Friday, August 21, 2009

Dell cashing in on Windows 7

The reviews on MSND on Windows 7 are not yet cold. Dell is moving in and capitilizing on the hype already. It's not by accident that Michael Dell has taken over the reigns of this once predominant global player. His mission is to make his brand a top best selling player once again. Advertisements on Canadian television are featuring Dell's latest PC's and laptop's with Windows 7 running as the operating system. Based on my own personal experience, the improvements on the desktop alone has won me over. Dell and Windows 7 sounds very exciting. Maybe Sony can do the same?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Windows 7: Four Reasons to Upgrade, Four Reasons to Stay Away

By Matt Lake

August 04, 2009 — Computerworld —

The release of Windows 7 to manufacturing begins a tale of two operating systems: the one you want and the one you don't. It is packed with improvements and cool stuff, but it still carries a whiff of Vista that may put XP diehards off. That said, people who have gotten used to Vista will enjoy the fact that Windows 7 looks the same but acts a whole lot better.

Like many people who compute both at home and at work, I use XP and Vista as well as Mac OS X Leopard, and I like elements of all three. So I've been watching the beta and RC versions of Windows 7 very closely. Does the final "release to manufacturing" (RTM) code -- the same code that will ship with new PCs and retail versions of Windows 7 in October -- merit a jump from any of my current platforms?

Well, yes and no.

Little features like the ability to burn CDs from single ISO image files are great -- I don't need to install third-party tools to create CD-Rs anymore. And Windows 7 definitely boots up faster than XP or Vista on identically configured machines. You can't knock the advantage of 60 seconds less boot time.

But grrr! Just when things were going well, I tried to do a little light video editing, only to discover that Windows Movie Maker isn't included with Windows 7. It's now part of Microsoft Live, and it's still in beta. In its present form, it's much less capable than the app that ships with XP. So after ten minutes with Windows 7, I found myself booting up an old XP machine for an everyday task.

(I later discovered that there is a downloadable version of MovieMaker that works with Windows 7, although Microsoft's download page doesn't list Windows 7 among the supported OSes. Nevertheless, it's not nearly as elegant as having it included with the OS.)

What other joys and disappointments does the new Windows bring?

Finding stuff is easier...

Keeping track of your work is always going to be a chore. Fortunately, Windows 7 concentrates much of its efforts on making files accessible. Windows 7 clusters different file types into shortcuts called Libraries -- they look like Vista's Documents, Pictures and Videos folders, but they lead to files of the pertinent type whatever folder they are actually located in. You can add your own folders to Libraries at will to keep your project files accessible.

Then there are Jump Lists, a zippier way of previewing your open applications and folders. Moving a mouse over the taskbar pops up easy-to-scan lists of open windows, and right-clicking on them shows not only what's running, but a brief history of what you've done with those programs -- files opened, sites visited, and other handy pointers. That feature alone has the makings of a much more efficient workday.

And Windows 7's Search is streets ahead of earlier iterations: Like Mac OS X's Spotlight, it begins delivering results as you type -- before you've even finished a word -- and narrows the list as you enter more characters. You can also preview the contents of search results before deciding to open them.

Chalk up several productivity pluses for Windows 7.

...but it's just as tough to find the right version of the OS

When Windows Vista was released, one of the loudest complaints was about the overwhelming array of versions it came in. And while XP didn't initially ship with quite as many flavors, later additions such as the Media Center, Tablet PC and Professional x64 editions upped its version count as well. Despite pleas from pundits to reduce the number of versions available for Windows 7, however, things haven't gotten any simpler.

There's a Starter Edition for netbooks, two Home versions (Home Basic and Home Premium), plus a Professional, an Enterprise and an Ultimate edition. (There has been some confusion about whether there will be different versions for the European Union to comply with EU regulations; the latest from Microsoft appears to be that the EU will receive the same versions as elsewhere.) And, of course, most of these are available in both full versions and lower-priced upgrade versions for people with licensed retail copies of Windows 2000, XP or Vista.

Windows 7 is still easier and more efficient at networking in general -- from handling multiple Wi-Fi hotspots to setting up on my domain-based Exchange network -- than XP was and a worthy successor to Vista. In short, Windows 7 is one slick glad-hander of a networking animal.

...but Microsoft is keeping XP as a stand-in

Even though Microsoft officially cut off XP more than a year ago, saying it could no longer be sold preinstalled on new computers, the company has issued a series of reprieves for sales of the aging OS. Dell and other computer makers have also taken advantage of a loophole that allowed Vista Business and Ultimate versions to be downgraded to XP Professional, an option that has proven very popular with new PC buyers.

With Windows 7 close to shipping, Microsoft is still hedging its bets a little. Microsoft's enterprise licensing will allow businesses that buy PCs through early 2011 to downgrade Windows 7 (which will come preinstalled) to Windows XP. When enterprises have figured out how to migrate to Windows 7, they can catch up later.

For people who can't get an enterprise license, Microsoft will also provide XP Mode -- a full updated version of Windows XP Service Pack 3 that runs in a virtual machine in Windows 7 -- which is available as a separate download to Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate users.

All of which makes me wonder, "If Microsoft isn't letting go of XP, why should I?"

Bottom line

Even after extensive testing of the various pre-release versions of Windows 7, I still don't know whether its virtues outweigh its pain points overall. For Vista users, upgrading to Windows 7 is a no-brainer; the new OS handily fixes the worst of Vista's mistakes. My advice to them: upgrade early and often.

For XP users, however, it's not so clear. You'll be getting some nifty and useful new features, but you'll also be giving up the way you've been used to working for the past several years.

Windows 7 may be a far, far better upgrade than Vista ever was before, but in the end, you have to answer this honestly: Is this the best of times or the worst of times to take on an unfamiliar interface? Only you can answer that question.

© 2007 Computerworld Inc.

Monday, August 3, 2009

8 Ways Job Seekers Can Assess a Prospective Employer's Corporate Culture

With job opportunities so scarce these days, job seekers are under tremendous pressure to impress hiring managers during job interviews. In fact, they're so caught up in making a good impression that it's easy for job seekers to forget that the job interview remains their opportunity to assess a prospective employer's corporate culture and to determine whether that work environment will suit them, says Vanessa Hall, author of The Truth About Trust in Business (Emerald Book Company, 2009.)

Worse, job seekers may be tempted to accept any job offer regardless of signs that indicate an employer is not right for them.

