26 Jan

Social Networks and Business

Recently I’m having the chance to view how a business works with social networks and social media. So I wanted to discuss some of the lessons that I am learning in this experience and what exactly are some of the ways a business can use social networks to help themselves.

The main goal of a social network almost seems to disallow business from interacting on the sites. This is because social networks promote openness that doesn’t come naturally to many business. Also a social network or social media isn’t designed around the selling of a product beyond yourself. However if you substitute your business for a person, social sites can become an important tool for your business.

If you make the goal not so much to sell products or services but rather to engage your customers in your brand that can be an effective tool. The reason is that customers can actively promoting your brand by identifying with the brand and therein the brand gets free advertising to their friends.

Social media is a scary for many business, the idea of both who knows if you could actually make any money off these products or that conversations could develop that you both have no control over and are highly negative and critical.

Two responses to that: One while business should engage in Cost Benefit Analysis, Social Media is a positive for one reason, free advertising. That is essentially what a social media strategy allows you to have as a small to medium scale company. As you gain in size and advertising becomes less necessary, essentially when you become a household name on the scale of Apple or Coca-Cola, social medial allows you to be viewed as open and honest with your customers. This leads into the second response, that social media while you might have negative conversations about your product, those conversations allow you to receive direct and honest feedback from your customers. A business should be always focused on the customer and their experience, if your customers are unhappy, they won’t use or buy your product. Social medial allows you to directly hear those responses, much easier and in more effective ways that say a customer survey can. The main reason for this is that a survey is viewed as first off very stilted and controlled by the company, second writing a comment on a company blog is viewed in the direct opposite light and also feels easier to the consumer.

Not everything in social media will be an direct break even point, it will appear that you lose money on the strategy. The reason for this is that you may not be able to tell which of your customers come from social media sites or use your product because a friend does so. But I would suggest you give a try and see what happens you might be surprised.

Related Notes:

This is why I disagree with the idea of putting ads on your personal blog, the blog is a promoting yourself as a person. Unless the ads are used only in a manner to pay for overhead of the blog, ie. hosting costs. Also that is why I don’t think companies should charge for an RSS feed. True people may not visit your site, but they are more likely to keep your company fresh in their mind when as changes occur on your site they hear about it. Rather than if you had to visit a site every day. I would not be interacting with as many sites as I do if I wasn’t subscribed to their RSS feed. It would be way too much work and effort to continually check in with some sites, especially those that don’t update on a very regular schedule (Jonathan Schwartz at Sun) or update constantly (TechCrunch or BoingBoing).

23 Jan

Cheap vs. Frugal

An issue that is near and dear to my heart is the discussion over being cheap or being frugal. This is brought on by all of these articles on the subject. To start with, what does the term cheap mean: of very low account or small cost, frugal on the other hand: economical in use or expenditure. Note the key difference between the two cheap simply is not expensive, while frugal reflects being careful with expenditures. While being frugal could result in purchasing a cheap item, it does not necessarily mean every item purchased will be cheap.

A personal example to illustrate, I don’t really care about the furniture in my apartment, so I have a couch that is ugly and not all that comfortable. However it doesn’t matter to me, I covered it with a couch cover and called it good. Why, because the couch isn’t that important to me. Sure I could have gotten a better couch, but it would have cost more (the couch I currently have was free) and I know I wouldn’t receive any more pleasure from a couch that was newer or better. The couch might be ugly, but my apartment isn’t exactly in the real estate section of the local paper anyways and it is comfortable enough for the amount of time I use it. So why spend more money or resources on something when the actual value that I receive doesn’t increase any real amount.

That being said there are also times in which spending more money on something does increase it’s value to me, so I do so. A perfect example is clothing, I could buy something dirt cheap from Wal-Mart or some such place however I choose to instead shop at mid-range stores. Why, because I don’t like how clothes from Wal-Mart feel and look on me. Buying from such stores as The Buckle, Gap and Aeropostale gives myself more self confidence in how I look, the clothes feel better on me, and I receive compliments on how I look. All of these are worth the extra money that I wind up spending on clothing. That being said I am frugal in how I spend on clothes, for with my rather limited income, I don’t have unlimited funds to spend. So I buy when clothing is on sale, I get plenty of advice before hand on the colors and cut as to what looks best on me and what doesn’t. I also don’t shop at the most expensive store I can find but rather what can fit into my budget. But I still wind up spending more than if I shopped exclusively at places that are cheaper.

