Opportunities from Hurricane Katrina

The title of this entry will likely get some people up in arms.I assure those people that I do not mean to draw attention from thetragedy, or to diminish it in any way. Nor do I think this blogentry will stop a single rescuer from going about theirbusiness.

However, what has happened has happened, and many of us havepledged our monetary donations and are really left twiddling ourthumbs at what else we can do.

As software developers and technology experts, I think there isplenty we can do. For instance, there were obviously technologicalgaps in information management (knowing who and what was wherewhen, and sharing that information with everyone. The lack of thissort of knowledge led to some of the chaos that horribly delayedthe response). After the disaster technology was necessary forcommunications, with many of the emergency personelle and victimshaving no means of communicating. There were gaps in batterystorage, with basic infrastructure dying quickly. There were gapsafter the pieces began to be cleaned up, coordinatingcommunications amongst the victims in various municipalities.

Technology can’t stop a category 5 hurricane (yet), but it canhelp ameliorate the damage and to help society get back on track asquickly as possible.

Given this, invariably this tragedy will be followed by billionsof taxpayer dollars going into various strategies to preventoccurrences like this from happening again, or to at least have abetter grasp on responding to it. Many of those dollars will begoing towards IT projects. Something to keep your mind open to ifyou have ideas for solutions that would avoid this sort ofnightmare scenario from happening again.

Something to think about.

Taking the Plunge Into Blogging

I’ve finally decided to take the plunge into blogging. While I’ve published countless online and print articles, papers, and of course an endless stream of perhaps hundreds of thousands of online message board and forums postings, beginning back in the BBS days with my Commodore 64, I’d never actually taken the initiative to evaluate the various blogging tools and services.

At least not to a level where I was comfortable making a definitive choice and actually moving forward with one.

I should confess that part of the reason I delayed getting into the blogging game was due to a desire to roll my own blogging tool. Eventually each initiative would fall prey to the standard Babbage’s Syndrome of worrying about every possible use and technology, and I’d shelve it again: It just wasn’t important enough for me to spend much time and energy on, yet I really wanted to do it myself.

I’ve finally decided to go with Radio Userland, a fairly simple little tool that publishes blogs as static content, something I greatly prefer over database driven dynamic content. I also want to be entirely in control of the content ownership and “fringe benefits”, which rules out many of the hosted services. Over the coming couple of days I’ll actually work on the themes and clean it up and personalize it.

Why so late to get into blogging Generally I have two styles of writing, formal and informal. Formal writing is where I spend hours here and there over perhaps a week on a 3000 word essay detailing a specific topic. I carefully prune and shape every sentence into what I think is a readable and worthwhile resource for readers.This is not the sort of venture that blogging is really intended for, so I stuck with the standard “write it in a word processor,then eventually reformat to HTML and FTP it up. Voila” style of posting content. On the flip side, I’ve posted countless informal off the cuff – and often poorly thought out and poorly edited -messages on forums and message boards. These, by design, are generally disparate and diffused, and only marginally associable with me.

With blogging I am looking for somewhat of a middle ground: I’d like quick and relatively low effort postings where I can speak my mind about this industry (and whatever else comes to mind), yet which are easily attributable to me in a centralized, search-engine friendly manner, and where those who appreciate my mindset andskillset can more easily follow my postings.

I hope you like it.

BTW: You can find several of my online papers at http://www.yafla.com/papers/articles.htm.