Failing to consider an employer's corporate culture is a job search mistake, career and hiring experts say. Job seekers risk taking a job with an organization that doesn't suit them, being miserable, and soon find themselves on the job market again—either because they couldn't stand the company and quit, or because the employer recognized the mismatch and terminated their employment.

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[ For more advice on selecting a good employer, see Job Interview: Ask the Right Questions to Avoid a Dud Job. ]

Either way, the situation is disadvantageous to the job seeker, says Edward Lawler, a professor at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business and author of Talent: Making People Your Competitive Advantage (Jossey Bass, 2008.)

"It doesn't help for the employee to have a record of being fired or turned over after a short period of time," he says.

On the other hand, if a job seeker researches a prospective employer's culture and finds an organization that matches her personality, work style and values, not only is she more likely to be offered the job, she's also more likely to be successful inside the company, says Hall. And with success comes job security (at least in theory).

What's more, job seekers who express interest in learning about a company's culture during a job interview make a better impression on hiring managers than candidates who don't ask questions or who only ask about career development opportunities, says Hall.

"As a manager interviewing people, when someone sits down and asks you questions, they stand out as someone who's prepared and who's really checking whether this opportunity is right for them," she says.

Since the clues that reveal an organization's culture can be subtle, assembled the following advice for sizing up a prospective employer.

1. Before the job interview, check out the company's website, says Elaine Varelas, managing partner of Keystone Partners, a Boston-based career management and executive coaching firm. Pictures of employees on the website, along with employee testimonials about what it's like to work for the company, can indicate that the employer cares about its employees and wants to be a desirable place to work, she says. (Of course, images of smiling employees and shiny testimonials can also be lame PR efforts to cover up a dysfunctional work environment.)

2. Consider the employer's hiring process. Pay attention to who calls you to schedule a job interview and to how that person treats you on the phone, says Varelas. The hiring manager calling you directly may indicate an openness and lack of hierarchy or bureaucracy inside the company. Or it could indicate a lack of process inside the company, adds Varelas, or that the hiring manager has too much time on his hands.

"Some organizations are famous for long and drawn out selection processes," says Lawler. "Job candidates need to be able to discern whether the selection process is meaningful and reflects an organization that really cares [about who they hire] or an organization that doesn't have its act together and doesn't know how to run the hiring process."

3. Varelas advises job seekers to note their surroundings during the job interview: How is the office space organized? Is it a cube farm? What's the style of the furniture in the office? What does the reception area look like, and how does it compare with the rest of the office? Are employees sitting in old, mismatched chairs? Are they using up-to-date computers? What's the mood in the office? Is it buzzing, quiet or chaotic?

4. Similarly, Varelas recommends that candidates observe the employees: How are they dressed? What do their work spaces look like? Are they allowed to express themselves? How do employees respond to one another in the reception area or the hallways? Do they smile and say hello, or do they ignore each other? Do they acknowledge the receptionist? Look for a genuine interaction between employees, she says.

5. Varelas also suggests asking everyone you meet during your job interview how they would describe the organizational culture. Do their responses seem scripted? Are their responses consistent without seeming scripted? Additionally, she recommends asking everyone how long they've worked for the company to get a sense of the employee turnover. "If some employees have worked with the company for more than a few years, ask them if the culture has changed during that time," she says.

6. Hall advises job seekers to ask about an employer's values—specifically, how the employer demonstrates those values on a day to day basis and how people commit to them. She also urges job seekers to ask the hiring manager about his management style and processes for providing feedback.

7. Lawler recommends seeing if HR or the hiring manager will share data from employee surveys that indicates what it's like to work there. "It might be a little sticky [to ask]," he notes, "But it's often the most subjective picture you can get."

8. Inquire about professional development, advises Varelas. If the company provides continuing education benefits, that suggests the company values investing in its employees, she says. You can also ask if the company tends to promote from within.

Varelas adds one word of caution when sizing up an organization's culture: "Be careful to distinguish between a company culture and a culture that a manager created," she says. "You could have a great manager in a bad company culture, which limits the manager. Or you can have a good company culture and a bad manager."

By Meridith Levinson
Other stories by Meridith Levinson © 2008 CXO Media Inc

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Microsoft, Yahoo Deal: Why You Stand to Lose

After a year and a half of negotiating, Microsoft and Yahoo announced a search deal partnership this morning that will make Redmond's new search engine, Bing, Yahoo's search platform and put Yahoo's sales force in charge of handling both companies' search advertisers.

Microsoft and Yahoo posted a joint press release outlining details of the partnership, including video statements from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz.

As noted last week, this puts the weight of the world on search baby Bing. It will now be the branded search engine for both Microsoft and Yahoo, try to build on close to 30 percent market share and compete with dominant household verb Google. A little over two months ago, Bing didn't even exist.

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And despite statements from Yahoo about the partnership being a "significant opportunity for us" and calling Microsoft "an industry innovator in search," Yahoo is handing over a core part of its business to a competitor with less than half the market share.

Sure, Yahoo benefits financially. Yahoo simply doesn't have the money to operate and market its search engine effectively, and Microsoft has the deep pockets to handle that load. Microsoft will pay Yahoo through a revenue-sharing agreement based on traffic generated on Yahoo's network of both Yahoo sites, as well as its affiliate sites. Microsoft will be able to integrate Yahoo's search technology and gain more users and market share.

Yahoo says it expects the deal will boost its annual operating income by about $500 million, while reducing capital expenditure by $200 million and increasing operating cash flow by about $275 million per year.

So this is likely to be a win-win for both on the business side. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement: "Both companies benefit from scale and better economics. Consumers really will get better products."

He may be right about the first part; but the second part is debatable.

What consumers will get now is a two-horse race and limited choice. Bing's search engine has been getting solid reviews; it does offer a more organized user interface than Google and was able to slightly increase Microsoft's search share in its debut month. But how much will it really improve with the addition of Yahoo's search? What's worse, integrating the two could be a time-consuming and complicated mess, creating a "more is less" scenario.

The bottom line here: most people are comfortable Googling. Google is deeply entrenched in the hearts and minds of users. It may take awhile for the Microsoft/Yahoo partnership to be put into practice. The deal still has to get the green light from regulators, which could take months. Expect Google to raise a stink as well. Both Microsoft and Yahoo said they hope to close the deal in early 2010 .