Being frugal doesn’t mean having to give those things that you love and care it simply means why spend money on something that doesn’t matter to you? If you don’t watch a ton of tv, why are you paying for the expanded cable and monster tv? However if you love watching tv and you do receive a definite increase in pleasure or whatever benefits from that huge tv, then buy it by all means.

22 Jan

Google and the New York Times: Walking Down the Aisle?

This afternoon a post from Real Clear Markets came up on Techmeme, asking “Might Google Buy the New York Times?” The question is so ridiculous I almost didn’t want to respond but at the same time I can see how some people would think this is a good idea. New York Times would gain the advantage of gaining access to a large fund of capital in much the same way Dow Jones gained a ton of money in the recent deal with Murdoch. However there is one major difference, between News Corp and Google. I’ll even give you a hint it’s in the name. News Corp is a news organization, Google is an internet company.

John Ellis argues:

“Third, there’s all that content. Google is a company that could actually make money repurposing the cultural and culinary coverage, to pick just two categories, of the New York Times, across both its Internet and mobile platforms. An acquisition of The New York Times would greatly enhance the richness and reach of Google News. And should Google choose to invest in expanded news and cultural coverage, it could greatly enhance the richness and reach of The New York Times. ”

 

While I won’t disagree with the point here that Google could make money from the content and it easily could throw buckets of money at The New York Times. The companies just aren’t a fit for each other. For one, the personalities at each of the respective companies is vastly different. One is a young, rather wealthy internet company, the other is a much older, established newspaper company. Where do the two meet? Also, Google works best a collector and distributor of information not creator of information. They have two main products, Search and AdSense. Both of which don’t create information, rather they harvest information. The few services that Google run that create information, YouTube, Blogger, Orkut, etc. are purely user generated. The New York Times is vastly different from that world with good reason. I just don’t see The New York Times being able to fit into to either Google’s plan or even fit into the company.

I somewhat agree with the premise of what Mr. Ellis is saying in his article, however I would argue that it is not even possible, much less likely. I do think that it would be a bad deal for The Times. I don’t see where the companies would be able to meet in terms of having a similar goal. Google indexes information, The Times creates it. While these are similar they are also vastly different. Also Google News currently already indexes New York Times stories, so what would they gain by having direct access? Google currently indexes my little blog, with under an average of 500 hits a month (as of this writing, please go up) every 30 minutes or more often. I don’t see that Google is particularly slow with indexing pages. That isn’t to say Google News is perfect, it isn’t by far and needs a lot of work, but buying The Times, won’t help out Google News.

16 Jan

Teaching Philosophy is a Great Idea

Recently the TED Blog highlighted a study noted by the British Psychological Society. The study taught 105 children for 16 months at 1 hour a week philosophical inquiry. The results of the study showed: “Compared with 72 control children, the philosophy children showed significant improvements on tests of their verbal, numerical and spatial abilities”.

Perhaps this is the key to making our children smarter and raising the educational standards, teaching philosophy. I wouldn’t suggest that this is the only thing that can be done to improve the educational system, especially here in the US. However it certainly couldn’t hurt and according to the study would even help. The logic behind why it helps is certainly pretty clear, philosophical inquiry aims to have the students ask questions and reason out on mostly on their own the answers. This encourages several things among the students, independence, reasoning, logic and a questioning nature. All of these are great things to harness in a productive member of student. I would love to see the education system harness this idea and start teaching children philosophy.

I took debate in high school and it was an amazing experience. The sheer experience of being forced to examine an issue from all points of view and make reasonable and logical arguments for these different views was a valuable experience. It taught me several things, First to always provide a good reason as for what I think or believe in, Second educate myself on a host of issues for who sounds like an expert may not be and could be wrong. Debate forced me to both gain a firmer standing on those ideas that I believed in and to give up those which when examined came up short.

