Stories by Chad Dickerson

Optimising business processes

Identifying and streamlining business processes are at the centre of everything a technology chief does. Over the past few months I've been looking closely at our core business processes to determine which technologies and approaches we should embrace and which we should ignore. Lately I've been focusing on our sales processes, which has spurred me to think about the best way to approach changing business processes in general.

Mobile messaging with open source

History teaches us that seemingly small events can quickly balloon into much larger problems. Take the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on June 28, 1914 -- an isolated incident that, in four months, escalated into World War I. With somewhat less catastrophic results, the introduction of a new technology can cause surprisingly large ripple effects in the enterprise.

IT grab bag

SAN FRANCISCO (11/17/2003) - Every now and then, I sit down to write my weekly column and struggle with a coherent theme, trying to draw from my daily experiences as a working CTO. Sometimes I get lucky and something unusual happens to inspire me. Some weeks, though, I spend a lot of time dealing with a variety of smaller and less dramatic IT issues and just handling run-of-the-mill people and resource management. Those seemingly humdrum weeks give me time to experiment with new technologies and to take a fresh look at existing facets of the IT operation.

Crazy talk

SAN FRANCISCO (10/24/2003) - I'm not necessarily the world's biggest Dilbert fan, but one Dilbert cartoon I saw recently really hits the nail on the head in describing the often tenuous relationship of IT to business in day-to-day software projects. In this cartoon, Dilbert says to one of the business guys: "I'll design the system as soon as you give me the user requirements." The business guy replies, "Better yet, you could build the system, then I'll tell your boss that it doesn't meet my needs." Dilbert replies, "I don't mean to frighten you, but you'll have to do some actual work," to which the business guy quickly replies: "That's crazy talk." I laughed at this -- just before I remembered all the times this scenario has played out in one form or another in my own career.

Wireless security watch

SAN FRANCISCO (10/03/2003) - Warning: While you're hanging around the IT water cooler fretting about wireless security, critical corporate data could be walking out the door hanging from someone's keychain. The smiling stranger in the hallway you just asked for the time should have responded, "It's 10 a.m. Do you know where your data is?"

True IT confessions

SAN FRANCISCO (09/26/2003) - Imagine you are working with a contractor to build a new house. At the final walk-through, the house itself looks great and everything works, but the circuits in the electrical box are unlabeled, there are a few loose wires when you open one of the kitchen cabinets, and there's a pile of sawdust in one of the bedroom closets. Your house is technically complete, but are you really ready to move in with these little bits of disarray? What else are you going to find when you open the bedroom closets, much less crawl underneath the house?

Mac OS X: It just works

Last week, I wrote about my re-awakening to the Mac OS X as a platform, driven largely by forces completely unrelated to enterprise IT -- I needed a computer at home after my PC died and I approached the Mac more as a "right now" solution than a right one. After a couple of weeks with the Mac and OS X, I'm pretty close to being a convert. As I said last week, I'm not ready to do a mass migration at InfoWorld, but OS X is definitely on my enterprise radar now.

Expect the unexpected when it comes to security

SAN FRANCISCO (09/19/2003) - August was the cruelest month, breeding MS Blaster and Sobig out of moribund security policies, mixing buffer overflows with SMTP-based viruses, stirring vacation-focused minds with new worms. Winter had kept us warm, as our 1U Linux servers blanketed the datacenter with forgetful uptime, feeding us our e-mail through twisted cables. Summer surprised us ...

Lawyers and IT: I can't get no subrogation

In over two years writing this column, I've done my best to avoid using too many easy cliches, but my experience over the past few weeks brings to mind an old joke about a frequently targeted profession to which I'll add a new twist. Here goes: How many lawyers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

RSS killed the infoglut star

It's fairly common knowledge in pop-culture trivia circles that the first video to air on MTV was the Buggles' Video Killed the Radio Star, a song with a title that proved prophetic in its bold announcement of a shift in the way music was consumed and marketed.

Matrix moral

When I saw The Matrix Reloaded on opening weekend, like most hard-core techies, I was excited when Trinity (played by Carrie-Anne Moss) prominently used nmap to exploit a known SSH CRC-32 security vulnerability in the course of the action.

Beyond Linux

Last week I wrote about the solidification of Linux as an IT phenomenon and the impending rise of MySQL's MySQL in the enterprise. In my opinion, neither technology is an underdog anymore in the overall IT contest.

If the glass slipper fits

After two years of writing this column, one theme in the feedback I receive from readers stands out. Regardless of what I write, I get at least a few emails saying, "You're short-changing open source."

Super desktop

When I speak with other CTOs, we often talk about our back-end systems and what we're running in our data centres. But just as often, we compare notes on what tools we are using on our desktop machines.