Sunday, August 31, 2008

Billionaires’ Yacht Rivalry Spills Into Courtroom - NYTimes.com

More hobby fun for Larry Ellison

Poised to skate across the waves off Anacortes, Wash., is a 90-foot, three-hulled wonder-yacht designed to crush its competitors in the next America’s Cup. With a price tag of more than $10 million, it was built for the racing team of Lawrence J. Ellison, the billionaire who runs the software company Oracle.

But Mr. Ellison’s yacht, which launched last week with the swing of a bottle of Mo√ęt & Chandon Champagne, may not get a shot at the prestigious trophy this time around.

Billionaires’ Yacht Rivalry Spills Into Courtroom - NYTimes.com

Saturday, August 30, 2008

GO-Tags May Replace Cash and Credit Cards [BusinessWeek]

A project at First Data, where Michael Capellas (formerly Compaq and MCI CEO) is CEO.  See the full story for more details, e.g., on how GO-Tags were used to program journalists and delegates at last week's DNC (for free snacks and drinks...)

With GO-Tag, First Data is placing a major bet on the fast-emerging world of mobile e-commerce. These pea-sized chips, each with a radio transmitter inside, can be stuck on a cell phone or ID badge to make paying for purchases fast and easy. The transactions are handled on the networks that First Data uses for traditional debit and credit cards. In recent weeks it has landed several major customers, including Blockbuster (BBI). GO-Tag takes about a second to complete a sale—much faster than using a traditional credit card or cash. "The ultimate goal is to eliminate the need for cash in our stores," says Blockbuster Chief Executive James W. Keys.

GO-Tags May Replace Cash and Credit Cards

Book Excerpt: The Numerati by Stephen Baker [BusinessWeek]

Cover story book excerpt on IBM's application of predictive models

BusinessWeek's 2006 Cover Story, "Math Will Rock Your World," announced a new age of numbers. With the rise of new networks, the story argued, all of us were channeling the details of our lives into vast databases. Every credit-card purchase, every cell-phone call, every click on the computer mouse fed these digital troves. Those with the tools and skills to make sense of them could begin to decipher our movements, desires, diseases, and shopping habits—and predict our behavior. This promised to transform business and society. In a book expanding upon this Cover Story, The Numerati, Senior Writer Stephen Baker introduces us to the mathematical wizards who are digging through our data to decode us as patients, shoppers, voters, potential terrorists—even lovers.

Book Excerpt: The Numerati by Stephen Baker

Technology, business and the law | The big data dump | Economist.com

See the full article for a stark e-discovery reality check

DAWN BEYE’S teenage daughter suffers from anorexia nervosa and had to be treated in hospital at a cost of about $1,000 a day. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, the Beyes’ insurance company, covered one month of the bills but then balked, demanding evidence that the affliction was “biologically based” rather than psychological. So Ms Beye got together with parents of other anorexic and bulimic teenagers and sued. Horizon immediately asked to see practically everything the teenagers had said on their Facebook and MySpace profiles, in instant-messaging threads, text messages, e-mails, blog posts and whatever else the girls might have done online.

The Beyes’ lawyer, David Mazie at Mazie, Slater, Katz & Freeman, objected on the grounds that Horizon’s demands violated the girls’ privacy. He lost. So hard disks and web pages are being scoured in order for the case to proceed. Gathering and then sifting through all the electronic information that a few teenage girls have generated is excessive and daunting, says Mr Mazie.

Technology, business and the law | The big data dump | Economist.com

I, Cringely . The Pulpit . What Did You Say? | PBS

Excerpt from a snapshot from another unhappy iPhone customer...

Our experience with the iPhone 3G is not good, though not terrible. It is a fantastic device, if flawed. The main flaw is the phone, rather than the iPod Touch bits that comprise the rest of the unit. Voice service is not good, calls are dropped, and the iPhone won't work places where my old Nokia N80 easily did. But my iPhone, oddly enough, works better than does my wife's. This variation is how I know at least part of the problem is with the phone, not just the network.

But the network sucks, too.

I, Cringely . The Pulpit . What Did You Say? | PBS

The Final Days of the Presidency of George W. Bush - NYTimes.com

Another timely political reality check 

No matter how careful the orchestration, though, a rivalry seared in the brutal lowlands of South Carolina circles around to this moment. Eight years after their epic Republican primary battle of 2000, the first-place finisher desperately needs the second-place finisher to win in order to validate his own legacy. And the runner-up now finds himself saddled with the baggage of a man he never much liked to begin with, forced to live with a record he personally considers deeply lacking and portrayed as if he were a clone of his longtime adversary. As John Weaver, McCain’s former chief strategist told me, “I’m sure McCain is thinking, Is Bush going to beat me twice?”

The Final Days of the Presidency of George W. Bush - NYTimes.com

Internet Traffic Begins to Bypass the U.S. - NYTimes.com

A timely reality check

Some Internet technologists and privacy advocates say those actions and other government policies may be hastening the shift in Canadian and European traffic away from the United States.

“Since passage of the Patriot Act, many companies based outside of the United States have been reluctant to store client information in the U.S.,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. “There is an ongoing concern that U.S. intelligence agencies will gather this information without legal process. There is particular sensitivity about access to financial information as well as communications and Internet traffic that goes through U.S. switches.”

Internet Traffic Begins to Bypass the U.S. - NYTimes.com

An Astonishingly Arrogant V.P. Selection - The Plank [The New Republic]

One of a zillion or so interesting articles on McCain/Palin this morning; read the full essay and check out an index of other TNR articles (titled "Palin in Comparison")

It may be John McCain's birthday, but it seems like he's the one giving out gifts today. The selection of Palin doesn't simply, as others have pointed out, undermine the notion that Obama is too inexperienced to be president; it gives Obama the chance to actually take the edge on national security while making John McCain's age a central issue of the campaign.

On a related note, an except from an email message I received yesterday:

Not enough experience & unprepared =
A 47 year old Harvard trained attorney, president of the law review, years teaching constitutional law, working as a civil rights attorney, serving on the senate foreign relations committee, ivy league undergrad, etc ...


Enough experience & prepared =
A 44 year old mother of a 4 month old downs syndrome baby, undergraduate degree in journalism from idaho, worked as a television sports reporter, runner-up to Miss Alaska, no national or international political experience, etc ....


Since when does being mayor of a town of 8,000 people in a remote suburb qualify someone to be a heartbeat away from the presidency of the free world? Since when does a lack of formal education in political science, law, and business, and no graduate level education at all, signify the preparedness to be commander in chief?


Does McCain just not get it? Or does he really believe independent female voters are stupid? This selection for VP is an insult to women and to the presidency. There are plenty of well-trained and qualified women, but they are all pro-choice so he couldn't pick them. If you ever doubted McCain is a flip-flopper who will do anything for a vote ... think again.

Pass it on.

An Astonishingly Arrogant V.P. Selection - The Plank

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Forrester Blog For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals

Interesting perspectives from Forrester, although I'm surprised they didn't include Yahoo/Zimbra in their assessment

Taking on the enterprise email market is gutsy for Cisco. Many have tried. The role call of companies that have shown sustained, significant success is short: IBM, Microsoft, Novell. Tough crowd. Then again, Cisco is a very tough competitor, too. And they bring some assets. WebEx is a very strong, well-respected brand that has great relevance to knowledge workers. They have mind share. Certainly Cisco has the resources to make this happen. They can build the data centers, write the code, make additional acquisitions as needed. And if email is moving to the cloud, it could be just the disruption that could drive a new competitor like Cisco into the thick of the race.

The Forrester Blog For Information & Knowledge Management Professionals

Extinguish the Rumors: No New Amazon Kindle This Year - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

Looks like Amazon opted to not Osborne the 1.0 Kindle

I asked Craig Berman, Amazon’s chief spokesman, for comment on a possible Kindle 2.0, and today he responded.

“Don’t believe everything you read,” Mr. Berman said. “There’s a lot of rumor and speculation about the Kindle. One thing I can tell you for sure is that there will be no new version of the Kindle this year. A new version is possible sometime next year at the earliest.”