Is there any good news for users in the deal? Google will be facing a more formidable foe that will slowly steal market share (keyword: slowly). The search king will likely be challenged and will innovate, creating better search to stay on top.

It could take two years, but the Microsoft/Yahoo partnership could awaken a renewed sense of urgency in Google, famous for its unrushed "beta" apps and features.

But right now this looks like a money grab for two wounded tech giants, not better search for you and me.

by Shane O'Neill © 2008 CXO Media Inc.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Microsoft’s sales tumble on PC weakness

Hopes that a rebound in the technology sector would help to fuel a broader recovery from the downturn suffered a setback on Thursday as Microsoft reported an unexpected slump in sales for its latest quarter.

The world’s biggest software company said revenues had declined 17 per cent amid falling global demand for new PCs and servers. The news follows a spate of more positive earnings news from Apple, Intel and IBM.

“It’s going to be difficult for the rest of the year,” said Chris Liddell, chief financial officer. “We’re really still not sure we’re out of the woods.”

While the software company had been expected to suffer more than other leading tech companies, given its heavier exposure to cyclically volatile PC and server sales, the extent of the decline was unexpected and its shares fell by nearly 8 per cent in after-market trading.

The setback in the fourth quarter of Microsoft’s fiscal year caps the worst year in its 23-year history as a public company, and the first in which it has seen a revenue decline.

Broader trends in the technology markets have also hurt the company. Netbooks, the small, low-cost laptops that have been the one bright spot this year, now account for 11 per cent of all PC sales, according to Microsoft.

However, it receives much less for the version of the Windows operating system shipped with these machines.

In spite of the latest signs of weakness, Microsoft’s shares are still up nearly 60 per cent since their low point in April on hopes that new product launches, including the Windows 7 operating system, will revive its fortunes next year.

Mr Liddell said that Microsoft was not anticipating any further big declines from current levels of spending by its customers, and sees “the potential for improvement” in 2010.

A 29 per cent plunge in revenues from Microsoft’s core Windows PC division, to $3.11bn, aggravated the decline in the latest quarter. Microsoft was also affected by an upgrade guarantee that allows PC buyers to switch to Windows 7 when it goes on sale in October.

Heavy cost-cutting made up for some of the shortfall, with Microsoft slicing 10 per cent from its operating expenses compared with a year before. But net income fell 29 per cent to $3.045bn, or 34 cents a share.

By Richard Waters in San Francisco
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

SaaS vs. On-Premise Apps: Can't We All Just Get Along?

The misleading debate between SaaS and on-premise software undermines the strength of corporate IT shops.

We live in a society that relishes competition and taking sides: Republican or Democrat? Anti-abortion or pro-choice? Red Sox or Yankees?

Philosophical allegiances are equally pervasive in high-tech, where debates over Mac vs. Windows, Oracle vs. SAP, and proprietary vs. open source rage on and on.

Now, the "us versus them" mentality is engulfing on-premise software and SaaS/on-demand applications, and the bitter and misleading debate between the two licensing models threatens to both undermine the strength of SaaS applications (and in some cases, of on-premise software, too) and to cheat CIOs of the benefits of both models.

Fanning the SaaS vs. on-premise flames are tech journalists, IT analysts and the software vendors themselves. CEO Marc Benioff, the maker of SaaS CRM apps, has said that his company can't be compared to "mature, dying models like Oracle and SAP, which are maybe already dead."

But let's stop the incessant chest-thumping and unnecessary hyperbole for a minute.

Instead, let's look at a recent trend piece from Gartner that essentially condemns the future of SaaS, and dig a little deeper for some much-needed perspective.

A recent Gartner survey of SaaS users and prospective customers in 333 U.S. and U.K. enterprises "found that the apparent acceptance of SaaS as a viable model has not entirely translated into satisfied users of SaaS." These users were said to be "lukewarm" and "underwhelmed" by SaaS, the Gartner analysts pointed out.


In that very same report, Gartner noted that "58 percent of organizations will maintain current levels of SaaS in the next two years, 32 percent will expand, 5 percent will discontinue and 5 percent will decrease levels."

So just 10 percent were going to decrease or discontinue investment in SaaS, and the other 90 percent were going to maintain or expand their SaaS use, yet SaaS is suddenly "underwhelming" companies? The report goes on: "Survey findings showed that overall, organizations are somewhat satisfied with SaaS, with an average score 4.74 on a 7-point scale." To me, 4.74 on a 7 point scale isn't so bad.

Nevertheless, Gartner offered the following divisive conclusion: SaaS is flawed and overhyped, so on-premise software—what else is there?—is the key!

For too many years, big-vendor FUD has driven home the perception that SaaS enterprise apps simply can't scale to meet the mission-critical needs of the Fortune 500. Interestingly, SAP CTO Vishal Sikka told me in an interview that many of SAP's applications aren't currently able to scale to meet the needs of many of its massive customers' computing needs, and that's fine with many of SAP's customers.

Sikka is right, of course. Some companies don't want anything to do with a multitenant product offering right now. And that's perfectly OK.

But those industry watchers who make blanket statements about what SaaS or on-premise software can and cannot do and which industry segment can and cannot use either software product are foolhardy, at best, and dangerous, at worst.

Just ask GE CIO Gary Reiner: GE's supply chain has 500,000 suppliers in more than 100 countries. Each year, the company spends some $55 billion among its vast supplier base.

Big company? Yes. Mission-critical? Absolutely. And Reiner uses a SaaS supply chain partner application to manage it all. (And there are plenty more examples just like GE's.)

Rest assured that Reiner has plenty of on-premise enterprise apps running his global company. In this instance, however, SaaS just made more sense.

In fact, the big-versus-little debate was recently debunked by CIO's May 2009 "Economic Impact Survey" (pdf) of 171 IT leaders: Large company CIOs (59 percent) are more likely than their small (31 percent) and midmarket counterparts (38 percent) to consider alternative IT models, such as SaaS or on-demand applications, as a result of current economic conditions.

Let's not make enterprise software any more confusing than it already is. In these financially turbulent times, I'm advocating for a reasoned viewpoint that encourages hybrid and well-strategized enterprise software plans that take into account all the gray areas that exist in a world that's no longer black and white.

We all have choice now. It's not the time to blindly and stubbornly take one side and ignore the other.

