Thursday, May 31, 2007

» What Google Gears means for Rich Internet Applications and Apollo | The Universal Desktop | ZDNet.com

Check the post for more details and related links 

Some big news today that Google is announcing an open source project called “Google Gears” which is an open source collaboration between Google, Adobe, Mozilla, and Opera that enables offline web applications in the browser. It seems very similar to the announcement that Mozilla made about the offline features in Firefox 3 and will be a huge benefit for browser applications everywhere (including those being developed in Flash).

Source: » What Google Gears means for Rich Internet Applications and Apollo | The Universal Desktop | ZDNet.com

Bill & Steve: Best Friends Forever - Forbes.com

It's amusing, in a pitiful sort of way, to see the mainstream press disappointment about the fact that the joint Gates/Jobs interview didn't turn into a fight 

One can only hope that they were kidding and this was not the valedictory moment it seemed. These guys make good things and thrive on competition. With luck, Jobs showed his continued interest in the game earlier in the day, when he indicated that Apple's iTunes was now on over 300 million computers worldwide, mostly Windows machines. That Apple (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people ) is one of the biggest external developers for Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) is a boon, he said, since having his software in Microsoft products “is like giving a glass of water to somebody in Hell.”

Source: Bill & Steve: Best Friends Forever - Forbes.com

A Trip Down Memory Lane and Over the Horizon - New York Times

Check this page for a couple video excerpts

Mr. Gates said he was sometimes frustrated by the fact that the players in the industry changed so quickly. "I miss it when people come and go. It's nice when people stick around and it gives us some context," he said.During a question and answer period at the end of the session both men were asked to comment on the other's strengths. Mr. Gates singled out Mr. Jobs intuitive aesthetic sense.

"I'd give a lot to have Steve's taste," Mr. Gates said, drawing laughter from the audience. "The way he does things, it's just different."

Mr. Jobs returned the compliment, noting that Mr. Gates skills at building business partnerships were something that eluded him in his first decade at Apple.

Source: A Trip Down Memory Lane and Over the Horizon - New York Times

Google brand of growth takes root in Kendall Sq. - The Boston Globe

 Snapshot of Google's expansion in the Boston area (see the full article for details)

A favorite parlor game in Greater Boston technology circles has been guessing which area company will grow up to be the next Google Inc., the Silicon Valley search provider that has become the behemoth of the Internet economy.

But if a team of Kendall Square techies has its way, the next Google in the Boston area will be Google itself

Source: Google brand of growth takes root in Kendall Sq. - The Boston Globe

Moving Web-Based Software Offline - New York Times

This is going to backfire on Google in a big way if it's not a robust solution.  Beyond-the-basics off-line support is a subtle but very complex challenge.  

Google hopes other companies will use Gears to extend their own software and services. Some Microsoft rivals, including Adobe and Mozilla, which is behind the Firefox Web browser, are collaborating with Google on the technology.

But it could also help Google’s rivals. If the Gears technology proves effective, scores of software programs, including Yahoo Mail and Microsoft’s Hotmail, might one day be used offline to read e-mail messages and to compose new ones. The new e-mail messages would be sent the next time a user connects to the Internet.

Google said Gears was in early stages of development. “This is not a solution that is going to work with everything on Day 1,” Mr. Smith said.

Moving Web-Based Software Offline - New York Times

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Google Operating System: Google Gears - Offline Functionality for Web Apps

Hmm -- so Adobe Apollo, Firefox 3, and now Google Gears are all going to address the same problem space? 

Web applications bring your data online and make it available anywhere there's an Internet connection. But happens when you're on a plane or when you can't find a WiFi hotspot?
Google launched an open source browser extension for IE and Firefox called Google Gears that enables web applications to be available offline.

See the post for more details, e.g., on Gears used with Google Reader.

Google Operating System: Google Gears - Offline Functionality for Web Apps

DragonStyle: Windows Live Writer Beta 2 Arrives

Congrats to JJ Allaire and his team on a major milestone

Today is a good day - we're shipping Beta 2 of Windows Live Writer.  

For the last 6 or so months, we've been hard at work improving Writer, splitting our time between feedback we've gotten from users, features that we believe need to be added to make the product complete, and improvements that make Writer available to more users. For a full rundown of the features, you can check out the Windows Live Writer blog.

DragonStyle: Windows Live Writer Beta 2 Arrives

Microsoft Surface

Check out the interactive scenarios on this page (via Barry Briggs) -- very impressive. 

(I guess the Surface team didn't get the Silverlight memo, however; the content is all Flash...)

Link to Microsoft Surface

Palm, Inc. - Products - Foleo

Makes sense to me...  The Jeff Hawkins video intro on this page (the "future" link) clearly indicates it won't just be for Palm mobile devices

With its 10-inch screen and full-size keyboard, the Palm Foleo mobile companion connects wirelessly with your smartphone to help you do more on the go. Unfold it, press a button, and it's on instantly—while just one touch brings your email to the big screen.1 Use your Foleo to view attachments, type longer emails, or to get a bigger look at web pages and photos you'd normally view on your smartphone.2 And with up to five hours of battery life packed into such a compact design, you'll do big things wherever you go.

Source: Palm, Inc. - Products - Foleo

Spire Security Viewpoint: Google gets into the security business with GreenBorder Technologies

My Burton Group colleague Pete Lindstrom's take on Google's GreenBorder acquisition (see the post for GreenBorder details) 

With all the hoopla surrounding Web 2.0 security, this seems like a prudent purchase for Google. What will be interesting to see is whether it decides to charge for the software or simply considers this the infrastructure cost to further its current business models. Note that it is unlikely that GreenBorder cost a lot - I think they have been through at least three senior management changes in the past five years or so.

Neat stuff. Will be very interesting to see what a company with Google's muscle can do with it.

Source: Spire Security Viewpoint: Google gets into the security business with GreenBorder Technologies

Novell's Dilemma - Forbes.com

See the article for a financial snapshot. 

The upside? Novell has more than $1.8 billion worth of cash and short-term investments. And with its accounting review wrapped up, the company can now spread a little of that money around.

The company could start buying back shares or it may even reward open-source developers with a few acquisitions, analysts say. Spreading a little of its money around in the open-source community may not make it any more popular, but at least it won't be the only software company accused of selling out.

Hmm -- mkt cap is ~$2.5B, and the company has $1.8B cash/short-term investments?...

Source: Novell's Dilemma - Forbes.com

IBM's buyback binge includes $11.5B loan - Yahoo! News

See the article for more details. 

Like many other large companies, Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM is on a buyback binge. It has spent $80 billion on its own stock since 1995. By taking shares out of circulation, the move increases the company's earnings per share and gives IBM more shares it can dole out in stock options.

In April, largely to please investors tired of IBM's so-so stock performance, the company's board authorized $15 billion in new repurchases — two and a half times what IBM spends annually on research and development. Recently IBM has been spending about $100 million a day buying its own shares on the open market.

Source: IBM's buyback binge includes $11.5B loan - Yahoo! News

Microsoft Surface Virtual Pressroom

Much more info on Surface 

The launch of Microsoft Surface marks the beginning of a new technology category and a user-interface revolution. Surface, Microsoft’s first surface computer, provides effortless interaction with digital content through natural hand gestures, touch and physical objects. Surface computing breaks down traditional barriers between people and technology, changing the way people interact with all kinds of everyday information — from photos to maps to menus.

Source: Microsoft Surface Virtual Pressroom

Take Note: Computing Takes Up Pen, Again - New York Times

Deja vu -- unclear why this is a big headline in NYT and WSJ today 

Instead of forcing users to write with a stylus on a computer’s slippery display, Livescribe put the computer inside a plump ballpoint pen that is used on paper imprinted with nearly invisible miniature dots. As a user writes, a tiny camera near the pen’s tip watches those dots go by, recording what is being written.

Mr. Marggraff said calling it pen computing is a misnomer. “We are creating paper-based computing,” he said.

Source: Take Note: Computing Takes Up Pen, Again - New York Times

Touch Screen in a Table Is the Latest Wrinkle in Computers - New York Times

Capable of some interesting tricks -- see the article for details. 

Having just tried its hand at developing a digital music player, Microsoft is working on something new: digital furniture.

The company plans to unveil a computing device today called Microsoft Surface, featuring a 30-inch screen embedded in an acrylic tabletop. The device’s electronic guts are hidden in the low-slung table’s thick pedestal.

