The British Government is urging civil servants to utilize Twitter more often. “Publishing tweets, replying to incoming messages and monitoring the account would take less than an hour a day,” the strategy report says. Here is the blog post announcing the release of the strategy report and here is the 20-page Twitter strategy template.
The race today was phenomenal (aka, my guy won), but the end was marred by a speeding penalty to one of the better cars of the day, Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya said he wasn’t speeding (doubtful), but Nascar wasn’t interested in proving the infraction: “We officiate the race, not the fans. We’re happy to share violations with them but right now, this is how we officiate the race.” That’s right, race fans, Nascar decided the race and they don’t care what you think.
The O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) saw the announcement of a new open source advocacy group that seeks to encourage the use of open source software in government. Anyone can read Open Source for America’s Charter here. Coverage comes from O’Reilly, Ars Technica, and InformationWeek. While reading one of the sources that covered the announcement, I found this site which notes that a Federal government database shows open source software has fewer vulnerabilities than the equivalent closed source software (think Windows, Microsoft Office, Oracle, and VMWare).
I saw this on the White House Twitter: the National Archives photostream on Flickr. The National Archives has uploaded some really interesting and incredible material to Flickr. I am a history nerd, but look at all the finds:
- Abraham Lincoln’s signature on the last page of the Emancipation Proclamation;
- John Adams, Ben Franklin, and John Jay’s signatures (and wax seals) on the Treaty of Paris;
- George H. W. Bush, while Captain of Yale Baseball team, with Babe Ruth;
- an original photograph of the D-Day invasion;
- Flying School of the Negro Air Corps in Tuskegee;
- letter in cipher from a female Confederate spy;
- Albert Einstein’s declaration of intent to become an American citizen;
- and Maria von Trapp’s declaration of intent to become an American citizen (remember the Trapp Family Singers from The Sound of Music?).
And the best part is that most (if not all) of these documents are in the public domain, meaning you can reproduce them with no worry of copyright infringement.
I’m not a big fan of the evening news, but this segment from CBS News memorializing Walter Cronkite is a great piece:
Thank you, Athens! Finally the Athens-Clarke County Government is dealing with a problem that has plagued eastern Clarke County and the University of Georgia for years. [That wasn't sarcasm, was it?]
The problem? The wretched smell known as “poop on the Loop” or the “East Campus funk”- the smell produced by the North Oconee River sewage treatment plant that reminds me of rotten eggs or human feces. Visitors, residents, and students get to smell this all the time, in the areas around East Campus (of the University of Georgia), the Loop (Highway 10), and College Station Road.
And this is completely an environmental issue. In the Environmental Protection Agency’s brochure titled Reporting Environmental Violations (pdf), the first listed “sign of possible violation” is “strong, offensive, or unusual chemical odors.” Want to see the miriad of compliance issues the EPA has found at this smelly plant?
Today, the Athens-Banner Herald published an article about a new sewage treatment plant, which is under construction and scheduled to open on February 12, 2012 (yep, Athens has to put up with the smell for two and a half more years).
Why has it taken so long to fix this problem? I say long because the East Campus stench was occurring when I first arrived on campus (2004) and won’t be fixed until 2012, or 8 years.
In my opinion, the smell has taken this long to fix because it mainly affects the University of Georgia community, and especially the students of UGA. The North Oconee sewage plant sits across the river from the UGA campus (see the location from satellite), in an area where mostly UGA students reside.
So thank you, Athens-Clarke County, for attempting to fix this problem after the taxpayers in your county have put up with this smell for a decade. Why couldn’t you have just installed scrubbers or something in the interim?
If you would care to see more information, the EPA’s website on the North Oconee River sewage treatment facility is here. Their compliance status (or really, lack thereof) is here, and other information is here.
A U.S. State Department employee recently asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at an employee forum about using Firefox at the work. It seems Mozilla Firefox, the popular open source web browser, is prohibited at the State Department. You can see a transcript of the questions and answer(s) here and a video here (watch at 26:30).
The employee that asked the question had previously worked at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a part of the U.S. intelligence community. He states that Firefox is approved for use within the intelligence community, which includes the CIA and NSA.
Clinton looks astonished by the question and the vocal support for Firefox, though she clearly doesn’t know what Firefox is. She refers the question to an undersecretary, who says that the problem is the cost of rolling out Firefox across all their networks (likely including embassies worldwide). He likely knows what Firefox is, but his reasoning lacks (although it sounds they have thought about rolling out Firefox at some previous time).
It is my hope that they talk to people familiar with Firefox when looking to deploy this secure browser.
The text of the exchange:
MS. GREENBERG: Okay. Our next question comes from Jim Finkle:
Can you please let the staff use an alternative web browser called Firefox? I just – (applause) – I just moved to the State Department from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and was surprised that State doesn’t use this browser. It was approved for the entire intelligence community, so I don’t understand why State can’t use it. It’s a much safer program. Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, apparently, there’s a lot of support for this suggestion. (Laughter.) I don’t know the answer. Pat, do you know the answer? (Laughter.)
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: The answer is at the moment, it’s an expense question. We can –
QUESTION: It’s free. (Laughter.)
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Nothing is free. (Laughter.) It’s a question of the resources to manage multiple systems. It is something we’re looking at. And thanks to the Secretary, there is a significant increase in the 2010 budget request that’s pending for what is called the Capital Investment Fund, by which we fund our information technology operations. With the Secretary’s continuing pushing, we’re hoping to get that increase in the Capital Investment Fund. And with those additional resources, we will be able to add multiple programs to it.
Yes, you’re correct; it’s free, but it has to be administered, the patches have to be loaded. It may seem small, but when you’re running a worldwide operation and trying to push, as the Secretary rightly said, out FOBs and other devices, you’re caught in the terrible bind of triage of trying to get the most out that you can, but knowing you can’t do everything at once.
SECRETARY CLINTON: So we will try to move toward that. When the White House was putting together the stimulus package, we were able to get money that would be spent in the United States, which was the priority, for IT and upgrading our system and expanding its reach. And this is a very high priority for me, and we will continue to push the envelope on it. I mean, Pat is right that everything does come with some cost, but we will be looking to try to see if we can extend it as quickly as possible.
It raises another issue with me. If we’re spending money on things that are not productive and useful, let us know, because there are tens of thousands of people who are using systems and office supplies and all the rest of it. The more money we can save on stuff that is not cutting edge, the more resources we’ll have to shift to do things that will give us more tools. I mean, it sounds simplistic, but one of the most common suggestions on the sounding board was having better systems to utilize supplies, paper supplies – I mean, office supplies – and be more conscious of their purchasing and their using.
And it reminded me of what I occasionally sometimes do, which I call shopping in my closet, which means opening doors and seeing what I actually already have, which I really suggest to everybody, because it’s quite enlightening. (Laughter.) And so when you go to the store and you buy, let’s say, peanut butter and you don’t realize you’ve got two jars already at the back of the shelf – I mean, that sounds simplistic, but help us save money on stuff that we shouldn’t be wasting money on, and give us the chance to manage our resources to do more things like Firefox, okay?
The New York Times has a great article on productivity/organization apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch. I would like to add to this the apps I like. I use Remember the Milk (iPod Touch, mobile on BlackBerry, and web app) for my todo list, Evernote as my second brain (iPod Touch, BlackBerry app, and web app), and GroceryIQ (iPod Touch) for grocery lists.
This kid is going to make it big some day.