Patricia Keefe - Authors & Columnists - InformationWeek

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 Patricia Keefe

Profile of Patricia Keefe

News & Commentary Posts: 50
Articles by Patricia Keefe

Can History Survive The Internet?

The Internet is a wondrous place indeed. Besides all the practical benefits that are too numerous (and obvious) to mention here, there are few limits to where your imagination combined with Web technology can take you.

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Digital You, Meet Nanny Government and Terrorism Fears

Uh-oh. Better stash those TV-equipped glasses. According to Reuters, the state of New York is mulling legislation that would ban the use of iPods, Blackberries, video games and other electronic gadgets while crossing the street. Scofflaws would face a $100 fine, assuming any cops were around to ticket them. Why the fuss? Two or three (depending on your news source) traffic deaths in Brooklyn - all attributed to the victims' use of - and distraction by - electronic devices.

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Ban The Analysts! Or Not?

It looks like the sometimes raging debate over whether journalists should quote industry analysts - be they technology or financial specialists - has flared up again, this time in an interesting story on a U.K.-based IT publication. Check it out - they are talking about whether to quote the same analysts that U.S. publications talk to. The article notes the New York Times has banned quoting analysts, and then violated

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Washington Watch: IT On The Docket

This winter, you will want to be on the look out for a number of IT-oriented issues going bump in the dark corridors of Washington and, separately, in discussions with in industry consortiums. Several groups are agitating for changes that will affect IT - some for the better, and some for worse, but one way or another, all will require action on your part.

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Beating Back 'BlackBerry Thumb'

Uh-oh, time to call the lawyers? Come to think of it, better make that HR, too! One of the latest cautions making the rounds has "Crackberry" addicts suing their employers down the road over repetitive strain injuries attributed to overuse of the popular handheld email device and similar devices.

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Ethics 101

I received a one-line letter from a reader today, and I couldn't agree with him more: "Do you realize that if anyone has to ask about ethics, they shouldn't be doing the job to begin with?" Amen, brother. I had a similar reaction when listening to the recent congressional grilling of HP CEO Mark Hurd and ex-chairwoman Patricia Dunn about the company's tactics when investigating a media leak within its board.

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Katrina's IT Legacy

This week marks the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans. In case there was any danger of forgetting the ability of Mother Nature to wreak unspeakable havoc, she highlighted the date by bringing forth Hurricanes Ernesto and John.

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Wi-Fi And The Freeloaders

The latest chapter in high-tech rudeness involves a battle brewing between steaming café and coffee shop owners and Wi-Fi freeloading laptop users. The problem is that some laptop users see nothing wrong with turning their corner coffee bars into extensions of their office--if not their actual office. They come in to take advantage of the free Internet access and end up displacing the paying clientele by hogging tables for hours while spending next to nothing. And they think nothing of it.

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Fight For Your Entertainment Rights

If you own an iPod or MP3 player; yearn for a music-enabled phone; download, share, or mix songs and video; or even if you just want to listen to your music or watch your videos in relative peace, take heed. Pending legislation could make the simplest exercise in legal home media use more cumbersome than you could ever imagine.

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A Data Bill Of Rights

One of the biggest obstacles to fighting cybercrime is the corporations themselves. Never mind that many still don't heed the advice of their IT departments and make the appropriate investments in security. Once a crime occurs--be it hacking, identity theft, stolen equipment, or logic bombs--these same companies notoriously tend to bury their heads--and the news--in the sand. Many don't tell the cops, they don't t

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Save Lives: Debug Code

We're so used to looking at programming these days as a throwaway, low-cost skill. We discourage students from pursuing it, we outsource the basic tasks, and we routinely struggle with balky applications. Regardless of how smart any of this might be, we know we can live with all that. But the tendency to ignore commonsense requests to thoroughly debug code? Very bad idea. In fact, it can be downright dangerous, according to panelists and attendees speaking at several sessions on topics such as

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How To Open Up The Floodgates

Do you wish you had more junk mail? Not enough spam clogging your E-mail box? Do you want a wider variety of marketing solicitations? Well, help is on the way! When you sit down to do your 2006 federal income taxes, make sure you do a good job. We wouldn't want any erroneous information going out to the reams of buyers lining up in hopes of buying what the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) calls "the map to your life."

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Can't We All Just Get Along (Online And In The Air)?

Manners, or rather, the lack of them, have been all over our news pages the last two weeks. The topics covered won't surprise anyone, although the proposed remedies might. And yet when all is said and done, what's really needed isn't some time-consuming legal maneuver or more reams of survey data, but rather a dose of good old common sense served up with a dollop of common courtesy.

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Cyber Society

As I was picking through a stack of newspapers I was getting ready to recycle this past weekend, I kept seeing examples of how advances in high technology and its movement beyond the workplace are creating new opportunities for the good, the bad, and the ever rude. It's also starting to spur debate about appropriate applications of some of this technology, while also bringing to a head the issue of how best to deal with some of the fallout. The kinds of questions that come to mind include:

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Be Careful What You Wish For

Both my colleague Mitch Wagner, and I have been following the Chinese censorship issue that has caught Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Cisco like deer in the headlights, and triggered a firestorm of international criticism. If my email and responses to our blogs are anything to go by - our readers have been avidly following this issue as well, responding with a mix of cynicism, business practicality and a longing idealism.

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What Are The IT Giants Afraid of?

