The Buzz


Oct 07, 2013

Ideas Needed for #nextpowerapp Contest

By Evelyn Hoover

The IBM Systems Magazine and EXTRA enewsletter readers are smart folks full of good ideas. We are looking for those good ideas for a contest we are co-sponsoring with the IBM Linux on Power team.

The Next Power App concept is simple and open to everyone (except IBM and MSP Communications employees). Tweet your idea for the #nextpowerapp using the hashtag and be entered into a drawing for a tablet of your choice (valued at up to $500). So basically you write 140 characters with our hashtag and you could win a tablet. Simple, right?

And if you don’t have Twitter, we’ve got you covered there too. We set up a #nextpowerapp Web page with a button you can click on to fill out a form with 140 characters. Those ideas will be tweeted out via our @LinuxIBMMag Twitter account (feel free to follow us there too).

Need some examples of what we’re looking for? Here you go: "Analyze what's in my refrigerator and give me a good recipe to make #nextpowerapp" or "Regulate traffic so I never have to wait at a light again #nextpowerapp".

Once the contest closes Oct. 31, Linux subject matter experts will select the top ideas. This final cut from the judges will be highlighted on the IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems Facebook page. The entire community will get an opportunity to vote on the FINAL and WINNING entry. The person with the winning entry wins the tablet. Be sure to follow us on Facebook for the opportunity to vote, and we’ll also be communicating via Twitter.

So come on readers, submit your ideas. It doesn’t take long and you could win a tablet.

Oct 04, 2011

High Schoolers Learn Mainframe Lessons Outside the Classroom

By Mike Westholder

The lesson was clear: IBM is looking for the next generation of IT professionals to consider a career working with System z. That was the message presented Tuesday to a group of about 50 Miami high school students participating in Student Mainframe Career Day at the System z Technical University Conference.

Billion-dollar corporations need people with mainframe skills as older, grayer workers retire, explained Greg Lotko, IBM vice president and business-line executive for System z. “They’re looking to kids like you in high school and college … and it’s an opportunity for you to make some good money.”

Kicking off the presentation to students, Lotko shared his own story, which started in high school, when he realized he wanted to work in IT, and specifically for IBM. He chose a university with a strong track record for placing students with IBM and chose courses to hone his communication as well as technical skills. The result was a career as a top System z executive.

“This could be a life-changing day,” Lotko told the students from Booker T. Washington Senior High and Miami Central Senior High’s Academy of Information Technology (AOIT).

Don Resnik, worldwide system z Academic Initiative and client skills leader, offered an overview of the IBM mainframe, the organizations that rely on it to do business, and the variety of careers the students could pursue under the umbrella of mainframe. Throughout the discussion, Resnik repeated the mantra, “You can do it.”

He explained how governments, airlines and the world’s top 25 banks all rely on mainframe systems so demand for workers crosses many industries. And because the technology is evolving and improving, IT professionals constantly face new challenges and chances to expand their knowledge.

“This is not a job where you learn to pound a nail and do it over and over your entire life,” Resnik said. “It’s always going to be new and challenging.” The mainframe’s future is up to the next generation to determine.

And for those interested in the bottom line, starting salaries are between $60,000 and $70,000. “It’s a very lucrative career,” he noted.

To get started, Resnik encouraged the attendees to sign up for the Master the Mainframe Contest, which is open to college and high school students and offers prizes like a Samsung Galaxy Tablet and $100 debit cards. Following the presentation, students toured the expo hall and got a firsthand look at System z technology.

The career day event was a unique and valuable experience for the participants, according to Cindy Pierre and Pamela Bausher, two educators from the AOIT. Seeing the many opportunities available in IT is very beneficial to students, Pierre said.

Bausher concurred, adding, “I hope they will see there are a lot of possibilities that they never dreamed of. Coming from urban neighborhoods, they often see the façade of jobs—lawyer, doctor—but don’t necessarily see what you actually do when you work in an office.”

