BBC NEWS | Technology | Thousands call for Turing apology
Thousands of people have signed a Downing Street petition calling for a posthumous government apology to World War II code breaker Alan Turing.
Writer Ian McEwan has just backed the campaign, which already has the support of scientist Richard Dawkins.
In 1952 Turing was prosecuted under the gross indecency act after admitting to a sexual relationship with a man. Two years later he killed himself.
The petition was the idea of computer scientist John Graham-Cumming.
He is seeking an apology for the way the young mathematician was treated after his conviction. He has also written to the Queen to ask for a posthumous knighthood to be awarded to the British mathematician.
Alan Turing was given experimental chemical castration as a "treatment" and his security privileges were removed, meaning he could not continue work for the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
"This added insult and humiliation ultimately drove him to suicide," said gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who also backs the campaign. "With Turing's death, Britain and the world lost one of its finest intellectual minds. A government apology and posthumous pardon are long overdue."
Alan Turing is most famous for his code-breaking work at Bletchley Park during WWII, helping to create the Bombe that cracked messages enciphered with the German Enigma machines.
However he also made significant contributions to the emerging fields artificial intelligence and computing.
In 1936 he established the conceptual and philosophical basis for the rise of computers in a seminal paper called "On Computable Numbers", whilst in 1950 he devised a test to measure the intelligence of a machine. Today it is known as the Turing Test.
After the war he worked at many institution including the University of Manchester, where he worked on the Manchester Mark 1, one of the first recognisable modern computers.
There is a memorial statue of him in Manchester's Sackville Gardens which was unveiled in 2001.
"I kept reading about potential funding cuts at Bletchley Park and I suddenly felt really mad about it," said Mr Graham-Cumming.
"I felt Turing was getting overlooked as being a British genius and that there was a blindspot in the public eye about an important man."
He has so far collected more than 5,500 signatures.
He admits that an official apology to Alan Turing is "unlikely", as Mr Turing has no known surviving family, but he says that the real aim of the petition is symbolic.
"The most important thing to me is that people hear about Alan Turing and realise his incredible impact on the modern world, and how terrible the impact of prejudice was on him," he said.
Monday, 31 August 2009
Sunday, 30 August 2009
The gadget would run on Google Inc.'s Android software, these people said. Two people who saw early prototypes described the device as slightly larger than Apple Inc.'s iPod Touch, which is similar to the iPhone but does not have cellphone capabilities.Dell Is Working On Pocket Web Gadget - WSJ.com
Another person who was briefed on the company's plans said Dell may begin selling the device later this year, though this person said the plan could be delayed or scrapped entirely.
The development effort is one of the first experiments by a big-name PC maker in a nascent category of products known as mobile Internet devices, or MIDs,which are designed to fill a perceived gap between mobile phones and laptop computers.
A Dell spokesman declined to comment on any plans for the product category.
Dell may use chips based on designed licensed from ARM Holdings PLC, people familiar with the company's plans said. The Dell spokesman said the company does not currently make any devices that use ARM-based chips.
People familiar with the effort said Dell began developing the device last year, after the company aborted an attempt to compete with Apple in the music-player business. Some of the engineers working on the music player were then assigned to help develop the small mobile device.
Earlier this year, Dell appointed an executive, Ain McKendrick, to be in charge of mobile Internet devices at the company. The Dell spokesman said that as the general manager of mobile Internet devices at Dell, Mr. McKendrick's role involves "looking at future products in play for future consideration."
One person familiar with the effort said Dell has considered selling the product through cellular carriers -- much as Dell, Hewlett-Packard Co. and other computer makers have begun marketing low-end portables called netbooks through cellular providers.
Dell has also been developing several Android-based smart phones that it plans to start selling later this year, according to people briefed on the matter.
