News items, current events, of general interest

Something is different...

Well, it was about time to rebrand the site... so what do you think of the new facelift?

It was somewhat accidental... I wanted to upgrade to Drupal 5.1, but when I tested my custom template, it wasn't compatable! So I decided to switch to a new template. I like this one better anyway... the blues match with my company's colors.

Of course, nobody knows that because Bezzotech.com has yet to launch! Any free time I get, I try to spend blogging. Its hard to make time for yet another web site... especially when it hasn't been that essential to drumming up new business.

I'm still working out a few kinks with the comments and captcha modules, but I should have this puppy back to normal by tomorrow.

Sorry for the Down Time...

Sorry for the down time, folks. A RAID Controller went haywire at my hosting company, and they had to restore from backups. Then there were the inevitable glitches after that as they tried to get everything running.

It seems OK for now, so I'll be getting the older blog posts up as I find time.

I did lose a great deal of data from my Amazon sales rank analysis... other than that, we should be back to normal.

Comments Disabled For A Bit

Due to some recent comments spam, I've disabled comments for a while. I guess I need to come up with a better captcha than "What is 3 plus 4".

Some Britney Spears ring tone peddler bypassed that Fort Knox and tried to spam me back to the dark ages.

Drupal has a nice captcha module, but I haven't had time to install or test it... perhaps tonight.

London, Baby!

Sorry teeming millions... I haven't blogged lately because I've been working on my very first contract gig in London.

Woo hoo! London in January! Rain! Clouds! Yobs! Now I know heaven.

Travel tip: if you fly to Europe for a 3 week trip, be sure to spread out your shirts, shoes, socks, etc. in two bags. That way, when British Airlines decides to send one of them to Detroit, you will be not have to purchase new clothing while naked.

I tried to follow that advice... except all I had for footwear was a brand new pair of black dress shoes. My broken in pair was abandoned by the airline in Motown (along with my hair gel).

I believe I was able to walk a half a mile in them before the blisters set in.

I'll be pretty busy for a few days yet; but I hope to blog again soon...

Self Employed Day 1: Caught the Flu

Isn't it always the case... the first sick day I need in a year and a half... and guess what? I'm unemployed!

Grrr...

Oh well... Herbal tea is much cheaper than a doctor's visit. I got some Gypsy Cold Care and some Elderberry Ecinacia. No clue if they help, but I'm feeling much better.

Plus I'm a little weary of the anti-virals that the doctors use for the flu. They don't seem to work on me. They make my arm go numb for a whole day. The first time I got a flu shot, I caught 2 flus within a month. The next time, I caught a flu within a week!

I don't know if its full-blown quackery, or somebody sneezed on the syringe... But I'll wait till they get the kinks out of the system before I do it again!

Corporate Corruption A Big Problem

The BBC recently reported on some interesting trends on corporate corruption. This study asked how frequently people lost business because the competition offered a bribe. In Hong Kong, 76% of people claim to have lost a contract because the competition offer a bribe. In Brazil is was 42%. In the UK, it was 22%. And 32% of people believe the problem is getting worse.

Hmmm... I don't think this is the most reliable metric... What's to stop a lousy salesman to say, "yeah, the deal was going along great, until the competition plunked two bags of money at their feet."

The standard metric is the 2005 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), which is also worth a peek if doing business abroad.

Another corruption index, which I liked a lot, was reported in the Atlantic Monthly recently... This one simply measured how many unpaid parking tickets that United Nations diplomats have.

Because of diplomatic immunity, diplomats from other countries do not have to pay parking tickets. However, its a simple nicety to either not park illegally, or pay the damn ticket if you get one.

The theory is that the number of tickets will reflect cultural norms about corruption. Quite clever...

Some individuals have a sense of entitlement regarding social status. Once they achieve a certain rank (ie. diplomat, CEO, or government clerk), they no longer have to play by the rules if it will enrich them. They might just consider bribery as one of the perks of the job. Such people exist in all cultures, but this metric might be a good indicator of how socially accepted it is.

Oddly enough, the number of unpaid parking tickets that the country's UN diplomats correlates nicely with the CPI. Countries with zero tickets include Canada, Israel, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Countries with hundreds of tickets include Kuwait, Egypt, Chad, Sudan, Bulgaria, and Pakistan.

Of course, this metric could be easily gamed. If Kuwait was losing foreign business, they could simply force their diplomats to pay their tickets... so it might not be as useful in 2007.

Bottom line, if bribery is a social norm, don't expect it to go away any time soon. If you are doing business in Kuwait or Hong Kong, be sure to bring big wads of cash.

I wonder if the IRS allows companies to write off bribes as a business expense?

Max Headroom TV Show Becoming Reality In China

Back in the dreadful 80s, there was a TV show named Max Headroom, which was based on a character in some popular Coca Cola commercials.

