First Coffee for 16 January 2006

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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First Coffee for 16 January 2006

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Jack Johnson’s 2005 album In Between Dreams, a nice find I made in New Zealand over Christmas, hearing it in a café on the South Island near Oamaru:

Yes, we’re back from the most beautiful country in the world, New Zealand, visiting my wife’s family for Christmas and traveling around afterwards. As a general rule I don’t like vacations, and I’ve been dreading the first real live car vacation with three kids (remembering how they went when I was on the other side of the driver’s seat), but it went swimmingly – our kids traveled well, even on the 14-hour Dubai-Melbourne flights, we covered quite a bit of territory and saw quite a lot of New Zealand’s cultural history, along with the gorgeous landscapes and coffee shops offering drinks called “long blacks” or “short whites” with fresh-baked everything wonderful.

Favorite coffee shop story: We’re in Queenstown, my wife and I go into a local bakery/coffee shop around seven in the morning – jet lag – and settle on two long blacks and point to New Zealand-style doughnuts, what we’d call cream éclairs.

“Sorry,” the counter girl says somewhat apologetically, “those are old, we’re not selling them, the new ones’ll be out soon.”

Well, day-old doesn’t bother us, so we say don’t worry, we’ll take ‘em. She serves them and doesn’t charge us for them. “We’ll pay, no problem,” we say. She smiles, says “no worries, mate” and waves us off.

Excellent museums, gorgeous scenery, strikingly nice people, good wines, what’s not to like? How about the fact that the main highway between Auckland and Wellington is still a two-lane road in most places, and goes through the middle of towns along the way, turning what should be a four-hour drive into an all-day excursion? “You’re such an American,” my wife sighs.

Not sure how well I could live there, it is rather far away from pretty much everything else, and New Zealanders do suffer from that Canadian-style insecurity about what everyone else thinks of them (or if they even do), but as a vacation it can’t be beat, especially as a break from its polar opposite, dirty, crowded, teeming, vibrant, endlessly fascinating world crossroads Istanbul, my favorite city in the world, where we live now.

But in peaceful New Zealand the world seems very much… not with us. Iran’s nuclear program, Western Europe’s slow demographic suicide and decline into sharia rule, and the spectacle of a philandering drunk who leaves women to die in watery graves, a serial plagiarist, a tax cheat who hires illegal aliens, a senator with two staffers under indictment for breaking federal law and a senator who compares American soldiers to Nazis and the Khmer Rouge anklebiting the decent, honorable Samuel Alito over his “character,” are not as much in mind as the three pukekos you see wandering around the gardens.

So now our kids understand a bit more about that second passport they have. But that will be all the traveling we see for a while, you know you do a lot of traveling when your kids play stewardess and airport security check at home.

Safety maven Symantec has evidently agreed to purchase IMLogic, an instant messaging software firm, according to industry observer Andy Tillett, who says Symantec claims the move “makes it the sole provider of full solutions for messaging security and archiving.”

Symantec would like this news to cause you to forget about its little rootkit kerfuffle, as well as the fact that it seems to be so afraid of Spybot Search and Destroy that it’s taken to issuing what Spybot claims are libelously false statements about Spybot.

As of now. Thank you.

Oh my darling… SPSS Inc., a vendor of predictive analytics software is announcing its new data mining workbench, Clementine 10, that it claims will “provide a substantial boost for customer relations management, marketing, fraud detection and revenue assurance applications.”

SPSS says it’s specifically upgraded the product’s fraud detection and revenue assurance capabilities to improve its “anomaly detection.” Evidently this feature is meant to allow revenue departments to improve tax compliance more quickly and in a more systematic way.

Analytical CRM and marketing applications, such as customer acquisition, cross-/up-selling and customer retention, are “enhanced,” the company claims, through Clementine 10’s “feature selection.”

Clementine 10 is engineered to allow data mining applications to be managed and processes automated at an enterprise level, providing results in a secure, auditable environment, through the addition of SPSS Predictive Enterprise Services.

The new anomaly detection algorithm, the fine print says, is supposed to simplify both analysis and scoring, helping data miners uncover unusual events or behavior, which would be “of particular importance to organizations involved in fraud detection, revenue assurance, tax compliance, medical research and public safety,” the company asserts.

Also, the product’s new feature selection capabilities “enable data miners to quickly identify the most- and least-important data attributes for a given analysis, simplifying predictive modeling in CRM and marketing applications.” Analysts can also rank and filter attributes in several different ways for improved focus in model building.

Users can export data to Microsoft Excel directly from the Clementine interface and, when importing data from Excel, can specify worksheets and data ranges.

No doubt you all confidently took First CoffeeSM’s advice and plunked the kids’ college funds down on a New England-Indianapolis AFC final. There’s always next year or, as I’m explaining to my kids, there are lots of fulfilling, rewarding jobs that don’t require college educations. In many of them you even get your name on your shirt.

The city council in Aberdeen, Scotland says it has moved around 4,000 users from Pegasus Mail to a Novell GroupWise communications platform that the council says “improves control for administrators and communication between employees,” according to Thomson Dialog.

Debra Storr, business analyst for the council said many issues prompted the change, including training needs, long-term vendor support and the flexibility of the platform.

Steve Rose, project leader in finance and ICT services said Pegasus Mail worked okay, but it did not store mail in a central database, a problem for administrators. Plus council members were looking for a system that could meet changing government-compliance rules, Storr said.

“We knew that Pegasus just couldn’t hack it,” Storr told Thomson.

Aberdeen’s selection of Novell is a boost for the company, Thomson said, “which has struggled with GroupWise amid strong competition from Microsoft’s Exchange over the last five years.” It has also had to deal with IBM’s Lotus Notes, which has a hold on the high-end of the market, Eric Woods, government practice director for Ovum Ltd. told Thomson:

“Novell has had to try and maintain a position in that space the two giants have been fighting over.”

San Jose-based Aspect Software has released version 6.0 of their EnsemblePro software, billing the suite as “a complete contact center solution,” according to Commweb News, providing inbound, outbound, voice, e-mail, and fax capabilities. It was built from the ground up, integrating multiple applications for traditional voice and VoIP, including an ACD, predictive dialer, IVR , and unified reporting in one package.

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