I’m happy to share this public service announcement.


Greater Dallas Chamber becomes Dallas Regional Chamber

DALLAS (June 30, 2008)… The Greater Dallas Chamber is changing its name to the Dallas Regional Chamber. This name change better aligns the name with the mission.

The name change transition will begin July 14 and be fully integrated by the Chamber’s 100th Anniversary Annual Meeting January 16, 2009.

The Chamber has served the region’s economy for almost a century. By changing our name to Dallas Regional Chamber we better reflect the nature of our business and our members.

“Our Chamber has served the region for almost a century. Our new name, Dallas Regional Chamber, better reflects our business and members,” said Robert A. Chereck, chairman, Dallas Regional Chamber.

Jan Hart Black, president, Dallas Regional Chamber commented, “We’re excited about our new name. The mission and team remain the same.”

The Chamber’s physical and website address (www.dallaschamber.org) will remain the same.

The Dallas Regional Chamber promotes prosperity through public policy, economic development and member service.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

The Windows NT kernel and architecture, which are at the heart of Windows XP and Windows Vista, are getting more bloated all the time. Packed with every conceivable feature, Windows is home to a huge numbers of different APIs and programming models, object formats and legacy shim layers.

Microsoft needs a reboot — a fresh Windows architecture that ditches the past, and looks toward the future. A clean, new architecture for Windows would be faster, safer, more stable and better for the future than the hodgepodge we have today.

That’s a point I made in a pair of SD Times “Zeichick’s Take” columns published in early 2006. You can read them on my blog, under “Break from the past.”

I was happy to see a similar perspective published in the New York Times yesterday, where Randall Stross says that “Windows Could Use A Breath of Fresh Air.” The San Jose State Univ. professor called the hypothetical next-generation operating system “Windows OS X,” hearkening back to Apple’s Mach-based Mac OS X 10.0 debut in 2001.

Should Microsoft do this? Definitely. Will it happen? Undoubtedly. Will it be soon? No way.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

As of July 1 (tomorrow), it is illegal for a car driver to use a handheld phone in California, thanks to two new laws. The Calif. Dept. of Motor Vehicles has a wireless telephone laws FAQ. Here’s an excerpt.

Q: What is the difference between the two laws?
A: The first prohibits all drivers from using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle, (Vehicle Code (VC) §23123). Motorists 18 and over may use a “hands-free device.” Drivers under the age of 18 may NOT use a wireless telephone or hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC §23124).

Q: Will there be a grace period when motorists will only get a warning?
A: No. The law becomes effective July 1, 2008. Whether a citation is issued is always at the discretion of the officer based upon his or her determination of the most appropriate remedy for the situation.

Q: Are passengers affected by this law?
A: No. This law only applies to the person driving a motor vehicle.

Q: Do these laws apply to out-of-state drivers whose home states do not have such laws?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I be pulled over by a law enforcement officer for using my handheld wireless telephone?
A: Yes. A law enforcement officer can pull you over just for this infraction.

Q: What if my phone has a push-to-talk feature, can I use that?
A: No. The law does provide an exception for those operating a commercial motor truck or truck tractor (excluding pickups), implements of husbandry, farm vehicle or tow truck, to use a two-way radio operated by a “push-to-talk” feature. However, a push-to-talk feature attached to a hands-free ear piece or other hands-free device is acceptable.


Q: Does the new “hands-free” law prohibit you from dialing a wireless telephone while driving or just talking on it?
A: The new law does not prohibit dialing, but drivers are strongly urged not to dial while driving.

Q: Will it be legal to use a Bluetooth or other earpiece?
A: Yes, however you cannot have BOTH ears covered.

Q: Does the new “hands-free” law allow you to use the speaker phone function of your wireless telephone while driving?
A: Yes.

Q: Does the new “hands-free” law allow drivers 18 and over to text message while driving?
A: The law does not specifically prohibit that, but an officer can pull over and issue a citation to a driver of any age if, in the officer’s opinion, the driver was distracted and not operating the vehicle safely. Sending text messages while driving is unsafe at any speed and is strongly discouraged.


