Making their voices heard.

Officials suggest that the turnout of voters in the Iraq elections has surpassed the 57% that had been expected, despite the threat of violence. Preliminary figures indicated 72 percent of the 14 million registered voters had turned out even three hours before polls closed.

You can read Husayn’s feelings about this day at Democracy in Iraq (is here!).

The reports I’ve seen appear to show citizens overcome with the joy of being able to make their voices heard.

You’ve got to be kidding.

Computerworld has an opinion piece by Michael Gartenberg suggesting that business users carefully consider a potential switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox, since Firefox doesn’t run Microsoft ActiveX code. While some businesses use ActiveX controls, ActiveX is still the primary distribution mechanism for spyware and viruses.

I have used Firefox in various forms for over a year now and have had no problems. I am still forced to use IE for some things like Sharepoint, but these are few and far between. The cost of scanning for viruses and spyware, keeping current with updates, and fixing the inevitable problems caused by IE just became too high for me. If business users start adding up the real total cost of ownership of fixing all of the problems inherent in IE, they would be concerned as well. How many hours did you spend scanning for, and removing spyware this year?

I also find Microsoft’s Anti-Piracy plan somewhat ironic. Microsoft plans to stop pirated copies of Windows from downloading patches and security updates. Had Windows been written with security in mind, then people would not require the updates that Microsoft wants to prevent them from downloading.

(Link from Groklaw)

Global warming challenged.

I’ve commented before on the two Canadian researchers who found a flaw in the hockey stick model used to predict global warming. Obviously an unpopular opinion, there work has not exactly been accepted by scientific journals. But now there work is going to be published by Geophysical Research Letters. FuturePundit talks about it here.

Rather than attack this research with the oft-quoted line that a concensus of scientists believe global warming to be true, it would be interesting to see an open-minded analysis of this research.

So this is democracy?

Jack Layton, leader of the Canadian New Democratic Party (NDP), wants Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada, to force the entire Liberal caucus to vote in favour of same-sex marriage. The NDP members have been ordered to vote in favor of same-sex marriage, considering it a human-rights issue.

Given that a Decima Research poll showed that 57% of those polled in Ontario sided with preserving the traditional definition of marriage compared to 38% who believe same-sex couples should be included, forcing elected members to vote a certain way doesn’t seem to agree with the concept of democracy.

Why must I save receipts?

Mark Cuban wants a lot in his future cellphone, including the ability to save receipts. In this digital world, why do we still have to save receipts at all?

We save receipts for a couple of reasons. One is for proof of purchase for rebates. Another is so that we can return a defective product. I might also use it to get a refund when I find a lower price within 30 days.

Amazon knows my entire ordering history. Best Buy and Circuit City always ask for my name when they sell me something, so I’m guessing they do too. If I can remember where I bought something then I ought to be able to go to that store and have them know the product purchase history.

In fact, when I purchase something that has a rebate, why doesn’t the retail establishment just forward the information electronically to the rebate center? And when the price drops in 30 days, why don’t they just mail me a cheque, or credit my account?

The truth is that they don’t because they count on us not bothering with the rebates. Yet this would cut the manual work required to provide rebates. And it would make my life so much easier.

Wikify your collaboration.

I was in a seminar this morning on the use of competitive intelligence in corporate marketing. The presenter explained that they gathered the information, aggregated it, and distributed it via email. I asked if the company ever looked to see how the market evaluated and digested the message, and if they made changes as a result. She said the they listened to what the analysts and the competition said and revised their message. They weren’t looking any further than that.

This company, and many like it I’m sure, is preparing a message for the wrong people. By not looking for what users are saying about their product, they will miss a key piece of the puzzle. I suggested that they search Google for “kryptonite”. And by trusting email to get the message out among all of the other daily noise, they are missing an opportunity to inform their own staff.

I asked if anyone had ever hear of a wiki. Many heads nodded no. I asked if they knew what blogs were, which many did, so I described a wiki as a group blog that allowed collaboration, and pushed out new information in the form of RSS feeds. I promised that I would give everyone an overview of blogs, wikis, and RSS at a future meeting.

Renee Blodgett must have heard us because she has some comments today on the usefulness of wikis for collaboration.