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  • #2188277

    Dreaming Electric Sheep

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    by jasonhiner ·

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    • #3256684

      Quote of the Day — 04/13/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “Wherever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
      — Peter Drucker

    • #3256685

      Quote of the Day — 04/14/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order.”
      — Alfred North Whitehead

    • #3256686

      A theologian who loves robots?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I was quite impressed with this interview of theologian Anne Foerst. It turns out that Ms. Foerst is not only a ground-breaking thinker in religious and theological fields, but has also had a life-long fascination with technology and robots. She is particulary interested in artificial intelligence, the human fascination with it, and what it says about human beings. In fact, Ms. Foerst believes that AI is essentially a spiritual quest and that it says something profound about humans’ relationship with God — that may be a but of a stretch but it’s a well-thought out and interesting argument to read.

      I particularly liked when Ms. Foerst explained her interest in theology. She said, “I got hooked on theology because I just think this is the most interesting field when you want to learn about human ambiguity and human frailty–the fun stuff to being human.” That approach, and the fact that she has shown such sincere interest in robots and AI, is probably what has made people like MIT’s Rod Brooks, an AI guru, willing to speak with her and take an interest in her research.

      This interview has made me consider taking a look at Foerst’s book God in the Machine: What Robots Teach Us About God and Humanity. She appears to have some fresh and interesting arguments about technology and ethics that are worth considering.

      • #3175196

        A theologian who loves robots?

        by unclegeorge ·

        In reply to A theologian who loves robots?

        Allow me to highly recommend “Darwin Among the Machines”, by George Dyson.

        Is the en-soulment of the symbiotic relationship between man and machine possible?

        Good stuff.

        Best, UncleG.

    • #3256687

      I guess the PC just isn’t cool any more

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I’ve recently read a very persuasive argument that the PC isn’t much fun any more and that the coolest stuff in tech is now centered around all these small gadgets like iPods (of course), PDAs, phones, Tablet PCs, laptops, and other stuff. I’m not sure I’d put PDAs in the same category as iPods in terms of cool factor, but there’s some truth to this argument. It’s source is Benefactor/Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (hey, the guy can’t be all that bad, he’s an Indiana University grad). Check out his blog post, “The end of an era – The Desktop PC.”

    • #3256688

      Quote of the Day — 4/15/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”
      — Helen Keller

    • #3256682

      Quote of the Day — 4/26/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.”
      — Lucius Annaeus Seneca

    • #3256683

      Quote of the Day — 4/28/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “No one can defeat us unless we first defeat ourselves.”
      — Dwight D. Eisenhower

    • #3256677

      Quote of the Day — 05/03/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “Self-image sets the boundaries of individual accomplishment.”
      — Maxwell Maltz

    • #3256678

      Quote of the Day — 05/04/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “Always aim for achievement, and forget about success.”
      — Helen Hayes

    • #3256679

      Quote of the Day — 05/05/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “Take care of the minutes, for the hours will take care of themselves.”
      — Lord Chesterfield

    • #3256680

      Bill Gates has been reading my blog again

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Remember the post I made on April 12 about the U.S. education system falling behind in science and high-tech education? Well, on Monday, Bill Gates gave a talk to the Society of American Business Editors & Writers in which he said, “the United States is in grave danger of losing its economic advantages to fast-growing nations like China, unless the country restores its lead in education and other policies supporting growth.” The News.com article also mentioned, “Cisco Systems and Intel executives also have cast recent spotlights on the need to improve schools, and particularly math and science education, in order to remain competitive.”

      Of course, the likelihood that Bill Gates actually read my blog is as infinitesimal as the universe is large. Still, I appreciate Bill’s support on this issue. 🙂

      • #3175200

        Bill Gates has been reading my blog again

        by unclegeorge ·

        In reply to Bill Gates has been reading my blog again

        Interesting licensing structure in Mr. Gates own state, Washington, for K-12 education.  A six figure bill for an educational network of about 4,000 systems using ‘real world’ MS wouldn’t be a bad estimate.  Of course, the myriad licensing schemes have all the warmth and fuzziness of choosing a long distance plan, so there is some variation. There are somewhere around 300,000 K-12 computers in Washington state.

        As per the above quote, let’s ask HP and MS about licensing for Asian entities?  There, we see one box serving 4 users in a cluster.  There, we see ‘thin’ versions of OSes that are affordable to basic education, even by Asian standards.  There, we see students whipping U.S. students’ behinds in mathematic tests.

        If Mr. Gates is serious about U.S. education, he needs to understand education not as a revenue generator, but as an infrastructural investment.  To that end, if you’re reading Bill, how’s about licensing every educational computer in Washington state for all Microsoft products, for $10 each?  That way, we might actually have more teachers in classrooms to teach math so we, the nation with the greatest of opportunities, can maybe succeed in playing ‘catch up’.

        What a concept.

        UncleG.

         

      • #3231807

        Bill Gates has been reading my blog again

        by mark.auernheimer ·

        In reply to Bill Gates has been reading my blog again

        What Education Bill can help, local government can hurt… check this out:

        Gates Scholars to lose their Alma Mater?

        What is going on in Richmond and this world when bureaucrats are trying to ruin the most successful school the area has ever seen?

        details at http://gatesscholarsmaylosealmamater

    • #3256681

      Quote of the Day — 05/06/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”
      — Leonardo Da Vinci

    • #3256675

      WiMax is ready?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      WiMax has the potential to make broadband Internet access faster and more accessible for a lot of people. However, it was supposed to be a year or two away from any type of serious deployment. Surprise! Earlier this week, Intel deployed a demo WiMax network that covered all of metro Las Vegas for this year’s Interop 2005 conference. And the demo version has been getting 7 Mbps to 12 Mbps – even out in the desert on the outskirts of the city.

    • #3256676

      Quote of the Day — 05/11/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “Continuous effort — not strength or intelligence — is the key to unlocking our potential.”
      — Winston Churchill

    • #3236525

      Quote of the Day — 5/23/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “It’s surprising how much you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

      — Abraham Lincoln

    • #3242538

      Quote of the Day — 5/24/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
      — Jim Ryuh

    • #3235833

      Quote of the Day — 05/25/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “Patience and fortitude conquer all things.”
      — Ralph Waldo Emerson

    • #3254879

      Quote of the Day — 05/26/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “Patience is a bitter plant, but it has sweet fruit”
      — German proverb

    • #3170160

      Case studies from Microsoft IT at Tech-Ed look interesting

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      In taking a look at the 16 Technical Tracks and some of the breakout sessions that have been listed for Tech-Ed, I found myself most interested in some of the case study presentations that are being offered by the Microsoft IT department (which is obviously one of the largest enterprise IT shops in the world).

      I’m a sucker for case studies. I just always enjoy learning about how other people handle problems and how they figure out how to meet tough goals. I realize that the Microsoft IT department won’t be able to be brutally honest about their experiences (for obvious reasons) and the sessions will likely have a bit of spin to them. Nevertheless, I’m very interested in these four case study sessions:

      — Microsoft IT: Exchange Security at Microsoft
      — Exchange Best Practices from Microsoft IT
      — How Microsoft IT Deploys Windows Mobile for 60,000 Users
      — Securing Microsoft: How Microsoft Does IT

      The last session should be particularly interesting because, besides national governments and financial institutions, Microsoft could be the organization that is most widely-targeted by attackers. It is certainly one of the highest value ideological targets for hackers. I’ll be very interested to see what Microsoft IT has to say about their security posture and some of the methods they use to handle security in a high risk environment. I truly hope that the speaker(s) of this session speak frankly and provide as much detail as possible. 

    • #3172433

      Blog your Tech-Ed experience

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      If you are going to Microsoft Tech-Ed in Orlando next week (June 6-10), join TechRepublic members and editors in blogging about your experience (good sessions, cool booths, nice free stuff, best golf course in orlando, etc.). All you have to do to join our virtual Tech-Ed blogging party is to enter your Tech-Ed commentary into your TechRepublic blog and then assign the tag “teched2005” to the post.

      Also, if you do blog about Tech-Ed (on our site or anywhere else) then you can get a free t-shirt from Microsoft.

    • #3171622

      It helps to know a local in Florida

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I got into Orlando late last night (Monday). It was 9:00 by the time I got a cab from airport, got checked into the hotel, and called my wife and son with the “I made it here safe and sound” call. Then I called my buddy Steven Warren (one of my TechRepublic contributors) because he was staying in the same hotel. Steve had a car since he lives a couple hours from Orlando, so he picked me up and we went to grab a bite to eat.

      The best part was that Steve knew where to go and he had the top down on his convertible. So he drove me around International Blvd (the big tourist area) and then we hit a TGI Fridays. Afterwards, Steve drove me around some more, which was great since this will probably be the only time during the whole trip that I’m not hemmed in at the convention center or the hotel.

      News Bulletin: Florida is definitely hotter than hell (85 degrees with 75% humidity at 10 o’clock at night), but it’s a lot cooler in a little red convertible. Thanks Steve.

    • #3192247

      Wait a second … I didnt realize Indigo was this cool

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      The biggest “Wow” moment of Tech-Ed for me was when I saw a demo of Indigo. Before Tech-Ed, Indigo was just an overhyped buzzword to me. However, at the convention the Indigo demo was one of the most impressive things I saw. The demo was done by Microsoft employee Ami Vora. In the demo, Ami came out with medical sensors attached to her head (brain wave sensor) and her hand (blood-oxygen level). This info then populated into a Web-based console that could be used by a medical professional. This console showed a live, moving graphical read-out of Ami’s data (just like those machines you see on the TV show “ER”).

      The impressive part came when Ami said that this info was on a LAN, and that a doctor may want to access it from home during the evening. But rather than having a doctor connect via VPN or call someone on the staff and give the readout over the phone, the IT staff might want to allow the doc to access it over the Internet. So Ami went into the XML file of this Indigo-powered app and simply changed three variables – 1.) send the output over HTTP, 2.) encrypt it, and 3.) require the doc to use a smart card to authenticate. In the past, it would have taken a lot of lines of code to redevelop the app to include these features. In this case, an IT pro could simply make the changes in a configuration file — and didn’t even have to recomplile the code for the app. After Ami made the changes, she switched to an Internet connection, connected, authenticated with a smart card and then saw the exact same Web-based app with live data running. When the IT pros in the Indigo demo saw that, most of the mouths in this session were hanging open.

      Indigo is part of the new .NET Framework in Longhorn. This link provides some more details.

      • #3173000

        Wait a second … I didnt realize Indigo was this cool

        by awolfe_ii ·

        In reply to Wait a second … I didnt realize Indigo was this cool

        Huh?? What’s impressive about this??function (match)
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        }>function (match)
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        }>Capturing data to a “LAN”?? Like a file server or some specialized server?? It should go into a database.function (match)
        {
        return match.toLowerCase();
        }>function (match)
        {
        return match.toLowerCase();
        }>function (match)
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        }>function (match)
        {
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        }>A doctor accesing data securely via the Web?? This is no different from getting bank account info over the web.function (match)
        {
        return match.toLowerCase();
        }>function (match)
        {
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        }>function (match)
        {
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        } class=”khtml-block-placeholder”>function (match)
        {
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        }>function (match)
        {
        return match.toLowerCase();
        }>An application tunneling a dynamic graphical display over the web?? Guess Macromedia better go home and take Flash with it.function (match)
        {
        return match.toLowerCase();
        }>function (match)
        {
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        }>function (match)
        {
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        } class=”khtml-block-placeholder”>function (match)
        {
        return match.toLowerCase();
        }>function (match)
        {
        return match.toLowerCase();
        }>Aha, it’s that the doctor can re-sort, re-search, and manipulate the display using browser controls.? Sorry, Google, obviously what you’ve done with mapping is intrinsically impossible with medical readings that are structurally indistinguishable — except that a handful of measurement tracks attached to a Microsoftette is much smaller than GIS that you drag around within your browser with impunity.function (match)
        {
        return match.toLowerCase();
        }>function (match)
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        }>function (match)
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        {
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        }>function (match)
        {
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        }>OK, OK, I’ve got it — it’s the smart card.? Obviously there is no capability in the world for using smart cards or biometrics for authentication over the web.function (match)
        {
        return match.toLowerCase();
        }>function (match)
        {
        return match.toLowerCase();
        }>function (match)
        {
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        } class=”khtml-block-placeholder”>function (match)
        {
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        }>function (match)
        {
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        }>Now, why do I have a suspicion that these facilities are all built on Internet-Explorer-only infringements of HTML standards?function (match)
        {
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        }>function (match)
        {
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        }>function (match)
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        {
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        }>function (match)
        {
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        }>Look, there’s no THERE there.? Indigo is just the latest incarnation of an object request broker; I’ve been seeing the same slides for ten years: Visibroker, CORBA, EJB, J2EE.? Now we get the same thing via web services. ?Instead of using bare TCP/IP, we use HTTP over TCP/IP. ?Instead of using XDR or IDL, we use XML.? Hmm, maybe it’s more like fifteen or eighteen years. function (match)
        {
        return match.toLowerCase();
        }>

    • #3193377

      Pretty big wow — Exchange 2003 and Windows Mobile

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Next to the Indigo demo, the biggest “wow” moment of Tech-Ed 2005 for me was the case study from the Microsoft IT department about how they deployed smartphones to 60,000 employees worldwide. There were two things about that deployment that impressed me:

      1.) First, when Microsoft moved to Exchange 2003, they consolidated from 74 different Exchange sites down to 5. Plus, they drastically reduced the number of Exchange servers they needed to run the infrastructure because of the topology improvements in Exchange 2003, which make it unnecessary to run a bunch of different servers (one dedicated to the mail store, one dedicated to public folders, another dedicated to OWA, etc.). Of course, the servers that Microsoft is running Exchange on now are also a lot bigger and more powerful than the servers they were running before. Still, this type of simplified infrastructure is generally much easier to manage for IT.

      2.) With that consolidated infrastructure, Microsoft IT basically has only two front-end servers at each of the five locations. This not only handles front end access for mail, but it can also handle access from Windows Mobile devices such as smartphones. And the surprising thing that Microsoft discovered is that access from Windows Mobile phones adds negligible overhead to the Exchange servers. Thus, Microsoft deployed 60,000 Windows Mobile smartphones to its employees throughout the world (many of them were the super-cool Audiovox 5600).

      The main takeaway is that smartphones powered by Windows Mobile are simpler to deploy, much more scalable, and potentially much cheaper (since you don’t need additional dedicated hardware) than similar solutions from Blackberry and Goodlink, which currently lead the market. One caveat for Windows Mobile is that Gartner analysts have called into question the enterprise-level security of Microsoft’s solution.

      For more info, see Mobile Access Using Exchange Server 2003.

    • #3193376

      Take a look at my Tech-Ed 2005 photos

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

    • #3193350

      Keep an eye on Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS)

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Single sign-on has been one the technologies that has been heavy on hype and light on results over the past five years. Microsoft’s Passport service (aimed mostly at consumers and individual users) has been one of the underperformers in the single sing-on arena. However, Microsoft has a server technology called Active Directory Federation Services (which is coming as part of Windows Server 2003 R2) that has a chance to legitimately extend single sign-on to extranet sites and other far-flung Web sites. The great part is that ADFS can handle not only authentication, but can also allow for other permissions to be part of the authentication process.

      This has tremendous potential for organizations that rely primarily on Active Directory for authentication. However, it does not currently have much potentially for integration with non-Active Directory systems such as various Linux/UNIX authentication systems and Novell eDirectory (which John Sheesley reminded me has had ADFS-like technology for several years). That will limit the effectiveness of ADFS as an industry-wide solution.

    • #3191457

      Quote of the Day — 06/13/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “The quality of our expectations determines the quality of our action.”
      — Andre Godin

    • #3193028

      Communicator 2005 finally provides business IM the way it should be

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Instant Messaging (IM) currently has an uncomfortable place in the business world. Some IT departments simply look the other way while employees use public IM clients (Yahoo, AOL, or MSN), but that leaves those companies open to legal and compliance issues. Other IT departments have banned IM all together, but that robs employees of a powerful communications tool. Still other IT departments have deployed private IM systems, but those often don’t provide as much functionality as public IM clients and connect to only a small subset of IM users. In short, IM in the enterprise is a bit of mess.

      Based on the demo I saw of Microsoft’s Office Communicator 2005 at Tech-Ed, the technology for making IM a serious business tool has finally arrived (and I bet competitors will follow with similar products). Here are the things I like about Microsoft’s Communicator:

      1. The ability to securely (and simultaneously) connect to individuals using Yahoo, AOL, and MSN clients
      2. Nice integration with phone systems
      3. Broad presence capabilities
      4. Natural integration with Microsoft Office
      5. Advanced video and audio conferencing features

      Of course, in order to take advantage of Communicator’s functionality, you will need Microsoft’s Live Communication Server 2005 (that’s the part where your company has to pull out its wallet). Also, the telephony integration feature will cost extra in the form of telephony CALs (on top of the cost of LCS 2005).

      If you want to give Communicator a look, Microsoft offers a free trial version (you’ll need to also run a trial of LCS if you aren’t already using that product). For info on installing, using, and managing Communicator, click here.

    • #3192818

      Quote of the Day — 06/14/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “If you are doing your best, you will not have time to worry about failure.”
      — Robert Hillyer

    • #3173862

      Quote of the Day — 06/15/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “Our business in life is not to get ahead of others but to get ahead of ourselves — to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterdays with our today, to do our work with more force than ever before.”
      — Steward B. Johnson

    • #3173106

      Quote of the Day — 06/16/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “Chance favors those in motion.”
      — James Austin

    • #3174217

      Microsoft is developing its own BitTorrent technology?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I have to say that this caught me off guard. I read that Microsoft was developing a new peer-to-peer technology code-named “Avalanche” (who thinks of these names and is there a whole code-naming department in Redmond?). Anyway, this technology is aimed at distributing huge files such as videos and software apps over the Internet, and I assume it’s going to be a more legal-friendly version of BitTorrent. Here is the skinny.

    • #3174214

      Coming soon … Windows Server Grid Edition?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Actually, Microsoft is seriously developing a version of Windows Server that will be aimed at grid computing. It’s called … wait for it … “Windows Server 2003, Compute Cluster Edition” — I like my version better (“Windows Server Grid Edition”). Anyway, here is the lowdown on that.

      I wonder if this means that Google is thinking about converting its notoriously-rumored grid cluster of a half-a-gazillion Linux boxes? Probably not.

    • #3173920

      HP is making an iPAQ in the mold of the Treo

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I just read that HP is making a new iPAQ in the style of the Treo. The Treo has gotten mixed reviews, at least from the people that I know. It’ll be interesting to see if the iPAQ can do any better. It’s a safe bet that when this iPAQ is available in the US it’s going to be more expensive than the Treo. Unfortunately, it’s only going to be available overseas when it’s released July 1. I haven’t seen any timeline for when it’s coming to the US, but I would guess later this year.

    • #3175184

      Quote of the Day — 06/17/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “It takes twenty years to make an overnight success.”
      — Eddie Cantor

    • #3174979

      Move over Yoda and make room for my hologram

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      The technology for having holographic video conferencing will apparently be possible in the not-too-distant future, according to a pair of scientists at Carnegie Mellon University. If we ever use this technology at CNET, I hope that they’ll get me one of those cool clamshell chairs like the Jedi Council uses when they do their holo-conferencing.

    • #3175365

      Quote of the Day — 06/21/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “Let your hook be always cast. In the stream where you least expect it, there will be a fish.”
      — Ovid

    • #3175298

      Communicator IM client adds a Web interface

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      As I wrote last week, Communicator 2005 looks like it’s going to be a really great business IM client. Today I heard that Communicator will also have a Web interface. Very interesting.

    • #3175295

      In memorium: Microchip Pioneer Jack Kilby Dies at 81

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      In 1958, Jack Kilby had this really crazy idea. In his first year working for Texas Instruments, he cobbled together a bunch of parts and decided to build an integrated circuit the size of a fingernail. That little circuit quickly brought an end to the switches and tubes that had been running computers since the early 1950’s. You know the rest of the story.

      Here is the AP story on Kilby’s death. So long Jack, and thanks for all the chips.

    • #3175293

      Microsoft will enter the antivirus business

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      When Microsoft bought Sybari earlier this year, you figured this was where they were headed. I certainly didn’t expect them to give away enterprise antivrus solutions (even if the argument could be made they maybe they should give away antivirus software to protect their operating systems). Today, Microsoft finished its acquisition of Sybari and basically announced that it will be selling Sybari’s Antigen antivirus products. Antigen is my favorite antivirus solution for Exchange. It always protected me well when I was running Exchange in my last job. I hope Microsoft keeps making the product better because it’s a nice piece of software.

    • #3177881

      MCPMag’s Field Report From Tech-Ed

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Here is a nice report from MCP Magazine that touches on some of the highlights from the vendor floor at Tech-Ed 2005.

    • #3177877

      Running Windows with Least Privilege

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      One of the the Tech-Ed sessions that I didn’t get to attend but heard good things about was “Tips and Tricks to Running Windows with Least Privilege.” Fortunately, Microsoft has made this session available as a webcast. This is extremely helpful for admins that currently give their users local admin rights. That is always a security risk and this session shows how you can avoid that but still provide the functionality that users need.

    • #3176760

      Quote of the Day — 06/24/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “If we take care of the inches, we will not have to worry about the miles.”
      — Hartley Coleridge

    • #3178296

      Quote of the Day — 06/28/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “Our grand business undoubtedly is not to see what lies dimly at a distance but to do what lies clearly at hand.”
      — Thomas Carlyle

    • #3182775

      If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I know several people that have taken advantage of the fact that at least one of their neighbors has an unsecured Wireless Access Point connected to a broadband Internet connection. I often mention that they are technically stealing bandwidth by doing this, but that usually only generates a laugh and a shrug. Well, today I read a story that I hope will serve as a cautionary tale for anyone out there that is stealing bandwidth from a neighbor. A Florida man was arrested in April for stealing bandwidth from a home Wi-Fi network.

      Interestingly, a Gartner analyst interviewed for this story placed the blame for the incident on the guy who didn’t lock down his WLAN. I agree that the guy — and a lot of other folks that have unsecured WLANs — need to take respsonsibility for learning to secure their networks if they are going to run wireless. However, I am appalled by the argument of the Gartner analyst. It’s the same thing as saying that if a person leaves their front door unlocked, then they deserve to get robbed and we shouldn’t place any blame on the robber. That’s an ethically-bankrupt argument and I certainly would not want to live in a society that has that kind of mindset. A person who knowingly and willfully steals something deserves to be punished according to the full extent of the law — and that includes you, if you’re stealing bandwidth.

      • #3184924

        If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        by stubby ·

        In reply to If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        I agree with you on the morals front – 110% but we also need to be pushing the security aspect of wifi much more than it is. I have been involved in a recent debate with an “IT Professional” who has an unsecured admin lan that rather than getting started on securing it would rather spend the time arguing how difficult it is and why he doesn’t need to do so.

        With attitudes like that once can almost sympathise with those who ‘steal bandwidth’

      • #3184526

        If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        by jmgarvin ·

        In reply to If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        Part of the problem is this, the average user doesn’t understand network security.  They don’t understand firewalls, they don’t understand MAC filtering, and they sure don’t understand WHY they need to secure their network.

        “Who cares if someone steals my bandwidth?” is the average consumer response.  The issue is that it is too easy to setup an unsecured wireless lan or a wireless lan is just too hard for the average user to understand and do.

      • #3190103

        If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        by lesko ·

        In reply to If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        My comment is a little different and it might annoy a lot of other people so I apologize in advance.

        If someone is tossing quarters into the street and all you are doing is picking it up is that really a crime ?
        The guy did not put any sort of security in his access point, it does
        not have to be AES security just something that says this is a private
        network go away.  So I tend to agree with the Gartner analyst in
        this case

      • #3190065

        If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        by terrywilson401 ·

        In reply to If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        I have to agree with the author of this article. I have a wireless network for home use. I live in an apartment and it is inconvenient to setup a wired network. Property management does not like tenants to drill wholes in walls to run patch cables. Most individuals are not aware of the types of security available to them. I have setup MAC filtering, turned of the name broadcasting and setup a key. This however will not stop someone who really wants to steal band width. This is someone who wants something but doesn?t want to pay for it like everyone else. They are stealing from the ISP not the subscriber. The ISPs are the ones that should prosecute when the theft is detected. They should also provide assistance to subscribers in securing any wireless net works they may have. This would help uninformed subscribers from creating an unsecured access point to the ISP’s system.

