Guru 42 Universe

Buzzwords from the world wide web to deep web and dark net

There are a lot of definitions that get thrown around about “the deep web” and “the dark web.” It is frustrating how people use the terms without a clue as to what they mean. The deep web and dark web are NOT synonyms!

Starting with defining "The Internet," think of all the wires and connections as a highway system. When I talk about the general term of the internet, I am speaking about the technologies that move packets of information along wires from one destination to another, specifically the family of protocols known as TCP/IP (transmission control protocol - internet protocol).

The "World Wide Web” represents the many destinations that are connected together using the public highway system of the internet. When I talk about the general term of the World Wide Web, I am speaking about the technologies that create websites and webservers such as HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) and HTML (hypertext markup language).

Where it gets confusing is how you apply the usage of the terms. Sometimes when people say "the internet" they are not describing just the highway system, but they are using the term to represent all the websites in existence. Likewise, often when people say “The World Wide Web” they use it to mean all the websites in existence.

The technology that the internet uses on the public highway, things like the internet protocols like TCP/IP and World Wide Web components HTTP and HTML, can also be used to take us to private destinations as well. This collection of private destinations is known as the "Deep Web." Computer scientist Michael Bergman, founder of search indexing specialist company Bright Planet is credited with coining the term deep web in 2001 as part of a research study.

In 2014, a Forbes article, "Insider Trading On The Dark Web"(1), completely confuses the terms and misquotes the definitions of BrightPlanet CEO Michael Bergman and incorrectly describes Bright Planet as "a firm that harvests data from the Dark Web." In response to confusion about the terms Deep Web versus Dark Web BrightPlanet published the article, "Clearing Up Confusion – Deep Web vs. Dark Web." (2)

The link to the BrightPlanet article is listed at the end of this article, but here are a few points from that article which define the main points.

- "The Surface Web is anything that can be indexed by a typical search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo."
- "...the Deep Web is anything that a search engine can’t find."
- "The Dark Web then is classified as a small portion of the Deep Web that has been intentionally hidden and is inaccessible through standard web browsers."
- "The key thing to keep in mind is the Dark Web is a small portion of the Deep Web."



Why does the "deep web" have much more content than the "regular web" since it's used by far fewer people?

Here's an analogy that might help you understand why there is so much more information "below the surface" on private networks, than above the surface on public networks.

Go to the downtown of an average city where you can find a variety of commercial office buildings. Some of the buildings have a lobby, where you can go inside and walk around. Some buildings might actually have a common area where the general public can walk around freely and access various bits of information, like the lobby of a bank or insurance company. But on the floors above the lobby are offices which require special privileges to access, you must have a need to get into these rooms.

Likewise, you might have a government building where the first floor might contain a post office or some other public service agency that anyone can access. But the floors above it could contain other types of offices where admission is restricted, or accessed by invitation only.

In your downtown area, how many of the buildings can you walk around freely, and how many have controlled access? Are there buildings that you can not walk around in at all because they are privately owned and don't allow access to the general public?

I could expand the analogy further, but hopefully you start to see that in the "real world" of your downtown area there will places that are open to the public, and other areas with various degrees of access limitations. Likewise in the virtual world of the web, there there will places that are open to the public, and other areas with various degrees of access limitations.

The deep web does not mean some dark and mysterious place of evil, it is simply a term describing an area of controlled access rather than free and open access.

What is the dark web and how do you access it?

Going back to the analogy that the deep web represents the buildings in your town that don't allow access to the general public, the dark web represents all the back alley doorways that are not clearly marked and are accessed by knowing what to say to the doorman to gain access to what is inside.

The worldwide network known as “the dark web”uses specially configured servers designed to work with custom configured web browsers with the purpose of hiding your identity. You will see the term Tor servers and web browers to describe this private network. Tor originally stood for "The Onion Router."

Tor receives funding from the American government but operates as an independent nonprofit organization. The dark web is an interesting place as described in a Washington Post article that explains how the NSA is working around the clock to undermine Tor's anonymity while other branches of the federal government are helping fund it.(3)

A Wired article explains how WikiLeaks was launched with documents intercepted from Tor.(4) You can follow this link to an interview with former government contractor Edward Snowden (5) explaining how Tor is used to create private communications channel.

What can you find on the dark net?

The mysterious dark web, sometimes called the dark net, is the fuel for spy movies. it helped to create WikiLeaks run by the super spy Julian Assange and it allows cyber snitches like Edward Snowden share secret information.

Because the dark net is hidden, and the people that are hiding are doing their best not to be found, knowing the what goes on in the dark can be as mysterious as the name implies. For example one study that claims that nearly half of the sites on the dark net are not doing anything illegal.(6) But a different study that claims that 80% of dark net traffic is related to child abuse and porn sites.(7)

Various names have been used to describe the dark net such as the black internet, to suggest it is the home of online black markets. And the claims of the black internet are supported when a well know online drug black market gets busted. (8)

But does anyone really know what we could find on the dark net? What could you find in your city if you started knocking on doors in dark alleys? Would you want to guess?

Learn more:

Internet and World Wide Web visionaries ponder surviving world war

Who invented the world wide web?

