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William McKnight

Hello and welcome to my blog!

I will periodically be sharing my thoughts and observations on information management here in the blog. I am passionate about the effective creation, management and distribution of information for the benefit of company goals, and I'm thrilled to be a part of my clients' growth plans and connect what the industry provides to those goals. I have played many roles, but the perspective I come from is benefit to the end client. I hope the entries can be of some modest benefit to that goal. Please share your thoughts and input to the topics.

About the author >

William is the president of McKnight Consulting Group, a firm focused on delivering business value and solving business challenges utilizing proven, streamlined approaches in data warehousing, master data management and business intelligence, all with a focus on data quality and scalable architectures. William functions as strategist, information architect and program manager for complex, high-volume, full life-cycle implementations worldwide. William is a Southwest Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, a frequent best-practices judge, has authored hundreds of articles and white papers, and given hundreds of international keynotes and public seminars. His team's implementations from both IT and consultant positions have won Best Practices awards. He is a former IT Vice President of a Fortune company, a former software engineer, and holds an MBA. William is author of the book 90 Days to Success in Consulting. Contact William at

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in William's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

December 2005 Archives

If you agree business intelligence is a brainy activity, read on. The dawn of a new year is a great time to think about the big picture of your career and what some of the macro factors are that affect it.

As widely reported on the internet (i.e., link to report), individual brain cells tend to 'recognize' famous people according to a study. The human brain is more efficient than we thought. The research found that some memories, such as those of famous people, events and facts, trigger a surprisingly small number of brain cells. Similar but different memories like an actress and that same actress paired with an actor actually trigger entirely different cells.

While falling short of proving that each memory is contained in a single brain cell, the results are surprising in that memories do not tend to be distributed over large areas of the brain, as we had thought.

So, the more brain cells we can accumulate, the more discrete memories we can accumulate. Studies show that even though we lose brain cells throughout life, neurons can regenerate. How can we do that? According to other research (past blog entry), one answer is to sleep.

Studies done with rats prove that apnea can destroy cells in the hippocampus, which is important for learning and memory. Moderate exercise can also help, as can avoiding high-fat, high-carb diets.

Posted December 29, 2005 12:11 PM
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E-week reports that the European Union has passed a contentious data-retention directive that requires all telephone and Internet traffic to be logged and stored for between six months and two years in order to help combat organized crime and terrorism.

Data to be retained include both incoming and outgoing phone numbers, how long calls last, and the location of calls, for both successful calls and those that get dropped. Also covered are IP addresses for SMS and Internet activity, as well as login and logoff times.

Posted December 23, 2005 1:30 PM
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Having trouble catching roaches? Now some of them are wearing tiny cannons on their backs!

From Science Magazine, we find researchers at the University of California, Berkeley are testing a new mathematical model about how quickly roaches regain stability. These little critters (little being relative here - the example given is a roach that's 44 millimeters long) compensate extremely quickly when thrown off balance (I guess that would be as long as they don't end up on their back).

The relevance mentioned is insight into our muscular and skeleton systems.


I am tempted to say something here about the stability of your data warehouse program, but I'll stop while I'm ahead.

Posted December 20, 2005 7:14 PM
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At a place now called La Marmotta, which is on Lake Bracciano, less than 20 miles northwest of Rome, a lake village has been found from 5700 B. C. (link: fee required). After several months of careful vacuuming in 1994, a 35-foot-long dugout canoe emerged. It was seaworthy, not just lake-worthy. Several years ago, a team bulit a copy and sailed nearly 500 miles along the Mediterranean coast.

The Marmottans came from far away. They brought pigs and cows, they cultivated flax and made wine. Pots contained grains and bones, the remains of Neolithic stew. They were in touch with other communities in the Mediterranean with many ships coming and going. That coming and going lasted more than 400 years. It was a well-organized village.

The settlement survived for at least 4 centuries before it was abandoned, suddenly and mysteriously, in about 5230 B. C.

I'm sure the Marmottans did not plan on abandoning their settlement suddenly and I'm sure it was a tough decision, brought on by peril - perhaps from other people, perhaps from a land producing less. (Here's the tie-in...) I also see many data warehouse projects abandoned, also usually with haste and without the team seeing it coming. Sometimes it is the right decision. Usually there are successful elements you'd like to carry over to any new efforts.