I am a firm advocate in both that education can solve a host of problems and also that the education that students receive should be wide and varied. Rather than limiting say an engineering major to just engineering core related class, I would like to see engineers being forced to take more liberal arts classes. There is an important reason that the culture that is widely considered the most important to Western Society is the one that not only displayed impressive engineering, science and architecture but right along side all of that was philosophy, sculpture, poetry and debate. This same culture is also considered the modern day root of democracy.

 Also to link back to what I talked about yesterday, students would be forced to again vet sources. Always consider the source of your information, is it worth even listening to? Far too often the problem isn’t merely bad information it is bad information coming from bad sources.

15 Jan

Google and Wikipedia As Research

On Sunday an article came out from The Argus discussing a professor who had banned her students from using Wikipedia and Google. The accuracy of Wikipedia is for a different blog post. The key here is that Wikipedia and Google have been banned as even starting points. I find myself in partial agreement with this professor in the sense that I do see a very real problem with people who click on the first one or two links on a Google search and assume the site is accurate.

The real issue here isn’t the accuracy of websites is the lack of veting occurring among students. Some websites do provide good and accurate information. I do read the majority of my news online from such places as BBC, does that make the news less accurate than the physical version of it? Also, this blog is the perfect example of a place where I openly admit that I am not an expert in many of the subjects that I discuss but I hope to provide accurate information and some decent analysis of news that I come across. Should you not trust my site. I would obviously say you should trust my site, but not because it is my site. For what then do you no longer go to your friends for advice on a subject. Do you have a friend where even though they may not be an expert in a particular field you still ask their opinion about something? Most of you probably do have at least one if not more friends like that, people whose opinion you do trust. This blog is much like a friend, you take information from it and you have to decide if the information is both trustworthy and useful. You may go to an expert to verify the information but the friend is your flashlight to help you find out what questions to ask or where to start looking for more accurate information or some very surface level questions.

That is what Wikipedia and Google provide, they provide the ability to examine very broad subjects and narrow the focus. At the same time, Google and Wikipedia provide access to information on what can be called very spefic and limited fields of study. I once helped a friend write directions for what a normal Indian girl would need to know going on a date here in America. It wasn’t easy finding information in a book or encyclopedia about that sort of thing. But at the same time someone somewhere must have written on it, there surely had to be a thesis on dating customs of Indians somewhere. So what did I do, I went to Google and looked for information about that subject. It was the sort of thing that you wouldn’t typically be able to find just searching through a card catalog, book descriptions can be very vague at times. However if I found a blog post about a book or article on it, I’ve gained access to a source I would never have known about pre-Internet. I also looked at Wikipedia, looking for where Wikipedia was citing their information on Indian culture. Again I gained access to new sources and at the same time got a rough and quick overview of Indian dating culture. No, it wasn’t complete, but did it matter? Not really, I wasn’t looking for the entire paper, I was looking to compile the paper from multiple sources and looking at places that could provide references as to possible sources of information.

I don’t feel that Wikipedia and Google are perfect sources of information, while at the same time I don’t feel that Encyclopedia Britannica is a perfect source either. Both can provide access to information. What students should be able to do is to use any source possible, but have to verify that the source is accurate. The students should have to write a paragraph as to why this source is a trusted source, even for Encyclopedia Britannica. I would challenge people who critique the use of information technology in the classroom take a look at this video and see how different a classroom of students play and are taught. Education still hasn’t caught up the digital and information revolution occurring in the world and education more than any field should embrace it.

10 Jan

Trent Reznor and the $5 Album

Today Trent Reznor, the lead in Nine Inch Nails, was interviewed in an article for Cnet News.com. Reznor was interviewed over his latest expirment, in which he bankrolled an album “Niggy Tardust” with Saul Williams and then released it without any record labels and converesly any promotion. The entire album was made as a free download, with the option being to pay $5 for a higher quality version. The only promotion was through the NIN site and wherever else Williams and Reznor could talk about the album. The big news released a week ago was that 154,449 people downloaded the album and out of those 28,322 or 18.3% paid for the album. This has been thrown around the internet as the idea that this means that modern consumers won’t pay for music, that we must instead tax those who have internet service and simply offer the music for free.