References:

(1) Insider Trading On The Dark Web https://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2014/03/25/insider-trading-on-the-dark-web/

(2) Clearing Up Confusion – Deep Web vs. Dark Web. https://brightplanet.com/2014/03/clearing-confusion-deep-web-vs-dark-web/

(3) The NSA is trying to crack Tor. The State Department is helping pay for it.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2013/10/05/the-nsa-is-trying-to-crack-tor-the-state-department-is-helping-pay-for-it/

(4) WikiLeaks Was Launched With Documents Intercepted From Tor
https://www.wired.com/2010/06/wikileaks-documents/

(5) This is What a Tor Supporter Looks Like: Edward Snowden
https://blog.torproject.org/blog/what-tor-supporter-looks-edward-snowden

(6) Research suggests the dark web is not as dark as we think
http://www.htxt.co.za/2016/11/02/research-suggests-the-dark-web-is-not-as-dark-as-we-think/

(7) Study claims more than 80% of 'dark net' traffic is to child abuse sites
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/dec/31/dark-web-traffic-child-abuse-sites

(8) "End Of The Silk Road: FBI Says It's Busted The Web's Biggest Anonymous Drug Black Market"
https://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2013/10/02/end-of-the-silk-road-fbi-busts-the-webs-biggest-anonymous-drug-black-market/

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Everything you need to know about Ethernet and computer cabling

The concepts of Ethernet and computer network cabling are so full of buzzwords and geek speak. We wanted to break down the jargon into bite sized chunks to help you understand the concepts. 

Everything in computer networking starts at the physical layer, that's where the wires plug into the boxes with blinking lights. Because Ethernet deals with wires at the physical layer, at times Ethernet becomes a generic word for any type of wire associated with a computer network.

We created this section of business success beyond the technology buzzwords at the Guru 42 Universe based on conversations we had with business professionals as well as technology professionals. In discussing technology from the perspective of a business owner or business manager we realize you don't have time to become a network engineer, but we also understand your frustration in understanding all the buzzwords. With those thoughts in mind we created this introductory page on defining the term Ethernet and explaining computer network cabling.

In designing ComputerGuru we break down the topics from the perspective audience of the person asking the questions. At our ComputerGuru site we have the section, Common technology questions and basic computer concepts, which is aimed at the typical home computer user.  

Even a non technical casual user of a personal computer has probably heard of the term Ethernet from time to time.  Likewise, the typical computer user has probably misplaced a piece of wire used to connect their computer and went off in search of a network cable.  As an introduction to Ethernet and computer network cabling we have created the following pages: Ethernet computer network cable frequently asked questions answered and Computer network modular connectors and telephone registered jacks.

The strict technical definition of Ethernet is a physical and data link layer technology for local area networks (LANs). If you want to dig deeper into the technology, in our section targeted to learning computer networking technology we have the section, Basic network concepts and the OSI model explained in simple terms.  In that section The Physical Layer of the OSI model discusses the more technical terms of data communications.  The concept of Ethernet is more than just defining wires and connections, and that is discussed as part of the The Data Link Layer of the OSI model.

Any topics need covered? Any questions missing?

Are there any buzzwords bothering you?  Something else you would like us to cover here at the Guru 42 Universe?  Let us know: Guru 42 on Twitter -|- Guru 42 on Facebook -|- Guru 42 on Google+ -|- Tom Peracchio on Google  

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Why do some people never fail?

The great inventor Thomas Edison is one of the best examples of a successful state of mind. According many popular stories Thomas Edison was asked after several thousand attempts to invent the electric light bulb without success, how he would handle his failure. Edison stated that he had not failed, but rather had produced several thousand outcomes which would lead to success. Several thousand outcomes later Edison successfully produced the electric light bulb, whether consciously or unconsciously, Edison had to program his mind and body to channel his energy into a successful outcome.

A popular myth or a true story?

There are actually two documented variations of a quote by Edison where he downplayed his failures, but focused on his success.

According to Rutgers, Myth Buster: Edison's 10,000 attempts, "The source of the story about Edison trying thousands of experiments or materials is probably an 1890 interview in Harper's Monthly Magazine."

The exact quote by Edison:

"I speak without exaggeration when I say that I have constructed three thousand different theories in connection with the electric light, each one of them reasonable and apparently to be true. Yet only in two cases did my experiments prove the truth of my theory. My chief difficulty, as perhaps you know, was in constructing the carbon filament, the incandescence of which is the source of the light."

The Rutgers article also describes another quote by Edison in a 1910 biography as it relates to Edison's later work on storage batteries.

The book quotes Edison's friend and associate Walter S. Mallory:

"I said: 'Isn't it a shame that with the tremendous amount of work you have done you haven't been able to get any results?' Edison turned on me like a flash, and with a smile replied: 'Results! Why, man, I have gotten lots of results! I know several thousand things that won't work!'"

Edison's legacy was in creating his "invention factory" where Edison used his staff to develop ideas and turn them into patents. Some point to the concept of the invention factory as the reason for his success. Critics say Edison took his invention factory too far, and Edison took credit for any individual creativity by his employees.

