Are insults protected speech?

Today I came across two stories that made me go, hmmmm.

First story is of an American jailed for insulting a king in Thailand, story here. Dude is up for 15 years in jail.  Yes, can you say outrageous? (I’d go on but I would love to visit Thailand one day and don’t want to get on some sort of detain list based on insults of government and/or royalty).

Naturally, Americans (and others blessed with free speech) think this is just unbelievable, and would never happen here.  Well, maybe.

Now it seems it’s criminal to flip off cops in Colorado, story here.  Seriously?  Read the story on this one and you will be scratching your head to make sense of it.  I gotta tell you this sounds like flat-out bullying to me.  Sure it was rude to do it, but criminal?  No way.  I am all for respecting authority and will stop short of encouraging us all to go flip off some cops to desensitize them to this notion of free speech.

Save the criminal charges for the criminals and save my tax dollars on this nonsense.  And to the guy in a Thai jail, dude I’m really sorry but your Constitution doesn’t follow you around the world, respect the locals when you travel.

My interview with Jim Blasingame about small business

First off a big thanks to my friends at The Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) for making the intro and arrangements for this great opportunity.  Your support of small technology businesses is really needed and appreciated.

I was in Washington DC as part of a fly-in, a few days where like-minded people collaborate then share their concerns with our elected officials to make sure they truly do represent the needs of their constituents.  In this case it was a room full of technologists that work in small business that have an interest in how the law affects what we do.  For once, I was not the biggest nerd in the room!  While I was there I had a morning talk-radio interview with respected small business advocate, Jim Blasingame.  We spent almost half an hour talking about small business, technology and the like.

Here’s my interview, feel free to have a listen.  Also check out his site and the folks at ACT to see what’s happening around you and how it influences you and how you can influence it right back.

Speaking with generation about technology laws and concerns

I am pretty nerdy and I’m ok with that.  I love my job, working in technology.  I am fascinated by the law.  I think it’s vital to be involved in the next generation and I totally respect the opinions and ideas of our teens.  So today I was the guest speaker in the Business Law class at Pine Creek High School.  I came armed with some notes and a couple dozen doughnuts and I loved it.

One of the reasons the opinions of teens matters when we talk about technology laws (and behaviors) is that they are true digital natives, all they have known is a technology fueled world.  If you remember getting your first microwave or Atari; if you had a rotary phone or heck even corded phone in your house then you are biased and have blocks in your way of thinking.  No matter how open-minded you may think you are, you are not a digital native, but they are.  A whole classroom full of them, full of doughnuts and ready to talk!

Some random-ish highlights:

At the beginning of class I asked them how many had read a terms of service or privacy policy that they had agreed to, and the only hand raised was my daughter (woohoo). After we talked I asked how many WOULD read at least one and just over half the room said that they would.

Privacy- they assume they have none.  To a point.  To them this means that their location from their phone is known to many, but not sure how many layers deep it does or should go and how much information is carried.  They expect ad-supported free phone apps, and understood the connection of profiling to the consumer based on some of the date that is collected to define the consumer.  They were appalled when we talked about some components of common agreements that give wide legal access to your data, all your data, on the computer you are using to access a service.  But again, they don’t read agreements, in part because they feel they can’t change them or negotiate the terms so what’s the point.

They want a set of common standard agreements that apply to all mobile and online services, so they only have to read them once to know what they say.  An app should state we use standard user agreement #2 and privacy policy #4 type thing.  They think a plain English (or language of your choice) summarized version should be presented directly (at the checkbox/button action screen) with a link to a full legalese version.  This would need massive industry adoption.  With the costs of this being potentially huge, what is the likelihood of companies (hardware, software and service providers) jumping in and volunteering to start this, on their dime?  We also discussed the problem with Congress trying to own this and the disaster it would become.  The laws we have that protect people, privacy etc. would still apply and should stay technology agnostic.

We discussed stalkers and how it’s their behavior that is illegal, not the technology they use. 

One student had called 911 and was found because of her phone’s location and they all thought this was a good thing.

We clarified the implied right to privacy under the 4th Amendment and that it guarantees you protection from an invasion of your privacy by the government, but not your neighbor.  That was a big one, a good discussion.  The clarification that the Constitution regulates more the government’s behavior than that of its citizens.