It could mean new technology, a new team, new leadership or new architecture. But many times it means new processes like metadata, performance management, ROI measurement, communication, change control, data quality, data stewardship and the like. Outside expert help, without the emotional attachment to the environment, can help produce the right go-forward plan from a non-producing warehouse environment.

Posted December 17, 2005 7:14 PM
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According to Linix Insider, Sony has patented a new theoretical technology based on neurological sensory stimulation of the human brain, allowing touch, taste and smell in a virtual sense. However, according to Gartner's Reynolds, it is unlikely that Sony will have a product based on the patent within its 17-year applicability!

Sony can't tell anyone what the technology really is. There's no prototype, nothing except the idea to show. The idea is that they plan to create a noninvasive brain interface for computer gaming.

Well, at least there's something to say for the flipside of the brain interface to the computer - simulated feedback to the brain. Put these 2 together, make them work and our individual ideal little worlds can become a reality.

Posted December 12, 2005 4:40 PM
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Tracking the flights of butterflies can be tricky. In "Radar Used to Track Butterflies' Loop-de-Loops", we learn that researchers in England have created a "harmonic radar device" that can be attached to the backs of the butterflies. It's a half-inch long wire attached to the back of the butterfly that transmits a signal. It requires no power and is much like an RFID device. So far, scientists have found, with this technique, that the seemingly random flight pattern is really a search pattern that help locate the source of nectar.

Posted December 10, 2005 9:19 AM
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Paul A. Strassman, in "Putting a Price on Brainpower", puts forward a methodology to measure knowledge capital. He updates the dated economic model (mechanization and new production processes or innovative technologies) to reflect brainpower, or knowledge capital.

The importance of knowledge is defined as Shareholder Equity - Market Capitalization. Divide that by Shareholder Equity and you have knowledge value. Divide that by number of employees and you have knowledge value per employee.

Drawing a correlation between this measure and making the most of your hard assets, Paul states the top 100 firms by book value, (i.e., the largest US firms) accounted for 71% of the total knowledge value for the US economy. So, large firms are achieving the largest increases from book value to market capitalization - something all compaies aspire to - making the most of their assets.

Since investors are willing to value firms at much more than their book value (essentially what the hard assets will generate), now more than ever, this makes some sense. Attributing the gap to "knowledge" is fair. Since there are no hard assets to attribute them to, it must be something else. If you're thinking it's "euphoria", Paul's already thought of that and exempts this calculation from those companies whose stock price is affected by "irrational exuberance."

I don't think this is going to help justify any DW/BI investments. I'm sticking with good old ROI, but it is a clever observation.

Posted December 7, 2005 8:38 AM
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Tired of having to move that mouse, type on that keyboard, use a pen computer or even speak to operate your computer? How about just think about what you want entered?

Scientists at the New York State Department of Health in Albany, NY have demonstrated a brain-computer interface (BCI) that send signals through electrode-laden caps which interpret the brain's rhythms and can move a computer cursor in any direction.

In "NEUROPROSTHETICS: Brain-Computer Interface Adds a New Dimension" (Link: fee required), Ingrid Wickelgren states "This fall, surgeons implanted 100 electrodes into the brain of a 25-year-old quadriplegic man and connected them to a computer that enables him to check his e-mail and choose a television channel with his thoughts alone. And monkeys with similarly implanted electrodes have used brain signals to move cursors or robotic arms in two dimensions (Science, 24 January 2003, p. 496). Now, in a groundbreaking development, two neuroscientists from the Wadsworth Center, part of the New York State Department of Health in Albany, have shown that similar feats may be possible without the dangers of inserting electrodes into the brain."

The article goes on to list different early-stage possibilities, including operating a wheelchair, chess-playing, moving a computer mouse and moving a limb.

Not only can brain signals could be used to control a computer, but now we learn it can be done without surgically implanting large numbers of tiny electrodes. The detector is called an electroencephalogram or EEG.

The implications are enormous, almost beyond belief, for future generations. Can you imagine business intelligence at the speed of.... thought?!

Posted December 6, 2005 10:24 AM
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