How many inventions and innovations made in the name of Apple or Microsoft were not the direct work of Gates or Jobs? How is Edison getting credit for the work of his staff any different that the large number of engineers, designers, and programmers working for Microsoft or Apple, but all we hear about is the success of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?

Edison was a systems thinker and a project manager. Edison took the image of an inventor as one man tinkering alone in a shop and turned it into an industry. He paid workers to conduct numerous tedious experiments so he did not have to do the boring manual tasks himself. I think that is pretty genius.

In our previous article, Why Do Technology Projects Fail? I state that one of the biggest challenges in information technology success is setting proper expectations. The goal is to focus technology conversations on the question, "What exactly is it that you are trying to do?"

Edison was focused on exactly what he wanted to accomplish, he had a specific destination in mind. Edison was focused on a finding an answer to a problem, and he saw each unsuccessful experiment along the way not as a failure, but as one step closer to success.

Failure is an attitude not an outcome

The reason some people never fail, they realize failure is not an outcome, it is a state mind!

 


The Thomas A. Edison Papers of Rutgers University is probably the most reliable source of information on Thomas Edison. See link for complete story Myth Buster: Edison's 10,000 attempts.

Learn more about Thomas Edison at GeekHistory.com:

Thomas Alva Edison prolific inventor and legendary lunatic

You don't need to be a genius to know why Thomas Edison was popular
 

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Internet censorship and net neutrality is not a simple matter

Many people fearful of net neutrality changes look at censorship issues and editorial control of the internet as part of the net neutrality debate. But there have been many proposed laws to control what content is allowed on the internet, and these laws have been for the most part, independent of the net neutrality debate.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is digital rights organization founded in 1990. As one of the oldest and most well established organizations in understanding the interaction of government and technology the EFF put the recent FCC ruling into context.

The EFF states the delicate balance of governments role in net neutrality pretty clearly: "Reclassification under Title II was a necessary step in order to give the FCC the authority it needed to enact net neutrality rules. But now we face the really hard part: making sure the FCC doesn’t abuse its authority."

A 2011 bill in the U.S. Senate bill known as PIPA (PROTECT IP Act) had people excited because it would give the government many powers to control "rogue websites." The 2011 House version of the bill was known as Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The 2011 bill was a follow up to a 2010 bill known as Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), which proposed creating an Internet blacklist of sites Americans weren’t allowed to visit.

Opponents of SOPA and PIPA claimed that requiring search engines to delete domain names violated the First Amendment and could begin a worldwide arms race of unprecedented Internet censorship. There were many protests objecting to more government control of the internet, citing concerns over possible damage to freedom of speech, innovation, and Internet integrity.


Equal Access for Everyone!

One of the issues with internet access is, and probably will be for some time, is the highways are not the same in all parts of the country. But the question becomes one of who will build the larger highways. But this takes time, and who would pay the bill?

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler sings the praises of community broadband, while groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), push the "Municipal Telecommunications Private Industry Safeguards Act" to limit local efforts to create public broadband access.

Why doesn't the government just build us bigger highways on the internet, just like on the roadways? Best argument I have heard so far as the why government should stay out of the ISP business is that the local government are going into debt to fund these projects and the locals don't want to pay the bill, in the form of higher taxes.

Government control is a bad thing?

The same people objecting to more government control of the internet on privacy issues, citing concerns over possible damage to freedom of speech, innovation, and Internet integrity, now ask for net neutrality, which means more government control to make sure all access is equal.

It is not as simple as it sounds.

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How does the internet work explained in simple terms

In its simplest form, the internet is a telecommunications system that allows computers and assorted other devices to communicate with each other using the same communications language, a protocol called TCP/IP, transmission control protocol / internet protocol.

It doesn't matter if the humans using the computers are communicating in English, French, German, or Chinese, the computers are communicating using TCP/IP. That's pretty amazing if you think about it. How many other things are done exactly the same way, everywhere in the world?

I could give a long lecture on all the nuts and bolts, and technical details, but what makes the internet possible is the common language, the protocols, that the computers speak. TCP/IP has spanned across generations of computers, using different operating systems.

To go into a detailed explanation of the geek speak with the concepts of TCP/IP and packet switching, can be confusing for a non technical person. Here at the Guru42 Universe we do what we can to take the geek speak and make it simple. After we cover some of the frequently asked questions answered on how the internet works and its origins, we will point out some links to learn more based on your level of interest.


Why was the Internet invented?

The catalyst for the creation of ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) was the launch of the Russian spy satellite Sputnik in 1957, along with the tensions of the cold war. The goal of ARPA was to address the technology needs of the U.S Department of Defense. ARPA would be the parent of the computer network of the ARPANET.

There are still some people who say that the internet did not evolve from the idea of a network that could survive a catastrophic event. That is a matter of perspective, it definately depends on who you ask. In the 1960s, Paul Baran and the RAND Corporation's "On Distributed Communications" defined the concept of packet switching as an integral part of the new technology that would become the internet. The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit think tank created after World War II to connect military planning with research and development decisions.

According to the RAND website on Paul Baran and the Origins of the Internet: 

"In 1962, a nuclear confrontation seemed imminent. The United States (US) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) were embroiled in the Cuban missile crisis. Both the US and the USSR were in the process of building hair-trigger nuclear ballistic missile systems. Each country pondered post-nuclear attack scenarios."