 

Source: Touch Screen in a Table Is the Latest Wrinkle in Computers - New York Times

IBM Hones the Stock Buyback - WSJ.com

 One way to increase earnings per share...

International Business Machines Corp. said it has spent $12.5 billion to buy back its stock in one of the largest uses of an "accelerated share repurchase," a tactic that allows a company to boost per-share earnings more rapidly than it would using a conventional buyback approach.

In the complex deal, IBM created a Netherlands unit to finance the stock repurchase with overseas earnings and avoid having to repatriate funds, which would make them subject to higher U.S. taxes.

Source: IBM Hones the Stock Buyback - WSJ.com

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Media Alert: New York, New York, in 3-D — Seeing Is Believing: Live Search Maps launches photo-realistic 3-D imagery of New York City, several other cities.

Pretty cool -- see the press release for details on other cities available in 3-D 

Microsoft® Live Search Maps will today begin offering three-dimensional, photo-realistic views of New York City buildings and landscapes, with perspectives that few people apart from Superman have ever seen. The free online service will provide a unique look at many of New York’s iconic locations, along with local listings, ratings and reviews and driving directions to help people easily find, discover, plan and share relevant location information that is important to them on the Web.

Source: Media Alert: New York, New York, in 3-D — Seeing Is Believing: Live Search Maps launches photo-realistic 3-D imagery of New York City, several other cities.

Avaya Is Said to Be Exploring a Sale of All or Some of Itself - New York Times

It looks like there's not much left to this market except for high-stakes acquisition fodder. 

The telecommunications sector has proved ripe for deals recently. Last week, Alltel, the wireless service provider, has agreed to a $27.5 billion buyout by the Texas Pacific Group and a unit of Goldman Sachs. In turn, Western equipment makers are facing pressure from low-cost Asian manufacturers, as well as the growing size and purchasing power of a few large phone companies.

Last year, Avaya was seen as a hunter, not the hunted, as many analysts suspected that it was a contender to buy the enterprise communications unit from Siemens. But Avaya passed, and Siemens proved unable to sell the business.

Two of the largest telecommunications equipment makers, Alcatel and Lucent Technologies, agreed to merge a year ago in a $11.6 billion deal.

Source: Avaya Is Said to Be Exploring a Sale of All or Some of Itself - New York Times

War Fears Turn Digital After Data Siege in Estonia - New York Times

Interesting times 

For NATO, the attack may lead to a discussion of whether it needs to modify its commitment to collective defense, enshrined in Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty. Mr. Aarelaid said NATO’s Internet security experts said little but took copious notes during their visit.

Because of the murkiness of the Internet — where attackers can mask their identities by using the Internet addresses of others, or remotely program distant computers to send data without their owners even knowing it — several experts said that the attackers would probably never be caught. American government officials said that the nature of the attacks suggested they were initiated by “hacktivists,” technical experts who act independently from governments.

Source: War Fears Turn Digital After Data Siege in Estonia - New York Times

Avaya May Be Next Telecom Takeover Call - WSJ.com

The consolidation continues 

Telecommunications-equipment maker Avaya Inc. is in talks with private-equity and strategic bidders about selling part or all of the company, according to people familiar with the matter, the latest sign that there could be a new round of mergers and acquisitions in the telecommunications-equipment industry.

Source: Avaya May Be Next Telecom Takeover Call - WSJ.com

Google bid for ad firm said to face FTC probe - The Boston Globe

A pivotal moment for Google 

Within a few weeks, perhaps within days, the FTC will decide whether to escalate its investigation into the Google deal, antitrust experts say. That step, known as a "second request" for information, would suggest that the proposed acquisition raises more serious antitrust issues.

Google said it was confident that the deal would withstand scrutiny.

Source: Google bid for ad firm said to face FTC probe - The Boston Globe

Myspace - the next Prodigy? | AlwaysOn

Timely reality check 

While the concept of a “widget” might seem trivial to many outside of Silicon Valley, the ability to automatically embed a rich flash application inside another site is very powerful.  It has become a new vehicle for massively gaining viral distribution.  One well-known example is Youtube, as their growth was significantly driven by Myspace  -- with Myspace quickly becoming Youtube’s largest source of traffic.   

And this new opportunity has not gone unnoticed by the VC community.  I'd estimate that over $250 million dollars has been invested in widget companies during the last 18 months.

Source: Myspace - the next Prodigy? | AlwaysOn

Friday, May 25, 2007

Driving Toward Solid-State Drives - Consumer/Personal Tech Blog - InformationWeek

I'm looking forward to the point where this technology mainstreams... 

One of the more interesting conversations I had at Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) last week in Los Angeles was with two guys from Samsung. They talked about their company's push into solid-state memory as an enhancement -- and eventually a replacement -- for rotating hard disk storage on computers. Samsung isn't the only manufacturer working to develop plug-compatible flash memory-based storage. In January the five largest drive makers -- Samsung, Seagate, Fujitsu, Toshiba, and Hitachi, formed the Hybrid Hard Drive Alliance to promote the technology. HHD seems to be ready, and the market seems to be primed. The only hold-up seems to the price.

Source: Driving Toward Solid-State Drives - Consumer/Personal Tech Blog - InformationWeek

BBC NEWS | Business | Third of bloggers 'risk the sack'

 Timely reality check

More than a third of UK bloggers risk the sack by posting derogatory or damaging details about their workplace, boss or colleagues, a survey claims.

Human resources company Croner, which commissioned the study, warned that such bloggers could be sacked from their job for gross misconduct.

Source: BBC NEWS | Business | Third of bloggers 'risk the sack'

I Am Locutus of GOOG. Resistance Is Futile. | Digital Daily | John Paczkowski | AllThingsD

Bad press karma for Google this week -- see the post for more details 

The company’s enormous success and relentless pursuit of new markets has inspired some in the entrepreneurial culture that produced it to take an evil-empire view of the search-engine phenomenon–one that’s increasingly echoed in the media. To wit, a rather hysterical front-page story in the (London) Independent draws some rather unoriginal comparisons between Google’s efforts to organize the world’s information and Big Brother’s efforts to control it.

googborther.jpg

Source: I Am Locutus of GOOG. Resistance Is Futile. | Digital Daily | John Paczkowski | AllThingsD

Facebook Expands Into MySpace’s Territory - New York Times

Social software competitive dynamics 

Some of the new features, demonstrated by software developers at a Facebook event here on Thursday, will allow members to recommend and listen to music, insert Amazon book reviews onto their pages, play games and join charity drives, all without leaving the site.

The result is expected to be a proliferation of new tools and activities for Facebook’s 24 million active users, who have largely been limited to making online connections, sharing photos and planning events.

Source: Facebook Expands Into MySpace’s Territory - New York Times

Technology Review: Broadcast Your Life Online, 24-7

Kinda weird... 

But as trendy as lifecasting may become, it will be just one of many applications for live video-streaming services, says Chris Yeh, Ustream's CEO and an investor and serial entrepreneur. Other customers are using Ustream to broadcast product launches, church services, college graduations, and the like. "I don't know for sure if [live video streaming] will be big, but it's one of those ideas that has the potential to be a multi-billion-dollar business," says Yeh.

If nothing else, I suspect there is serious potential for people who operate like the gargoyles in Snow Crash.

Source: Technology Review: Broadcast Your Life Online, 24-7

I, Cringely . The Pulpit . The Final Days of Google | PBS

Timely Cringely reality check -- read the full post.

Google is an amazing entrepreneurial petri dish. Yet at the same time, it is doomed to disappoint nearly every entrepreneurial type who works there. This is key: Google is sowing the seeds of its own eventual destruction. It can't help doing so.

I agree there's considerable potential for Google to pull a Netscape -- to implode before external threats become critical.

Source: I, Cringely . The Pulpit . The Final Days of Google | PBS

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rob Pegoraro - Palm's Dumber Smart Phone - washingtonpost.com

Quite a contrast to the Palm press of the past 

Not even three years ago, the Treo 650 smart phone looked revolutionary. But its latest successor, the Treo 755p Palm unveiled two weeks ago, feels more like a relic.

The Treo's basic concept -- uniting a cellphone, handheld organizer, miniaturized keyboard, touch-sensitive screen, Web and e-mail access and media playback in one device -- makes sense. But while competitors have advanced, Palm has been napping on the train tracks.