One issue that I feel has been overlooked is how many people wanted to sample the music first before buying the album. One of the powers of iTunes is the ability to only buy those songs that you actually want, you don’t have to buy a $15 cd for one or two good songs. This is one area in which radio or some similar type of internet system, such as Last.fm or Pandora, play an important role in the digital ecosystem. People do need exposure to music and radio provides that outlet for songs to be promoted. One of the major reasons indie rock took off over the last several years is the ability for a band to through up a webpage on even MySpace and gain an international reach. This wasn’t done in this instance, there was no real exposure for the album beyond some posts on NIN’s site and the few news articles buried in the back of papers about it. Radiohead had way more press exposure being a much more mainstream band. Also how many of those that downloaded the album actually liked “Niggy Tardust”? I did download the album and did not pay for the album. I quite frankly didn’t like the album. I did like “List of Demands” and I also do like NIN’s. I listened to “Niggy Tardust” once all the way through and never did anything more with it. It simply doesn’t appeal to me. I wouldn’t even have downloaded it if I had exposure to the album previously.

If an album is going to be released on the internet, why not make it easy for people to sample the music. Amazon does it for cd’s and their music store as does iTunes, get with the program. If the album is released on the internet before it is exposed to the public, of course people won’t cough up money to pay for an item they have no idea about. Would you buy a product without testing it first, or verifying that you are receiving something that you want?

I do pay for my music, I do buy cd’s from those artists who I listen to their music day in and day out. I pay for the music that moves me, the makes my day better, the music that defined my previous relationships, the music that I sing too and make a fool of myself in the process. That is music that is worth paying for, something that I listen to once and then just sits on my hard drive is not worth paying for. This isn’t to say Saul Williams and Trent Reznor didn’t produce a great album and they shouldn’t be economically rewarded for their time and effort. The album just didn’t vibe with me, if I had sampled it before hand I wouldn’t have downloaded it and I wouldn’t have gone and found it through a file-sharing site if there was no legal way to obtain it without paying.

I am also going to agree with Mike Arrington and just reference his response to Reznor on the idea of an internet tax to pay artists and recording companies. On the issue with Radiohead, that was the worst process I went through trying to download an album, BitTorrent is a heck of a lot easier than that. Radiohead make the system easier for your album and maybe it wouldn’t pop up on file-sharing sites. People will almost always invariably go to the easiest and fastest process to obtain something and that site was not a well designed site and probably did send more a few people to shall we say “different methods” of obtaining the album.

Note: I am not advocating file-sharing, I do believe that artists should be rewarded for their work. However to quote Lawerence Lessing “bits are never going to get harder to copy only easier.”

Update(2 March 2008): NIN just released a new album under a CC license, go check it out.

09 Jan

Friendfeed Rocks

For the past several months I have been using Friendfeed and it rocks. The basic service aggregates RSS feeds from across the web. Of course this is a little bit simplistic so allow me to explain. Friendfeed allows you to plug in all the sites where you reside on the interwebs and bring all those feeds together into one massive feed. You can add friends as they join up and bring all of your friends actions on the web together all at once. The even better aspect of the service is that if a friend doesn’t use the service, you can create them. By which, Friendfeed allows you to create “imaginary friends” and add all of the places they reside and the associated feed and poof your friend is now visible in your Friendfeed.

The service has some other cool little tricks to make it all Web 2.0 compliment, including it’s own sorta social network. You can ask for recommended friends who are friends with your real friends already on the site. You can also “like” or comment on events very quickly and easily. Letting your friend, know “Hey cool shoes, where can I find those?” The site itself is not flashy, but that makes it work. You don’t need a ton of gimmicks when all you need and use the site for is to read what all your friends are doing.

The site already has a Facebook app that does a neat trick. When the Facebook app is added by your friend on Facebook, you will see their data in your feed. Overall the site is well developed and I find myself using it and loving it. I highly recommend this service for anyone who has trouble keeping up with everything your friends do online.