Q: Am I allowed to use my wireless telephone “hands-free?”
A: No. Drivers under the age of 18 may not use a wireless telephone, pager, laptop or any other electronic communication or mobile services device to speak or text while driving in any manner, even “hands-free.” EXCEPTION: Permitted in emergency situations to call police, fire or medical authorities (VC §23124).

Q: Why is the law stricter for provisional drivers?
A: Statistics show that teen drivers are more likely than older drivers to be involved in crashes because they lack driving experience and tend to take greater risks. Teen drivers are vulnerable to driving distractions such as talking with passengers, eating or drinking, and talking or texting on wireless devices, which increase the chance of getting involved in serious vehicle crashes.

Q: Can my parents give me permission to allow me to use my wireless telephone while driving?
A: No. The only exception is an emergency situation that requires you to call a law enforcement agency, a health care provider, the fire department or other emergency agency entity.

Q: May I use the hands-free feature while driving if my car has the feature built in?
A: No. The law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from using any type of wireless device while driving, except in an emergency situation.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Do you have a Kindle Wireless Reading Device? I don’t. One reason, quite frankly, is price. I couldn’t justify shelling out $399 for the device, sight unseen.

Amazon has just cut the price of the Kindle by 10%. But even so, I can’t justify paying $359 for an e-Book reader. Of course, that’s not the universal perspective. Amazon has had difficulty keeping the device in stock.

Currently, there are 133,788 items in the Kindle Store, ranging from books and journals to applications software, including a daily planner.

If you have a Kindle, let me know what you think of it. As for me, I’m waiting for the price to continue dropping. $99 is the right price for this non-early-adopter.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

A friend, chatting via instant messenger yesterday, referred to the need to go deal with some e-mal.

It was a typo for e-mail, of course, but e-mal instantly resonated as a malapropism. When you get into your office in the morning or after lunch, and find dozens (or hundreds) of new messages dancing around your inbox, that’s not a happy feeling.

When you feel bad about e-mail, your inbox messages have become e-mals.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

The Eclipse Ganymede release train rolls out tomorrow, June 25. As part of the festivities, the Eclipse Foundation is having a movie poster conference.

There are 35 great posters available, and you can even vote for your favorite. Sadly, I didn’t realize about the voting until now — and the polls close about 15 minutes from now. Dang!

But in any case, go check out the posters. Some of them are really good.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Ganymede, the big Eclipse release train, leaves the station tomorrow, June 25. And what a release train it is, encompassing 23 separate projects (new or updated) and 18 million lines of code.

This is the fifth year in a row that the Eclipse Foundation has a huge simultaneous release in late June. The habit started in 2004, when the Eclipse 3.0 framework and IDE came out at the same time as the CDT (C/C++ Development Tools) and TPTP (Test & Performance Tools Project). Last year, the Europa release train encompassed 21 separate projects, including version 3.3 of the Eclipse framework.

This year, the 23 projects in the Ganymede release train builds from version 3.4 of the Eclipse platform. It also includes (in alphabetical order)

Buckminster Component Assembly 1.0.0
Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) 2.3.0
C/C++ Development Tooling (CDT) 5.0.0
Data Tools Platform 1.6RC5
Device Debugging 1.0
Dynamic Languages Toolkit
Eclipse Communication Framework Project 2.0.0
Eclipse Model Framework Technology (EMFT)
Eclipse Modeling Framework (EMF) 2.4.0
Eclipse Packaging Project 1.0.0
Eclipse Web Tools Platform Project WTP 3.0.0
GEF – Graphical Editor Framework 3.4.0
Graphical Modeling Framework 2.1
Model Development Tools (MDT) 1.1
Model To Text (M2T) 0.9.0
Model-to-Model Transformation (M2M)
Mylyn 3.0
Rich Ajax Platform RAP 1.1
SOA Tools 1.0.0
Subversive – SVN Team Provider
Target Management 3.0
Test and Performance Tools Platform Project 4.5.0

The big annual release train helps spur commercial adoption of Eclipse technology, and acknowledges that people use the whole ecosystem, not just the main Eclipse project’s IDE. The simultaneous release also helps manage interdependencies between projects, thereby helping with version compatibility and removing latency between project releases. Being part of the release train is a huge incentive for the individual project teams – nobody wants to be fall behind and risk being left out.

