I don’t want this to be taken as a partisan criticism – it isn’t (I’d disgustedly point this out if any politician said something along these lines). Granted, this comes from a partisan source, Senator Carper actually said these words. Admitting that you don’t read legislation that will have long term consequences on our country just shows the sad state of our national political system.
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).
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?
“We appreciate the concern many citizens have expressed regarding this practice and apologize for the negative impact this issue is having on the City of Bozeman,” City Manager Chris A. Kukulski said in a statement.
“This was an honest mistake,” he continued. “Human Resources, our Police and Fire Departments were doing something they believed was consistent with our core values. I take full responsibility for this decision and we will work hard to regain the trust and confidence of the City Commission and our community.”
The City of Bozeman, Montana, has caused a bit of a stir with a requirement in their job application. Their job application requires potential hires to provide the City with usernames and passwords to any social networks they belong to:
Please list any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc. [source: Background check waiver, pdf file]
They mention Google, but I wonder if that includes Google’s email service, Gmail.
The City doesn’t seem to be worried about the privacy implications of requiring applicants to give up their logins, because the city attorney had this to say to the local media:
“You know, I can understand that concern. One thing that’s important for folks to understand about what we look for is none of the things that the federal constitution lists as protected things, we don’t use those. We’re not putting out this broad brush stroke of trying to find out all kinds of information about the person that we’re not able to use or shouldn’t use in the hiring process,” Sullivan said. [emphasis added]
So trust us, we are only looking on your Facebook pages for things that aren’t covered under Freedom of Speech.
City Manager Chris Kukulski said the city checks the sites in order to ensure that employees who might be handling taxpayer money, working with children in recreation programs or entering residents’ homes as an emergency services worker are reputable and honest.
This might be true, but employers didn’t have access to this type of information prior to social networks, and still they made employment decisions.
I find it hard to believe that someone would ask for your logins on an employment application, let alone a public organization. A respect for social networking tools would allow the City of Bozeman to spread the work about their community, but instead they are getting flamed on Twitter and elsewhere. I take special note of this comment on Slashdot:
This has certainly done a lot of damage to our credibility as a tech friendly city (there are strong optics and software/service companies already operating here).
For those unaware of college football, Lou Holtz is a former coach at Notre Dame (where he led the team to a national championship) and South Carolina who now contributes (with his unique pronunciations) to ESPN. In this video, he talks with Sean Hannity on Fox News about international relations. Umm, why did they get Coach Holtz?
This past Friday turned out to be a crazy day. It was a crazy busy day at work at the Unified Government, but it started off even crazier. And it ended up being a case study of how the random connections made between individuals through social networks can work to benefit others.
I walked out the door of my apartment earlier than normal to find an inch of snow on the ground (picture). The surprise, though, was that no snow had been forecasted (and I had checked the night before). So I sent off the picture to Emily and my folks and left for work, glad that I was leaving early.
The drive into work is where complications happened. While driving on Interstate 70 eastbound, just before the interchange with Interstate 635, a massive wreck happened in front of me. I had noticed the fast lane getting icy, so I quickly moved over and slowed down. Then, someone hit their brakes, and a chain reaction started. By the time it was over, more than 20 cars and a semi-truck were involved.
It was incredible watching a huge wreck happen, and I snapped 2 pictures on my new Blackberry as I drove by. In retrospect, I should have stopped and offered assistance, but two Kansas State Patrol officers were at the wreck before I was, and it was incredibly cold and I was already late for work.
When I got to work, I uploaded the pictures to Flickr straight from my Blackberry (the Blackberry Curve was my birthday present, so this was the first time I had used the Flickr app). And since I can’t login to Twitter or Flickr at work, I appended the url of my Flickr page to a Twitter tweet and shot that off, using my Blackberry, just for friends to see. Here are the two pictures I shot from my car:
For that second picture, click through to the large version and look closely in my side mirror. You can see someone standing on top of a vehicle that is on its side, having been hit by a semi.
Now, a quick note for those who see words like Twitter and Flickr and don’t know what I’m talking about: Flickr is an online photo-sharing website (my pictures here), where people can interact with other folks through their sharing of pictures and videos (for more, read Wikipidia). Twitter is a micro-blogging service where users send small updates, called Tweets, and others can see what you are doing right now (for more, read Wikipedia). My tweets are here.
Later on Friday afternoon, a Twitter user by the name of Josh_at_Wibw noticed my tweet and looked at the photos of the wreck I had posted on Flickr. It turns out that Josh is a videojournalist with WIBW, the CBS affiliate television station in Topeka, Kansas. Josh was interested in having my pictures on the evening newscast at WIBW, and managed to find my website (linked to from my Twitter page) and contacted me through my contact form here on this site.
We spoke late in the day, and WIBW used my pictures in a short segment at the beginning of the evening news, and WIBW even noted that the pictures came “via Twitter” (with the Twitter logo and everything). You can see the video here. Josh even let me know the url for the video through Twitter.
Here’s the news story that ran on WIBW in Topeka:
I know that was a long and confusing story, but here is the point. Today’s technology is incredible. The first pictures that I took on my internet-enabled Blackberry were featured in an evening newscast. That is the influence that you carry in your pocket! Even more incredible, the pictures were found by someone I had never before seen, met, or talked to, and he managed to get in touch with me in time to get my permission to put the pictures on the evening news. Through a long chain of hyperlinks and searches, he found my tweet about a crash (I still want to know how), followed the link to the pictures on Flickr, was so intrigued he made his way to my personal website, and contacted me through an email form. That might seem like a lot of work, but with cable internet, that takes less than a minute and likely took Josh five minutes or less to find the pictures and email me. Amazing.
A bigger example of the social media connection is the now-infamous picture of the US Airways plane that went down this past week in the Hudson River. That picture was posted from an iPhone to TwitPic, another site to share pictures through Twitter.
Ultimately, we all have immense influence today, with the availability of blogs, Flickr, and Twitter. I didn’t do much, but it takes little time to make these connections through social media. You can get out there and make a name for yourself doing what you enjoy in no time at all. Or you can get out there and spread the good word about what your company or government is doing. It is so easy. Go out there and try it. </Big Conclusion>
Georgia Sports Blog has this story, but the jist is: Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones was named SEC Freshman of the Year. But Georgia freshman AJ Green was named First Team All-SEC Wide Receiver, while Julio Jones made the Second Team as All-SEC Wide Receiver. All honors were decided by the SEC media.
Does that make any sense? Second Team freshman beats out First Team freshman (at the same position) for Freshman of the Year. Still no logic?
How about this: Green had 104 more yards and twice as many touchdowns (8) while he played one less game than Jones (SEC Championship game).
I’m so tired of the media messing up college football.
On a high note, Georgia had eight players named to the first and second team, which is more than the SEC Champion Florida Gators.
Eight players did so well, while the team did so poorly. Call that coaching?