By Thomas Wailgum, 07/13/09

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Perspectives on Distance Education : Open Schooling for the 21 century

Edited by Dominique A.M.X Abrioux and Frances Ferreira

"Open Schools for the 21st Century" shows how open schooling can be adpoted for a range of purposes and in different ways, using a variety of technologies and approaches. With contributions from educators with extensive first-hand experience in open schooling, the book confirms that opens schools can provide good quality secondary education as long as senior policy-makers, bureaucrats, and administrators are well informed about the key factors affecting success in open schooling, and that they use this knowledge to plan implement, and monitor their own open shool initiatives

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

5 Free Apps That Make Project Management Easier is a great way to start teaching yourself the basics of project planning. This Webware application provides a simplified take on project management, so be aware that you shouldn't lean on it to manage more complex projects. But this is essentially a personal tech project of its creator, Volodymyr Mazepa -- so that if he decided not to continue it for any reason, it could quickly go away.

GanttProject may be a good choice if you need flexibility in how you want to display your task bars in your charts. Still, it's best to keep in mind that you shouldn't go overboard with the colors, lest you create confusion over your project's plan.

jxProject is focused on precision and the minute details of your plan, although the charts it generates can look cluttered, and that ad banner does get distracting. But if you're already comfortable with project management and need to create a plan that shows as much detail as possible, jxProject is worth considering.

OpenProj impressed me with its ability to load most project plan files saved in Microsoft Office Project format. So it's a great alternative if you need to work with someone who's using Office Project, and you don't want to pay for Microsoft's program. OpenProj also stands out for generating the most kinds of charts to represent your project plan.

Open Workbench's split-screen window, which tries to show you as much of your project plan's relevant information at once, lessens the back-and-forth clicking that you have to endure when using other project management software. But jxProject and OpenProj each offer much more in terms of features, like OpenProj's multitude of charts and jxProject's resource optimizer.

So if you're a beginner to project management, break yourself in over at Then graduate to OpenProj, particularly if you have to work with Microsoft Office Project files. And if you find you need more advanced features (such as extreme precision in allotting tasks to part-time resources, or resources located in different time zones), take on jxProject and consider paying the $20 to kill the banner ads

By Howard Wen

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What's Going on with Nortel?

Wed, June 24, 2009 — Network World — With Nokia Siemens bidding on Nortel's wireless business and Avaya rumored to be grabbing up its enterprise gear, it is all but inevitable that the rest of company will be broken up and sold off in pieces, which raises questions. Here are some of them and the answers.

Who is likely to buy the enterprise business?

Reportedly, Avaya has put in a $500 million bid for the enterprise division, which sells switches, routers and telephony products. With its focus on enterprise VoIP and unified communications, the company could use Nortel enterprise infrastructure, which includes switches, security gear and phones. It would boost Avaya instantly into the No. 4 spot for Layer 2 and 3 Ethernet switching and give it entry into more corporate accounts.

What did Nokia Siemens bid on?

Nokia Siemens bid on the CMDA wireless business and the R&D unit working on LTE wireless.The company's technology overlaps with Nortel's, but that's OK because its customer base doesn't overlap as much. Both companies, for example, have CDMA and Long Term Evolution technology, but Nokia Siemens doesn't have anywhere near the penetration into North American carriers that Nortel has. If it closes the deal, Nokia Siemens will do everything it can to take advantage of Nortel's client list. Nokia Siemens says the deal would boost its share of the North American carrier market from less than 6% to more than 30%.

Beyond that, the business Nokia Siemens wants to buy netted $700 million last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. If it remains that profitable, that will pay off the $650 million purchase price in less than a year.

By Tim Greene

Sunday, June 28, 2009

$100 Laptop Becomes a $5 PC

The open-source education software developed for the "$100 laptop" can now be loaded onto a $5 USB stick to run aging PCs and Macs with a new interface and custom educational software.

"What we are doing is taking a bunch of old machines that barely run Windows 2000, and turning them into something interesting and useful for essentially zero cost," says Walter Bender, former president of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project. "It becomes a whole new computer running off the USB key; we can breathe new life into millions of decrepit old machines."

Bender left OLPC last year to found Sugar Labs, which promotes the open-source user interface, dubbed Sugar, and educational software originally developed at OLPC. Bender has dubbed the new effort Sugar on a Stick. The software can be downloaded for free from the Sugar Labs website as part of the new initiative, which will be announced at a conference in Berlin today.

The Sugar interface was custom-designed for children. The new Sugar on a Stick download features 40 software programs, including core applications called Read, Write, Paint, and Etoys. Many other applications are available for download, most of which emphasize creative collaboration among children. The USB software can boot up an aging computer, or a netbook, and save data from any of the programs.

The Sugar interface and related software have already been used by more than one million children, nearly all of them users of the original OLPC XO laptop.

And now, with Sugar available to run old computers, the OLPC learning model can expand in a new direction. "Putting Sugar on a stick is absolutely the right thing to do," Negroponte added.

By David Talbot

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson :1958 - 2009

Michael Jackson leaves a larger than life legacy. His music serves as a beton from liking music to the the intricate magic of relishing the moment of excelent music. Living the message of the song and embracing the wonderfulness of the lyrics and tunes that was related to us in a profound way throught the magic of his vocals. He touched many across the world. His music transcended to the far corners of the world and brought happiness to despair and hopelessness. May his soul rest in peace.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

10 Cloud Computing Companies to Watch

Mon, May 18, 2009 — Network World — Cloud computing is spreading through the IT world like wildfire, with innovative start-ups and established vendors alike clamoring for customer attention.

Generally speaking, cloud providers fall into three categories: software-as-a-service providers; infrastructure-as-a-service vendors that offer Web-based access to storage and computing power; and platform-as-a-service vendors that give developers the tools to build and host Web applications. Here are 10 cloud companies that are worth watching.

Company name: Amazon
Founded: 1994

Location: Seattle

Cloud offering: Amazon Web Services, a half-dozen services including the Elastic Compute Cloud, for computing capacity, and the Simple Storage Service, for on-demand storage capacity.

Why we're watching it: Amazon is one of the true innovators in Web-based computing, offering pay-as-you-go access to virtual servers and data storage space. In addition to these core offerings, Amazon offers the SimpleDB (a database Web service); the CloudFront (a Web service for content delivery); and the Simple Queue Service (a hosted service for storing messages as they travel between computers). By launching the Elastic Compute Cloud in 2006, well before most of its competitors, Amazon has become almost synonymous with "cloud computing." But criticisms are starting to pop up regarding Amazon's reliability and service-level agreements.