07 Jan

Bill Gates at CES 2008

Bill Gates last night gave his final keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Gates will be stepping down from Microsoft as a full time employee, and work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation starting this July. I watched his keynote address and wasn’t all that impressed with either the actual speech or with the products Microsoft is looking at releasing.

Gates’ keynote focused on the idea of the second digital decade, a connected decade, with the first being a software decade. His idea is that in the coming years, no longer will where data is located be an issue instead all of you data will be with you everywhere. The possibly most interesting aspect of this to me was the idea that I could authenticate a phone as belonging to me and it would connect to the internet and have all my contacts. That would be a very cool feature. However overall the vision wasn’t all that impressive. This has been an idea that has been thrown around before by the vast majority of the tech industry. It wasn’t all that visionary especially coming from a man who has pretty much been at the forefront first digital decade.

Microsoft then discussed some both new and already announced products. First up was a focus on Windows Live and how if all of your family and friends use Windows Live you are able to coordinate activities between everybody. Nothing new there and I would say not that it matters, as long as one friend doesn’t use the service you don’t gain the full benefit of it. Also I don’t want to have to be tied to one particular service. Next the Microsoft Surface was re-demonstrated and not much more to say on that. A social network for the Zune was unveiled, Zune Social. Okay, so the first part of it of being able to create badges that display recently played songs and favorite artists that you can display on MySpace or Facebook or your blog is nice. However then Microsoft evidentially felt that they needed a social network built around it. So you now have another social network to keep track of, which there are already services that will do a much better job than Microsoft ever could, Last.fm is just one example. One thing that they toted was that inside of the social network while discovering music you can purchase the music from the Zune Store. The transition though when you went to the Zune Store was goofy and it took control of the whole screen, also the interface was completely different. It didn’t make a ton of sense and will probably go nowhere. Ford sync was then shown off, voice commands for your phone and MP3 player. Ehh, it’s cool, but seriously it’s already been out in the public for a while something new please.

Finally we get to the far off gadget from Microsoft. It was a device that as you walked you could point at objects and people and display information about whatever. It would pull up all the digital memories that you have that are associated with that object, you could purchase movie tickets, get directions, and it could even show an ad from say a restaurant on why you should eat there tonight. Umm, this is dumb, nuff said. Why would I need to pull up all my digital memories associated with a person or business. I probably have those memories in say my head. Also I don’t want an ad playing when I’m walking down the street, aren’t there enough ads in the world that my memories need to have an ad. Imagine pointing it where you and spouse got engaged and seeing photos of you two together and an ad playing in the background. Just doesn’t work. Also how hard is it to walk up to a movie theater and purchase the ticket. If you are close enough for the device to tell what building you are pointing at, it can’t be that long of a walk. Overall it seems to be a device looking for a problem.

Overall, the keynote was not highly ranked in my opinion. The spoof video of Bill Gates’ last day at Microsoft was awesome and is recommended, though don’t suffer through the whole keynote.

06 Jan

Texas Tech Email Changes Are Stupid

I’m currently extremely frustrated with Texas Tech and their email support at the moment. I’ve just converted over my email from being redirected to my Gmail account where I handle everything into setting up Thunderbird to receive the emails here at my apartment. Why did I do this in the first place, well it wasn’t by choice. I liked having all my mail directed to Google, it allowed me to harness the power of Gmail arguably the best web-mail service. TTU has now decided that they would no longer redirect email sent to your TTU email account to a different email addresses. Okay I am not an expert in email delivery systems but the whole announcement sounds like snake oil. First off because if I a highly technical person can’t really understand the reasons behind the announcement what hope does the average student have? Second SPAM has been increasing across the board with everybody saying spam is increasing. The second argument and the reason redirects have been turned off is that TTU mail is being regarded as spam, hogwash is my response. While yes redirecting mail to an external account increases the spam rating, that isn’t the only way spam is judged. Also no legit system uses blacklists anymore. All that a blacklist accomplishes is creating a list that becomes larger and larger and thereby ineffective. But let us say that it isn’t and it’s not like they don’t provide other ways to access your email. However let’s look at the options: Outlook Web Access, Exchange Account, POP and/or IMAP access. So pretty standard options, shouldn’t be too hard to get up and running, so let’s go through out choices.

