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Updates to Pen&Camera (2006)
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December 2006

Last Story of the Year for Dice (December 28, 2006)
My last story of the year runs today for Dice, on mastering Agile (that is, very rapid) development practices.

Seasonal coffeeHoliday Onslaught Underway
(December 12, 2006)
No site updates recently: The annual holiday onslaught (a.k.a. the fourth-quarter crunch) is underway. Fueled by caffeine (exhibit at right) and holiday music, I'm completing a number of projects, including several corporate white papers, plus stories due to be published early in 2007. I hope to update the site soon, and to also upload new photographs.

Meanwhile, I'm also helping put the finishing touches on the Nielsen Norman Group's Design Annual 2007. Look for it soon.

October 2006

KeyboardTwo New Dice Stories (October 1, 2006)
I posted links to my latest two stories for technology jobs board Dice.com. The first, "Wikis at Work," details how businesses are increasingly relying on wikis for easy, rapid collaboration.

Meanwhile "Requirements Management to the Rescue" discusses how the the requirements management discipline helps deliver projects—in this case, software projects—on time, on budget, and tailored to users’ real needs.

September 2006

Mobile Phone Warnings in the London Times (September 7, 2006)
Today, The Times (of London) runs my story about how "The mobile phone never forgets." Before giving your phone away or selling it on eBay, don't underestimate the difficulty of removing all personal information — contacts, texts (SMS), emails, photos, and so on. Likewise, buyers may find more than they bargained for when purchasing a second-hand mobile/cell phone.

My New Web Host: Faster Site, Room to Burn (September 4, 2006)
Some behind-the-scenes changes: After five years with my current provider, I've switched to a new company, 1&1.com, to host the online space for this site. What you should notice: nothing except faster page-loading times.

I've been considering switching for quite some time, ever since I interviewed 1&1's CEO for a story on Web hosting ("The Battle Grows Beyond Low Prices"). I was impressed by his business and technology acumen, as well as all of the available, and mostly just included, options.

Not to "geek out," but comparing my old and new hosting services, I've got:

  • More space: 50 GB of online space instead of 50 MB; creating more photo galleries now is easier with relatively unlimited space
  • No price difference: monthly fees are the same
  • A noticeably faster site
  • Lots of included options, such as the ability to just point another one of my domains, www.mathewschwartz.com to this site
  • A really slick, Web-based interface to manage the site, and excellent, clearly written downloadable manuals and Web-based tutorials

Fingers crossed everything keeps working this well.

August 2006

Five Years of Enterprise Systems (August 29, 2006)
My last regular story for Enterprise Systems Journal (ESJ), "Security and SOX: Are CIOs Missing the Boat?" runs today. I'm passing the baton to focus on other opportunities, and to sample life with fewer weekly deadlines. That said, I've had a great, five-year run with ESJ, first authoring monthly columns, and then filing 2–3 news stories per week on information security topics for ESJ's various incarnations, including the former print publication and the current website and newsletters, as well as serving as Contributing Editor.

Paris Graffiti Photo Gallery Overhaul (August 28, 2006)
This has been a long time coming: I've switched to new Web gallery software. For five years, I haven't had a standard approach, and so balanced an outdated, cumbersome, PHP-driven Web gallery, with ad hoc exhibits generated on my computer and uploaded via FTP.

The long and short of all this was an ugly, inconsistent photo gallery interface, and painful (hence infrequent) updating capabilities. Now, however, my new photo gallery centralizes all of my photos, with a suave interface to boot. (Thanks to the free Web software making it happen: Singapore.)

The update presages my move from a hosting provider offering 50 MB of Web space, to one offering 50 GB for the same price, meaning I no longer need to account for every bit or byte I upload.

Contributing to Dice (August 15, 2006)
I've begun contributing stories to the largest tech-focused jobs board online, Dice.com. Stories let me indulge my techie leanings; they're aimed, perhaps predictably, at technology workers in the trenches, and tackle such topics as what to expect from Vista, Microsoft's upcoming next-generation Windows operating system; management tips for information technology (IT) tech workers looking to advance their careers; and all about AJAX, a hot new Web application development paradigm.

July 2006

Entertainment Weekly Cover (June 30/July7, 2006)Photo in Entertainment Weekly (July 1, 2006)
Entertainment Weekly drops a double-issue this week (June 30/July 7 issue) with a guide to all things summer. (Cue Jessica Alba on the cover.)

Cover: Confessions of a Memory Eater (Pagan Kennedy, Leapfrog, 2006)Kicking off the "Must Read" section (page 164) is a review of Pagan Kennedy's latest work of fiction, Confessions of a Memory Eater. (You can buy the book at Amazon.com, or read more about it on Pagan's site.) EW ran one of my author photographs of Pagan to accompany the review.

June 2006

Five Stories This Week (June 23, 2006)
Productivity is always fun. Five of my stories stories have run since Monday, including a feature on using Ajax to develop Web applications for Dice.com, a technology job boards site. It's my first article for them. Also of interest is a story for SearchSecurity.com about moves toward minimum-quality guarantees for antivirus software signatures.

