fortress. The very first packet which carries the credentials to the server can be identified and compromised. Moreover, there is an all out attack called a denial of service attack where the bad guys just want to flood the server with packets to overwhelm it and cause it to slow down or fail altogether.

One vendor has addressed this weakness brilliantly. At a recent Cresting Wave Technology Showcase I had the opportunity to discuss security with Eric Bucher, senior security engineer with BlackRidge Technology, who described an elegantly simple but totally effective solution to the problem.

Adding their special client software to each computer authorized to communicate with a server allows a unique token to be inserted into the header of the TCP packet before it is sent on its way. The token is randomized and time dependent. When the packet arrives at the server this token lets the server know it came from a known and trusted source. Packets that arrive without this special token are simply ignored.

This assures a secure connection with the server and, even better, renders denial of service attacks ineffective. DOS depends on the fact that the server has to acknowledge and respond to every packet, even if only to reject a bad attempt to sign in. But with the BlackRidge Technology, packets that lack a valid token are simply thrown away. Bad guys hammering the server with repeated guesses at passwords or even pinging, a technique to measure how long it takes to get a reply from a server, will have no impact. There will be no reply issued, effectively cloaking the server and imposing no additional load.

No doubt, this new technology will be welcomed and integrated into many commercial software solutions.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC


By the way, if you find all this technology too confusing, feel free to give me a call.

       

Monday, September 26, 2011

Playing Games with Software Design

Over the years I have been involved in many software development efforts. My guidelines always include designing the software so it is easy to navigate and hard for the user to make a mistake. Countless times I have listened to software engineers berate people for not understanding the way a program was designed.

Programmers get upset when they see people make bad choices, selecting the wrong options or performing tasks out of order. What is painfully obvious to them about the software can be a complete mystery and paralyzing to mere mortals. The sales manager wants to enter information and not have to learn fundamentals of database technology. The senior accountant wants to close the month and not learn about job queues and processor priorities. Our job as IT professionals is to understand what goes on behind the curtain but we can not and should not expect the people who use the software to have the same level of knowledge.

Microsoft Windows took computing light years forward in simplifying the user interface. Point and click is a lot easier than remembering the commands and options needed in command line systems like DOS. It made it possible for people to use multiple applications at the same time increasing productivity and efficiency when using personal computers. Window-like menu interfaces have been grafted on to most major software products. Apple is perhaps the best at making systems highly intuitive and therefore easy to use. Have you ever seen a user guide for the iPod, iPhone or iPad.

Of course making complex enterprise class software as simple as that is a real challenge. SAP, taking a lesson from video games, is trying to creatively infuse the element of fun into their ERP application. While I am not sure we should go to this extreme, the idea of addressing the user interface earlier in the product development life cycle is spot on.

All too often, the software design revolves around the process and data structures while user experience is left to the end or not considered at all. If we put some effort into understanding how people work and design the software in a way that is natural and intuitive we can eliminate many of the issues associated with new implementation and training.

I encourage project teams to try to write the training materials before writing any code. Have mock user sessions and see how people interact with the proposed design. This should allow the developers to create software that can only be used properly. Don't allow people to make a mistake. There are many techniques for guiding people through a complicated system such as a tutorial or context sensitive help. Hide options when they are inappropriate. If you do not want the B button pressed at this point then don't present the B button.

The new generation of workers, sometimes called digital natives, are a lot more savvy and comfortable around computer systems. They grew up with the latest technology and expect it to be available in the work place. But they also expect systems to be as fast, simple and reliable as their smart phone. They won't read manuals or spend hours in training classes. If they can't figure out how the system is supposed to work they will think we are the ones who don't know what we're doing.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Friday, September 23, 2011

Is This Business or Pleasure?

I'm not going to fuel the debate whether the changes to Facebook are good, bad or a non event for most subscribers. I'm not going to defend Google Plus or pontificate over the impact on Twitter or the many other social networks people know and love. There are plenty of columns, articles, videos and publications waving the flag for their preferred network.

The radical changes Facebook has made and the direction Google Plus is headed with business profiles  (still in test) simply reaffirm my view that these two platforms will attract different people at different times with a very different purpose in mind and who are seeking a different kind of experience.

Facebook continues to be the preeminent social social network. Adding more ways of sharing every day life, personal interests and experiences makes it an even better place to hang out with my friends. We can trade stories, pictures and videos about our vacations or listen to some cool tunes on Spotify together. Students, housewives (and dads) and other people with free time and flexible schedules will take advantage of these and more additional features to socialize.

Google Plus integrated and used along with all of the Google applications will ultimately serve the business community. The data collected from Facebook will have enormous commercial value, while the Google platform is already being used in the workplace directly to support and enable operations. In Facebook we may write "notes" to describe a trip to wine country. In Google Apps we're collaborating on a contract document and presentation to clients.

Certainly many companies have a presence on Facebook, yet most still frown on employees accessing their accounts during the work day. Google, and soon Google Plus, is perceived as a viable set of capabilities to enable employees to do their jobs. After using Google Apps for some time and now frequenting Google Plus, it is obvious to me how this is how it is all going to play out.

This is not to suggest that Google Plus will never be used for social purposes nor will Facebook exclude business. But on balance, people will be more comfortable with personal exchanges in Facebook while Google Plus will naturally feel like a more professional environment.

