The financial media all seem to be agreed. The High Street banks are screwed. Restrictive, greedy, self-serving. Banks have been found guilty on all counts.

banking needs a new dawn - but why is it so dark still? Commercial incompetence kills companies in other markets. But not banking. What’s so special about these guys?

What the banks do isn’t all that difficult. Their technology’s an eighties throw back. Could it be that there are other forces in play here?

I enjoyed one of those Twitter engagements this weekend. Well, I say enjoyed, maybe more like the engagement one has with the front of a speeding train.

It got me thinking about Socrates. I’d bet he’d love Twitter. Lots of sophists online. Socrates loved a good debate. Trouble was, the sophists didn't.

I’ll tell you a bit about Socrates. He questioned everything and accepted nothing. For him, truth was its own reward. His philosophy put him up against the sophists.

Sophists earned a living selling their own “truth”. You weren’t meant to disagree.

So what can Ancient Greece teach us about Twitter? Glad you asked me…

It was hailed as the new dawn. Microsoft was squaring up to Google for search. Google looked to have a fight on their hands with Bing. But look at this… why can't Bing find stuff on Microsoft's own site - yet Google can?

This is the bing result for Vista Service Pack 2 on Microsoft’s own download site. Bing can’t find it. No results. Zilch. Nothing. What about a Google search?

Well. Let’s take a look. The result may surprise you…

Society. We hear that word daily. But basically its all about you, me, everybody. Society is the framework that binds us, defines us. How banks should be - great, working together.

We work best together. Get things done. Our lives are richer, we all achieve more. What happens when we build places that divide us?

That’s right. We destroy trust. And no trust means no sale.

Like banks. It’s just not us, its just us and them. And its gone wrong. Unsociable. Maybe we need something better. A social, community bank…

Paying for the things you want in the blink of an eye. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? You don’t sign, or PIN, or even touch. But who’s to say its you buying? How NFC back-end fraud detection must get smart!

You see, this speed carries one big penalty. Security. Not for the device, for you. The transaction is now so fast, it can’t be fraud-checked conventionally.

“Contactless” means just that. No contact from either side – counter or customer. There’ll be no alerts, no chance to stop a fraudster. Or is there?

You know, for me, the most frustrating thing in the world has got to be hindsight. And coming up with that great question or comment too late.

People will talk - its what makes us - well, us.

I’ve just attended the Manchester 2011 Information Security Leaders seminar. Inevitably, discussion turned to Facebook use in the office.

Part of the event was an open-mike panel featuring some of the great and the good of the security industry and a couple of leading industry security figures. And Facebook made them nervous.

Afterwards, the question I wished I’d had the forethought to ask came to me…

The Internet and freedom. Two words we always believed couldn’t be separated. Recent events have shown otherwise. How The Internet has replaced the pen as tyranny's great adversary

Now this isn’t a commentary about the rights and wrongs of the Egyptian unrest. This is about freedom and our right to unhindered expression.

Egypt’s demonstrated that regimes can just turn off dissent at the flick of a switch. Could we suffer the same fate in our increasingly Orwellian society?

As a bank marketing slogan, the co-operative’s good with money is pretty good. Just a pity then that the rest of the bank’s processes don’t match. good with money - bad with everything else Because behind the ethical façade this member-owned group strives to portray, lies a dark, Dickensian approach to those it does business with.

Here are three disturbing examples – from the inefficient to downright destructive – that soil the fluffy image it would prefer us to associate with it…

Its funny how we can sometimes be carried along by the current without realising. Following the innovation bandwagon, for instance. change is a constant, not a deliberate action! Every businessman knows they must constantly innovate to compete and survive. We shouldn’t get hung up on that word. People can either innovate or they can’t. Innovation isn’t a measurable action, its a mindset.

Every day, I read the endless diatribes about why we can’t innovate here or there. Listen to these coffee-shop philosophers and you’ll want to give up and go home. Hold on though. I think they’ve got it all wrong. Fundamentally wrong…

Another snowy morning. Another day’s news of travel woes and broken services. Wasn’t this supposed to be the age of technology?

technology seems forgotten as snow falls...

Looking around my neighbourhood, middle-management cars struggle past on route to some distant office to connect to some services located somewhere else. They’ll sit at their desk to phone customers who again, will be somewhere else. Noticed the common thread here?

Finally, its here. What we’ve all been waiting for since Sun shone into our lives. Oracle’s launched a Cloud version of Open Office. Finally, here's Open Office for the Cloud!

There’s not much details about it as yet – like how much it will cost, for example – The Oracle site just provides a PDF about it. What I can say at this point is it remains 100% compatible with Desktop Open Office, retaining Open Document formats as well as PDF. It’s MS Office compatible, too.

But the site mentions a £33.00 charge for Desktop Open Office…

I stopped at my local Marks & Spencer Food, I just fancied one of their £10 deals. Spotted a guy I used to know. He’d managed the IT department for a large utility. Noticed he was wearing an apron. He was stacking shelves. Do we value what life has taught us or simply start over?