CEO: Jeffrey Bezos, Amazon's founder, was previously a financial analyst.

How Amazon got into cloud computing: One of the largest Web properties in existence, Amazon always excelled at delivering computing capacity at a large scale to its own employees and to consumers via the Amazon shopping site. Offering raw computing capacity over the Internet was perhaps a natural step for Amazon, which had only to leverage its own expertise and massive data center infrastructure in order to become one of the earliest major cloud providers.

Who uses the service: Tens of thousands of small businesses, enterprises and individual users. Prominent customers include the New York Times, Washington Post and Eli Lilly.

Company name: AT&T

Founded: 1983

Location: Dallas

Cloud offering: Synaptic Hosting, an application hosting service that offers pay-as-you-go access to virtual servers and storage integrated with security and networking functions.

Why we're watching it: Amazon and Google may be the biggest names in cloud computing today, but don't discount the built-in advantage telcos have when it comes to infrastructure. "Building publicly accessible cloud infrastructure is not inexpensive or uncomplicated," Pund-IT analyst Charles King says. "The service providers already have those infrastructures in place – the data center assets, connectivity and billing."

While AT&T has a head start, rival Verizon offers cloud-based security services and seems poised to make a larger run at the cloud market later this year

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Virgin Media developing unlimited DRM-less music service

Yet another music distribution service is in the works, this time from industry giant Virgin Media Incorporated. In cahoots with the world’s largest label, Universal Music Group, Virgin plans to unveil their DRM-free music subscription service in the UK prior to the coming holiday season. The company is presently holding discussions with other labels and publishers as well.

There is no officially recognized pricing but, sources familiar with the service are hinting at a charge of £10-£15 ($16.30-$24.50). Virgin Media claims its broadband network will be the world’s first subscription service to offer unlimited DRM-less music. The company’s network serves about four million residential consumers. Universal Music’s chairman, Lucian Grainge, sees this as “completely ground breaking” – don’t ask me how.

The company acknowledges that it faces an uphill battle. Its service will be up against two well-established competitors: iTunes, and the pirate community. Downloading music illegally is now, from my perspective, socially acceptable among most crowds and Apple doesn’t need me to tell you how large iTunes has become. Furthermore, parents buying music for their children’s MP3 player probably can’t justify a monthly fee, and someone who downloads vast quantities of music likely already steals it.

by Matthew DeCarlo on June 15, 2009, 3:35 PM

Windows 7 Starter Edition priced at $45-55?

With Windows 7 on the horizon and the netbook market still going strong, Microsoft has its sights set on targeting even this low budget segment. It already removed the three-application limit which plagued the Starter Edition of its forthcoming operating system, after receiving a fair share of criticism, but another major factor has yet to be addressed: pricing. Unfortunately, things aren’t looking as promising on that front.

Although the software giant has yet to publicly disclose its pricing for Windows 7 licenses, DigiTimes is reporting the “netbook version” is currently priced at $45-55. This doesn’t seem like a big deal on the surface, but could be prohibitively high compared to the $15-35 XP costs for netbooks, a segment where margins are already low. First-tier vendors are reportedly still negotiating with Microsoft hoping to bring the price down. Others are looking at tying their upcoming N450-based offerings to Windows 7 and charging a premium, while using full-fledged copies of Windows XP for current N270- and N280-based machines.

Microsoft has so far managed to keep Linux from grabbing much of the netbook market by selling XP for cheap. As contenders from Android to Moblin jump into the market, they might need to consider a similar strategy with Windows 7 if the company wants it to become the de facto OS on next-gen netbooks. Then again, it might not matter much in the end, with many arguing that the ‘netbook’ term won’t even exist for much longer due to the blurring lines between these low-cost machines and entry level notebooks.

By Jose Vilches,
Published: June 15, 2009, 4:45 PM EST

Sunday, May 24, 2009

TVs with internet coming soon

Berlin - You no longer need to bring your laptop over to the couch to check the weather or your RSS feeds while watching TV. Many new flat screen TVs offer an internet connection as an alternative to the old-fashioned video text option familiar to many.

That means you can play back a YouTube clip even while watching something else in the main window. Are hard times ahead for the PC as the multimedia hub? Hard to tell. The internet remains the province of high-end devices for right now, but it seems likely to move into more affordable TVs in the near future as well.

All attempts to bring internet to the television have struggled to date. Neither set-top web boxes nor receivers with web functionality made any headway, either due to a lack of features or poor reception on tube televisions.

"Set-top web boxes are too expensive, slow and unstable, and it's much more complicated to surf with them than on a computer. And on top of that, there's the bad picture quality." That was how the German consumer testing organisation Stiftung Warentest saw the landscape back in 2000.

New generation

The new generation of Ethernet or WLAN-ready TV devices offers crisp text, images, and graphics. They generally do not provide a fully integrated browser. The manufacturers instead prepare special programming and content that can be accessed via remote control.

"The new concepts are winning converts through simple, familiar controls and the kind of attractive content that catches the attention of PC naysayers as well," reads a review from Video magazine.

Philips is calling its internet service Net-TV. Devices in the 9000 series work with WLAN, while those in the 8000 series and the widescreen 21:9 models work with LAN connections. Unlike other manufacturers, Philips allows the internet information to take up the entire screen.

The user gets started by navigating to the Net-TV home page. Philips has established partnerships with content providers willing to adapt their content for the TV screen. In Germany this includes major web sites like,, and YouTube as well as MyAlbum as a photo archive. It's also possible to enter in internet addresses directly, although Net-TV is unable to work with either Java or Flash.

At Panasonic the internet mode is called Viera Cast and involves little program windows surrounding a reduced-sized TV image. These "widgets" show the weather, stock prices from Bloomberg TV, latest headlines and videos television stations as well as clips from YouTube. Viera Cast is slated to be integrated into the V 10, G 15 and Z 1 devices.

Samsung has dubbed its programme Internet@TV. It provides only one program window next to the TV image. That can be YouTube clips, as well as headlines or weather reports delivered from Yahoo. The photos section is provided via the Flickr service.

Samsung also offers a "content library," which provides space to store videos, texts or photos, allowing the TV to be used as a form of digital frame. A "widget engine" from Yahoo will allow users to integrate their own little programs. Internet@TV will be available for units in the 6, 7, 8, 7000 and 8000 series.