If you’re an Eclipse user, there’s a lot of goodness in the Ganymede release; you should check it out. If you’re not an Eclipse user, and are building anything but pure .NET applications (for which you should be using Visual Studio), it’s really worth exploring.

We have lot of classes on Ganymede’s individual components at EclipseWorld 2008, coming up October 28-30 in Reston. It’ll be the first major conference to focus on the final versions of the Ganymede-level tools. We hope to see you there!

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Last summer, the San Francisco Examiner ran a story that described about how thieves were grabbing portable GPS units out of cars. They’re still doing it.

According to “Auto break-in epidemic hits South City,” published in August 2007, auto break-ins in South San Francisco were up more than 30 percent, as crooks targeted GPSes — and that such thefts can happen really fast:

In a knit cap and dark clothing, a man walked up to a car parked in the South San Francisco Police Department parking lot and shattered the driver’s-side window with a common tool. As glass rained onto the concrete, he unlocked the door and snatched the GPS device suctioned to the front window. The crook — played by Officer John Stankewicz in the simulation — took only 30 seconds to grab the device and get away.

This issue surfaced today, when a good friend reported that her Garmin GPS was stolen, in broad daylight, from a public parking lot in the Bay Area. How? Someone smashed a window and took it.

Never leave the GPS, or its cable or a suction-cup mount visible in plain sight. Lock them in the glove box, the trunk, or other storage area. If the hardware or its accessories are visible, your car is a target.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

In today’s scam spam, here’s a message that came to one of our “letters” e-mail addresses. Forgive me for not sitting in….

Subject: World Series of Poker Invitation in Vegas

We wanted to let you know right away that you have been invited to win a seat and play in our upcoming World Series of Poker.

Press here if you would like to play: LINK

There is no cost involved for you to play: You DO NOT need to deposit any money or give a credit card number to play…BUT YOU CAN WIN CASH!

Don’t miss this chance!

Press here to Start Playing Today!

Thank you!

When you click on the link and start digging, you learn that if you do win money, you have to pay a “membership fee” and provide financial information in order to claim your winnings. That’s where they’ll rip you off. Don’t fall for it.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Yesterday, June 23, 2008, was the 20th anniversary of the launch of Mathematica.

My first experience with Mathematica came in 1990, when I was editor of Miller Freeman’s AI Expert magazine. I loved the software — it was incredible. It was very useful for developing and modeling AI techniques such as genetic algorithms and neutral networks, as well as general problem solving.

In mid-1991, we were approached by Addison-Wesley to see if we wanted to purchase The Mathematica Journal. I was asked if I was familiar with the technology … and responded enthusiastically. After the deal was done, I served as Editor and later Associate Publisher of the Journal.

Not only did we have a great team on the Journal (here’s a big shout-out for Troels Petersen, Peter Altenberg, Michele Anet, Roman Maeder and Bob Korsan), but I had the extreme pleasure of working closely with Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica, and other talented scientists. (Today, the Journal is published by Wolfram Research.)

Sadly, I haven’t used Mathematica for more than a decade. It’s not as much a lack of interest as a lack of time. My projects these days rarely require numerical and symbolic computation.

(Trivia: I was the first kid on the block to have an Apple Mac Quadra 700, using the then-phenomenal 25MHz 68040 processor, which we bought in late 1991 to run Mathematica for the Journal. It’s astounding how much work we could get done on a platform that has less computing power than a modern smartphone.)

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

I only got to see George Carlin live once. It was in Las Vegas, sometime in the 1990s. I can’t remember which trade show we were attending, but a bunch of us went over and caught Carlin’s show at one of the big casinos.

He was funny on television. He was even funnier in person.