If you really want to get philosophical on the origins of the concept of the internet and its ties to cold war scenarios, an Atlantic Monthly article in 1945 titled "As We May Think " by Vannevar Bush addressed the aftermath of World War II and was looking at ways to make sure all the scientific data and lessons learned were not lost.

Vannevar Bush outlined the importance of federally funded scientific research and called for a national research foundation in another article published in 1945, "Science-The Endless Frontier." Bush was a pioneer in developing a joint cooperation between the science community and the government.

The internet has been an evolution of ideas over many years, and like the answer to most "who invented it" questions the answers are not always related to one individual at a single point in time.

When was the internet invented?

In the 1960s the vision of a worldwide network of computers by research scientist J.C.R. Licklider would lead to the ARPANET. In the paper “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” published in 1960, Licklider provided a guide for decades of computer research to follow. Larry Roberts, the principal architect of the ARPANET, would give credit to Licklider's vision.

The next phase in the evolution of the Internet would be the work of Bob Kahn and Vinton Cerf during the 1970s to create TCP/IP, the official language of the internet that made the world wide communications possble..

Some people point to September 2, 1969, the date that the first two computers communicated with each other on what would become the ARPANET as the official bith date of the internet. Others say the modern Internet was born on January 1, 1983 when NCP on the ARPANET was replaced by the TCP/IP protocols.

Who owns the Internet?

When I hear the question of "who owns the internet" I think in terms of ideas and ideals, not a collection of wires, silicon, and copper. The wires, the nuts and bolts, have build the internet, but that alone does not represent the internet. The power of the internet is not in the materials we use to build it, but from the ideas and ideals we use to create it. It is a world wide communications system that is far more fault tolerant than anything that came before because of the rules, the protocols, that the world has agreed upon, to create it.

One of the earliest visionaries that talked about a system of information sharing similar to the internet and the world wide web was Vannevar Bush. In 1945 an Atlantic Monthly article written by Bush titled "As We May Think," describes his theoretical machine called a "memex" that would be able to make links between documents. Many people point to "As We May Think" as the earliest published vision of the concept of hypertext. Another Bush article from 1945 entitled, "Science-The Endless Frontier" was equally influential. Bush outlined the importance of federally funded scientific research and called for a national research foundation.

Bush saw that the advancement of science and technology was a joint effort between government, education, and the business world. The creation of the internet was a combination of government funded research done through various universities, with the cooperation of various businesses. Hopefully everyone can remember how the internet was created, and realize no single entity owns it, and that was the point in creating it.

Do you want to learn more?

For a non technical person, to really understand how does the internet work, I would look at the history of the internet, and how it evolved. The Internet we know today was not developed from a single network that simply grew and grew, it was an evolution of many different communications and technology tools coming together.

I have been studying telecommunications and computing since the 1970s and I am fascinated by the many people who have contributed to technology that are unknown to the average person. The internet is especially interesting. Many of the early visionaries who set forth the ideas that became our modern internet were either government scientists, or in many cases, university professors or graduate students using government grants. They were creating a concept, not working on products to sell.

J.C.R. Licklider is sometimes called "Computing's Johnny Appleseed." In the paper “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” published in 1960, Licklider provided a guide for decades of computer research to follow.
J.C.R. Licklider guides 1960s ARPA Vision

In the 1960s, Paul Baran, one of the founding fathers of the internet as a researcher at RAND, developed the concept of packet switching as an integral part of the new technology that would become the internet.
Paul Baran developed packet switching

The old proverb necessity is the mother of invention is illustrated in the ideas of Internet and World Wide Web visionaries J.C.R. Licklider and Vannevar Bush. The difficult scenario that was the catalyst of their visionary ideas was surviving a war. Here is a bit more from my perspective.
Internet and World Wide Web visionaries ponder Surviving world war

For someone who is learning technology, and wants to understand how does the internet work at a much deeper level of geek speak ComputerGuru.net explains basic components of computer networks. Here are two links specific to understanding the core principles of the internet.

Packet switching, an integral part of internet technology and internet history explained in simple terms

The Internet protocol suite commonly known as TCP/IP is a set of communications protocols used for the Internet

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Internet equality and net neutrality explained in simple terms

You hear many people telling us we need to get excited about net neutrality, but beyond the buzzwords in the media, do people understand the concept?

The main issue behind net neutrality is about controlling traffic on the internet highway system.  The internet service providers are commercial businesses that maintain lanes of access to the highway, but they are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.

In December 2010, the Federal Communications Commission approved rules that would forbid internet service providers from blocking or slowing online services, or favor their own services at the expense of smaller rivals.

The aim of the net neutrality sounds good in concept, requiring internet service providers to treat all internet traffic equally.  Where it can become a conflict of interest for companies like Comcast, is that they are a major provider of content, which creates the traffic on the highway,  as well as a large internet service provider, which controls the traffic on the highway.

Comcast owns numerous television networks and movie distribution companies. Comcast could give special treatment, preferred service, to the television networks and movie distribution companies that are owned by Comcast, while giving a lower quality or different class of service to companies that they do not own. For example, Comcast could say all the networks that we own get to use this lane of the highway, which is wider, and never slows down, and all the other guys must use this lane of the highway where the traffic get jammed up or slows down.