Making Computer Code Secure (June 14, 2006)
Things have been a bit busy lately, but I added links to two new stories in Enterprise Systems, including one on the quest to write secure code. Lots of new stories are on the way.

In other news , I'm co-authoring a forthcoming report from Nielsen Norman Group on intranet information architectures (IAs), and we're looking for good IAs. What's in it for you: a free report, not to mention publicity for your company. Hope you can participate.

April 2006

Tracking Microsoft Vista Security (April 18, 2006)
Small site changes: Updated my archives with the links to my latest stories, including a feature on expected security features in Vista, Microsoft's next-generation operating system. (It's due to be released at the end of the year for large companies, and early next year for consumers.)

Switching gears: If you know a doctor working in a hospital, chances are he or she totes a small PDA/cell phone containing patient data. Securing that data, however, can be a challenge. That's the basis for a case study about how one hospital is tackling mobile device security.

March 2006

Fodor's Guide to the Da Vinci Code (cover art)Fodor's Guide to The Da Vinci Code (March 28, 2006)
Just released today: Fodor's Guide to The Da Vinci Code (On the Trail of the Bestselling Novel). This engaging, full-color guide profiles the locations, people, historic events, and symbols featured in the novel.

The guide kicks off with three of my essays: profiles of the Paris Ritz (where the novel begins), the hotel's Hemingway Bar, plus the Police Judiciaire, the real-life French law enforcement agency which employs Bezu Fache, the novel's fictional inspector. And while DVC was the inspiration, I'll just say we made a show of controlling our adverbs.

Order a copy from the Fodor's/Random House site.

You can also read the "Travel guide speaks in 'Code'" profile in USA Today.

In related news, Fodor's publisher, Random House, also publishes The Da Vinci Code, and today it issued—not coincidentally—the first U.S. paperback edition of the novel, which I hear is selling at a crazy pace.

February 2006

Secrètes de Paris, and Naughty Paris (February 14, 2005)
Here's to two new blogs kicked off by fellow freelancer and current Paris resident Heather Stimmler-Hall:

  • Secrètes de Paris is the blog version of her well-known, monthly "Secrets of Paris" newsletter, a compendium of interesting happenings, restaurant adventures, and more in Paris. It's an excellent resource to consult before visiting (or whenever you want a Paris fix).
  • On the more mature front, Naughty Paris (A Good Girl's Guide to Being Bad in the City of Light), inhabits the City of Light at night. Until the (forthcoming) print guide is available, revel in the blog.

Crawling for Spyware (February 14, 2006)
Updated the site with links to two new security stories, including "Crawling the Internet to Find and Stop Spyware," which details University of Washington researchers' efforts to better understand where spyware lives on the Internet, and the likelihood of it infecting an average user. Unfortunately, they found, spyware is a significant threat to all users. Yet avoiding certain types of websites greatly lessons users' chances of infection.

Only the Green Die Young (February 1, 2006)

Wicked book cover

Still not Kansas: I’m only 10 years and one musical adaptation behind on this, but my in-flight Paris–Amsterdam–Boston reading, finished off since my Northwest A330’s entertainment system went black for my seat, was Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, a subversive, thoroughly engaging re envisioning of Wizard of Oz. Everything you know—or thought you knew—about the well-known story (which I now remember more from the Technicolor film than Baum’s books) does connect in the end with the events in Wicked, but not before it all gets turned upside down. Dare I mention the saga of Oz college life, the animal-liberation agitators, or everything you ever wanted to know about making monkeys fly? A wonderful mind bend. Now on to the sequel, Son of a Witch.

You’re not in Paris anymore, either: While we’re on the same meme, I left the City of Lights yesterday in a cold, crisp dawn. First, however, I set the espresso pot on the stove, and procured one last pain au chocolat and roulade au chocolate (a filled custard and chocolate chip pastry sleeve, sometimes known as a pain au suisse) from the boulangerie next to the apartment I’d been inhabiting on rue Montmartre, in the 1st arrondissement. Outdoors, the early hour, street lights, fog and general lack of light—Paris is quite far west in the Central European time zone—made it look more like the Paris I know from the photographs of Robert Doisneau or Willy Ronis. Maybe what I thought were night photographs, were early morning snaps? Unfortunately for my photo work I wasn’t privy to such insights until the last day.

Boston's Silver LineRiding the Silver Line: As always, leaving France means an abrupt change wherever else you go, though the transition was especially dramatic with a landing in a gray, icy fog at Boston’s Logan Airport, then getting pelted with sleet while waiting for the Silver Line bus pickup.

The Silver line is a relatively new part of the Boston transportation system—the T—which relies on buses and underground tunnels. It’s a vast, vast improvement over the previous method of reaching the airport via T, which inevitably involved about three different line changes, lots of waiting, and too many stairs, before ending up at the airport T station, and then catching a bus to your terminal.