This is not a winner take all contest. Neither of these networks will crush or irradiate the other. Put all the rhetoric and hyperbole aside. They offer alternative ways of interacting with family, friends, colleagues, associates and even strangers.

Step back and take an objective view of how you use Facebook or Google Plus. Then tell me if you agree or if  perhaps I missed something.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Consumers May Prefer Facebook Classic

In the world of marketing there are many ways to regenerate interest and boost sales for a product or brand. Through special discounts, rebates or coupons you can effectively reduce the price consumers pay. As HP recently found out, even defunct products will fly off the shelf at the right price point.

A very popular technique is a relaunch. Wrap the product in new packaging and slap the ubiquitous new and improved stamp on it and you can breath new life into almost any old product. Line extensions which introduce new variants of a product such as new sizes or flavors will also stimulate sales and produce growth.

But years ago what the greatest marketing minds at Coca Cola discovered is that you don't change a successful product. Some of you may remember and many will have read the now legendary product faux pas of actually introducing the New Coke as a replacement for the tried and true, much beloved original Coke beverage. It was not well received by the public. This was quickly followed by the introduction of a line extension, Classic Coke, bringing back the original product under a new name.

Perhaps the folks on the Z-Team missed that lecture in Marketing 101. Facebook is radically changing its look and feel and the way it functions. A few weeks back the chat function was suddenly totally different. Now the news feed has changed and "friends" are grouped in new ways. The security model has become more complex and we can now subscribe to friends not just pages. This is not your father's Facebook. Break out the user guides, tutorials and cheat sheets.

Earlier this week Facebook notified me they had modified my settings to reduce the amount of email and make the service work better for me, but I could put it back the other way if I wanted to. Gee, thanks, Facebook. Clearly I welcome the opportunity to waste hours finding where these controls now hide so I can try to recall how they were set before and put things back to the way I liked having them.

I can't comment on all the new features because, well, frankly, I haven't spent much time on Facebook lately. I still post to reach my friends but my posts almost always originate from Foursquare, Twitter and Google Plus. Of course when I receive an email alert I will respond, comment or "like" a Facebook post. But unless I can sort out how to turn that back on, I guess I won't be doing as much of that any more.

Watching the rivalry among all the social networks has been interesting. I have already expressed the view that Facebook is going to alienate more people than it will please with these massive changes. I agree with others that people will tolerate these changes because all their friends are presently on Facebook. But the ability to create content and have it flow to and from other networks will erode this advantage and eventually people will head off towards their social network of choice. For some, that may not be Facebook.

By the way, I have always preferred Diet Pepsi.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How Will We Keep Them Down on the Farm

Forrester research published a study showing 59% of the companies in a recent survey are now permitting employees to bring their own devices to work. This is great news for the employees who love their iPads, iPhones, Android or Windows Mobile devices. They will now be allowed to use them freely in the work place. This is bad news for IT departments everywhere who have to support employee owned devices and deal with the associated security and data control issues. This is especially bad news for RIM who used to have the lock on the corporate market.

The big problem is how to isolate and protect company information without having to install special software and configure every employee's device. It is critical to be able to protect and even delete company confidential data should the device be lost or stolen, or when an employee leaves the company. This is what makes the RIM devices so attractive. They can be remotely managed from a special server call the Blackberry Enterprise Server. The BES enables total control over access to data, email and other functions putting governance in the hands of the company administrators.

MDM (mobile device management) is a whole class of sofware solutions designed to allow for remote management of other handheld devices. They are offered by the carriers, telephone expense management services, independent software providers and others. Most target Windows Mobile or Android devices and a few even handle Apple IOS (iPhone, iPad.) They try to provide the same capabilities as the BES.

There are two basic approaches taken. One involves the complicated technique of virtualization. This simply means the smart phone or tablet device will be loaded with special software that creates a little make believe computer in which the company applications and data reside. When this "virtual machine" is gone, all proprietary information is gone as well. As you can imagine, this is very effective but places a significant load on the device which can lead to poor performance.

The alternative involves partitioning the device so personal data and company data are stored separately. It's like having a special cabinet where you keep important materials. Any data obtained from the company is automatically stored in this special area, secured through encryption and can be wiped remotely.

This week I attended the Cresting Wave Technology Showcase and had the opportunity to meet with a representative of a number of new hardware and software solutions. RAPshere is responding to this new "bring your own device" trend by offering a simple, effective MDM solution. Although it hasn't been released yet, it will likely receive a warm welcome in the corporate world. It is delivered OTA (over the air) meaning it is pushed to the device without having to physically touch it. It will work on any smart phone or tablet except RIM who have their own proprietary solution. It works by encapsulating data acquired from the company while leaving the personal data untouched.

According to Ajay Arora, RAPsphere is a "next generation mobile security meets MDM solution." To do the job right requires surgical precision when separating data. They provide  "highly granular personal/enterprise isolation on devices while managing the mobile lifecycle — not just at the device level, but at the user, application, data and device level.  The new application and mobile paradigm is at the nexus of where security and mobile life-cycle management intersect:  that's where RAPsphere lives.  And that's what enterprises we've been talking [to] all agree is the solution they're looking for." RAPsphere enables the company control its information while you retain control of yours.