Then I suddenly shivered. Have I seen my future. Is this my next big career move. Is this what a lifetime’s technology strategy has in store for people like me?

Where will all that knowledge go, if its not passed on, how can we move forward. Will the new me never get the chance to learn from my experience?

When talk turns to the Cloud, the hot ticket currently is the location of information. Security’s no longer the biggest concern, its where data is stored which is key.

Maybe the future lies in clouds for the cloud itself – local skyline storage clouds… could this be the future of the compliant cloud? Local Skyline Storage

Cloud players like SalesForce and IBM are looking to their own national storage, but its expensive and inefficient. So why not use a storage Cloud for it?

Take a good look at this picture. This, my friends is a 1956 Fender Stratocaster®. Savour this moment. Because you’ll never experience it through an iPod.

The Fender Stratocaster - the guitar that made rock and roll

iTunes gives you fast downloads and lots of stuff to load on your iPod or iPhone. What you’ll never get to listen to is great music quality.

You’ll never hear that Strat. Sure, you may hear something that’s a bit like a Strat, something will be missing. And while video has innovations like Blu-Ray and HD, iTunes is sending audio back to the dark ages, a blurry sketch of the real thing.

So why is Apple killing music?

I spotted a group of excited ladies leaving a local bridal shop a few evenings ago. It had me thinking. No, not about getting married. About retail planning.

Congleton - a typical Cheshire town and the home of LANZen strategy!

My town has four bridal shops. But just how many shops does one town need?

Footfall’s too weak a metric. it doesn’t consider a shop’s purpose and utilisation. Nor does it explain why some high streets can sustain so many takeaways.

Time to think about what people do rather than simply where they walk

It must be like a breath of fresh air working in the design department of a car manufacturer. You don’t have to jump through hoops or sell your soul to get an idea listened to.

You don’t have to justify innovation to a bunch of old farts, its part of the job description.

Its not as though in the other industries they work so efficiently your ideas are redundant, More like while the money’s flowing in, they just don’t care. They prefer the easy life.

The most obvious example of this is in financial services. You’d think the banking crash would have been a wake-up call. But no. Its business as usual in Complacent City.

Imagine buying a new car that was unsafe, wasn’t efficient had offered no cool features. Imagine it just not working right. Imagine financial services…

Sometimes I despair at the appalling state of the UK’s broadband services. It’s truly horrific.

Here is an ex-state monopoly supposedly “competing” with a number of other providers, but what the public is actually getting is simply a re-badged service provided by BT.

The BT infrastructure is antiquated and decaying, virtually on its knees from years of under investment, yet being milked dry by greedy BT accountants.

UK customers in the meantime are being sold services by unscrupulous suppliers who’ve probably never been near a phone exchange, let alone have any network of their own.

But let’s just put the subject of BT’s steam-powered infrastructure to one side for a moment, I’m worried that BT may well be tilting the tables even more in their favour.

Imagine this. You own the exchange where all your competitor’s connections are housed. Who would know if you simply unplugged them for say, two minutes every now and then?

BT’s service wouldn’t have to be that good if the competition’s kept going off line, would it?

Sad to see Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect, Ray Ozzie leave the company this month. Ozzie created Lotus Notes, then Groove, which Microsoft bought out.

Ozzie was one of the good guys. Highly talented, well respected and Cloud orientated. Uniquely capable of filling the vacuum left by Bill Gates’ departure.

I doubt there is anyone following trends today who doesn’t accept the Cloud as our future. Nor who doesn’t realise that the restrictive and expensive desktop’s days are numbered. Anyone but Microsoft, that is.

I can imagine the frustration he felt as he battled against the cash-cow culture prevailing in Microsoft and its obsession with extracting every last penny from its customer base.

Ozzie was a Cloud visionary and tried to steer the desktop-obsessed Microsoft that way. Does this mean that Microsoft’s recent “we love the Cloud” stance is discredited?

Well, here’s my two-cent’s worth…

I love the stuff that comes my way through Facebook. Its a regular part of my daily routine, just as much as checking my post, answering my phone or opening my email.

What’s cool about Facebook is that it’s actually reflecting us. We’re shaping it every day. Facebook is as we are.

But you know, there’s another side to this. No, I’m not talking about some clandestine plot, What I’m suggesting is that Facebook is actually shaping us, too.

OK, so what do I mean by that. Do I mean its changed our habits, like fashion or television?

No, I’m saying it goes beyond that. Way beyond it. I’m saying its changing us as a society.

Imagine this scenario. You’re living in a nice house, but the window frames need replacing.

You have a good look round and find a new window company offering you a great deal. Lower maintenance, more light, much better looking and adding more value to your home. Your neighbours down the road have switched to them and really love them.

But your window cleaner doesn’t want you to have them. So he says no.

What, he’s your window cleaner. You pay him to do what he does. He’s actually saying no?

You’d fire him, wouldn’t you. No way you’d accept a decision of yours questioned like that. But if he’s your IT outsourcer, that’s exactly what he thinks he can do. And you let him do it.

An outsourcer wants to make money from supporting you, I don’t have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is anyone trying to hijack your company’s future.

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