 

First up Outlook Web Access, uhh do I need to say anything else beyond that? Seriously Outlook Web Access has some major problems with it that kill it for me. It is decently fast, not as fast as other services, but it is certainly faster than Windows Live, which is so slow that if I was using that for email I would be deleting like crazy rather than trying to open up messages. So it’s fast enough, what could be wrong with it you ask. How about the UI looks like it is from the early 1990’s. When did they last update it and if they don’t update the UI what does that mean for the service, could the discontinue it at some point. Granted some companies have never updated their UI (looking at you Google), however it’s a great UI that works. This one doesn’t work and looks horrendous, the buttons are clear and need to be redesigned. Also everything is done using Javascript which while wasn’t bad back in 2004, it’s now 2008. Some AJAX please, just about every other web based email service has it including Windows Live. What happened to all those UI designers and Web Programmers designing Windows Live did they quit for Google or something? Also the text in Outlook Web Access is displayed using the default text in your browser, Joel Sposky has an awesome article as to why this is a problem that I won’t repeat.  Click on Help and what do you get a Help system that if possible looks even worse. Oh and click and see what the requirements are to use Outlook Web Access and you get that it only works on Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. Inner Monologue of Outlook Web Access Programmer: Oh is Netscape dead? We’ll fix that in a couple of years. But wait I am using the Outlook Web Access with Firefox 3.0 Beta 2 release, so why does it work. Oh minor details who even reads those Help articles anymore.

 

Next up for my skewering, using an Exchange account. First off this requires a VPN connection to TTU and either using Microsoft Outlook or Entourage or Mac Mail. You can also use Pine, but wait Pine was discontinued in 2006 and it was only a text based email so forget about all those images that TechAnnounce and tons of other images that inner-system email includes. The VPN is the main problem with Exchange beyond the inherent problems associated with both platform and software issues. Also an Exchange account isn’t useful for the majority of students who by the way are the one’s redirecting email, as mentioned in the announcement. The majority of students until in a business where Exchange is used will just go “Huh” to Exchange and have no clue as to why it is used so heavily and the benefits gained therein. Exchange does allow for easy integration with Outlook’s calendar, contacts, and email systems, also if you have a Windows Mobile device it allows for all of that data to be synced across all of those devices. However again student’s aren’t using this and won’t see any benefit to using Exchange. The VPN connection into Tech is the real killer for me. When you VPN into Tech, you are on your internet connection, however that connection is securely connected to Tech’s servers so it is almost like you are on campus, expect you don’t have that nice connection to the internet. Expect you also get Tech’s filtering along with it. So not Bittorent, and everything you do online is monitored and recorded by Tech’s IT services. Yes, I said everything, I know for a fact that Tech records every IM conversation, every website visited, every connection you make while on their connection. When you are logged in via the VPN this makes it even worse, because at least if a connection occurs on your computer at the dorm room you can blame it on someone else who has access to your computer and room. With the VPN connection you log in with your E-Raider username and password, so Tech can be slightly more confident who you are. Okay standard argument here about if you aren’t doing nothing wrong then you have nothing to worry about. Which is so false it doesn’t bear arguing anymore. If I am having a conversation with a fellow over 21 student discussing a party we are going to go to, is Tech going to come and break up the party even if it doesn’t have any under age drinkers? What about if I am discussing how the administration is wrong on an issue. I want the freedom of speech to be able discuss issues that the administration may not wish to be discussed. Does that mean that anything that I do is going to be looked at a little bit closer. Will I be treated differently than other students? What if I have an unusual name that sticks out in people’s mind, will my data be examined at all by the IT staff? These sort of what if statements could go on for ages and all of them are very real possibilities and will probably never be discovered if any of that occurred because we would never find out about it as they all have high deny ability by the parties involved. The biggest thing is that I haven’t signed any sort of agreement with Tech allowing them access to my data about what websites I visit. As a student living on-campus you do so and being an employee of Tech you also do, however as simply an off-campus student no where in either the VPN instructions nor the FAQ are you informed of this. This is a major privacy issue that needs to be dealt with. Also no BitTorent, while yes the majority of BitTorent is illegal data being transfered and it makes sense for Tech to keep that off of their system, what happens when you try to use it for legitimate uses. Because a device that can be used for wrong and become popular for illegitimate uses is does that mean that it should be automatically outlawed? The answer of course is no. I do use BitTorent for legitimate uses on a close to a daily basis, so what are the other options for me. There are multiple other examples of filtering that occurs on Tech’s network, this is simply the most obvious and the one most students are familiar with.