      • #3188591

        If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        by smorri2 ·

        In reply to If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        I don’t believe the analogy of a person leaving their front door unlocked applies to this situation because a robber would have to physically enter the owners property.? A better analogy for this situation would be if my neighbor were to connect a hose to a water sprinkler in his yard such that when turned on some of the water would land on my property.? ?If I were to then put a container on my property and catch some of the water falling on my property, I don’t believe that any court would rule that I was stealing water from my neighbor, even though the water in that container would have?been metered by the water meter on my neighbors property, passed thru my neighbors pipes and was distributed by my neighbors water sprinkler.? I believe that when my neighbor setup his sprinkler to distribute water to my property he was knowingly giving me the right to use the water that fell on my property.

      • #3188584

        If you

        by nintendoangie ·

        In reply to If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        I agree with the author of the article.  All freebie internet stealers: watch out.  Of course,  it is easy to secure a wireless network.  An absurdly long password’ll usually do the trick.  Secure your networks people!

      • #3188542

        If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        by muddywaters ·

        In reply to If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        I agree that its stealing. And as jmgarvin points out the real problem is the average user’s ability to implement appropriate security.  And what about the less than average user?   I know so many people who are absolute beginners. They are sold the latest and greatest (“Ooooo!  If you have wireless you can roam around the house or drink coffee at Starbuck’s while you cybersurf’!”) and they haven’t got a clue about virus protection let alone wireless security! 

      • #3188329

        If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        by conceptual ·

        In reply to If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        It’s not quite the same thing. This is more like somebody swimming in your pool than robbing your house. An unsecured pool is legally an “attractive nuisence.” If one of the neighborhood kids drowns in it, an owner faces liability in proportion to  the failure to reasonably secure against unauthorised access.

        This won’t be the end of this issue. I think it will snowball and eventually several of these cases will sind up in federal court.

        There will be degrees of both trespass and liability. There will also be a lot of confusing law.

      • #3047902

        No harm, no foul.

        by liquid620 ·

        In reply to If you’re stealing bandwidth from a neighbor’s WLAN, you better read this

        Even though I work in the technology field I tend to really find nothing wrong with having an open access point.  Granted, my router is set up with an internal firewall and my laptop, as well as every other computer in my home, is protected with a firewall, virus and ad scan/detection software running when the computers are on, all with long numerous passwords to access anything other than the internet,  as well as scoping capabilities to see who’s using my broadband and where they are going on it, website blocking so that I can control which sites I allow to be viewed on my connection, at any time. 

        I feel that Wireless should be free, sorry for those of you who don’t agree with me but this is how we, myself, my household and my friends and family, feel.  I feel that at $40/month, I’m happy to allow my neighbors internet capabilities since they’re nice enough to give me a ride somewhere if I need it or let me borrow the use of their phone, or even just an egg or two and a cup of sugar.

        Karma. What goes around comes around – what you put out there will come back to you 3 fold.

    • #3184838

      Quote of the Day — 07/13/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “Change is inevitable, but it is in us to control its content and its directions.”
      — Indira Gandhi

    • #3190138

      Quote of the Day — 07/14/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “If you don’t seek perfection, you can never reach excellence.”
      — Don Shula

    • #3189522

      Quote of the Day — 07/25/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it – but sail we must and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”
      — Oliver Wendell Holmes

    • #3051763

      Start.com rates pretty high on my Lame-o-meter

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I’m a big fan of Google’s Personalized Home Page even though I’ve never been that into personalized home pages before (except that I did have one on MSN back in the late 90’s and I used it for about a year until I discovered Google). The nice thing about Google’s new personalized page is that it loads fast and the customization is very quick and easy to setup.

      Now I’ve discovered that MSN is basically emulating the personalized Google with Start.com (here’s a link to the beta). In fact, Start.com does a pretty good job of emulating Google’s stengths — the Start.com page is easy to customize and fast to load. However, I still think it misses the mark. The first drawback is, of course, that’s it’s limited to the MSN search, which still isn’t as good as Google. The other drawback is that it is simply an emulation of what the Google Personalized Page offers. It doesn’t really offer anything substantial over what Google offers. If they are going to offer something like this then they should innovate and make it better than Google’s version. Otherwise, why would someone like me switch from the Google version — especially when the MSN search technology isn’t as good?

      I think Yahoo and MSN will eventually catch up with Google on the search technology front, once they throw enough engineers at the issue. However, until they do, they need to do the other ancillary stuff better. Google’s implementation of anything is almost always more elegent and easier to use than Yahoo and MSN — and Yahoo and MSN should learn from that — but simply copying Google’s window dressing the way Start.com has is not the answer.

    • #3051910

      Tech brands — who is really on top?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      For the sixth straight year, Sony was named the top brand in the world in The Harris Poll, which surveys U.S. adults. Dell was the runner-up this year, so tech brands were in the top two spots. Kraft, Coca-Cola, and Ford occupied the next three spots.

      What’s interesting about this to me is that Business Week also did a recent scorecard on the top global brands and came up with very different results. Business Week rated Coca-Cola number 1, with Microsoft number 2, IBM number 3, GE number 4, Intel number 5, and Nokia number 6. Sony? It was 28th. Dell? It was 21st.

      Now, Business Week based its number of the estimated value of the brand, while Harris did a straight poll of adults, so we are comparing apples and oranges in a sense. Still, despite the discrepancies, it was interesting to see that tech companies made up 4 of the top 12 in the Harris Poll and 8 of the top 21 in the Business Week scorecard. Who says tech isn’t hot any more?

    • #3051901

      Sure, you work out, but how’s your cognitive fitness?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      This week I read an article from Wired called “Brain Workouts May Tone Memory.” I haven’t really decided if I need to worry yet or not.

    • #3051895

      Can your machine run Vista Beta 1?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      One of the biggest questions I’ve seen about Windows Vista Beta 1 is “What hardware do I need to run the beta?” This eWEEK article provides the best explanation I’ve seen so far.

      • #3049051

        Can your machine run Vista Beta 1?

        by jcrobso ·

        In reply to Can your machine run Vista Beta 1?

        I remember hearing about a metting between M$ and Intel. The discussion was the new P4 processor that Intel was developing. After Intel finished detailing how fast the processor was going to be a M$ employee is rumored to have said “Our new version of windows (XP) will bring it to it’s knees”.
        Now this may or may not be a true story, but baised on the hardware needs of XP to make it realy run good I wonder!
        And when you look at what M$ is hinting about Vista (A rose buy any other name would still have thorns) it realy makes me wonder!!
        If we look at the new processors that have been introduced so far this year and then think
        where will the processors be a year from now and will they be enough??
        We may have to buy a highend gaming video card just to browse the Internet.

    • #3051894

      Quote of the Day — 08/05/2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      “You must first have a lot of patience to learn to have patience.”
      — Stanislaw J. Lec

    • #3047575

      Apple hasn’t even released Intel-based Macs and there’s already a PC hack

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      The first Intel-based Macs haven’t even been released yet and there’s already hacked versions of it that bypass the protections to keep it running on Apple-only hardware. I love it. Apple should have released its OS on standard Intel hardware a long time ago. The fact that they didn’t hurt the PC industry as Windows got more entrenched and the real choices narrowed for computer buyers — both corporate and consumers. Sure, Apple could have still offered its cool hardware and there would have always been a segment of the population that would pay more for that. But they could have had a much more profound effect on the industry by adopting standard Intel hardware and becoming a serious OS player. Looks like they still aren’t interested.

      • #3049807

        Apple hasn’t even released Intel-based Macs and there’s already a PC hack

        by jamesrl ·

        In reply to Apple hasn’t even released Intel-based Macs and there’s already a PC hack

        There were rumours of this a long time ago, when the prototype OS Pink was being spec’d. This was prior to Steve Jobs return to Apple. Pink was going to be platform independant, and the first step was to license third parties to make Mac clones. Once Steve came back, all bets were off, and any chances of moving beyond the proprietary platform were lost.

        Ironically Apple abandoned many of its proprietary hardware due to cost. SCSI, their internal card architecture, the Apple Desktop Bus (ADP), Localtalk were all replaced by IDE, PCI, and USB. So its not such a big leap anymore.

         

         

    • #3049655

      Vista deployment might get easier with WAIK

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      At Tech-Ed this year, Microsoft talked about making the next version of Windows easier for IT pros to deploy in corporate environments. I took that to mean that Microsoft wants to build in some of the imaging tools that most IT pros currently use for bigger deployments.

      According to a blog post from insider Mary Jo Foley, it looks like Microsoft is going to accomplish this deployment ease by modularizing Windows Vista on the back-end and providing IT pros with the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK), which will basically be a subset of the OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK), which folks like Dell and HP currently use to build umpteen numbers of Windows boxes in mere moments.

      Foley’s post explains, “Vista will be able to be built from the ground-up from a list of operating system components … Among the likely components which will be OEM- and corporate-customer-accessible: The shell, file system, Media Player, audio and networking. Each component will contain a number of ‘resources,’ as well as dependencies on other components.”

      I like the sound of this. I’m looking forward to seeing it in action.

    • #3055886

      Internet — the past, present, and the future

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Two of the Internet’s creators were on NPR this week and they talked about the creation of the Net, their views of the Internet as it now exists, and a few of the things they expect to see in the future. This is a short clip and there’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s a worth a listen

    • #3054817

      Free presence from Microsoft — the impact could be big

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      On Thursday, Microsoft opened up some of the technology for Live Communications Server 2005 so that third party business apps can us the advanced presence info (including VoIP integration) that LCS allows. Technically, it is the Presence Controls for Communicator 2005 that Microsoft has released and maded available for further development and extensibility using Visual Studio 2003.

      This technology has a chance to take business presence to the next level. For example, as this News.com article explains, LCS and Communicator could automatically show when employees are on the phone (with VoIP integration) and could send alerts when fellow employees update a project, complete a task, or make changes to a shared file.

      In June, I posted about how impressed I was with LCS and Communicator 2005. I the next five years, I think it could have a similar impact on empowering geographically dispersed teams to what Exchange, Lotus Notes and other groupware had on collaboration in the late 1990’s. Okay, maybe not quite that drastic, but it could be big.

      Of course, on Wednesday, Google made its entrance in the IM space – a development that could also have a potential impact on business presence. I’m very interested to see what Google’s ultimate plans for IM are.

    • #3054607

      BGInfo is one of my favorite free admin tools

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      When it comes to free admin utilities, BGInfo is one of my favorites. It’s small. It doesn’t take a lot of resources. And did I mention that it was free? Scott Lowe recently did a tip on BGInfo in TechRepublic’s Windows Server 2003 newsletter, which refreshed my memory about this great little tool that puts system info (server name, domain, IP address, and lots of other options) in text on the wallpaper of a Windows server. This is especially helpful when you manage a bunch of servers and/or you often switch between multiple servers over KVM. A glance at the system info can keep you from making a configuration change to the wrong machine.

      I used to have BGInfo on several different servers, but I hadn’t thought about using it for a while. After reading Scott’s tip I went and put BGInfo on a bunch of different systems. Judging by the discussion to Scott’s tip, I wasn’t the only one. The discussion also talks about the best ways to automatically deploy this across multiple servers.

      For screen shots of BGInfo, take a look at this article.

      • #3047282

        BGInfo is one of my favorite free admin tools

        by livedthere ·

        In reply to BGInfo is one of my favorite free admin tools

        We use this great tool at a major aerospace company.  Very helpful when you have 10 windows open in an enterprise environment.

    • #3054600

      Here’s the skinny on WSUS

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I meant to blog about Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) when it was released at Tech-Ed 2005 in June. This is basically an upgrade from Software Update Services (SUS). TechRepublic has recently published a PDF download called “10 things you should know about WSUS” that provides a nice outline of what WSUS can do and explains the improvements that WSUS has made over SUS, including command-line capabilities, scalability ehancements, expanded reporting functionality, additional software it can update, and more. 

    • #3047039

      WinFS makes an appearance — does it matter?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      A test version of WinFS — which was plucked out of Longhorn/Vista a year ago — appeared on the Microsoft Developer Network this week (read News.com article). This will be followed up with multiple betas next year. Microsoft is going to be distributing this separately from the OS, similar to the way the .NET Framework is distributed.

      My question is, “Without being part of Vista, does it still matter?” A database-like file system is theoretically great and certainly has some logical advantages, but if the FS is not built directly into the OS then it’s chance to make a major impact is limited. Plus, one of its theoretical main advantages — better data searches, locally and globally — may be accomplished with other technologies by the time WinFS is released.

      Am I missing something big here? If so, I hope someone will chime in on how they see WinFS making a major impact on computing.

      • #3055495

        WinFS makes an appearance — does it matter?

        by fadestyle ·

        In reply to WinFS makes an appearance — does it matter?

        hmmm winfs? beter than ntfs built on nt technology. thats new technology technology. when in doubt http://www.fadestyle.com

      • #3055209

        WinFS makes an appearance — does it matter?

        by master3bs ·

        In reply to WinFS makes an appearance — does it matter?

        Color me unimpressed.  I agree that if its not built into the OS it will have limited benefits.  Even worse, it could cause problems when it is eventually implemented.  Apparently there is a possibility it will be supported on XP too, which could be a good thing.  Is this going to be as different from NTFS as NTFS is from FAT32?  I need more answers, but right now I am underwhelmed.

      • #3054970

        WinFS makes an appearance — does it matter?

        by neil higgins ·

        In reply to WinFS makes an appearance — does it matter?

        Firstly,take a look at the this Microsoft link on WinFS,it even includes a one hour video to view!!

        http://msdn.microsoft.com/data/winfs/default.aspx

         

        If it’s going to be seperate from the OS (Vista),it could have it’s benefits,in that any bugs,and updates need only to be ironed out from the FS code,and not the whole OS itself.That part at least makes sence to me.They airbrush out the flaws,and the user simply clicks on the latest update.Then again,what if your brand new,carefully configerated copy of Vista coughs,splutters,and shouts error when you do click-on update?

        I like the given impression of a card index system.Anything which can speed up a search marathon has to be good news.But could this all be made redundant by other companies who come up with something similar (you know they will).As far as a major impact is concerned,we shall have to wait and see,but global markets being as they are,and coders at Redmond studying their work with the panash of craftsmen,even though they get sledgehammered at times by the anti-Microsoft brigade,I’d give them a chance to see what they come up with.Rome was’nt founded on beta 1.

         

         

    • #3046832

      If you’re gearing up for PDC05, check out Channel 9

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      One of the most interesting things about Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference (PDC) is that it’s not held every year. It’s only held when Microsoft feels like there’s something significant to communicate to developers. Obviously, with Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 both being released in November, there was good reason for the conference to swing into action this fall.

      With PDC05 less than a month away (it’s September 13-16 in Los Angeles) lots of IT pros are starting to gear up for it. That’s true both for developers who are planning to attend as well as those that are keeping their eyes peeled for PDC05 announcements that could affect their work.

      For those who are turning some of their thoughts to PDC05, check out the videos and “Buzzcasts” on Channel 9’s PDC05 page. Some of the stuff is pure humor and tongue-in-cheek coverage, but there’s also some interesting nuggets about what Microsoft is going to be covering. There’s also a long PDC05 preview (audiocast) from dotnetrocks.

    • #3055202

      Nice offer for free training on Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      The release of Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 on November 7 is going to be one of the big events in IT this year. And for Microsoft, it will likely be their biggest IT event until Longhorn … er, I mean Vista, is released next year.

      A lot of IT pros are going to want to get educated on these new platforms in the coming months. I recently found a series of free online training courses on Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 from Microsoft E-Learning. I’m definitely planning to take a few of those courses. They would normally be $99 online courses. MSFT is offering them for free if you enroll before November 1. This includes free materials and even some virtual lab time, in some cases.

    • #3054973

      UNIX squeezes its way into Windows

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Microsoft is bringing good ol’ Services for UNIX to an end. This is largely good news. Services for UNIX has never been a great integration product, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is useful in several ways (especially for NFS integration). Now it will no longer be a separate product at all. Microsoft is integrating SFU features — and supposedly adding some additional Linux/UNIX integration tools — into Windows itself. The first part of this integration will happen in Windows Server 2003 R2, which will be released soon.

      Microsoft is also making Windows Server more Linux/UNIX-friendly by increasing the power of the command line and the scriptability of the OS. Part of this is being done simply to lower the barrier for organizations to migrate from UNIX or Linux. However, this is also being done to provide better integration capabilities in order to please the vast number of organizations that run multiple platforms.

    • #3064482

      IT pros are pitching in to help Katrina victims

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Linux developer Steve Hargadon has spearheaded a project called Public Web Stations in which he and a team of volunteers are trying to set up a massive number of publicly-accessible Linux-based computers that people displaced by Katrina can use to access e-mail and relief resources. Hargadon has set up a special CD-based Linux distro called LiveCD that can run on a Pentium 2 or above with 128 MB of RAM, a CD drive, and a network card. The CD basically runs a Firefox kiosk. They have already set up their first public access site in an old Wal-Mart building (Wally moved to a new location) in McKinney, Texas — the Dallas area. They are now looking for donations of time, money, bandwidth, and old equipment to create similar sites in other areas and are also looking to mobilize and coordinate other volunteers. For more info, check out publicwebstations.com.

      A group of developers and IT pros from Microsoft headed to Texas last Wednesday (Aug. 31) to pitch in with the Katrina relief efforts. That night they started coding an application that was aimed at helping victims and relief workers. But as the situation developed and the crisis deepened, they saw a need for a different type of app, and so they scrapped their original code and by Saturday started developing a new app called KatrinaSafe, which helps evacuees and family members find one another. The developers started KatrinaSafe at noon on Saturday and had finished it by 9:00 PM on Sunday.

      Working from the Microsoft Technology Center in Austin, Texas, a group of IT pros from California, Florida, Alabama and Texas banded together to build the app using Microsoft-donated software — Visual Basic, C#, SQL Server, Microsoft Speech Server, and more — to create a Web application that allows people to register their personal info on the site and search for the names of friends and family that are missing. It also has an alert system so that someone can be alerted via phone or e-mail when a person they are looking for registers on the site. There’s also the capacity to leave a voicemail message for someone. And there’s a smart client application for relief workers to retrieve and enter data into the system to help broaden the database and make it useful even to those who don’t know how to use computers or don’t have access to them.

      In this Yahoo article, Microsoft developer J Sawyer said, “Picture this … a family waiting to hear from a loved one who was in the disaster area. They’ve not heard from them since the hurricane hit. Then they get a call saying that their loved one has been found and is at such-and-such evacuation center. That’s what we’re working for.”

      “Ultimately it’s not about the code; it’s about the people,” said Jim Carroll, the manager of the project. “We’re lucky enough to work for a company that supported this project. And we couldn’t have done it without our partners. Not one single company said no. It’s been a privilege to be a part of it.”

      It’s great to see IT folks using their powers for good.

      • #3064247

        IT pros are pitching in to help Katrina victims

        by badair ·

        In reply to IT pros are pitching in to help Katrina victims

        For all the bashing and attempts to racially divide the population and peddle hatred that is being conducted before the dead are even recovered, by the totally useless politicians & “entertainers” looking to “use” this terrible disaster as a tool to their advantage to gain power & control in the next elections, this is a wonderful example of how average citizens can use their skills, intelligence, & technology to aid the unfortunate victims of this massive disaster!  Kudos to the companies who assisted in doing something good rather than just focusing on how much profit can be raked into the corporate coffers. Hopefully these companies did not charge the time the employees used & are using, against their vacation benefits, if they had any to use! 

      • #3063936

        IT pros are pitching in to help Katrina victims

        by seanb ·

        In reply to IT pros are pitching in to help Katrina victims

        I think that an ethic of helping out your fellow man is admirable.  I have a question though.  Why is it that this kind of effort is made when the disaster in question takes place in the United States, near an important oil-field or at a location where Americans like to go on holiday, and not when Africans are having a hard time of it (Rwanda, Zimbabwe etc.)?  I don’t mean to diminish the importance of the efforts being made here, just to point out that this kind of public philanthropism should be impartial in order to be credible.  The idea is to bolster the good name of the companies involved isn’t it?  If we wish to live on a globalised planet, surely we should begin to think globally and not in a purely western-centric manner? Millions have died in political and natural disasters in Africa (some directly related to Western foreign policy) and no-one bats an eyelid… 

      • #3063935

        IT pros are pitching in to help Katrina victims

        by seanb ·

        In reply to IT pros are pitching in to help Katrina victims

        I think that an ethic of helping out your fellow man is admirable.  I have a question though.  Why is it that this kind of effort is made when the disaster in question takes place in the United States, near an important oil-field or at a location where Americans like to go on holiday, and not when Africans are having a hard time of it (Rwanda, Zimbabwe etc.)?  I don’t mean to diminish the importance of the efforts being made here, just to point out that this kind of public philanthropism should be impartial in order to be credible.  The idea is to bolster the good name of the companies involved isn’t it?  If we wish to live on a globalised planet, surely we should begin to think globally and not in a purely western-centric manner?

    • #3063997

      Another link for those who want to pitch in to one of the Katrina efforts

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      For those who read my blog post yesterday about what IT pros are doing to help out with Katrina, I thought I’d add another link. If you want to donate money, old systems, or some of your services to the group of volunteers that are putting together the public access workstations, go to the Katrina “Web Station” coordination forum.

    • #3058476

      Microsoft Office 12 — The rise of smart applications?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      At the PDC05 conference this week, Bill Gates has been waiving the banner for the next versions of Windows and Office, both of which are scheduled to debut during the second half of 2006. One of the more interesting things that Gates revealed was that Office 12 will attempt to automatically adapt its interface to the type of work that a user is doing. I’m a little ambivalent about that because Windows and Office already try to do some things automatically and the results aren’t always good (Clippy the PaperClip comes to mind). Nevertheless, this makes me think that we may be seeing the beginning of the smart applications of the future — applications that will be able to anticipate and help streamline rudimentary tasks.

      • #3057487

        Microsoft Office 12 — The rise of smart applications?

        by acohen843 ·

        In reply to Microsoft Office 12 — The rise of smart applications?

        This concept may prove useful. For example, I include a lot of
        graphics while I write. I’d like to see the interface change from Word
        to graphics-related depending on what I am doing. I’d also like to see
        more flexibility between the different office type documents. For
        example, I’d like a cleaner and more flixble way to incorporate
        PowerPoint elements in a Word document.

        Sincerely,
        Alan

      • #3058854

        Microsoft Office 12 — The rise of smart applications?

        by mthayer ·

        In reply to Microsoft Office 12 — The rise of smart applications?

        As a support professional, this changing interface concerns me.  Phone support is difficult enough with the vast range of computer expertise of my users.  Changing the interface will only make things more difficult as knowing what each users interface includes will be impossible.  Thus removing even the most basic starting point for helping/troubleshooting users issues.  This will also reduce the chance that my users will actually be able to help each other, prompting repeated questions to me of “why don’t I see what he does?” or “it works on his computer how come it does not work on mine?”.

        Rfctkl

    • #3058469

      Screen shots of Office 12 — pretty cool

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      It’s usually pretty hard to get excited about the new releases of Microsoft Office. In my view, the product has only made incremental improvements since Office 97. However, I must admit that I went “oooohhhh and ahhhhhh” a little bit when I saw the screenshots of Office 12 in this Q&A on the new interface. I like the more simplified look, and several buttons and functions seem to be in more intuitive places. This might be the first release of Office that I’m actually looking forward to in a long time.

      • #3056833

        Screen shots of Office 12 — pretty cool

        by boblittell ·

        In reply to Screen shots of Office 12 — pretty cool

        Looks like OpenOffice has for years.  Grow up Microsoft!

      • #3054306

        Screen shots of Office 12 — pretty cool

        by meichelman ·

        In reply to Screen shots of Office 12 — pretty cool

        boblittel wrote.. “Looks like OpenOffice has for years.”

        I’ve been using OO on a Windows platform since pre-v1.0 releases through the latest beta as of two weeks ago.  Looking at the screenshots, I completely fail to see how they look like OO.  In fact, they look nothing like OO. 

        Office 12 does, however, appear to move toward the OS X interface.  Very interesting.

         

    • #3059584

      Database Mirroring won’t be fully ready for SQL Server 2005 release

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Now that SQL Server 2005 is coming down the home stretch in preparation for its release on November 7, 2005 , it’s time for its product team to start making the hard choices about what will be finished and included, and what will have to be rolled out in updates after the official release.