Extinguish the Rumors: No New Amazon Kindle This Year - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

Comcast to cap monthly consumer broadband | Webware : Cool Web apps for everyone - CNET

Read the full article for examples of how to get to 250 gigabytes a month

Starting October 1 customers of Comcast's residential data services will have an invisible barrier on their monthly data usage. Under the new guidelines of Comcast's Acceptable Use Policy announced Thursday, that cap will be set at 250 gigabytes per month, per account.

Users who go over the limit will get a courtesy call from Comcast's customer service for the first instance. However, under the new policy a second-time offense means the service is immediately suspended for an entire calendar year.

Surprisingly the company is not providing any tools to help users monitor their current usage.

Comcast to cap monthly consumer broadband | Webware : Cool Web apps for everyone - CNET

Technology Review: Even critics give Apple a pass on iPhone 3G woes

Check the full article for more details -- and behold a dent in the Apple reality distortion field

First an iPhone price cut left early buyers feeling foolish, and then came reports that some iPods were spitting sparks. Now the new iPhone 3G has been marred by bugs, spotty service, disappearing programs for the device and a veil of secrecy over software developers trying to broaden its appeal.
Such a string of mishaps and missteps might throw another electronics company into crisis. But of course, Apple Inc. isn't just another electronics company. Even as iPhone griping rages online, it looks like Apple's sterling reputation will emerge untarnished.
"The objective reality is that Apple does plenty of wrong," said Peter Fader, a marketing professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. However, Fader said, the company's loyal fans, and even casual users, have come to identify so strongly with Apple's high-end, individualistic vibe that they're willing to look the other way.

Technology Review: Even critics give Apple a pass on iPhone 3G woes

Microsoft to Buy Greenfield Online - WSJ.com

Hmm...

Microsoft Corp. said Friday it agreed to buy research firm Greenfield Online Inc., in a $486 million deal that will expand the software maker's access to consumer data to aid future online services.

The deal follows Microsoft's failed attempt to buy Yahoo Inc. this year for more than $45 billion. Without Yahoo, the software company is now trying to complement its own online services with smaller acquisitions.

Greenfield, based in Wilton, Conn., uses the Internet to survey panels of travelers, shoppers, pet owners, doctors and other consumers and professionals around the world. Its clients include consumer products makers such as gas and charcoal grill maker Weber-Stephens Products Co. Microsoft will pay $17.50 a share for Greenfield, which is traded on the Nasdaq stock market.

Microsoft to Buy Greenfield Online - WSJ.com

AT&T’s Rivals Are Happy to Attack Over iPhone’s Network Woes - NYTimes.com

An interesting competitive swarm

Apple sold more than a million iPhone 3G cellphones its first weekend — with some stores running out — and two million more since then, analysts say. But its July debut has been nothing less than a public relations headache for AT&T, with eager buyers complaining about dropped calls and poor network connections.

Some fingers point to Apple, which has tried to deflect the complaints. But many others point to AT&T’s cellular network. Whatever the source of the problems, AT&T’s rivals, long irritated by all the attention the iPhone has received, are on the attack and happy to exploit the discontent.

AT&T’s Rivals Are Happy to Attack Over iPhone’s Network Woes - NYTimes.com

Business Technology : The Secret Behind Obama's Nomination: Social Networking

An timely snapshot

When Barack Obama accepts the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday it will be thanks to votes from millions of people around the country – and the Web site used to organize them. The Obama campaign’s use of the site provides a model for businesses that are struggling with their own social-networking efforts.

Throughout the campaign, Obama and his staff relied on a social-networking site, www.my.barackobama.com, to help supporters find one another and to disperse the campaign’s messages to a broad audience. Most campaigns had access to the same technology and didn’t have anywhere near the online-success of Obama, an article in Technology Review argues.

Business Technology : The Secret Behind Obama's Nomination: Social Networking

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nations Respond To Google Earth Threat -- Google Earth -- InformationWeek

Strange days indeed -- check the full article for more details

To deal with the "Google threat," as Google's geospatial mapping application Google Earth is characterized in the July 30, 2008 report from the Director of National Intelligence's Open Source Center, foreign governments have offered five main responses: negotiating with Google, banning Google products, developing similar products, taking evasive measures, and nonchalance.

The report, obtained by the Federation of American Scientists' Secrecy News site, recounts how nations have dealt with perceived privacy violations arising from the images Google makes available through its software.

Nations Respond To Google Earth Threat -- Google Earth -- InformationWeek

Mozilla extension taps into typed commands (Computerworld)

Evidently some timely innovation-by-acquisition (at least hiring key people; it's unclear if Google paid for the Enso technology) on Google's part

An experimental extension to Mozilla Firefox lets people substitute simple text commands for complex Web tasks such as putting links to maps in e-mail messages.

On Tuesday, Mozilla Labs released its first version of Ubiquity, which is related to software called Enso that was developed at a small Chicago company called Humanized Inc. Mozilla hired three executives of Humanized in January, and Aza Raskin, the former president of that company, introduced Ubiquity 0.1 in a Mozilla Labs blog entry on Tuesday. Raskin is now head of user experience at Mozilla Labs.

I went to the apparently stale Humanized site to explore, and, in IE8 beta 2, saw the following under a "Humanized Lab" link section:

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /nfs/c01/h02/mnt/34814/domains/humanized.com/html/action_footer.pho on line 42

(The error also appears in Firefox 3.01, FWIW...)

Mozilla extension taps into typed commands

Is something rotten at Apple? - By Farhad Manjoo - Slate Magazine

An excerpt from a Slate article earlier this week

What's troubling, though, is Apple's tendency to milk this advantage—when it does screw up, it prefers secrecy over full disclosure, and it expects customers to quickly forgive any slight. Its response to the MobileMe meltdown was a classic example. For several days after the site's rocky launch, Apple refused to disclose what had gone wrong. It wouldn't say why MobileMe was down, and it wouldn't say when MobileMe would be fixed. Only after the New York Times' David Pogue and the Wall Street Journal's Walter Mossberg published critical columns did Apple change its tune. Two weeks after MobileMe's launch, the company put up a blog documenting the service's status. Last week, it gave all users a credit for two months of MobileMe service.

Apple is dealing with iPhone problems in much the same way—grudgingly. Apple-focused blogs recently reported that Jobs fired off one-line e-mail replies to two different customers upset about iPhone difficulties; in each case, he said Apple was working on the problems. And an Apple spokeswoman told USA Today that Apple would issue a software patch to improve "communication with 3G networks." But that's it: The company won't say why the phone's failing to load apps or connect to 3G, it won't say how serious the problems are, and it won't say what, if anything, customers can do to resolve the problems until it issues a fix.

Is something rotten at Apple? - By Farhad Manjoo - Slate Magazine#page_start#page_start

Windows Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 Fact Sheet: An overview of the features and benefits of Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer 8.

See the full page for a detailed IE8 beta 2 feature list

Windows Internet Explorer 8 is the next version of the world’s most popular browser that optimizes developer and end-user experiences to provide a window to the Web of online services. Moreover, Internet Explorer 8 offers new features and functionality that enable customers to reach beyond the page in more secure, easier and faster ways than ever. Following are brief descriptions of the key new and enhanced features in Internet Explorer 8.

Windows Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 Fact Sheet: An overview of the features and benefits of Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer 8.

More Artists Steer Clear of iTunes - WSJ.com

Hmm...

ITunes has been the runaway hit of the music business, selling more than five billion song downloads since it started five years ago. But a growing number of record companies are trying to steer clear of Apple Inc.'s behemoth music store, because they say selling single songs on iTunes in some cases is crimping overall music sales.

[Chart]

More Artists Steer Clear of iTunes - WSJ.com

Industry Rethinks Moneymaking Software Practice - NYTimes.com

An ironic reality check; see the full article for details

Before they ship PCs to retailers like Best Buy, computer makers load them up with lots of free software. For $30, Best Buy will get rid of it for you.

That simple cleanup service is threatening the precarious economics of the personal computer industry.