Source: Rob Pegoraro - Palm's Dumber Smart Phone - washingtonpost.com

» Google is failing the Microsoft litmus test | All about Microsoft | ZDNet.com

 Timely reality check; see the post for a few examples

If you want to evaluate the “evil” quotient of any company’s strategy/behavior, consider how you’d feel about it if it were Microsoft in the driver seat.

Robert McLaws of Windows-Now.com fame reminded me of my “Is Google evil?” litmus test in his post, “Google: The New Big Brother.” As McLaws paraphrased it: “When looking at any new Google venture, swap out the word ‘Google” with ‘Microsoft’ and ask yourself if you’re still OK with what’s happening.”

Source: » Google is failing the Microsoft litmus test | All about Microsoft | ZDNet.com

Microsoft Asks, Why Buy Yahoo? - New York Times

Confidence and/or negotiating tactic?... 

Microsoft said Wednesday that it did not need to buy Yahoo to gain scale in online advertising, because it had “all the pieces” to build a successful ad business.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Internet Conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft’s chief advertising strategist, Yusuf Mehdi, said that the company was already bigger than Yahoo in terms of users of its Web services like e-mail and instant messaging.

Source: Microsoft Asks, Why Buy Yahoo? - New York Times

Product information for the Trekstor MovieStation - New York Times

Very pragmatic 

The MovieStation, available at J&R Computer World and Amazon.com, starts at $300 for 250 gigabytes. The largest version, a 500-gigabyte model that costs about $400, can store about 128,000 MP3 files or 125 movies. The drive has optical and analog audio outputs along with composite video outputs for playing that content on any stereo or compatible television.

Source: Product information for the Trekstor MovieStation - New York Times

$11m aims to foster a new digital 'fifth estate' - The Boston Globe

Interesting times...

The future of journalism is in your hands.

That was the message yesterday as the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation handed out more than $11 million in prize money to various bloggers and computer programmers, and organizations ranging from MIT to MTV, for proposals that will empower ordinary people to participate in digital media.

[...]

"We talk about the fifth estate -- the fourth estate is traditionally newspapers, but the fifth estate might be an army of citizens that uses new media to keep an eye both on government officials and on professional journalists," said Henry Jenkins , director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Comparative Media Studies Program, which shared the top $5 million prize with the MIT Media Lab to create the new media center.

Source: $11m aims to foster a new digital 'fifth estate' - The Boston Globe

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dept. of Technology: Remember This?: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

Extensive profile of Gordon Bell and his work 

This, by the way, is the Gordon Bell, aged seventy-two, of Microsoft, who has been described as “the Frank Lloyd Wright of computers”; who, at the Digital Equipment Corporation, was among the first engineers to fashion computers into a network; who led the National Science Foundation effort to link the world’s supercomputers—the Internet. The Gordon Bell, incidentally, who believes that one day houses will have no windows, so it won’t matter where they are—screens on the walls will display whatever we want to look at.

Source: Dept. of Technology: Remember This?: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

Amazon Agrees to Buy Brilliance Audio, Independent Publisher of Audiobooks - WSJ.com

Interesting milestone 

Amazon.com Inc. Wednesday agreed to buy Brilliance Audio, an independent publisher of audiobooks. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

The acquisition will allow Amazon, Seattle, to "make it more efficient for authors and book publishers of all sizes to expand the number of titles produced in increasingly popular audio formats," Amazon.com vice president of books Greg Greely said in a prepared statement.

Amazon.com said Brilliance Audio is the largest independent publisher of audiobooks in the U.S.

Source: Amazon Agrees to Buy Brilliance Audio, Independent Publisher of Audiobooks - WSJ.com

FT.com / Companies / Media & internet - Google’s goal: to organise your daily life

Somehow I don't find this comforting 

Google’s ambition to maximise the personal information it holds on users is so great that the search engine envisages a day when it can tell people what jobs to take and how they might spend their days off.

Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, said gathering more personal data was a key way for Google to expand and the company believes that is the logical extension of its stated mission to organise the world’s information.

Source: FT.com / Companies / Media & internet - Google’s goal: to organise your daily life

Sony may sell 80-gig Playstation 3 in US - Boston.com

And it'll probably only cost ~twice as much as the 120 gig Xbox Elite... 

Sony's PlayStation 3 video game console will come with a beefed up 80-gigabyte hard-disk drive in South Korea, and that model is being considered for the U.S. and other markets, a company official said Wednesday.

Source: Sony may sell 80-gig Playstation 3 in US - Boston.com

BBC NEWS | UK | Education | Google bans essay writing adverts

Read the full article for more details, e.g., on legitmate firms that will suffer as a result of this policy 

Google's forthcoming ban on adverts for "academic paper-writing services and the sale of pre-written essays, theses, and dissertations" means that essay websites join a blacklist of "unacceptable content" including adverts for weapons, prostitution, drugs, tobacco, fake documents and "miracle cures".

The move has been applauded by universities which have struggled with the problem of students dishonestly submitting material copied from the internet.

Source: BBC NEWS | UK | Education | Google bans essay writing adverts

Message to Michael: Just Say, Well, No. | BoomTown | Kara Swisher | AllThingsD

Timely reality check. 

In what I can only describe as a sentimental-veering-toward-weepy riff on the ongoing saga of “Silicon Valley Bubble: The Sequel,” TechCrunch blogger Michael Arrington waxes on about the need for a downturn to stop the madness.

“Times are good, money is flowing, and Silicon Valley sucks,” he writes in earnest about how all that was once beautiful and pure about the Web 2.0 culture has become a wee bit tawdry.

Hmm -- I hadn't read many of Kara Swisher's AllThingsD posts before (I did read and enjoy her AOL book a few years ago), but her writing style is vaguely reminiscent... of FSJ.

Source: Message to Michael: Just Say, Well, No. | BoomTown | Kara Swisher | AllThingsD

Google Investing in Company Started by Co-Founder’s Wife - New York Times

Weird that Google would apparently invest in part to close out Sergey Brin's personal loan.  With fuel prices near record levels, maybe he needed the cash for his 767.

In Silicon Valley’s version of “The Bachelor,” Anne Wojcicki not only landed one of America’s richest men, Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, but she also got her husband’s company to finance her start-up.

Source: Google Investing in Company Started by Co-Founder’s Wife - New York Times

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Assault on Reason - Al Gore - Book - Review - New York Times

Read the review, read the book,  discuss/debate the topics with your friends and family, and get involved

Much the way that the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” showed a more accessible Al Gore — at ease with himself and passionate about the dangers of global warming — this book shows a fiery, throw-caution-to-the winds Al Gore, who, whether or not he runs for the White House again, has decided to lay it all on the line with a blistering assessment of the Bush administration and the state of public discourse in America at this “fateful juncture” in history.

Source: The Assault on Reason - Al Gore - Book - Review - New York Times

Compiler - Wired Blogs: Hands On: Microsoft Popfly Not As Easy As It Looks

 Review of Popfly with several screen shots

Popfly, currently an invitation-only alpha, is an authoring tool that lets users build simple data mash-ups inside a cute, game-like interface. It's a bit like Pipes, the mash-up creation service Yahoo debuted in February. People were a little confused when Pipes came out, but Popfly is even simpler. Data services appear as floating cubes. You string the cubes together, tell them how to talk to each other and -- voilĂ  -- you've got a mash-up.

Eager to see what Silverlight is all about, I played with PopFly for a couple of hours. While it definitely benefits from its rich user experience and its creators' strong understanding of how non-developers approach common programming problems, I found it not quite as easy to use as I had hoped. I also encountered a few bugs with the Silverlight platform itself that indicate it has some toughening up to do if it's going to seriously challenge Flash.

My take:

1.  It's alpha software -- don't be surprised if it hangs/crashes occasionally

2.  The output/input parameter mapping issue is an inconvenience but isn't rocket science

3.  Popfly is likely to become a lot more powerful when it's updated to work with Silverlight 1.1 (i.e., with the .NET Framework and languages)

Overall, I'm very impressed with Popfly so far.

Source: Compiler - Wired Blogs

Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Google uncovers a million malware sites

Yikes... 

Google's program to identify internet sites that distribute computer viruses and other "malware" has so far uncovered one million web pages that are infecting the computers of unsuspecting surfers, report Panayiotis Mavrommatis and Niels Provos of the search company's Anti-Malware Team. Most of the sites engaging in what the researchers term "drive-by downloads" are ordinary sites whose owners "are often unaware that their web servers have been compromised."