      It looks like one of the casualties is Database Mirroring. This new high availability feature will be part of SQL Server 2005, but it won’t be supported (it will officially be included as an “evaluation” feature), which means that Microsoft hasn’t finished all of the work that it wants to do with this feature. Obviously, as a feature that IT departments will be depending on to reduce downtime, Database Mirroring has got to be perfect.

      For the recond, Microsoft is saying that it simplying has not gotten enough real world testing done with Database Mirroring, and that’s the reason for the delay. Paul Flessner, Microsoft’s senior VP for server apps, has also said that Microsoft will make a full release of Database Mirroring in the first half of 2006.

    • #3057781

      The final stroke for blades going commodity

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      This week, HP decided to buy RLX, one of the pioneers of blade servers. RLX had actually been out of the blade hardware business for awhile — now they make blade management software. Nevertheless, this move is the symbolic final stroke of blade servers going mainstream. I remember how cool blade servers were when they first came out and RLX blades were the first ones that really offered a viable business solution. It was just cool as heck to be able to fit 10 servers in the space that had previously only fit two similarly-powered servers. All in all, I think blades are still underutilized in most IT shops, even though HP, IBM, and Dell all have extensive lines of blades now.

    • #3071703

      Wiki or SharePoint

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I’ve noticed that there seems to be a growing competition between Wiki and SharePoint. It seems like there are a lot of teams out there trying to decide how to handle internal communications and collaboration, and Wiki and SharePoint have become the top options for teams that want to go beyond just e-mail. I’ve used both of them and I think Wiki is great for sharing ideas, compiling meeting notes, and some basic project management tracking. I think SharePoint is better for group calendaring, sharing and collaborating on documents, and organizing annoucements, links, and other text. I’ve started a new discussion thread on this topic. Join in and tell us what kind of experience you’ve had with these tools.

    • #3045341

      IE7 Phishing filter will be available for IE6 … with a catch

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      One of the most significant new features in Internet Explorer 7 is the Phishing Filter (to check it out, see this IE7 gallery). Microsoft has decided to make the Phishing Filter available for IE6. However, before you start cheering, you should know that the Phishing Filter will be available as part of the MSN Search Toolbar. Microsoft is really trying to get users to give MSN another look after making a number of improvements to it this year, so I understand what they are doing. Unfortunately, I just don’t want to install another toolbar in my browser. If you don’t have the Vista beta and want to try out the Phishing Filter, you can download it here. You could always keep the MSN Toolbar turned off and then make it active if there’s a site you’re unsure about it and want to verify whether it’s a phishing attack.

    • #3043648

      Robots are selling iPods in airports

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      First in the Atlanta airport (and now in other airports, malls, and hotels), Apple iPods are being sold by special “robotic product delivery systems” that offer the music players along with other stuff such as digital cameras and snacks — just in case you want to eat peanuts while snapping digital photos or listening to MP3s. In the past, we would call these “delivery systems” something like “vending machines,” but Zoom Systems, the maker of these devices, insists that its units are much more sophisticated than that. Has anyone out there actually seen one of these?

      Here’s the best photo I could find:

      Zoom 'robotic delivery system'

    • #3046339

      Pondering Novell … a decade makes all the difference

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Novell appears to be on the verge of another round of layoffs and a major shakeup. Watching Novell try to re-invent itself again — or at least reshuffle the deck to see if it can find new leadership to execute on its Linux strategy — makes me think about how much things have changed in the server market during the past decade.

      A decade ago, in 1995, Novell shipped over 700,000 licenses of NetWare during the fiscal year, which was then the best-selling year in NetWare’s history. That was almost twice as many as all other server operating systems shipped combined and four times as many licenses as Microsoft shipped of Windows NT. In terms of market share for the installed base of server operating systems, Novell had a 52.2% share while the combination of Windows NT and Windows for Workgroups had just 6.3% share. The rest of the installed base was made up by Banyan Vines, IBM OS/2 LAN Server, and various versions of UNIX. NetWare was at the peak of its strength. Its new version, NetWare 4.1, made up 40% of new shipments in FY95 and was rapidly becoming the defacto NetWare OS.

      However, even though NetWare revenue grew to a record $1.033 billion during FY95, there were also danger signs at Novell. On Monday, October 9, 1995, The Motley Fool wrote, “Is there something rotten in Orem, Utah? Investors have been wary of network giant Novell Inc. for a while now. Ever since Novell’s buyout of WordPerfect was criticized as a bail-out of their Utah neighbors rather than the acquisition of a quality product, most avowed technophiles have avoided shares of the software company… In the wake of disappointing third-quarter earnings, Novell shares had been buoyed by a rumored takeover coming from IBM. Why IBM would ever want Novell was never really settled, as it would have just acquired another roster of products under fire from industry giant Microsoft. Although many have argued that Microsoft’s products do not cut in on Novell’s lower-end networking market, the reality of the situation has been Windows NT increasing market share at NetWare’s expense. The fact that Novell’s most recent upgrade, Netware 4.1, has universally been dismissed as lame has not helped matters either.”

      We all know how the story went from there. During the next five years, corporations large and small across the world began ripping out their Novell boxes and replacing them with Windows NT Server 4.0 or, eventually, with Windows 2000 Server. And, in terms of new deployments, very few companies were choosing NetWare to run their networks. By the year 2000, Novell’s NetWare had essentially lost the server operating system war to Windows NT/2000. Since then, Novell has tried to reinvent itself multiple times, its latest move being an attempt to become a Linux company since its acquisition of SUSE Linux in January 2004. Novell CEO Jack Messman said it would take two years to turn the company around with this new strategy. His time is almost up and Novell still isn’t a major player again. That’s why there’s all this chatter about a Novell shakeup.

      Oh what a difference a decade can make.

    • #3046161

      Coming soon … a wireless-enabled soccer ball

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I got a kick out a story that I read today about a microchip being placed in a soccer ball to help referees fine-tune their calls. File this in the “technology is getting more pervasive every day” category.

    • #3045661

      Vista will be ready next summer?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      A new IDG report this week says that Microsoft plans to release Windows Vista to OEMs on July 25, 2006 so that they have plenty of time to get it ready on their hardware for a fall release (which will obviously feature a major marketing push out of Redmond).

      The report also said that Vista Beta 2 will be released on December 16, 2005.

    • #3045055

      Open Document Format … is anyone else yawning about this?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I recently read about Ray Ozzie giving his take on Open Document Format, and I can’t help but think, “Is ODF the most over-hyped thing in technology right now (next to Google and the iPod, of course)?” There are tons of open document formats out there … XML, HTML, heck even PDF is getting pretty open. People whine about the .DOC format, but lots of other word processing apps can import it, export it, and read it too. Why should I be excited about ODF? If someone out there has any ideas, please enlighten me.

      The only people that seem really excited about ODF are WordPerfect and OpenOffice lovers because it gives them false hope that someday those desktop apps will become major players with businesses and end users. Apparently, they haven’t seen the news bulletin that that war is over. If they want to make a difference, they should start developing a cutting edge Web-based word processing app using something like AJAX (another over-hyped technology, but a good one nonetheless) or the .NET Framework, or another Web services development platform.

    • #3045053

      Vista is coming next summer?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      There’s a new IDG report this week says that Microsoft plans to release Windows Vista to OEMs on July 25, 2006 so that they have plenty of time to get it ready on their hardware for a fall release (which will obviously feature a major marketing push out of Redmond).

      The report also said that Vista Beta 2 will be released on December 16, 2005.

    • #3115921

      Where is the best swag deal for the Star Wars Episode III DVD?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      The buzz this morning seems to be around where will be the best place to buy the Star Wars Revenge of the Sith DVD tomorrow? Lots of different stores are offering free companion items to go with it, as my colleague Rex mentioned in this discussion thread. Right now, I have to agree with Rex that the Wal-Mart deal of the free documentary DVD is looking like the best deal (even though I don’t prefer to patronize Wal-Mart).

      Wal-Mart’s special package looks like this:
      Wal-Mart episode iii dvd deal

    • #3115865

      A Web-based Microsoft Office?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      There has been a lot of talk over the past few month about the possibility of a Web-based office software suite using AJAX. Some have even naturally called it the potential Microsoft Office-killer. Of course, it’s all speculation and wishful thinking at this point, until someone brings a product to market (but you can bet lots of smart people are already working on it).

      However, Microsoft might be ready to launch a pre-emptive strike against this strategy by announcing a scaled-down Web-based version of MS Office, as ZDNet’s Dan Farber speculated this morning. Farber is going to be reporting on the announcement that Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie will be making tomorrow.

      • #3137075

        A Web-based Microsoft Office?

        by steven warren ·

        In reply to A Web-based Microsoft Office?

        What happens if their is an outage? Are we assuming the Internet never goes down or routers never go down? Would a web solution for MS Office have some type of downloadable app you could work with if the Internet goes down? So many questions….

    • #3114303

      Ruby is a serious upstart in Web services

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Ruby on Rails (RoR) is a Web dev framework that was not created by Microsoft or Sun or even a big group of open source developers. Ruby was created by one guy, David Heinemeier Hansson of Copenhagen, Denmark. Nevertheless, this little framework is gaining momentum among some developers for its clean and simple approach. For those who haven’t heard much about Ruby, News.com has a good report on it, as well as an audio interview with Hansson.

    • #3116531

      More on Ruby on Rails and its momentum

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I mentioned Ruby earlier this week, now eWEEK has a new article on the adoption of Ruby on Rails and the momentum that RoR is building.

    • #3116483

      Intel releases dual-core Xeon 7000 chips

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Some low-end servers will be getting a lot more powerful in the near future now that Intel has taken the wraps off of its new Xeon 7000 series chips with dual-core processors. These chips will soon be powering some of the bread-and-butter business server lines from by Dell, IBM, and HP. These boxes will pack a lot of power into servers that cost less than $10K, and in some cases less than $5K.

    • #3120392

      Survey says SQL Server 2005 will woo new converts

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      A new survey by Edgewood Solutions revealed that 31% of respondents are impressed enough with the SQL Server 2005 feature set that they are considering a switch from another database platform. The survey also showed that Oracle is the platform most likely to be affected.

      However, as expected, none of the companies — even those currently on SQL Server — are looking to make the move any time soon, as 80% of respondents said that they need more time and training prior to rolling out SQL Server 2005.

      For those who hadn’t heard, SQL Server 2005 was officially launched on November 7.

    • #3120354

      Visial Studio 2005 takes aim at developer productivity and LAMP

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Earlier this year, a group of over 100 Microsoft MVPs publicly expressed their displeasure with Microsoft’s plan to phase out Visual Basic 6 with the impending release of Visual Studio 2005. Apparently, Microsoft has found a way to ease the fears and frustrations of those developers because most of the press and feedback surrounding the official launch of Visual Studio 2005 earlier this week has been positive. Either the dissenters are keeping quiet for now and taking a wait-and-see approach, or they are finding enough things to like that they can stomach that fact that VB6 is finally fading into the twilight.

      As I see it, Visual Studio 2005 has main thrusts:

      1. Streamline development work for enterprise programmers in order to win more mindshare
      2. Make a full frontal assault on the low-end Web market (with Visual Studio 2005 Express)

      With its “Team System” software, its .Net and ASP.Net upgrades, its Tools for Microsoft Office, and its new IDE, Microsoft is trying to make life rosy as possible for developers. Visual Studio 2005 Express is aiming squarely at a Linux stronghold by offering a package with a free IDE tool, free database, and free Web server. With LAMP (Linux + Apache + PHP + MySQL), Linux has already staked out a strong position there and many customers may be wary of getting hooked on Microsoft software. The only way Microsoft will win there is if its free tools are judged to be significantly better.

    • #3119435

      New certification options for SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      With the release this week of SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005, Microsoft has also rolled out some new training and certification options. What’s interesting to me is how much the new certifications are serving niches that are becoming more and more narrow. For example, there’s now a “Microsoft Certified IT Professional Database Administrator” and a “Microsoft Certified IT Professional Database Developer.” That’s probably a good distinction. However, there’s also a “Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist for SQL Server 2005.” Why is that one needed if you’ve got the other two?

      On the dev side of the family, there’s now a “Microsoft Certified Professional Developer Web Developer” and a “Microsoft Certified Professional Developer Windows Developer” (focused more on traditional client-server apps). Again, that’s probably a good distinction. However, there’s also a “Microsoft Certified Professional Developer Enterprise Application Developer.” How does that one differ from the first two? I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation, but the bottom line is that too many certs leads to lots of confusion in the industry and the marketplace.

      • #3118787

        New certification options for SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005

        by lukcad ·

        In reply to New certification options for SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005

        Difference of course is. For today we have a lot of libraries that are basic for some solutions in developing of web, windows and enterprise applications. And i understand the policy of M. about the brain possabilities of developers. Two years is minimal term for developer when he can encounter the using of every library for his applications or the studing lessons from SDK. From one side we have good speedup of developing job, but from other side developer have to know and read more the specifical information about right way of usage of libraries and about good adjustment of Visual Studio and others developer’s component for fast programming. So splitting the certification by win, web seems a reasonably. But enterprise cert. seems must to be combined from the win and web knowledges and plus something untraditional.  On my mind the difference between enterprise cert. and the first two means that i must be good trained in borth Web and Win and also i must know about way of linking the .net technology with other sources information and other technologies that was realised before. So seems it is more power certificate.

    • #3119288

      Some resources on SQL Server 2005

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Here are some helpful resources on SQL Server 2005 for those who are evaluating it and/or preparing for it:

       

    • #3120065

      SGI introduces Itanium-based blade servers

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I just read about a new server move from SGI that is definitely ironic when you consider the fact that SGI was once a sworn enemy of the Wintel alliance, but since Linux has undercut its high-end workstation business SGI is now one of the growing number of former tech heavyweights looking to re-invent itself. The news is that SGI is going to bring to market a line of Itanium-based blade servers during Q1 of 2006. That’s a lot power in small package. The price tag will probably limit these to niche markets only, but they could help lift the listlessness of Itanium. Apparently, HP plans to market some Itanium blades as well.

    • #3131299

      Microsoft’s 64-bit timeline — it’s a 64-bit future for servers

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      This week, Microsoft senior VP Bob Muglia (the Windows Server head honcho) explained the timeline for 64-bit versions of Windows. The most interesting remark was that Longhorn Server Release 2 (scheduled for 2009) will only be released for 64-bit platforms.

    • #3121814

      I have now watched my first video-on-demand movie

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Last week I watched two very interesting movies (documentaries actually) – The Lost Mustangs (National Geographic) and America’s Heart and Soul. What’s significant about that is that both of them were titles that I would have normally had to rent on DVD. Instead I “rented” them from Movielink.com, downloaded them to my Media Center PC, and watched them from there.

      I have a cable broadband connection with 6 megs of bandwidth so the movies only took about 10 minutes to download each time. When I started watching them I was immediately impressed by the video and sound quailty. It was at least as good as DVD and maybe even a little better (on my 32 inch HDTV screen).

      I don’t know that I would use this service to rent regular movies (I still like DVDs because of the special features), but it was very nice to be able to rent titles that I can’t normally get at my local video store. Movielink also offers some HD titles to download and I may give a few of those a try.

    • #3121809

      The Xbox 360 scramble — relentless demand or a contrived publicity stunt?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I’m still trying to decide whether the mad scramble for Xbox 360 consoles is the result of overwhelming demand (and the growth of the video games) or if it is a masterfully contrived publicity stunt by the ever-slick Microsoft marketing machine. Redmond insider Mary Jo Foley appears to sniff a bit of a chicanery. Of course, Microsoft marketing wonk Pete Moore denied a conspiracy in published reports today.

      I don’t think the conspiracy is about purposefully throttling back the supply of Xbox 360 consoles in order to get a bunch of free press. I think the true conspiracy is that Microsoft wanted to get the Xbox 360 out before the holiday season. Many months ago, they decided that however many they had ready on November 22, that was the number they would go to market with. For their strategy, it was apparently more important to be a first mover in next-gen gaming than to have a large supply of consoles ready at retailers at the time of the launch.

      There are now rumors that many retailers may not have more 360s until January. If that turns out to be true, this strategy could turn eager customers into disenchanted customers, especially if the reviews of the Xbox 360 and its games turn out to be lukewarm.

      Also, check out TechRepublic’s gallery of the rush for Xbox 360 at Best Buy and the sold out signs that many people encountered at other retailers.

    • #3129141

      The Wiki version of “10 things” … Join the party

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      TechRepublic’s lists of “10 things” are some of the most popular articles and downloads on our site. We’ve decided to take some of these lists and open them up so that TechRepublic members can edit them and add to them.

      To experiment with this idea, we’ve set up a public Wiki page at http://wiki.techrepublic.com, where users can edit and add their tips and best practices to these “10 things” lists.

      We’d like to get your feedback on the value of opening up content for TechRepublic members to edit and revise as a community, and we’d also like your suggestions on how to make this process easier and more intuitive.

    • #3126986

      Linux and Windows continue to siphon server marketshare from Unix

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      The latest IDC numbers show that the trend of Linux and Windows stealing market share away from Unix is continuing. Windows servers showed a 15% increase in units sold over the same quarter last year while Linux servers showed a 20% spike. Unix units dropped 13.7%

      As far as vendors go, IBM held a strong grip on the top spot, with HP second and Dell third.

      Also, demand is increasing for blade servers and 64-bit servers.

    • #3126180

      Windows Server 2003 R2 is coming … should you care?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Microsoft released Windows Server 2003 R2 to manufacturing this week. The RTM event means that R2 will be coming to users in early 2006. The natural question to ask is, “With Longhorn Server scheduled for 2007, how much meat does R2 really contain?” The answer is that R2 is somwhat beefy, but not very flashy. The biggest improvements involve management of remote offices and storage management. For a look of what’s in R2, Microsoft has a recently-posted rundown of the new features.

    • #3130149

      Sarbanes-Oxley robs Ballmer of a free Xbox 360

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Poor Steve Ballmer. At a meeting today he revealed that he does not yet have an Xbox 360.  “Thanks to the wonders of Sarbanes-Oxley, management does not get a free Xbox 360,” he said. As a result, he has to shop around for one like everybody else and hasn’t had any luck getting one yet. The irony of that struck me as deeply amusing.

    • #3130139

      Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Don’t get me wrong, I think the Mac is a good machine and I like OS X. I used a Mac throughout college and advocated for buying Mac workstations for photo work at my last job (because it was the best tool for the job at the time — Windows machines were still behind in multimedia back then). Still, I think Mac’s best days are in the past and it has little hope for becoming a major player again unless it does two things: 1.) Further embrace and lead open source (or at least go modified open source) and 2.) open its OS software to commodity hardware. Otherwise, I doubt Apple will ever again be a serious contender for mindshare in the computer space.

      Apparently, I’m not the only who thinks this way. This week, Red Herring published an interesting article called “Apple’s Halo in Doubt” that called into question the halo-effect that Mac has supposedly been getting as a result of Apple’s strong iPod sales. The article points to analyst reports that say that the Mac’s incremental upswing only looks good because Mac marketshare has fallen so abysmally low. I have to agree. With 2.5% marketshare, Mac is barely even a blip on the radar anymore.

      • #3130136

        Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        by peter spande ·

        In reply to Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        I doubt Steve Jobs will do either.  However, they are moving to Intel chips… 

      • #3130133

        Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        by jasonhiner ·

        In reply to Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        Yep, I’d be shocked if Jobs did either one of those things. Going to Intel chips should help lower costs and enable Macs to compete better on price. Still, I doubt it will enable the Mac to gain relevance again.

      • #3130075

        Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        by steven warren ·

        In reply to Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        They are only moving to Intel chips because they severed ties with IBM and their processor couldn’t match the blazing speed of Intel Chips. Either way, you still will not be able to slap OS X on any Intel machine as Apple is going to only allow their product on preapproved Intel Based machines. They should stick to the IPOD.

      • #3130248

        Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        by brichpmr9 ·

        In reply to Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        Arguably, The Mac will only become more relevant if its perceived/real performance improves with the move to Intel chips, and if Windows users continue to have to waste timepaying attention to the malware-du-jour. I use and admin XP and Tiger systems, and conclude that except for proprietary Win-only apps, the Mac is a viable solution for a large majority of avg end users. Whether these users will make the effort to get educated about their alternatives is up for grabs.

      • #3197750

        Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        by ecsa02 ·

        In reply to Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        Concerning being a serious contender, Apple’s move to Intel will make possible the best of PC/Windows and Mac/OSX in the same box.
        – The Macs should come down in price, and greatly go up in speed – at Intel speeds.
        – Both OSX and Windows will run native, meaning all your Windows apps or Mac apps will run at full speed on the same machine!
        – And, by using OSX instead of Windows, for Internet browsing and email, your personal security on-line will go up greatly.
        The reasons PC users have used in the past for not switching to Macs, will no longer be valid.

      • #3197742

        Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        by saintgeorge ·

        In reply to Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        People, people! Why analyze everything from the standpoint of market
        sharing? Success does not equal world domination, unless that is your
        goal. Mac does not get more than 2.5, ok, but how much Porsche and Dom
        Perignon own of their respective markets? They are here, they are going
        to stay, and they won’t need to lower their standards (or prices) to do
        so. And yes, in this case I think opening up equals lowering quality…

      • #3197672
        Avatar photo

        Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        by Erik Eckel ·

        In reply to Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        I thought Red Herring called it quits. I guess it’s back. Too bad the reporter didn’t notice Mac use is at an all-time high (50 million users by some estimates), Apple’s stock is at an all-time high and some 1.25 million Macs sold last quarter.

        Maybe my definition of momentum is different, though…

      • #3106479

        Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        by apotheon ·

        In reply to Momentum for the Mac … is it smoke and mirrors?

        Erik and Jorge are on the money, here. Market share is not only not the only measure of success: it’s a completely artificial, pragmatically useless measure of success. It serves only to keep idiotic board members with no accounting skills happy, and to obscure the really valuable metrics for success (profitability, quality, innovation, and longevity).

        MacOS is better than it ever was in the mythic halcyon days of yore. You pine for the misremembered glory years, and I’ll enjoy the fact that MacOS is finally becoming a versatile, highly functional OS that doesn’t place pretensions of artistry as far above technical relevance as it once did. Before the advent of MacOS X, I had zero interest in using the inscrutable damned things. Now, the only reason I don’t already have one is the stupid single-button trackpad on the laptops.

        Meanwhile, whole regional governments and corporations are fleeing Windows like their butts are on fire, but everyone’s still prognosticating the death of Apple. To paraphrase Neal Stephenson’s essay In the Beginning was the Command Line, the “going out of business” signs in Apple’s windows have been there so long they’re curling and turning yellow, but they’re still doing a brisk business. Too bad technically superior competitors like Be, Inc. and NeXT actually did go out of business. At least Apple learned some lessons from both, and from the free unix community as well, so that it finally became a decent operating system rather than continuing to languish at the level of Windows quality.

    • #3197090

      The rubber of IPv6 is about to hit the road

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      A new testing center for IPv6 is getting set to open in Virginia. It will soon begin to test IPv6 deployments for large-scale government agencies. This looks like the first major breeding ground for IPv6 deployments. Earlier this year, it was announced that all agencies of the U.S. government must have all their systems IPv6-compatible by June 2008.

    • #3197030

      The best and worst jobs in IT

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      At some point, every IT professional should ask, “What’s my ideal job?” There may not be a clear answer. If that’s the case, then you should give the subject some serious thought. Otherwise, you shouldn’t complain about your current position being a dead end. In fact, I would argue that if you know where you eventually want to go, then you can view your current job in that perspective and find ways to use it to your advantage.

      For example, I would view a Backups Technician (someone that runs and babysits backups) as one of my least desirable IT jobs. Why? It doesn’t involve a whole lot of creativity and it includes a lot of monotonous work. However, if I did have that job and my ultimate goal was to eventually become a senior administrator at a large or mid-size company then I would find ways to use the resources in my current job to my advantage. I would take the time I had while waiting for backups to read up on networking and server technologies. I’d look for ways to master the current job and find improvements that make a difference in the business so that I could put that on my resume. And I’d also get to know other people in the IT department (especially those who worked in areas that I was interested in) and learn as much as I could from them. These activities wouldn’t always make up for the monotony of the job, but they would help give some purpose and direction to my work.

      Of course, some of you will already have an ideal IT job in mind. What’s interesting to me is how subjective that question is and how different the answer is depending on who you ask. The answer probably says more about the proclivities of the individual than the appeal of the job itself. Still, it’s always fascinating to see the jobs that are most desired and why they are so appealing. Some invidividuals want to work for a specific company or a hold a specific job in a particular company. Others want a certain role in IT that offers what that person views as the perfect place to channel his skills and abilities. Still others idealize a particular job for other reasons, such as money, flexibility, hours, location, and other pragmatic factors.