Industry Rethinks Moneymaking Software Practice - NYTimes.com

Technology Review: Microsoft's newest browser may block ads

I've already seen some press and blogosphere speculation that this is an anti-Google feature of some type; keep in mind 1) like many features in IE8, InPrivate mode is about improving user control and visibility (e.g., optionally blocking what might otherwise be happening without their permission/expectation/agreement), and 2) Google isn't the only company investing $B in Internet advertising -- so is Microsoft...

Companies that sell advertisements online -- including Microsoft -- can electronically gather tidbits about Web surfers' habits, and then use that information to help decide what kinds of ads to show. However, in the newest "beta" test version of Microsoft's forthcoming Internet Explorer 8, which was made available Wednesday, a mode called InPrivateBrowsing lets users surf without having a list of sites they visit get stored on their computers.
The program also covers other footprints, including temporary Internet files and cookies, the small data files that Web sites put on visitors' computers to track their activities.

Technology Review: Microsoft's newest browser may block ads

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cisco buys into e-mail with $215M PostPath acquisition

See the full article (no subscription required for this one) for more details

Privately held PostPath was founded in 2003.

Cisco said it expects to close the deal by the end of October and add PostPath's 67 employees to its Collaboration Software Group. The group is part of Cisco's recently established Software Group, which oversees the Internetworking Operating System, network and service management, unified communications, policy management and SaaS offerings.

Cisco buys into e-mail with $215M PostPath acquisition

Cisco Buys PostPath for $215 Million - WSJ.com

Wow -- that's a bold and big investment

Cisco Systems Inc. agreed to buy closely held PostPath Inc. in a $215 million deal, highlighting the networking giant's bid to expand its business-applications portfolio. PostPath, Mountain View, Calif., makes Linux-based email and calendaring software that it markets as an alternative to Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange software. The firm's software will be added to Cisco's WebEx Connect service, which lets companies hold meetings, manage documents and conduct other activities via the Web.

Cisco Buys PostPath for $215 Million - WSJ.com

BBC NEWS | Technology | Computer viruses make it to orbit

Sign of the times...

Nasa has confirmed that laptops carried to the ISS in July were infected with a virus known as Gammima.AG.

The worm was first detected on earth in August 2007 and lurks on infected machines waiting to steal login names for popular online games.

Nasa said it was not the first time computer viruses had travelled into space and it was investigating how the machines were infected.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Computer viruses make it to orbit

Google Rolls Out Tool That Suggests Search Queries - NYTimes.com

I suspect the timing has something to do with the impending beta 2 of IE8, which is going to surprise a lot of people, in terms of innovative and useful new features

After more than four years in development, a new feature that suggests queries as letters and words are typed into Google Inc.'s search engine, is being rolled out over the next week.

Google Suggest, which the company began developing in 2004, aims to help users better formulate queries, reduce spelling errors and save keystrokes, Google noted in a blog post Monday.

More than four years in development -- so much for "Internet time"...

Google Rolls Out Tool That Suggests Search Queries - NYTimes.com

Amazon.com to Buy Social Network for Book Lovers - NYTimes.com

Hmm...

Amazon.com Monday agreed to acquire Shelfari, a social network for book lovers, for an undisclosed sum.

Amazon's acquisition of Shelfari means the site will likely make it a much stronger competitor to other social networks that focus on bibliophiles, according to some observers. In addition, Amazon earlier this month acquired online rare book seller AbeBooks, and gained its 40% stake in one of Shelfari's main competitors, LibraryThing. Thus, observers note, Amazon will have a stake in two competing social networks for readers.

Amazon.com to Buy Social Network for Book Lovers - NYTimes.com

How RFID Tags Could Be Used to Track Unsuspecting People: Scientific American

Key concepts from the article:

  • Radio-frequency identi­fication (RFID) tags are embedded in a growing number of personal items and identity documents.
  • Because the tags were designed to be powerful tracking devices and they typically incorporate little security, people wearing or carrying them are vulnerable to surreptitious surveillance and profiling.
  • Worldwide, legislators have done little to address those risks to citizens.
  • How RFID Tags Could Be Used to Track Unsuspecting People: Scientific American

    Technology Review: Web App Writers: Rejoice, Beware

    An excerpt from a Google App Engine snapshot (see this page for the beginning of the article)

    However, no matter how quick and easy building Web applications is with App Engine, and no matter how good Google's infrastructure is, the service's lack of openness remains a serious drawback. While Google's representatives say that they want to avoid locking companies into their system, the reality is that as long as important components such as the database remain proprietary, developers will have limited flexibility. In my case, I don't currently want to manage my blog so much as just write it: I just want software that works. Yet it was important to me to reserve the right to move it wherever I want, to add or remove tools, and possibly to learn enough at some point to begin participating in the design of the platform. In its current incarnation, App Engine doesn't give developers analogous options.

    Technology Review: Web App Writers: Rejoice, Beware

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    Data Breaches Have Surpassed Level for All of '07, Report Finds - washingtonpost.com

    A stark reality check

    More data breaches have been reported so far this year than in all of 2007, according to a report released yesterday by a nonprofit group that works to prevent fraud.

    Identity Theft Resource Center of San Diego found that 449 U.S. businesses, government agencies and universities have reported a loss or theft of consumer data this year. Last year, the center tallied 446 breaches involving 127 million consumer records. About 90 million of those records were attributed to a single retail chain, TJX, which operates T.J. Maxx stores.

    Officials said they do not know whether there have been more breaches this year or if there is better reporting of the incidents.

    Data Breaches Have Surpassed Level for All of '07, Report Finds - washingtonpost.com

    IEBlog : IE8 and Privacy

    Some significant IE updates -- check the full post for more details; also see a related video interview 

    With respect to privacy, IE8 gives users more choice about controlling what information they keep and exchange. In the first part of this post I’ll describe two Internet Explorer 8 features that help you control your history, cookies, and other information that Internet Explorer stores on your behalf. In the latter part, I’ll describe two more features that can help you control how your browsing history is shared by websites. By default, IE8 browses the web the same way IE7 does.

    • InPrivate™ Browsing lets you control whether or not IE saves your browsing history, cookies, and other data
    • Delete Browsing History helps you control your browsing history after you’ve visited websites.
    • InPrivate™ Blocking informs you about content that is in a position to observe your browsing history, and allows you to block it
    • InPrivate Subscriptions allow you to augment the capability of InPrivate Blocking by subscribing to lists of websites to block or allow.

    IEBlog : IE8 and Privacy

    Business & Technology | iPhone gag order hampers developers | Seattle Times Newspaper

    "Think different", continued...

    By creating games and other programs for the iPhone, software developers hoped to find millions of new customers. But they didn't expect to feel muzzled.

    The software-development kit that Apple distributed to programmers bound them to not discuss the process of creating iPhone programs. Companies typically waive such legal restrictions once products launch, but Apple didn't. And it won't say why.

    As a result, iPhone developers — and businesses that cater to them — say they are prohibited from asking technical questions or sharing tips. On Apple's official support Web site, moderators remind visitors that they are bound by the nondisclosure agreement and should mind what they say or ask.

    Business & Technology | iPhone gag order hampers developers | Seattle Times Newspaper

    Drilling Down - Preferring the Web Over Watching TV - NYTimes.com

    An interesting snapshot; see the full article for a couple more stats

    For children ages 10 to 14 who use the Internet, the computer is a bigger draw than the TV set, according to a study recently released by DoubleClick Performics, a search marketing company. The study found that 83 percent of Internet users in that age bracket spent an hour or more online a day, but only 68 percent devoted that much time to television.

    Drilling Down - Preferring the Web Over Watching TV - NYTimes.com

    Monday, August 25, 2008

    The Count - In a Downturn, but Still Spending on Technology - NYTimes.com

    A timely reality check

    It can be hard for a business to stay ahead if its technology is falling behind. That is one reason that despite an uncertain economy, worldwide information technology spending is on track to reach $3.4 trillion in 2008 — an 8 percent increase over 2007, according to the research firm Gartner.

    Of all spending categories, software and services are set to show the healthiest growth — with projected increases of around 10 percent each. This is partly because companies are in the middle of an upgrade cycle that will continue beyond the end of the decade, Gartner explains.

    The Count - In a Downturn, but Still Spending on Technology - NYTimes.com

    Media Talk - What George Orwell Wrote, 70 Years Later to the Day - NYTimes.com

    Cool...