Based on an analysis of a sample of sites, the Google researchers estimate that one in every thousand websites may be "malicious."

Source: Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Google uncovers a million malware sites

Lotus Notes gets a facelift: Version 8 beta review and visual tour

First detailed review of Notes 8 (beta 2) I've seen so far.  Jumping to the final paragraphs:

IBM's overhaul of the Notes user interface is largely for the good. Even though I don't personally like the consumery look of the new calendar, things like in-message "conversation" viewing and the new "Open" button for applications are useful additions. But it can still be a daunting piece of software to get to know, with some nonintuitive UI issues remaining.

From the perspective of the end-user e-mail client alone, I'd be happy to upgrade to Notes 8 to get added features such as in-message threading and Activities, but not so much so that I'm ready to plead with our IT department for an upgrade. I might make a single request, though: With the word processing and spreadsheet collaboration that Quickr is supposed to bring, an upgrade would be more appealing. 

See the full article for details and screen shots.

Link to Lotus Notes gets a facelift: Version 8 beta review and visual tour

Technology Review: Google, Salesforce.com aim at Microsoft with possible alliance

Interesting times... 

Salesforce.com Inc.'s stock price climbed by more than 4 percent Monday in response to a report that the online software pioneer is poised to team up with Internet search leader Google Inc. in a double-barreled attack on Microsoft Corp.

Although details are still being negotiated, the alliance would most likely involve blending Google mass-market applications like instant messaging, word processing and spreadsheets with Salesforce.com's business programs for managing customer relationships, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Source: Technology Review: Google, Salesforce.com aim at Microsoft with possible alliance

Monday, May 21, 2007

IBM developerWorks : Blogs : Designing the User Experience for Lotus Notes and Sametime

 See the post comments for an on-average ambivalent response -- go figure...

Do your Notes apps make use of much OLE embedding? If so, how numerous and/or important are these apps?
Does you organization make use of the embedded MS word editor?
I ask this because the user experience with any embedded OLE object will be different in Notes 8.  Specifically, INSTEAD of in-place activiation,
creating a new document or clicking on OLE control causes full client (Word, Excel, Paint, etc.)  to launch.

Source: IBM developerWorks : Blogs : Designing the User Experience for Lotus Notes and Sametime

Google Patent Applications Point To PageRank Changes -- Google Patents -- InformationWeek

Some potential clues about what's next for Google search; see the article for mroe details 

Recent patent applications filed by Google shows that the online search leader is working to soup up its search algorithm to provide more detailed and targeted results. Those improvements could lead to improved media search and dynamic content, according to a search engine expert who discussed the findings at this week's Enterprise Search Summit meeting in New York and in a Wall Street analyst report.

Stephen E. Arnold, managing director of Arnold IT and the author of a book on Google, said his analysis of recent patents filed by Google indicate the search engine company will be able to increase its dominance of the search market and dash predictions that competitors like Microsoft and Yahoo will whittle away at the firm's lead.

Source: Google Patent Applications Point To PageRank Changes -- Google Patents -- InformationWeek

Salesforce.com launches SOA in the cloud - Yahoo! News

More on salesforce.com's latest 

What Salesforce really seems to be delivering instead is the first enterprise-class mash-up platform, enabling developers to use its Apex platform to provision the functionality of internal applications as services and orchestrate them together with partner or Salesforce services. That may fall several miles short of SOA as a service, but it could be a boon to businesses that want to develop complex Web applications quickly.

Source: Salesforce.com launches SOA in the cloud - Yahoo! News

Howard Kurtz - Interviews, Going the Way of the Linotype? - washingtonpost.com

Interesting times 

But in the digital age, some executives and commentators are saying they will respond only by e-mail, which allows them to post the entire exchange if they feel they have been misrepresented, truncated or otherwise disrespected. And some go further, saying, You want to know what I think? Read my blog.

"The balance of power has shifted," says Jay Rosen, who teaches journalism at New York University. "Everyone used to be landlocked, and the media was the outlet to the sea of public discussion. But now there are many routes. . . . Readers have more power because they have more sources, and sources have more power because they can go direct to readers."

Source: Howard Kurtz - Interviews, Going the Way of the Linotype? - washingtonpost.com

Platformonomics - Book Review: The Black Swan

Excellent and extensive book review from Charles Fitzgerald. 

The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is sort of a follow-up to his earlier Fooled By the Randomness, which dealt with why people are poorly suited to decision-making in the face of uncertainty.

The Black Swan deals with the "impact of the highly improbable" and argues that these events, dubbed Black Swans, are far more common then we think, in part because of the perverse influence of modern statistics which assumes all kinds of things are normally distributed except for the minor detail that they aren't.

Source: Platformonomics - Book Review: The Black Swan

Avis to offer wireless Internet gear - Boston.com

Smart move, although I imagine a large percentage of the people who could benefit from such an offering already have wide-area wireless broadband services.   

Avis Rent A Car System is offering customers a wireless Internet service to use in its rented cars, hotel rooms and other places a traveler might go.

The new Avis Connect service, priced at $10.95 per day, can transmit a Wi-Fi signal to multiple laptops and other mobile devices at the same time.

Source: Avis to offer wireless Internet gear - Boston.com

Microsoft Continues to Expand Interoperability Options for Office Customers: Company funds new open source project to enable translation between the emerging Chinese UOF standard and Open XML, and delivers additional beta to enable further interoperability with ODF

Interesting times 

As part of its continued commitment to deliver interoperability by design, Microsoft Corp. today announced a new collaborative effort with the Beihang University (Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics) and others to create an open source translator project between China’s Unified Office Format (UOF) and the Ecma Open XML File Formats. In addition, the company announced the beta release of translation tools for Windows® XP, and the 2003 and 2007 versions of Microsoft® Office Excel® and Microsoft Office PowerPoint® as part of the Open XML Translator project launched in July 2006.

Source: Microsoft Continues to Expand Interoperability Options for Office Customers

Google, Salesforce.com Weigh Alliance to Battle Microsoft - WSJ.com

 I suspect any Salesforce.com/Google deal would be more a function of Salesforce.com competing with Microsoft CRM than Google competing with Microsoft.

The companies are still hashing out details of a potential partnership, expected to be announced in the next few weeks. But one outcome, these people said, could be a Web-based offering that integrates some of Google's online services such as email and instant-messaging with those of Salesforce.com, whose "customer-relationship management" tools help salespeople track their accounts. Details about how such a service might be sold are still in flux, they added.

[...]

Unrelated to the Salesforce.com negotiations, Google announced Friday that it is launching a new Google Apps Partner Edition, which will let other Internet companies build Google's online word-processing, spreadsheet and email services into their own products. Google Apps Partner Edition has both a free service and a package that includes phone support as well as additional branding and advertising options for a monthly fee.

Source: Google, Salesforce.com Weigh Alliance to Battle Microsoft - WSJ.com

Firefox faces growing pains - The Boston Globe

Timely reality check; read the full article for more on the Firefox/Google relationship. 

Another complication for Mozilla, some critics say, is that it could be perceived as acting as an extension of Google. For example, they note that one of Google's growth areas, Web-based software applications, would have a better chance of success with a browser not controlled by its biggest rival, Microsoft.

Source: Firefox faces growing pains - The Boston Globe

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Crowdsourcing: Mining the masses for the next big thing - The Boston Globe

Timely snapshot 

You are the future of the entertainment industry. So's your neighbor, and that person across the breakfast table. At least that's what the proponents of "crowdsourcing" believe.

Crowdsourcing essentially means throwing your arms open to the Internet community and inviting them to help create content or software. Often, there is prize money involved, but sometimes people pitch in for fun or glory (see The Internet Movie Database, originally built by users before it was acquired by Amazon.com).

Source: Crowdsourcing: Mining the masses for the next big thing - The Boston Globe

Business & Technology | Generation Y plays games on the job | Seattle Times Newspaper

Sign of the times 

Employers are developing computer simulations and games and combining high-tech with high-touch approaches to harness their enthusiasm and energy.

Nike is experimenting with putting sales training on mobile devices, perhaps eventually cellphones.

Other companies are posting videos and "vlogs," or video blogs, to give candidates a look at what jobs entail.

