j.j. toothman

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Looking for Help on a Google Sites Project at NASA

Though it’s been a while since I posted anything on this blog, there have definitely been some interesting steps forward in advancing NASA’s enterprise Web environment. I’ll write more about that soon.  One thing those steps forward have resulted in is the green-lighting of some pilot projects to prototype new enterprise Web solutions for NASA.  One of those projects involves developing two prototypes using Google Sites software and other applications and features within the Google Apps Enterprise Suite.

I’m currently looking for 3 resources to help out with this pilot.  See below for details.

Project Description

The NASA Google Sites Projects will use Google Sites software (and other appropriate software applications within the Google Apps Enterprise Suite) to develop 2 prototype enterprise web solutions. The first prototype will explore Google Sites as a social intranet solution. The second prototype will explore Google Sites as a collaborative extranet that allows NASA scientists, researchers, and mission operations personnel to effectively and securely collaborate with trusted, non-NASA partners. Each prototype will be developed using content in existing legacy web content management solutions.

Project Timeline

Length of project is 2-3 months and will start on March 1.

Web Front End Design Engineer

Candidate will lead the visual interface design, information design, and information architecture of 2 prototype enterprise web sites to be built using Google Sites. Candidate will be responsible for developing the required Google Sites compatible themes, page templates, and Google gadgets required for the presentation of existing content within a Google Sites based solution. Candidate will also provide necessary documentation for use by resources tasked with content migration.

Required Skills

  • 3 years experience designing and implementing web sites/ web applications using front-end web technologies, including XHTML and CSS
  • Previous experience with Web content management systems and CMS templating features
  • Previous experience designing and implementing designs and information architectures for web content published with Google Sites

Content Manager (2)

The Content Managers will be tasked with the migration of content from existing web sites into prototype web sites built with Google Sites. This task will include the implementation and formatting and content into predefined templates and layouts.

Required Skills

  • Previous experience with online content management systems
  • Previous experience publishing content using web based content editors and publishing tools used for display of photos and images
  • Understanding of web templates and layouts
  • Understanding of web display technologies such as html

To be clear, candidates would be working for Dell Federal Government Services on a contract Dell has to provide I.T. resources at NASA Ames Research Center in California.  But I am willing to discuss the project and work with the right person located anywhere in the U.S.

If you are interested, send me an email at jj.toothman@nasa.gov.  Please include your resume; any web links that might help me get to know  you and your previous work; and your hourly rate if possible.

The big (and only?) opportunity for Google+

We’re a couple weeks into the life of Google+.  Yes, it has been fun to be part of a social network as it is born and learns to take its first steps.  The hangouts feature is definitely uber-compelling and the circles interface is kinda neat.  But other than that how much has Google+ really differentiated itself from Facebook.

By the way, if the above paragraph means little to you, it probably means that you have yet to try out Google+. Everything you wanted to know about Google+ (so far) can be found in this Mashable post.

What I think about Google+ is that by the end of 2013, we won’t be talking about it anymore and the tumbleweeds will be rolling in.  One of the big things I’ve heard people say about Google+ is that it provides a Facebook “do-over” for those Facebook users that ruined their social graphs by friending too many people, or worse, friending a lot of strangers.  But I think people like that are in the minority of Facebook’s 700 million users.  Furthermore, I think the majority of Facebook users shudder at the thought of having to recreate their networks on something like Google+. 

But there is a place Google+ can be an easy, uncontested slam dunk.  That’s as internal social network for enterprises making use of Google Apps. The number of people craving a Facebook for the workplace is massive.  People want to utilize social network mechanics as tools for working together and getting stuff done.  And while there have been plenty of attempts to provide this from companies such as Microsoft, Jive, and Salesforce, Google is in a position to simply turn Google+ on as part of its Google Apps offering and provide the solution with very little barrier to adoption.  I’m telling you, it would be an instant success.

I’m certainly not alone in desiring Google+ be included as a Google Apps feature and fortunately, Google appears to be hearing the pleas and taking action.

Game Changer: Google Apps gains FISMA Certification

One thing I’ve noticed since returning to NASA a few months ago is that the federal government is completely obsessed with cloud computing.  From the casual hallway conversations to the multi-hour strategic planning sessions, it is impossible to have a verbal I.T. related interaction without “cloud computing” being mentioned within that exchange.

Which is why last month’s announcement by Google that the Google Apps suite1 has acquired FISMA certification2 is a pretty big deal. 

OK, maybe that previous sentence understated this impact a bit.  Let’s try it another way. 

Google Apps and FISMA is a total game changer for federal government.

Here’s why…

$$$$$$

The Federal Government spends a ton running email and calendaring services.  Mostly using Microsoft Exchange.  Pick whatever set of numbers you want to use to calculate the yearly spending on these services.  There is no way it matches Google’s $50 per person per year license cost. 

Leave the email server headaches to someone else

Before I came back to NASA, I worked for a startup company that was using the Google Apps suite and GMail for their company email.   You know what never landed in my inbox?  A regularly notice telling me that Email services were going to experience a maintenance outage.  Managing email storage is a pain.  It requires specialist system administrators.  Utilization of the Google Apps suite allows that pain to go away.

Demand for Google Apps is already in place

Almost anyone that enters the federal government workforce using web-based email.  And a good deal of those people are Gmail users.3  Come to think of it, I’m not sure I know anyone who is using an OS loaded email client.  Unless their workplace requires it.  And that’s pretty much

Govvies are absoultely jonesin’ for decent workplace collaboration tools

I can’t tell you have many times I notice a two or more people at NASA working on something in Google Docs.  I’ve been seeing this for years.  Increasingly, people have been “going rogue” by exchanging their GMail addresses and working together in Google Docs and Spreadsheets.  This happens on a daily basis.  Personally, I must work on something NASA related with a fellow NASA person using Google Docs at least once a week. 

We’re constantly being asked to do more with less.  And in the area of efficient collaboration tools, they really mean less.  They mean practically none. 


  1. For you Web 1.0-ers  with your hand in the sand regarding this stuff The Google Apps suite is stuff like Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, and more.  Basically, it’s a Web 2.0 posterchild 

  2. FISMA is basically a set of  government I.T. standard that have been estabished by the National Institute of Science and Technology 

  3. I haven’t seen any actual numbers on this, its just a subjective observation 

3 Key Features Added to Google Reader

Total happiness.

That pretty much sums up I feel about the new features in Google Reader. Simple yet critical to making it a kick-ass RSS consumer.

  • Search box
  • Remembering state so you can use forward and back buttons on your browser to navigate within your feeds you’ve navigated to just like they were web pages
  • Ability to hide the lefthand side navigation.

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