    The observations were made by George Orwell, whose copious diaries are now being published every day in blog form, exactly 70 years after they were made. The scholars behind the project say they are trying to get more attention for Orwell online and to make him more relevant to a younger generation he would have wanted to speak to.

    “I think he would have been a blogger,” said Jean Seaton, a professor at the University of Westminster in London who administers the Orwell writing prize and thought up the idea of the blog.

    Media Talk - What George Orwell Wrote, 70 Years Later to the Day - NYTimes.com

    Report: A Kindle for college kids? | Crave, the gadget blog - CNET

    It's only a matter of time before a device of this type is pervasive for all full-time students, imho

    Amid reports that Amazon is working on new models of its e-book reader, the Kindle, one analyst says the online titan has an academic spin in mind.

    Amazon's Kindle e-book reader

    Amazon's Kindle e-book reader

    (Credit: Amazon.com)

    Amazon sees a chance to cash in by marketing the Kindle to college students, according to McAdams Wright Ragen analyst Tim Bueneman, by way of Seattlepi.com reporter Andrea James.

    A collegiate version could be just one of a number of potential Kindles-to-be, apparently. "There are already several new, improved versions of the Kindle in the works," Bueneman wrote in a note Friday, per James.

    Report: A Kindle for college kids? | Crave, the gadget blog - CNET

    Web Audience for Games Soars for NBC and Yahoo - NYTimes.com

    That's a lot of Silverlight downloads...

    Benefiting from the growth in broadband Internet access, NBCOlympics.com served up more than 1.2 billion pages and 72 million video streams through Saturday, more than doubling the combined traffic to its site during the 2004 Games in Athens and the 2006 Games in Turin. The popularity of the site will very likely make digital rights more significant in next year’s bidding for the 2014 and 2016 Games.

    Web Audience for Games Soars for NBC and Yahoo - NYTimes.com

    Marketing Moves to the Blogosphere - washingtonpost.com

    The full article includes a snapshot of blog marketing

    Of the approximately 112.5 million blogs on the Web, almost 5,000 are corporate, according to blog indexer Technorati. Calacanis blogged to start conversations and be a part of a virtual community, but corporate bloggers are in it for other reasons: talking directly to customers or giving a personal touch to a big business.

    Marketing Moves to the Blogosphere - washingtonpost.com

    Sunday, August 24, 2008

    Who Will Digitize the World's Books? - The New York Review of Books

    See the full essay for some additional details about fine print in Google's plan

    From the user's perspective, the possibility of using the Internet to access a book, particularly a hard-to-find book, from one of the large libraries of the world is obviously wonderful. However, it is important to clarify what Google is offering: it is not a digital text that the library will be able to share unconditionally with others. In its contracts with the nineteen libraries now in its consortium, Google has stipulated that the "Universal Digital Copy" of digitized books it provides must be protected from non-Google Web software; and that the number of downloads from texts digitized by Google will be limited. Only Google can aggregate collections of different libraries in order to create the larger digital database that is the most valuable part of the consortium project.

    Who Will Digitize the World's Books? - The New York Review of Books

    Everybody’s Business - Connected, Yes, but Hermetically Sealed - NYTimes.com

    A stark reality check essay

    Consider another example: Walk down the Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, between Central Park South and 45th Street. Almost every man and woman is on the phone or scanning the screen of a BlackBerry. No one looks at anyone else (except me; I stare openly and voraciously). It is as if each person were in a cocoon of electrons and self-obsession and obligation. Each of these people might as well be wearing a yoke around his neck.

    There is no community here — or on the streets of any other city. Beverly Hills, my home, is far worse. There, people are hermetically sealed off from one another, not taking in the air or the stupendous buildings or the sky or just the miracle of confronting the earth as it is.

    Everybody’s Business - Connected, Yes, but Hermetically Sealed - NYTimes.com

    Digital Domain - Caution - Driver May Be Surfing the Web - NYTimes.com

    Read the full article for some scary statistics

    ANYTHING that keeps tykes pacified on long car trips, like video systems in rear seats, is a boon to automotive safety. Today, Chrysler is poised to offer in its 2009 models a new entertainment option for the children: Wi-Fi and Internet connectivity. The problem is that the entire car becomes a hotspot. The signals won’t be confined to the Nintendos in the rear seat; front-seat occupants will be able to stay online, too.

    Digital Domain - Caution - Driver May Be Surfing the Web - NYTimes.com

    Saturday, August 23, 2008

    A third of new PCs being downgraded to XP, says metrics researcher [Computerworld]

    This remains a mystery to me -- I'm using Vista on my primary PCs at this point, and I consider it a major upgrade to XP.

    More than one in every three new PCs is downgraded from Windows Vista to the older Windows XP, either at the factory or by the buyer, a performance and metrics researcher said today.

    According to Devil Mountain Software Inc., which operates a community-based testing network, nearly 35% of the 3,000-plus PCs it examined had been downgraded from Vista to XP.

    "Either these machines were downgraded by [sellers like] Dell or HP, or they were downgraded by the user after they got the machine," said Craig Barth, chief technology officer at Devil Mountain. "In any case, these machines are no longer running Vista."

    A third of new PCs being downgraded to XP, says metrics researcher

    WinInfo Short Takes: Apple Paid Actors to Wait in Line During iPhone Launch in Poland

     See the full post for other interesting tidbits from last week

    In a bid to make its new iPhone 3G look more popular than it really is, Apple paid actors to wait in line in front of retail locations around the country. But here's the messed up part of this story, in case the central theme doesn't seem to messed up to you: The company is admitting to the practice. "We have these fake queues at front of 20 stores around the country to drum up interest in the iPhone," an Apple spokesperson admits.

    Source: WinInfo Short Takes: Week of August 25, 2008

    Friday, August 22, 2008

    Platformonomics - President Blowhard?

    Excellent and timely reality check from Charles Fitzgerald -- read and ponder the full post

    The Atlantic’s trove of internal memos from Hilary Clinton’s campaign is fascinating reading if you are interested in strategy, positioning and messaging.  The accompanying analysis puts the documents into the context of events as they unfolded.  It highlights the zero-sum nature of politics that magnifies errors due to the binary outcomes.

    Platformonomics - President Blowhard?

    Yahoo Shares Trading Below Pre-Microsoft Offer Price - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

    Read the full post for some accentuate-the-positive potential Yahoo! developments

    It may be because Microsoft appears to have shifted its attention from Jerry Yang to Jerry Seinfeld. Or it may be that investors are feeling pessimistic as Yahoo’s search business continues to weaken. But Yahoo shares on Thursday closed at their lowest point since Microsoft made public its $44.6 billion, or $33 a share, for the Internet portal on February 1. (After months of negotiations, Microsoft withdrew its offer to buy Yahoo.)

    Yahoo shares ended Thursday at $19.11, down 6 cents. It was the second day in a row that the company’s stock ended below its $19.18 close on January 31, just before the Microsoft bid.

    Yahoo Shares Trading Below Pre-Microsoft Offer Price - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

    Windows IT Pro: Palm Goes Pro with New Treo Smartphone

    Somehow I don't think what Palm needs now is a major rev to its proprietary operating system 

    In many ways, the Treo Pro is a stop-gap measure, like the company's previous release, the consumer-oriented Centro. Both the Centro and Treo Pro share certain design elements, but both are designed to keep customers engaged with Palm while it finishes its long-delayed and still eagerly anticipated next-generation Palm OS. That OS is now due in 2009.

    It can't happen quickly enough: Palm owned over 30 percent of the US smart phone market as recently as 2006, but its share today is less than 17 percent, compared to 31 percent for RIM Blackberry and 21 percent for HTC. Apple, in fourth place with the iPhone, owns about 12 percent of the market.

    Source: Palm Goes Pro with New Treo Smartphone

    Article - WSJ.com: Mounting Concerns Take the Shine Off Salesforce.com

     A timely reality check for the sassiest of SaaS players

    Shares of Salesforce.com Inc. (CRM) dived more than 17% Thursday after second-quarter earnings highlighted growing headwinds for the company and analysts raised questions about its pricey valuation.

