Friday, April 28, 2006

This political season, it's shaping up to be a Snow storm

OK, so yes, I was a bit surprised at the selection of FOX News' Tony Snow to take the post as President Bush's Press Secretary. For a PR flack like myself, this is the holy grail of jobs... you have to simultaneously know how to charm, fend off and get a bit muddy to avoid saying too much all at the same time. The constant barrage of hate and ire coming at you from all sides - often just because you are the chief gatekeeper of information - is the reason this is one White House job with the shortest shelf life.

But... after you survive this trial by fire, the most cushy PR jobs await you on the other side. The speaking engagement fees can hit five or six figures a pop, and you are now firmly planted in the minds of the PR community as one that has been more than battle tested. This is the promised land... and why the Ari Fleischers, Joe Lockharts and Dede Myers of the world have endured the pain and suffering that is the job of the White House press secretary. The common phrase, "He may be an asshole, but he's our asshole" has to come in handy when a press secretary considers their own plight of moral dilemma. Whether they are defending cigar indiscretions or the fales pretenses of war, the actions are not their own, and they are powerless to do anything but communicate the script they've been given in the most endearing way.

So now the stage has one Tony Snow on it. While Mr. Snow did spend a bit of time on our side of the desk as a speech writer for Bush I, his recent career as a journalist must have him in a very awkward position. How will this play out? All eyes in the PR world are watching... his colleagues will now fire questions at him and expect an honest response. How will he handle his own conflict of reporting accurately yet positioning (or spinning) the White House drivel (or lack thereof)?

The only thing he's got going for him is that his predecessor, Scott McClellan, did not exude any endearing qualities. Frankly, he just looked irritated all the time - kind of like Joe Lockhart did but not quite as obnoxiously. And poor Scott also had the best press secretary of recent years before him... Ari Fleischer.

While the big brew haha has been about Tony coming from what's touted as President Bush's own personal cable news network (FOX News), the more interesting issue for me is that he is about to embark on what has to be one of the most interesting challenges of his career. I wish him the best... lord knows he's going to need it!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Freedom Tower work begins  - Apr 27, 2006 - Apr 27, 2006: "Trucks are rolling onto the World Trade Center site Thursday morning as workers gather to start long-delayed construction at 9/11's Ground Zero.
The intention is to build the tallest building in North America to fill the hole in the New York skyline left by the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The move follows an agreement on Wednesday between the owner of the 16-acre site and the real estate developer who leased it six weeks before the towers were destroyed.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the transportation agency that built the 110-story twin towers in the early 1970s and ran them until July 2001, approved the deal with developer Larry Silverstein in a board meeting Wednesday afternoon.
The deal settles financing for the 'Freedom Tower,' the planned 1,776-foot building to be erected on the northern end of the site."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Google promotes Firefox on IE | CNET "Wednesday morning, an advertisement for the Google Firefox Toolbar appeared on Google's home page when viewed with Internet Explorer.
SpreadFirefox has posted a screenshot of the Web page.
Firefox is an open-source Web browser and a direct competitor of Internet Explorer. Google already partners with Firefox by offering a search-engine option for Firefox users.
'Google occasionally promotes products on its home page and is currently running a promotion for Firefox with Google Toolbar,' Sony Boralv, a Google spokeswoman, told CNET 'This promotion is an extension of the Firefox referrals through (the) AdSense program we announced last year. Google is promoting Firefox with Google Toolbar because tabbed browsing and safer surfing help provide our users with a great search experience.'
According to Boralv, Firefox is not the first product to be promoted in this way. Google has featured Google Pack and Google Video content from the NBA and CBS."

IDM keeps 'good guys in'

Article: "IDM keeps �good guys in�
Firms searching for better online customer authentication
By: Vanessa Ho
ComputerWorld Canada (28 Apr 2006)

Identity theft is a crime of the information age that is increasingly affecting Canadians as access to and sharing of information has become easier due to poorly protected electronic information, according to one security expert.
�We leave digital footprints all over the place because we are connected all the time,� said Robert Parker, a retired partner with Deloitte & Touche LLP, to a group of financial industry practitioners during an event held last month in Toronto entitled, Combating Online Identity Fraud.
Financial institutions need to question whether the clients they are dealing with over the Internet are actually who they say they are, Parker said. Banks are often looking for more effective ways to authenticate those individuals online, he said.
�A whole lot of things can and do go wrong when dealing with identity theft. It can present risk to both individuals and businesses,� he added. As individuals, Parker said people readily disclose personal information through activities like joining loyalty programs."

Monday, April 24, 2006

PKI doesn't have to be perfect to be worthwhile

Experts say a simpler approach could still yield benefits for security: "PKI doesn't have to be perfect to be worthwhile
Experts say a simpler approach could still yield benefits for security
By William Jackson, GCN Staff

Nobody ever said implementing a public-key infrastructure would be easy, but a pair of experts at the 2006 International Conference on Network Security said last week that using PKI is often harder than it needs to be.

"We haven't been as successful as I wish we had been," said Bill Burr of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. "But I think we've been more successful than we get credit for."

PKI promises to be a pretty good way to authenticate users, sign documents electronically and secure data. It uses a pair of mathematically related encryption keys to secure data. One key is kept private while the other is made public, allowing communications between individuals without exchanging secret keys. Using a public key, messages can be sent that can only be read by someone possessing the corresponding private key. " Business Business: "UT Austin investigates computer breach
Web Posted: 04/24/2006 02:32 PM CDT
Associated Press
Nearly 200,000 electronic records belonging to students, staff and alumni at the University of Texas at Austin's business school have been illegally accessed, the school said Sunday.


University officials said they notified the state Attorney General's Office of the school's second major breach in three years.
The university has also established a call center and Web site for those whose records may have been breached at the McCombs School of Business. " - States rush to remove data on residents from websites - States rush to remove data on residents from websites: "States rush to remove data on residents from websites
Updated 4/23/2006 10:01 PM ETE-mail Save Print Reprints Subscribe to stories like this

By Jon Swartz, USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO � States across the USA are furiously removing sensitive data from official websites.
The task highlights challenges facing states with sites full of personal information on residents, from Social Security numbers to bank account numbers.
Such data is available in Florida, Ohio and at least a dozen others, say privacy experts who provided USA TODAY with links to public websites. Many state laws require property records be posted online in the interest of open government. "