One constant through time is that conventional wisdom is often wrong especially in the early days of technological transformation, says Adam L. Penenberg in ‘Viral Loop’ (www.hodder.co.uk).

He cites many examples to support his assertion. “In 1876, the president of Western Union brushed off Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone as little more than an ‘electric toy’… Oxford University professor Erasmus Wilson predicted that when the 1878 Paris Exhibition closed, the electric light would ‘close with it and no more will be heard of it.’ A Michigan banker advised his client not to invest in Henry Ford’s company in 1903 because ‘the horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty.’” And, closer in time, the Microsoft founder Bill Gates was years behind in seeing the promise of the Internet, adds Penenberg.

On the newer conventional notion is that there is no way to reach a billion users worldwide on social network, his take is that Facebook or MySpace won’t fail. “The difference between the dot-com boom and bust and the social graph is that many of the dot-coms were not victims of too much popularity; they were run out of business because they weren’t popular enough.” He mentions how ‘the silly poster boys of the era – Pets.com, eToys, Webvan, Kozmo.com – could not enlist enough people to use their service to come anywhere near covering their overhead.’

Social networks have the opposite problem, the author explains. “They have too many users sucking down bandwidth. But it also gives them tremendous leverage.”

Tracing how the ad unit has been evolving over time, he bemoans that advertising on the traditional banner ad doesn’t work anymore. “In the Web’s early days, click-through rates were as high as 50 per cent, simply because users had never encountered them before.” The rates steadily declined, and now they hover around 1 per cent and are far lower on social networking sites, he informs.

“Today’s buzzword is ‘engagement.’ Give people a reason to interact with ads and promotions on TV, or to click on or download them via the Web.” Anything that causes the audience to be grateful for entertainment means they are more likely to pass it on, states a media expert’s quote in the book.

Because creating a connection with a product takes a commitment, what people really want is for marketers to reach them at the moment they are ready to buy something and leave them alone the rest of the time, Penenberg observes.

“Think of it as the consumers’ version of the just-in-time delivery supply chain deployed by the tech, retail, and manufacturing sectors. Done right, it’s a tremendous business opportunity, as Google showed with keyword search ads.”

Imperative read.

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Identify stakeholders

Stakeholders are the most important element of business analysis and project management, because they are the driving force behind the requirements gatherings and project management business, says Joseph Phillips in ‘All-in-one CBAP Certified Business Analysis Professional Exam Guide’ (www.tatamcgrawhill.com).

“If a business analyst overlooks a key stakeholder or groups of stakeholders, then the project is likely to suffer later. The overlooked stakeholder may have a large influence over the project that may cause rework, rescoping, and even business analysis duties.”

Apart from taking additional time and resources to complete, rework can negatively affect the team’s morale, erode confidence in the business analyst, and cause frustration to all the other stakeholders, Phillips warns. “You can also expect the stakeholder who was overlooked in the stakeholder identification process to be less than happy and less than willing to help your project along.”

He advises analysts to identify stakeholders by considering the interfaces that the project will deal with – vendors, subject matter experts, end users, and government agencies. “A complete view of the origin of the project information, both incoming and outgoing, can help you identify the project stakeholders.”

After identifying the project stakeholders, categorise them by needs, interests, contributions to the project, and so on, Phillips instructs.

Useful reference.

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Filter policy

One of the most important value-added services that can be provided by a router is the ability to filter IP packets based on a security policy, writes Kent Hundley in ‘Alcatel-Lucent Scalable IP Networks Self-Study Guide’ (www.wileyindia.com). “Filter policies, also referred to as access control lists, are templates that are applied to services or network ports to control network traffic into (ingress) or out of (egress) a router interface.”

Each filter policy is assigned a unique filter ID and is defined with scope, default action (such as accept or discard), description (explain what the filter is for), and at least one filter entry (the actual matching criteria).

“The scope indicates whether the policy can be used only once or can be used many times. If the scope of the policy is exclusive, it can be applied to only a single entity (Service Access Point SAP or interface). If the scope is template, it can be applied to multiple entities.”

A filter policy compares the match criteria specified in a filter entry to packets that are coming through the system, in the order the entries are numbered in the policy, Hundley notes. “When a packet matches all parameters in a particular filter entry, the system takes the specified action to drop or forward. If a packet does not match the entry parameters, the packet continues through the filter process… A packet will be examined against each entry, so the more entries that exist, the more processing that is required.”

For the network professionals’ shelf.

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Assistive technology

There is no better illustration of how technology can make a difference in education than when it’s used effectively by someone with special needs, says Bard Williams in ‘We’re Getting Wired, We’re Going Mobile, What’s Next?’ (www.vivagroupindia.com).

The definition of ‘special needs’ has moved beyond just handicaps or physical disabilities, he concedes. “Now, the definition includes everything from attention deficit disorder to lack of equitable access to the Internet.”

Specialised technology that assists in maintaining, increasing, or improving the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities is called ‘assistive technology’ (AT), the book informs. “It could be an FM hearing system used in a classroom or a closed circuit TV enlargement system for someone with low vision. On the computer, it could be a talking math program, a template for writing, or instructional content that is customised for the child.”

Assistance to a child with difficulty in writing can also come from common devices such as a spelling checker or a portable word processor. Or, the AT can be a simple adjustment to the operating system so that command keys can be hit sequentially instead of held down together for a one-handed typist, or enlarging the cursor so that it can be found and tracked more easily, Williams elaborates.

“People creating AT have been enormously creative, but all the right parts and pieces together won’t work miracles by themselves. It is people who make technology powerful by creatively using it to fulfil their dreams.”

Valuable study.

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Tailpiece

“When he went to the High Command, he was greeted with…”

“Barks and brays, growls and squeaks?”

“And also bleats and purrs, yelps and screeches, croaks and cackles, neighs and screams… but no tweets!”

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