Congressional subcommittees and caucuses are often annoying and self-important, and probably no one attends at least half of their hearings save for the panel members themselves, their staff and the people called before them to testify about whatever. Nonetheless, in an atmosphere infused with constant references to exporting freedom, democracy and other rights, Post a Comment

High-Tech Obsolescence: How To Date Yourself In A Nanosecond

I'm a night owl, or, as one of my smarty-pants sisters likes to put it, a vampire. I don't require lots of sleep, and I can get so much done in the distraction-free hours of the night. That's also when I happen to listen to TV the most--usually in background for a little white noise. Every now and then, something flashing across the screen from one of the mostly boring late-night talk shows catches my attention. The other night it was the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show. He did a very amusing ske

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The Urge To Converge - And Embed

Everywhere you look, convergence is the air. I'm not just talking about the much celebrated intersection of consumer and business technology, nor the newly emerged jockeying for position, as IT vendors seek to cozy up to consumer companies and their lucrative customers. It's way more than that.

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Help Us Help Ourselves

More proof that life extends indefinitely on the internet, is a letter I received out of the blue from a student the other day in reference to a column I had written in 2002. 2002? Lord, what had I written? (Apparently it was assigned reading for some class) Well, it was a lament about the dying throes of customer service and the need for "Trustworthy IT." Today I'd wager that many people, when asked about customer service, wouldn't hesitate to say, "It's dead - stick a fork in it already!" Cert

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Ready, Set, Shop!

Don't look now, but Thanksgiving is bearing down upon us, which you probably know means that the biggest shopping weekend of the year is right around the corner. What you might not know, however, is that the Monday following that weekend, is fast becoming the biggest online shopping day of the year. This year, online retailers plan to help drive Cyber Monday shopping with special promotions and discounts, wi

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Supreme Impact On IT

When President Bush scans the horizon for his next Supreme Court nominee, he might do well to not only choose a candidate who has spent some time on the bench, but also one with some understanding of, or background in, science and technology. Such an addition to the Supreme Court would be very timely at this juncture in high-tech litigation and advances. We have entered a technological age, and we

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Hand-Held Hand Hell

As if carpal tunnel wasn't bad enough - it appears we now have digit-specific repetitive stress to look forward to, or dodge as the case may be. I guess this means I'd better steer clear of the BlackBerry and other such tiny-keyboarded gadgets. Rats. Just as I was beginning to warm up to the idea, too. It was hard enough getting over the aging eyesight issue, I mean, can you really read those things? I see peopl

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Oh Behave!

The Delaware Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a group of anonymous bloggers in a defamation suit, saying in essence that free speech trumps defamation. (If that's true, there is no point to the concept of defamation.) In his ruling, Delaware Chief Justice Myron Steele also compared anonymous Internet speech to anonymous political pamphleteering, a practice the U.S. Supreme Court has apparently found to be "an honorable tradition of advocacy and dissent." (Bad choice for comparison if you ask

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Baked-In Security

Our columnist visits the notion of 'baked-in security' and why it's so critical especially in light of Katrina-related events.

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Software (In) Security

"Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!" That ought to be the first thing every user hears upon breaking the seal on a new application or hitting the "download now" button. Given the rate at which new apps and operating system updates are being cracked, hacked, and infested, perhaps the software industry should adopt as its mascot, the zealously protective, but often useless Robot from the mid-'60s sci-fi classic series, "Lost In S

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What The Polls Say We're Doing On Online

A few weeks ago, we asked for your input on whether we should change the delivery timing of this newsletter. Over 1,000 of you were good enough to respond (1,043), and as promised - here are the results: Same time as now: 4 a.m. Eastern time-- 66% . Noon Eastern time is OK-- 18%. Don't care-- 16%.

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Blogging About Work? Play Nice

There's a tsunami building, fed by a combustible mix of incredibly stupid (and apparently mean-spirited) workers, public blogs, and nervous companies. I'm referring to the growing numbers of folks fired or reprimanded in the workplace for either exposing company plans or posting negative comments about co-workers in public blogs. The latest example comes from the Southern California branch of AAA, which last week fired 27 workers over their postings on the MySpace social-networking Web site, a

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Successful Outsourcing Is 80% Prep Work

Outsourcing isn't just an option for large companies, but it sure can seem that way to smaller businesses that have neither the staff nor budget to navigate what can be very treacherous waters for the unwary or the unwise.

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Fighting Terrorism: IT, Not Bombs

In this space ordinarily reserved for analysis and commentary on IT topics, every now and again, there comes a news event that has such an impact, that it seems inappropriate not to make mention of it regardless of any link or lack thereof to IT. That's because in these cases, what links us as readers and editors to the story is our humanity.

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Don't Sweat The Small Stuff

Besides the obvious technical intrigue ignited by the potential for creating a whole new generation of 'Intel Inside' Macintosh hardware, recent reports of chip talks between Intel and Apple are a sign that maybe Apple hasn't taken its eye off the ball after all. I was beginning to wonder. The paranoid bunker mentality that sometimes envelopes Apple's leadership seemed to have intensified since January, evidenced in part by a string of p

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Same Old Story

It's déjà vu all over again - but is anyone listening this time? A panel of top-tier user companies this week once again sounded the call for software vendors to start delivering better quality products. They also made it clear that they long to be close to you - vendors that is. For all the endless marketing blather we hear about customer relationship management, it's clear that the only k

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