The Buzz


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 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].

Jun 29, 2010

Perceptions, Luckily, Change

By Natalie Boike

Copyeditor Morgon Mae Schutlz recently shared with me an online article about a group of seventh-grade students who drew pictures of scientists both before and after a trip to a lab. Before meeting scientists in person, most students pictured them as workaholics, who were extremely intelligent and somehow separated from everyday people. Most students’ before pictures had characters in white lab coats, glasses and unkempt hair.

After meeting scientists in real life, the pictures show people in casual dress, and the descriptions indicated the people they met were “normal” and had fun actives and hobbies. Amanda wrote, “… anyone can be a scientist. I saw people walking around in sweatshirts and jeans. Who knows? Maybe I can be a scientist.”

This interesting “social experiment” reminded me of the misperceptions I had about the mainframe community when I first started working with the magazine. I envisioned mainframers as middle-aged (or older) white men. After traveling to a few technology conferences, primarily SHARE, my perception changed. While there are definitely middle-aged white men who work in the platform, there are also women, young people and people from many nationalities.

The upcoming issue of IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe edition celebrates the upcoming generation of mainframe staffers and the educational opportunities available to those interested in the platform. I hope you enjoy the "Educated for Success" article and share it with those who have the same misperception I used to have.

May 18, 2010

Survey Says ... COMMON Europe Looking for Top IT Concerns

By Evelyn Hoover

I'm a bit of survey junky. For some reason the thought of expressing my thoughts about products, services, politics, etc., appeals to me. My husband just shakes his head when he hears me on the phone answering questions about an upcoming election or explaining what I watched on TV last night.

I feel that my comments, when added to the others who respond, might help shape the future of whatever I am giving feedback on. What about you? Are you inclined to participate in surveys?

COMMON Europe is hoping that there are people like me out there who are willing to respond to its fifth-annual Top Concerns survey. The 2010 survey,like last year's survey, relates to security, application development and infrastructure issues. An open space is also provided to explain your top concern. Some questions are IBM i specific but many are general IT questions and are applicable to AIX users as well.

And it's not just a survey of COMMON Europe's membership. The goal of this global, multilingual survey is to poll users in Europe, Americas, Australasia and Africa. Respondents will be entered into a drawing for one of seven iPods to be given away.

To learn about the results of 2009 survey and previous years, multilingual documents are available at the COMMON Europe website. The following is a summary of the top three IT concerns by region from 2009:

1. Satisfy internal customers
2. IT security and continuity
3. Data security a business risk

1. Satisfy internal customers
2. High quality vendor support
3. Keep skills current

1. High quality vendor support
2. Data security a business risk
3. Satisfy internal customers

So, if you want to have your voice heard and help shape the direction of COMMON conferences to come, this is your chance. You can take the survey here.

Mar 15, 2010

Employing the Net Generation

By Natalie Boike

At the SHARE Technology Conference in Seattle, Don Tapscott, author of “Grown Up Digital”  spoke of the impact of the “Net” Generation on the future. By his own definition, the Net Generation is composed of people, younger than 30 years old, who are “bathed in bits.” “They aren’t afraid of technology, just like you aren’t afraid of the refrigeration,” he explained to the audience.

Tapscott says this generation learns, plays and communicates differently than previous generations. Additionally, he believes the way members of this generation work is changing talent, collaboration and management for the better. He says the Net Generation doesn’t distinguish between networking, collaborating, working and having fun.

“The current employment-management style is to recruit employees, put them in a cube, treat them like Dilbert and take away their tools [e.g. Facebook, wikipedia and other online resources,” Tapscott says. The Net Generation, however, thrives on collaboration and constant performance feedback and has the ability to multitask more than older generations. He suggests, instead of banning social media from the workplace, companies can leverage those tools to achieve new business insight and improve customer satisfaction, citing Best Buy’s BSN (Blue Shirt Nation) as an example. Concerns with social media and other Net Generation tools can be easily mitigated with technology, Tapscott says.

As a member of the Net Generation, Taspcott’s message is exciting to think about. Many business processes continue simply because that’s the way things have always been done. What if, as Tapscott suggests, work could be fun? Does your company employ anyone who could be classified as a Net Generation member? How do they fit within your existing work structure? Are they shaking things up for the better?

Aug 04, 2009

It’s Cool to be Green

By Natalie Boike

Green Peace has been working to protect and conserve the environment since 1971. One of its more recent campaigns, the Cool IT Challenge, recently caught my attention. According to their Web site, the information and communications technology sector creates 2 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. However, its services and products have the potential to cut the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent.

The self-proclaimed goal of this project is to “turn IT industry leaders into climate advocates and solution providers.” In its May assessment, the site ranked IBM’s CEO Sam Palmisano one of the most environmentally friendly corporation executives, but he received a ranking of only 29 out of 100.

Some of the good things IBM is already doing fall under the umbrella of its Smarter Planet initiative. From food and energy to public safety and healthcare, IBM has many ideas about how companies can make operations more efficient and productive.

One of the best side effects of going green is that it can save you some green as well. Upcoming issues of IBM Systems Magazine focus on environmental sustainability. Stay tuned as we showcase some of IBM’s initiatives and implementations and illustrate how you can make your IT infrastructure greener and save a little money too.

May 06, 2009

Let's Get Social

By Tami Deedrick

Hey everyone! I’m the managing editor of the IBM i edition of the magazine and I’m pretty excited about this new staff blog. Sometimes I have things I want to share with you but I don’t want to wait the three months it usually takes us to produce a magazine issue. This blog will give me the opportunity to share things much more quickly with you. I supposed sometimes I’ll wonder what on earth to say—I’m new to blogging—but other times I’ll be bursting with news…or questions.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about social media. So let me pick your brain. Do you habitually read blogs? Are you on Facebook and do you think companies should be there? Are you on LinkedIn? Do you Twitter? Perhaps more importantly, do you follow anyone on Twitter? If so, why?

Do you use the “share this story” button when you read stories online? What sharing services do you use? I use it but only to post to my Facebook page. I’m interested to hear what you think. We recently added this feature to the website and I’m anxious to see if people like and use it.

Is that enough questions for you? I’m really interested in this social media topic and I’ve been asking everyone about it. Please let me know what you think. I’ll be waiting…