As our personal and business lives continue to overlap and the tools we use in both are increasingly the same, we will need more innovative approaches like these to maintain mutual privacy and security.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC


By the way, if you find all this technology too confusing, feel free to give me a call.

       

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

RIM, What Were You Thinking?

Some of you may remember when RIM introduced the original blackberry. It had a small black and white screen, a thumb wheel control and it only worked on the RIM proprietary radio network. Their devices have come a long way since then, reaching their peak in popularity towards the end of 2010.

The iPhone and Android OS have steadily eroded RIM's lead in the smart phone arena. RIM has been slow to respond and has recently fallen to fourth place. Even the once mighty Symbian has succumbed to power of Android.

RIM is making a valiant effort to fight its way back with the introduction of the new Blackberry 7 OS on a number of new devices. While I doubt they will ever be on top again, I wouldn't write them off so quick. RIM still has a few redeeming features and a huge following of loyal and dedicated customers. The Corporate and Government sectors embrace the push technology, low data consumption rates and the unequaled level of security while the consumer world continues to be enamored with Blackberry messenger (BBM) and the best battery life of any smart phone.

RIM can do more to improve their product. Expand the suite of applications and development tools so they perform better. Enhance the functionality and speed of the browser, the most frequently used applications. Raid and repackage applications found in the more popular Android and iTunes markets.

Following the wildly successful introduction of the iPad, RIM tried to get into the tablet game introducing their 7 inch device called the Playbook. But the iPad set the standard and it was too little, too late. The Playbook design had limited innovation for the consumer and instead relied more on familiarity and security for their corporate customers. The initial product had way too much reliance on the Blackberry, requiring you to be connected via Bluetooth to run mail, calendar and communicate via the internet.

RIM was going to partner with Sprint to introduce a WiMax version but in light of disappointing sales, Sprint have backed out of the deal. RIM still plan to develop an LTE version which they hope Verizon or AT&T will market. In my view, this is not likely to happen. RIM has since added WiFi capability but it is not yet fully sorted out.

The Playbook was also priced out of the market. No matter how good the quality and performance, you cannot charge the same price for a Toyota as a Mercedes. They have managed to garner less than 5% of the worldwide tablet market.

This is a failed experiment and RIM should simply cut its losses and stick to what it does best. Follow HP's lead and have a $99 fire sale to unload all of the remaining inventory. With any luck someone might publish a hack to allow the Playbook to run Android.

If that happens, Playbooks will fly off the shelves like Touchpads.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Monday, September 19, 2011

AT&T Introduces LTE Service

As promised, AT&T lit up its version of 4G LTE service in five US cities Sunday September 18, just in time to make their self imposed end of summer deadline. Various sources report a handful of devices including some smart phones and a tablet will soon be able to take advantage of the new high speed service. More cities will be added by year end and more devices will follow as soon as next month when the iPad3 and iPhone5 are due to hit the streets.

AT&T are third and dead last in the race to deliver 4G service to its customers. Verizon introduced LTE last year although the service was in place well before handheld devices were available that could use it. For several months, only air cards and USB modems enabled subscribers to take advantage of the new higher speed.

Sprint in partnership with Clearwire introduced their version of 4G, called WiMax in 2010, long before either of the other carriers. They offered an extensive array of smart phones, tablets and other devices that work on the old and the new network and achieved significant US coverage by the end of the year. Keep in mind WiMax is a different standard and requires different hardware chips and software than LTE (Long-Term Evolution.)

4G is the next generation of data service with much greater bandwidth (fatter pipes) allowing more data to be transmitted in less time. Being a bandwidth junkie with a desire to experience Android back in its early days, I arranged for my cell number to be ported to an HTC Hero on the Sprint network. This allowed me to try two new technologies at once and I found them both impressive enough to keep to this day. But that might soon change (see Apple Truly is Easy as Pie.)

When Verizon came on the scene they were the first with LTE. There were numerous tests and heated debates over the relative performance of these two technologies. You can find many articles evaluating the merits of WiMax versus LTE, each suggesting who can claim theirs is bigger, faster or more reliable. With AT&T joining the fray, we can expect to see another spate of comparisons, claims and counter-claims.

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), none of these services actually qualified as 4G. True 4G is even faster than either of the current so-called 4G offerings but won't hit the streets before 2014. When it does it will require new hardware yet again. Moreover, it is still unclear whether everyone will migrate to the newer flavor of WiMax or LTE, or if the rivalry will perpetuate their coexistence. ITU has since relaxed its position and allows the current services to be called 4G even though they are not.

If you find all of this confusing its only because it is. The world of technology advances at the speed of light and keeping up is nearly impossible. It is often said the nice thing about standards is that you have so many to choose from. Just when you think you are in the mainstream someone will change all the rules.

My advice is to be clear about what is important to you in a smart phone or wireless device. Consider where the device will be used and select a carrier primarily on the basis of the coverage, performance and reliability of service in those areas. Every carrier now has Blackberry, iPhone and Android devices and sufficiently high speeds for the average user. Unless high bandwidth is absolutely critical don't let this influence your decision too much. Cost of the device and associated service plans is likely to be the second most important criteria. For business clearly the total cost of ownership and not just the initial expense or rate plan has to be considered.

