links for 2009-11-10

  • Pitney Bowes Inc. is a 90-year-old legacy company that has grown tremendously in the last decade, both organically and through more than 80 acquisitions, with the goal of building out all aspects of its mail and document management business on a global basis. It has six divisions, including the core mail and postage meter business, document management software products, and outsourced mail services. I joined the company with the express goal of helping solve a critical problem: how to innovate across the broad portfolio of Pitney Bowes’s businesses and assets by generating ideas that combine the best from every business. The primary role of my team is to create processes to formalize innovation, so that we don’t let our research labs and development shops operate in isolation. Innovation is broader for us than “product innovation” or “services in­novation.” It’s really as broad as our business model.
  • Last week Twitter debuted a new feature that lets you group your followers, Twitter calls it Lists. To learn Twitter List basics, Josh Catone’s Mashable post HOW TO: Use Twitter Lists is a good place to start.
    Why do lists of Twitter accounts matter?
    Twitter Lists are an efficient way to find Twitter-people that you don’t know, but should. Consider this list of 500 entrepreneurs, founders, startups, CEOs, and influential business people put together by Peter Urbanski. When you subscribe to a list like this, the updates of everyone in the list appear in your Twitter feed—You don’t have to subscribe to each individual account. You may not want to subscribe to a list with 500 active Twitterers, but take a quick look and you may turn up a handful of interesting, thoughtful people you do think are worth following.
    (tags: twitter)