Write to Justin Scheck at firstname.lastname@example.org
Asus Laptop: ASUS is a familiar name in the laptop industry and the F50SV-X2AM is a functional model, yet beautiful to the core! The innovative infusion technology makes these laptops different from other brands. The protective film over the exterior of the notebook helps prevent scratches. It also has a 16:9 HD Panel, which allows for high contrast rate and color saturation.Energy Efficient Computers – Green Computers - thedailygreen.com
Friday, 28 August 2009
Windows 7 Sins: The case against Microsoft and proprietary softwareWindows 7 Sins — The case against Microsoft and proprietary software
1. Poisoning education: Today, most children whose education involves computers are being taught to use one company's product: Microsoft's. Microsoft spends large sums on lobbyists and marketing to corrupt educational departments. An education using the power of computers should be a means to freedom and empowerment, not an avenue for one corporation to instill its monopoly.
2. Invading privacy: Microsoft uses software with backward names like Windows Genuine Advantage to inspect the contents of users' hard drives. The licensing agreement users are required to accept before using Windows warns that Microsoft claims the right to do this without warning.
3. Monopoly behavior: Nearly every computer purchased has Windows pre-installed -- but not by choice. Microsoft dictates requirements to hardware vendors, who will not offer PCs without Windows installed on them, despite many people asking for them. Even computers available with other operating systems like GNU/Linux pre-installed often had Windows on them first.
4. Lock-in: Microsoft regularly attempts to force updates on its users, by removing support for older versions of Windows and Office, and by inflating hardware requirements. For many people, this means having to throw away working computers just because they don't meet the unnecessary requirements for the new Windows versions.
5. Abusing standards: Microsoft has attempted to block free standardization of document formats, because standards like OpenDocument Format would threaten the control they have now over users via proprietary Word formats. They have engaged in underhanded behavior, including bribing officials, in an attempt to stop such efforts.
6. Enforcing Digital Restrictions Management (DRM): With Windows Media Player, Microsoft works in collusion with the big media companies to build restrictions on copying and playing media into their operating system. For example, at the request of NBC, Microsoft was able to prevent Windows users from recording television shows that they have the legal right to record.
7. Threatening user security: Windows has a long history of security vulnerabilities, enabling the spread of viruses and allowing remote users to take over people's computers for use in spam-sending botnets. Because the software is secret, all users are dependent on Microsoft to fix these problems -- but Microsoft has its own security interests at heart, not those of its users.
Well I would like to addresses each one of these rationally.
Poisoning education: silly. Schools use Microsoft because they can afford it and support it. Efforts to provide Linux machines to education has a terrible track record. Schools use pencils made by pencil companies, books made by publishers and various other company generated items. I profoundly doubt using Linux will make education any freer by itself.,
Invading privacy Potetially good point by Microsoft is not particularly bad at this compared to the web firms like Yahoo, Google, and Facebook that apply ads to daily content. I am pretty secure using Office to produce secrets.
Monopoly behavior 100% true. Companies probably won't care and actually like having one IT monster to order the process.
Lock-in Okay point. But there is lots of non-Microsoft stuff that runs on Microsoft boxes. For example Google download tools run better on Microsoft as does Second Life client. Its an okay point.
Abusing standards Well they are not great alll the time, but who really is? Microsoft has embraced Web Services and RSS so they pass by me.
Enforcing Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) In Microsoft's dreams. Also why would a company not install Windows because their users can't tape MSNBC shows on them?
Threatening user security The main user security problem is users themselves. Microsoft has made improvements.
I like FSF but this is a silly campaign. They should be pushing a viable Linux desktop rather than trashing MS if they want to promote Linux.
Share the Point: Wikipedia: No longer the Wild West? - CNN.com
When Wikipedia implements its administrator control of living biographies (i.e. most of the interesting content in Wikipedia and all the dynamic political debate) it will mark much more than the end of the Wikipedia Utopian experiment. After all that experiment has been dead for some time. The writing on Wikipedia's wall (after all Wikis are just 3-D walls for graffiti) has been pretty damn clear for 5 years now. The Wikipedia experiment is more than a failure, its a sad joke. But the implementation of administrator control of Wikipedia, combined with Flickr sudden decison to deleted political images and discussions of political images. make the end of a false Utopia. The combination of these 2 acts, along with the segregation of Second Life into "adult" and "family" islands, marks the end of any hope of Web 2.0 forming in to a collective consensual empowered discourse between adults.