If you're still confused, call the bridge and ask for the Captain. We'll help you navigate the channel.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Friday, September 16, 2011

Watson, Come Here, I Need You

As I came to the dinner table a few nights ago, there on the one-eyed monster was a rerun of the classic TV game show Jeopardy. Now I am used to suffering through the latest Hollywood gossip and new movie or TV show promotions barely disguised as breaking news on a video magazine show my wife enjoys. Apparently it had been replaced that day  with a sporting event forcing my wife to channel surf until she found something of interest or a pot boiled over. I am not sure which caused her to stop on the channel with the game show but it turned out to be a happy accident. I didn't pay much attention until I noticed there were only two human contestants. At the podium in the middle was Watson, the IBM computer that became a Jeopardy champ.


Like most, I had read and heard about Watson but never actually watched it in competition. It was fascinating to see the categories, "answers" and the responses Watson developed virtually instantly. As you know the show revolves around a game board with answers from science, history, politics, music and other subjects. The answers are clues, often complicated with puns, misspelled words and popular terms within the context of the category name. You structure your response in the form of a question. 


According to an article in PC World,  Watson has some 200 million pages of content stored in 4 terabytes of space, almost 3,000 processor cores, 16 terabytes of memory and 6 million rules used to select the most likely answers. This is an enormous about of processing power and data. 


Watson has the ability to understand the meaning of natural language and can put a question into context, research it and devise a set of likely responses which it ranks in order of most to least probable. If Watson has a high enough degree of confidence it will activate a device that triggers the buzzer on the show. Recognized by the host, Alex Trebec, Watson speaks the answer. What a truly remarkable feat of software engineering. 


Clearly IBM did not set out to build a machine that could sweep the TV game show circuit. One could imagine Watson doing well on Wheel of Fortune and absolutely killing it on The Price Is Right. But my guess is Watson was destined to be used for better purposes. 


This week IBM and WellPoint announced the first commercial use of Watson. It will be used to improve patient care by helping physicians determine the most likely causes and treatment options in complex cases. Imagine how effectively Watson can leverage an extensive knowledge base of medical information. Symptoms of known diseases, treatments and associated cure rates, effectiveness of drugs and their interactions, medical procedures, recent studies and so on can all be combined with personal medical history and data collected from a physical examination. Watson can instantly assimilate all of this data and assist a physician in developing treatments. The amount of medical information and cost of health care are both growing at a very high rate. Watson will greatly increase efficiency and compress the time needed to diagnose and begin treating illness. 


This is the first of what promises to be many innovative uses for the technology of Watson. We can only imagine what IBM are going to do with it next. 


Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Facebook Is Circling The Wagons

It's no secret I am a Google fan. No surprise, Google is my default search engine and Google maps has long replaced Mapquest on my desktop. Google is what I prefer as my personal mail and calendar system, and I use all of the productivity (documents, spreadsheets, presentation) tools, blogger and Google voice. I'm an early adopter of Google Plus and carry an Android phone. I will use their new flight planning service, too.

But I regularly use Facebook, Foursquare, Tripit, Yelp, Tweetdeck, and Groupon. I maintain two active Twitter accounts and frequently explore other social networks. I use Microsoft cloud based tools for business and have worked with IBM in the development of LotusLive, their cloud based offering.

I understand the cloud and social networks.

So I find the heated competition between Facebook and Google Plus interesting and somewhat amusing. The proponents of each would have you believe their system is the best and will crush and eradicate the other. Nothing could be further from the truth. These two behemoths and all of the cloud based services have unique qualities that appeal to their respective constituents. People gravitate towards them because each of them provides a simple means to achieve some goal and people understand how they work.

In recent months, the Z Team at Facebook have introduced a number of "enhancements" which are designed to improve the service. Mail was added and a partnership with Skype allowed for the introduction of video chats. Smart friend lists now let you group your friends into categories and will add new ways of filtering the news stream. This week we saw the introduction of subscriptions which essentially turns your "wall" into a public fan page. These moves are clearly reactions to the success and growth of Google Plus and Twitter.

Why mess with recipe? Facebook appeals to people who want to share their everyday life experiences with a set of clearly identified friends. The ease and simplicity of doing this is what made Facebook what it is today. Introducing new complex features may appeal to a few but is much more likely to be ignored or potentially irritate current subscribers. As a result of these changes, Facebook might actually lose more people than it will gain.

The Z-Team should forget about copying Google Plus features and concentrate on adding more simple capabilities to socialize. Help students and parents organize back to school activities or provide vacation planning tools. Integration with the real world such as the kiosks at a hotel that allow you to post your activities while at the pool increase both the opportunity and desire to use this network.

I have no demographics or statistical trends to support it but my prediction is the younger high school and college crowd will continue to dominate the Facebook airwaves with highly social interactions. The over 50 crowd is likely to stay where they are as well. They typically have a low propensity for switching.

When Google Plus is finally open to the public it will attract the 20+ working professional and, while it will certainly include a social component, professional and commercial interactions will dominate. The integration with all of the other Google tools will attract and retain these people.

So stop debating who is king of the hill and instead, focus on determining who you are and what you want to accomplish. It will be obvious which of these services will suit you best. If you can't figure it out, write me or give me a call and I'll be happy to help you out.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Google Introduces Travel Service

You may recall several months ago Google acquired ITA software, positioning the company to introduce more advanced travel services. Yesterday Google posted an insider blog entry providing an early look at their new flight service.

You can watch this brief YouTube video and it will demonstrate exactly how it works. Using the standard Google search page, just enter your travel plans. For example, flights from Newark to St. Louis. Click on the new link flights on the left and you will be presented with a schedule of possible flights. The page has several places where you can qualify your search to more specific. Using drop down menus, select another airport for departure, adjust the travel dates or enter a price range. As you make these adjustments the flight options displayed in the table will automatically update.

Selecting any one of the flights will immediately show all the return flight options and their associated costs.

A truly unique feature is one that allows you to plan without knowing where you want to go. You can use your mouse on the map above the table and by clicking around see how much it costs to travel to different cities. Or you can put in your budget and time allowed for travel and the service will show you optional destinations that meet these criteria.

Once your flights are determined you can book the travel by clicking one button. The service is currently limited to US domestic flights.

Google have once again taken a service to a new height. Leveraging the ITA resources, maps and advanced search technology they have constructed a simple, fast and convenient way to find and book flights.

I have a feeling this service is going to take off.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

KOMU Makes Broadcast Television History

Yesterday's column recounted my experience on a very dark day in US history. Today I reflect on a much more positive and exciting experience. Sarah Hill, anchorwoman for KOMU TV an NBC affiliate in Columbus Missouri, made history by introducing the world to interactive participation in a live news broadcast.

Over the last several weeks, I have been interacting with Sarah and others in a Google Hangout, a video chat with up to ten people who can see and hear each other as if they are all in the same room. You can read the background leading up to this historic event in an earlier column Hanging Out Can Make You A Star.

U_News @ 4 hosted by Sarah Hill premiered Monday September 12. Unlike any other news program on the air it included guests from around the world who interacted in real time and on air with Sarah using the Hangout technology. I was fortunate to have been scheduled as one of the guests on this inaugural broadcast.

Other guests have written about the show. Chad LaFarge posted a comprehensive story on his Google Plus account.  Kim Beasley had a story published in Technorati.com. The KOMU TV web site has a link which will allow you to replay the segments of show exactly as they went out over the airMichael Mozart arranged streaming through YouTube and captured all the behind the scenes action. This video is long and begins before we were on air showing some of the preparation and rehearsals of various segments. You will see and hear everything just as we did and it seem   like you are in the studio hangout with us.

About 22 minutes into the video Sarah takes live reports from Laurent Ravalac in Paris France about a nuclear power plant incident and then a report on the day after 911 from me in New York and Kempton Lam in Calgary Canada.

KOMU has been using their own web site and social networks like Facebook and Twitter to encourage and collect local viewer comments. But using the interactive video chat and adding guests from other parts of the country and around the world has added a whole new dimension to television news.

One can only imagine where this will go next. Surely the other networks and major markets will begin to adopt this technology, slowly adding viewer participation in news, sports and financial reporting. It may  move beyond news into home participation in game shows or perhaps give rise to a new genre of reality show.

On Google Plus, Hangouts already being used for music concerts, karaoke shows and other game shows. This will no doubt be an important development in the continued evolution of social media and the convergence of internet and broadcast technology.

Sarah Hill is one of the first people to recognize the enormous potential in this technology and last night she revolutionized television news. I will be forever grateful that she allowed me to play a small role in the history of broadcast journalism.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC


NOTE: Many people were involved in this effort and deserve recognition, congratulations and thanks. They include Jen Reeves (Director), Nathan Higgins (Producer) and the entire staff at KOMU, and my fellow co-hosts Kim Beasley (MO), Pio Dal Cin (Italy), Aaron Fuhrman (MO) , Chad LaFarge (MO), Kempton Lam (Canada), Michael Mozart (CT), Laurent Ravalac (France).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 - My Personal Story

Over the past few days many people have been reflecting on the tragic events of September 2001. Born and raised in New York, it had a large and lasting impact on me.

Tuesday September 11, 2001 was the second day of a three day technology conference on a cruise ship, the Aurora. It started out as usual with a sponsored breakfast before the presentations, workshops and vendor meetings which would fill the day. Mid morning there was a general announcement and all regularly scheduled sessions were suspended. The on-board television systems carried the BBC News live covering the tragic events as they unfolded throughout the day..

Initially there was shock and disbelief but it quickly turned to deep concern. Concern for the operations of the companies which was our responsibility. Concern for our colleagues as we had no idea of the extent of the attack. Concern for our families and for ourselves. And a plethora of other emotions including anger, sympathy, disgust and deep sorrow over the loss of the towers and the thousands of innocent victims.

I worked summer jobs on Wall Street during the time when these magnificent buildings first sprang out of the ground. I often stood watching the pile drivers during my lunch hour as they prepared the foundation. I watched the crane atop the structure as it went ever higher into the sky, pulling the huge steel frame into place below and around it. I watch the shiny silver exterior cladding added floor after floor.

Years later, while attending NYU graduate school downtown, the bar on the 102nd became a favorite place to hang out any time class was cancelled. I worked in the area, attended many business meetings in the towers and often shopped and ate lunch in the concourse. My wife and I enjoyed a dinner at Windows on the World, and, years later, we took our two children to the observation deck.

These towers were an integral part of the City and held a very special place in the hearts and minds of every New Yorker, including me. Losing them hurt, and the loss of so many lives, police, firefighters, emergency workers and ordinary people, was almost too much to bear.

On board the Aurora we could do little more than watch and wait for more news. The port of New York, our point of origin, was now closed. The ship, being of British registry received a visit from the coast guard and, for security reasons, was asked to leave US waters. As we headed straight out towards the ocean, the captain assured us the ship had enough supplies to last three months. This did not make me feel better. We were just off the coast of Atlantic City. There was a mad scramble to the railing to get the last cell phone call made before we slipped out of range.

That evening I recall vividly heading to my cabin to dress for dinner. An announcement had been made in light of the circumstances formal dress would not be required. A friend passed me in the hallway and asked where I was headed. "To put on my tux," I replied, "I'm an American and no terrorist is going to change the way I live my life."

Of course, there have been many changes since then. We have to take our shoes off at the airport and walk pass National Guardsman in Grand Central Terminal every day. We're unsettled because we know our enemies, who we previously fought almost exclusively on foreign soil, can attack us right here at home.

I don't work in the City any more, haven't for many years, and yet I still miss it. I miss the people and the energy and the life that is New York. And I miss the towers that were an iconic part of the downtown skyline.

Ten years later, images of the towers burning and crumbling to the ground can still bring tears to my eyes.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Friday, September 9, 2011

Secure Your Smart Phone Too

Last month, I wrote a column with advice on how to strengthen computer passwords to better protect your company and personal information stored on the computers you use. The internet can be a wild and dangerous place. My advice was to improve your password making it more difficult for hackers and crooks to figure it out, enabling them to gain access to your computers and on-line services.

We face a new threat with the rapidly growing use of mobile devices. Ordinary cell phones having limited capabilities were never much of a target for malware. But smart phones, particularly those with the ability to support complex software applications, are increasingly at risk of being compromised.

Blackberries and iPhones are not so bad, but  Android has become a prime target for malware. Games and free applications in the Android Marketplace have been found to contain malware, hidden code designed to collect and report your personal information.

No matter how sophisticated you make your password, a keystroke logger on your phone recording everything you type can easily reveal it to the bad guys. If you allow this kind of malware to infect your phone user names, credit card numbers and anything else you type on your phone can be secretly captured, packaged up and shipped off to a web site. It will be retrieved, analyzed and used by criminals.

All smart phones are inherently unsecured. Typically your email, social networks and all of your applications are configured once when you install them on the device. Account names and passwords are stored. You launch programs by simply selecting them or touching an icon on the screen. This means anyone picking up your phone has the same access and ability to run these programs as you do. Physical protection is, therefore, very important. Never let your phone out of your sight.

What can you do when you realize you left your phone in the cab or on the table at a busy restaurant? On company issued equipment, the IT department will often load special software that allows them to remotely erase or completely disable devices. You report the loss of the device to them and they zap it. Some carriers offer similar services for personal use. But absent this capability any person who finds your phone will be able to see all of your information and use it.

First, I recommend you use a feature found on almost every smart phone that requires you enter a PIN or pass code every time you want to use the device. Those of you old enough might recall when personal computers introduced a feature like this. Buried deep in the bowels of the machine (BIOS) was a security measure that required a code be entered before the machine would boot up and load Windows. Locate and enable this feature on your smart phone and it will eliminate the possibility a stranger (or a friend) will gain access or use the device without your knowledge and permission.

Smart phones provide other means of access since they are on the cellular network, support WiFi network access and blue tooth communication. If your device has blue tooth keep it turned off when not in use and always configure it as not discoverable. Be aware there are techniques like "man in the middle" which allow the bad guys to insert themselves between your device and the WiFi network you think you are about to connect. Be especially wary when using WiFi in public locations.

Next, smart phones usually require you to actively approve permission for new applications to access your data. Pay close attention to the warnings when you load a new program. It will ask you to authorize the application to see things like your address book, passwords, location or other data. It might request permission to add or modify data, or act on your behalf. Unless you really need or trust the application you should be wary of allowing it to do these things. Check the user ratings and comments before loading any application. Stick to the reputable software authors.

Please keep in mind your smart phone is now more like a PC and will be susceptible to many threats from web sites with hidden malware just waiting for you to click on a link and unknowingly install it. Sadly, the antivirus software has not kept up so there is little in the way of software defense available for your smart phone. This means you must be extra cautious when browsing and super skeptical of any software you install.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Yahoo Might Become Yah Who?

I once made a really good investment in a stock. I bought Yahoo (YHOO) on the day it launched its IPO way back in the 90's. I had been following the company sensing they had something new and unique to offer. In those days one could have referred to the world wide web as the wild west web where you pretty much had to know the URL or specific name of a web site to access information.

The internet was very young and provided a wonderful conduit for information. It was the information super highway but you needed maps to get anywhere. Services like Prodigy and Compuserve (which my millennial friends will have only read about in history books) organized content into specific categories of information and offered functional areas like news, financial data and discussion boards. You could 'search' for information by keyword but you would only find what these services included in their catalogs. It was like going to the supermarket where products are grouped into aisles so you know where to find cereal or laundry detergent. But you would only find products the store had in stock.

Yahoo had a different model. While they also provided a landing page with news, sports, stock prices and other content, they took on the seemingly impossible task of scanning the entire internet and building an index which allowed you to find any web site that might be relevant to your search. Their technique involved "crawling" all of the web sites, taking note of the content on each page and following every link on each page to find other pages and other sites. Their process was designed to be continuous and never ending.

Anyone who could achieve some level of organization around this monstrous mass of information would surely be successful, provide immense value to its customers and therefore be rewarded in some way.

Although I almost missed getting in, my buy order went through on the afternoon of the first day of trading. I was delighted to have gotten in on the ground floor. My optimism waned a bit when the stock price dropped and I realized I bought in at the high for the day which was more like the fifth floor. I was in the basement and underwater for almost a year before the company gained traction and suddenly the stock price soared. The rest as they say is history.

Yesterday the news broke that Carol Bartz, Yahoo's CEO, was fired and the Board put a for sale sign on the front lawn. Yahoo, a true pioneer and front runner in the search game for many years succumbed to the superior search capabilities of Google and was squeezed out by the evolution of social networks and mobile computing. My good friend Mike Voellinger wrote a brilliant analysis of the situation and suggested the steps necessary for their recovery.

With all due respect, Mike, I am glad I sold most of my shares years ago. I think it t is going to be cold and damp down in the basement this time and frankly, I am not sure they will ever get out.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It's Not the Music, It's the Social Interaction

A few weeks back I wrote a brief review of Spotify after playing with it for a short while. Since then I have had the opportunity to leverage more of its unique and useful features. As a result, I now have a slightly different, much higher opinion of this service..

Almost every day people who are in my circles on Google Plus, friends on Facebook or people I follow on Twitter share a song or a full playlist of songs. Simply clicking through enables me to obtain and listen to the music they have selected.

Now I have been a Slacker fan for a long time and, since it is similar, would probably like Pandora as well. These free services allow you to define a "channel" by selecting a particular artist, song or style of music to play. It will then continue on its own to select more songs of a similar genre for you. You can flag your favorites or skip songs you don't like, continuously adding to the data used to discern your preferences and improve the accuracy of its picks. It's a pretty good system.

As you may recall from my first article, Spotify is essentially a giant free jukebox in the sky. You put in a specific song or artist and it will show you all of the available versions. You can play it or add it to a play list. You can create as many play lists as you want, AND you can share them through all the popular networks.

This is where Spotify suddenly became more interesting. At first, I simply launched Spotify and chose a couple of songs. For instance, I recently attended a Mostly Mozart festival concert at Avery Fisher Hall. A few days before the performance I used Spotify to select some of the individual pieces on the program. It was extremely simple to locate recordings, choose a version and listen to it.

Unlike Slacker, though, this was active participation. With Slacker, it was set it and forget it. Once I defined a channel I could turn it on and go about my business while it made all the selections.

Then I started to notice my "friends" posting their Spotify choices and the situation changed. Every so often I would click through and found I would really enjoy the song or list of songs someone else had put together. Obviously, this is the heart of social networking. People who are my "friends" are often going to have similar tastes in music. Even if they don't, their choices will reflect their preferences and will be interesting to explore. The combination of the randomness of these suggested song collections and the social dynamic creates an attractive social experience.

When you are throwing a party, you can tune into a particular radio station to play music that might suit everyone, or you can allow your friends to take turns plugging their iPods into your sound system and create a truly unique and dynamic party experience. It is this kind of interactivity that sets Spotify apart from the other services.

I haven't had Slacker opened in a while. Perhaps you have a couple of songs or play lists you would like to tweet to me?

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Apple Truly is Easy as Pie

I have been using computers and Windows based software for a very long time. Like many of you, I have wrestled with the never ending stream of updates, upgrades and support issues. It is not uncommon to blow an entire afternoon adding some new hardware component, installing a new application or just cleaning things up so my home computer will run a little better.

People often ask me, what does the average Joe do when they don't have someone with experience like me to help guide them through the complexities that are inherent in these machines. Lord help the poor soul who is infected with a virus or encounters the infamous blue screen of death, and they have little to no technical knowledge. Staying on the line with "support" can be a costly and trying experience.

Despite all its shortcomings, Windows is still the platform of choice for business and as such we are forced to deal with it. Sure, we can tolerate the handful of marketing folks with their iMacs and Mac Books. We put up with the software developers who insist on using Linux. But at the end of the day, Windows is the most prevalent desktop system in the business world and that is why most of us use it in the office and at home. It has certainly improved over the years, however it is not simple and still far from trouble free.

I bought a new car this weekend. It is a BMW. The car has more electronics, computer chips and data storage than I have in all the appliances and computers in my house combined. BMW have integrated their automobile  operating systems with Apple's iPhone operating system, IOS. Being a technology professional, this was particularly exciting to me.

As you may know from earlier columns I carry an HTC EVO smart phone running the Android OS. The car is equipped with blue tooth which allows any phone, including mine, to "pair" with the car and be operated from controls on the steering wheel. My address book is uploaded and I can place hands-free calls through the system. It was easy and worked flawlessly,

But you must have an iPhone4 to take full advantage of the integration. I had an old iPod Touch and so I decided I would try to use it.

All of the software for Apple devices comes from iTunes. Step one, install iTunes on my computer. It downloaded and installed without incident. But it then scoured my computer and loaded all of my music into the library, converting, compressing and cataloging along the way.