On a related note, see the NYT "Why Work is Looking More Like a Video Game"

Source: Business & Technology | Generation Y plays games on the job | Seattle Times Newspaper

Reaping Results: Data-Mining Goes Mainstream - New York Times

I'm surprised this didn't mainstream sooner 

By tracking e-mail traffic, instant messages and other digital communications — stripped of personally identifiable information — he and other researchers are beginning to study the flow of work and ideas through the social networks inside companies — minute by minute, bit by bit.

“We’re really on the cusp of being able to understand what goes on inside corporations in a much more scientific way than ever before,” he said. “It’s similar to the way that the microscope opened up biology in the 17th century, so that you could see blood cells. Now, we can start to see bits of information as they flow through the organism of the corporation.”

Source: Reaping Results: Data-Mining Goes Mainstream - New York Times

For Texting Teens, an OMG Moment When the Phone Bill Arrives - washingtonpost.com

Go figure... 

Market research indicates the consumers mostly likely to send and receive text messages are those between the ages of 13 and 24. Last year, 158 billion text messages were sent nationwide, nearly double the number in 2005, according to CTIA, the Wireless Association. With that kind of growth, texting will continue to be very profitable for wireless companies, said Roger Entner, senior vice president for the communication sector at IAG Research, even with bundling plans to lower consumer cost.

Source: For Texting Teens, an OMG Moment When the Phone Bill Arrives - washingtonpost.com

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Symantec false positive cripples thousands of Chinese PCs

Hey, maybe Russia should hire Symantec to help them in Estonia... 

A signature update to Symantec's anti-virus software crippled thousands of Chinese PCs Friday when the security software took two critical Windows .dll files for malware.

According to numerous blog entries from Chinese computer users, a virus signature database seeded yesterday mistook two system files of a Chinese edition of Windows XP SP2 as a Trojan horse which Symantec dubs "Backdoor.Haxdoor." The anti-virus software -- Norton AntiVirus, for example, or the anti-virus component of the Norton 360 or Norton Internet Security suites -- then quarantined the netapi32.dll and lsasrv.dll files.

Source: Symantec false positive cripples thousands of Chinese PCs

» Former Microsoft NetDocs manager comes back to run search | All about Microsoft | ZDNet.com

Interesting...

Brian MacDonald, the former Microsoft manager in charge of the company’s stealth Web-based productivity-suite project at the end of the 1990s, is coming back to help run the search group, according to sources close to the company.

Microsoft veteran MacDonald led the NetDocs project back in 1999. NetDocs was to be a Web-based word-processing and calendaring system, which Microsoft officials decided to kill in order to prevent possible competition with Microsoft Office.

Netdocs, aka "universal canvas" at PDC 2000, never completely went away; it became XDocs, then InfoPath.

Source: » Former Microsoft NetDocs manager comes back to run search | All about Microsoft | ZDNet.com

Friday, May 18, 2007

A View from Elsewhere : Why I Think Popfly is Cool

Popfly guy John Montgomery's view:  

No product is complete without a top-ten list of cool features, so here's mine for Popfly.

  1. It's easy to get. All you really need is Firefox 2 or IE 6 or 7. Oh, and Silverlight, but that's pretty easy to get.
  2. It's easy to use. People have talked about wanting programming to be like connecting Lego blocks; Popfly gets pretty close.
  3. You can create mashups with it. This is kind of its purpose, but it's neat nonetheless.
  4. You can create web pages with it. We "borrowed" the Office Live team's page editor technology.
  5. You can use it with Visual Studio. If you're a VS user, you can get Popfly Explorer and start to share projects with your friends on Popfly.
  6. You can use it with Windows Live Spaces. There are a few tricks to it that we'll document shortly, but you can both pull stuff from Spaces and embed Popfly creations into Spaces.
  7. You can create Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets. Again, a few tricks to it, but neato.
  8. You can use it with your own blog. We'll just hand you the iframe and you can embed it.
  9. You can extend it with new blocks. Don't like our blocks? Add your own.
  10. It has some attitude. We had fun creating it. I hope it shows.

Source: A View from Elsewhere : Why I Think Popfly is Cool

Microsoft Popfly service does mashups | CNET News.com

Pretty cool example of building on and building for Silverlight (Popfly runs on Silverlight and can generate Silverlight code); likely to get a lot more powerful with Silverlight 1.1 and .NET support. 

The hosted service, called Popfly and now in alpha testing, gives consumers a visual way to create a Web site or add features, such as mashups, to existing blogs or personal pages. Mashups are Web applications that combine content from more than one source.

Popfly includes a builder tool that allows people to create an application by dragging and dropping block icons onto a design page. These blocks represent tasks or services, such as a widget that displays photos in a slide show, with which a person can build.

Source: Microsoft Popfly service does mashups | CNET News.com

Microsoft to Acquire aQuantive, Inc.: Company details plans to build Internet-wide advertising platform for advertisers, publishers and ad agencies.

The Microsoft press release on the deal; see the link below for more details. At the moment, GOOG is up and MSFT is down, so I guess some investors don't see this as a clear and present danger development for Google. BusinessWeek indicates the deal represents an 85% premium relative to AQNT's closing price yesterday, so I'm guessing just maybe there was a bidding war...

“The advertising industry is evolving and growing at an incredible pace, moving increasingly toward online and IP-served platforms, which dramatically increases the importance of software for this industry,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft. “Today’s announcement represents the next step in the evolution of our ad network from our initial investment in MSN, to the broader Microsoft network including Xbox Live, Windows Live and Office Live, and now to the full capacity of the Internet. Microsoft is intensely committed to creating a thriving advertising business and to partnering closely with all key constituencies in this industry to help maximize the digital advertising opportunity for all.”

The aQuantive acquisition enables Microsoft to strengthen relationships with advertisers, agencies and publishers by enhancing the Company’s world-class advertising platforms and services beyond its current capabilities to serve MSN. The acquisition also provides Microsoft increased depth in building and supporting next generation advertising solutions and environments such as cross media planning, video-on-demand and IPTV.

More related developments from the BW article referenced above:

The announcement comes just one day after WPP Group PLC, the world's second-largest advertising and marketing conglomerate, said it would buy online advertising company 24/7 Real Media Inc. for $649 million. Microsoft had been widely seen as a potential bidder for 24/7.

Last month Google Inc. agreed to buy online advertising company DoubleClick Inc. for $3.1 billion, and Yahoo Inc. struck a deal to buy the privately-held online ad exchange Right Media Inc. for $680 million. Microsoft had expressed interest in buying DoubleClick before being trumped by Google.

Source: Microsoft to Acquire aQuantive, Inc.: Company details plans to build Internet-wide advertising platform for advertisers, publishers and ad agencies.

Microsoft to Pay About $6 Billion To Buy Ad Company aQuantive - WSJ.com

Investing to win in a digital marketing game that only GOOG and YHOO can also afford to play... 

Microsoft Corp. announced it will acquire aQuantive Inc., for $66.50 a share in an all-cash transaction valued at about $6 billion.

The deal expands the online advertising efforts of the Redmond, Wash., software giant. Founded in 1997, aQuantive is the parent company of Avenue A /Razorfish, Atlas Media Console and Drive PM.

Source: Microsoft to Pay About $6 Billion To Buy Ad Company aQuantive - WSJ.com

Official Google Blog: Google Book Search becomes more comprehensive

Info-voracious... 

Google Book Search allows you to instantly search the full text of over a million digitized books, but we thought that wasn't quite enough. Now when you search you'll get both digitized book results as well as records for millions of other books that still just exist in the analog world.
When you view these new added book records, you can often read reviews, a summary, or see what other people had to say about the book around the web. Since these books haven't been digitally indexed yet, you can't preview the text online, but if you've discovered something great, we offer links to buy the book or find it in a library near you.

Source: Official Google Blog: Google Book Search becomes more comprehensive

A Little E-Mail Prank, And a $2.8 Billion Panic - washingtonpost.com

Sign of the times -- and another timely reminder: information literacy is your friend... 

Internet pranksters pulled a fast one on Apple shareholders this week, proving that even the slightest hint of negative news about the highly anticipated iPhone can create a frenzy on Wall Street.

Just before 10 a.m. Wednesday, a spoof e-mail posing as an internal Apple news alert was sent to Apple employees, informing them that the release of the iPhone, a touchscreen hybrid phone-and-music player, was being delayed from June to October. It added that Leopard, the next version of the Mac operating system, would move back its launch from October to January.