What some people fear is that a company like Comcast could create multiple lanes of the highway for internet usage, and charge different rates of service.   Smaller video and audio streaming companies would be at a disadvantage because the people who use their services could be forced to pay more by their ISP to use them on these specially created lanes of the highway.

An analogy to understand net neutrality

The highway system on which we drive our cars is controlled by the government, and is one continuous system that takes us where ever we need to go. Think of the internet in the same way as you do our passenger car highway system.

Just like the passenger car highway system that has different types of vehicles, so does our internet highway system. Think of streaming video on services like NetFlix as a fleet of tractor trailers. Folks using a browser surfing the net would be passenger cars, and someone just sending emails would be like riding a motorcycle.

What if the highway system was owned by numerous corporations who charged you by where you got on the highway, that would be the on ramp that your local company maintained, and they charged you for what type of vehicle you drive, a passenger car, a motorcycle, or a tractor trailer.

Let's expand the analogy, let's say your local neighborhood decided to ban all delivery truck except for one company, or better yet lets say that any deliver truck that was not from the preferred delivery company has to pay an extra fee to enter your neighborhood. Would that be fair to the other delivery trucks?

It doesn't matter if the delivery trucks are delivering emails or web pages, it is not about what they are delivering, it is about the traffic. Trucks delivering streaming audio and video would be coming in and out of your neighbor more often than trucks delivering emails or web pages, because streaming audio and video requires more "packages" of information.

The aim of the Net Neutrality laws is to create a system where all traffic on the highway is treated equally.

What's the problem with net neutrality?

The highways are not the same in all parts of the country. What if you lived in an area where there were only two lane highways, and you drove a passenger car. Would you be bothered if everyone else on the highway was a tractor trailer?

How would you handle the complaints of the passenger car owners against the tractor trailer owners? Would you limit the amount of tractor trailer on the highway?  This would be the equivalent of throttling the bandwidth of certain providers that offer streaming video.

The other approach to the problem is to force the local company to build larger highways. But this takes time, and who would pay the bill?

Like any type of public utility, there has to be some type of regulation so the companies play well together. But you need to be careful with regulation, as the concept of the internet is the ultimate in free enterprise and no government dependency.

The history behind net neutrality

The control of the use of the internet will always be a battleground in the United States. It is very similar to the history of radio, the first form of mass communications.  Since the very beginning of radio, the U.S. government has tried to control radio.  The U.S. Government seized control of radio for the "good of the country" during WWI and seized all amateur radio.  After WWI the government created the monopoly called the "Radio Trust" to manage  the use of radio. The company RCA was basically a government created monopoly for the control of radio patents. 

The FCC was later created to manage radio as it became more and more commercial. Although much has changed since 1934, a lot of the argument now going on regarding net neutrality is based on the premise of the Communications Act of 1934, in that the FCC has the power to manage internet access in the same way they have been managing telephone and radio since 1934.

What started the modern day ruckus was a complaint filed against the Comcast in 2007 by some customers claiming that Comcast was interfering with their use of peer-to-peer networking applications.  The FCC ruled that Comcast's method of bandwidth management breached federal policy.

The most recent ruling establishing so called net neutrality was in December 2010, the Federal Communications Commission approved rules that would forbid internet service providers from blocking or slowing online services, or favor their own services at the expense of smaller rivals.  The FCC has been in control of the American telecommunications highway system for many years, and so far has be able to maintain the status quo of net neutrality,

How do you regulate chaos?

The concept on which the internet was conceived was to create a network where no single entity had complete control over it. It was designed to survive the next world war. In a world of chaos, if no one is in charge, the system, in this case the internet, is unaffected.

As the amount of traffic on this highway we call the internet continues to increase, the battle to control it and regulate heats up.  The political and economic questions net neutrality raises are not always easy to answer.

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Business success beyond the technology buzzwords

When I asked the question "What do you hate about technology?" the buzzwords of the fan boys came up often.

Buzzwords often derive from technical terms yet often have much of the original technical meaning removed, being simply used to impress others. Buzzwords make me tired. There are so many self proclaimed "experts" that show their alleged superior knowledge by using buzzwords to describe some technology product or feature. Here are some of my most hated buzzwords in the field of technology.

Cloud computing

The phrase "cloud computing" is one of the most obnoxious overused terms in modern technology geek speak. Simply put, the cloud is just the internet. It's when a bunch of computers get networked together and you can access that network from anywhere. Storing data in "the cloud" just means it's available online so you can get it on multiple devices that have access to the internet.

For a few decades, there was the power to the people, with more and more "work" done locally on the computer in front of you, and more files stored on local serve. Computer networks became decentralized.

After technology department spent great sums on money on preparing for Y2K, when the Year 2000 and the dreaded Millennium bug was feared to crash all our computer networks, many cost cutting programs were put in place. Many financially strapped IT departments looked at how to save money, and things started moving away from a very decentralized model to a more centralized model. As technology improved, and strategies such as virtualization evolved, the need for servers scattered throughout an enterprise were moved to smaller but more power devices at a central location.