Sony has outfitted models in the E5, V5, W5 and WE5 series with Ethernet jacks. The manufacturer calls the new internet functions AppliCast Services. It will initially offer access to photos stored on the internet servers and reading of reports sent to the TV through RSS feeds. The TV can access music, photos, and films (MPEG 2 and AVC-HD) on a local network using the DLNA standard.


Ex-Microsoftie: Free Software Will Kill Redmond

Keith Curtis, author and former Microsoft programmer, makes no bones about his view that open source puts the software giant's wares to shame. In this interview, he discusses what's wrong with Microsoft programming, what's behind all those bugs, and what's shaping his former employer's grim future.

May 21, 2009 — CIO — Bill Gates probably will not sing the praises of Keith Curtis, a programmer with Microsoft for 11 years who's now left the fold and written a book about why the Redmond way will fail. Oh yeah, Curtis is not afraid to speak his mind as a Linux guru, either.

The mantra Curtis repeats throughout his book "After the Software Wars": proprietary software is holding us back as a society.

In the book, Curtis says that while proprietary software made Microsoft one of the most successful companies of all time, it's a model destined to fail because it doesn't let software programmers cooperate and contribute, and thus stifles innovation.

Curtis did programming work on Windows, Office and research at Microsoft and never actually used Linux, he says, until he quit his job in late 2004. The ensuing years have made him a Linux fanatic, and he is convinced that free, open-source software is technically superior. As long as Microsoft and its proprietary model dominate, Curtis says, we will live in "the dark ages of computing."

"If Microsoft, 20 years ago, built Windows in an open way, Linux wouldn't exist, and millions of programmers would be improving Windows rather than competing with it."
Keith Curtis In an interview with's Shane O'Neill, Curtis discusses the rise of free software, Linux's role in what he calls the inevitable fall of software's biggest giant and ... robot-driven cars.

In what ways will free software be Microsoft's undoing?

Free software will lead to the demise of Microsoft as we know it in two ways.

First, the free software community is producing technically superior products through an open, collaborative development model. People think of Wikipedia as an encyclopedia, and not primarily software, but it is an excellent case study of this coming revolution.

There are also many pieces of free software that have demonstrated technical superiority to their proprietary counterparts. Firefox is widely regarded by Web developers as superior to Internet Explorer. The Linux kernel runs everything from cellphones to supercomputers. Even Apple threw away their proprietary kernel and replaced it with a free one.

Second, free software undermines Microsoft's profit margins. Even if Microsoft were to adopt Linux — a thought experiment I consider in the afterword of my book — their current business model would be threatened. There are many ways for hardware and service companies to make money using free software, but these are not Microsoft's sources of revenues.

Free products like Linux and Google Docs currently comprise only a tiny proportion of their respective markets compared to Microsoft. What will it take for free software to truly catch on with consumers and businesses as you predict it will? And how long will that take?

By Shane O'Neill

Friday, May 22, 2009

Telemedicine trial cuts diabetes emergencies

A telemedicine experiment in New York has found the technology helps children with Type 1 diabetes manage their condition and led to fewer having to be admitted to hospital.

Type 1 diabetes is the most common chronic childhood disease and needs to be managed using regular glucose measurements with multiple daily injections of insulin, with frequent insulin dose adjustments.

Roberto Izquierdo and colleagues from SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, studied 41 children between the ages of 5 and 14 years with type 1 diabetes. All of the children received routine care, and 23 of the 41 children were also enrolled in a telemedicine intervention program.

During the initial six month period of use, the telemedicine group experienced improved blood sugar control and led to fewer visits to the emergency department and hospitalisations due to their diabetes. More than 90 per cent of the participants said they would use the programme again.

Izquierdo said: “Children in the telemedicine treatment group were more apt to feel better about their diabetes.”

He claimed the children who used the telemedicine program were more likely to complete the prescribed diabetes care related tasks, which can lead to improved management of the disease.

As a part of routine care, letters containing instructions for each child’s diabetes care were sent to school nurses, who also attended an annual diabetes education program. Additionally, all children visited the diabetes centre at SUNY Medical University every three months, and parents, children, and school nurses communicated with the centre via phone as needed. In addition to receiving regular care, the 23 children enrolled in the telemedicine intervention program attended video conferences with the school nurse and the diabetes centre monthly to discuss treatment orders. Their glucose readings were sent to the centre via the telemedicine unit, and the diabetes nurse practitioners at the centre made adjustments to insulin treatments as needed.

The research was published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Five Boks in Namibia XV

Windhoek - Five Springboks have been selected for the Namibian Invitational team to take on a South African XV in Windhoek on Friday, May 29.

Fullback Jaco van der Westhuizen, wing Tonderai Chavhanga, centre Meyer Bosman, flyhalf Derick Hougaard and replacement centre Wayne Julies, have been called up by Namibian coach John Williams for this game.

The squad is further strengthened by experienced Super 14 players in Rory Kockott, Duane Vermeulen, Nico Breedt, David de Villiers and Richardt Strauss.

Namibia will be captained by former Bulls and Sharks prop Kees Lensing, while loose forwards Jacques Burger and Jacques Nieuwenhuis, were members of their World Cup squad in 2007.

Blue Bulls Ruan Vermeulen (prop) and Julies, and Lions lock Anton van Zyl are on the bench.

Other Namibians in the squad are wing Llewellyn Winckler and replacements Hugo Horn (hooker), Johnny Redelinghuys (prop), Jurie van Tonder (scrumhalf) and Chrysander Botha (fullback).

Namibian Invitation XV: Jaco van der Westhuizen, Tonderai Chavhanga, Frikkie Welsh, Meyer Bosman, Llewellyn Winckler, Derick Hougaard, Rory Kockott, Jacques Burger, Duane Vermeulen, Jacques Nieuwenhuis, Nico Breedt, Dawid de Villiers, Kobus Calldo, Richardt Strauss, Kees Lensing (captain)

Replacements: Hugo Horn, Johnny Redelinghuys, Ruan Vermeulen, Anton van Zyl, Wayne Julies, Jurie van Tonder, Chrysander Botha.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

SaaS Vendors Need to Get a Clue About APIs

One big obstacle to SaaS vendors getting their applications adopted more widely is that so many of them don’t offer open APIs.

Bob Brown - Wed, May 20, 2009 — Network World — LAS VEGAS -- One big obstacle to SaaS vendors getting their applications adopted more widely is that so many of them don't offer open APIs. Offering APIs is crucial for vendors to get their applications supported by channel partners and for customers looking to integrate SaaS offerings with legacy applications, said participants on the panel for a lively but lightly attended session Tuesday at Interop in Las Vegas dubbed "Herding cats: Managing SaaS sprawl."