There was an element of truth to whatever Carlin was ragging on.
Yes, he had an incredible vocabulary, and was the master of using language to make his point (like, that baseball is superior to football because in baseball you care about who’s up, and in football you obsess about downs).

But more than just a comedian gifted with words, Carlin was a keen observer about the absurdities of life. He wasn’t just humorous. He was right.

If you’re looking for the proper way to remember Carlin, may I suggest reading (or re-reading) his recent book, “When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?” (I wonder if he’s regretting writing that book now.) The best way is to enjoy to it on audio CD: Humor without delivery is like, well, Jesus without pork chops.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

I’m disappointed that Apple’s support of 802.11n – the latest, but still draft, incarnation of the wireless Ethernet specs — extends to its Macs and Airport access points, but not to its handhelds.

In my office, all of the desktop/notebook computers that access the network via WiFi are capable of 802.11n. They access it via our current-generation Airport Extreme base station, as well as the new Airport Express wireless hub that extends the signal and operates as a remote iTunes speaker driver.

You’d think, therefore, that we could take advantage of all the 802.11n capabilities that the Airports and Macs have to offer. By switching to run in 802.11n-only mode (instead of the 802.11b/g/n compatibility mode), we could improve throughput and overall wireless performance. We could also shift out entire network to the 5GHz radio band, instead of the crowded 2.4GHz band used by 802.11b/g. (802.11n can work on either band.)

But alas, we can’t make our wireless LAN 802.11n-only. Why? Because our iPhone and iPod touch users wouldn’t be able to be on the network. Those devices, you see, are 802.11b/g-only.

One would think, Apple would remedy that with its forthcoming iPhone 3G. One would think that this device would be 802.11n-capable. One would be wrong. According to Apple, the new iPhone 3G will still be an 802.11b/g device. Slower. Shorter range. Locked into the 2.4GHz radio band.

Thanks, Apple. Not!

Seriously, folks, what you should be doing, if you have a lot of 802.11n devices, and just a few “legacy” 802.11b/g devices, is set up TWO parallel wireless networks. That’s what we’re going to do, one of these days.

Set up the first one to be 802.11n only, and put it onto the 5GHz band. Put the other network onto 802.11b/g band. By letting the WiFi N-capable devices zoom ahead in their own express lane, both networks — and therefore, overall throughput for your users — will be faster and better.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

I get the strangest e-mail messages. Why does this person think that I might have this stuff?

Subject: Cisco VOIP Lab Requisition. Cash Paid For De-Commissioned Gear.

I am putting together six VoIP labs. The below Cisco gear is needed for immediate purchase. I am looking to buy used, surplus, decommissioned or excess. If you have this or any other idle or trade-in Cisco equipment, please send a list for a cash offer.

6 x Cisco 3725
12 x Cisco NM-HDV fully populated with 4 x PVDM-12s with VWIC-1MFT-T1
12 x Cisco NM-HDV fully populated with 4 x PVDM-12s
18 x Cisco VWIC-2MFT-T1
6 x Cisco VWIC-1MFT-E1
6 x Cisco WS-x6608-T1
18 x Cisco WIC-2T
6 x Cisco WIC-1T
6 x Cisco NM-2FE-2W
6 x Cisco WS-F6K-VPWR-GE
6 x Cisco VG248
6 x Cisco ATA186
56 x Cisco 7960 phones

James Pazz

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Yesterday, on a flight from San Francisco to New York, we had a clear view of the flooding on the Mississippi River. This photo was taken from seat 11A as we flew over the Iowa banks of the river, near Des Moines.

I’ve created a Web album of 12 photos at full 8-megapixel size.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

I eagerly await Pantone’s annual Color of the Year. In 2007, the color was Red Hot Chili Pepper. This year, the color is Blue Iris.

According to Pantone, the color (which is coded 18-3943) is a multifaceted hue that reflects our complex world: “Combining the stable and calming aspects of blue with the mystical and spiritual qualities of purple, Blue Iris satisfies the need for reassurance in a complex world, while adding a hint of mystery and excitement.”