By contrast, the Silver line is a bus that leaves from South Station, on the T’s red line (also where Amtrak and commuter rails arrive), and drops you directly at your terminal. The underground tunnels let it avoid almost all traffic. And that's all for the normal price of the T, which is currently $1.25. Which isn’t bad, though since it was 85¢ when I moved to France in mid–2003, it still surprises me.

Amoureux de la ColonneBastille, Paris, 1957 (Willy Ronis)
Amoureux de la Colonne Bastille,
Paris, 1957
(Willy Ronis)

Willy Ronis who? Yes, as mentioned above in the same sentence as Robert Doisneau, Ronis is a well-known photographer, at least in France. My photography history education being somewhat spotty (beyond the obvious Mathew Brady thing), I didn’t know about Ronis, and hadn’t heard anything about the exhibit or seen it profiled in Zurban. Over several days, however, I repeatedly noticed a long queue for the retrospective, held at the Hotel de Ville across the street from the BHV department store on Rivoli (where I perhaps made several trips).

Do people queue for anything that’s free? Perhaps, but the photograph used on the exhibition poster was so engaging, and I had time on my hands, so I eventually lined up too, despite the cold temperatures and bitter gusts. Guards let in small groups of people as others exited, and inside—after clearing the bag x-ray, and metal detectors (de rigueur for government buildings) was an excellent Ronis retrospective, commissioned on the occasion of his 90th birthday. He's especially good at Parisian street scenes, always a fun genre, and the photographs span quite a few years, from before World War II, to more recent work. (Ronis helped curate the exhibit, though after a final series of nudes, he's reportedly stopped shooting.)

River Seine and
the City of Paris
(Peter Turnley)

The shot on the exhibit poster that really caught my eye is taken from the top of the Colonne de Juillet monument in Bastille (which commemorates the revolutionary victims of the three-day 1830 uprising that overthrew Charles X's monarchy). I’d love to get access to the monument some day, camera in hand. I have my suspicions that’s where "River Seine and the City of Paris," a quite well-known Paris photograph (at right) by Peter Turnley—an American living in Paris who's also an expert in Parisian street photography—was taken, a question I’ve been pondering for some time. (Helicopter shot? Quite tall apartment building? Crane? The list of theoretical possibilities ran on, the more I got to know Paris.) On a related note, my most recent sighting of Turnley’s photograph was yesterday in a Charles De Gaulle airport terminal 2 departure lounge café.

(The Willy Ronis retrospective is open Monday–Saturday from 10am to 7pm at Salon d'accueil, Hotel de Ville, 29 rue de Rivoli, in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, just until February 18, 2006.)

January 2006

The Future of Endpoint Security (January 31, 2006)
Today, Enterprise Systems runs two security stories I wrote. The first, "The Shape of Endpoint Security to Come," covers the topic of, yes, endpoint security. There's a lot of hype around the movement, with seemingly everything information-security related getting the "endpoint security" label recently.

Meanwhile my second story, "Spinning Can-Spam," dissects the effectiveness of the CAN-SPAM law (meant to stem spam). The Federal Trade Commission says the law is working. Many experts, however, disagree.

Ten Best Intranets of 2006 (January 23, 2006)
Released today, the "Ten Best Intranets of 2006" report from Nielsen Norman Group reviews the designs and usability of the world's ten best intranets for 2006. This year, we saw increased use of multimedia, e-learning, internal blogs, and mobile access. Winning companies also encouraged consistent design by emphasizing training for content contributors.

Here are the ten best-designed intranets for 2006:

  • Allianz Australia Insurance, Australia
  • ALTANA Pharma AG, Germany
  • Bank of Ireland Group, Ireland
  • Capital One, USA
  • IBM, USA
  • Merrill Lynch, USA
  • METRO Group, Germany
  • O2, UK
  • Staples, USA
  • Vodafone, UK

The report, which I co-authored with Kara Pernice Coyne and Jakob Nielsen, clocks in at 287 pages, and includes 193 screenshots. Jakob's current Alertbox rounds up more report findings, and you can also purchase a copy of the report.

Cafe Etienne tickéGreetings from Paris (January 22, 2006)
It's good to be back. After moving from France to the Boston area four months ago, I'm back in Paris now through the end of January, watching my friends' flat in the first arrondissement while they're on their annual January ski vacation (a French tradition). Or at least that's a pretty good excuse for being here.

Since living day-to-day in this part of the city (smack dab in the center) is new to me, I have in hand a list of their favorite, local boulangeries, chocolatier, source for mâgret (duck breast) and chicken, wine store, vegetable markets, butcher, patisserie, fromâge, and so on. Half the fun of living here is not only the wonderful food you find in the restaurants, but also the ability to find and cook with such incredibly fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables.

Of course it being Sunday, just about everything is closed. Tomorrow too. So full marché shopping and cooking-at-home festivities commence Tuesday.

Happy New Year (January 10, 2006)
As 2006 starts, I have no radical changes to report for the site, though I do intend to get more updated photographs onto the site as soon as possible.

With a late-month trip back to Paris coming up, I'm also hoping to update my Paris photos and generate a few new stories from there.

More: 2005 Updates


Mathew Schwartz
Mat@PenandCamera.com