"It's stunning to me the number of SaaS companies that don't even consider an API as part of the development cycle," says Treb Ryan, CEO of OpSource, a company that mainly helps SaaS vendors deliver their offerings to businesses but is also now extending its services to enterprises running their own clouds. "Lord knows two Web developers in a garage know to put out an API. [For SaaS vendors not doing this it's] killing them."

Panelists said providing an API that channel and integrate partners could cut the cost of acquiring customers for SaaS vendors.

"Customer acquisition is the biggest cost," said Tim Dilley, executive vice president, worldwide services and chief customer officer for SaaS vendor NetSuite. "The general notion of having a robust API to data is a critical jumping in point" for SaaS vendors wanting to play in the enterprise, said Narinder Singh, founder of Appirio, a company that helps customers exploit on-demand applications.

Still, Bob Moul, CEO of application integration company Boomi, said "channels are still evolving" around SaaS products, so there's still time for SaaS companies to find a fit with new and traditional integrators.

One difference that SaaS vendors are already seeing is that a lot of their sales go through line-of-business chiefs rather than CIOs or the IT department, panelists said.

NetSuite's Dilley said he's seen evidence over the past six months that CIOs actually are getting more aware of SaaS. This is important because overseeing a SaaS environment is much different than overseeing a traditional application environment – with SaaS, for example, upgrades might be continuous whereas traditional apps were more likely to undergo big upgrades only every six months or more, he said.

Singh said he doesn't see suites going entirely away but does foresee a more heterogeneous applications environment. "How customers get support and how stuff works together, it's unclear how that gets resolved," he said.

Among the other concerns for those in the SaaS industry is standards creep. Singh said he's concerned that new compliance and standards efforts could be used by those who are behind in the SaaS game to slow things down enough that they can catch up. "Standards…too often slow innovation," he said.

© 2007 Network World Inc.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Can Social Networking Be Secure at Work?

A new report revealed that hackers are increasingly targeting social networking services like Twitter and Facebook. Many employees who log on during the day at work might be causing information security risks at their companies. But banning the technologies would be short-sighted.

Tue, May 05, 2009 — CIO — As more workers spend a greater part of their days on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, hackers have turned their energies toward spreading their malware across those services, harming workstations and company networks.

That's the contention of a recent report measuring Web 2.0-targeted hacks that occurred in the first quarter of this year and was conducted by the Secure Enterprise 2.0 Forum, an industry group aimed at enabling the safe use of social media in the workplace.

Increasingly, hackers have turned their attentions away from e-mail, in part due to the fact people spend more of their time communicating with friends, family and colleagues over mediums like Facebook and Twitter. In addition, the e-mail environment has reached a level of maturity that makes the new frontier of social networks more attractive to hackers and spammers, says David Lavenda, a vice president at WorkLightt, a vendor that sponsored the study.

"E-mail is in a steady state," Lavenda says. "It's an electronic warfare game with spammers, filters and security tools, and it's reached some sort of status quo. With the new [social] tools, as people come online and get more involved with them, there is an opportunity to cause harm."

In the market, Lavenda says CIOs have been more willing to let employees use the tools, but have been at times reluctant, due to anecdotal stories about security breaches. The report, he says, will allow them to know what those threats are and make informed decisions about letting users access the sites.

"Forbid it or not, most CIOs know users will find a way to use these tools anyway," he says. "Even if they don't buy our product, this report moves the market forward because they know what the threats are and can see about addressing them. Once you know what the threats are, then you can go about mitigating them."

C.G. Lynch covers social and consumer applications for CIO. You can follow him on Twitter at @cglynch.

26 Ways To Know Your Software Development Project Is Doomed

December 10, 2008 — CIO — Despite all our efforts to make every software development project a success, some are cursed from the very start. Here are 26 early warning signs—all, alas, real-world experiences—that an enterprise software development project is headed for a death march.

The project name changes for the third time in as many months.

The development manager decides that it is better to write a completely separate version of the software for the U.K. rather than to internationalize a single version.

The requirements definition is begun four months after development started.

The newly hired director of R&D proudly informs the board of directors that the project will be 99 percent completed six months ahead of schedule, and assures the board that the software can ship directly to clients without going through beta testing.

You are a Web developer. You open the ZIP file with the HTML documents the client produced for the site scripts you need to integrate with the Web application. And you discover the client's HTML documents are all Microsoft Word files, saved in HTML format.

You realize the reason the company hired you as a consultant is to referee a dispute among two competing departments over which technical platform to use.

The memo says you will develop a 64-bit application using a 16-bit platform.

The developer doesn't understand the spec document and continues to develop anyway. And the QA team doesn't know how to test, but they "test" anyway.

When you see the project budget, you realize that over half of it was spent on a Web designer to create a Photoshop mock-up of the home page—with no regard to whether that design is feasible. Or with any attention to the thousands of pages of content that will exist underneath that home page.

The user or client requests new features instead of focusing on bug fixing and performance enhancements.

You find a list of 16 software development best practices and realize that not a single one of them is being followed.

You are asked to port your project from Windows to MS-DOS.

The technical project manager asks you to compose the list of user requirements—without consulting any actual potential users.

People started sending notes "to file" rather than to each other. The notes are alibis about why the sender has nothing to do with the upcoming (but unacknowledged) failure.

Status reports are seen as insubordinate.

The new CIO replaces all the people who have deep organizational knowledge with outsiders from his old firm.

It is a big project and is named Project Iceberg. Or it's the third time the company is trying to pull this off, and the project is code-named "Phoenix." Somehow, you don't believe this one can spring from the ashes.

Even the customers who got the free version are pissed off.

The manager of your mission-critical project (handling 80 percent of the company's revenue) has three months exposure to the technology of choice, and is training four brand-new developers at once. The manager is given a three-month project deadline.

You learn that management had to insist that the interface definitions be checked into version control after the first code freeze.

They change the project manager and relocate the whole project from one city to another. (You consider yourself lucky that the cities are on the same continent.)

The QA team is told, "We've only allocated three weeks for testing" (on a project that has lasted six months already). Or QA is told, "The date is fixed. We have to have all this functionality by that date."

The program manager decided to try Agile methodology "to save time."