Now comes the next step in the evolution, those servers at my location are moving to "the cloud." That simply means even larger more powerful devices at a central location shared not only by my enterprise, but by many others.,

The cloud offers the "security" of my information stored on a super secure server that I don't have to worry about. It offers me, as in the local IT department. less worries because someone else maintains the server so that is less I need to worry about, correct? Well, maybe.

Less worries, less need for the local IT department right? So what happens now if the "network goes down" as in we lose an internet connection? No one can do any work. That's progress, back to the future with a the issues we had with a centralized model. Perhaps, in some ways. Companies that went into cloud are now thinking about a hybrid model with a mix of cloud based solutions with some type of local backup. Go figure.

What is the current version of the World Wide Web?

Surfing through various business and technology forums I find people talking about what will be new in Web 3.0 or Web 4.0. The question of defining World Wide Web versions is meaningless because there is no standard definition for terms like Web 3.0.

The term Web 2.0 became popular in 2004 when Tim O'Reilly used it at the first O'Reilly Media Web 2.0 Conference. The conference was organized by O'Reilly Media, a media company established by Tim O'Reilly that publishes books and websites. It was a buzzword created by a media company used to promote a media event.

One of my favorite quotes on Web 2.0 came from Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Consortium and one of the creators of HTML. When asked about Web 2.0 when that buzzword came out, Tim Berners-Lee's answer to Web 2.0 was “nobody even knows what it means.”

How good is your 4G network?

When the buzzword "4G" started being used in commercials by cell phone carriers, I wrote a few articles explaining it. I noted that the 4G working group defined one of the objectives of the 4G wireless communication standard as "a data rate of at least 100 Mbps between any two points in the world." Verizon was boasting "4G LTE" with speeds "up to 12 Mbps." Other carriers started jumping on the "4G" bandwagon with speeds in the 10 Mbps range, not near the original goal of 4G, which was to be 100 Mbps.

In 2010, Verizon 4G LTE stated speeds, (that were published on Verizon's website), are up to 12 Mbps. That is not a guarantee of 12 Mbps, just that the best possible speed is 12 Mbps. Doing some follow up research, 5 years later, I went to Verizon's website. It took me some searching to find it, but I found that they define 4G as follows: "Verizon 4G LTE wireless broadband is 10 times faster than 3G—able to handle download speeds between 5 and 12 Mbps (Megabits per second) and upload speeds between 2 and 5 Mbps, with peak download speeds approaching 50 Mbps."

That's pretty fuzzy math, anywhere from 2 to 50 Mbps. They have only slightly modified what they call 4G, and 5 years later they still have not reached the original goal of 4g, which was to be 100 Mbps.

The talk has begun on the next generation 5G network, so what does that mean? The short answer is that 5G has yet to be defined. The problem with terms like 4G and 5G is that they become marketing buzzwords rather than technical specifications. The terms 4G and 5G simply mean 4th generation, 5th generation, no real significance beyond that.

Geek speak made simple

The Guru 42 Universe was created to stretch your mind beyond the buzzwords to help you achieve business success. In our world today, and especially in technology, acronyms and geek speak are sometimes hard to avoid. There are times that having a meaningful discussion requires breaking topics down to simple terms.

This section of the Guru 42 Universe will look at some of the buzzwords, and apply our goal of geek speak made simple to various technology topics. Sometimes buzzwords take a concept that already exists and dress it up a bit.

While many people complain about the buzzwords of the fanboys, what can even more frustrating is when the buzzwords used by sales and marketing people. The experts like to make a product sound more up to date and in tune with the trends. Who wouldn't want to be ready for the internet if things and be cloud compliant? In discussion groups, and web site profiles, the bombardment to the brain of massive doses of this jargon makes me want to scream.

Stay on top of business success beyond the technology buzzwords by following our articles here at the Guru 42 Universe. Father of our Constitution James Madison is quoted as saying, "Philosophy is common sense with big words." Madison would probably agree with me on my rants about buzzwords, they are often big words to describe common sense issues.

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The System Administrator and successful technology integration

Understanding the differences between the System Administrator and the Power User is essential to successful technology integration.

I've heard the complaints over the years about the evil power mongers known as sysadmins. I've read many articles complaining about company IT departments that unfairly lock down workstations so users can't install software.  The articles are often written by disgruntled power users wondering why they have the latest and greatest applications at home, but work for companies that force employees to use clunky programs.

This series on technology management helps business professionals to better understand technology management in a business network. It also hopes to give the average network user an appreciation of the reasons behind the decisions made in managing the business computer network.

The Systems Administrator

On a small to mid size network there may be little, if any, distinction between a systems administrator and a network administrator. The tasks may all be the responsibility of a single post. As the size of the network grows, the distinction between the areas will become more well defined.

In larger organizations the administrator level technology personnel typically are not the first line of support that works with end users, but rather only work on break and fix issues that could not be resolved at the lower levels.

Network administrators are responsible for making sure computer hardware and the network infrastructure are maintained properly. The typical systems administrator, or sysadmin, leans towards the applications (software) and OS (Operating System) side of things.  Systems administrators install software releases, upgrades, and patches, resolve software related problems and performs system backups and recovery.