Her students were excited to come to the conference and learn more about IBM and see inside the mainframe. But prior to attending, Bausher admitted the students weren’t familiar with the technology: “They didn’t even know what IBM is.” So they did some research in advance.

While this was a first for the students, both Bausher and Pierre said they hope to continue a relationship with IBM and the Academic Initiative, and participate in similar events in the future.


Aug 30, 2011

Chicken Farming Devoid of Technology

By Evelyn Hoover

Technology generally exists to make various tasks and jobs easier. I can read my email, check the weather, send texts and make calls with my Android phone, for instance. I use my credit card in the card reader to pay for my groceries. Some magical piece of technology in my car tells me when I need an oil change.

The business of free-range organic chicken farming, however, seems devoid of technology, unless you count using your cell phone as a flashlight to gather eggs from the hen house. It's an occupation that could use a little technology boost to make it easier.

My 16-year-old son volunteered (because he is a good friend and because money was involved) to care for 1,000 chickens when his friend's family took a 10-day vacation recently. Caring for the chickens meant twice-daily visits to the farm, which is located about five miles from our home. One trip in the morning--and I mean before 6:30 a.m.--to let the 1,000 birds out of their barn and into the pasture. The early hour was required to ensure they had enough time to also eat the 250 pounds of food my son put in the feeders.

Perhaps something as seeminlgy simple as the My Wake Up Call motivational alarm clock would be an asset. The clock awakens sleepers with motivational messages.My motivational message would have been something like: Get up. Tend the birds. Those chickens will taste really good on my plate in a few weeks.

At night, the free-range birds must be rounded up from the pasture and coaxed (chased, really) back into the barn to keep predators at bay. Let me just give you a mental picture of the chicken roundup. You enter the pasture with empty feed sacks. In an ideal world you are accompanied by at least one, preferably two, other people. You try to herd the chickens into the chicken house. These young birds--my son admits they are teenagers in chicken years--don't really understand the concept of going to bed when they are told to do so (definitely sounds like a teenager to me). So rounding up 1,000 birds takes about 30 minutes.

I'm trying to think of a piece of technology that could help with the roundup. I'm coming up empty. Maybe something from IBM that enables smarter chicken farming?

All I know is I'm grateful that my son's 10-day chicken-tending job has ended. Now my motivational alarm message is more like: Arise. It's a new day. Be thankful you're not a free-range chicken farmer.


Aug 17, 2011

How Will You Use QR Codes?

By Tami Deedrick

In a recent EXTRA article, Aaron Bartell started a series on QR codes. You've seen them--little squares filled with strange black and white boxes to form a pattern. You may be wondering how they even work, much less what you can do with them yourself. 

Aaron was in that boat not too long ago himself. Now he's convinced that there is potential for this technology. Read his article--and the two are that to come next month--and then put on your thinking cap. How could QR technology enhance your business?

Share your ideas and thoughts in the comments section below. 



Apr 12, 2011

Trust That URL? Think Again.

By Natalie Boike

The IBM X-Force recently released the full 2010 Trend and Risk Report, which details experience and insights gained from managing 4,000 client environments worldwide, as well as analysis of every publicly disclosed vulnerability.

One tidbit I found particularly interesting: 90 percent of spam is classified as URL spam, or messages that include URLs that a person clicks to view. This surprises me because I would think this would be the least-effective spam method; people are more cautious of emails that ask them to go to an outside website. However, the X-Force reports the majority of those domain names are well-known and trusted, such as Internet service providers, image-hosting websites and URL shortening services.

According to the report, “Not only do these legitimate websites provide a recognizable (and trustworthy) web link to the end user, but spam messages using them may also successfully evade some anti-spam technology because they only use legitimate links in their spam emails.”

It’ll definitely make me think twice before clicking a link from what I think may be a trusted site.

Of course, the X-Force report has much more significant and business-relevant findings. Get the full report online, follow the X-Force blog for further analysis or even interact with the data from the past several years. What findings do you think are most interesting?