    In a raft of research notes, analysts fretted over signs that revenue growth was slowing and volatile currency markets were affecting the company's performance. They also pointed to growing pressure from rivals and an acquisition whose immediate value is difficult to measure as reasons for caution.

    [...]

    Salesforce's stock has skyrocketed since the company went public in 2004. After initially pricing at $11, the company's shares peaked at more than $75 in June 2008. Investors liked - and continue to like - its business model. Salesforce allows customers to use software tools that are delivered online and stored on Salesforce's own servers. This approach allows customers to save money because they don't have to maintain the same level of computer infrastructure, and also speeds up the time it takes to get software up and running.

    Source: Article - WSJ.com

    Ellison takes top spot on pay list - The Boston Globe

     Not a bad year for Larry Ellison...

    Oracle Corp. founder Larry Ellison, a longtime fixture on the list of the world's richest people, is now ensconced atop The Associated Press's rankings of the top-paid chief executives in the United States.

    Never shy about flaunting his estimated $25 billion fortune, Ellison established himself as the best-paid chief executive among major US companies by persuading Oracle to award him a fiscal 2008 pay package valued at $84.6 million under the AP's calculations.

    Source: Ellison takes top spot on pay list - The Boston Globe

    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    More Boston commuters are taking to their bicycles - The Boston Globe

    See the full article for some encouraging leading indicators

    "We're definitely at some kind of a tipping point," said David Watson, executive director of MassBike (massbike.org), a nonprofit cycling advocacy and education group.

    Data on commuter bicycle use are scant, Watson said. On his daily ride from Arlington into Boston, he sees "more and more bike traffic from week to week." He mentioned a survey showing a 70 percent increase in ridership between 2002 and 2006 in Cambridge, quoted on the website of the League of American Bicyclists (bikeleague.org). He also said there is a spike in demand this year for MassBike's introductory on-site Bicycle Commuter workshops for local companies (three in 2007 compared with 15 and counting in 2008).

    Of course, bike commuting has room to grow: The 2000 Census estimated that fewer than 0.4 percent of all journeys to work were made by bike.

    More Boston commuters are taking to their bicycles - The Boston Globe

    Business & Technology | American Airlines in-flight Internet goes live | Seattle Times Newspaper

    Sign of the times...

    American Airlines' new in-flight broadband service went live Wednesday.

    For $12.95 per flight, passengers on American Airlines flights using its Boeing 767-200 will be able to surf the Internet, check e-mail, instant-message and access corporate VPN accounts using the system by Aircell.

    The ground-based system — called GoGo — won't enable any voice-based functions.

    Source: Business & Technology | American Airlines in-flight Internet goes live | Seattle Times Newspaper

    Video: Possible fall pizzazz from Palm - CNET News.com

    But perhaps potentially precluded by putrid pricing :)...

    This fall, smartphone veteran Palm will release the Treo Pro, its latest and long-awaited offering, into the crowded market. In Wednesday's edition of the Daily Debrief, CNET's Kara Tsuboi and Senior Editor Bonnie Cha discuss what consumers can expect from this sleek, updated model and whether this handheld will help the company refresh its image.

    Source: Video: Possible fall pizzazz from Palm - CNET News.com

    Microsoft Live Labs Introduces Photosynth, a Breakthrough Visual Medium: Share more than photos; share an experience.

    More details on Photosynth (from Microsoft, this time) 

    First there was the snapshot, and then came video. Now there is Microsoft Photosynth, a new service from Microsoft Live Labs that goes far beyond how you now view, experience and share photos.

    You can share or relive a vacation destination or explore a distant museum or landmark; with a digital camera and your own creativity and inspiration, you can use Photosynth to transform regular digital photos into a three-dimensional, 360-degree experience. Anybody who sees your “synth” is put right in your shoes, sharing in the same sense of exhilaration and wonder that you did at the time, with detail, clarity and scope impossible to achieve in conventional photos or videos.

    Source: Microsoft Live Labs Introduces Photosynth, a Breakthrough Visual Medium: Share more than photos; share an experience.

    Microsoft Live Labs Creates Web ‘Synth’ For 3-D Photo Tour | Walter S. Mossberg | Personal Technology | AllThingsD

    See the full article for Walt Mossberg's take on Photosynth (starting with a couple Microsoft-bashing paragraphs, of course, for consistency...)

    Photosynth, based on technology Microsoft acquired in 2006, is entirely free, and it’s entirely based on the Web, at photosynth.net (where it will be launched at midnight EST Thursday). At that site you can view not only your own synths, but the synths created by every other Photosynth user.

    I’ve been testing this service for about a week, and while it has its flaws, I believe that Photosynth offers a dramatic new way to use your photos and to share them with others.

    Source: Microsoft Live Labs Creates Web ‘Synth’ For 3-D Photo Tour | Walter S. Mossberg | Personal Technology | AllThingsD

    Microsoft Enlists Jerry Seinfeld In Its Ad Battle Against Apple - WSJ.com

    Interesting times... 

    Microsoft Corp., weary of being cast as a stodgy oldster by Apple Inc.'s advertising, is turning for help to Jerry Seinfeld.

    The software giant's new $300 million advertising campaign, devised by a newly hired ad agency, has been closely guarded. But Mr. Seinfeld will be one of the key celebrity pitchmen, say people close to the situation. He will appear with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in ads and receive about $10 million for the work, they say.

    Source: Microsoft Enlists Jerry Seinfeld In Its Ad Battle Against Apple - WSJ.com

    Palm Goes For The Pros - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

    $549?  Let's see -- a new phone, or maybe a new laptop instead...

    Devotees of Palm’s Treo brand of smartphones (whoever is left raise your hands) have a new model to get excited about: the Treo Pro.

    On Wednesday the company announced it would begin selling a sleeker and more elegant version of its once popular Treo for a suggested price of $549 in the United States. It is being sold here without a contract – meaning you can choose between AT&T or T-Mobile’s G.S.M. networks and switch at will. It will also work with many wireless networks in Europe and Asia, which makes it easy for customers to take abroad.

    Source: Palm Goes For The Pros - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

    Welcome, Freshmen. Have an iPod. - NYTimes.com

     Back to the future for Apple, in some respects; its influence through academia in the 1980s and early 1990s (primarily with the Apple II) was a critical success factor then

    Taking a step that professors may view as a bit counterproductive, some universities are doling out Apple iPhones and Internet-capable iPods to students.

    The always-on Internet devices raise some novel possibilities, like tracking where students congregate. With far less controversy, colleges could send messages about canceled classes, delayed buses, campus crises or just the cafeteria menu.

    Source: Welcome, Freshmen. Have an iPod. - NYTimes.com

    Out in the open: Some scientists sharing results - The Boston Globe

    A fascinating and very promising web-centric trend in academia; read the full article for more details 

    Barry Canton, a 28-year-old biological engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has posted raw scientific data, his thesis proposal, and original research ideas on an online website for all to see.

    To young people primed for openness by the confessional existence they live online, that may not seem like a big deal.

    But in the world of science - where promotions, tenure, and fortune rest on publishing papers in prestigious journals, securing competitive grants, and patenting discoveries - it's a brazen, potentially self-destructive move. To many scientists, leaving unfinished work and ideas in the open seems as reckless as leaving your debit card and password at a busy ATM machine.

    Source: Out in the open: Some scientists sharing results - The Boston Globe

    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    Palm, Once a Leader, Seeks Path in Smartphone Jungle - NYTimes.com

    Check the full article, along with this CNet story, for reasons why Palm is not yet dead 

    In recent years Palm lost its way. Its share of the smartphone market has been halved to about 16.9 percent over the last two years. First, Research in Motion found the sweet spot of business users with its BlackBerry. More recently, Apple grabbed consumers’ fancy with the iPhone.

    Palm has tried to innovate beyond the five-year-old Treo with little effect. It announced with great fanfare last year that it would build the Foleo, a cross between a smartphone and notebook computer, only to cancel the project three months later. While cellphone makers like Samsung, LG and R.I.M. brought out products to compete with the iPhone, Palm has told Treo loyalists and investors to be patient. They will need to be. Palm’s stock price is down 90 percent since its high in March 2000.