The Power User

A power user is typically someone who has above average experience with computers and utilizes many advanced features of applications. They may also have experience with multiple computer platforms as well, such as Linux or Mac, in addition to Windows.  The tech savvy power user, who is used to tinkering with applications on a home network, often becomes frustrated when forced to use computers or applications at work that are slower and older than the computers they use at home.

Don't confuse the term power user here with the "Power Users" group on older versions of Microsoft Windows, which attempted to define a system that gives more permissions than a normal restricted user, but stops short of Administrator permissions.  The Windows Power User group has been dropped in more recent versions of Windows. I guess even Microsoft realized that trying to put a definition on power user was a difficult proposition.

Can you see the forest for the trees?

The power user sees the tree. They focus on how much can they do with a single computer. Power users will often compare the speed of using their Mac or Linux based computer at home, and wonder why they can't use their personal non Windows based computers at work.

The power often looks at troubleshooting network problems in the context of their home network of three computers.

The system administrator sees the forest. They focus on how well the computers work together as a system. An application that works well at home on your personal computer has to work well as part of a team of computers, communicating, sharing files between a large number of users.

The system administrator deals with troubleshooting network problems in the context of dozens, or even hundreds of computers using a network resource on a continuous basis. Every action they take is in the context of how it will effect many users.

The answer to simple network management is not the most popular

Unfortunately there is often tension between computer users and IT departments in the workplace. System administrators are demonized for unpopular choices in workplace technology beyond their control.

System administrators are under management pressure to contain costs. While many users wonder what is the harm in installing free software, cutting costs does not always mean replacing expensive software with open source software or freeware. 

Sysadmins need to understand the behavior of software and tasks performed by the software in order to deploy it and to troubleshoot problems. Compatibility problems constantly pop up, and problems with having untrained users sharing files between types of software can create time consuming training issues.

System administrators are often limited in terms of time and resources.  Often a business uses a core piece of software that dictates or limits what operating system can be used, and at times prevents upgrades to more modern operating systems or web browsers.

Writing about technology has given me the opportunity to address many questions heard over the years, and hopefully create a better understanding of technology issues from various points of view

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Technology Management and the Gilligan's Island Syndrome

Some people are constantly worried about making the right technology decision. They are always looking for the right time to buy technology, and for them, now is never the right time. They worry that price drops are just around the corner. They worry that new technology will make their new tools obsolete too soon.

Technology is a fast paced business, price drops are always around the corner, and new tools that make your purchase obsolete are inevitable. Don't  let fear of making a bad decision slow you down, or prevent you from making a decision.

Refusal to accept basic assumptions

Everything we do is assuming something, like when we drive, we assume the car coming at us won't swerve and crash into us, your monitor you are looking at won't explode in your face, the food you eat isn't poisoned, the person next to you in Wal-Mart won't stab you. Everything we do starts with a basic assumption.

The world is full of experts that self proclaim themselves as masters in some area of technology simply because they use a buzzword to describe some technology product or feature. But there also comes a point in time when you need to seek out someone you can trust, someone who understands your needs and your situation.

I have worked on both sides of the fence, as service technician and technology consultant representing a service provider, as well as a technology specialist and systems administrator servicing a network. In the pages of the Guru 42 Universe we do what we can to help you look at things from different perspectives to better understand and appreciate how things work in the world of technology.

As a service technician or technology consultant representing a service provider, you sometimes run into clients who ask for help, but refuse to accept advice you have to offer.

It is natural for us to get angry at others when they make an assumption that results in our inconvenience, but we have to remember everything we do is based on an assumption of some sort. Unless I have reason to believe otherwise, I assume that someone is acting in good faith. Keep in mind that these remarks are coming from someone who is often called cynical.

Open source projects, such as Wikipedia are based on the fundamental principle of "assume good faith." Wikipedia states the importance of the principal as follows, "In letting anyone edit, we must believe that most people who work on the project are trying to help it, not hurt it. If this was not true, a project like Wikipedia would not work."

The refusal to accept a basic premise and the need to gather more data beyond a reasonable means leads to various states of mental anguish for management


The Gilligan's Island Syndrome

The premise of the 1960's television sitcom "Gilligan's Island" is a charter boat is on a "three-hour tour" and runs into a tropical storm and gets shipwrecked on an uncharted island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. What was meant to be a "three-hour tour" turns into a life long adventure.

In the business world many companies suffer from "The Gilligan's Island Syndrome." That is when a decision that should take three hours, turns into a life long adventure. The "Gilligan's Island" television sitcom was a funny show, and was of course, fictional. For many businesses, "The Gilligan's Island Syndrome" is very real, and very sad.

Paralysis by Analysis

A mental affliction which sometimes develops in an individual after prolonged exposure to the "The Gilligan's Island Syndrome" is "Paralysis by Analysis." This affliction is characterized by the constant need for information in any and all decision making.

Sadly enough "Paralysis by Analysis" becomes the negative mechanism for justifying no action being taken, under the misguided philosophy that you can't make a wrong decision if you make no decision.

There's a big difference between going with the flow and being too paralyzed to go anywhere. It is fine to gather information, but true leadership is about being decisive, coming up with a firm decision and sticking with it.