      I’d like to know what TechRepublic members view as the best and worst jobs in IT. Therefore, I’ve started a pair of discussions to convene some collective wisdom on this topic. Let’s hear what you view as the best jobs in IT and the worst jobs in IT.

      ————————————-

      Want to see who’s next On the Soapbox? Find out in the Blog Roundup newsletter. Use this link to automatically subscribe and have it delivered directly to your Inbox every Wednesday.

      • #3198364

        The best and worst jobs in IT

        by anne_gentle ·

        In reply to The best and worst jobs in IT

        Love this concept, I posed a similar question a while ago on my blog at talk.bmc.com, asking about the dirtiest jobs in IT. Sure enough, the forum offers some really grungy IT jobs
        from K-12 technician to industrial machine debugger. Thanks for this
        blog post and forum discussion. While dirty != worst, it certainly
        makes for interesting discussion.

    • #3124854

      Windows Vista Beta 1 Build 5270

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Microsoft released Build 5270 of Windows Vista Beta 1 yesterday. I’ve downloaded it and I’m looking forward to tinkering with it and writing about it during the first week of January. Apparently, the new security tools are beefed up in this build. I’ll definitely chime in with my opinion of that once I get Build 5270 installed.

    • #3094459

      Got the CES scoop on Dish Network’s new HD MPEG-4 receivers

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Like many Dish Network subscribers, I have been eagerly awaiting CES 2006 because Dish Network’s parent company EchoStar has been expected to unveil the details of its new breed of set top boxes that will feature MPEG-4 standards so that they can send a lot more HD programming to customers. Today, I found that Scott Greczkowski of the SatelliteGuys already had the scoop on Dish Network’s forthcoming CES announcement.

      It looks like new standard Dish HD DVR tuner will be the ViP622, which will offer a dual tuner DVR with a 320GB hard drive. This will handle MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 streams, so it will do both standard definition and high definition signals (including a bunch of HD locals — which is the biggest thing satellite TV is currently missing).

      I just hope Dish is not going to charge current customers a fortune to upgrade. If they do, I will consider jumping to DirecTV once they have their expanded HD offerings available. I’m sure they will offer a sweet HD package to new customers.

    • #3077587

      Skype 2.0 video calling is impressive

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Over the past 12 months, we have tested a variety of video conferencing hardware and software at TechRepublic. My team is somewhat geographically dispersed and so I also do plenty of video calling and video conferencing as part of my weekly schedule of meetings.

      I’ve recently been trying out a bunch of free desktop video apps like INEEN and iVisit, as well as the video calling capabilities of standard IM programs such as Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger. The best of the freebies that I have tried is definitely the newly-released Skype 2.0. Previously, Skype did not include video in its ground-breaking VoIP software, so you had to download a third-party add-on if you wanted to do video with Skype.

      But now Skype has integrated video into its software with the release of version 2.0, and even though it is a overdue, it was definitely worth the wait. The Skype engineers have achieved the same kind of outstanding quality in video that they previously achieved in audio. I’ve been very pleased by the clarity and fluidity of the video calls that I have done with Skype. In fact, the quality is so good that the only program I have found that compares to it is Polycom PVX, which is a terrific piece of software but it costs over $100 per license.

      I haven’t tried Skype for multipoint video conference calls yet, but I plan to give that a shot next week. Stay tuned.

    • #3107293

      Windows OneCare — So far, so good

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I’ve been testing the beta of Microsoft’s “Windows OneCare Live” for a couple weeks now and I’ve been a little surprised at how much I like it. I’m surprised because I usually hate antivirus. Most of them bog down the desktop and pop up too many annoying messages (do I really need to know the number of virus signatures that were updated?).

      But OneCare does more than antivirus. It also includes a firewall (basically a beefed up version of the XP SP2 firewall), a software update manager, a backup utility, automated defrag, and some general PC tune-up (e.g. removing unused and unnecessary files).

      The surprising part to me has been how few resources OneCare uses and the fact that I couldn’t notice any signs of it bogging down the system on the multiple desktops and laptops where I have installed it. My buddy Steve Warren has been testing OneCare since last year. He told me last fall that he really liked the OneCare beta and that I would be amazed at how light it was on resources. I was skeptical. I imagined combining ZoneAlarm with Norton Antivirus in a product made by Microsoft — the creator of bloatware champion Microsoft Word. The math didn’t add up.

      However, I have to admit that Steve was right. OneCare is remarkably resource-light and all of its tools do a solid job. The firewall could use an “allow access once” option when programs are trying to access the Internet and the backup program needs some additional customization options, but it’s got nearly all of the standard features you would expect. There aren’t any groundbreaking features, but it’s solid.

      Check out Steven’s blog post on OneCare and the image gallery he put together.

    • #3258237

      Linus turns up his nose at GPL 3 because of DRM

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I’ll say this about Linus Torvalds … at least the guy has got some integrity. Even when I don’t agree with positions, it’s refreshing to see someone with so much technical (and business) influence who isn’t afraid to go against the grain, swim upstream, and occasionaly pee into the wind. Of course, those qualities are what enabled him to create Linux in the first place, but he still hasn’t sold out his ideals even though Linux has gone big and started turning green.

      Case in point — the Free Software Foundation is working up a new version of the General Public License called GPL 3. The GPL is best known as the open source license that governs the use of Linux. However, Torvalds said this week that he would not support the licensing of the Linux kernel (which he still controls) with GPL3. Torvalds is particularly turned off by the Digital Rights Management provisions in the new version of the GPL. And I have to agree with him. While I do believe that something must be done to curb digital pirating, I also feel that the DRM methods that are developing right now are going too far and are taking too much control away from the user.

      I tip my hat to Torvalds for being one of the few tech bigwigs to speak out against over-reaching DRM controls.

      • #3202891

        Linus turns up his nose at GPL 3 because of DRM

        by davidbmoses ·

        In reply to Linus turns up his nose at GPL 3 because of DRM

        I?m not sure, but I think you got the sides of the issue wrong.

        Richard Stallman, the author of GPL3 is the one that is against DRM. Stallman, at the Jan 16 from the launch event states, “DRM is a malicious feature and can never be tolerated, as DRM is fundamentally based on activities that cannot be done with free software. That is its goal and it is in direct opposition to ours. But, with the new GPL, we can now prevent our software from being perverted or corrupted,” (Sorry I cannot find an original transcript for this quote).

        You are correct that Linus is against GPL3, but for reasons other than you stated. My understanding is that Linus believes that people should be able to use Linux in proprietary products (such as TiVo or embedded systems). While Stallman is (religiously) against restrictions of any sort (such as DRM or proprietary distribution).

        These are my interpretations anyways.

    • #3093566

      Blue&Me — Windows Mobile built into cars?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      At the end of February, Fiat will be introducing three new European cars that will feature “Blue&Me” — a Bluetooth system that uses Windows Mobile software to enable drivers to use mobile phones and other devices from controls the dashboard and steering wheel. This will include cell phone audio that is piped through the stereo system, a dashboard USB port for connecting music players to the stereo system, and a GPS navigation system. One other cool feature: if an engine light goes on, the driver can use this system to connect to Fiat about the problem and Fiat technicians can respond with a text message that displays on the dashboard.

      I fully expect that in the near future the ability to connect cell phones to a car’s audio system will be a standard feature on most new cars. Integrated GPS will probably follow closely behind.

      • #3093468

        Blue&Me — Windows Mobile built into cars?

        by zlitocook ·

        In reply to Blue&Me — Windows Mobile built into cars?

        It sounds cool but what about security and Windows lock up problems? What happens if  the Bluetooth has no connection or if there is a conflict with the onboard operating system? I still dislike the black box in my car because I do not know what or how much it controls or saves.

    • #3132925

      OneCare — The details on cost and when it will be released

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Microsoft has released its product plans on the release of OneCare (officially named “Windows OneCare Live”), the all-in-one desktop solution that does antivirus, firewall, antispyware, backup, defrag, and it will even paint your mother-in-law’s kitchen (although that feature is coming later in a service pack). This consumer-aimed product will be released in June and it will cost $49.95 and the license will let you install it on up to three computers.

      As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I’ve been beta testing OneCare and have been surprised to find how much a like it — mostly because it gets the job done without being a resource hog. However, I must admit that the cost of $49.95/year surprised me a little bit. I expected it to cost about $30/year per PC. I like that the license covers up to 3 PCs. That essentially makes it cheaper than what I expected, but it’s clear that Microsoft is aiming this at multiple-PC households, because I don’t know that I would recommend it to my grandfather or my mother-in-law at $50/year for a single computer. Of course, I have it loaded on more than three computers right now, so I’ll probably end up putting it on my home desktop, my laptop, and my wife’s desktop. The rest of my machines can live with AVG or Avast.

      If you’d like to try out the OneCare beta you can sign up here. Apparently, Microsoft is going to offer some of its beta testers a discount of $19.95 for the first year, so it might be worth trying out if you think you might be in the market for this product. It could also become a potential solution for small businesses, home offices, and remote offices.

      • #3092562

        OneCare — The details on cost and when it will be released

        by j sheesley ·

        In reply to OneCare — The details on cost and when it will be released

        What’s that sound I hear?  It seems like it’s coming from the general direction of Symantec and McAfee’s respective HQs.  I can’t pin it down exactly. It’s either the sound of their stock prices falling or the sounds of their attorneys’ cell phones ringing to get the antitrust litigation going..  Hmmm…

      • #3091636

        OneCare — The details on cost and when it will be released

        by steven warren ·

        In reply to OneCare — The details on cost and when it will be released

        John:

        OneCare is not embedded within the Microsoft operating system. You have to download it from a web site. A little bit of a stretch……Microsoft is not the evil empire everyone makes them out to be. You know that.

      • #3253320

        OneCare — The details on cost and when it will be released

        by shaung411 ·

        In reply to OneCare — The details on cost and when it will be released

        Well we will see whose services can actually clean an infected pc withouta reload!  It’s great that Micro$oft stepped up with a bundle of products!  Only time will tell how effective and practical this software is.  I could download any spyware scanner app that claims to remove the spyware but have only found 3 or 4 products that do a “good job” removing the spyware crap completely from a system.

      • #3254217

        OneCare — The details on cost and when it will be released

        by bhwow ·

        In reply to OneCare — The details on cost and when it will be released

        On the subject of Micorosoft OneCare

        Boo Hoo to those who didn’t ~ but Microsoft got there first!

        They didn’t just sit around talking about what’s needed most out here in the real world of PC users, where hard drives get full of trash, catch bugs that put the common cold to shame, and where the un-techies of the world would probably do a better job preforming brain surgery than diagnosing or fixing what ails their computers.

        The Microsoft folk put their heads together ~ worked their tail ends off ~ and handed us a PC product equivelent to a robotic maid that not only does the housekeeping but cleans the WINDOWS too! A PC product that will probably save most of us who log on at TechRepublic from a lifetime of drudgery, from cleaning up the messes our family and freinds routinely make of their computers. Not to mention the on going frustration of trying to explain to those PC owners whom are dear to you that as much as they enjoy using their computers they really need to budget out a little time for maintenance. Which, of course, you’d be more than glad to teach them if they hadn’t already decided on the impossibilities of ever learning anything more indepth than what they see on the screen ~ anything beyond that glass barrier, for them is and will remain the twilight zone.

        Okay, so maybe you haven’t arrived here yet, maybe a combination of schedules and stall tactics is prolonging the inevitable ~ or maybe you’re still basking in your stellar PC super hero rays and praise, and those who were either bored or couldn’t understand your excitement for things high-tech are now awed by your talent. Now you are finally getting the respect you deserve, enjoy what I truely hope for you is an extremely extended moment of fame.

        If you’re lucky you get invited to dinner with the understanding that PC optimizing is on the menu for dessert, if not and you’re smart you’ll invite yourself. Dinner time is, as things go, a great time for them to explain what’s up with their computer, and more importantly, be around to answer your questions like “okay what is….. okay how did….. okay you really don’t know….. okay just do what I say….. okay don’t mess with…..”. However politely worded, you nagged and another milestone is passed ~ you now make them feel awkward. You either walk away, or become complacent ~ until informed that you need to fit in better with their schedule because they have things they want to do! ~ and you reflect ~ surmising how many times there where things you wanted to do.

        Ever obliging, and completely fed up with the mundane task of repetitious hard drive housekeeping, you decide the small loss of functionality (which would completely ruin any PC experience for you), would be an accepable trade off for automated PC maintenance programs (for those less invigorated by their PC). Collecting what’s readily available, you study looking for gaps, overlaps, conflicts, what’s needed and what’s not. A few trial runs later, your confidence and spirits lifted, you make your rounds.

        After several panic driven calls for help, and working through several nerve racking file restoration episodes to recover missing photo folders, lost music collections, and the such like ~ you find a balance. How often and which programs will work together in automated optimizing harmony, perhaps not tweaked to the peak but far above the performance level those near and dear could achieve, a very acceptable level.

        There is no moral here, rather the non use of the word IDEA. There is no new concept here, only a problem agonizingly and diligently worked through (so many times over) by those who care enough about computers and the people around them to take on the challenge. Those who can now say Microsoft has finally figured out what I already knew ~ or is it that Microsoft already knew and decided to watch and see what you did about it? Ironic….. !

        The important thing is that Microsoft did it! For a mere pitance of what it was costing me (the cost of gasoline alone ~ oh well), for an average cost of $1.25 to $4.00 a month (for 1 to 3 machines) they will as I have already told others ~ do a better job than I. By the way, while we’re talking about me ~ this is not my personal story but a conglomeration of many that I know of. It could have ~ and probably should have ~ also included those who spend countless hours helping others online in the same manner.

        Thanks….. for a job well done.

        P.S. OneCare works well with little interaction by the user. It does lack a registry cleaner which can be an important element in maintaining performance levels ~ Microsoft has said that they will be adding a registry cleaner.

    • #3252320

      Skype is winning me over

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I’ve been testing Skype for about a month now and I have been impressed. I’ve found myself using it more and more over time, and for me that’s usually the best sign that I’m really like something and finding it useful.

      As I mentioned in a previous post, the Skype 2.0 video call feature is something that I’ve been using in my day-to-day work to communicate with other members of my team. I continue to be pleased with how well it is working. The audio and video are synced up well and the sound and picture quality has been solid. In fact, as far as desktop video conferencing goes, it is far-and-away the best “free” solution and it is competitive with the best paid solution (Polycom PVX).

      I’ve convinced several other people to give Skype a try and have used it for VoIP calls in many cases. The quality has been very good most of the time. In fact, the audio has had a richness that surpasses phone calls in some cases. I’ve had two instances where the quality wasn’t very good. Both times the people on the other end were running laptops (where a built-in mic and a built-in speaker result in a feedback loop that causes problems) and didn’t have headsets. Also, one of those two was on dial-up.  

      I’ve tried out SkypeIn as well in order to create an external phone number for people on landlines to call me on Skype. That has worked as advertised, but I do wish that it included some CallerID functionality.

      I’ve also used SkypeOut for calling people on landlines. The call quality has been very good. I have asked people if they have had any trouble hearing me and none of them have complained. Several of them have said something like “No, you sound very clear.” I’ve tried this with both a Plantronics USB headset and the standard mic and speakers and haven’t gotten complaints either way (although the headset apparently has better sound). The only problem I’ve run into with SkypeOut is when I trial to dial extension numbers, such as dialing into a conference bridge. There is a known problem (see also this link) with the way Skype reproduces the tones that are normally created by a phone keypad. With Skype, sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. That is the most frustrating thing I’ve run into with my Skype experience. If they got that fixed, I’d seriously consider replacing Vonage with Skype in my home office.

      There are some features that need to be fixed or added, but all-in-all Skype is starting to win me over.

    • #3252174

      LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I have to tip my hat to Apple for its creativity and wicked sense of humor. Today NPR reported that Apple’s latest version of Mac OS X has a creative error message for pirates that try to hack it (presumbly from Mac’s new Intel hardware platform to run on standard Wintel systems):

      There once was a user that whined
      His existing OS was so blind
      He’d do better to pirate
      An OS that ran great
      But found his hardware declined

      That’s brilliant.

      • #3252020

        LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        by georgeou ·

        In reply to LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        It really isn’t so funny if you consider that Mac OS X has many times more critical vulnerabilities than Windows.  You just don’t hear about them because it isn’t worth doing a mass attack on the Mac because there’s so few of them.

        If you doubt this, look how much shellcode Metasploit has on Mac OS X.  Look how many critical vulnerabilities are posted on Secunia for OS X, and I don’t mean you go out there and just count the number of advisories since each advisory is often comprised of a dozen separate vulnerabilities.

      • #3090565

        LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        by brichpmr9 ·

        In reply to LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        Regarding the comments about all of the OSX vulnerabilities….even if this is true, the fact remains that 90%+ of XP users are running their computer as Administrator because that’s the default choice and they either don’t know about lesser privileges or don’t want to mess with them. This means that these XP users are roughly as vulnerable as OSX users who enable and run under ROOT! I’ll speculate that there are very few of the latter.

        Obviously, there is no OS that is invulnerable to hackers, but it can easily be asserted that OSX allows its users to run as Admin with better security than the same designation in XP, and it’s much less annoying to run as a Standard User in OSX than as anything less privileged than Admin in XP.

      • #3132671

        LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        by steven warren ·

        In reply to LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        All this Windows XP nonsense is old news. First, you can run XP as a Limited User Account (LUA) and with Windows Vista, all this soapbox and bandwagon nonsense goes away as Vista is designed to run as a non-administrator.

      • #3132645

        LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        by brichpmr9 ·

        In reply to LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        For most Windows users, Vista is still a hope and a dream…they have to deal with the shortcomings of XP. I would bet you that 95% of the non-enterprise XP systems out there are running as Administrator, which is the rough equivalent of ROOT in OSX. The shortcomings of running a number of legacy apps in XP makes LUA somewhat problematic. Running as Standard User in Tiger is less problematic.

      • #3101150

        LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        by jasonhiner ·

        In reply to LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        George — I see the point you’re making about Apple’s OS. I’ve owned many Macs over the years (from OS 6 up through OS X) and the software is definitely as flawed as Windows. However, the error message that I was highlighting in presenting this poem was one that deals not with buggy software but with hackers trying to retrofit OS X off of Apple’s new Intel Macs and onto standard Wintel hardware. This is a licensing issue and not a vulnerability issue. Apple’s license prohibits it and Apple engineers found away to give hackers what I thought was a very creative error message when they tried to break the license agreement by installing OS X on non-Apple hardware.

        In terms of the critical vulnerabilities in OS X, I took a look at Secunia and you are spot on! Thanks for bringing it up.

      • #3084982

        LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        by cnassif ·

        In reply to LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        For years now I have been hearing the same thing from PC users. Macs are more vulnerable, less software, more expensive, more security holes, less reliable, et cetera. I can only believe that those who write such articles have not used Apples with any degree of regularity or else you’d know better.

        While I make a good living fixing some of the largest PCs and Windows networks in the world, I can tell you that of my 5 computers (4 PCs, 1 Mac) the only one I’ve not had to rebuild at least once a year is the Mac. In fact, it’s never been rebuilt since the original build in 2000. Everyone talks about vulnerabilities, if there are so many vulnerabilities then I should be able to make a living fixing Apples. Naysayers will contend that there just aren’t that many out there (obviously they haven’t been to a college lab, a 3-D design course, or a graphic design course. If you’ve seen any movies with special effects…they were done with a Mac.

        I’m a tired of hearing about how PCs are better. PCs have an extremely high failure rate and need to be repaired all the time. Trust me on this, it’s how I make my living. Don’t get me wrong I like PCs too, very much so. They bought my house, cars, and everything else I own. But for indestructability and pure computing fun, try a Mac for a few weeks and then tell me why you don’t like them. If you actually do that, I can at least respect your Apple-bashing opinion. And until you hack into a pure Macintosh network, let’s dispense with the sweeping generalities.

      • #3084857

        LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        by azariatech ·

        In reply to LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        For the record: Hackers do not pirate software. Crackers do. Hacking
        (either Black Hat or White Hat) is the art of circumventing live
        security mechanisms as in networks, servers, firewalls, etc, their
        respective Admins, and even socially engineering the respective users.

        Cracking is the art of circumventing static security mechanisms as would be [hard] coded into software.

        Just wanted to clarify this.  It’s a subtle distinction but an important one.

        When
        the NY Times or WSJ or other mainstream media gets the distinction
        wrong, its marginaly palatable (and I’m being generous here). When an
        industry rag or tech community gets it wrong it’s just plain wrong.
         Don’t feed the hype!

        HTH

      • #3084708

        LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        by jasonhiner ·

        In reply to LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        Azaria — I’m familiar with the hacking/cracking distinction. However, I would put the people who are trying to retrofit OS X onto x86 systems into the hacker category. They aren’t attempting the kind of malicious security infiltrations that are typically associated with “crackers,” rather they are simply hacking with software and hardware to try to learn something new and push the boundaries of current systems.

      • #3084646

        LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        by sterling “chip” camden ·

        In reply to LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        rhyming “pirate” with “ran great”?  Yeah, that’s pure Shakespeare.

      • #3266077

        LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        by narg ·

        In reply to LOL — Apple spurns hackers with poetry

        People like cnassif who posted earlier crack me up.  Just because his karma can’t handle Windows, he likens it to similarities on Ford vs. Chevy.  If you can’t handle the OS, don’t use it.  And don’t complain abou it either.  I support many Windows machines _and_ many Apple machines.  Both are good.  Both are bad.  Both suffer tremendously from bad users, no matter what the issues and problems are.  Both abound with good when used properly and knowledably.  The latter of which is rare.

    • #3101158

      Rumsfeld says US govt is getting upstaged technologically by its adversaries

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      It is highly ironic that the United States, which is the epicenter of new developments in technology and communications is getting upstaged technologically by its adversaries, as US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently admitted in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations. Rumsfeld cited IM, e-mail, blogs, smartphones, digital cameras, and handheld video cameras as the tools of the trade, and talk shows, 24-hour news broadcasts, and satellite TV as the new battleground in the propaganda war and said that terrorist enemies have become more adept at using these new technologies than the US government in general and the Defense Department in particular.

      Rumsfeld cited the riots in the Muslim word last year when Newsweek inaccurately reported that copies of the Quran were flushed down toilets at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. The news spread like wildfire (using the new technology tools) and led to deadly confrontations throughout the Middle East. Meanwhile, the US used due diligence to investigate and eventually discovered the charges were false, but the damage was already done.

      The most poignant point in the speech from the embattled Rumsfeld was that the terrorists are using these new tools to spread their message 24/7, while the Pentagon PR office only works 9-5 on Monday through Friday.

    • #3103090

      Windows Vista will have 8 flavors, but no Media Center or Tablet versions

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Microsoft Watch is reporting that the Redmond software giant is close to finalizing its versions of Windows Vista. As previously reported, there will no longer be separate versions for Media Center or Tablet PC, instead that functionality will be built into several versions of Vista. Here’s the latest on what the Vista lineup will look like:

      • Windows Starter 2007 — limited version for emerging markets
      • Windows Vista Home Basic — for a single PC home
      • Windows Vista Home Premium — multiple PC homes and personal laptops, will include Media Center
      • Windows Vista Ultimate — uber-Windows for home users, aimed at gamers and multimedia technophiles; combines Home Premium and Business
      • Windows Vista Business — the successor to Win2K Pro and XP Pro; will include TabletPC software
      • Windows Vista Enterprise — a superset of Vista Business, but only available to Software Assurance subscribers
      • Windows Vista Home Basic N — Home Premium with no Media Player (to meet European regulations)
      • Windows Vista Business N — Business with no Media Player (to meet European regulations)

      There were earlier rumors of a “Windows Vista Small Business” edition, but that one doesn’t seem to have made the cut.

    • #3103187

      The market for IT pros is heating up again, according to new data

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      US companies are planning a 12% increase in hiring IT workers in Q1 of 2006 (a year ago, in Q1 of 2005, that number was a 9%). The 12% number matched the percentage from Q4 of 2005, which was the highest percentage in 3 and 1/2 years. This data comes from the IT Hiring Index and Skills Report (from the Robert Half Technology firm), which conducted a survey of 1,400 CIOs from US companies that have at least 100 employees. Robert Half has been doing this report since 1995.