    Can Palm Be Resuscitated?

    Photo from CNet article:

     

    Source: Palm, Once a Leader, Seeks Path in Smartphone Jungle - NYTimes.com

    Microsoft Working to Make Political Conventions Unconventional: Microsoft is helping transform the upcoming Democratic and Republican national conventions into the most technologically advanced and inclusive conventions ever held.

    Yet another context in which Microsoft and Google are competing... 

    From a technological perspective, the 2008 Democratic and Republican national conventions will be unlike any before. With the help of Microsoft, both the Democrats and Republicans will transcend the walls of their respective venues through online events that give voters unprecedented levels of access and empowerment.

    Microsoft is the Official Software and HD Web Content Provider for the 2008 Democratic National Convention - held Aug. 25-28 in Denver, Colo. - and the Official Technology Provider for the 2008 Republican National Convention, held Sept. 1-4 in Minneapolis, Minn.

    Both parties want to use technology and the Web to engage more people in the convention experience this year than has been possible in the past.

    Source: Microsoft Working to Make Political Conventions Unconventional: Microsoft is helping transform the upcoming Democratic and Republican national conventions into the most technologically advanced and inclusive conventions ever held.

    Technology Review: Obama's Geek Economist

    Read the full article -- this is a pivotal topic for the 2008 presidential election 

    Moreover, if Obama does win, 2008 will be a watershed election in American political history for reasons unrelated to the new presi­dent's skin color. For decades, the resident of the White House has been closely associated with the South or Southwest. Now, someone from the intellectual milieu associated with the University of Chicago is a plausible candidate. Along with ­Goolsbee and other members of this intellectual movement--including Chicago Business School professor Richard Thaler, a founder of behavioral economics, and Cass Sunstein, a former professor at Chicago's law school--Obama subscribes to a distinctive set of economic theories developed at the university, and to a corresponding set of policy prescriptions. These people are Chicagoans, who--to paraphrase a native son--go at things in their own way, on the basis of first to knock, first admitted. If Obama reaches the White House, they will not be shy about implementing those prescriptions.

    Source: Technology Review: Obama's Geek Economist

    MBTA admits ticket not secure - The Boston Globe

    Nice to see that justice still occasionally prevails... 

    The MBTA acknowledged in court yesterday that its CharlieTicket system is vulnerable to fraud, validating a key finding of three MIT students who drew attention to the security problems as part of a class project.

    The admission came during a hearing at which a federal judge lifted a 10-day order barring the students from talking about their findings and denied the MBTA's request to keep them silent about the most sensitive parts of their research for five months.

    Source: MBTA admits ticket not secure - The Boston Globe

    Cancer blogs become part of treatment - The Boston Globe

    Check the full article for more details 

    After analyzing 50 blogs, the researchers found that detailing the rigors of the illness online seemed to help patients cope.

    While research on cancer patient blogging may be scant, studies on the healing effects of writing are abundant, said Harriet Berman, a clinical psychologist with the Wellness Community-Greater Boston, a nonprofit that provides support and counseling free to cancer patients and their families. "There's a very empowering process that goes on when cancer becomes something you can write about. It's not just this thing that's invaded you," she said.

    Source: Cancer blogs become part of treatment - The Boston Globe

    Capturing The Bush Legacy Online - washingtonpost.com

    Hmm -- so perhaps W won't be able to hide key information, as he apparently did with his pre-presidential record, by sequestering the records in his dad's presidential library...

    The Bush administration will soon be packed and gone, but part of its legacy will live on in cyberspace.

    A consortium of government and nonprofit agencies plans to capture snapshots of every federal government Web site before Jan. 20, when the next president moves into the White House and starts remaking the federal bureaucracy to fit his agenda. The goal of the 2008 "end-of-term harvest" is to preserve millions of agency records in an online archive that librarians hope will provide a valuable trove for historians, government scholars and the public.

    Source: Capturing The Bush Legacy Online - washingtonpost.com

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    IBM - What is the difference between Notes.exe and Nlnotes.exe?

    If you're running the Notes 8.0x client and you don't see much benefit from the full Java framework in the full Notes 8 client, executing nlnotes.exe rather than notes.exe can be the difference between reasonable performance and not, depending on your PC's hardware configuration (e.g., if you have less than two gigabytes of RAM...);  nlnotes.exe launches the "basic" Notes 8 client 

    What is the difference in function between the two executable files, Notes.exe and Nlnotes.exe? Both of these files are located in the Notes program directory.

    Source: IBM - What is the difference between Notes.exe and Nlnotes.exe?

    Technology Review: How Obama Really Did It

    An interesting snapshot -- see the full article for details on how the Obama campaign was most effective in terms of leveraging the Internet and social software trends

    Throughout the political season, the Obama campaign has domi­nated new media, capitalizing on a confluence of trends. Americans are more able to access media-rich content online; 55 percent have broadband Internet connections at home, double the figure for spring 2004. Social-networking technologies have matured, and more Americans are comfortable with them. Although the 2004 Dean campaign broke ground with its online meeting technologies and blogging, "people didn't quite have the facility," says ­Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford law professor who has given the Obama campaign Internet policy advice (Lessig wrote The People Own Ideas! in our May/June 2005 issue). "The world has now caught up with the technology." The Obama campaign, he adds, recognized this early: "The key networking advance in the Obama field operation was really deploying community­-building tools in a smart way from the very beginning."

    Technology Review: How Obama Really Did It

    Google Will Offer Services for Bloggers at the Conventions - WSJ.com

    Hmm...

    Google Inc. will help set up a two-story, 8,000 square-foot headquarters for hundreds of bloggers descending on the Democratic convention in Denver next week, and it will offer similar services at the Republican convention in September, as new media gain influence in politics.

    Four years ago, Google wasn't a significant presence at the Democratic and Republican conventions. Its high-profile presence at both conventions this year mirrors the growth of new media, which will provide their takes on events and compete with established media companies via Google's YouTube video site and other social-media outlets.

    Google Will Offer Services for Bloggers at the Conventions - WSJ.com

    Breach on Princeton Review Site Exposed Students’ Data - NYTimes.com

    Some difficult lessons... 

    The Princeton Review, the test-preparatory firm, accidentally published the personal data and standardized test scores of tens of thousands of Florida students on its Web site, where they were available for seven weeks.

    A flaw in configuring the site allowed anyone to type in a relatively simple Web address and have unfettered access to hundreds of files on the company’s computer network, including educational materials and internal communications.

    Source: Breach on Princeton Review Site Exposed Students’ Data - NYTimes.com

    A Smart Bet or a Big Mistake? - NYTimes.com

    Definitely a long-term investment; see the full article for details 

    Still, it might be a decade before anyone really knows whether Verizon’s bet on FiOS is a smart investment in the future or a multibillion-dollar black hole.

    The company has had to spend more than it would like on advertising and expensive giveaways, like flat-screen TVs, to get new customers. Comcast and other cable companies are preparing to bolster their own Internet speeds and digital offerings.

    An Expensive Gamble on Fiber Catches On With Customers

     

    Source: A Smart Bet or a Big Mistake? - NYTimes.com

    Monday, August 18, 2008

    Topic Pages to Be Hub of New BusinessWeek Site - NYTimes.com

    I've been a satisfied BW customer for a couple decades and look forward to exploring their new site; see the full article for more details

    With advertising revenue sliding, publications try a lot of things online to get noticed, like — pardon the jargon — verticals, aggregation, user-generated content, popularity rankings and even something resembling social networks.

    BusinessWeek magazine is about to introduce a site that combines some elements of all of the above in ways intended to capture new readers and funnel them into niches that will attract advertisers.

    Topic Pages to Be Hub of New BusinessWeek Site - NYTimes.com

    Bono blamed for unreleased U2 songs on Internet | News - Digital Media - CNET News.com

    Looks like Bono would benefit from having a portable cone-of-silence device (or maybe just some headphones...).