In the case of Flickr and Linden Labs the failure is that companies, by their very nature, can not create the common space of community. Business by their very nature consume this common community in their pursuit of profit. The workers of a company produce a community generally against the wishes of companies which can only function in terms of isolated consumers and workers and fixed tasks and procedures. Companies frankly know as much about how workers use community to enable their business to run as they know how to make gasoline or gold out of sub-atomic particles. If they need gold they buy it from someone who jus digs it up. If you dig it up you station guards around it until it runs out. Companies just hire staff who form communities in a guarded space that the company owns but does not control. This is how companies work. They can provide servies, never produce community.
But the sad failure of Wikipedia, and the long drawn out death of Wiki philosophy played out even on the Simpsons, resulted from a deeper failure of our Culture. Wikipedia failed because of a failure of imagination on the part of the admins, the founders, and core users,
Wiki technology is just a hyper-text authoring system. Its not in anyway a new technology or very interesting technology. Implementing wiki in SharePoint or Wikispaces is very easy.
The failure of Wikipedia and or Web 2.0 is the failure from the start to imagine a new community of knowledge production that could freely use the technology.
Confronted with a tool that would allow anyone anywhere to create content, share content and collaborate content the founders of Wikipedia retreated in to imagining this space as an encyclopedia.
The "Encyclopedia" is a fixed social product with an established history and baggage of concepts that won't work in Web 2.0. The very nature of Web 2.0 raises questions about meta-narrative, authority, consistency, centralism, and reliability. Web 2.0 technology by its nature must make space for hybridization, virtualisation, marginality, anarchy and democracy. These can't exist in the discourse of an Encyclopedia. The conservative views of Wikipedias Randian founders (Ayn Rand killed the Inernet!) could not imagine the need to create new space of discourse to support new possibilities.
So how big is Wikipedia's utter failure?
Well in a way its limited by the long period it has taken. Wikipedia has become a more authoritian and arrogant version of usenet: full of dorks and falsehoods. But usenet was what it was, it allows alt. spaces and Wikipedia lacks its chaos and pure joy. So even though people have discounted Wikipedia for some time, in doing so they have discounted a reduced concept of collaboration than what was possible 15 years ago. Wikipedia has shrunk the imagination of millions of web users at what is possible.
As of today no one is opening new space. As I said in an earlier post a business will never be able to produce this space. Business consume resources and produce only accumulate of Capital returns. Wikipedia showed that this kind of courage of imagination is not collectively owned. It resides in some great artists but this courage to be free of imagination is not yet a common trait, and until it is Web 2.,0 will always be a sad kind of joke.
My comments were all ignored.
The problem with companies is simple, in companies its okay to lie, and you can even fire people for not lying or not going by with lies. Lying is a key feature of Capitalism and the political structures these Social Networks create have no more code to tell the truth to their users.
Without a basic moral code beyond TUS contracts you can't build a community: Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Twitter and any other will never be more than a effort to harvest free contact and expose users to marketing messages. No global state has been effective in building a Public Social Networks, and since Capitalist entities can not, by their nature, provide these services unregulated people can not trust the Social Spaces that exist on line.
Sow there is no Public community anywhere on the Internet.
Hey Flickr ... why so censorious? - Technotica- msnbc.com
Flickr cited copyright concerns over the Time magazine image. It also stated that it couldn’t discuss specifics due to its policy on customer privacy and blah, blah, blah.
The company, it seems, didn’t want its customers talking about it either. Flickr not only deleted the comments that accompanied the image, it shut down threads discussing the removal of both. Why? ‘Cause that’s how Flickr rolls.