      Some of the highlights of the latest report include:

      • Windows Administration was the skillset most in demand (mentioned by 81% of CIOs), followed by Wireless network management (50%) and SQL Server management (46%)
      • The job specialties most in demand were networking (rated the top demand by 22% of CIOs), help desk (13%), and applications development (11%)
      • The the finance, insurance and real estate sector (a combined group) was the top hiring job sector for the second consecutive quarter
      • The Mountain states were the hottest region, while the South Atlantic states were also expecting to hire above the national norms
      • Large companies are doing the most aggressive hiring

      Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, commented, ?Many managers are accelerating the hiring process because the most skilled individuals receive multiple offers.  Those that delay the process too long, risk losing top candidates.?

      The bottom line is that the IT job market appears to be making its long-expected comeback after 4-5 really tough years. Of course, you always have to be careful when looking at national data like this. The local and regional variances can be significant. You can look at the report itself to get more info on trends for specific regions and metro areas.  

    • #3101088

      Windows finally overtook UNIX as the server OS leader, with help from Linux

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      A new IDC report shows that in 2005 servers with the Windows OS generated sales of $17.7 billion worldwide, which barely edged out long-time revenue king UNIX, which was at $17.5 billion. It was the first time Windows has ever held the top spot in server revenue and it was the first time UNIX has been knocked out of the lead in over a decade. Another first was that Linux moved into third place for the first time with $5.3 billion in sales, passing IBM’s z/OS for mainframes ($4.8 billion).

      Some of the main points from the report include:

      • The overall server market grew by 4.4% in 2005 to $51.3 billion (Gartner recently released its server numbers, which said the server market grew 4.5% to $49.5 billion)
      • Linux has posted double-digit revenue growth (in percentage) for 14 straight quarters; however, it still appears to be taking more share away from UNIX than Windows
      • The Windows server growth is being powered by growth of x86 servers, which saw revenue grow by 6.7% and unit shipments grow by 13.7%; of course, x86 growth also helps Linux
      • The fact that Windows servers are being used for larger enterprise tasks and server virtualization is also driving Windows server growth
      • IBM is still the overall server king in revenue with $16.9 billion, followed by HP ($14.2 billion), Dell ($5.3 billion), and Sun ($4.9 billion)
      • Blade servers grew from $1.15 billion to $2.11 billion and the blade market is now dominated by the three big server players — IBM, HP, and Dell, in that order.
      • Smaller servers are accounting for most of the growth — 6.8 out of the 7 million servers that shipped in 2005 were sold for under $25,000
      • #3273344

        Windows finally overtook UNIX as the server OS leader, with help from Linux

        by apotheon ·

        In reply to Windows finally overtook UNIX as the server OS leader, with help from Linux

        The way those statistics are divided up is almost useless. Commercial Linux offerings should be grouped with proprietary UNIX systems for a comparison with Windows, since they’re all basically the same operating environment with the same capabilities as servers. Something tells me that, measured that way, the lead UNIX and other unixy POSIX systems had over Windows would only have grown. Also, measuring by revenue is about completely worthless. For the price of a single proprietary UNIX system, you could conceivably have a couple dozen or more equivalent commercial Linux systems.

      • #3273123

        Windows finally overtook UNIX as the server OS leader, with help from Linux

        by jasonhiner ·

        In reply to Windows finally overtook UNIX as the server OS leader, with help from Linux

        There are stats for servers in terms of units sold  and I’m going to blog about that too when the new numbers are released). I think those numbers are important but I don’t agree with your assertion that revenue does not matter as a metric. After all, the server business is a business and so sales are the best way to keep score. Sales are what tell us how much value businesses put in the various server solutions.

        Also, you talked about the fact that unit sales would give Linux a much higher position — and you’re right — but the same is true for Windows.

      • #3088184

        Windows finally overtook UNIX as the server OS leader, with help from Linux

        by apotheon ·

        In reply to Windows finally overtook UNIX as the server OS leader, with help from Linux

        Actually, I didn’t say that money didn’t matter — just that money alone is almost useless as a metric. Unit sales would favor Linux over UNIX, but I wasn’t even talking about that: I was talking about functionality or, to put it another way, service volume provided. For instance, if a given Linux webserver supports loads on the scale of (to pick a number out of a hat) forty megabytes of transfer a day on average, and it takes two Windows machines that are each worth about 1.5 times as much money in hardware and licensing costs as the Linux machine, you’ve got a much more valuable comparison.

        Really, tell me what value you get from a comparison based only on money. There are literally thousands of webservers live on the web that were put together for zero licensing cost on older hardware. Windows requires more expensive hardware to provide the same level of performance (and the disparity gets worse with each new Windows version), in addition to licensing costs. Meanwhile there are proprietary UNIX mainframes that can do heavy lifting that puts any single Linux or Windows unit entirely in its place, despite being a single unit itself — and it costs more in proportion to its greater load handling capability. Then, of course, to muddy the waters a bit more, you can run Debian GNU/Linux (for instance) on an AS/400 mainframe (again, for instance).

        Service volume is easily the most important of the three metrics, and easily the most ignored of them in these statistics-gathering surveys as well.

      • #3088170

        Windows finally overtook UNIX as the server OS leader, with help from Linux

        by oz_ollie ·

        In reply to Windows finally overtook UNIX as the server OS leader, with help from Linux

        I agree with apotheon – monetary value in actual sales of servers is irrelevant. Units sold with OS is a much more accurate representation of market growth. I’m running servers that were sold with Windows 2000 Server installed by HP and were never booted with that OS. They immediately had Red Hat 9 installed and now run OpenSUSE 10. Commercial versions of Linux like Novell SUSE Linux, Red Hat, etc should also be grouped with UNIX for commercial monetary value, this alone would put UNIX like servers $5 billion dollars ahead of Microsoft Server.

        As Mark Twain once said, “There’s lies, damn lies and statistics” and when analysing those statistics, “Think about how stupid the average person is; now realise that half of them are dumber than that” – George Carlin.

      • #3088736

        Windows finally overtook UNIX as the server OS leader, with help from Linux

        by amberhaze ·

        In reply to Windows finally overtook UNIX as the server OS leader, with help from Linux

        I must agree with oz_ollie since as a single Systems Engineer, this year alone, I account for almost 50 servers which sold with MS server licenses which were immediately switched to the slackware flavor in my case.  (Read in this case alone, windows will score about $750 000 and Unix $0 when in reality, the number should be reversed.  This is just 1 example!)

        Unfortunately due to the marketing practices where by manufacturers force us to pay for licenses which are not wanted in order to obtain the hardware which is, the numbers are irrevocably damaged to the point of being meaningless.  Further, this information is then used in forums such as these to convince the administrators of organizations that MS is actually producing a useful platform which is growing in popularity when the reality is quite different.  Personally I have always prefered a platform on which I can scale the systems to what ever size is needed without having to rework all the programming, etc.

         

    • #3100918

      IT outsourcing losses for US are wildly overblown according to new study

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Okay, I have yet another piece of research that I want to blog about — I promise it will be the last one (at least for this week). An extensive study conducted by the Association for Computing Machinery (and reported in the New York Times) found that the perception of large numbers of IT jobs being outsourced to low-wage spots like India and China has been grossly exaggerated. The study reported the following:

      • Only 2 to 3 percent of US IT jobs would be outsourced annually over the next decade
      • More new jobs will be created in the US than the ones that will be lost
      • The number of people working in IT is higher today than it was at the high water mark before the dot com bubble burst

      However, on a darker note, the study also found that the perception that many of the IT jobs in the US are heading offshore is potentially hurting the US IT job market because that perception is helping to fuel the declining numbers of students entering computer fields at US colleges. If that trend doesn’t change then US companies could be forced to look overseas for technology workers. That would make the now popular outsourcing myth a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      • #3100898

        IT outsourcing losses for US are wildly overblown according to new study

        by j sheesley ·

        In reply to IT outsourcing losses for US are wildly overblown according to new study

        An interesting corallary to the offshoring movement is the ‘farmshoring’ movement
        – taking jobs to rural America rather than shipping them overseas. This
        kind of tracks with such things as the automobile production where
        foreign car companies have been investing in rural areas of America and
        building plants that are cheaper to run than in the bigger cities.
        Companies that farm-shore get the benefit of an American workforce at a
        lower price while rural Americans get the prospect of higher paying
        jobs. A win-win.

      • #3100796

        IT outsourcing losses for US are wildly overblown according to new study

        by zlitocook ·

        In reply to IT outsourcing losses for US are wildly overblown according to new study

        I need to show this to the people who I know have left the IT field because of, ether pay rates have dropped too much, the people being hired are fresh out of school or are here with work permits. I am still in the field because I can do alot of every thing.

          Some of the people I know have paid thousands for thier schooling and when they look for jobs all they find is high paying jobs for skills that you would have to be in that field for more years then the software has been around. I am contracted to a company that may stay around or not but the main IT guy is going into the retail business because the IT field is so unpredictable

          Some of the people I know paid thousands for thier schooling and when they look for jobs all they find is high paying jobs for skills that you would have to be in that field for more years then the software has been around. I am contracted to a company that may stay around or not but the main IT guy is going into the retail business because the IT field is so unpredictable. We our country is just letting the IT people go away. Sure we are teaching and instructing how to use a computer but we have forgotten how to teach how to learn and explore. You can make people remember any thing but it is alot harder to make them think for themselves!

        When I hear that Microsoft is taking over, sorry helping another company?s IT staffs job or this company has outsource it?s main operation to another company I get worried. We keep giving out parts of our country and no body looks at what?s it is doing to the people here.

         

         

      • #3272404

        IT outsourcing losses for US are wildly overblown according to new study

        by wayne m. ·

        In reply to IT outsourcing losses for US are wildly overblown according to new study

        I am no free-trader and so find many things in this reqport that I could quibble with.  I would like to note that a 2% – 3% reduction in jobs per year translates into a 32% job loss over 15 years.  I would now like to address the theory of comparative advantage.

        The definition of comparative advantage contained in the referenced ACM paper states, “… that if each country specializes in the production of goods where it has a comparative (relative) advantage, both countries can enjoy greater total consumption and well being in aggregate by trading with each other. Offshoring enables, for example, US firms to lower costs and save scarce resources for activities in which they have a relative advantage, while offshoring has led to significant employment and wage gains for Indian workers and rapid profit and revenue increases for Indian businesses.”

        A brief review of history, however, shows the world had not behaved according to this model to date.  Countries have not restricted themselves to production in areas in which they have compatative advantage; countries have developed expertise in areas where they lacked advantage.  Ten years ago, the US had comparative advantage in IT; India, however, did not restrict itself to other areas, it chose to develop IT.   Likewise, the US has enjoyed comparative advantage in other areas such as, steel production, electronics production, IC manufacturing, and car manufacturing.  Where are these industries now?

        The theory of comparative advantage is overcome by government interaction.  This is a sore spot with free-traders who are loathe to admit that targetted actions can produce better results than random  actions of an invisible hand.  Inded, the referenced article feels it necessary to take potshots at the educational initiatives of India and China, saying they fail to be evenly distributed.

        If the US is to have a comparative advantage in IT (and other industries), it is beyond the scope of an individual or individual company; it must become a federal initiative.  If it is not acceptable for the US to be dependent upon foreign countries for oil, why is it acceptable to be dependent upon foreign countries for software, steel, electronics, and automobiles?

         

    • #3272313

      MS Office 2007: more programs, more versions, more … of everything

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I often think of Microsoft as being a little over-reactionary to customer feedback and complaints. There are times when I think Microsoft should just stick to its guns, be the kind of software company that it wants to be, and not try to be all things to all people.

      However, there’s one area where I actually see an odd combination of Microsoft sticking to its guns while also trying to please everyone, and that’s with Microsoft Office. The Redmond software juggernaut has been hammered for years over the fact that Office is “bloatware” — too many programs that try to do too many things and as a result become unnecessarily complicated. With the latest version of the world’s most popular suite of business applications — Microsoft Office 2007 (known simply as “Office 12” until the official name was unveiled recently) — Microsoft has obviously ignored that criticism because Office 2007 is bigger than ever. It has more programs. It has a lot more versions and packages. And the programs themselves look to be packed with even more features, albeit with a streamlined interface to access those features.

      The 15 programs that make up Microsoft Office 2007 are:

      • Outlook 2007
      • Word 2007
      • Excel 2007
      • PowerPoint 2007
      • Access 2007
      • OneNote 2007
      • InfoPath 2007
      • Visio Standard 2007
      • Visio Professional 2007
      • Communicator
      • Groove 2007
      • Project Standard 2007
      • Project Professional 2007
      • Publisher 2007
      • SharePoint Designer 2007

      The following are the 7 versions/packages of Office 2007 (retail price/upgrade price):

      • Microsoft Office Basic 2007 (OEM only)
      • Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 ($149/NA)
      • Microsoft Office Standard 2007 ($399/$239)
      • Microsoft Office Small Business 2007 ($449/$279)
      • Microsoft Office Professional 2007 ($499/$329)
      • Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2007 (volume licensing only)
      • Microsoft Office Enterprise 2007 (volume licensing only)

      If you want to see which programs are included in each of the packages, take a look at this fact sheet (it’s in .DOC format). For more on costs, take a look at this pricing breakdown (also in .DOC format).

      Beyond those standard Office details, Microsoft is also expanding much more deeply into two areas:

      1. Office Servers — backend software to power Office
      2. Office Services — online programs and services that offer comparable functionality to desktop software

      In terms of backend servers for Office, Microsoft will be offering these packages:

      • Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007
      • Microsoft Office Project Server 2007
      • Microsoft Office Project Portfolio Server 2007
      • Microsoft Office Groove Server 2007
      • Microsoft Office Forms Server 2007

      In terms of Web and online services, Microsoft will be offering the following:

      • Microsoft Office Outlook Web Access
      • Microsoft Office Communicator Web Access
      • Microsoft Office Project Web Access
      • Microsoft Office Live (with its own suite of services)
      • Microsoft Office Live Groove
      • Microsoft Office Groove Enterprise Services

      Obviously, Microsoft is trying to build an entire business software ecosystem around the Office brand, and some of these services could significantly benefit businesses by taking the corporate intranet to a whole new level. However, with all of these packages there is the potential for a lot of confusion among IT managers and administrators. As the betas of these programs and packages are released, TechRepublic will be test them, experiment with them and then report the results so that we can help IT pros sort all of this out.

    • #3273118

      I found my mothership – Frys Electronics

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      I have found my mothership. [Click here for photo gallery]

      A couple months ago, I was driving through Indianapolis and I spotted something that left my mouth hanging open and nearly caused me to veer into the wrong lane on I-69. There was a new retail store that opened in Fishers, just north of Indy. I’m not much of a shopper (much to the chagrin of my wife) and I usually do NOT get very excited by new retail stores, but this one was different. This was Fry’s Electronics.

      For technophiles and electronic tinkerers, Fry’s holds something of a mythical status, especially for someone like me who has never lived in California and so has never had Fry’s as a regular shopping experience. I have listened with an envious heart as friends who have visited and lived in Northern California (where Fry’s first opened in Sunnyvale in 1985) have talked about the endless rows of NICs, vats of hard drive jumpers and case screws, and unlimited supplies of rare PC and electronics components that can always be found at Fry’s.

      Thus, on my most recent trip through Indianapolis, I finally made a pilgrimage to the Fry’s in Fishers, the first one in Indiana and only the second one in the Midwest (the other one is in Chicago area). Despite my boundless juvenile anticipation, I was still amazed when I actually stepped inside.

      The sheer square footage of the store was unbelievable. It was bigger than Sam’s Club and easily as big as a Super Wal-Mart, Super K-Mart, or Meijer (for those in the Midwest). The computer components section alone — for custom PC builders — was as big as the grocery section in a Super Wal-Mart. I made a beeline for the computer components first. I was awestruck when I saw a huge section of a wall filled with computer motherboards. And right next to them was a very cool display of case fans. One entire grocery store-like aisle was filled with different computer cases, although with all those cases to choose from I didn’t see any of the real WOW cases that you can find online and I didn’t find a slimline media center case, which I’ve been looking for. But right next to the cases I found plenty of whisperingly-quiet power supplies and CPU fans to keep me occupied.

      After poking around the sections for computer parts and electronics kits, I made my way through consumer electronics where the section for TVs was over twice as big as the TV display at Best Buy and there was a larger collection of Xbox games than I have ever seen in one place. On my way to consumer electronics I also saw something that made be stop and chuckle. There was a cafe right in the middle of the store. That meant technogeeks like me didn’t even have to leave for sustenance in the middle of a Fry’s visit. I could just stop and get a meal and then go back to my geek-ish pursuits. Fortunately, my wife and son were with me on this trip, so I didn’t get too endlessly absorbed.

      My final jaw-dropping experience of the day came when I went to check out. It wasn’t very crowded on the day that I was there but there was still a place for a long line and when I came to the end of that row there was a person waiting who said, “Hi there. You can pay at check out 14.” Like a preschooler crossing the road by himself, I looked sheepishly to one side and then the other and saw rows of checkout lanes extending endlessly on both sides. Then, after I went to station 14, paid, and then walked toward the exit with my Fry’s bag in hand, I realized that those weren’t even the only checkout stations, but that an equal number of them curled around and went all the way up the other side behind them. At that moment, I knew with a certainty that I was not alone in the universe. And I’m guessing that a lot of other technogeeks felt the same way when they came through Fry’s Electronics for the first time.  

      If you want to see what I saw, I’ve put together a gallery of photos from my Fry’s pilgrimage.

      • #3273068

        I found my mothership – Frys Electronics

        by dr dij ·

        In reply to I found my mothership – Frys Electronics

        Fry’s is good if you watch what you buy.  Each store has dift theme which is fun; Egypt, space shuttle, tropical beach… 

        I love their return policy.  If it doesn’t work you can return it for about a month.  Some items about half that time.

        Invariably this leads to long lines in the return aisle.  Solution?  go on weekdays to buy or return stuff.  And avoid them like the plague on holiday weekends when they have their sales, esp around xmas.

        They sell huge disk drives dirt cheap, price beat only by the ACP swapmeet in nearby Santa Ana. 

        As perhaps the ‘original customer’ I’ve had some interesting experiences there.

        watch very carefully for opened items.  they shrink wrap them and put them back on the shelf.  Usually it says ‘has been opened’.  I’ve occasionally got stuff that was obviously opened but not labeled.  Opened items may be the last of what you want left.  Not necessarily a deal breaker but check a previously opened package carefully.  It may be missing drivers, etc.  I even had one that was the wrong card from a dift mfgr put back in a box.

        I was helping a friend buy parts for a computer.  (back when parts wuz xpensive).  At checkout it came to $2300.  I’m thinking ‘that’s odd, it should have been only $1900.  I’d added things up in my head roughly.  I said this to clerk and he got miffed.  Then he checked the screen and he’d added an expensive item twice.  Glad I noticed before I left.  Would have been hard to prove I hadn’t gotten 2nd hd.

        Service has long lines and they ding you for ‘cleaning charges’ for printers if it stops working and they feel they need to do this.  The one thing I won’t buy there is PCs if it will have to be serviced there.

        Their inventory is good but they have trouble putting it on shelf sometimes.  I buy mini-dv tapes in 5 pack bricks for $17.  much cheaper than 3packs or individual tapes.  Problem is they sometimes have them but not on shelf.  I’d ask clerk to look them up and they’d show some on hand.  so I’d say ‘where are they?’.  At one point we had to grab a ladder and get them from box at top of display rack.  I shouldn’t be the one getting them to do this!

        Ads:  I buy the local papers just to see their ads sometimes.  The best deals will invariably be sold out by the time you get there (if a weekend).  I wish they’d put their ads online but they must have deal with local papers not to.

        Occasionally the bargains are very good.  I’ve picked up 6 outlet grounded surge strips for $2 and sometimes $1.  They’d bring them in in pallets as loss leaders.  (probably didn’t cost much more tho).  While the only surge protection in these cheapo’s is an MOV (metal oxide varistor), they DO protect PCs from awful surges.  I’ve added these to whole depts and never lost a protected PC to surges.  One day they had them on sale and I loaded a cart with 30 or 40.  When I got to checkout, they tried to ding me with ‘limit 6’.  Well, it was in their ad in newspaper but NOT posted by the pallet.  I convinced the clerk to sell them to me.

        I’m a bit jaded out here.  We’ve got MicroCenter also, CompUSA and others but Fry’s is e-bargain mecca.  Microcenter is better about taking checks.  I used to write checks at Frys but apparently they had to display every check I’d ever written to them on screen, which was pages and pages full before checking me out on their VERY slow checkout network.  I changed to credit card because of this, and they also seem to have upgraded their PCs and/or network.

        Lots of good stuff here but check packages and read reviews before you buy.  Outpost.com is their online version.

         

         

         

      • #3089327

        I found my mothership – Frys Electronics

        by radams36 ·

        In reply to I found my mothership – Frys Electronics

        I’m bamboozled that someone actually LIKES Fry’s. In re this comment:

        Ads:  I buy the local papers just to see their ads sometimes.  The best deals will invariably be sold out by the time you get there (if a weekend).

        I’d add that it does NOT have to be a weekend. Out of around 20 times that I’ve gone for sale items, they had what I wanted twice, IIRC. And it’s not like I was waiting until the last day of a three day sale. When I tried to complain to the store manager, he was EXTREMELY indifferent. And when I expressed my dissatisfaction with his attitude and demanded to speak to a district manager (or whoever his boss was), he handed me a generic all-purpose customer service leaflet. And refused to tell me how to contact his boss when I tried to pursue the matter.

        I tried to get an on-sale PCMCIA NIC card yesterday, and the associate went to the wrong item and said, “Oh, I guess we’re out.” I looked at the shelf tag and said, “No, this is the wrong SKU for that item.” He shrugged and walked off to help another employee with something.

        If you walk in wanting something generic that’s not on sale, that won’t have to be returned, it’s during a weekday, and you’re paying with cash, then Gee Whillikers, Fry’s is great. That’s too many conditions for my taste.  I try to avoid ever going there, it’s just not worth all the hassles, aggravation, and the maddening lack of professionalism.

        I consider Fry’s to be one of the worst retail outlets I’ve ever seen.

      • #3088951

        I found my mothership – Frys Electronics

        by abc1 ·

        In reply to I found my mothership – Frys Electronics

        Let me give you a tip.  That great return policy has a drawback.  What do you think they do with the stuff that is returned? Apperently, they have this shrink wrap machine lurking somewhere in the back that they wrap all this stuff up with and put back on the shelves.  I have found “new” items with underlines, comments and highlights written in the manuals.  This was from a shrink wrapped box.  They must figure that most of the time the return stuff works, so they just put it back.

        Another clue is the long return lines that eventually develop there.

        My advice is to buy all the stuff now while the store is still new, but I would avoid it later.

        Bill F.
        Oregon

      • #3085804

        I found my mothership – Frys Electronics

        by brett e lawrence ·

        In reply to I found my mothership – Frys Electronics

        My good experiences at Fry’s far outweigh my bad, and i’ve probably shopped at all of the SoCal locations-San Diego, Hawthorne, Fountain Valley, San Marcos, even Tempe AZ. They’re what Radio Shack was to me as a kid, except about 30 times bigger. I can’t resist going into the joint at least once per week. Their return policy is great compared with others(read: WorstBuy), but watch for the stickers on the merchandise as that item was probably already returned by somebody else.

      • #3084667

        I found my mothership – Frys Electronics

        by bs analyst ·

        In reply to I found my mothership – Frys Electronics

        Here’s some advise from someone who’s been to many of their stores.

        Check the box carefully to determine if it was
        returned.  Fry?s rewraps products that
        may or may not work and restocks them.

        Returns are a big hassle. 

        Don?t expect items on sale to be in stock.  No rain checks either.

        Ad prices are often not sale prices; you can find the
        identical item for less elsewhere.

        The staff is often indifferent or unhelpful.  It seems that customers are a bother.

        Fry?s is the last place I shop when I need computer gear.

      • #3085348

        I found my mothership – Frys Electronics

        by barbara5 ·

        In reply to I found my mothership – Frys Electronics

        I’ve shopped at the Palo Alto CA Frys for years.  As others have said, you need to watch for  returns showing up in new shrinkwrap.  My problem, however, is that I’m a 60+ female and Fry’s employees will NOT listen to me.  Case in point: Last week I went to buy an ethernet PCMCIA card for my laptop and a 4-port KVM switchbox.  Two different employees insisted I really wanted a wireless card, and another insisted on giving me the wrong cables for the switchbox.   I finally found the correct card and cables myself – after wasting time trying to convince them I know what I want.  I’m constantly hearing “Who’s going to be installing this hardware?” and “Are you sure that’s what your boss/husband wants?”  Hey folks, I’ve been the family and business hardware guru for over 15 years!  And I know a lot of other women who have the same complaint about Frys.  And, to be fair, about most other techno-stores. 