Overall I am glad I went and enjoyed this conversation with them.

Dynamics CRM Statement of Direction May 2011- the summary and my take

First off, if you need a copy of the statement of direction you can get one from partner source or customer source.  In your CRM org, go to the Resource Center, one of your links on the right is to customer source.  Also, you can type into the search tool there “statement of direction” and you will get some good real time results pointing you to other places to find it and reviews (much like this one).

So Microsoft does this cool thing with Dynamics CRM (maybe other products too, but we know my focus) and releases statements of direction on a pretty regular basis.  They give you strategy, business and feature planning updates.  It’s pretty cool.  One just came out and here is Julie’s take.

Overall, this one is a little weak compared to the past ones.  HOWEVER, I believe it’s ok because one of the things here is a reduction in cyclical updates.  No more waiting 3 years for a new product.  You’ll be getting significant updates twice a year moving forward.  With the shorter cycles you won’t be getting a totally made over new product that often, but what you will get is shiny new feature sets.  This to me means that the product team can more quickly respond to demand and requests and get those new features out the door and on your laptop (desktop, phone, whatever) faster. This cyclical shift to me makes one helluva differentiator in the CRM world.

Now on to some nitty gritty from the document.  In the executive summary we hear that business applications should be enablers.  This one I totally agree with and see that Dynamics CRM does this.  That’s why we do this right?  Enable people to solve their business needs with software.

The Road Ahead section starts off by addressing Dynamic Businesses.  I think this is a grey area of concern.  Not outright wrong, but also a bit narrow in focus.   Yes there are businesses that are truly not very dynamic that would greatly benefit (or maybe even become dynamic) from CRM.  There are also businesses that would never call themselves dynamic but really are that would stop reading and stop considering this as a solution.

Soon we have a list of new innovative experiences that starts with micro-blogging (for now this probably just means Twitter, but not locked in for later newer options) and ends with social intelligence.  I hate that phrase, but the explanation is pretty good. “Identification of data patterns and streams to enhance customer service and marketing decision-making.”  This has value for sure.

From there we get into a list of items identifying rapid value take-aways.  One of the items talks about an enhanced evaluation process of solutions and extensions from the Marketplace.  While this is true, a great value-add that they can’t mention is that this is also great because of the ease of removing an add-on that just doesn’t work for you.  No one wants to think about getting a lemon of a solution, but if you do, it is not devastating, remove the solution and tadah.

Optimizing  decision-making is a great topic and relevant.  My concerns here are with the extended self-service BI component and its capabilities with CRM Online and with potential performance issues with enhanced data visualizations with CRM on-premise.  This list totally has value and relevance, but also a few concerns if they jump the gun and cut corners.

Consumerization of Business Applications- woohoo!  CRM anywhere, Cross-device and Multi-browser.  Yes pain points, yes just do it.

Extending of solutions and ecosystems mentions the Marketplace.  It’s great but many say they have a hard time finding it.  I will make it easy.  Login to your CRM, go to Resource Center, click the Marketplace button on the top right.

Finally we go to innovation through an agile release model.  This is a great thing, like I said before it’s an industry differentiator.  Here’s just a rapid-fire list from that of things of value:

  • Single codebase.  I HATE that phrase like you couldn’t imagine.  I understand the intent and don’t have a replacement.  But what it means is something like….we want online and on-premise to be essentially the same experience but since the environments are potentially substantially different we can’t make it exactly the same, but we try our best and we do it better than someone else.
  • Updates/upgrades/scheduled/automatic/huh?  There is a fair bit of explaining of these things.  They are still a bit confusing to me.  I expect that as an online customer I will be notified and hand-held thru this experience, it’s part of the draw of being an online customer.  As an administrator of an on-prem deployment I’d watch for blogs, tweets and what-not letting me know things are coming. 
  • Timeframe is communicated as calendar year, not fiscal year.  Just be aware.
  • There was one item about the marketplace and updates that I have asked for some clarification, watch for an update here when I get that.

Overall, this is a short but effective Statement of Direction from the CRM team.  I know that many are watching for the new features and happy that they won’t have to wait 3 years.  Well done.