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Tusday quick hits... Safavian, e-mail, and Web site blocking

Just a few quick hits today from some stories that I found interesting.

* First, the case against David Safavian, the former OFPP administrator, now rests with the jury, the WP reports. Here is the story from National Public Radio.

The trial of former federal procurement official David H. Safavian went to the jury yesterday, as a prosecutor in closing arguments accused him of lying to federal investigators to conceal the fact that he was "doing Jack Abramoff's bidding."

In response, Safavian's attorney said that the government's case was weak because Abramoff, a disgraced lobbyist who pleaded guilty in January to conspiring to corrupt public officials, did not testify at the three-week trial.

* For teens, e-mail is so... yesterday

The SJMN reports that teens are turning away from e-mail in favor of more instant communications.

For those of you who have just figured out how to zap spam or manage your inbox, prepare for the bad news: E-mail is, like, so yesterday.

New statistics show that, for the first time, teen e-mail use is dropping -- apparently in favor of more ``instant'' alternatives.

``It's too complicated to send e-mail,'' Jennica said. ``I have to go in and type it, and send it, then wait for a reply.''

* Blocking Web sites

CIO magazine blogger Ben Worthen says it doesn't make sense to block access to certain non-work Web sites.

One of my biggest pet peeves is companies that block access to certain websites. The logic behind this is sound – people are at work to, well, work, not surf the web or check their personal email. But I think it is the wrong response... Surfing the web is the 21st century's version of going to the water cooler. Stopping people from doing this sends employees the message that you don't trust them to get their jobs done. Here's another analogy: In the offline world if someone takes so many bathroom breaks that they aren't getting their work done at an acceptable level you fire that person, you don't barricade off the bathroom.

* E-forecasts

Along those lines, people also apparently want the weather forecast for where they are now... and now... and now, the WP reports.

As the first severe storm of hurricane season barrels toward Florida's Gulf Coast today, some weather forecasters are hoping residents look to their cellphones instead of the darkening skies.

WeatherBug, a weather information service based in Germantown, announced a new product yesterday that uses Global Positioning System tracking to pinpoint a subscriber's location and send targeted weather alerts to a cellphone, BlackBerry or other handheld device.

* High-tech power

The WSJ has a story about how tech companies are seeking power -- and not political power. They need energy.

Surge in Internet Use, Energy CostsHas Big Tech Firms Seeking Power [WSJ, 6.13.2006]

Big technology companies are scouring the nation to secure enough of the cheap electricity that is vital to their growth, as both Internet services and power costs soar.

* Brainstorming

The WSJ has a story about how to have a good and effective brainstorming session. [Subscription required]

Brainstorming Works Best if People Scramble For Ideas on Their Own [WSJ, 6.13.2006]

Some brainstorming sessions get off to a shaky start because the participants subscribe to a tenet that is provably false: "There's no such thing as a bad idea."

But there are plenty of other reasons why such sessions, intended to harvest good ideas, are often the source of bad ones. For starters, there's self-consciousness. "We sit there looking embarrassed like we're all new to a nudist colony," says Joe Polidoro, who has worked for a variety of banks. There's also the problem that creativity and its mulish muse can't be scheduled between, say, 9:15 and 9:45. Says Kate Lee, who used to work for General Electric: "I'm more mercurial than that."...

In fact, great brainstorming sessions are possible, but they require the planning of a state dinner, plenty of rules, and the suspension of ego, ingratiation and political railroading. Hosts have to hope that people won't expend creative energy trying to tell others their ideas are bad without actually telling them that -- admittedly a real business skill. And they have to cross their fingers that the session won't deteriorate into what some people call "blamestorming" or "coblabberation," where you get nowhere or settle on something mediocre to be done with it.

* Super-Prius

Finally, totally off-topic, could a super Prius be in the offing? I drive one of the first generation of hybrid gas-electric vehicles because, yes, I'm green. Popular Mechanics hears that Toyota's new Prius, due out in 2008, will be faster and get significantly better gas milage... like in the 70-80 mpg range. (In my Prius, I get between 42-50 mpg.) The super Prius would have a plug-in-ability.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Jun 13, 2006 at 12:15 PM


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