To quote from the news release,

“From a color forecasting perspective, we have chosen PANTONE 18-3943 Blue Iris as the color of the year, as it best represents color direction in 2008 for fashion, cosmetics and home products,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

“As a reflection of the times, Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspect of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast. Emotionally, it is anchoring and meditative with a touch of magic. Look for it artfully combined with deeper plums, red-browns, yellow-greens, grapes and grays.”

According to Pantone, painting a wall in Blue Iris will add an elegant level of composure with a touch of dynamism to any room. You know, it’s a very nice color.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

A business-technology blogger for the Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Buckman, posits that there’s an innate difference in coding style between male and female programmers.

In her June 6 posting, “Men Write Code from Mars, Women Write More Helpful Code from Venus,” Buckman leads by throwing out another gender stereotype. This broad brushstroke, presented as unassailable fact, undermines her conclusion’s credibility right off the bat.

“We all know men hate to ask for directions. Apparently they loathe putting directions in computer code, too,” Buckman writes.

Buckman based her broad characterization of male and female programmers on the comments of one female software executive in Silicon Valley, Ingres’ Emma McGratten.

McGratten’s point, as amplified by Buckman, is that smart women write beautifully clear software to communicate better with their colleagues, while stupid men write cryptic code to show off how clever they think they are. Yay, women. Boo, men.

That’s why McGratten believes there’s a “big need to fix testosterone-fueled code at Ingres because only about 20% of the engineers are women.”

What a load of nonsense. I expect better from the WSJ.

I couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities for mobile development using the iPhone 2.0 software stack and AJAX.

If you missed the iPhone development classes at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, or if you want an Eclipse-style look at the platform, you’ll want to attend class #207 at EclipseWorld 2008, Oct. 28-30 in Reston, Va.

Here’s the description of the class, being taught by Chris Williams:

Wednesday, Oct. 29, 10:45 am – 12:00 pm
207 Developing AJAX Applications for iPhone and iPod touch

Apple’s iPhone is transforming the Web as we know it and compelling every Web designer to consider handheld portable devices. This hands-on technical class covers various aspects of iPhone and iPod Touch development. It will include tips and tricks as well as best practices to follow.

You’ll learn how to use popular Eclipse plugins, as well as AJAX libraries, to build rich Internet applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch AJAX applications. You’ll be using Aptana Studio and Aptana’s iPhone plugin, as well as the jQuery, prototype, the iUI library and others.

Register today – there are huge discounts for “eXtreme Early Bird” signups.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

What will you do when gas hits $17 per gallon? That’s what drivers in the United Kingdom are wondering.

According to a story in today’s Daily Mail, the combination of high oil prices, high taxes and a potential strike by fuel-lorry drivers might lead to a 2x spike at the pump. That would bring petrol up to 230p per liter.

If you do the math, that comes to Seventeen Dollars Per Gallon.

$17.04, to be exact.

Think about that when you fill up your Chevy Tahoe for $4.39/gallon. Imagine if 15 gallons of mid-grade set you back $255, instead of $66.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

We’re crazy about testing, and to prove it, if you sign up for the Software Test & Performance Conference by July 3, you’ll get a complimentary Starbucks worth $25.

Here are some of the crazy classes at STPCon Fall 2008:

  • #401 Help Your Boss Avoid Being an Idiot, by Robin Goldsmith
  • #402 Explaining Testing to “Them,” by James Bach
  • #505 I Went to This Conference and All They Talked About Was Requirements, by Robin Goldsmith
  • #606 Software Process Improvement’s Dirty Little Secret, by Robin Goldsmith
  • #905 Bugs on Bugs! What Looney Tunes Taught Me About Testing, by Rob Sabourin

STPCon Fall is our most popular event, and this year’s conference is going to be huge.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Java, Java, Java, Java, Java.

EclipseWorld 2008 is October 28-30 in Reston, Va. — near Dulles Airport, right outside Washington, D.C.

The program is live with more than 60 technical classes and full-day workshops. The eXtreme Early Bird discounts end July 18. Learn more about the conference program and the special events, and then register!