    • #3272804

      BlackBerry lives! But is IT already looking in another direction?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      The latest news in the sordid BlackBerry/RIM vs. NTP affair is that on Friday U.S. District Judge James Spencer upbraided RIM and NTP for not coming to a settlement but decided to delay his decision on whether to shutdown RIM’s BlackBerry network.

      So BlackBerry lives to deliver mail for another day (and an impending shutdown appears less likely than it did a week ago). However, my question is whether this whole affair is giving IT departments the jitters and causing them to start considering BlackBerry alternatives even before the final verdict decends from the courts. This week’s TechRepublic poll asks, “If you use a BlackBerry, what are your plans if the service ends?” and we have a discussion thread on this topic as well. Pop into the discussion and let us know how your IT department is dealing with this potential BlackBerry crisis.

    • #3088297

      Wow, 256-bit encyption? I keep finding more reasons to like Skype

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      As I’ve posted numerous times since the beginning of the year, I’ve been experimenting with Skype and have found a lot of reasons to like it. I’ve even started using it for some calls with colleagues — both regular VoIP calls and video calls. However, that quickly led me (and my colleagues on the other end) to wonder how secure our Skype calls were, especially when we were talking about sensitive business information and plans. That prompted me to look into what kind of security options were available with Skype. I figured I might have to download an add-on.

      I was very surprised (and pleased) to discover that Skype uses 256-bit end-to-end encryption for its connections, which means all Skype-to-Skype calls, IMs, and video calls are locked down against snoopers. This was a relief to me from a business standpoint. Of course, it also means that terrorists and other nefarious characters could be using Skype to avoid having their calls tapped by government agencies — as a matter of fact, I found a very interesting USA Today article on the issue of Skype spurning eavesdroppers (including the United States NSA).

    • #3088296

      Wow, 256-bit encyption? I keep finding more reasons to like Skype

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      As I’ve posted numerous times since the beginning of the year, I’ve been experimenting with Skype and have found a lot of reasons to like it. I’ve even started using it for some calls with colleagues — both regular VoIP calls and video calls. However, that quickly led me (and my colleagues on the other end) to wonder how secure our Skype calls were, especially when we were talking about sensitive business information and plans. That prompted me to look into what kind of security options were available with Skype. I figured I might have to download an add-on.

      I was very surprised (and pleased) to discover that Skype uses 256-bit end-to-end encryption for its connections, which means all Skype-to-Skype calls, IMs, and video calls are locked down against snoopers. This was a relief to me from a business standpoint. Of course, it also means that terrorists and other nefarious characters could be using Skype to avoid having their calls tapped by government agencies — as a matter of fact, I found a very interesting USA Today article on the issue of Skype spurning eavesdroppers (including the United States NSA).

    • #3090425

      Here are my screen shots of the new stuff in Vista

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      With the release of Build 5308 on February 22, Windows Vista moved into “feature complete” status, which means no new features will be introduced before the launch of Vista at the end of this year. Thus, I thought it would be a good time to do some coverage of the new features and interface changes in Vista. So here is a gallery of 62 screen shots of the new stuff in Vista.

      Vista 5308 gallery

    • #3089927

      Microsoft search will trump Google? … I have a funny story about that

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      This week Microsoft publicly claimed that the new search engine it is building will be better than Google in six months. That bold assertion was made by Neil Holloway, Microsoft president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit. As reported on the Reuters news wire, Holloway said, “In six months’ time we’ll be more relevant in the U.S. market place than Google… The quality of our search and the relevance of our search from a solution perspective to the consumer will be more relevant.”

      It’s hard for the average Internet search user to take that claim very seriously. After all, the most prominent Microsoft search engine on the market right now is MSN, and it has never been very effective or innovative. It has always played “me too” with AltaVista, Yahoo, and now Google. On the other hand, I would bet that Microsoft is not building its new search engine around MSN, but rather around its quietly launched Start.com experimental project. I’m still not a big Start.com fan, but I will say this — even in its embryonic form, it is currently the next best thing to Google in terms of providing relevant search results.

      That doesn’t mean I’m convinced that Microsoft will build a better search engine. Two years ago, before Goolge launched its IPO, I vowed that I would not invest in Google — even though I had been using their search engine almost since its inception and absolutely loved it. Still, I felt like it really didn’t have much of a business model nor did it have the resources of Yahoo and Microsoft. I felt like both Yahoo and Microsoft would eventually catch up with their search technology and the gig would be up for Google. Now, I still think Google has a limited business model, but it has become a commercial success with its paid listings business and it has gotten a huge cash infusion from its stock sales. As a result, Google is no longer outgunned on resources by Microsoft or Yahoo. In fact, it would be easy to argue that Google has lot more (and better) engineer talent working on search development than either of those two giants, or anyone else. THAT is what makes me skeptical about Microsoft’s claims.

      Okay, so I also promised a funny story. Last fall I was in Redmond at a meeting where Steve Ballmer was addressing 2,500 Microsoft MVP awardees (individuals — mostly IT pros — with expertise in particular Microsoft technologies who participate in forums and/or write IT articles and books). Ballmer stormed back and forth on the stage in his usual passionate, confident, and engaged manner — the guy is definitely one of the most entertaining speakers in the IT industry for me. However, there was one brief moment where he flinched during his presentation. After asking the audience to give Microsoft’s new search tools a try and then e-mail him directly with their feedback, Ballmer asked for a show of hands for who currently had Google set as the homepage in their Web browser. As the hands shot up, Ballmer lifted his chin and slowly scanned back and forth across the auditorium to see about 80% of the people in the room had poked a hand in the air. Keep in mind that many of the people in this room were Microsoft’s most loyal advocates and the rest of the folks were people Microsoft was trying to treat really well in order to enhance their opinions about the Redmond software giant. When Ballmer saw all of those hands up, he looked like someone had just sucker-punched him in the gut. After an obvious pause, Ballmer’s tone softened and he said, “Well, we’ve obviously got some work to do.”

      I wouldn’t count Ballmer and Microsoft out (especially seeing the progress they’ve already made with Start.com), but the mountain they have to scale to win in search is a lot higher than it was even just two years ago before the Google IPO.

      And I must admit … I’m a 3-time Microsoft MVP and Google is the home page on all of my PCs, laptops, and test machines, and has been for over five years. Microsoft will have to come up with something very appealing to change that.

      • #3086662

        Microsoft search will trump Google? … I have a funny story about that

        by jddouble ·

        In reply to Microsoft search will trump Google? … I have a funny story about that

        I seriously doubt Microsoft could outweigh Google in terms of relevance of results, and speed, also, Google has a hugely extensive range of other services, such as Google Scholar. My verdict is that, within the near future at least, Microsoft’s search engine will not ‘trump’ Google.

      • #3086509

        Microsoft search will trump Google? … I have a funny story about that

        by jogr66 ·

        In reply to Microsoft search will trump Google? … I have a funny story about that

        I guess my question that remains after this article and left out for who knows why would be: Will this start.com also be reporting searches to the Feds like MSN, Yahoo and AOL? I’m a MS fan, but lost trust in their search engines when all that government reporting stuff surfaced. Google has served a lot of us on a level that no one has touched. I won’t fix something thats not broken. Unless MS comes up with a huge difference, http://www.google.com will stay on that search bar.

      • #3084119

        Microsoft search will trump Google? … I have a funny story about that

        by wayne m. ·

        In reply to Microsoft search will trump Google? … I have a funny story about that

        Microsoft May Have the Better Business Model

        My concern with the longevity of Google would be based upon their business model rather than their technology. Google’s business model is based on world-wide advertising subsidized searches. I think there are key inroads in having desktop, department-wide, and enterprise-wide search capabilities, which will not be able to be advertising subsidized.

        As disk and server sizes grow, organizations will no longer be able to rely on hierarchical structure to store and find data. I doubt many organizations will be open to exposing coroporate data to an external service and will want a service that is internally installed, configured, and maintained. Microsoft already has the sales, supply, and support channels in place to market intelligent search engines within corporations. Though many people will still view Google as their first choice for Internet searches, I do not see that generating enthusiasm to use Google within the enterprise.

        In the long run, I would see Microsoft better positioned to expand from Enterprise-level searches to Internet-wide searches than Google to move from Internet-wide to Enterprise-level.

      • #3100213

        Microsoft search will trump Google? … I have a funny story about that

        by tldwg04011 ·

        In reply to Microsoft search will trump Google? … I have a funny story about that

        I have Google as my home page for a very simple reason, it loads quickly. 

      • #3265285

        Microsoft search will trump Google? … I have a funny story about that

        by jasonhiner ·

        In reply to Microsoft search will trump Google? … I have a funny story about that

        Wayne M — You and I are on the same page about the whole Google business model issue. Even with Google making a mint on paid search, I still question their long-term business model. On the other hand, I don’t agree with you on the issue of enterprise search. Microsoft hasn’t shone that they get it yet, and Google has actually produced some products, such as the Google Mini (offering impressive technology and a solid business play), which show that they could potentially corner the enterprise search market. If large organizations are eventually willing to pay for private internal search engines (as the number of internal electronic documents skyrocket) then Google might actually be able to develop a more diversified business model. In other words, I think enterprise search could actually help Google.

        Jason

    • #3084714

      BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Soapbox

      The RIM-NTP settlement that has removed the uncertainty surrounding the future of BlackBerry is good news for a lot of companies that now rely desperately on the “CrackBerry” as a key mechanism of doing everyday business. However, the settlement also sets a nasty precedent and calls into question the viability of some of the U.S. patent laws to be relevant to the demands of modern business.

      To their credit, RIM has vigorously fought this thing out of principle. RIM could have settled this a long time ago for a lot less money. But because they were being sued not by a rival company with a similar technology but by a patent-squatter that does not develop products but simply licenses patents and tries to resell them or sue companies that hit it big with similar technologies, RIM felt that it was ludicrous to pay a dime to NTP. And, in this case, I think they were right.

      The patent laws ideally help protect the little guy who gets his idea stolen by a big company that goes on to make a mint from his idea without ever paying him for it. Those laws were not meant to pad the pockets of opportunists who manipulate the legal system for financial gain.

      This settlement and the whole sordid affair that surrounded it could open up other successful technology innovators to lawsuits from companies that do nothing but squat on patents that could one day develop into a hot new idea and then essentially blackmail companies that successfully develop similar ideas. If that were to happen, it could be very detrimental to next-generation high-tech development in the U.S. and could even force some companies to push some of their development activities to Europe or Asia. In order to avoid that scenario, something needs to be done at the root of the problem — the U.S. patent system — to deal with patent-squatters and to make sure that the patent system is protecting the intellectual property of the true inventors and innovators, and not capital opportunists who have no interest in actually developing real-world products.

      And, no, I am not a BlackBerry user. In fact, I use a rival Treo for my mobile e-mail.

      Want to see who’s next On the Soapbox? Find out in the Blog Roundup newsletter. Use this link to automatically subscribe and have it delivered directly to your Inbox every Wednesday.

      • #3085407

        BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        by westr ·

        In reply to BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        That has to be the best angle yet, that I’ve seen about this.

         

        Patent Squatting.  Couldn’t have put it any better.  The current patent law system was indeed meant to product the little guy developing in his garage, not developed to have a company sit on like what? 20,000+ patents, and waiting for this one type of situation that occured, so their gold digging fantasies would come true.  Other then what has happened in court(NTP’s pay day), their business is nothing else, and nothing more.  Patent law needs to be revised for abuse like this not to occur.

         

        This is exactly like cyber squatting a website, waiting for a big pay day.  Purely abuse of the “Patent Law” system.  Law needs to be revised.  Patent squatting companies shouldn’t exist, immoral & unethical, and should be illegal.  It would be best for NTP to donate $300 million to the red cross, $300 million to unicef, and $11,999,999 million to cancer/aids foundations, and keep keep $1 dollar for themselves.

         

         

      • #3085405

        BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        by twilsonva ·

        In reply to BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        While I agree that patents are useful and needed to protect the little guy, what I would like to see is a law stipulating that a patent infringement suit must be filed within a certain amount of time (say 1 year or even 6 months) after the infringement has been documanted. (i.e.) the patent holder cannot wait for the infringing companys technology to become the standard before going after them, thus enabling the patent holder to ask for more money later. By doing so you may reduce the financial incentive for “patent-squatting”.  There should also be a time limit shorter than 10 years in which the person or company must either do something with that patent or lose the rights to that patent.

        twilson

         

      • #3085392

        BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        by slumley ·

        In reply to BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        I don’t know how a patent squatter could be defined in law. To say patent squatters shouldn’t exist is certainly to take the bull by the horns – perhaps too blunt a policy to have a hope of succeeding.

        There may be another path. I understand the breakthrough in negotiations took place when RIM agreed to pay regardless of the Patent Office’s ultimate decision on NTP patent validity. RIM tried to wait NTP out, but ran out of time. So we have at least one future scenario where NTP’s patents are declared invalid, but they get to keep the money – the legitimacy of which rests solely on the legitimacy of the patents. This is truly wrong.

        I hope that if and when the Patent Office rules NTP’s patents invalid, RIM can be offered or find a way to break their agreement because it produced a patently unfair outcome! (Please excuse the intentional pun.) That exercise would address some of the underlying issues with patent law.

      • #3086327

        BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        by jb_personal ·

        In reply to BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        I am amused at this posting. I am from India and until recently, Indian patent law required that the patent holder must “work the patent” (i.e. must put the idea into practice) if
        he wanted protection for it. The rationale for this was that if society
        is to expend common resources to protect innovation from an individual
        or organisation, then the innovation in turn must benefit society by
        being available in a practical manner.

        In the face of very stiff lobbying from various countries including the
        United States, India reluctantly amended the patent laws to accord
        protection even if the patent is not “worked”. This
        will obviously encourage squatters to sit on patents without working
        them, purely relying on the protection that law provides to them.

      • #3086320

        BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        by bowenw9 ·

        In reply to BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        While I’m happy to see that RIM’s business will not be interrupted I am not at all happy that they had to pay what amounts to extortion. I hold the most scorn, comtempt and lothing for NTP, but right behind those swine comes the Judge. I understand the notion of “seperation of powers”, but with the re-exam of the NTP patents underway why couldn’t the judge just suspend the proceedings until the PTO had finished the re-exam?

        If this case does not show to any sane person how disfunctional our present Patent system is, nothing will. But right now our patent law is being driven mostly by forces outside this country, namely the WTO and the UN. The multinationals want the patent system “rigged” in their favor (which it presently is), and this rigging plays right into the hands of the “patent squatters”.

        As to RIM getting their extortion payment returned if the PTO does invalidate the patents: my understanding is that a contract made under duress is on its face null and void. What else could this situation be called if not duress? What really makes me sick is that that a Federal Judge played the role of bully for NTP. Wonder if a criminal complaint could be lodged against the principals (and the sleezy lawyers) of NTP for extrortion and maybe RICO? Name the Judge as well.

        Any comments?

      • #3086303

        BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        by apotheon ·

        In reply to BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        Just ditch patent law entirely. It was well-intentioned when conceived, but it has for the most part been an unmitigated disaster. Just scrap it already.

        It’s so crazy it just might work.

      • #3084422

        BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        by clockmendergb9 ·

        In reply to BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        I agree with most every comment.
        It was plain that the Judge had no interest in regards to the justice of the case.othewise he would have put it on hold pending patent review.
        Yes RIM did try to slow the case down but it seems they had very good reason,
        At the very least I think the Judge owes the world an explaination as to why he was in such a hurry to end this case.
        Especially as it has or will have a great impact on companies in the future.
        As for NTP,I have no comment worthy of print.
        Clockmendergb

      • #3084361

        BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        by jim.guy_at_jda.com ·

        In reply to BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        Who’s the little guy?  NTP was co-founded by the late Thomas Campana Jr., an engineer who in 1990 created a system to send e-mails between computers and wireless devices. He is survived by his wife, who owns a large stake in NTP.   NTP did not start out as a “patent squater”, but a small engineering group trying to do something new.   He’s the little guy who built and demonstrated a wireless email system in 1990.  Did the US Patent office err in granting his patents?  I don’t know.  But I’m glad his wife and family now has something to show for years of struggling.

        See Newsweek article at http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2005/tc20051208_033879.htm?campaign_id=msnbc_blackberry

      • #3084281

        BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        by blueknight ·

        In reply to BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        I agree with the majority of comments posted on this case.  RIM should have held out until the final determination of the patent held by NTP.  “Taking one for the little guy” or however RIM’s CEO put it was a mistake in my opinion.  Hopefully RIM will be able to get their extorted settlement money returned should the patent be overturned as expected.

        I think the judge in the case was out of line in urging a quick settlement.  That is not his function.  If he had done any “homework” at all, and was truely familiar with the facts of the case, he should have granted a continuance until the ultimate determination of the patent in question.  Had that happened, RIM could stand tall and NTP would suffer the humiliation of defeat.  RIM still looks good because of its actions, but the fact that they settled gives some validity to NTP and any other patent-squatters out there, and that is just plain wrong.

        I like the “must use” aspect of patent law in India as mentioned in one comment.  That just might make things work properly, though I haven’t had time to fully think it out to its logical conclusion.  I suppose that there should be some sort of time period for the party who purchases a patent from the inventor to either use the patent by creating the product, or to sell it to another party who will do so within a reasonable period of time — or it would revert back to the inventor maybe.  There needs to be an “incentive” of some sort there.  Another idea I like is a statute of limitations for cases such as this.

        If NTP’s claim is ultimately denied, I think they should be forced to refund the settlement with interest (and maybe even a penalty) to RIM.

      • #3268440

        BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        by bfilmfan ·

        In reply to BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        Sorry Jason, but you’re wrong on this one. If you can make money selling your patent to another company that just holds it and does nothing with it, that’s the same as me buying a piece of real estate and not building a hosue on it. If you want to come on the property and build a house, you will have to pay me.

        Once you start invalidating the concept that people have rights to their intellectual property, it’s the start down a slope to the loss of rights to all property. You aren’t using your propery to make enough tax dollars for the city, I will just take it and build something else there that will make the city more money. Oh wait, the Supreme Court has already allowed that one to happen…

      • #3268010

        BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        by amberhaze ·

        In reply to BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        As the former owner of a software development company based out of Edmonton, I had a couple of experiences directly related to Patent law.  `Based on these experiences I would make the following comments.

        1) I agree totally, completely abolish the current system and go to something more along the lines of what was described above as having used to be the case in India before the negative western influences changed things.

        2) Under the current system, the average person can not afford to patent anything since the costs involved are prohibitive.

        3) Even if you do patent something, you again need deep pockets in order to protect that patent since legal fees involved in persuing a violator are usually prohibative unless you have a lot of money behind you.

        Between regulation, red tape, and the barriers created by an ineffective patent regime, the days of the “garage tinkerer” are just about dead with very few exceptions. 

      • #3283206

        BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        by mikiel ·

        In reply to BlackBerry settlement sets a bad precedent for patent-squatters and tech development in U.S.

        Isn’t the ultimate goal of patents to share innovative ideas and get them into society’s common knowledge so society can benefit?

        Without patent laws, inventors have an incentive to obscure the inner workings of their inventions (or worse yet, never communicate to society his/her invention) so copy cats with more capital won’t take off with the idea before the inventor can make a profit.

        If the ultimate goal is to bring ideas to the market place, then it only makes sense to me that the patents need to be of limited duration. Certainly you need a couple years to turn your idea into something sellable, but 10 years or more seems way too long – especially if the patent isn’t being “worked” (to quote jb_personal). Unworked patents fly in the face of the spirit of patent laws.

        The patent office is often unable to tell good patents from bad. (Whether the cause is lack of research, lack of smarts, or lack of resources is irrelevant.) Perhaps the ugliness of patent squatters and frivolous/un-original patents would be lessened if 1. there was no such thing as a “business process” patent and 2. patents only lasted for, say, 5 years. Enough time to bring your idea to market but not so long that society at large doesn’t benefit from building upon your idea and bring competitive designs (and prices) to your invention.

    • #3085396

      Upgrading versions will be easier in Vista

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Windows wonk Ed Bott has a really nice run-down on how much easier it should be to upgrade versions in Windows Vista. According to Ed … Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium, and Windows Vista Ultimate will all be included on the same Windows Vista installation discs. To upgrade, home users will now be able to simply go to the Windows Anytime Upgrade applet in the Control Panel, purchase the upgrade (from a choice of retail and OEM vendors), download a new license, and then pop in the original media and upgrade the version of Vista. Ed’s description also includes a couple nice screenshots.

      This is one of those features that makes me think, “Wow, why didn’t someone think of this before?” Of course, in Windows XP, the only upgrade would have been from Home to Pro. With multiple versions of both Home and Pro in Vista, this type of thing is much more important. And yet, I still wonder whether all of these home versions will get confusing the average home user. I’d also like to see the potential to upgrade from Vista Home Basic to Vista Business — that could still be important for SOHO users and remote workers.

    • #3084401

      Are you working more hours than you did five years ago?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      This week’s TechRepublic poll asks whether IT pros are working more hours, less hours, or about the same number of hours as they were five years ago (you can log your response to the poll at the bottom of the TechRepublic front page, if you haven’t already responded).

      In my experience, a lot of IT pros seem to be working longer hours because their departments have been squeezed over the last several years due to cost-cutting. That has meant less staff members to do the same workload, and in other places the IT department’s workload has grown without increasing the staff.

      As a companion to this week’s poll, we’ve also started a discussion thread for TechRepublic members to discuss their workload increase or decrease over the past five years. So far, the majority have said they are working more. One of my favorite responses among the current posts came from amcol, who said “You can put a smile on your face or a dollar in your wallet, and it’s tough to do both at the same time. I’ll take the smile.”

      So are you working more or less than five years ago? Join the discussion.

    • #3084285

      What is the worst blunder you have made during your IT career?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Over the years, we’ve had a lot of fun in the TechRepublic forums talking about the blunders and silly things that end users do and say. Now, we’re turning the tables a bit and asking IT pros to tell about the worst blunder they have ever made in their IT work. This can include everything from config errors that took down critical systems to purchasing the wrong stuff.

      I’ll say this … almost all of the bad blunders that I’ve ever made have come when I’ve tried to attack a problem too quickly, rather than thinking through all of the steps and potential outcomes before embarking on any potential fix. This has resulted in BSODs on Windows boxes, stopping network daemons on UNIX servers in the middle of a business day, and crashing a critical Exchange mail server. Ahhhh the memories.

      Join the discussion and tell us your worst blunder.

      • #3267113

        What is the worst blunder you have made during your IT career?

        by mr. hardware ·

        In reply to What is the worst blunder you have made during your IT career?

        Ahhhhh, as you say rushing it is ALWAYS the problem. Here’s mine; this desktop had a blown HDD, it was due to upg the MB any way. So, new MB, new HDD, fire it up, windows loads corretly, everything else is well. When it come time to copy the old files to the new spare HDD . . . Wa? Windows doent see it. Tried reboot, checking boot.ini, everything you could think of. The moral . . . CHECK TO SEE IF YOU PLUGED THE POWER BACK TO THE HARDDRIVE, it will save you a hour-and-a-half! 😉

    • #3268432

      Latest screenshots of the new UI in Office 2007

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Today Microsoft released some new screenshots of the revamped UI for Microsoft Office 2007. I’ve put together an image gallery of the new screenshots and included some other recent Office 2007 images to provide a fuller look at what to expect. As mentioned before, this will be the most drastically redesigned interface in the history of the product. It has the potential to cause a lot of confusion among end users (and cause headaches for IT support), but it sure looks cool and power users will probably love the power and flexibility of the new UI.

      Office 2007 ui

    • #3266835

      Data shows that in 2005 IT employment surged back to 2001 levels

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      After absorbing heavy losses in 2002 and 2003, IT employment in the U.S. started picking back up in 2004 and the trend accelerated in the second half of 2005 to the point that the numbers finally exceeded the highs from 2001, according to the January 2006 report from the National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses (NACCB).

      Mark Roberts, CEO of NACCB, said, “In light of the downward pressure on IT employment following Y2K, the bursting of the Tech Bubble, the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2001 recession, I am heartened by the 2005 employment figures evidencing strong employment growth in IT”

      The NACCB recorded IT employment at 3,527,100 in 2001. By 2002 that number had sunk to 3,339,500 and it didn’t get much better in 2003. As the chart below shows, IT emploment got rolling again in 2004 and then in 2005 finally rebounded to the 2001 levels. 