    Four songs from the Irish rock band's forthcoming album found themselves on the Internet after U2 front man Bono was caught playing the songs a bit too loudly on his stereo at his villa in the south of France, according to a report in The Sun. An alert passerby on the beach is credited with recognizing the iconic singer's voice and recording what he was hearing. He then supposedly posted the recordings to YouTube, but the tracks don't appear to have stuck around long on the video-sharing site.

    Bono blamed for unreleased U2 songs on Internet | News - Digital Media - CNET News.com

    Business Technology : Making Sense of Spaghetti Code

    A timely reality check...

    One poster child for old-code problems is the state of California. When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently ordered that state workers’ pay be cut to the minimum wage during stalled budget talks, Controller John Chiang said no–because there aren’t enough programmers who know the Cobol language used in the state’s payroll software.

    Young technicians, raised on videogames and drag-and-drop programming, are not about to manually type in Cobol instructions. “It’s not that you couldn’t find people smart enough to do it,” Wood says. “You can’t find people who would want to.”

    Business Technology : Making Sense of Spaghetti Code

    Article - WSJ.com: Chinese Software Firm Challenges Microsoft

    Apparently China is only interested in locally-sponsored software monopolists.  BTW the file format -- UOF -- is a spin-off from ODF (naturally...).

    Most often, Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) biggest rivals in the Chinese market have been black-market versions of its own products. 

    That could change for the company's Office software suite, a key product that includes its word processing and spreadsheet tools. Wuxi, China-based Evermore Software is expected to release its latest Office competitor in late August. And while EIOffice 2009 is based on a file format standard promoted by the Chinese government and costs a fraction of Microsoft's offering, it also comes with a new legal threat. 

    Evermore Chief Executive Gus Tsao said he's prepared to pursue Microsoft under a new anti-monopoly law that took effect in China on Friday. The law is widely expected to be used to curtail the dominance of foreign companies doing business there, such as Microsoft.

    Article - WSJ.com

    Is MBTA guilty of a misstep in hacker lawsuit? - The Boston Globe

    Oops...

    For the MBTA, this was a case of winning the battle but losing the war. Within hours of the restraining order being filed, tech journalists and bloggers alike hit their keyboards. The result: the [students'] presentation, which had been distributed to attendees days before the restraining order was issued, was all over the Web. A quick Google search today found more than 300 news articles and nearly 400 blog posts on the subject, many of which contained links to the presentation.
    www.schwartz-pr.com/crossroads

    Is MBTA guilty of a misstep in hacker lawsuit? - The Boston Globe

    T hacking exposes a deeper clash - The Boston Globe

    A major cultural/modus operandi clash that may result in some people with (evidently) the best of intentions ... in jail

    [...] But it's not generating half the attention as his project for Professor Ronald L. Rivest's Computer and Network Security class last semester. That endeavor, for which he earned an A, has gotten the fresh-faced senior from Beverly Hills, Calif., a visit from an FBI agent, an MBTA sergeant detective, nationwide press attention, and a starring role in a federal lawsuit.

    Anderson, along with his freshman-year roommate, R. J. Ryan, 22, and another student in the class, Alessandro Chiesa, 20, claimed in their project to have developed a way to hack into the MBTA's recently installed $180 million automated fare-collection system and provide fellow hackers with "free rides for life."

    T hacking exposes a deeper clash - The Boston Globe

    Sunday, August 17, 2008

    Essay - At School, Technology Starts to Turn a Corner - NYTimes.com

    Another hopeful leading indicator

    Web-based education software has matured in the last few years, so that students, teachers and families can be linked through networks. Until recently, computing in the classroom amounted to students doing Internet searches, sending e-mail and mastering word processing, presentation programs and spreadsheets. That’s useful stuff, to be sure, but not something that alters how schools work.

    The new Web education networks can open the door to broader changes. Parents become more engaged because they can monitor their children’s attendance, punctuality, homework and performance, and can get tips for helping them at home. Teachers can share methods, lesson plans and online curriculum materials.

    In the classroom, the emphasis can shift to project-based learning, a real break with the textbook-and-lecture model of education.

    [See the full article for more details]

    Essay - At School, Technology Starts to Turn a Corner - NYTimes.com

    For some Harvard professors, the blogosphere is new terrain - The Boston Globe

    Interesting times -- see the full article for more details

    While tens of millions of Americans in other fields have joined in the din of the blogosphere, buttoned-down faculty members at the nation's most prestigious business school have watched from the sidelines, content to dispense their management wisdom in the classroom, case studies, or peer-reviewed academic papers.

    Not anymore. Several business professors at Harvard have jumped into the Internet fray recently, opting for immediacy over considered analysis and wrestling with some of the passions and anonymous sniping that are the daily bread of cyberspace. All insist they are experimenting on the new frontier of idea dissemination and reaching out to a wider audience beyond the ivory tower.

    For some Harvard professors, the blogosphere is new terrain - The Boston Globe

    Rockers call for carpooling to concerts - The Boston Globe

    Another weird but hopeful sign that our society is finally getting the message about energy conservation

    Rock bands love to wax about sustaining the environment. But Wilco, which played at Tanglewood last week, has been working on a novel, more concrete solution to the climate crisis: getting fans into carpools.

    A few weeks ago, the band launched a special tab on its website that lets fans register as drivers or passengers. A feature then connects would-be carpoolers to each other based on where they live and which show they are attending.

    Rockers call for carpooling to concerts - The Boston Globe

    Saturday, August 16, 2008

    [Computerworld] ISO and IEC reject appeals, approve Open XML spec

    I missed this last week; see the full article for details...

    The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) have given the green light to publish the Microsoft-backed Office Open XML (OOXML) specification after organization leaders rejected appeals from four countries to protest the vote that approved OOXML as a standard.

    The ISO and IEC technical boards approved the publication of ISO/IEC DIS 29500, the official name for the OOXML specification, the ISO said Friday. The spec is expected to be published within the next few weeks after the standards bodies complete the final processing of the document, provided there are no further appeals against the decision.

    ISO and IEC reject appeals, approve Open XML spec

    Apple Moves to Fix Problem Of Dropped Calls on iPhone - WSJ.com

    Apple is amazing -- it ships faulty products, but it's essentially an etiquette breach for its customers or the press to highlight the flaws

    It is difficult to determine how widespread the connection problems with iPhone 3G are. Apple's own discussion forums are packed with hundreds of complaints from users complaining of poor wireless reception and dropped calls. Mr. Dulaney himself said he has experienced spotty network reception with his own iPhone 3G, most recently inside San Francisco's baseball stadium -- AT&T Park.

    Apple Moves to Fix Problem Of Dropped Calls on iPhone - WSJ.com

    Friday, August 15, 2008

    We all love this Olympics, right? Not Adobe | Coop's Corner : A Blog from Charlie Cooper - CNET News.com

    Definitely a Silverlight milestone this week; see the full article for more details

    Here's the way things work at Microsoft: After correcting shortcomings in the first and second editions of its software, version 3.0 of a Microsoft product usually silences the company's worst critics, allowing management to get on with business of crushing rivals. But I'll be first to acknowledge that Silverlight breaks with that pattern.

    Since the start of the Beijing Olympics, I've been using the Silverlight 2 beta to access video over the Internet and it works just fine. As a loyal Flash user, I was surprised when Microsoft won the deal to supply NBC with video-viewing technology for the Olympics. There was the obvious old-school tie between Microsoft and NBC dating back to their collaboration building MSNBC. Still, this was Adobe Systems' game to lose. And lose it did--big time.

    We all love this Olympics, right? Not Adobe | Coop's Corner : A Blog from Charlie Cooper - CNET News.com

    Ruling Is a Victory for Supporters of Free Software - NYTimes.com

    A bit of a paradox, perhaps

    A legal dispute involving model railroad hobbyists has resulted in a major courtroom victory for the free software movement also known as open-source software.

    In a ruling Wednesday, the federal appeals court in Washington said that just because a software programmer gave his work away did not mean it could not be protected.

    Ruling Is a Victory for Supporters of Free Software - NYTimes.com

    Smartphone Is Expected via Google - NYTimes.com

    Interesting times...

    T-Mobile will be the first carrier to offer a mobile phone powered by Google’s Android software, according to people briefed on the company’s plans. The phone will be made by HTC, one of the largest makers of mobile phones in the world, and is expected to go on sale in the United States before Christmas, perhaps as early as October.