Feb 15, 2011

Auto Correct Sets us Back

By Natalie Boike

You may be surprised to learn that I am a notoriously bad speller. While I love words, language and grammar, somehow spelling just seems to get in the way. I have, for years, blamed the auto-correct feature of word-processing programs, which were just emerging in my formative educational years. I never learned to recognize spelling errors by sight, because the indicative red underline always told me if I made a mistake.

I recently discovered a website that hosts screenshots from iPhone text conversations. The premise is: People send in examples of auto correct gone bad. I think everyone has experienced this. Frequently, my text-message auto correct will even make the same mistake when I try to send a subsequent text for clarification, furthering the hilarity. Here’s just one gem of a conversation spotted on the site:

Texter A: My mom just got me the softest sheets everrrr.

    They’re plaid flannel.

Texter B: Oh! I’m jealous. I love the feel of flatulence in bed!

    Omg omg omg omg


Texter A: I am dying. That was epic.

As text-message lingo makes its way into our vernacular, I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to think that features like auto correct on our phones will do for today’s generation what word processing programs’ auto correct functions did for me. The use of this abbreviated speech has a name: Internet slang. (Even this has been shortened to netspeak.)

Not familiar with all of the abbreviations? The website will translate an entire conversation for you.

In a New Jersey newspaper opinion column from 2003, “The Lost Art of Writing,” Silvio Laccetti and Scott Molski predict drastically reduced chances of employment for students who use Internet slag. They write, "Unfortunately for these students, their bosses will not be 'lol' when they read a report that lacks proper punctuation and grammar, has numerous misspellings, various made-up words, and silly acronyms."

So what do you think? Have you seen this casual vernacular make its way into your conversations? What are some of your favorite auto-correct experiences? I can’t wait to ROFL.

Feb 07, 2011

I’m Impressed

By Natalie Boike

If you’re one of those people who actually uses a computer to access Facebook (as opposed to a mobile device) and you manage a page, you’ve likely noticed the new impressions counter beneath each of your wall posts.

According to Facebook, impressions count the number of times the post has been viewed on your wall and in your fans’ news feeds. As an example, the average number of impressions on the magazine’s Facebook pages, range between 350 and 400 for the Mainframe edition and 200-300 for the Power Systems edition.

But really, what are these impressions worth? According to Ned Desmond of, Facebook has an Edge Rank algorithm, which determines how often your posts are seen in each person’s news feed. Desmond evaluates the effectiveness of impressions when compared to print, online and e-mail advertising. In most all cases, he rates Facebook as more useful.

Today, post Super Bowl XLV, one particular advertisement tells a strong story about the effectiveness of social media. Two days in advance of the football game, a version of the Volkswagen commercial featuring a young boy in a Darth Vader costumer was leaked on the Internet. Before the game, an estimated 30,000 people viewed the commercial. Now, total online views are estimated at 16 million. The ad has been linked to from Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube accounts and even news websites. (And now, even in this blog.)

It’s hard to imagine a similarly popular advertisement receiving as many views a mere five years ago, without the hype created by today’s social media outlets. I wonder if Volkswagen knew they would be getting 16 million impressions from a 60-second commercial. What do you think that impression is worth?

Sep 21, 2010

Change is Inevitable

By Natalie Boike

I’ve always been a proponent of change. Whether it’s something as simple as mixing up my daily routine by selecting a new type of cereal at the grocery store, or more complicated, like updating the look of my home by repainting the living room. The Lipstick Theory even supports the idea that we (lipstick wearers, at least) seek change even in a tough economy.

I read an article in the newspaper yesterday about a Minneapolis-based digital marketing company that rebrands itself every 150 days. Space150 has “revolved” itself 25 times already. The concept being: the reinvention keeps offerings fresh, relevant and at the leading edge of technology.

While a complete overhaul every 150 days may seem a little radical, it does make sense to take a step back from the routine and evaluate what’s working, what needs to be shed and set new goals for future productivity. Space150’s clients agree. With names like Dairy Queen and Best Buy on their resume and 10 years under their belt, there’s something to be said about this quick-hitting approach to marketing.