Source: A Little E-Mail Prank, And a $2.8 Billion Panic - washingtonpost.com

Nicholas Carr: The net is being carved up into information plantations | Technology | Guardian Unlimited Technology

Another timely reality check from Nicholas Carr.  Maybe time to revisit W. Brian Arthur's increasing returns work

In the end, though, the internet seems to be following the same pattern that has always characterised popular media. A few huge outlets come to dominate readership and viewership and smaller, more specialised ones are consigned to the periphery. Most of the largest sites are now in the midst of acquisition sprees or expansion programs intended to extend their dominion. Just last week, MySpace announced it would buy Photobucket, the largest photo-sharing site; Facebook said it would expand into the classified advertising business; and Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said that his company has been acquiring small companies at the rate of one a week to build out its portfolio.

It may be that internet users will revolt against the dominance of the mega-sites. But I wouldn't bet on it. All the signs point to a continuing concentration of traffic within the fences of the new information plantations.

Source: Nicholas Carr: The net is being carved up into information plantations | Technology | Guardian Unlimited Technology

FT.com / Companies / IT - IBM to switch focus to software division

More on IBM's metamorphosis 

IBM embarked on another stage in its transformation on Thursday by pledging to derive half of its profits from software and double its revenues in emerging markets to $9bn by the end of the decade.

The goals underline IBM’s strategy of moving further away from old-style hardware and decreasing its reliance on its large technology services arm by focusing on the high-margin market for corporate software.

Source: FT.com / Companies / IT - IBM to switch focus to software division

Ed Brill: Lotus Executive Panel Session, June 5

 A timely update from IBM Lotus

On the cusp of launching Lotus Connections, Lotus Quickr, and Lotus Notes and Domino 8, IBM will host an on-line executive panel session to discuss these pending releases.  Attend this panel to hear IBM executives Mike Rhodin, Ken Bisconti, and Jeff Schick discuss these exciting new products.  
Just for registering for the panel, you'll also be given access to a Burton Group webinar: "Understanding IBM Lotus Plans for 2007 and Beyond", featuring Karen Hobert, Mike Gotta, and Peter O'Kelly.

Source: Ed Brill

BBC NEWS | Europe | Estonia hit by 'Moscow cyber war'

 Read the article for more details

Estonia says the country's websites have been under heavy attack for the past three weeks, blaming Russia for playing a part in the cyber warfare.

Many of the attacks have come from Russia and are being hosted by Russian state computer servers, Tallinn says. Moscow denies any involvement.

Source: BBC NEWS | Europe | Estonia hit by 'Moscow cyber war'

IBM Expects Big Profit Boost by 2010 - WSJ.com

Interesting times 

Even with revenue chugging along only moderately, IBM Corp. expects to find enough cost cuts, acquisitions and stock-buyback opportunities that annual earnings per share could nearly double by 2010, the company's finance chief told analysts Thursday.

Source: IBM Expects Big Profit Boost by 2010 - WSJ.com

Hilf: Microsoft won't sue over Linux, for now | InfoWorld | News | 2007-05-17 | By Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

Timely reality check 

IDG News Service: The Fortune story has caused a lot of concern over how Microsoft may proceed in regard to its patent claims. Did you know Microsoft officials were going to reveal the number of patents?

Hilf: We did. [But] the Fortune article does not correctly represent our strategy. That's what has people so inflamed. It looks like our strategy changed and we are moving in a new direction, but it hasn't. In the Novell deal, we said we had to figure out a way to solve these IP issues and we needed to figure out a way for better interoperability with open-source products. The Fortune article makes it look like we are going out on this litigation path.

Our strategy from everyone in the company -- from [Steve] Ballmer to Brad Smith to me and everyone in between -- has always been to license and not litigate as it relates to our intellectual property. So we have no plans to litigate. You can never say we'll never do anything in the future, but that's not our strategy. That article spins it on the attack. The only new piece information in that article is that it just put a number on the patents.

Source: Hilf: Microsoft won't sue over Linux, for now | InfoWorld | News | 2007-05-17 | By Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

IBM rolls out development tool for nonprogrammers

Weird coincidence, relative to some upcoming (over the next couple days) Microsoft news  

IBM on Wednesday announced a new Web application development tool that can help users without technical skills develop online forms for automating common manual tasks like collecting and analyzing information.

The new tool, IBM Development Engagement Service (DevEngage), is now available without charge as a hosted service on IBM's AlphaWorks site. The AlphaWorks site provides users with access to emerging technologies and provides IBM with their feedback.

Source: IBM rolls out development tool for nonprogrammers

Technology Review: Internet Increasingly Censored

It'll be interesting to correlate this with economic and social progress over the years. 

A report released today by the OpenNet Initiative (ONI) concludes that the scale, the scope, and the sophistication of state-based Internet filtering have all increased dramatically in recent years. The survey highlights the tools and techniques used by countries to keep their citizens from viewing certain kinds of online material.

Source: Technology Review: Internet Increasingly Censored

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Press Releases: Informatica Awarded Injunction Against Business Objects In Patent Infringement Case

I'm guessing the Informatica legal dept will be placing quite a few calls to other vendors now...

"The ability to create reusable transformations is a critical element of an enterprise-class data integration solution, and their use and reuse across multiple projects is a key driver of cost efficiencies and productivity," said Earl Fry, chief financial officer, Informatica. "Therefore, we are pleased with this most recent ruling and the affirmation it provides for Informatica's proven ability to innovate."

Source: Press Releases: Informatica Awarded Injunction Against Business Objects In Patent Infringement Case

Sony hits 5-year high, sees game unit loss shrink - Boston.com

Go figure... 

Shares of Sony Corp. <6758.T> hit a five-year high on Thursday after it forecast a six-fold surge in group profit this year and said losses in its game unit would shrink by 80 percent as it boosts sales of the PlayStation 3.

Source: Sony hits 5-year high, sees game unit loss shrink - Boston.com

Microsoft Votes for Choice: Company backs the addition of ODF to American National Standards list.

Interesting times -- in the standards + politics zone

Microsoft Corp. today announced that it has voted to support the addition of OpenDocument Format (ODF) 1.0 to the nonexclusive American National Standards list. The vote took place as part of a process managed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

“We have listened to our customers, and they have told us they want choice, they want interoperability, they want innovation,” said Tom Robertson, general manager for Interoperability and Standards at Microsoft. “The American National Standards list does not include a number of document format standards in wide use today, such as PDF, .doc, RTF and HTML. The inclusion of ODF is just the beginning; we expect the list will grow in the future to reflect the choices customers already have in today’s marketplace.”

Source: Microsoft Votes for Choice: Company backs the addition of ODF to American National Standards list.

Google’s One-Stop Search to Yield Text and Images - New York Times

Hmmm 

Until now, a Google search for “I have a dream” would have returned links to the text of the 1963 speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to other historical and informational Web sites about him. But those looking for video clips or photographs of Dr. King’s speech would have had better luck by entering a query in Google’s specialized services for video or image searches.

The same query on Google’s main service will now return a single list of results that will blend text, videos, images, and even excerpts from books. The list will appear in the order that a Google formula deems to be most relevant.

Source: Google’s One-Stop Search to Yield Text and Images - New York Times

Amazon to Sell Music Without Copy Protection - New York Times

Stimulus/response... 

Amazon’s service could lead to a shift in the record labels’ relationship with Apple. Four years after the iTunes service established the market for paid downloads, the music corporations have become unsettled by the company’s clout in determining pricing and other terms.

Many label executives say a successful entrance by Amazon could provide them with needed leverage in their current talks with Apple over renewing their contracts. Of course, even if the iTunes service faces new competition, Apple retains great power thanks to the popularity of the iPod, which has 70 percent of the music player market and works smoothly with the iTunes store.

Source: Amazon to Sell Music Without Copy Protection - New York Times

Personal Technology | Walt Mossberg | This Time, Samsung Has Made a Tiny PC That's Practical to Use

 See the full post for more details and a video overview (this is the no-subscription-required version)

The Q1 Ultra is a sleek, shiny, black tablet with a bright, sharp seven-inch screen that feels great in the hand and has a built-in stand on the back so it can be used upright. It weighs about 1.5 pounds, is less than nine inches long and five inches wide, and is under an inch thick. It’s slightly smaller and lighter than last year’s model.

The Q1 Ultra is run by a special, low-horsepower Intel processor and has only one gigabyte of memory, which can’t be expanded. But it runs Vista acceptably, if not exactly speedily. You can get one with Windows XP for faster performance.