       

      And the NACCB’s February 2006 numbers show that IT employment grew again in January, which has the trendline for 2006 looking strong.

    • #3268150

      Are cubicles evil?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      One of the most popular articles zipping around the Internet last week and being posted across various social networking sites was the FORTUNE Magazine piece “Cubicles: The great mistake,” which recounts the infamous history of the cubicle from its creation by Bob Probst, a researcher, in 1968 to its current loathing by many modern knowledge workers.

      The most interesting thing about the article is the story of Probst. In all reality, we probably shouldn’t blame him for the cubicle, because he later repented for his corporate sins. If Probst didn’t design the cubicle for the suits at the time, they would have found someone else to do it. What Probst quickly realized once his original design got shrunk down to size, was that companies were simply looking to squeeze as many workers as possible into a small space that could be easily reconfigured at any time (although cubicle layouts are rarely ever reconfigured). Any naive notions of employee productivity and a pleasing work environment were trumped by the bottom line that cubicles save companies a LOT of money. (And that’s why they probably won’t go away any time soon either.)  

      Interestingly, Probst’s original design, called the “Action Office,” was pretty altruistic. It was meant to give workers more counter space to spread out their work and be able to look at it holistically. It was also aimed at having different levels of counters, including some where employees could occasionally stand up and work to promote better blood flow and overall physical health. However, the cubicle was eventually shrunk down to size and deployed in large numbers throughout Corporate America. Probst later lamented the rapid spread of the cubicle, referring to it as “monolithic insanity.”

      Nevertheless, its spread continues. There will be over $3 billion worth of cubicles sold this year, continuing the reign of cubes as the leader of the office furniture market.

      So what’s the good and bad of cubes? Here’s my quick rundown:

      The GOOD:

      • Cheap
      • Inexpensive
      • Low cost
      • Did I mention that they cost less than offices?
      • They promote collaboration and interaction among teams
      • Managers can monitor workers more easily

      The BAD:

      • Confidentially issues can come into play for sensitive documents and phone calls
      • Productivity can suffer when workers distract each other
      • Workers sometimes feel more paranoid and self-conscious

      What do you think about cubicles? Does your organization use them? Do you think technology is easier or more difficult to support in cubicles? 

      By the way, I wrote this from a temporary cubicle that I occupy when I travel to the CNET Networks office in Louisville.

      • #3267324

        Are cubicals evil?

        by justin fielding ·

        In reply to Are cubicles evil?

        Yuck!  We don’t have cubicles here in the UK (or not within any company I have worked for in the past)–we tend to favor a more ‘open plan’ office.

      • #3267126

        Are cubicals evil?

        by gsg ·

        In reply to Are cubicles evil?

        Cubicles can be a good alternative in some cases.  For example, we were very limited in the amount of office space we had, and so, took over 1 large room to house 4 of us on one tem in 4 cubes.  They never bought the cubes, and moved others in on us, so we had 9 people housed in a space meant for 4 people.  It was all open desks.  Needless to say, I got my giant 21″ monitors (pre-flat panel) on the desks, and set up my testing workstations around me, until I had built a fort.  I then booby-trapped the entrance to my fort with “Franken-PC”, a cobbled together PC without a case.  They were scared of Franken-PC and left me alone.

        They are bad when they are used as an excuse to save money.  When I have to be on an hour-long call, it’s impossible to hold a handset that long while typing and taking notes.  Headsets don’t work that well either.  I’m very thankful for my little 8×10 office complete with ceiling and closed door.

      • #3267110

        Are cubicals evil?

        by wayne m. ·

        In reply to Are cubicles evil?

        Worst of Both Worlds

        In my experience, cubicals do not provide more flexibility than drywall configurations and do not provide the communications of more open environments.

        Cubicals still require power, telephone, and network connections which add greatly to the cost of establishing them and the current versions with built-in desk and storage space thwart user efforts to modify the configurations.  Cubicals do not tend to be any less permanent than drywall and I wonder whether it is really less expensive to buy the components than to put up (metal) studs and a wall.  One caveat, real walls require building permits and may require bringing an entire suite of office space up to current standards.

        In terms of collaboration, cubicals inhibit communications almost as much as complete offices.  The communication level, for better or worse, is far below what occurs in an open lab or bull pen environment.

         

      • #3266159

        Are cubicals evil?

        by dc guy ·

        In reply to Are cubicles evil?

        It’s spelled “cubicle,” as in “tiny cube,” which is exactly what it means, more literally with every passing year. “Cubical” is a shape, like cylindrical, and it’s only valid as an adjective. There, now that we’ve got that straightened out…

        If corporations were really serious about saving money on office space, the answer is obvious: telecommuting. I can’t remember the last time I did something at the office that I couldn’t have done just as well, or better, at home. I’d estimate that 90 percent of the U.S. workforce is in the same position, and more like 99.9 percent of the people who read TR.

        The cost of the real estate for these huge office buildings, the infrastructure, the utilities, the cafeteria, the parking, the insurance, the security, look at the fortune they could save. Just keep a small place for the computer hardware and save a fortune. They could equip each of our home offices with a webcam, a workstation, a second computer for video, and a third for a virtual whiteboard, and at a fraction of the cost of a cubicle we’d be perfectly equipped for even the most important meetings.

        Who’d complain? No two-hour commutes, no million-dollar mortgage so you can live close to the office, no urban sprawl, no gridlock, no three SUVs in every garage, no $500 monthly gasoline budget.

        Of course the dinosaur managers would complain. Their walnut-sized brains can’t handle the concept of learning how to supervise people they can’t physically spy on. Managing results instead of attendance, what a revolutionary idea.

        Yes, a few of you really need to “go to work” to get your jobs done right. I did say that only 99.9 percent of us could telecommute. Some people need to get their hands on the hardware. And if you’re a psychotherapist or a diplomat, you need to be able to read facial expressions and body language more accurately than you can do on video.

        The rest of us can work at home in a cubicle-free environment.

        And don’t tell me that your subordinates would goof off. If you’re a good manager you’ll know. And don’t tell me you’ll goof off. How much time do you spend goofing off already?

      • #3266080

        Are cubicals evil?

        by narg ·

        In reply to Are cubicles evil?

        It’s all a matter of tastes…

        Some prefer, even require privacy.  Other’s don’t, desiring open spaces in order to let ideas and interaction flow with others.  It’s all just a matter of space, and not much else.  Whether your area is abundant in space, or highly limited is the real issue.  If you like walls, then a cubicle is not that bad of a proposition, as long as there is space enough there to allow for freedom of movement and area enough to expand on work if needed.  Same goes for open offices, if the desk area still rammed up together, then the workers will still have the same feeling of not enough space to get the job done and done well.

      • #3074170

        Are cubicals evil?

        by it cowgirl ·

        In reply to Are cubicles evil?

        Yes we have cubicle land at every office in North America.

        OK, I have no cubicle manners. My Team Lead and the rest of my team are “behind” my cubicle, therefore I am not facing them. So I just hollar over all the cubes to them when I am asking a quick question…or five.Or for running jokes and witty comments. I cannot hear well on the phone so it is turned up loud (on speaker) and I guess I speak really loud to the phone callers because of my hearing loss.

        So it makes it difficult for everyone around me to work. But you would think that a team could be “housed” together better.

      • #3075244

        Are cubicals evil?

        by apapaleo9 ·

        In reply to Are cubicles evil?

        “Cubicals” may be perfectly OK. “Cubicles” as far as I can tell everywhere I have been or to colleagues here in the U.S. are a terrible blight upon the working landscape.

      • #3075212

        Are cubicles evil?

        by jasonhiner ·

        In reply to Are cubicles evil?

        DC Guy and apapaleo:

        You’re absolutely right. It should be “cubicle” and not “cubical.” How embarassing. The worst part is that I used “cubicle” throughout most of the post but threw out “cubical” a couple times at the end and of course used that mis-spelling in the title. It’s fixed now.

        Thanks, Jason

      • #3076176

        Are cubicles evil?

        by computer geek ·

        In reply to Are cubicles evil?

        I’ve worked for a company where the cube was actually fairly nice.  Plenty of space, storage and room.  It was about 7×7.  I’ve since switched jobs and now have a confining 4×4, with little storage, countertop space and no privacy.  I can hear everyone else’s conversations as well.  But what are you going to do?  The cubicle is here to stay since corporate America (and perhaps other countries) value the dollar more than people.  Anyone who wishes to challenge that I ask them when the last time at a Board of Director’s meeting the shareholders asked the CEO/CIO “But are the workers happy?”.

      • #3074578

        Are cubicles evil?

        by jasonhiner ·

        In reply to Are cubicles evil?

        Computer Geek — You’re certainly right about the “Are the workers happy?” question. It doesn’t get asked enough. I’ve worked in environments where moral was abysmal and in environments where everyone was pretty happy and excited, and there’s no doubt that there was a lot more work getting done (and better work) in the latter.

        This is one area where I think cost is calculated much too hastily. That doesn’t mean that every office should get rid of cubes and go to offices or an open concept, but a lot more thinking should go into work environment beyond just the issue of building costs, because the environment has a major impact on productivity.

        Jason

      • #3152997

        Are cubicles evil?

        by marketing ·

        In reply to Are cubicles evil?

        Cubicles are perfect for a growing business and entrepreneurial startups.  A open area workstation atmosphere supports a high density workforce population while offering privacy, large work surfaces and individual work areas.  As the office environment need changes the work space can be reconfigured to accommodate an increase in personnel and changes in work tasks and equipment.  Cubicles can be reconfigured much more economically than walled spaces.  At the office furniture company I work for most employees opt for cubicles rather than deskssets.  I had my choice of any set in the warehouse and I chose a cubicle because of it’s work surface area and functionality.  I have glass panels on one side and it creates a great sound barrier from the open environment IT area.

         

        On the lighter side, the first commercial cubicle installation was in 1969 — the #1 song was ?Aquarius: Let the Sunshine In,? Neil Armstrong (Apollo 11) walked on the Moon, Joe Namath and the Jets gave the American League it?s first Super Bowl win, 400,000 people went to a little dairy farm in Bethel, N.Y. for the Woodstock Festival, John Lennon announced he was leaving the Beatles, Camille hit the Gulf Coast, Samuel Beckett won the Nobel Prize and  Richard Nixon was President.

         

        Yes, the modular workstation that millions work in each day (and immortalized by Dilbert) was invented by Bob Propst during the height of the hippie — let freedom ring era). 

         

        Also, many employers choose cubicles because it promotes productivity and lessens personal phone calls and inhibits sleeping at one’s desk which is humorous because the word “cubicle” comes from the Latin word ” “cubiculum” for bed chamber.

    • #3267074

      Windows Vista — Do I really need this much security?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      If you ask Microsoft executives why consumers or companies should upgrade to Windows Vista, the answer they’ve recently been talking about is “security.” The head honcho of Windows, Jim Allchin, said, “Safety and security is the overriding feature that most people will want to have Windows Vista for.”

      Of course, the public perception of Windows security is still not very great among most IT pros and end users. But if we put that perception aside and take a look at Windows Vista, there are some impressive developments on the security front. In the testing that I’ve been doing with Vista over the past six months, it has become abundantly clear that Windows security has been re-engineered in Vista and several important security features have been added.

      The two most prominent security additions are Network Access Protection (NAP) and User Account Protection (UAP). NAP will keep systems and devices with inferior security configurations from joining the network (and potentially infecting healthy machines) until they meet minimum security requirements. Until that time the machines are quarantined into a restricted VLAN.

      UAP (which was originally called LUA – least-privileged user account) will finally allow administrators to stop giving end users local admin privileges on their PCs. With UAP, admins can grant privileges on a more granular level and so most activities can be performed with minimal privileges, thus limiting the access that rogue malware can perform in most cases.

      In general, Vista is a lot more inflexible about letting programs launch in the background, perform covert system changes, and interact with system-changing operations. That provides a lot proactive protection against spyware, malware, adware, viruses, worms, and the like. Naturally, there’s a trade-off in usability. For example, when launching many of the applets from the Control Panel users will now get the following message each time:

      Vista dialog box

      The user has to hit “Allow” in order to open this tool. When end users see messages like this (and they will likely end up seeing a lot of them), then they will probably ask their IT departments why they keep getting these messages. The IT department will respond that this is an important part of the increased security in Windows Vista. I think a lot of users will then ask, “Do I need this much security?”  

      The answer is that they certainly do need this much security in order to pre-empt other potential security issues. Nevertheless, this much security comes with a price in usability. In fact, any time you increase security it almost always comes with a price in usability.

      While most IT professionals will gladly welcome these major security improvements in Vista, they will also need to adequately prepare their staff and their end users for some necessary drawbacks in usability.

      • #3266164

        Windows Vista — Do I really need this much security?

        by apotheon ·

        In reply to Windows Vista — Do I really need this much security?

        The problem is that you’re not getting as much added security with Vista as Microsoft would have you think. Microsoft is addressing security issues in Windows the same way it always has: it adds security “features” rather than addressing an unsecured architecture. It’s like slapping a bandaid on a plague sore. Sure, it covers up the sore, but it doesn’t address the disease that caused it.

        UAP is a prime example of the problem. Sure, more granular control over privileges helps a little. It doesn’t help enough, though. What really needs to happen is not allowing a piecemeal approach to granting administrative privileges under specialized circumstances while denying them elsewhere — instead, Windows needs to truly learn from the unix example, and separate user functionality from administrative access entirely, so that the only tasks that require any kind of increased privileges at all are the tasks that only administrative users should be performing.

        No user application should ever, under any circumstances, require the administrative user account to perform day to day tasks. Period. It’s a lesson the Windows guys still haven’t learned.

      • #3266079

        Windows Vista — Do I really need this much security?

        by narg ·

        In reply to Windows Vista — Do I really need this much security?

        And I was concerned I was the only one who thought this was annoying.  I’d like to see an option during installation of whether to give the user little access or everything.  Haven’t seen that yet, but doubt I will.

      • #3266053

        Windows Vista — Do I really need this much security?

        by sheng.long9 ·

        In reply to Windows Vista — Do I really need this much security?

        Read the top of that window, then rework it to get the truth…

        [You need Windows’ permission to use this program]

        Windows XP Service Pack 2 had a similar, but lot less snazzy, window pop-up whenever you accessed the Internet with anything, except if it was Microsoft’s own software.
        This is even worse…
        It’s Windows saying “I’m sorry, but I’m so secure that I can’t even let you check my desktop settings without warning you of a non-existent threat that my own software could be to me.”

        Probably, by RC1, Any time Microsoft certified applications are run, Vista will allow automatically if they have the correct CRC and source. Anything else will be warned, whether it be a new browser or that MMORPG that everyone is using…
        Vista will need you to click that box so often you’ll probably cancel it at just the wrong moment, and suddenly you’ve locked out a third-party application you didn’t mean to…

      • #3077096

        Windows Vista — Do I really need this much security?

        by pompchas1 ·

        In reply to Windows Vista — Do I really need this much security?

        Insert comment text here
        Why Upgrade to Windowa Vista. if your carefull with outside intrusion
        as “email” have a respecetable firewall and untilities that can test
        the worth of your hardware already and defend against outside interference. Why
        not make vista an upgrade instead of a replacement for Window?? Is this
        another way to create a market that is already sold on XP?

      • #3076572

        Windows Vista — Do I really need this much security?

        by forbes ·

        In reply to Windows Vista — Do I really need this much security?

        When are they going to address the real issue that most of the various industries have developers that don’t have time, nor do they want to devote the R & D money to implementing all of the new install pieces, and security rules to allow all of this stuff to be implemented.  With the public school I help support and with several of our vendors they don’t have the developement staff nor do they want to increase it enough to make this a high priority.  The average management answer is enable the best security possible as long as all the applications needed to do day to day business works. We always fight with this.  Most shops don’t have the resources to create special security for the various things so the go for the lowest common security setting that makes all the applications work and go for it. Usually the more you try to do custom security settings the more reliability issues you get into.  Making the OS more secure is a start, but it is a long way from getting the solution standard across the board.

    • #3266358

      Put your color printer to good use with this super-cool optical illusion

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      How many of you have a color laser printer at work or a color inkjet at home, but rarely ever print anything in color? Yeah, me too. But last weekend I found a great use for a color printer when I discovered this optical illusion dragon. Check out this video clip to see what the illusion looks like, and then download a PDF dragon of your own to print and try out the illusion. Don’t forget to close one eye and move slowly back and forth at first. Once you catch the illusion, you can move a little faster and try different angles. You’ll look like a dork while you doing this, but I’m willing to bet that you’ll be amazed at the coolness of this optical illusion. Have fun.

    • #3076975

      It’s unofficially official: Vista will launch in November

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      This past Monday, March 13, Microsoft’s Greg Randall made a general post in The Official Microsoft Connections Blog about Windows Vista and its new features. In that post, Randall reiterated the party line that Vista would be released in the “second half of this year.” However, the next day another member of the Microsoft Connections Blog posted “This is the year – the year that Microsoft releases the newest version of Windows. Yes, Vista will be released in November of this year.”

      That was a bit of a surprise. Nearly everyone expected that Vista would be released before the holidays. However, rumors and estimates have varied wildly from late summer to October for the official launch. With the product apparently progessing well based on the beta releases that I’ve seen, I’m a little surprised that Microsoft is waiting until November. Nevertheless, there you have it.

    • #3074219

      Do IT pros need to dress better?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      There was a very interesting opinion piece from Otto Stern in The Register last fall called “CEOs should follow NBA and make geeks wear real clothes” (referring to the new dress code in the National Basketball Association that was put in place at the time). The subtitle to Otto’s piece was “Put your pants on, coders! Grow up!” That sums up the general tone and thesis of the article.

      Otto also says, “For too many years, geeks have been abusing their roots as antisocial miscreants who could do things normal people couldn’t do. Companies needed computer work done and would tolerate these freaks roaming around data centers. Do not poke the geek because he may ruin you if make him angry. Today, guys like Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy and that loser Tim O’Reilly still embrace this mentality. They’re businessmen of the highest caliber and run around in jeans and sweaters. This makes people way down on the totem pole think that sandals, torn jeans and KISS T-shirts will suffice as proper work attire.”

      Predictably, Otto’s diatribe drew a lot of responses from IT professionals, and he printed many of them in a follow-up article 10 days later. One reader talked about an IT colleague who reflected poorly on himself and the company by wearing cargo pants and food-stained shirts to meetings with customers. Other readers ripped Otto as being over-the-top and way too straight-laced.

      I think Otto made some important points, but the guy did go off the deep end a bit. In my last job, I worked at a health care practice in which I regularly met with business partners and was seen by customers (patients) in the hallways of the office. As a result, I was required to wear a shirt and tie every day. At that job I quickly realized that people take you a lot seriously when you are dressed in business attire. I work in a much more casual atmosphere now and so I haven’t worn a tie in several years. But old habits die hard and so I still tend to wear khakis and collared shirts (business casual attire). I just think that if you want others to take you seriously then you have to take yourself seriously.

      That being said, I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone in IT to wear business casual attire. For techies like software developers, who sit in their cubicles for most of the day, and held desk techs, who spend a lot of their time on the phone, there certainly isn’t any benefit to the business to have them dress in business casual attire. And, in fact, a strict dress code could turn away some talented IT pros who don’t want to work at a place where they have to spend money to buy extra clothes. However, for IT pros that interface with customers, for managers, and for consultants, I would highly recommend adopting business casual attire.

      A new TechRepublic poll (which will run March 20-26) asks whether IT pros need to dress better and there’s a companion discussion thread on this topic as well. Jump in the discussion and add your opinion.

      • #3074206

        Do IT pros need to dress better?

        by p_piluk ·

        In reply to Do IT pros need to dress better?

        It depends on what your function is. If you are meeting clients then you must look respectable. If you are hidden all day writing code than you can be more casual. However, it is never acceptable to wear dirty, food stained clothes…Have some respect for yourself, if not for your colleagues.

      • #3074168

        Do IT pros need to dress better?

        by it cowgirl ·

        In reply to Do IT pros need to dress better?

        I do not see much value in dressing in nice clothes, suit, or a skirt to crawl under the desk, carry and move dirty equipment, trace and run cables under the floor in the data center or a client’s ceiling location, crawling around moving cabling from one 13 blade switch to a new 13 blade switch, or squat down to check power source connections on Network racks. Therefore, the type of job also dictates that it makes more sense to wear jeans and a casual shirt. I have specific work only clothes that get more beat up than any “play” clothes I wear. I have jeans and t-shirts over 15 years old not dirty or worn out. But my work clothes begin to wear and are stained from work and quick “shove food in your mouth 5 minute” lunch within two weeks. I need to replace thwm withing 3-6 months because I have worn holes and have rips from the work.  I would not mind if work paid a clothes allowance for replacing the business attire they make us wear to perform these jobs.

      • #3076579

        Do IT pros need to dress better?

        by alvarito_uy ·

        In reply to Do IT pros need to dress better?

        Hi there! Ithink it’s not necesary at all to wear ties, white skirts and all that stuff all the time; eventhough, by no means misalignment, dirt o ragged clothes should be acceptable too. If we all wear slightly casual, with clean and simple clothes, we will reflect simple, clean minds; sometimes, excessive clothing, expensive ties, and that kind of things (taken to extremes, of course) tend to show not-so-simple not-so-clear minds (if you need to ‘produce’ that much your clothing, you surely need to ‘produce’ that much your mind too: something to hide?);  At least, it’s better to show us as normal people, take the other’s one perspective and do what we know as good as we know it has to be done…. and that doesn’t rely on clothes, but on your knowledge, intelligence and kindnes: dress just enough to show respect, and look as respetable as trustfull.And, if the meeting wooth it.. don’t forget your (simple) tie.

        Cheers, Alvin.

      • #3076541

        Do IT pros need to dress better?

        by alvarito_uy ·

        In reply to Do IT pros need to dress better?

        Hi there! Ithink it’s not necesary at all to wear ties, white skirts and all that stuff all the time; eventhough, by no means misalignment, dirt o ragged clothes should be acceptable too. If we all wear slightly casual, with clean and simple clothes, we will reflect simple, clean minds; sometimes, excessive clothing, expensive ties, and that kind of things (taken to extremes, of course) tend to show not-so-simple not-so-clear minds (if you need to ‘produce’ that much your clothing, you surely need to ‘produce’ that much your mind too: something to hide?);  At least, it’s better to show us as normal people, take the other’s one perspective and do what we know as good as we know it has to be done…. and that doesn’t rely on clothes, but on your knowledge, intelligence and kindnes: dress just enough to show respect, and look as respetable as trustfull.And, if the meeting wooth it.. don’t forget your (simple) tie.

        Cheers, Alvin.

      • #3076272

        Do IT pros need to dress better?

        by wayne m. ·

        In reply to Do IT pros need to dress better?

        I disagree with the asseretion that software developers and help desk techs do not need to interact with users.  This is what leads to the poor reputation and results provided by these groups.

        User interaction is simply the most efficient and effective way for the software developer to gain understanding of the needs of the software to be built.  Software developers need to be prepared to meet with users at any time and not have to be hidden away behind closed doors.  It is this avoidance of direct communications that leads to major flaws in software and cries of arrogance by users.

        Help desk staff have been put in a similar position by “centralization.”  Rather than having the go-to guy sitting a few offices away, we have disembodied voices that can only be dragged out of the catacombs through continued pleading.  Is it any wonder that most users end up doing their own maintenance work and ignore the “advice” coming from faceless e-mails?

        Software developers and help desk staff need high levels of user interaction to be effective and respected.  To do so, they must also dress the part.

      • #3076933

        Do IT pros need to dress better?

        by dc guy ·

        In reply to Do IT pros need to dress better?

        Fashion is temporal, that’s why we call it that. Intelligent, goal-oriented people should not be distracted by it. Office attire should not be dirty (you can rinse those lunch stains out pretty well in the bathroom while they’re fresh), offensive (would you wear that t-shirt with the quotation from Eminem to meet your new boy/girlfriend’s grandma), prurient (please let me just imagine what your anatomy looks like), or disrespectful (is this job interfering with your surfing lessons). Other than that, be comfortable and don’t deliberately try to distract us with your clothes.

        If your job involves face-to-face selling, other customer contact, or trying to influence people, well then you just have to play psychology, don’t you? If you can convince them that your product is better because you wear a nicer suit, then wear the frelling suit and have a laugh over what an easy mark they are. If your boss will give you a promotion because you wear fewer earrings than anybody else who applied, just consider that one of life’s really bizarre little tests and congratulate yourself for being clever and adaptable enough to pass it.