In a previous era, pre-cell-phones and ubiquitous Internet access: You get screeching abuse from a new project manager hired three days ago in New York, after you return from three days locked in regional CIO meetings in Frankfurt. Why? Because you hadn't responded to the e-mail messages she had sent (and which you didn't get), and you hadn't updated her "project dashboard" that you knew nothing about.

Management decides to spend a million dollars on a $20,000 project. Then the managers start agreeing with computer company salespeople that the $1 million in software requires $2 million of hardware. Meanwhile, a secretary purchases an off-the-shelf PC and a shrink wrapped CD containing some new office automation packages. She implements the project during her lunch break. (Arguably, we should count this one as a success.)

The lead developer tells you that maintaining a complete history of all database updates is a requirement for the application, but he hasn't had time to (read: doesn't know how to) design a data model for it yet. So he decides to go ahead and start with the Web front end and worry about it later. And this is the lead developer.

The business line leader/project funder says, "Get creative." This happens after management reduces the project headcount by 20 percent. And after the IT team pulls out the hardware that had been slated for recycling, saying it's your project's new hosting environment.

Why Your Project Management Practices Are Failing

August 28, 2008 — CIO — IT project management practices are stuck in the mud, and they're hindering IT departments' ability to deliver projects successfully. That's the conclusion of a recent Forrester report, "Stretching Your Project Management Muscles," which was published in July.

The reason traditional project management methodologies can backfire on IT departments is because they require so much rigor. For example, says Gerush, project managers have to follow scores of pre-defined processes and steps, and they have to deliver reams of documentation at each phase of the project—all of which dramatically and often unnecessarily protracts projects.

"There's so much rigor and normally so much documentation and so many processes you have to go through to follow a methodology that it weighs you down and that you can't move as quickly as the business needs you to move or as quickly as technology enables you to move," she says.

The Remedy: Flexible Project Management
To keep pace with the business and with the rest of IT, project management offices need to make their project management practices more flexible. Gerush offers five measures project management teams can employ to improve their responsiveness.

1. Adopt a framework. A framework is a collection of various pieces of project management "functionality," says Gerush. When projects come in, the project management office can choose which pieces of the framework to use to provide just the right amount of oversight necessary for the project, as opposed to following every step of a methodology.

2. Figure out which deliverables you really need. "For projects of short duration, an informal e-mail status report may be more appropriate than a formal document, and formally documented use cases and design specifications may be overkill for some projects," writes Gerush. That's why she advises project managers to customize project deliverables according to each project's needs.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Trustco Namibia features in Financial Times International

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange plans to further its strategy of expanding into Africa by acquiring a "strategic stake" in Mauritius's bourse.

Nicky Newton-King, JSE deputy chief executive, told the Financial Times she hoped to complete talks "shortly" but would not disclose the size of the stake.

Last month the JSE, the continent's biggest bourse, launched its Africa Board, an adjunct to its main trading board on to which it hopes to attract leading companies from beyond its South African home.

Trustco, one of Namibia's biggest companies, was the first to debut on the new board, and smaller African exchanges will be watching to see whether the dual listing drains liquidity from the Namibian exchange.

The JSE is also party to discussions among the 15 members of the Southern Africa Development Community, the regional bloc, towards integrating the software systems used by their respective exchanges to allow easier cross-border trading.

By Tom Burgis

Published: March 10 2009 02:00 | Last updated: March 10 2009 02:00

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Google Apps Upgrade Poses Threat to Microsoft Office

Google is pushing further into the communication and collaboration applications market with a major upgrade of Google Apps, a hosted suite for organizations of all sizes that analysts say could soon become a real competitor to Microsoft Office.

On Thursday, Google will introduce a Google Apps version that, for a fee, offers guaranteed uptime, IT management tools, technical support, increased e-mail storage, and integration with the Docs & Spreadsheets word-processing and spreadsheet applications, as well as BlackBerry support for Gmail.

Indeed, Google Apps represents a new, hosted approach for productivity suites, a market ruled by Office, which is mostly desktop software. Despite security and privacy concerns over storing applications and data on a third-party data center, organizations are increasingly adopting hosted models, because the vendor stores applications on its own data center and thus frees IT departments from spending time and money on hardware and software maintenance.

Google acknowledges that Google Apps doesn’t match the broad set of features currently in Office, which has an installed base of about 450 million users. Google Apps needs a presentation application like Office’s PowerPoint, and to boost its support for offline work beyond its basic capabilities to import and export files from Docs & Spreadsheets, analysts say.

Still, Microsoft must better articulate the value of Office Live, which lacks hosted versions of core Office applications like Word and Excel, said analyst Rebecca Wettemann of Nucleus Research. With the improvements in Internet connectivity, it’s natural for organizations to evaluate hosted suites like Google Apps as alternatives to packaged software like Office, she said. In a recent survey, Nucleus found that 51 percent of organizations use some on-demand applications for things like CRM, project management, content management, e-commerce and collaboration, Wettemann said

The Standard and Education editions are also getting enhanced with the Docs & Spreadsheets integration and the BlackBerry support for Gmail.

"This is a very big step forward for Google Apps," said Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google’s enterprise unit. The company plans to add several more applications to the suite before the year is out, and the JotSpot wiki service is a likely candidate, he said.

Google believes the Premier edition can be a good complement to Office, and it sees a big opportunity in organizations that haven’t been able to justify the cost of offering e-mail to some employees, particularly in retail and manufacturing, he said. Google also plans to create an ecosystem of partners and developers around Google Apps.

Forrester Research isn’t telling enterprises to drop Office, but it is recommending that CIOs give Google Apps a serious look, in large measure because Office’s price is high, said analyst Erica Driver. Today, Google Apps is a cheaper alternative to the core Office applications, but eventually it could be a replacement option, as Google grows its capabilities and CIOs get more comfortable with software as a service, she said. "Microsoft has a chance to respond, but this changes the game," Driver said.

-Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service (Miami Bureau)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wallpaper doubles as television

JAPANESE scientists are developing a wallpaper that can be turned into a television screen, with the help of nanotechnology.

The living room of the future could be coated in the revolutionary wallpaper, thanks to the efforts of researchers at Toshiba. As well as being able to turn entire walls into a screen, the flexible paper can be adjusted to show images that fit the home owner's mood.

The breakthrough in wall coverings is the result of improvements in organic electroluminescence (OLED) screen technology that enables the paper to emit light.