Samsung's Q1 Ultra

Source: Personal Technology | Walt Mossberg | AllThingsD: This Time, Samsung Has Made a Tiny PC That’s Practical to Use

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

BEA Reports First Quarter Results; AquaLogic Represents 24% of License Revenue

 In other words, 2/3rds services for the quarter

BEA Systems, Inc., a world leader in enterprise and communications infrastructure software, today announced certain financial results for the fiscal first quarter ended April 30, 2007. BEA reported first quarter total revenues of $345.8 million, up 7% from last year's first quarter. BEA reported first quarter license fees of $114.6 million, down 13% from a year ago, and services revenue of $231.2 million, up 21% from a year ago.

Source: Press Releases: BEA Reports First Quarter Results; AquaLogic Represents 24% of License Revenue 

Amazon.com--News Release: Amazon.com to Launch DRM-Free MP3 Music Download Store

Interesting times.  I already buy almost all of my new CDs on Amazon.com, so if they've done their homework on this offering (e.g., if it doesn't entail music fidelity/quality loss, includes the ability to easily copy purchased music to new PCs, and is competitively priced), I'll be a customer.

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced it will launch a digital music store later this year offering millions of songs in the DRM-free MP3 format from more than 12,000 record labels. EMI Music's digital catalog is the latest addition to the store. Every song and album in the Amazon.com digital music store will be available exclusively in the MP3 format without digital rights management (DRM) software. Amazon's DRM-free MP3s will free customers to play their music on virtually any of their personal devices -- including PCs, Macs(TM), iPods(TM), Zunes(TM), Zens(TM) -- and to burn songs to CDs for personal use.

Source: Amazon.com--News Release: Amazon.com to Launch DRM-Free MP3 Music Download Store

Google Watch - Today in Stupid - Google's Mayer: Facebook Is the Future of Journalism

This just in from the unbiased-observer dept... 

I sincerely hope that the reporter took Mayer's comments out of context because MySpace is the future of journalism in the same way that mold is the future of cheese.

Here's the problem: Google wants more news more often, so they can sell more ads on more pages. That's why blogs are a big business for them, and why they're interested in social networking platforms. That's where all the content creation is taking place. For this reason I'm extremely wary of Google having a voice in journalism debates. Citizen journalism is a good thing, but only if it's buttressed by traditional journalism. 

Source: Google Watch - Today in Stupid - Google's Mayer: Facebook Is the Future of Journalism

Don Dodge on The Next Big Thing: Freemium - Free to paid conversion rates

Timely reality check; see the full post for more analysis 

I am at DealMaker Forum today. We just finished the speed dating sessions with start-ups and I was struck by one common theme. The most common business model is Free Service with an up sell to paid premium subscriptions, commonly known as the "freemium" model. I asked each of them what kind of conversion rates they were seeing. The average is less than 3% conversion. The companies presenting include; Echosign, Seriosity, Smartsheet, Central Desktop, Oddcast, Yugma, and others.

Source: Don Dodge on The Next Big Thing: Freemium - Free to paid conversion rates

Microsoft to Release New Version of Halo Video Game on Sept. 25 - New York Times

Amazing... 

As Microsoft continues its foray into the video game business, taking on established Japanese game giants like Sony and Nintendo, the Halo franchise has proved to be one of its most formidable weapons.

Since the original Halo was introduced in 2001, the series has sold more than 14 million copies. In November 2004, Halo 2 generated more than $100 million in sales in 24 hours.

Source: Microsoft to Release New Version of Halo Video Game on Sept. 25 - New York Times

Oracle to buy Agile Software | CNET News.com

 Another day, another $.5B acquisition

Oracle plans to use Agile as the foundation for its product lifecycle management business. Agile, based in San Jose, Calif., develops software designed to manage a product's lifecycle from concept and design to production, sales and service.

[...] Agile frequently appears in customer accounts shared by SAP AG, Oracle's archrival. Siemens, for example, uses both SAP and Agile, with Agile covering a wider base of Siemens business, Richardson said.

Source: Oracle to buy Agile Software | CNET News.com

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bill Gates Announces New Windows Home Server Hardware and Software Partners at WinHEC 2007: Code2Fame Challenge to showcase software and hardware add-ins for Windows Home Server.

Check the press release for more details including an initial list of software vendors building offerings for WHS. 

In his keynote address at the Microsoft® Windows® Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2007, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates today demonstrated Windows Home Server and announced new hardware partners for the upcoming product, which include Gateway Inc., LaCie and Medion International. The company also announced that it will release a version of the software for system builders, named eight independent software vendors that will provide applications for Windows Home Server, and revealed its plans to kick off the Code2Fame Challenge for developers to create Windows Home Server hardware and software add-in solutions.

I've been using the WHS beta for several weeks and will purchase a new WHS box as soon as they're available -- it's a great back-up, media sharing, and remote access device, and I'm expecting the 3rd party app/add-on/service market to be quite active.

Source: Bill Gates Announces New Windows Home Server Hardware and Software Partners at WinHEC 2007: Code2Fame Challenge to showcase software and hardware add-ins for Windows Home Server.

SAP and Novell Deliver Expanded Linux Support Options for Customers

Another smart move for Novell (and another bummer for Red Hat) 

SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) and Novell (NASDAQ: NOVL) today announced that they have extended their relationship to offer a new joint support solution for customers who run their SAP® applications on SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server from Novell®. With today's announcement, customers who run their SAP applications on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server now have a single support entry point, from the operating system through the application, to streamline resolution of support incidents, reduce complexity and lower the total cost of ownership. Branded as “SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Priority Support for SAP applications,” the offering is available starting today and is a maintenance and support package provided by Novell that will be integrated through the SAP® Solution Manager application management solution into the SAP global support backbone for managing the entire life cycle of SAP applications. Through this agreement, SAP continues its commitment to deliver value to customers who choose to run open source and commercial software based on open standards. The announcement was made at SAPPHIRE® '07 Vienna, SAP's international customer conference being held in Vienna, Austria, May 14-16.

Source: SAP and Novell Deliver Expanded Linux Support Options for Customers

Jeff Jonas: Web 2.0 – Al Qaeda’s Most Effective Force Multiplier

Bummer reality check of the day from IBM's Jeff Jonas 

If the Cold War was won with silicon, we are currently losing the war on terrorism due to Web 2.0. Ouch!  Web 2.0 enables these folks to communicate, share tradecraft, recruit and synchronize at a velocity and resiliency that is unprecedented.

This is certainly one of the key mechanisms enabling the viral-like growth of Al Qaeda-aligned missionaries.  What evidence, you might ask? Check out this story ("Web of Terror") [a Fortune article; no subscription required] written by Rita Katz and Josh Devon.

Source: Jeff Jonas: Web 2.0 – Al Qaeda’s Most Effective Force Multiplier

Top 10 things Microsoft loves and hates about open source - Network World

Another timely and refreshingly objective reality check from John Fontana 

Over the years, Microsoft has had some pretty harsh words (and actions) for the open source community in general and for Linux in particular. And with news this week that the company reportedly wants open source software users to pay royalties on 235 alleged patent violations, the relationship is obviously changing. We take a look at five ways Microsoft is embracing open source or Linux and five ways it is doing to battle against those same forces.

Source: Top 10 things Microsoft loves and hates about open source - Network World

» GPLv3 the impetus for Microsoft’s latest Linux attack campaign | All about Microsoft | ZDNet.com

There's a big difference between "building bridges" and involuntarily giving away intellectual property.  For some insights on how Microsoft is constructively seeking to engage with the open source community, see Port 25

With one stroke, Microsoft has ended any illusion that it planned to try to build bridges with the open-source community. And it appears the primary reason for Microsoft's decision to go back on the public attack against Linux and other open-source software is the looming Version 3 of the Free Software Foundation's General Public License (GPL).

Source: » GPLv3 the impetus for Microsoft’s latest Linux attack campaign | All about Microsoft | ZDNet.com

With simplified code, programming becomes child's play - The Boston Globe

Interesting 

The school has been beta-testing Scratch, a new programming language being released today by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. The program, named after the technique hip-hop DJs use to mix music, gives novices the ability to create dynamic programs without wading through a manual, teaching computer programming concepts while encouraging students to play.

