Archive for December, 2009

Santa Specials..is the December Crush Strictly Necessary?

It’s Saturday night, my wife is watching the Strictly Come Dancing  final, and I am drafting a contract.

I’m not moaning.  Strictly is not my idea of entertainment, and in this economic climate it’s good to be busy. 

But it is interesting that every December is the same. Manic! 

I’ve been wondering why.  I’ve come up with three reasons.

First the desire to get things done before Xmas (or before everyone disappears for Xmas). In some ways this is quite useful because it gives a project a focal point and stops “drift”.

Second, what one of my clients in procurement calls a “Santa Special”.  He means that an IT sales guy (who has a year end or quarter end at the end of December) phones up in early December with a sweet deal, but only if it is signed “this year”. Actually the same thing tends to happen (to a lesser degree) in March because a lot of US Tech Suppliers have a year end in March.

Third, the month is busy because there are TOO MANY XMAS PARTIES/LUNCHES/DINNERS.  I mean really, one Xmas lunch is surely enough. We don’t need multiple events taking whole afternoons.

Bah Humbug!

All of a twitter

It’s been quite a year for Twitter.  The company was only founded in May 2007, yet has recently been valued at $1bn by investors (yes, really – and that’s an increase of $750m from the January 2009 valuation), and has become the new focus of attention/whipping boy when it comes to social media.  

While in 2008 rarely a week went by without a headline splashed across the newspapers about the evils/merits/misuse of Facebook, this year it’s the turn of Twitter.  In some cases the actual article makes scant mention of Twitter and is actually about Facebook and blogging, but it’s a sure sign that Twitter sells and that it is now the watchword for “stop press – someone did something silly/funny/embarrassing with social media” stories.  

It has been revealed that Twitter is being used by burglars to tell when people are not at home and by street gangs to stir up their beefs with rivals; that it can damage working memory in users; that it’s way to really annoy a potential client by insulting their city; that a Twitterstorm of ire in 140 characters or less results in bad PR across the 4th estate (cf Trafigura, Jan Moir); as does getting your assistant to do your tweeting, and that Stephen Fry saying he’d give up tweeting is big news.  

Most recently, the Global Language Monitor (no, me neither) has  declared that Twitter is the most popular word of 2009, it is revealed that Twitter can help with earthquake response and that Twitter’s DNS was briefly hacked by the Iranian Cyber Army

Understandably, a lot of people just can’t see the point of Twitter, as at first glance it’s not very exciting.  It’s just a stream of SMS-style posts on a web page – but then, like everything 2.0, it’s all about the community.  Having blown hot and cold myself, I’m still tweeting, for now, but if I stop I doubt I’ll get quite the same reaction as Mr. Fry. 

Damien Behan

How much is it worth?

I see that the Intellectual Property Office has just published a guide to valuing IP.

I have only skim read it but the key points seem to be : i) it’s hard; ii) there are different methods; iii) at the end of the day it’s worth what someone will pay for it.

Magic. I wonder how much that cost to produce. I could have told them that for nothing.

On a more positive note the report may help justify a low valuation for IP where that is convenient for tax or transfer value arguments.

Data chief’s guide launch foiled by journalists

Like mentioning Rocky in any article associated with boxing; mentioning “the nativity play” and “photography” is becoming a hardy perennial for journalists tasked with writing about the Data Protection Act.

The story that the journalists were invited to cover was the Information Commissioner’s new “Guide to Data Protection”. The press release states that the Guide’s purpose is to provide practical advice to those with day-to-day responsibility for data protection, by taking a “straight-forward look at the principles of the Data Protection Act”. The Guide is 92 pages long, a length which initially sounds excessive. However whilst I haven’t read it all, a quick look suggests that it is going to be pretty useful. In fact, it has apparently received accreditation from the Plain Language Commission as a Clear English Standard winning document.

However most news stories about the Guide have eschewed any kind of discussion or appraisal of it in favour of yet another article about whether or not the Data Protection Act can prevent you from taking photographs of your kids at their nativity play.

This has been a sturdy story since the Act was first introduced, despite the Information Commissioner first providing guidance on the subject way back in 2005.

Once and for all – the Data Protection Act doesn’t prevent parents taking photographs of their children and friends participating in school events. If the photographs are for personal use then they’re not going to be covered by the Act.  (Although Douglas did mention something about the possibility of infringing the kids’ performance rights if you video the play!)

Now, if you excuse me, I have to go and write a piece about a bid for a dramatic eleventh hour mercy dash, possibly involving a cat, a fire chief and a blazing inferno.


Twitter: @BrodiesTechBlog feed

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