Sounds weird, huh? Usually they only fuse advertisements with TV shows when it comes to children's cartoons... and Star Trek... and product placement on Friends... and...

Anyway, it was loosely based on some kind of dystopian future, like 1984, where people were unable to turn off their TVs. Even the newscasters had TVs on while they presented the news. They would put a blanket over them so the viewers would not get distracted.

Anyway, one of the episodes was about people who tried to live off the grid, who called themselves "blanks". They did not have phones, or TVs, or ID cards. And they even read books. They were, of course, considered criminals.

At the beginning of the episode, one of these blanks was taken before a computer terminal by men in black suits. They scanned her hand, and it said something like "Citizen #00000000. Judgment: Guilty." She was led away into what we assume must be a prison, all while shouting "Blank is beautiful! Blank is beautiful!"

Ow. That line hurts my ears to this day. Its been 20 years and I'm still recovering.

What's this have to do with China? Well, in order to streamline their legal system, China has adopted computerized sentencing systems!

Yep... just type in what the criminal did, to whom, and any mitigating circumstances, and *ping* you get your punishment!

Now I'm not too sure what to do with this information... such a system could be good if the system is clogged with hanging judges who give people 10 years in prison for loitering... but once you take human compassion and experience out of the judicial system, its subject to extreme abuse.

And god forbid the clerk is a bad speller...

Hopefully these are just sentencing guidelines, and the judge will still be given discression. Otherwise, this is very bad news.

My Nerd Score

So, I took the Nerd Test that my buddy John took... here are the shocking results:

I am nerdier than 83% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

83%. An MIT-grade high champion nerd.

I believe the test is somewhat skewed against computer geeks who have degrees in physics and just happen to retain a working knowledge of the periodic table of elements. Or mabye I'm in denial.
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Your Appendix Is More Deadly Than Al-Quada

On September 11, Wired magazine posted an article about the relative risks of a terror attack. It was compiled with data over the past 11 years, which included the terrorist attacks in Oklaholma City.

They placed the results in the familiar color-coded terrorism danger meter... with the biggest dangers in red, and lowest dangers in green. The results? Terrorists are far less of a threat to your health than simply walking down the street:

S E V E R E
Driving off the road: 254,419
Falling: 146,542
Accidental poisoning: 140,327
H I G H
Dying from work: 59,730
Walking down the street: 52,000.
Accidentally drowning: 38,302
E L E V A T E D
Killed by the flu: 19,415
Dying from a hernia: 16,742
G U A R D E D
Accidental firing of a gun: 8,536
Electrocution: 5,171
L O W
Being shot by law enforcement: 3,949
Terrorism: 3,147
Carbon monoxide in products: 1,554

Hmmm...

This is hot on the heels of a Cato Institute report about how politicians are making the war on terror worse by making people fear terrorists.

Since fear is the #1 weapon of terrorists, why are our own politicians trying so hard to make us fear terrorists?! They spend more time doing that than they spend protecting our borders and ports...

Why, oh why, do they do this? Because it gets them votes.

Grrr... looks like I'm back to my age old system of choosing politicians: never vote for an incumbent unless they are mind-blowingly awesome. If everybody adopted that system, we'd have to get some decent guys in there eventually...

About This Site

Welcome to the professional blog for me, Brian 'Bex' Huff. I'm a software architect, specializing in Oracle Enterprise Content Management. This product was formerly called Stellent Universal Content Management, but it was purchased by Oracle and is now a key piece of their Fusion Middleware stack. Previously, I was a senior Java developer at Stellent, but am now doing the consulting thing!

I help manage a consulting company named Bezzotech. I am also an author, an Oracle ACE Director, and a public speaker. You can contact me via Friend Feed, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or email:

This site contains mostly articles about web software, focusing on the technological and human aspects of it... including security, performance, usability, and the inevitable new trends (and which ones are actually useful).

Some articles focus on the Oracle Enterprise Content Management suite, and applications that integrate with it. This site also has articles about more general topics, including productivity, philosophy, book reviews, and scientific breakthroughs that I find interesting.

Please leave comments! You may want to register and login first, so you can claim your user name. I'll eventually be integrating this with OpenID, once I get some free time.

To find out more about Stellent software, you may also be interested in the email lists from the Stellent Yahoo! group. You may also be interested in my most recent book, "Transforming Infoglut!" It is a Content Management and Enterprise 2.0 strategy book for your business, and is available on Amazon. If you're more interested in the technical side of the Oracle UCM product, you might want to also check out The Definitive Guide to Stellent Content Server Development, which is targeted more for UCM developers, and is also available on Amazon.com.

For those interested in how I got my nickname, please read "The Origin of 'Bex'".

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