Welcome to Ask Bloggy

Paul Murphy suggested y'all might like an advice column. I agreed.

Paul Murphy suggested y'all might like an advice column. I agreed.

We have different perspectives. He's technical and corporate. I'm not. But over the last several months the two viewpoints have proven valuable, a point-counterpoint for ZDNet readers.

The idea is based on the advice columns produced for nearly 50 years now by the Friedman sisters of Sioux City, Iowa. Never heard of the Friedman sisters, Pauline Esther and her twin Esther Pauline? Both born on the 4th of July in 1918? Of course you have. You just know them by their pen names, Abigail Van Buren and Ann Landers.

Jeanne Phillips, aka Dear Abby

The two sisters were as different as different could be. Abby was straightforward and direct. Ann was more acerbic, given to puns. But they helped millions of people over many decades. Abby's column is now written by her daughter, Jeanne Phillips. (That's Jeanne to the right, from her syndicator's site  -- much prettier than either Paul or I ever dreamt of being.) Ann's column died with her, in 2002,  to be replaced by Annie's Mailbox, written by Kathy Mitchell and Margaret Sugar.

We don't dare hope for a fraction of the Friedmans' success. We'd settle for helping a few tens, or hundreds, maybe thousands of folks over the next few years, with your open source questions. As Paul explained on his own blog:

We'd like to provide real answers while disclaiming all legal liability for anything and everything -and that means we need some real questions. The talkback section is a good place for that - or you can contact contact us directly - I'm murph at winface.com.

I, on the other hand, can be reached as dana at a-clue.com.

Here's more advice, from Abby, uh, Paul:

The questions should relate to people or technology but not be simple how-tos. For example, talkback contributor Howard2nd recently sketched this situation:
SPARC or MAC or SGI or Whomever

I run a small network at a state agency with perpetually limited funding. My bosses want 'bang for the buck!". Every year I get to upgrade about 20% of the systems. If I went SPARC or Mac I could only do 10%. We all use Microsoft Office, because it is what we know and the staff with real jobs are NOT going to spend weeks or months of reduced productivity to learn alternative software.

If he'd get in touch and give permission, we'd be pleased to share our, ahem, wisdom, on changing his signature to "Happy, in Agency."

That's it for now from Ann, uh, Dana.