 

Two left, POP and IMAP, which are very similar. POP and IMAP allow you to access your email through any desktop email client. POP however is only a one-way sync, you download messages to your desktop however any changes made stay on the desktop and are not reflected on the server where the messages are stored. This means that deleted items and messages placed into a folder acutally still remain in the inbox. IMAP is a highly superior option which is a two way sync whereby changes made on the desktop are reflected in the inbox. So you can add folders, delete, mark as junk mail and not have to repeat your work through either an Exchange account or through the Web Access. Which is all really good and what I currently have set up. Ahh but what about sending a message from your TTU mailbox? Once again you have to have a VPN connection to TTU to send messages. Are you kidding me, so what good is IMAP or POP access if I still need a VPN connection to reply to people, I might as well use Exchange.

 

Students will probably wind up using the Outlook Web Access since it is the easiest to setup, read none. However I am sure I will begin to hear students upset at this change as they now have to check both their personal email account and their Tech account, and the horrible UI they will be forced to use. Texas Tech do something, say let me send messages without having to VPN in, or get Microsoft to update Outlook Web Access or put those redirects back in place.

 

Also I know that Tech hasn’t made it very clear that mail redirects will be turned off as many students who I know do redirect their TTU mail when asked by myself have not done so. Also they have no clue about the redirect even being turned off. This is going to be interesting in the IT support call center for the next week or so. Especially as this is occurring right before classes start and students will be looking for those class wide emails from professors.

 

Disclaimer: I am currently both a student and employee of Texas Tech University, this post is my own thoughts and not the thoughts of Texas Tech, also they were not informed before hand of the nature of this or any of the blog posts.

03 Jan

Presidential Election for US in 2008 Predictions

Short and sweet post tonight about the presidential election here in the US. Tonight the Iowa caucuses, the first in a multi-state system whereby each primary party chooses their candidate for President of the US, was completed. As reported by the BBC, Huckabee received the Republican nomination, with Obama taking the Democratic caucus. All right so I’m going to go out on a limb and give my predictions for the election.

Huckabee will be the Republican nominee, with Romney being the VP candidate. They are the two with both tons of media exposure that keeps building and their policies are close enough that they can be compatible with each other. Also Romney gains a reach to an area that typically votes Democratic, the Northeast.

On the Democratic side, Obama being the Presidential nominee and Edwards being the VP candidate. This is an easy call, mainly because the field is pretty small, although there are good candidates with not much exposure (looking at you Richardson), the big three are all that matter. Hillary will not and can not play second fiddle to someone, she doesn’t have the personality for it. Edwards also is a natural fit with his talk of “Two Americas” that fits in very closely with Obama’s call for a change in America.

Final election call: Democratic Win. While there are definite pressures associated with Obama being a non-white male and shall we say suggestions from opponents that he is either Muslim or related to Osama Bin Laden. Obama has made a call that is invigorating to a great many of the country for a real change that many both political pundits and common person on the street are calling real. Also Obama has been viewed as a Kennedy of this current generation. These are powerful images that are hard to fight against, granted also with that Obama doesn’t have any hard positions to try and defend such as both voting for and against the War in Iraq. Also this election even more so than the last election could very easily turn into an anti-Republican vote more than a pro-Democratic vote.

Note: I am not any sort of political expert, studying politics is simply a past time for myself. Also any political affiliations that I hold are my own and do not in any way mean I consistently vote for any organization or even believe in the majority of beliefs expressed by that organization. I vote based on issues not along party/organization lines.