Collaboration 101.

I’ve been doing some research for a seminar on collaboration using blogs and wikis, as an alternative to more complex content management systems like Sharepoint or Documentum. It seemed like this might be an ideal place to capture some of the information.

Products such as Sharepoint and Documentum are both content and document management systems. They store unstructured content, links, and documents such as Word files or Excel spreadsheets. They allow documents to be checked in, checked out, and otherwise controlled. Different user privileges may be assigned to different content areas.

Blogs and wikis are adhoc repositories of unstructured content. They do not typically store documents, though some products allow documents to be stored as attachments, but the documents are not controlled. User privileges are typically reduced to either having access to the entire system or to none of it.

About Collaboration:

Why Can’t We All Just Collaborate?

About Blogs:

Definition: A blog is essentially a series of informational items displayed in a reverse chronological order.

Blogging 101 – BloggerCon Beginners Sessions
How To Blog For Fun & Profit

Blog software:

Movable Type
Blogger – A free blogging service
Typepad – A low-priced blogging service
Livejournal – A blogging community

About Wikis:

Definition: A Wiki is a collaboratively-edited website which many people also view as an anarchistic publishing tool. The distinguishing feature of wikis is that they typically allow all users to edit any page, with full freedom to edit, change and delete the work of previous authors.

Wiki 101
What Is A Wiki

Wiki software:

Wiki Wiki Web

Examples of collaborative wiki projects:

Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia
Wikinews – A Free News Source

About RSS and Atom:

Definition:RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) and Atom are formats for syndicating news, or the entries in blogs and wikis. The syndicated information is typically read in news readers.

What Is RSS?
What Is Atom?

About News Readers (or Aggregators or RSS Readers):

Definition: A application or website which allows a user to read syndicated information. Rather than read entire websites, users can opt to read only the new entries. This allows users to read many more sites efficiently. I read over 450 sites per day in this fashion.

NewsGator – Read feeds in Outlook or online
Bloglines – Read feeds online
NewzCrawler – A Windows client for reading feeds

Tools for Finding Blogs and Wikis of Interest:


About Podcasting:

Definition: Subscribers receive regular audio programs delivered via the internet, and she or he can listen to them at her or his leisure.

What is podcasting?

Well that’s a start. At some future point I’ll probably delve into this more deeply, and then post the results.

Update: I added Confluence wiki software at the suggestion of Bound By Gravity.

What does “no” mean?

Paul Martin said no, Canada does not want to be part of the U.S. ballistic missile defence program. But what exactly does “no” mean here?

Canada has already agreed that NORAD will now watch for incoming ballistic missiles. There were no other demands made by the U.S. So what isn’t Canada going to do as a result?

According to the Toronto Star, Mr. Martin insisted that Ottawa “would expect to be consulted” before the U.S. tried to shoot down an incoming missile over Canada, saying:

“We’re a sovereign nation and you don’t intrude on a sovereign nation’s airspace without seeking permission.”

According to today’s Globe and Mail:

U.S. officials at the Missile Defence Agency said that under ballistic missile defence, interceptors from launch silos in Alaska and California are aimed out across the Pacific and that their trajectory would take them nowhere near Canada.

Even if it did, the officials said, the interceptors would be out of the atmosphere and, therefore, outside of sovereign airspace within a minute or two of being launched. The actual intercept — a collision in space — is designed to occur between 160 and 300 kilometres above the Earth, beyond the atmosphere.

“There’s no flying over Canada …..,” the intercept is to happen way out over the Pacific as far from North America as possible,” Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the agency, said.

A U.S. official said that Mr. Martin is hiding behind a smokescreen and that missile defence has nothing to do with Canadian airspace.

“Martin knows that ….. he was just saying it for the political theatre,” the U.S. official said.

Canadian officials confirmed this:

The Canadian government never seeks outside approval to fly its surveillance satellites over other countries.

“We don’t have to ask permission and we don’t ask permission,” said Mike Taylor, director of government relations at the Canadian Space Agency.

“Its not sovereignty issue,” he said.