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Crazy-but-apparently-true story of the day: A Massachusetts lighthouse, presumed destroyed in 1925, was discovered to be sitting here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Check out this story on CNN. We’ve driven by the Point Montara Light Station hundreds of times. Wow. I may have to visit my fellow New England transplant this weekend.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

My family has been rewatching that great old 1970s science-fiction series, Space: 1999. I had a soft spot for that series, particularly the first season, when the show had more of an edge.

While a lot of people liked when the show introduced Maya, the shape-changing alien, in the second series, I thought the show degenerated into silliness.

Have you seen the wonderful parody, Space: 1899? it’s a must-see for anyone who remembers the 1975-1977 series.

Twenty years after Space: 1999 went off the air, the producers did a “last episode.” The emotional seven-minute clip was shown at a fan conference on Sept. 13, 1999 — the futuristic date when the series began with a nuclear explosion on the dark side of the moon. It’s called “Message from Moonbase Alpha.” Again, a must-see for fans of the series.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

It’s the perfect gift for Dads and Grads! Pricing for a DNA portrait starts at $390, but now you can identify the gene that puts butterflies in your tummy for just a few dollars more, according to this press release.

DNA 11’s DNA Art Portraits Now Offer More Insight into Your Genes

NEW YORK, NY. – June 3, 2008 – DNA 11, originators of DNA art and pioneers in the industry, are excited to announce that they have created the GenePak that allows customers to identify specific genetic traits in their custom DNA-portraits.

As the leader in the industry, DNA 11 continually works to create new and innovative options and services for their clients. They are constantly working to add even more life to their client’s DNA art images.

With the advent of companies such as 23andMe and deCODEme that offer gene analysis services to reveal predispositions for certain diseases or health risks, DNA 11 thought it would be exciting to offer added consumer genomics products, but with a different outcome – one that provides more entertainment value.

“Our clients have been so happy with their unique DNA art portraits that we wanted to add even more insightful and exciting options for them,” Nazim Ahmed, co-founder, DNA 11 says.” This new GenePak option allows clients to analyze their genes in an interesting way that creates great entertainment value for friends and family.”

GenePak isolates specific genes during the lab process which identify and represent four different areas of human characteristics:

• Sport: Show off your muscles without having to flex. This gene called ACTN2 is expressed in all muscle cells.
• Brain: This gene — IGF-2 — is associated with intelligence. It is not the only gene whose expression correlates with IQ, but one of them that is involved in development of the brain.
• Love: This gene — NGF2 — is one of the genes responsible for those butterflies in your stomach when you meet that special someone.
• Gender: This gene — Amelogenin — is often used to determine whether someone is male or female.

“Just as an artist points out and explains specific aspects of an art piece, our clients can do the same,” Nazim adds. “For example, they can point to certain areas that represent their brain or gender; it’s a great conversation piece.”

The GenePak upgrade option costs $99 and includes a detailed booklet that describes the lab process.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

This just in from the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. This is the sort of good work that government should be doing!

Goats rather than tractors

In just a few days, a few hundred goats cleared several acres of thick brush and grass at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge in California. Refuge managers typically remove brush and small limbs using manpower and heavy equipment. Goats, however, are less expensive, they don’t burn fossil fuels and reduce the carbon footprint.

The Rio Vista Unit of Sacramento River Refuge is bordered by private homes and local parks. Refuge land and fire managers examined several options to reduce the buildup of vegetation and thereby reduce the risk of wildfire. Everyone agreed it was worth giving the goats a try. Refuge manager Kelly Moroney said neighboring landowners and local government officials were pleased with the results.

Goats first grazed on the refuge in June 2007, clearing about 35 acres. This year, the goats will browse through 50-60 acres. They will be followed by student work crews who will cut the higher limbs. “Ultimately,” says Moroney, “we want a closed canopy on top that shades out low, understory growth. This will make a natural fire break, requiring less maintenance over time.” Moroney also says goats are now being considered for other refuges and additional acreage at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex and throughout the region.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Every year since 2003, we’ve published the SD Times 100. And every year, many companies that weren’t named to the list have asked us to explain why they weren’t on the list.