      • #3075617

        Do IT pros need to dress better?

        by jasonhiner ·

        In reply to Do IT pros need to dress better?

        Wayne M — You make some great points about software developers and help desk pros interacting with users, and I’m glad you brought this up. In the discussion thread on the site, JAMES.MACAULAY posted that end users are the customers for tech support. I think that’s a great way to think about it for IT departments to truly view themselves like a service organization (rather than playing God, protecting their territory, or just trying to justify their existence — those are the kinds of things that bad IT departments do). In that sense, it is certainly logical that just about everyone in IT should think about professionalism when it comes to how they dress.

        Jason

      • #3075614

        Do IT pros need to dress better?

        by jasonhiner ·

        In reply to Do IT pros need to dress better?

        DC Guy — So are you arguing both sides? Or are you just agreeing with me? I think it might be the latter. I will say this: fashion is definitely temporal, but business attire — button-up shirt, jacket, tie (sometimes), and slacks — have remained the business standard for quite a long time and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. The cut of the clothes and the colors will vary a bit over time, but I think one of the reasons that business attire has become a bit of a de facto uniform for conducting business is so that psychologically we know who is playing in the same game. Once we have that down, then we are free to ignore the particulars and pay attention to the stuff that really matters — the work.

        Jason

    • #3076498

      Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      My colleague George Ou recently wrote that the U.S. banking system needs to abandon its Shared Public Key system (PIN numbers known by both the bank and its members) and adopt a Public Key Cryptography (PKC) system in its place. By using smart cards with PKC’s combination of Public and Private Keys, George argues that banks could make security much stronger and easier to administer in case of theft (a bank could simply revoke the certificate on a stolen smart card to render it useless).

      As George points out, Europe is quickly moving to smart cards (and Asia is on the way too). Is it time for the U.S. to follow? I think it will probably take strong demand from consumers or a crisis to light a fire under the banking industry. Maybe the recent theft of PIN numbers will be the catalyst, but I think it will still take an outcry from consumers. So if you want smart cards sooner than later, let your bank’s customer service department know about it.

      By the way, in his article George also mentions the possibility that smart cards could potentially become an all-in-one card with your ATM, credit card, and other access data all centralized in one uber-smart card. While I am fascinated by the ease of use that would create, I also must admit that I am scared to death of having all my private data and financial access info centralized, unless there was a strong biometric authentication component tied in as well. And even then, the paranoid side of me would have its hackles up. Am I too skeptical?

      Read George’s blog post and join the TechRepublic discussion on this issue.

      • #3076491

        Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        by georgeou ·

        In reply to Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        I?m not suggesting that private data be put on to this card.  It just acts as a universal cryptographic token that allows access to multiple applications.  It is extremely strong authentication technology (the best) and it?s extremely manageable.  You wouldn?t put any secret information on here unless it was encrypted for your particular hospital or choice of hospitals and health organizations.

      • #3076457

        Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        by jasonhiner ·

        In reply to Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        OK, I’m all for smart cards as a “universal cryptographic token.” In fact, that’s long overdue. I’m going to request a move to smart cards from the banks that I do business with. Actually, one of my cards (American Express Blue) already has a smart card chip built in, but it doesn’t really do much yet.

      • #3076285

        Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        by wayne m. ·

        In reply to Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        It was my understanding that the purpose of the PIN was to handle the case of a stolen card.  The problem arose, however, when the card no longer needed to be physically presented.  I see this would be true of smart cards as well.

        As I rely on PIN number-free credit cards for most of my purchases, I guess I never really saw the value of the PIN number on debit cards.  I guess it mainly arose due to the transfer of risk from the card issuer (for credit cards) to the card holder (for debit cards).

        I am not sure that the added expense of a smart card really provides benefit.  In fact, the “super card” proposed by Mr. Ou, would seem to open the door for electronically stealing information and probably provide a greater risk than he attempts to resolve.

      • #3076163

        Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        by georgeou ·

        In reply to Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        The PIN on the ATM is not entered in to the ATM card itself, it?s given to the retailer who are often careless with it.  ATM cards can be replicated secretly either by any sloppy retailer or malicious fake ATM machine.  Smartcards cannot easily be replicated and the pin-on-pad is only done to activate the smartcard and never given to the retailer.

      • #3076160

        Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        by georgeou ·

        In reply to Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        ?I am not sure that the added expense of a smart card really provides benefit.  In fact, the “super card” proposed by Mr. Ou, would seem to open the door for electronically stealing information and probably provide a greater risk than he attempts to resolve.?

        And here, I?m sorry to say that you?re just being plain ignorant of what a smartcard is or what I?m talking about.

      • #3075941

        Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        by dasec ·

        In reply to Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        I fully support George Ou. Having used Public Key Technology since 1997 and Smart Cards since about 1998, it is the solution of the future for ATM’s. The Bank that I am semi-retired from is migrating its ATM’s from OS2 to Windows XP. With our own PKI and software to use public key certificates, we are perfectly positioned to roll out smart cards to our customers.  

      • #3075613

        Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        by jasonhiner ·

        In reply to Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        Dasec — Do you mind saying whether the bank you’re talking about is based in the U.S.? If so, then I know whether to start getting my hopes up about whether smart cards are truly moving toward a reality on this side of the pond. 🙂

        Jason

      • #3100142

        Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        by imcleod ·

        In reply to Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        The U.S currently have no mandate to migrate to smart cards (which Europe has). Most of the rest of the world is also committed. Those smart cards that are embedded in your U.S. issued card is nothing more than an empty marketing guesture.

        An interesting aspect is Canada and Latin America are currently migrating to smart cards. This bring an interesting scenario to the U.S – fraud migration. For example, smart cards have reduced fraud in the UK by a massive percentage . It has been shown that upon adopting of this technology, criminals migrate across borders into coutnries that have not yet adopted smart cards. I expected this as the main reason that the U.S will eventally migrate. 

        Smart cards have the benefit of storing multiple applications, such as a credit, debit, loyality points, etc

        I like the idea of having a pin pad on the card but it will be expensive to implement and currently the technology may be too ackward for the end user & physical plastic.

      • #3265265

        Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        by jasonhiner ·

        In reply to Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        imcleod — That’s very interesting (both encouraging and disturbing) that some criminals are migrating away from countries that have adopted smart cards. As you said, this will hopefully motivate U.S. banks to make the move to smart cards. I still think U.S. consumers should turn up the pressure on their banks. That can only help.

        Jason

      • #3265093

        Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        by quarlesailor ·

        In reply to Is it time for U.S banks to adopt smart cards?

        For those that had questions about what is a smart card:
        http://java.sun.com/products/javacard/smartcards.html
        http://www.smartcardalliance.org/

    • #3076222

      Dell Latitude X1 packs portability and power into a very likable notebook

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Photo Gallery of Dell Latitude X1

      Latitude x1

      The Job

      I use laptops every day for both business and personal computing (usually separate laptops) and I regularly test various notebooks and mobile devices for TechRepublic to assess their business usefulness. The general requirements that I look for are speed (in its various forms), portability, and ease of use.

      I have recently been testing the Dell Latitude X1 as a machine that a business user or knowledge worker would typically use for everyday tasks. I assumed use of Windows XP, Microsoft Office applications, a Web browser, business e-mail, and a line-of-business application or two. I also assumed occasional use of wireless networking.

      The Tool

      Introduced during the first half of 2005, the Latitude X1 is quite different from most of the other Dell laptops that you see running around ? both the consumer-oriented Inspiron line and the other products in the business-class Latitude line. That’s because the little secret about the X1 is that it wasn’t originally engineered by Dell. It is based on the Samsung Q30. Dell partnered with Samsung to offer a U.S.version of this sleek laptop at a very competitive price. As you can see in the picture below, the Latitude X1 has lot more style than most Dell laptops:

      The Latitude X1 that I have been using has the following specs:

      • 2.5 lbs and 1 inch thick
      • 1.1 GHz Intel Pentium M (Centrino)
      • 512 MB of DDR2 SDRAM
      • 12.1 inch WXGA wide aspect display (1280×768 resolution)
      • Integrated video based on the Intel 915GM/GMS, 910GML Express Chipset (up to 128 MB of shared memory for video)
      • 60 GB Toshiba hard drive
      • Integrated Broadcom Xtreme 57xx Gigabit Ethernet port
      • Integrated Intel PRO Wireless 2200 B/G adapter
      • Integrated Conexant Modem
      • External CD-RW/DVD combo drive with D/Bay connector
      • 2 USB 2.0 ports (one intended for Dell D/Bay)
      • 1 Firewire/IEEE 1394 port
      • 1 Secure Digital (SD) memory card slot
      • 1 CompactFlash (CF) card slot
      • Integrated Dell Wireless 350 Bluetooth Module

      The Right Tool for the Right Job?

      I quickly took a liking to the X1. It is very intuitively designed and extremely usable for business tasks. There are no nagging features or components that are inconveniently or illogically placed, so it is really good at staying out of your way and letting you get your work done. It is highly portable but still powerful enough to quickly handle Web browsing, mail, and Microsoft Office. In fact, it was a lot faster than I expected for a 1.1 GHz notebook. I even did a little bit of work with photos and video files and didn’t have any complaints about performance. This is clearly a well-engineered machine.

      Naturally, it’s not perfect. Its portability doesn’t sacrifice much in power, but it does sacrifice battery life. This is not a laptop that you can use on battery all day. The standard battery will only give you about 3 hours of life. The optional extended battery doubles that to 6 hours. Also, when you go to battery power the vibrant display goes very dim. Another thing I didn’t like was the touch pad. I’m not a big fan of touch pads anyway, but the one on the X1 is not very responsive. You have to really apply pressure to make it move. And there is no finger joystick mouse as an alternative. All in all, that didn’t bother me too much because I typically use a wireless notebook mouse when I’m working on a laptop, but it may be important to some users. Nevertheless, for most business users and knowledge workers, I would highly recommend the Latitude X1. At a price tag between about $1300 and $2200 (depending on the current Dell discount), it is an outstanding bargain for a powerful and highly portable laptop, and is extremely competitive with other ultra-portable notebooks in its class.

      There’s one other thing about the X1 ? it has a lot more “Wow!” appeal than the average Dell laptop. While using the X1, I have had at least five or six people go, “Ooooohhh, what laptop is that?” I’ve never had the reaction to a Dell before. A couple more people approached me to ask the price of the X1 because they were in the market for a new laptop. They naturally asked whether I would recommend it, and after asking what they were looking for, in both cases I did end up recommending the X1.  

      Here’s my list of kudos and caveats to help you figure out if the X1 could make sense for you or your users:

      Kudos

      • Extremely portable
      • Plenty of power for business tasks
      • Well-designed for usability
      • Solid graphics and display
      • Integrated Intel Wireless adapter with a strong antenna
      • Integrated Gigabit Ethernet
      • Integrated SD and CF card slots
      • Plenty of “Wow!” factor

      Caveats

      • Short battery life
      • Unimpressive touch pad
      • No PC Card slot
      • Mediocre speaker quality
      • RAM is only expandable to 768 MB
      • External disc drive
      • Only two USB ports

      Don’t miss our photo gallery of the Dell Latitude X1.


      Write your own review

      If you’ve found the perfect tool for the job, we want to hear about it. Send us an e-mail describing the product and the job you’re using it for. If we feature the product in The Right Tool for the Job? blog, you’ll earn a little cash and be featured across the TechRepublic Web site and in our newsletters.

       

      • #3076749

        Dell Latitude X1 packs portability and power into a very likable notebook

        by lweight ·

        In reply to Dell Latitude X1 packs portability and power into a very likable notebook

        Insert comment text here DON’T

      • #3100380

        Dell Latitude X1 packs portability and power into a very likable notebook

        by stevef199 ·

        In reply to Dell Latitude X1 packs portability and power into a very likable notebook

        However , the Dell Precision laptop is the most powerful laptop. I typically use my laptop for demonstrations of development and GIS work, and typically have ArcGIS, SQL Server and Visual Studio.NET installed. Given the screen resolution, processing power, memory requirements and hard disk thoroughput (in that order) needed by my applications, the Dell Precision is the only laptop I can ever recommend for the power power-user.

      • #3265296

        Dell Latitude X1 packs portability and power into a very likable notebook

        by jasonhiner ·

        In reply to Dell Latitude X1 packs portability and power into a very likable notebook

        stevef199 — I haven’t had any experiences with the Dell Precision notebooks, but I just looked up the Dell Precision M70 Mobile Workstation on Dell’s site and it looks as powerful as you mentioned. Maybe that will be the next laptop that I review, with the power user in mind (CAD, engineering, advanced photo and video editing, etc.). Of course, I still stand by the X1 is a terrific solution for the average business user. Thanks again for the recommendation and look for some future coverage of the Precision.

        Jason

    • #3076016

      Surprise! Vista delayed until 2007 … Here is my take

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      On Friday, I posted that Windows Vista was unofficially set to ship in November. I was right. What I didn’t realize was that businesses were the only ones that would be getting it in Q4.

      At 5:30 PM EST this afternoon (March 21), Microsoft Windows chief Jim Allchin dropped a bomshell in a conference call with the press. He announced that Microsoft would release a wider public beta of Vista in Q2 (no surprise there), would release Vista to businesses with volume licensing contracts in November (yeah, okay), and would then release Vista to consumers in January 2007 (uh oh!).

      To address the Vista delay, Allchin explained, “Product quality and a great out-of-box experience have been two of our key drivers for Windows Vista, and we are on track to deliver on both. But the industry requires greater lead time to deliver Windows Vista on new PCs during holiday. We must optimize for the industry, so we?ve decided to separate business and consumer availability.”

      I’m generally a Jim Allchin fan, but that statement rubbed me the wrong way. So all of the sudden Microsoft wants us to believe that “Oops, it takes a little longer for PC makers to prepare for a new OS than we realized.” Give me a break. Microsoft has been delivering Windows operating systems for two decades. They know exactly how long it takes for computer manufacturers to prep a new OS. The truth is that Microsoft simply isn’t going to have Vista ready to release by the deadlines that they needed to hit. So just come out and say it and save the PR department the valuable time they wasted on that lame spin.

      I can handle the truth — especially in this case because the truth is that Allchin is deadly serious about getting Vista right and not releasing it prematurely. Last year I heard live from Allchin’s own lips that he unequivocally would NOT release Vista until it is ready (and have no doubt that Allchin is the one who makes the final call on that). The thing to realize is that Jim Allchin is retiring after Vista is released. This is his last hurrah and the final piece of his legacy in the software business. So, in that sense, he is a little more beholden to his customers than he is to his boss. No one wants Windows to overcome its reputation of being buggy and insecure more than Allchin and he knows that Vista offers a narrow window of opportunity for changing those perceptions.

      “We could have just gone ahead [and released Vista this fall], but I didn’t think it was the right thing to do,” said Allchin, “We’re setting stringent quality bars on what we do.” 

      He also added, “Product quality is the first priority. We won’t compromise on that.”

      That’s all he needed to say. Product quality comes before those juicy profits available in the fourth quarter. That’s it.

      OEMs and the partners in the Windows ecosystem will groan about it (their plans for a big fourth quarter just went down the drain), but I think IT pros and general users can forgive the delay if it means getting a truly finished product rather than a release candidate that users essentially pay to test for Microsoft.

      I just don’t want Microsoft blowing smoke at me about how “the industry requires greater lead time to deliver Windows Vista on new PCs during holiday.” They’ve always known that, so to use it as an excuse for this delay is completely disingenuous.

      • #3076633

        Surprise! Vista delayed until 2007 … Here is my take

        by daheimbo ·

        In reply to Surprise! Vista delayed until 2007 … Here is my take

        I perfectly agree with Jason- Microsoft should not, in the first instance say what they do not mean-their planning a bit up -the-spout!

        Secondly, Bill Gates and company, to-date have never produced a fool-proof operating System- they are hoping to do so with Vista, I presume! If they do – it will be a miracle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I guess they are looking at the profit from businesses- however, I suppose it is better to wait for something, that wll (we Hope!!) be a little more fine-tuned, than to get something that has not been- half-based. I personally, would be more surprised than ever, if Vista proves a little more fool-proof than OSs produced so far, including Xp!!

      • #3100252

        Surprise! Vista delayed until 2007 … Here is my take

        by tisha ·

        In reply to Surprise! Vista delayed until 2007 … Here is my take

        Pfft…
        Fool-proof operating System indeed!
        Sure why not, let them live in the their own delusions.
        Yet another way to feather MR. Gates nest and find a loop hole to stop support for windows XP.
        What a joke!
        Microsoft making life easier, “NOT”!

      • #3265291

        Surprise! Vista delayed until 2007 … Here is my take

        by jasonhiner ·

        In reply to Surprise! Vista delayed until 2007 … Here is my take

        Hey, if you want a fool-proof operating system, go check out … oh wait, there isn’t one. 🙂

        Jason

      • #3263037

        Surprise! Vista delayed until 2007 … Here is my take

        by sterling “chip” camden ·

        In reply to Surprise! Vista delayed until 2007 … Here is my take

        Seems to me their “enterprise” style of development has caused quite a few leaks in both schedule and quality

    • #3074539

      My one big beef with Skype – the dial code problem

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      As I wrote last month, I have become a Skype fan since I started experimenting with the popular VoIP app in January and I now regularly use it for some business calls and one-on-one video calls. The video quality is remarkable (and I’ve tested a lot of video conferencing software and hardware) and the sound quality is solid as well — although it occasionally has some hiccups and it works best when the person on the other end has a headset. The Skype audio quality also sounds best on Skype-to-Skype calls. The SkypeIn and SkypeOut quality is where I have mostly run into robotic-sounding calls and general fluctuations in audio quality.

      However, there is also one other thing that keeps me from using Skype more often — dialing extensions and joining conference calls rarely ever work. The problem is that Skype does not properly emulate the DTMF tones of touch tone phones. When you dial a number on Skype you can switch over to Skype’s dialpad and enter an extension number or a conference code. No problem there. But, in my experience, the systems on the other end rarely ever take the extension or conference code. Some say the Skype tones are too short and are not recognized, while others claim that Skype’s tones produce echos that confuse touch tone systems. Skype employees claim that the problem is with SkypeOut termination providers. The bottom line is that at least 8 or 9 times out of 10, it doesn’t work. As a result, I rarely even try anymore.

      If Skype wants to get serious about serving business customers, then it needs to fix this problem ASAP. And make no mistake, businesses are important to Skype, which just opened its skype.biz site earlier this month after realizing that about one third of its users were business users. I’ve got a separate blog post coming up about Skype’s business strategy. For now, Skype just needs to get this resolved if it wants to be a business-friendly service.

      • #3160310

        My one big beef with Skype – the dial code problem

        by dizzle ·

        In reply to My one big beef with Skype – the dial code problem

        I agree.

        I just started evaluating Skype (especially since the new free-till-end-of-year SkypeOut offer), and the first number I called was my business line.  Since I couldn’t save extensions, I used the Dial tab… and got to talk to random people in my company — because of the DTMF bug!!

        I can’t believe that a version “2.0” product has such a crippling limitation…

      • #3230449

        My one big beef with Skype – the dial code problem

        by jeff.hagins ·

        In reply to My one big beef with Skype – the dial code problem

        I work from home and I’ve been struggling to use Skype for business and this is the number one issue. I need to dial in to conference calls 5-10 times per week, and I have to switch to my home phone (also VOIP with Vonage) for those calls. I’ve now given up on Skype and ordered a 2nd Vonage line.

    • #3264893

      Et tu, Office 2007?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      This doesn’t come as a surprise since Windows Vista and Office 2007 have been expected to debut together, but Microsoft officially announced yesterday that the retail (and OEM) version of Microsoft Office 2007 will be delayed until January 2007 in order to sync up with the release of Windows Vista (on Tuesday Microsoft revealed that Vista would be pushed back to 2007). 

      Yesterday Microsoft also announced some changes to the Windows team. The big move is that Steve Sinofsky (the captain of the Microsoft Office team, which has a much better track record for hitting product deadlines than the Windows team) will move over to the Windows group  and take over the team and future versions of Windows after Jim Allchin retires at the end of this year, upon delivering Vista.

      Lots of people are piling on Microsoft for the delay of Vista, and rightfully so in some cases. However, I was a little shocked by the blatant giddiness demonstrated by Novell Marketing VP John Dragoon in a presentation in Salt Lake City in which he was demonstrating some features of Suse Linux 10. Dragoon, in an attempt to be witty, remarked, “Why, I feel bad for [Microsoft]… I don’t know if you guys knew that [Vista] was originally expected to be ready by end of 2004. The last time I checked, it is 2006.”

      Dragoon’s remarks might have even been funny if it weren’t for the fact that Novell has made virtually no progress or innovations to improve Suse to the point that it can legitimately compete with Windows as a business desktop. I’m sure he’s thrilled with the delay of Vista from 2004 to 2007 because it means his product is only about five years behind Vista, instead of eight. Of course, the bad news for Dragoon and Novell is that Red Hat hasn’t announced any delays this week and so Suse is still a couple years behind the Linux market leader on the desktop. They should set their sights there first. Vista is still way out of their league.

      • #3265467

        Et tu, Office 2007?

        by dhays ·

        In reply to Et tu, Office 2007?

        Insert comment text here “They should set their sites there first. Vista is still way out of their league. ” sites is sights in this case.

      • #3265402

        Et tu, Office 2007?

        by jasonhiner ·

        In reply to Et tu, Office 2007?

        dhays — Thanks, I made the change. Spellchecker doesn’t catch those kinds of mistakes. 😉

        Jason

    • #3264794

      Windows BSOD gallery – Have you seen any of these?

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      We’ve just published a new gallery of Windows BSOD messages.
      Looking at some of these screens brings back some painful memories for
      me from across the years. One of them was a BSOD that popped up on an
      Exchange server at my last job during my final week there. What a
      nightmare. I ended up putting in long hours that week and had to do
      some restores from backups. The mail system was down for a couple long
      stretches that week. If I remember correctly, in the end it turned out
      to be a conflict with the backup drive. Fun stuff.

      Interestingly, I think I only ever experienced one or two BSODs with
      Windows 2000 Professional (when I managed a network of those machines).
      However, I’ve run into a lot more BSODs with Windows XP Pro, mostly
      dealing with hardware conflicts and incompatibilities. Has anyone else
      had the same experience? I’ve always assumed that those problems have
      had to do with XP merging the code base of Windows NT and Windows 9x. I
      assume 9x introduced some problems into the NT code base, which was
      pretty solid prior to XP. Would you agree?

      Take a look at the BSOD gallery and if it jogs your memory of any horror stories, please share them.

      Windows BSOD gallery

      BSODs

      We also have an article called “Extract troubleshooting info from Windows XP BSOD error messages” that is worth reading (and you can download the article as a PDF). 

    • #3263752

      The history of computing in photos

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      Check out this new gallery of photos that takes us through some landmark technologies in the history of computing. The first three photos in the gallery are very interesting. They showcase Google’s first storage system, which was housed in a homemade case made out of Legos. Interestingly, the storage system is now an exhibit at Stanford University in William Gates Hall (yes, that William Gates).

      Photos: A time capsule of computing

      But wait … there’s more. Here are some more galleries of old school computers and devices:

    • #3265716

      IT departments – Centralization vs. Decentralization

      by jasonhiner ·

      In reply to Dreaming Electric Sheep

      One of the big debates raginig within many organizations right now is whether to centralize or decentralize IT. Some companies are consolidating services such as help desks into one location and then simply serving all other locations remotely. This can save costs and make efficient use of resources. Other companies are taking IT services (help desk, admins, and developers) and assigning them to business units, reporting to department managers/directors rather than IT managers and executives. This can make business units a lot happier and cause IT pros to be much less isolated.

      As part of last week’s discussion of IT department atmosphere, a thread emerged about centralization vs. decentralization. Join the discussion to add your perspective on the following questions:

      — When does decentralization make sense and when is centralization more appropriate?
      — What IT services are best decentralized?
      — Is your IT department more centralized or more decentralized and how well does the structure work?

      • #3084083

        IT departments – Centralization vs. Decentralization

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to IT departments – Centralization vs. Decentralization

        Raging now? You must be new to the profession.

        The question of whether to centralise or decentralise is answered quite easily.
        If you are centralised, decentralise and vice versa. Now you’ve decided to do it, come up with the reason. That’s it. Not just in IT either, any support function.

        Decentralise to be more reactive and customer focused. Centralise to integrate, standardise and reduce costs.

        I&#