So the government’s decision is reduced to political pandering to the supposed majority of Canadians who are against missile defence. Yet it is still no clear exactly what, if anything, this decision means, other than the fact that the U.S. sees Canada not as an ally, but as an entity whose decisions cannot be depended upon.

It surprises me that some Canadians seem to support this flip-flop. The Liberals were voted in with Paul Martin suggesting that he supported missile defence. Now he changes his mind, and that’s ok.

I have no doubt that relations with the U.S. would be much improved if decisions were merely communicated honestly, by a leader whose word means something, as opposed to someone like Mr. Martin, whose decisions are based solely on what will get the Liberals re-elected..

Take a pill.

Jaqueline Passey, a real Libertarian girl, has finally switched to Firefox. Her post about it has attracted a stream of comments around one person who seems to be violently pro-Internet Explorer and Microsoft. In the words of this person:

Firefox is complete and total crap. I used it for a day and switched back because it was so not-ready-for-primetime.

I know there’s a lot of Firefox fans here, and I would just like to qualify my statements by saying: you’re all retarded.

Obviously this person does not exactly have an open mind, or tolerance for anyone with a different opinion. As such, the comments do make for an entertaining read.

Quick, get the the Prime Minister!

Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada, and the man who made improving Canadian-American relations a plank in the Liberal election platform last June, and who supported Canadian participation in missile defence, has now flip-flopped and said that Canada will not participate in the missile defence program.

Picture this. A ballistic missile is flying over Canadian airspace on its way to New York or Washington.

Before the U.S. considers launching a missile to defend themselves, Paul Martin expects to be consulted.

Given that a missile would likely take minutes to pass over Canada, what does Mr. Martin actually expect to happen?

Who pays?

Reading Canadian newspapers would give one the idea that Canadians expect the government to be responsible for everything. I’ve certainly seen the phrases “the government spends their money on”, or “the government should pay for”. I’ve also often seen the comment that “the government has a surplus”.

I have an aunt who always used to tell me, when you see the word “government”, substitute the word “taxpayer”. The government isn’t spending their money – they don’t have any. They are spending yours.

Also, for those who don’t see to understand, the government gets all of its income from taxpayers. It does not generate any revenue (nor does it ever seem to save any money). If the government has a surplus, it means simply that they overtaxed citizens. Whether you disagree with how little tax the rich pay, or how much the poor pay, we paid too much.

I’m of the opinion that I know better how to spend my money that the government does.

Deception at The Globe and Mail?

Mathew Ingram, a columnist for The Globe and Mail, apparently has a blog. Well it does resemble a blog in the sense that there are some text items posted in reverse chronological order, but there is no RSS feed and no way to search, and I can only go back in the list of items by going to the previous page. The items are also chopped in half by the page limit, much as a printed page would be.

The “blog” describes itself this way:

Mathew Ingram’s “blog” is a collection of brief items – from the interesting to the unusual, and occasionally the outright laughable. Feel free to e-mail your suggestions and/or comments.

There is a some deception going on at The Globe and Mail though. It seems that recently when I search for something, Mr. Ingram’s “blog” always appears in the first few results.

Just for fun, I searched the paper for the work “sex”. Lo and behold, Mr. Ingram’s “blog” is the fourth entry. When I click on it go to the blog and search for “sex” the word is not found.

This is certainly not earth-shaking, but it is curious. Is The Globe and Mail manipulating search results to highlight particular parts of the paper?

Loudest wins.

This is how democracy works in the provincial legislature in Ontario, Canada:

In a voice vote, the Speaker of the legislature would determine the outcome based on the volume of the ‘Yeas’ and ‘Nays’ yelled by the members.

Sort of reminds me of the audience applause meter on old game shows. That, by the way, is just how seriously the provincial government took the vote on same-sex marriage today.

Browser hijack.

Yes we are used to seeing spyware hijack the Internet Explorer browser. Those of you that still use IE anyway.

But if you install a Microsoft released a patch for a “critical” vulnerability in MSN Messenger, Microsoft will hijack your browser, ignoring your home page selection and setting the home page to MSN. The patch is mandatory for users of MSN Messenger so you won’t have a choice.

Apparently Microsoft Anti-Spyware takes a similar action.