Now comes the part where we all start cryin’ “free speech” and “censorship” and la, la, la …but guess what, kids? It’s Flickr’s ball and the law says Flickr gets to make the rules. Matt Zimmerman, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, digital civil rights advocates, confirms the law favors Flickr. “It actually implicates the First Amendment rights of who's running the forum,” he said.
Jarring, huh? Once again we are reminded that online entities that advertise themselves as “communities” are nothing of the sort. Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever, are private companies. We’re not citizens, we don’t have an invested share in the sites so commonly mistaken for town squares. We all clicked and agreed to a contract that governs our behavior on these sites, and signed away a lot of our rights and ownership as well.
Community is not a buzz word passed by an MBA. No community has ever been built in a for profit model. States require Constitutional settlements. These Common Spaces of Community underpin society. Business can use them, but can not create them. Actually business uses these social communities a resource to production, and destroy them in the process. In Social Communities companies will never make Constitutional arrangements, they will only make sales and transactions. Companies can't make constitutions, and force is still held by states.
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
UK house prices rose again in August, increasing by 1.6% from July, the Nationwide has said.BBC NEWS | Business | House prices 'continue to rise'
The average price of a home is now £160,224, up from £158,871 in July, and following four monthly rises in a row.
While prices are still lower than last year, the annual rate of decline in property values slowed sharply to 2.7%, compared with July's 6.2% fall.
The Nationwide said a key factor in lifting prices was "the exceptionally low level of interest rates".
Rates have been kept on hold at 0.5% by the Bank of England since March.
Why do companies prefer proprietary products to GPL products? | tuxmachines.org Interesting debate on Open Source
I do understand why companies often prefer BSD and Apache products to the GPL. But what I don't understand is why companies prefer proprietary over GPL. Let me emphasize, I'm talking about a product that is not related directly to core business secrets such as content management or a database.Why do companies prefer proprietary products to GPL products? | tuxmachines.org
The first reaction is, "with the GPL, we must make our changes publicly available." But I would ask, how is that different than a proprietary product, at least in a negative way? For instance, if we spend $100,000 on an IBM product, we have directly or indirectly paid for the development of that product. If we pay for IBM to enhance that product, we have directly paid for the development of features we find valuable. IBM will continue to sell that product to anyone that will pay, including our competitors.
If there is a competing GPL product that would require $50,000 to customize, and $50,000 in ongoing support (let's choose numbers that take cost out of the equation), most companies will take the proprietary route every time.
Wikipedia: No longer the Wild West? - CNN.com
CNN) -- Today's Internet is governed by the idea that crowds of people can create the news, share information and collaborate on online projects.
So when Wikipedia, the user-written encyclopedia that's built an empire on this ideal, decided this week to add a layer of oversight to its system, the Web erupted in debate.
The popular encyclopedia, which has drawn criticism for inaccuracies, says it will try assigning editors to some of its entries. These trusted volunteers likely would have to approve public edits before they're published to English-language stories about living people.
Some see the move as a shift away from Wikipedia's core values and a sign that crowds of people aren't able to produce a usable and accurate body of information.
Others see the change as a sign that these communities of online volunteers are getting more complex and they may need more rules.
Since Wikipedia was founded in 2001, a number of sites have popped up employing its basic philosophy that users can control the content of the Web.
1. I have done extensive research in to Second Life concerning its technology, economy, identity, land formation, and history.
2. I have published that work regularly in two blogs.
3. I have spoken in podcasts and to groups about this research.
4. And I would be happy to sell my advice to anyone interested.
I continue to get some feeback on tuxmachine but have been a bit depressed that it is nothing more than attacks on my own person, one person saying I was a "prat", having made the worst post in a year and questioning my very objective existence.
As of yet no one even came close to dealing with my primary question, which I continue to put out there:
Given that Linux and Open Source will produce much more rapid innovation in a business setting, and given Linux has been around 10 years plus now available for free in many distros, why does Microsoft still dominate the business computing space?