    The high-end phone is expected to match many of the capabilities of Apple’s iPhone and other so-called smartphones that run software from Palm, Research in Motion, Microsoft and Nokia to access the Internet and perform computerlike functions.

    Smartphone Is Expected via Google - NYTimes.com

    Netflix's Shipping System Is Disrupted - WSJ.com

    Not just problems in "cloud" services, this week...

    Netflix Inc. experienced a disruption to its DVD rental business that has prevented the company from mailing movies to most of its customers in recent days.

    Steve Swasey, a spokesman for the Los Gatos, Calif., company, described the cause of the disruption as a "pretty severe technical" problem with the company's shipping system.

    [...]

    The outage to its shipping system is only the second in the company's history, Mr. Swasey said. The first occurred in March, when both the Netflix Web site and the technology behind its shipping system were disrupted for about 24 hours.

    Netflix's Shipping System Is Disrupted - WSJ.com

    For Microsoft, not all is neighborly in Cambridge - The Boston Globe

    Big changes along the Charles...

    Microsoft Corp. moved to Cambridge last year looking to set the world afire with innovation. Instead it got sued.

    It's a case that pits a home-grown tech firm called InterSystems Corp. against an out-of-town competitor that wants to build a first-of-its kind research center. But the legal battle has nothing to do with cutting-edge technology - rather, it's all about bricks and mortar and an outdoor sign.

    For Microsoft, not all is neighborly in Cambridge - The Boston Globe

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    Google Gadgets an Open Door for Attack - CIO.com - Business Technology Leadership

    Hmm...

    Google Gadget lovers were dealt a blow on Wednesday when two researchers outlined what they called a "hole" during a Black Hat presentation.

    "The attacker can forcibly install Google Gadgets; they can read the victim's search history once a malicious gadget has been installed in some specific circumstances; they can attack other Google Gadgets; they can phish usernames and passwords from victims, and so on," said Robert Hansen, also known as RSnake, a founder of security consultancy SecTheory. "Really, the sky is the limit, once the browser is under the control of an attacker. And that point is exacerbated by the fact that people trust Google be a trustworthy domain, making the attacks even easier."

    Google Gadgets an Open Door for Attack - CIO.com - Business Technology Leadership

    Yahoo Unveils Platform for Location-Based Services - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

    More interesting times in the cloud...

    Many technology pundits say that Web and mobile applications that are tailored to where you are — often called “location-based services” — will be the next big thing. Or at least, one of the next big things.

    Before those applications take off, however, some problems must be solved. For example, there are already several services that track a user’s location, but many applications that want to access that information have no easy way to get it. For their part, users want to decide which applications can have access to their location information and which cannot — and they want to do it once, if possible.

    On Tuesday, Yahoo unveiled a new service called Fire Eagle that simplifies all that. It is free and available to any application and any user who wants to try it.

    Yahoo Unveils Platform for Location-Based Services - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

    An S.U.V. Traffic Jam - NYTimes.com

    Also glad to see this, although it's bad news for people who purchased SUVs over the last few years, and devastating for auto companies that got addicted to SUV profit margins...

    The market for sport utility vehicles is starting to look a lot like the housing market, spreading pain to consumers, automakers and dealers.

    Even the vocabulary is sadly familiar. Bloated inventories? Days spent on the market?

    [...]

    Automakers are offering discounts of $10,000 or more on some S.U.V.’s just to get rid of them, so dealers have space to stock more of the fuel-efficient cars consumers are clamoring for. On average, new sport utility vehicles sold for 20 percent below sticker price in July, according to Edmunds.com, a Web site that gives car-buying advice to consumers.

    That, in turn, has decimated prices for used S.U.V.’s.

    An S.U.V. Traffic Jam - NYTimes.com

    Technology Review: Motorists turn to carpool sites as gas prices rise

    Glad to see this -- see the full article for more details

    The number of daily visitors to eRideShare has jumped about threefold since February, when gas started to climb from the $3-a-gallon range. A rival site, Carpoolworld.com, had about 4,400 new U.S. registrations in both June and July, compared with some 800 in February.
    Although some people turned to these sites long ago to help reduce pollution or take advantage of faster, high-occupancy vehicle lanes that require at least two occupants, the pocketbook has been the largest influencer of all.

    Technology Review: Motorists turn to carpool sites as gas prices rise

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    Cuil: Terminally uncool - Network World

    Check the full article for "Lessons for all companies that want to compete in Web applications of any kind".  I have yet to see any net-positive reviews of Cuil.

    Building Web applications that are robust and perform well is hard, but trying to promote them, build a market for them, and then make money from them is far harder. And harder still is when you're launching a Web service that competes with an established brand in the same market.

    Could anything be harder than that? Well, yes, that’s what launching a Web service that competes with Google is and exactly what Cuil attempted when they went live on July 28.

    Cuil: Terminally uncool - Network World

    Business & Technology | Amazon shares up with Kindle news | Seattle Times Newspaper

    Hmm...

    The company may sell 380,000 Kindles in 2008, up from its earlier projection of 190,000, Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney wrote Sunday in a research report. He recommends buying the stock.

    "Kindle is becoming the iPod of the book world," Mahaney wrote. "Kindle could be one of the top 'gadget' gifts this holiday season." He noted that Apple sold 380,000 iPod music players in 2002, the first year they were sold.

    Business & Technology | Amazon shares up with Kindle news | Seattle Times Newspaper

    Apple's MobileMe suffers more downtime | One More Thing - CNET News.com

    Meanwhile, Gmail also had problems 

    Apple's MobileMe suite of Web services suffered another outage Monday that affected an unknown number of its users.

    Apple's MobileMe suffers more downtime | One More Thing - CNET News.com

    Yahoos Advisory Bill Hits Million - Mergers, Acquisitions, Venture Capital, Hedge Funds -- DealBook - New York Times

    Check the comments posted on the full article for a timely reality check

    Now, Yahoo has shed some light on how much this upheaval has cost in actual dollars and cents — specifically, it revealed the fees it has racked up for outside advice from bankers and lawyers.

    In a late Friday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Yahoo said it spent $36 million in the first half of 2008 on fees for outside advisers helping it handle Microsoft’s bid, Carl Icahn’s attempt to oust Yahoo’s board (which he recently dropped as part of a settlement) and other, related litigation.

    Yahoos Advisory Bill Hits Million - Mergers, Acquisitions, Venture Capital, Hedge Funds -- DealBook - New York Times

    Georgia Takes a Beating in the Cyberwar With Russia - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

    A scary sign of  the times; see the full article for more details

    Besides the bloody shooting war going on between Georgia and Russia, there’s another, quieter battle going on in cyberspace.

    The Georgian government is accusing Russia of disabling Georgian Web sites, including the site for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Georgia Takes a Beating in the Cyberwar With Russia - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    Is Google a Media Company? - NYTimes.com

    A timely Google reality check

    While Knol is only three weeks old and still relatively obscure, it has already rekindled fears among some media companies that Google is increasingly becoming a competitor. They foresee Google’s becoming a powerful rival that not only owns a growing number of content properties, including YouTube, the top online video site, and Blogger, a leading blogging service, but also holds the keys to directing users around the Web.

    “If in fact a Google property is taking money away from Google’s partners, that is a real problem,” said Wenda Harris Millard, the co-chief executive of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

    Is Google a Media Company? - NYTimes.com

    Sunday, August 10, 2008

    Google May Write Down AOL Investment - Mergers, Acquisitions, Venture Capital, Hedge Funds -- DealBook - New York Times

    See the full article for more details

    In an assessment that could lead to a substantial charge against its future profits, Google believes its $1 billion investment in advertising partner AOL is souring.

    The Mountain View, Calif.-based company disclosed in a quarterly report filed late Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the 5 percent AOL stake that it bought in 2005 ‘’may be impaired.'’ Impairment is an accounting term used to describe an acquisition or investment that has eroded.

    Google May Write Down AOL Investment - Mergers, Acquisitions, Venture Capital, Hedge Funds -- DealBook - New York Times