Source: With simplified code, programming becomes child's play - The Boston Globe

Chryslers Real Price: Less Than Zero - Mergers, Acquisitions, Venture Capital, Hedge Funds -- DealBook - New York Times

What a nightmare -- see the article for more details 

The price being paid is $7.4 billion, mostly in the form of capital that Cerberus will put into Chrysler. Of that sum, DaimlerChrylser itself will receive only $1.3 billion, and the German automaker said Monday that the transaction will actually result in a “net cash outflow” of about $678 million.

In essence, DaimlerChrylser, which acquired Chrysler nine years ago in a $36 billion deal, is paying to be rid of the troubled Detroit automaker.

Source: Chryslers Real Price: Less Than Zero - Mergers, Acquisitions, Venture Capital, Hedge Funds -- DealBook - New York Times

On the Web, an Advanced Carbon Calculator for Personal Use - New York Times

Glad to see this 

Many environmental groups offer simple carbon calculators on the Web, which allow people to figure the carbon dioxide production from daily routines like driving a car or lighting a house.

“But this is serious software, serious quantitative methods and social networking technology brought to the green world,” said Ron Dembo, the chief executive of Zerofootprint, a nonprofit group that provides information and services to combat global warming.

[...]

The Web service, called GoZero Footprint City Calculator, is a collaboration of Zerofootprint and Business Objects, a maker of business intelligence software.

Source: On the Web, an Advanced Carbon Calculator for Personal Use - New York Times

To Create Buzz, TV Networks Try A Little 'Blogola' - WSJ.com

Inevitable... 

Who says you can't buy love? Trying to tap into the burgeoning power of blogs as promotional tools and fed up with the jaded attitudes of professional critics and TV feature writers, studios and networks are flooding bloggers with free stuff in hopes the flattered recipients will reward them with positive coverage. Flowing into the trough is everything from fancy gym bags and toasters to video iPods and free trips. Some networks -- in the spotlight this week as they unveil their fall schedules to advertisers -- have even borrowed a term from the technology industry to describe the strategy: blogola.

Source: To Create Buzz, TV Networks Try A Little 'Blogola' - WSJ.com

Web-Based Software Services Take Hold - WSJ.com

Another subtly significant aspect of SaaS 

Now that's changing, partly because of an accounting quirk. Companies are starting to get rid of their old software at a time when capital-expenditure budgets are tight. Traditional software and the hardware to run it are considered a capital expenditure. But Web-based services are typically sold as a subscription, which means corporate buyers can account for them as a maintenance expense, which falls into a different bucket.

As a result, companies are turning to start-ups such as Ketera, LucidEra Inc. and Workday Inc. that are offering Web-based services for tasks like controlling spending and managing employees. Meanwhile, a handful of older software-as-a-service companies such as Taleo Corp. and RightNow Technologies Inc. have gone public; another, NetSuite Inc., is widely expected to try to do so.

Source: Web-Based Software Services Take Hold - WSJ.com

Monday, May 14, 2007

Microsoft Delves Further Into Manufacturing With Zune Plant - WSJ.com

 If at first you don't succeed,...

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), a colossus built on software, is making a new push in hardware manufacturing by building a factory in China to produce its Zune media player device.

The factory will produce a second iteration of the Zune, which has so far failed to impress in its effort to compete with Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) popular iPod. 

The second iteration of Zune will include a number of different versions with varying prices and degrees of storage capacity, according to Jason Reindorp, Microsoft's marketing director for Zune, although he declined to offer specifics. Web sites that follow the device have reported rumors that the newest versions of the Zune will be thinner and will include some smaller-capacity Flash-based players, similar to the popular iPod nano.

Source: Article - WSJ.com

In Search of the Real Fake Steve Jobs

Check the second page of this BusinessWeek post for an update -- apparently FSJ may out him/herself (themselves?...) next week 

Since Secret Diary was started last year, the daily stream of such entries has made Fake Steve Jobs, or FSJ for short, required reading in Silicon Valley and beyond. It has quickly become Jon Stewart's Daily Show for the tech set. FSJ not only manages to hit many of the topics of the day, but its unfiltered satirical voice lets techies revel in their never-ending fascination of their own industry, and be entertained at the same time. "It's amazingly well read, in part because everybody gets a laugh," says Roger Kay, founder of tech consultancy Endpoint Technologies Associates. "If you're just a poor schnook, you get to laugh at what an egomaniac [Jobs] is, and at all his billionaire friends. But if you're in the game, you get to laugh at how well [Fake Steve] seems to know Jobs and his world."

Source: In Search of the Real Fake Steve Jobs

Germany's SAP acquires 2 Nordic firms - Boston.com

Consolidation continues... 

SAP said it bought Trondheim, Norway-based MaXware, which makes identify software and Espoo, Finland-based Wicom Communications, which makes Internet communication software.

The purchase prices were not disclosed.

Source: Germany's SAP acquires 2 Nordic firms - Boston.com

Burton Group Inflection Point: Burton Group Answers Industry Need for Practical Data Center Advice

A new Burton Group service -- see the post for more details

Today Burton Group announces the launch of its newest service, Data Center Strategies (DCS). This new service will help IT professionals leverage existing and emerging technologies to solve critical data center issues including server sprawl, power and cooling costs, storage, disaster recovery, and data center management. Introducing this new service is Richard Jones the VP and service director of DCS. Get a copy of the report "Let's Get Virtual: A Look at Today's Server Virtualization Architectures" as a part of Burton Group's complimentary content.

Source: Burton Group Inflection Point: Burton Group Answers Industry Need for Practical Data Center Advice

Business & Technology | MSN, Yahoo! partnership envisioned | Seattle Times Newspaper

Speculation based in part on an interview with Yahoo!'s Scott Moore (included in the article) 

Here's my theory.

Search is a great business, but the fascination with it is starting to fade. Search is becoming a utility we take for granted; content is where the Web's sizzling now.

No wonder Google bought YouTube. Google's also creating content in the form of online productivity applications.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has cut back on content initiatives and focused on building its search business.

Content has always been Yahoo!'s strength, but it doesn't have applications to respond to Google's new thrust. A partnership could fill these gaps, without sacrificing their franchises.

Source: Business & Technology | MSN, Yahoo! partnership envisioned | Seattle Times Newspaper

Report: Microsoft says open source violates 235 patents | CNET News.com

See the article for more details 

In an interview with Fortune, Microsoft top lawyer Brad Smith alleges that the Linux kernel violates 42 Microsoft patents, while its user interface and other design elements infringe on a further 65. OpenOffice.org is accused of infringing 45, along with 83 more in other free and open-source programs, according to Fortune.

Source: Report: Microsoft says open source violates 235 patents | CNET News.com

Microsoft, Manufacturers to Deliver New Generation of Workplace Phones and Devices

 Just getting started...

Monday at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2007, Microsoft Corp. and nine industry-leading companies — ASUSTek Computer Inc., GN, LG-Nortel Co. Ltd., NEC Corp., Plantronics Inc., Polycom Inc., SAMSUNG, Tatung Co. and ViTELiX — will introduce a new generation of devices that connect the workplace phone to e-mail, instant messaging, real-time presence information, conferencing, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and mobile communications.

[...]

“Today’s office phone is marooned on an island, separate from the rest of the communications tools that information workers rely on to do their jobs,” said Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division. “By weaving the business phone together with e-mail, instant messaging, presence, conferencing and the productivity software people use most, we are putting voice communications back into business.”

Source: Microsoft, Manufacturers to Deliver New Generation of Workplace Phones and Devices

A Nod to Journalistic Integrity Is Seen in an Editor’s Return - New York Times

Glad to see this 

Last week, the International Data Group removed the chief executive of its largest-circulation computer magazine, PC World, and reinstated its top editor, who had quit days earlier over the executive’s decision to not run an article critical of an advertiser.

Source: A Nod to Journalistic Integrity Is Seen in an Editor’s Return - New York Times

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The YouTube Police

Sign of the times -- read the full (BusinessWeek) article for an overview of how some players are attempting to automate the task. 

As Viacom's (VIA ) $1 billion copyright-infringement lawsuit against Google (GOOG ) and YouTube grinds through the courts, another drama is unfolding behind the scenes. In a cramped office in New York's Times Square, dozens of twentysomethings work day and night scouring YouTube for Viacom TV shows and movies that have been uploaded by just about anybody. For each clip deemed stolen, Viacom's team sends out a "takedown" notice requiring YouTube to remove it immediately. Back in San Bruno, Calif., a crew of young YouTubers finds the specified clips and pulls them.

Source: The YouTube Police