  • When it comes time for hiring managers, managers within your company, or business partners to find out about you and your work, social media is the first place people go. Famously, we Google the name and the fun begins. Much has been made of the boss firing the employee after the employee disses the boss on Facebook along with many other examples. That won’t be repeated here; Cubicle Warriors don’t do dumb things like that.
    But what if you wanted to represent yourself as the star employee you are right now? How would you do that through social media?
    Here are five suggestions.
  • In keeping with its efforts to promote the Web as as a development platform, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) on Thursday plans to release a set of internal JavaScript programming tools as open source software.
    Google’s Closure Tools were used to create Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Maps, among other applications.
    The Closure apps include Closure Compiler, a JavaScript optimizer designed to produce tight, efficient JavaScript, code that, Google claims, has fewer bugs and is easier to maintain. It removes unnecessary code and compacts the rest to maximize speed.
    There’s also a Firefox extension that works with Firebug called Closure Inspector. It aims to simplify debugging by making optimized code more readable. Firebug is a Firefox extension that facilitates HTML, CSS, and JavaScript debugging in the browser.
  • News breaks faster on Twitter than just about anywhere else, and Google wants in on that speed. The search giant’s recent deal to include Twitter updates in its search results is a key part of the company’s strategy for improving its core product. In a visit to Cambridge, MA, last week, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt said that the biggest changes coming to its algorithms have to do with efforts, like the Twitter deal, to integrate real-time search.
    Basic search has improved drastically in recent years, and this has intensified the competition to find key information as close as possible to the moment it appears on the Internet. For example, Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, announced it was integrating Twitter on the same day as the Google announcement.
  • Perhaps one of the most important parts of any brand is their logo. Getting the right logo however – one that is reflective of the company’s mission and culture, and which conveys trust and authority – is not an easy task. If you’ve ever hired a professional graphic designer you know how cumbersome the entire process can be. Fortunately, there are services available which ease the burden and pretty much ensure you get precisely what you want out of your logo.
    Logomyway is a company that I first came across at Ad-Tech Chicago this past summer. The service enables businesses to start a logo contest and receive concepts from thousands of designers all over the world. Create a contest brief and within a few hours designers can start submitting their designs. The beauty of this is how quickly and affordable it is.
    (tags: logo design)
  • There’s a security problem on the horizon, which could derail the progress of social networking has made in breaking down the barriers between business and personal Internet usage. (Whether that’s a good thing or not is a separate argument.) I’m speaking of the rising tide of fake Facebook messages, phishing threats, and malware.
    And I didn’t even mention the constant “friend-request” harassment from people you’ve never met. (Ba Dum Bum!)
    Seriously, though, it’s no wonder that many businesses are reluctant to allow employees to surf Facebook and LinkedIn at work. Probably these sites were blocked initially because of their time-wasting potential (and, in the case of YouTube, the unnecessary bandwidth usage). However, the security issues now running rampant on Facebook give enterprises a legitimate reason to demur.
  • As the World Wide Web has exploded into millions of sites and billions of documents, the search engines that purport to know about everything on the Web have faced a gargantuan task. Sure, more spiders can be activated to crawl the Web and collect information. But what system can analyze all the data before the information is out of date?
    The answer is a cluster-based analysis system, sometimes referred to loosely as a cloud database system. At the Cloud Computing Conference and Expo Nov. 3 in Santa Clara, Calif., representatives ofYahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) explained how they use Hadoop open source software, from the Apache Software Foundation, to analyze the Web.
    Hadoop is a system that can be applied to “big data,” or masses of data collected from the Web, such as the crawls that lead to the search indexes. Eric Baldeschwieler, VP of Hadoop software development, leads the largest known active Hadoop development team and said Yahoo is the world’s largest Hadoop user.
  • In order to make its BlackBerry platform more attractive to developers, Research In Motion (NSDQ: RIMM) said Monday it is enhancing the platform with new application programming interfaces that will potentially enable richer applications.
    During its second-annual BlackBerry Developer Conference, the company looked to address some of the perceived weaknesses in its platform for developers. Mobile applications are becoming increasingly important in the smartphone space, primarily due to the success Apple has had with its App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Apple owners have already downloaded more than two billion apps in about a year and a half, and the iPhone is gathering a lot of mindshare and attention within the developer community.
  • Have you ever noticed that many of the leadership clichés we live by are not living up to their reputation? Leaders flippantly throw around sound bites of so-called “wisdom,” picked up at conferences or from leadership books and use them without truly questioning whether or not they are true or even useful. Bit by bit, these clichés have reached the status of “conventional wisdom” – widespread beliefs that are not only untested but untrue – also causing havoc in the workplace.
    So as a lover of what’s true, I begin the campaign to eradicate the old clichés and update these concepts to be useful in our new realities:
    (tags: leadership)
  • Last week, more evidence emerged in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s debacle over the mishandling of the Bernie Madoff über-fraud. While the SEC failed repeatedly to uncover the greatest Ponzi scheme in our country’s history ($50 billion and counting), the New York Times revealed a tale of “unseasoned people uncertain about what to do and unwilling to ask for help.”
    But learning how to ask for help — and how to do it right — is critical to doing your job well and setting yourself up for success.
    (tags: leadership)
  • One of the biggest advantages of social media is the ability to get your brand Web-wide recognition among very active consumers across any number of niches, large and small. One of the biggest disadvantages is the massive amount of time it takes to get these profiles set up and keep them maintained. You can also run into problems when someone else has squatted on your brand name within these networks. KnowEm has a solution.
    Begin by simply entering your name in the search box. What you’ll get in return is a list of hundreds of social media sites – and the availability (or lack thereof) of your business name on those sites. It’s broken down into social categories; blogging, bookmarking, business, community, design, entertainment, health, information, microblogging, music, news, photo, tech, travel and video. At the very least, this is a good place to start to see the networks that apply to your business, and whether or not your desired user ID is available. But there’s more.
  • Determined to retain your most talented executives? Well, here’s some counterintuitive advice: The best way to keep them from leaving is to prepare them to do just that.
    In tough economic times like these, retention becomes less of a priority for many companies as they focus on more-immediate business concerns. But companies that neglect this issue during a downturn may be in for a nasty surprise just as things start looking up: Historically, there is a significant increase in the number of executives leaving their companies as market conditions improve and more job opportunities open up.

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