So how might this relate to IBM Systems Magazine? While it’s just not practical to redesign a magazine every 150 days, there are some things we can to do keep things fresh, especially in our social-media endeavors. We’re working with a consultant from Electric Jet Interactive to evaluate and improve our offerings. Please comment below and let us know what you think is working (and where there may be room for improvement).

Sep 13, 2010

New Blog Provides Client Perspective on Power Issues

By Evelyn Hoover

At IBM Systems Magazine, we’re always looking for ways to expand our offerings and print and online as opportunities arise. If you haven’t noticed social media has been a big push for the magazine in 2010 with blogs, Twitter and Facebook presences continuing to grow. This week I’m thrilled to be able to announce the latest in our blog offerings: PowerUp.

PowerUp, which launches Wednesday, provides a unique perspective in that it is written by IBM clients for IBM clients. The first entry was penned by Bill Schalck, IBM Power Systems Architect for CDW LLC. Bill raised his hand and offered to write back in June when IBMer Guy Havelick first floated the idea for the blog past members of the IBM Large User Group.

Linda Grigoleit, program manager for the Power Systems Academic Initiative, was also instrumental in getting this off the ground. After she approached the magazine with the client blog idea last spring, she solicited user group members via the Interlug mailing list and then followed through to help get writers committed to the project.

Thanks to her efforts, and those of Lila Rehnelt, who is now coordinating the blog process on IBM’s end, eight writers are on board to blog about topics which could range from cursors, Bill’s topic to kick off the blog, to trends they are seeing among their membership, etc.

PowerUp promises to be an interesting and thought-provoking addition to our website’s blogging presence. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think. And feel free to provide comments to the blog and help further the conversation. If you’re interested in writing a future PowerUp blog entry, contact Lila at [email protected].

Jul 30, 2010

Big Announcement, Small Changes

By Natalie Boike

I recently read an article in the New York Times about IBM’s reorganization of its senior executives. I soon learned  some additional changes were made on the Systems and Technology Group team. At first I was worried about what this might mean for IBM’s server line and its customers. After speaking with the new General Manager for both Power Systems and System z Tom Rosamilia, I am assured this is mainly an organizational change.


Formerly System z general manager, Rosamilia was promoted to the unified System z and Power Systems brand teams at the same time he was sharing news of the zEnterprise System with customers in London. (For news on the announcement, read "Reinventing IT".) Rosamilia says the individual product areas will remain in tact; Greg Lotko has been named the VP and Business Line Executive (BLE) of System z and Colin Parris has been appointed VP and BLE for Power Systems. Lotko most recently worked as VP of Warehouse Solutions in the Software Group and Parris was VP for Systems Software Development and has additional experience on the Systems and Technology Group.


Each platform has unique characteristics and provides different values to customers, so the realignment will impact marketing, development and go-to-market processes, Rosamilia says. “While we feel this is a good move in making us more effective, it does not change our product plan at all,” he adds. “We have always had plans to leverage as much of the technology as possible like power, packaging and cooling, and the chipset themselves – to continue to deliver innovation to clients.


Ross Mauri, who was General Manager, Power Systems, has been appointed vice president, Enterprise Process Transformation. In his new role, he will be responsible for supporting of IBM's 2015 roadmap. Mauri has been a regular contributor to IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems edition. While we will miss his involvement with the magazine, we’re excited to see what he’ll do next. I look forward to working with these executives and I’m sure you’ll see their names on the pages of IBM Systems Magazine soon.


It should also be noted: Similarly new positions have been announced in the marketing and global sales teams. Doug Brown–who is also from the Software Group–will now serve as VP of Global Marketing for Power Systems and System z. Karl Freund (System z) and Scott Handy (Power Systems) will remain VPs of their respective platform marketing groups. A vice president of global sales for Power and System z has yet to be announced, but Global Sales VPs for System z Paulo Carvao and new appointee Power Systems Tony DeVore will support this position. DeVore was formerly VP of System Sales for the US Federal IMT.