For weeks after the awards come out, company executives call and e-mail SD Times to politely request (or angrily demand) an explanation. Those queries ultimately come to me.

I’ve just finished replying to one of them, and thought I’d share an expanded, generic version of my response here.

Dear xxx,

You asked why your company wasn’t listed in the 2008 SD Times 100. You said that you should have been included because you’re more worthy than one of your competitors who is on the list, or because your company had specific accomplishments that make it stand out, or because you have a significant and growing market share, or because you were on the list last year.

We don’t have a specific explanation of why you didn’t make the list.

The reason — and this is all we can say — is that after months of hard work, when the judges compiled the final list of the 100 most influential, most innovative leaders in the software development industry, your company’s name wasn’t on that list.

That doesn’t say that your company isn’t influential or innovative. We’re sure that it’s both. We acknowledge you have many genuinely loyal customers and satisfied business partners. We know that your unique products and services employ great technology and solve real-world problems for software developers.

But no, your company didn’t make the top list this year. There were a lot of worthy companies and organizations being considered — many more than 100. However, no matter how we recalculated the math, only 100 can be in the top 100.

There are no specific reasons we can offer why your company wasn’t named to the SD Times 100. (It’s like there’s no specific reason why a catchy hit song didn’t win a Grammy, or why your favorite movie didn’t win the Oscar, or why your friend didn’t win last week’s local talent competition.)

During the judging, we don’t keep notes about your company. We don’t record plus-signs for what you did right and minus-signs for what you did wrong.

We have nothing that documents, “If only they’d supported this extra protocol, or sold 50 more licenses, or won another patent, or had five more partners, they’d have been in the SD Times 100. But they didn’t, so they’re off the list.” That’s not how the discussion goes. Likewise, we don’t record, “If only they hadn’t done x, y or z, they’d have been on the list.”

Judging the SD Times 100 isn’t easy. The decisions aren’t made lightly. Many, many factors went into the discussion, which spanned literally months of research and rigorous and sometimes headed debate by the editors of SD Times.

The process is laborious, challenging and worthwhile. The internal debate gives our editors the opportunity to collectively review the movers-and-shakers in our industry. It lets us examine the state of the art. Judging the SD Times 100 is a time of shared learning, as well as compiling a final listing. However, those wide-ranging conversations must stay behind tightly closed doors — and couldn’t be condensed to a soundbite in any case.

After the awards come out, some companies try to put us onto the defensive to justify (to their satisfaction) why they didn’t get named to the list. Others argue that they are more deserving than someone else who did win (and demand that we ‘correct’ the list). A few say that once they’re on the list one year, they should stay on the list. Still others want us to coach them: ‘Tell us what we must do to ensure being named to the list next year.’

I know that you’re disappointed, but we’re not going to debate, defend or coach. Please accept my apologies, as that’s all the explanation we have to offer.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Bert and I was discussin’ the whole Internet thing the other day.

Bert sez, “I don’t get how any of them electronic stoahs ever sell nuthin’. After all, everyone who visits them is a browsah, not a buyah… Cahn’t make much money on people just lookin’, now, can yah?”

I replied, “No, Bert, you cahn’t. Ayuh.”

With apologies to the late, great Marshall Dodge.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Today, the editors of SD Times unveiled the 2008 SD Times 100, the newspaper’s annual listing of the most innovative companies and organizations in the software development industry.

First appearing in 2003, the SD Times 100 has had its share of controversy. The biggest kerfluffle was when the editors named the SCO Group to the 2004 list for its role in spreading fear, uncertainly and doubt about open-source software in general and Linux specifically. Many readers wrote to SD Times to protest. SCO itself, not realizing that the award’s wording was not complimentary, issued a self-congratulatory press release.

This year’s awards may not be quite as controversial. At least we hope not. But as we recognize the best and brightest in our industry, let us bear in the mind the sage words of the great Indiana Jones: “Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.”

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick