Category Archives: News

Tahrir square – the high-tech version

From Wired

The revolt that started a year ago today in Egypt was spread by Twitter and YouTube, or so the popular conception goes. But a group of Navy-backed researchers has a more controversial thesis:Egyptians were infected by the idea of overthrowing their dictator.

Using epidemiological modeling to chart the discussions and their trajectory online is an interesting idea, I don’t think that they are the first ones to do it.  It’s a different approach to social network analysis which analyzes social phenomena through the properties of relations between and within units instead of the properties of these units themselves. This approach apparently considers trajectories of content combined with natural language analysis to determine what people in certain regions, of certain age groups, genders, or any number of other demographics, are discussing.

We’ve seen how content interception, classification and analysis has had success in the enterprise information security space – in particular with identifying data leaks by trusted insiders and unauthorized disclosure of intellectual property. Doing it on a national or global scale, is much more than computing power.  It’s also understanding the political milieu and intent of the subjects, a powerful challenge for any intelligence organization.

I’m not sure how they collect the actual demographics, handle historical data, deliberate disinformation or feedback effects or even if their model is a good fit for the problem but it’s thought provoking.

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What is the best project management software for a startup

Somehow I got roped into a thread on Quora and noticed this item http://www.quora.com/What-is-the-best-online-project-management-software-for-a-startup

Lots of people shilling their Web 2.0 SaaS services for project management but at the end of the day, you have to ask why a startup even needs project management software.

I’ve been thru a few startups either as founder or CTO and I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the easiest and cheapest project management system of all:

A pencil and paper.
The average startup in the software space is 3-5 people. Right? 3-5 people is a small army when it comes to developing software and who is going to be coding if they are busy using same fancy Web 2.0 app like Clarizen to manage Gantt charts and integrate with SF.com

Your first order of business is to iterate quickly and get real people using the product.

Hold on a minute – what about the design?

Yes, Roberta, there is no design.

If there is no design, then there is no Gantt and no 200 page SRDs, PRMs, SES, SRS, SIS, SDA and all the other vintage SDM-70 TLAs

Instead – you have an idea. A few smart people. A software architecture and set of programming standards that you can write down in less than 20 pages.

So – you have a startup.

You can spend the time coding and selling or you can spend the time planning, updating your Gantt charts and having ops reviews.

As a programmer colleague once said: “Code overrides all memos”

 

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Kolmogorov

Russian cybercrime – pride or prejudice?

Mark Galeotti has a piece on the online Moscow News  today entitled Why are Russians excellent cybercriminals?  Mr Galeotti seems to have most of his facts right as he wonders:

“Why does every hacking and cyberscam story – real or fictional – seem to have a Russia connection?In part, it is prejudice and laziness. The stereotype of the Russian hacker has become such a common media trope that it gets recycled again and again. It also offers a handy update for those looking for new ways to perpetuate the ‘Russian threat.’

True, the FSS has a a hacker training program and true there is a pool of skilled but under-employed programmers who embrace the hacker world for fun, out of disillusion, or for profit.

I would put the conspiracy theories and Western prejudice (or as it sometime seems romantic infatuation with Russia) aside and consider the quality of Russian human capital.  Russia has outstanding universities with world class specialists in mathematics, physics and computer science. The list of notable Russian mathematicians goes on and on, just see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Russian_mathematicians.  Russia, very simply, has very very good raw material for hacking.

Having great talent is a great start for getting world-class results in any field.

The Americans have the NBA, the Russians have hackers and the Palestinians – well that’s another story and not a happy one.

Several years ago, doing reserve duty at the Allenby Bridge, Efi Zuroff and I had cushy job of escorting Palestinian VIPs back and forth across the bridge. One day – I traveled in a cab from the bridge with a math professor from Bir Zeit University in Ramallah.  I asked him what his specialty was and he replied “Statistics, I got my PhD from Kolmogorov himself”. I admit – I was impressed, and a little sad that our cousins from the other side of the street seem to feel that violence is better alternative than mathematics.

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