When I plug the iPod into the USB port, iTunes recognized it and suggested I needed to update the software. No surprise as the device is quite old, yet, it was still fully supported. Moreover, when I clicked okay, iTunes delivered to the device all the necessary software, loaded it, rebooted it and completed the update without missing a step or losing one song. iTunes then synchronized the newly constructed library with the contents of the iPod. All this occurred as I sat patiently and watched the progress bar.

This is how software and device support should be, I thought. So the next time someone asks what they should do when their Windows machine acts up and they are not technically inclined, I think I'm going to suggest they go Apple.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hanging Out Can Make You a Star

One of the more interesting and unique features of Google Plus is Hangouts. Hangouts give you the ability at any time to start a video chat and invite up to ten of your Google Plus friends to join. In these Hangout sessions you hear everyone when they speak, see each participant in a small strip of thumbnail size video along the bottom of the window and see one person at a time in the large, main window. A few weeks back one of my friends invited me to join a Hangout with Sarah Hill, news anchorwoman at KOMU TV, the NBC affiliate in Columbia Missouri.

Sarah has been pioneering the use of Google Plus Hangouts inviting people to virtually join her in the studio and interact with her and her colleagues during the live broadcast of the evening news. You can have up to ten people at a time in a Hangout and most nights it fills up pretty fast. While some of the people are local, several of the regular crew are from cities around the nation and around the world. They include Chicago, Boston, New York and Paris among others.

In Hangouts Sarah has conducted interviews on current events, capturing the comments and interactions on video and editing these into portions of her featured news stories. Often at the end of the broadcast Sarah will share the Hangout with her viewers via a live feed, having us wave or "green boxing" one participant. Hangout is self directed which means it will switch video you see in the main screen to the participant who is speaking. But if you click on the thumbnail of any one person's video a green box appears around it and that video is locked in no matter who is speaking. This feature let's Sarah choose one person to highlight on air.

The use of Hangouts has already been adopted by a few other networks, most recently by CNN to discuss sports with fans.  It is certain to spread further.

The technology was so well received at KOMU, the station will begin to produce a new afternoon show called U_News @ 4 with a Google Plus Hangout providing on-air guests.

All of this has been particularly exciting for me as I have now appeared in a couple of news stories, frequently participate in the studio couch Hangout during broadcasts and will be one of the first guest / co-hosts of the new show.

Being an early adopter in Google Plus has allowed me to observe first hand how this new social network has evolved, improved and fostered new and exciting  innovations. It has provided the opportunity to "hang out" and interact with people I might otherwise have never met, and now it has lead to participation in groundbreaking new approaches to television journalism.

I hope everyone tunes in to watch the show via the live feed on Monday September 12 at 4PM Central for the inaugural broadcast of U_News @ 4.  We'll be making broadcast journalism history.

Okay, Ms. Hill, I am ready for my close-up.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Restaurants Will Never Be The Same

A few weeks back I wrote a column called Your Table is Ready. It was a brief story about what happened to me while adding my name to the waiting list for a table at a local restaurant. It was a completely new and interesting experience, never having encountered a cell phone and text message based restaurant system before. I was very impressed and fascinated with what has been happening in the restaurant industry through the introduction of mobile technology.

At the end of that piece I mentioned another restaurant experience I had in New York City. At lunch our little group decided to enhance our dining experience with a glass of wine. The waiter handed over an iPad which contained the restaurant's wine list. I imagined that more restaurants would begin using the iPad, other tablets or perhaps even your smart phone in the same way, holding not only the wine list or specials but their entire menu. There were a couple of news stories this week which confirmed my suspicions.

The first story was on De Santos in the West Village of New York City. This may lay claim to being the first restaurant in New York City to hand out an iPad in lieu of a menu. You place your own order and it is transmitted to the kitchen including any special instructions you might include. Please put the dressing on the side and leave out the bleu cheese. When you are done you can pay the check using Square (an add-on device that allows you to swipe your credit card.) The iPad application is connected to the restaurant register and payment system.

Another news story discussed the growth in use of custom ruggedized tablets that were introduced by e La Carte earlier this year. They are starting to appear in many restaurants in Boston and the San Francisco area. Again, these "Presto" tablets allow patrons to review the entire menu, place their own orders and, with built in credit card reader, pay the tab.

Perhaps my favorite new development was the announcement of  The Melt, a food chain opened by the founder of the Flip video device, Jonathan Kaplan. While a fast food restaurant specializing in grilled cheese sandwiches is hardly earth shattering news, there is a double twist. Not only does The Melt take food orders from a wireless device but they go a step further and allow you to order from your smart phone. With their app, you don't have to go to the store and use an iPad or special wireless device. You just use your own smart phone. Then, your phone displays your order in the form of a QR code (see Internet from the Great Beyond) which is read by a device in the store. Two minutes later you pick up your order and you are on your way.

Mobile devices like tablets and smart phones combined with ubiquitous wireless connectivity are introducing change to the food services industry faster than you can imagine the next innovation. There are probably another dozen or more stories just like these journaling the evolution of this industry. How long before they begin to tie into the social networks like Yelp for real time reviews and Foursquare for instant location updates.

I suppose after we digest this, we can think about what other industry might be next.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC