Bits and Bytes
Is Bill Gates out as Microsoft’s chairman? Not exactly.
Capitalizing on the cult film, “Napoleon Dynamite,” Microsoft kicked off its
recent Professional Developers Conference with a video spoof showing how the
film’s anti-hero comes to work as a programmer for the company.
Jon Heder, the actor who plays Napoleon Dynamite, later beats Gates in a slapping
match to become the software giant’s boss. The nerd icons are seen together
in ill-fitting brown suits at Microsoft’s headquarters.
The spoof’s last scene features Gates scurrying into the office of the boss—Napoleon
10 YEARS AGO
In the October 1995 issue of ADT, Andrew “Flip” Filipowski, Platinum
Technology president and CEO, fresh off of “having gobbled up 15 or so companies,”
predicted the future of the software market. “Every signal, if one believes
history, tells us that we have gone to the extreme of chaos. With all of the
consolidation and acquisitions, by the end of the decade there will be no more
than 12 leading software companies.”
Editor John Desmond offered a prediction of his own in Travels of the Editor.
“Current estimates of the number of users able to access Internet services indicate
38 million worldwide… By the year 2000, 100 million hosts are expected to have
Internet connections, and more than $1 trillion in transactions is projected.”
Neale Hirsh broke down the reality of performance threats in Back of Envelope,
Performance Modeling Protection for Developers. He claimed: “Like most
art forms, application development has its share of myths. One is that if a
program code is clever and efficient, the application is guaranteed to produce
acceptable response time and throughput.”
Hirsh proposed techniques to ensure an acceptable response time, “from the
straightforward and low cost (Rules of Thumb) to expensive and time-consuming
Authorities in Delhi authorized the use of RFID chips to thwart a popular scam
concerning the ownership of cows.
An earlier ruling by the Delhi High Court required the government to award
$45 to anyone turning in one of the city’s 40,000 stray cows to a new owner.
The new owners would too often turn the cow over to another owner, claiming
it was a stray, to collect the reward for themselves.
Now, an RFID chip will be placed in a cow’s stomach after its first capture.
Paging Dr. Spammer…
|Healthcare-related spam, promising everything from the latest in crystal therapy to superhuman powers, makes up the majority of unsolicited e-mail, according to the ClearSwift Spam Index. While some offer cures to dysfunctions, others guarantee big winnings and high rolling. Gambling spam has increased 1,500 percent in recent months, spurred by the World Series of Poker and football season,” ClearSwift says.|
|Spam Breakdown by Category:|| |
|SOURCE: ClearSwift, based on analysis of millions of spam e-mails harvested by ClearSwift’s seed accounts|
The Indian outsourcing industry is compiling histories of all its employees
to combat data fraud. Though voluntary, the system has the backing of India’s
main software trade body, and the records are controlled by a government- mandated
Companies can scan prospective employees and may use the histories as a prerequisite
for employment. The effort is in reaction to high-profile data theft cases from
Indian call centers. In one instance, employees of a firm hired by Citibank
were accused of scamming four Citibank customers out $350,000.
GM’s Hummer won’t be “like nothing else” much longer. Itronix is fashioning
a laptop inspired by the multiterrain vehicle. As with Hummer’s reputation for
durability, the notebook takes a licking, but the user keeps on clicking.
Itronix, which makes PCs for the military, is branching out into the civilian
sector with this semi-ruggedized design built to withstand vibration, temperature
extremes, bumps, knocks and spills.
The outdoorsman who wants to stay connected, or the construction crew looking
for a heavy-duty mobile computing solution, may like this $2,998 laptop, which
Itronix expects to ship in November.
Activists from Greenpeace heaved a half-ton of used PCs outside the Bangalore
headquarters of Wipro, one of India’s largest outsourcing firms, and a builder
and seller of PCs.
In preparation for the dump, the activists collected ditched Wipro-brand computers
from recycling yards in Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore. The protest was meant
to highlight the spread of chemicals being released into the environment during
electronic waste recycling. According to a recent Greenpeace report, electronic
waste recycling releases heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium, acids and organic
contaminants into the environment.
The Karnataka Pollution Control Board recently served notice to Wipro for allegedly
disposing and storing electronic waste at illegal recycling yards.
According to various reports, Wipro says it’s reviewing its practices into
electronic waste disposal. Wipro doesn’t have a take-back program for its computers
except when it upgrades customers’ computers. The outsourcing firm also says
the toxic chemicals in PCs are difficult to track because manufacturers and
suppliers must work together; Wipro only assembles PCs in its facility and doesn’t
make the parts themselves.
NOTHING BUT NET
Have you been fleeced by a ticket scalper? With FatLens, you may do better next
time. FatLens.com is designed to help users get deals on hardto- find and hard-to-afford
tickets. It displays pricing and availability information from dozens of agencies
and auction sites.
“As the only search engine that searches all across the Web for tickets, FatLens
has a unique lens on the reality of the ticket market,” claims Nanda Kishore,
If the NFL is your ticket, FatLens knows the score. Pricing trends show ticket
prices track Super Bowl odds, so expect to pay more to see contenders such as
the New England Patriots or Philadelphia Eagles. Look for your golden ticket
NO LAUGHING MATTER
Normally cheerful Britons are being asked to suppress their smiles for passport
photos to avoid confusing airport facial recognition security systems.
The U.K. Passport Service issued guidelines, insisting that photos “must show
their full face looking straight at the camera, with a neutral expression.”
Additionally, hair cannot cover the face and the mouth must be closed.
Bernard Herdan, UKPS chief executive, claims, “These new guidelines are an
important step in the development of the new biometric ePassport and use of
facial recognition technology that will be introduced in 2005 as part of the
ongoing fight against fraud and international terrorism.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Software companies enjoy somewhat more loyalty from their customers than hardware
makers, according to a recent study by Walker Information. The 2005 Walker
Loyalty Report for Software and Hardware examines customers’ attitudes,
experience and perceptions of software and hardware companies across eight sectors:
CRM, enterprise apps, desktop, infrastructure, mass storage, servers and workstations,
networked storage and networking equipment.
Fifty-six percent of U.S. software customers are ranked truly loyal, whereas
50 percent of hardware customers fall into that category. In Europe, software
companies earned a 42-percent truly loyal score compared to 40 percent for hardware.
Walker Information defines truly loyal customers as those that have positive
attitudes toward vendors and expect to continue to do businesses with them.
Hardware companies lag behind their software counterparts in earning customer
loyalty because product commoditization makes it difficult for vendors to differentiate
themselves. By developing apps that cater to businesses’ specific needs and
tasks, software makers have the edge to forge ongoing relationships with enterprises.
One in four IT customers on both continents feel trapped, meaning their commitment
to the vendor is weak, but they expect to continue doing business with these
vendors. Nineteen percent of all those surveyed are at high risk to ditch their
Walker received more than 18,000 brand evaluations from 5,475 respondents in
the U.S. and Europe. The leading loyalty vendors are Adobe Systems, Apple Computer,
Cisco Systems, Dell, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Sun
Microsystems and Symantec.
Truly, Madly, Loyally
|Software sector||Truly loyal||High risk|
|Hardware sector||Truly loyal||High risk|
|Servers & workstations||55||16|
|Software sector||Truly loyal||High risk|
|Hardware Sector||Truly loyal||High risk|
|Servers & workstations||42||21|
|Source: Walker Information; based on 18,089 brand evaluations from 5,475 respondents in the U.S. and Europe|
WINNERS & LOSERS
A software developer fired for having the audacity to eat co-workers’ leftover
pizza claimed the title Grand Prize “Loser” in a Web contest to identify the
most outrageous firing.
The offended co-workers, who apparently planned to take the remainder of the
pie home, reported James Garrison to management. The situation snowballed, and
he was fired a month later.
Other contest finalists include a programmer who wrote code that contained
a “STUPID” error message, and a techie that “sent off the bundles by internal
mail to Michael Finn” instead of microfilm.
The site, www.simplyfired.com, solicits
stories from those who got fired and awards monthly prizes for the most ridiculous
Toshiba is shipping 2- and 4-gigabyte hard disk drives that measure 0.85 inches
in diameter—about the size of a postage stamp. The drives are starting to appear
in mobile devices, including cell phones and digital audio players. Imation
recently implemented Toshiba’s 2GB 0.85-inch diameter HDD in its Micro Hard
Drive, a portable consumer device.
Routine computer housekeeping deleted almost 1 million U.K. taxpayer records
from 1997 to 2000, according to a recent report by the House of Commons’ Public
Accounts Committee. More than 360,000 taxpayers who can’t be identified are
missing out on about a total of $149 million, while 22,000 taxpayers owe a total
of around $11 million.
Inland Revenue, a department of HM Revenue and Customs, admitted last year
it accidentally deleted files from its income tax database, the national pay-as-you-go
system. For more than 10 years, the PAYE database’s housekeeping function deletes
records when they’re more than 3 years old with the assumption that cases will
be closed by then. The department eventually developed a backlog, but the function
continued even for cases still open, the report said. Open cases included people
who left work or moved away from the U.K. Inland Revenue first realized the
files were deleted in 2003, when it implemented a new system to monitor PAYE.
It now stores deleted cases in a backup file so they can be restored if necessary,
and the department now deletes cases after 6 years.
The department is negotiating with Electronic Data Systems, its previous IT
services provider, for compensation for what it considers unsatisfactory system
performance. EDS isn’t accepting the findings of an independent arbiter, and
Inland Revenue is considering legal options.
What technology is expected to dominate the industry in the coming years? Gartner
answers this question with the 2005 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies. “The
IT industry is awash with hype and buzzwords,” claims Alexander Linden, a Gartner
analyst. “The Hype Cycle cuts through this to offer an independent overview
of the relative maturity of technologies in any given domain.”
Gartner identifies three themes enterprises should watch, as well as individual
technologies in those areas.
- Peer-to-peer VOIP
- Really Simple Syndication
- Corporate blogging
- Business process platforms
Real World Web
- Location-aware applications
- Mesh networks—Sensor