Wasting time

I have many personal stories of The Gilligan's Island Syndrome and Paralysis by Analysis from working in the business world as well as from the realms of schools and government. Many times the over analysis is done in the name of saving money. So a person is tasked with spending days to find the lowest of a product or service. Even if you forget for a minute that the lowest cost is not always the best value over time, how can you justify a significant amount of time used to analyze a purchase in order to save a few dollars.

Once a minute is wasted, there is no way to re-live it, no one to borrow it from. Time is more valuable than money, use it wisely.

Many times the over analysis is done in the name of saving money. So a person is tasked with spending days to find the lost of a product or service. Let us forget for a minute that the lowest cost is not always the best value over time. Often a significant amount of time is used to analyze a purchase in order to save a few dollars.

Wasting time can be far more devastating than wasting money. Wasting time almost always directly relates to a waste of money.

Think about it. But don't take too long. True leaders have the ability to make decisions quickly and effectively.
 



"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." — Albert Einstein

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Why Do Technology Projects Fail?

Our goal in writing the "Beyond Great Ideas and Good Intentions" series of business lessons and lectures was to look at the mindset that creates success. In the process of identifying challenges in information technology success it is equally important to take a look at the attitudes that cause negative results and the perceptions of failure. 

I was closely following a major system upgrade in an online forum where end users were voicing their frustrations over a project that was bringing workflow to a standstill. The end users saw an application that was "just working fine" before the upgrade. With the upgrade underway end users were screaming about a technology support department that was not keeping up with resolving problems.

One of the end users stated that the changes made "were probably because of those IT types that want something new to tinker with." I was not an employee of the technology department making the changes, but as an outside observer with a fair understanding of the software involved, I had some good ideas of what was happening. The end users were speculating on the reasons for the changes because management was not addressing many of the issues they were facing.

Very often those "IT types" do not have the ultimate say in what gets implemented and when. I can say that with certainty from first hand experience from working in many different areas of technology. It is really frustrating to see remarks from end users unhappy with changes that are often beyond the control of the IT department. I really felt bad for the IT department that was caught in the cross fire between a mob of angry end users frustrated with a sea of problems and an overly ambitious management releasing untested bleeding edge technology that was not willing to address the issues.

The Perils of Project Management by Committee

For many IT Managers, there too many cooks in the kitchen telling them what kind of soup to cook. How would you like to be responsible for cooking the soup, and not even being allowed to shop for your own ingredients?

In many cases choices are influenced by non technical departments and the decisions are based on some form of committee not controlled by the technology department.

As the old joke goes, if a camel were designed by a committee it would have 12 humps.

Blame Everything on the IT Department

As someone who has been in the technology field for many years, I will tell you point blank, seasoned IT professionals do NOT want something new to tinker with when it comes to a production network or system. Seasoned IT professionals err on the side of caution when it comes to adding something new or changing anything. We understand that change, any kind of change that has an impact on end users, will create headaches.

The personal anecdotes in this section on the quest for business success are based on a long and diversified career helping a variety of business people integrate technology into their business. Sadly, I have seen first hand many technology decisions made for reasons other than technology.

When things don't turn out as expected, the IT department takes the blame.

Expectations and responsibility

In a recent forum post on the internet a person posted that they are looking for a piece of business software with "everything into one program."

If you are a small business shopping for some software, first thing you need to do is define "everything." Starting on a piece of paper, write down your thoughts. Start your technology planning as a list of tasks. You are going to need to break down you question into individual tasks.

People end up being very disappointed and even angry when they actually start to work with technology because it isn't what they thought it would be. It is good to set expectations first because you may be surprised as to things you can do.

There is not a one size fits all solution, and there is not a one application does all answer. Once you have a list of tasks, you can start shopping for software. Once you understand all the things you want to do, you can now start shopping for solutions with a new set of questions in mind.

Why Do Technology Projects Fail?

As a technology coordinator and systems administrator I try to focus technology conversations on the question, "What exactly is it that you are trying to do?"

One of the biggest challenges in information technology success is setting proper expectations for its use. Going back to my experiences with the introduction of microcomputers to schools and businesses in the early 1980s, I saw many instances where computers were installed without clear goals for their use.

A popular expression is that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. We address that theme in various ways throughout the Guru 42 Universe. In some of the articles that follow we address the unfortunate stereotypes of technology professionals created by self proclaimed tech-savvy users.

The ability to drive a car does not make you an automotive expert. That analogy holds true as the use of technology has become mainstream, creating a world is full of "experts" that self proclaim themselves as masters in some area of technology simply because they know a buzzword to describe some technology product or feature.

As a business manager you have the expectation of having the tools available to you whenever you need them. Technology is a tool that can help solve many problems. Even the casual end user of technology for entertainment or communication purposes has the expectation to have their toys available to them. Losing access to our geek tools and toys is a major cause of concern because everyone has become so dependent on technology.

Business owners and managers have the responsibility of working with professional geeks such as system administrators to provide them with the tools and support they need to deal with global infrastructure headaches and constant security threats. End users have the responsibility of understanding the goals of the system administrators and supporting them by following the rules and not adding to the issues that can create problems.

 


“If you don't know where you are going any road can take you there” .. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

 

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