As I keep saying I like Linux and grant is is better right now than Windows and Open Source is a better model for innovation than Microsoft. One would think that stating this repeatedly on a blog dedicated to my SharePoint professional activity would invite responses other than just flames against me.
Frankly getting nothing but personal flames that ignore the key question of the FACT of Microsoft's continuing dominate of the business space is frankly depressing to me. I love Linux. Linux is my weekend OS. I use Linux OS, Flock Browser, Open Office and GIMP. Strange that someone who openly states his personal conviction that Linux is far better would be the target for bashing and flaming from a Linux group.
Well actually its not surprising. IT suffers greatly from a Geek Gap with IT savy professionals lacking effective communication in to the business. As there is really little effective testing or measuring of benefit going on in IT the internal IT industry is dominated by cliches and bullying.
But I am hoping, though I have given up on Tuxmachines.org, that someone might join in contribute further to the question: why has free, high quality, high stability Linux OS desktops not impacted the business user desktop community, the educaitonal market or even the home market. Why did the local maplins in my area only sell Eee PCs with XP?
My argument reamins, and remains mostly ignored in attacks on me and what my present job happens to be, that Microsoft brings a level of order to business decision making that reduces risk.
I wonder if the wizards on tuxmachines.org can even understand that this is a sociological and economic theory? I am sure that there are some bright men and women over there. Perhaps some of them might leave some comments.
Oh and I loved IBM and Fujitsu being brought up as case studies for Linux, now that is actually just plane ignorance. These firms are far far far more involved in Microsoft roll-outs than anything Linux.
Well flame on big gys.
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
It is inescapable that Microsoft still owns the business desktop, there is no rational person who can question the fact that the vast vast majority of business users are on Windows XP with Office 2003 right now, and that Vista and Office 2007 come in second. Mac is in third and Linux users are pretty rare. In my own blogging I see very very few Linux machines that visit my blogs, maybe 1 or 2 out a hundred.
So why is this?
Of course Linux is so much better, the fact that Linux is better and free is the starting premises of my discourse. Nothing I say would make many sense without starting from Linux is better.
The question is why is something that is both better, cheaper, and cooler so far behind?
The line of arguing I am getting at comes from a recent distance course I audited on Marx's Capital. Technical innovation is an element accumulating Capital. But technical innovation is highly risky. There is always a chance that a business may fail to innovate enough and fall behind its rivals. But perhaps more likely there is a chance that a technical innovation will become outdated before the ROI (Return) is greater than the TCO (Cost).
Companies are going to invest in IT hoping to get the highest ROI-TCO. So there is a pressue to reduce cost of ownership while increase return.
Open Source software promises to reduce Total Cost of Ownership well beyond anything Microsoft can offer. It would be much cheaper to do a desktop refresh to Debian boxes with Open Office than to refresh to Windows XP with Office 2007. The Linux Open Source would present training costs, but these would be on the order of moving to Vista and Office 2007 so in the long run moving to Linux and Open Office has a strong promise of lower cost of ownership than Microsoft.
So why continue to use Microsoft?
Often people come back with the "people are use to Microsoft." I have these strange habit in IT, I test things. IT contains few Scientists for its many politicians and philosophers: testing ideas is actually very rare.
Over the past 2 years I have been training several people in blogging for some volunteer work I do. I always train them on my Linux laptop. I have yet to even have anyone seem to notice that there was much of a difference. A company could easily create a Linux Desktop that most users would have no idea was not Windows.
So again, what is the reason for the continuing popularity and growth of the Microsoft stack?
My theory is that it is a misunderstanding by most IT observers as to the role of IT. Companies generally buy IT not because they see it as a cost saver, but because an exceptional company somewhere years ago saw it as a cost saver. IT purchases cluster in a herd, but this is not mindless herd instinct, its "rational" in its own way.
With Microsoft I know a great deal about how my IT is going to evolve. I know that I need to refresh my hardware machines every 5 to 7 years or they will not run the new software, which is fine because machines start to run down over time. I know that Office, SharePoint, SQL, Windows, Exchange will be updated every 2 to 4 years with new service packs released every 6 months. I can plan my business and as long as we all use Microsoft we can all plan our business out over the next 10 years without really having to worry too much about some new tech out of left field.
If this was all replaced by Linux and Open Source then YES! YES! YES! YES! innovation would happen faster and faster and faster. There would be more products to fit needs and upgrades would come on the market daily rather than yearly.
THAT IS THE PROBLEM. People who understand IT would have better and better tools available every few weeks, but a business owner would not be able to structure a plan of costs for say a 3 year period. Open Source would produce such a hot house of innovation that it would make last years plans for IT and business function useless.
I got some interesting feedback on tuxmachines.org about my Linux article. Either I was not clear enough on my article, or some people have simply not read it, so let me make my points even clearer for those who choose not to read the whole article.
Firstly I love Linux, it is better technology. Let me make it fully and totally clear it is my Opinion that many of the Linux distros I have used are vastly superior than Windows FULL STOP. Linux is technologically far far better.
Also let me state that I use Open Source tools over Microsoft tools myself, and that there is no question of doubt that an Open Source innovation model will produce faster "progress" (which in IT is just change) than one dominated by 2 companies like Microsoft and Google.
The point of my article, which no one even seemed to come close to addressing is that IT is not ONLY about getting as fast a change as possible. The fact is that IT change rate presents both a risk and a threat to Capitalists planning for the future and what Microsoft presents is change in a managed slow rate.
Perhaps the most unique part of the feedback I received was that it confirmed the key element of my entire post which is that most Linux and Open Source backers fail to understand the Economics working against better technology.
As for specific points:
Yes I am aware that many companies are using Linux and Open Source today, but 10 years ago many companies were using Unix and Custom Code, in fact when I started work in web development the server universe was entirely Unix and custom code. In reality Microsoft is advancing into more domains. In the past 10 years Linux and Open Source have really made no impact on business user desktops whereas Microsoft has moved in to databases, web servers, CMS and other areas it had no position in now.
As for my reference to the geek gap, when I meet two business people, or even one, who don't express confusion about technology in their organization and frustration with the geek gap I will reconsider this issue. But I regularly hear from business decision makers that they feel confused by technology and find technology experts are of little help.
Again I will try to make clear that I am trying to produce an economic behavioral account of something I have seen over the past 10 years. The key question I have is why SharePoint has taken off the way it has. The product has exploded in the middle of a massive recession in a way I have seen very few new technologies take off. I hope to understand why this is and what the role of Microsoft is in the industry.
I find assumptions that IT is always about rapid innovation to be wrong and am trying to form a more valid understanding of the role IT technology plays in our economy and the reasons that you "can't give it away" seem to be true as the vast majority of businesses continue to roll out Windows XP, IE 6 with Outlook and MOSS 2007 when they could get a massive part of this stack for free at better quality.
Microsoft's tortured stance on Windows 7 in Europe continues, with the company circling back on packaging and pricing.Microsoft's Windows 7 pretzel takes fresh twist • The Register
Having killed the planned Windows 7 E spoiler edition it unveiled for Europe, Microsoft's announced packaging and pricing in line with other worldwide markets.
Windows 7 E was the version of Microsoft's planned operating system it devised, and then strangled ahead of birth, that would have shipped without Internet Explorer 8.
The idea was, according to Microsoft, that doing so would let it stay within European Union anti-trust law.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Nokia announces netbook offering
The world's largest manufacturer of mobile phones will join the PC market with its Booklet 3G netbook.
The Windows-based device is about 2cm thick and will offer 3G connectivity as well as wi-fi.
Analysts said the laptop was a "natural extension" of the company's product range but the firm would face stiff competition.
Nokia will release price and availability information at an event in Stuttgart on 2 September.
The Booklet has an aluminium case, weighs 1.25 kilograms (2.75 lbs) and its 10-inch screen is HD-ready.
Nokia has released a number of small, "tablet"-style internet-enabled devices in the past to mixed reviews, but this is the first effort which is claimed to be a full-function PC.
"A growing number of people want the computing power of a PC with the full benefits of mobility," said Kai Oistamo, Nokia's executive vice president for devices.
"We are in the business of connecting people and the Nokia Booklet 3G is a natural evolution for us."
The Booklet also has integrated Bluetooth, GPS, a webcam and an SD card reader. Nokia claims it has a 12-hour battery life.
But if the Booklet has an edge in the crowded netbook market, it may lie in the device's heritage.
"Nokia now faces new and different competitors for the Booklet that are strong in the laptop PC space such as Dell, HP and Sony that are weak or non-existent players in mobile phones," wrote Forrester analyst Ian Fogg on his blog.
Mr Fogg said the Booklet's unique selling point was an "internal mobile broadband card with a SIM slot."
"Other netbooks rely on external USB mobile broadband modems for Internet access," he wrote on his blog.
"The presence of this internal wireless modem is why the Booklet 3G is a natural extension to Nokia's traditional phone handset product range."
Sunday, 23 August 2009
Telecoms giant BT has closed its graduate recruitment programme as it continues to cut costs in the downturn.BBC NEWS | Business | BT axes graduate recruit scheme
Over the past 4 years my own use of Linux has increased. I have built machines with several distros including Puppy, Damn Small, Linux, Open Solaris, Suse, Fedoria, Debian, Knopic and of course Ubuntu.
So I guess you could call me a fan of Linux. Fan enough to be able to tell you: its not going to knock Microsoft off its dominate position in business IT.
The reason for this is the way Microsoft allows business decision makers to anticipate the rate of technical change. Most people in IT only seem to understand half the story. Technology offers the opportunity to increase productivity of workers giving firms larger profit margins for the same price.
But technology is expensive and risky. In the late 1990s many firms found they could have no confidence in their IT projects. Money spent on IT more likely than not never gave a return.
The great danger with IT is not too little progress, but rapid confusing progress that no one really fully understands. Open Source actually contains more risk than the costs of purchasing the software.
The entire problem with the Open Source world view is that it opens a massive hot house of evolution of technology. You can suddenly have thousands of companies around the world making enhancements to bring to market. Changes can happen far more rapidly and farm more specialised, and that is the problem: business decision makers can't anticipate what the technology landscape will look like over say 5 to 10 years.
Microsoft is NOT about technology. EVERYTHING Microsoft sells can be purchased either from a premium shop at better quality or just downloaded as open source. So why is Microsoft presence increasing rather than decreasing?
Because Microsoft brings a level of order to the progress of the IT industry allowing firms to be where they want to be: not on the bleeding edge.
Lets face the facts: business people don't trust IT geeks. IT geeks for the most part hold the profit motive in contempt. The geek gap will never be resolved. Microsoft allows the business people a chance to understand how technology will evolve and be used. So you can tell your geeks to put in a Microsoft system.
Friday, 21 August 2009
The US Justice Department has given its approval for business software firm Oracle to take over computer hardware software maker Sun Microsystems.BBC NEWS | Business | Oracle gets go-ahead to buy Sun
The $7.4bn (£4.5bn) deal was agreed by the two in April this year, but still needs approval from the European Commission before it can be concluded.
Three technology heavyweights are joining a coalition to fight Google's attempt to create what could be the world's largest virtual library.BBC NEWS | Technology | Rivals band to fight Google books
Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo will sign up to the Open Book Alliance being spearheaded by the Internet Archive.
They oppose a legal settlement that could make Google the main source for many online works.
"Google is trying to monopolise the library system," the Internet Archive's founder Brewster Kahle told BBC News.
"If this deal goes ahead, they're making a real shot at being 'the' library and the only library."
The alliance to watch: Microsoft, Yahoo and Amazon with Facebook vs. Google with Twitter.
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
The coming age of lorries that drive themselves or robots that perform surgery is fraught with legal and ethical issues, says a new report.BBC NEWS | Technology | Autonomous tech 'requires debate'
The Royal Academy of Engineering says that automated freight transport could be on the roads in as few as 10 years.
Also, it says, robotic surgery will begin to need less human intervention.
But it suggests that much debate is needed to address the ethical and legal issues raised by putting responsibility in the hands of machines.
MySpace will acquire the popular music discovery service iLike that allows users listen to and share music across social networks.BBC NEWS | Technology | MySpace to acquire music service
Monday, 17 August 2009
BBC NEWS | Technology | Twitter tweets are 40% 'babble'
A short-term study of Twitter has found that 40% of the messages sent via it are "pointless babble."
Carried out by US market research firm Pear Analytics, the study aimed to produce a snapshot of what people do with the service.
Almost as prevalent as the babble were "conversational" tweets that used it as a surrogate instant messaging system.
The study found that only 8.7% of messages could be said to have "value" as they passed along news of interest.
Saturday, 15 August 2009
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The man who founded and ran the online sports gambling operation BetOnSports pleaded guilty and agreed to forfeit more than $43 million in proceeds, prosecutors announced Friday.'Pioneer' in online sports betting pleads guilty - CNN.com
Gary Kaplan, 50, entered a guilty plea to conspiracy and violating wagering laws in federal court in St. Louis, Missouri, authorities said. Justice Department officials said Kaplan last week had wired the entire forfeited amount from his Swiss bank account to the court.
Thursday, 13 August 2009
BBC NEWS | Technology | 'Facebook Lite' gets public debut
Facebook has begun tests on a new service tailored for mobiles and narrowband internet connections.
Facebook Lite appears to be a cut-down version of Facebook and is aimed at countries where broadband is limited.
The site is currently on trial in India and it is thought there are plans to extend this to China and Russia.
In a statement Facebook said the new service would be a "faster, simpler version similar to the Facebook experience you get on a mobile phone".
"Facebook Lite is a fast-loading, simplified version of Facebook that enables people to make comments, accept friend requests, write on people's walls, and look at photos and status updates," the statement continued.
"We are currently testing Facebook Lite in countries where we are seeing lots of new users coming to Facebook for the first time and are looking to start off with a more simple experience."
Facebook claims to have more than 250 million active users, although more than 72% of these are in Europe and North America, where fast broadband internet connections are common.
In developing countries, where the infrastructure for broadband is limited, mobile phones are emerging as the dominant way for the internet to develop. A cut-down version of Facebook that loads and runs effectively on a mobile platform would enable the firm to expand into these markets.
The news of Facebook Lite comes just days after Facebook acquired content-sharing service FriendFeed.
The service offers a "real-time" search engine that lets users know what is happening currently on any given subject.
The purchase caught many industry watchers by surprise, even though the two companies had been talking on and off for the past two years.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Microsoft backs long life for IE6
Microsoft has underlined support for its Internet Explorer 6 web browser, despite acknowledging its flaws.
The software giant said it would support IE6 until 2014 - fours years beyond the original deadline.
Critics - some of which have started an online campaign - want the eight-year-old browser mothballed because they claim it slows the online experience.
"Friends do not let friends use IE6," said Amy Bardzukas, Microsoft's general manager for Internet Explorer.
"If you are in my social set and I have been to your house for dinner, you are not using IE6," she said. "But it is much more complicated when you move into a business setting."
"It's hard to be cavalier in this economy and say 'oh it's been around for so long they need to upgrade,'" Ms Bardzukas told journalists in San Francisco..
Web monitoring firms estimate that 15-20% of people still use IE6 to browse the web.
Google has lifted the lid on its updated search engine, which developers have nicknamed "Caffeine".BBC NEWS | Technology | New Google 'puts Bing in shade'
A US federal court has ordered Microsoft to pay over $290m (£175m) for wilfully infringing on a patent by Canadian firm i4i.BBC NEWS | Technology | Judge bans Microsoft Word sales
Microsoft and Nokia have announced an alliance to bring the software giant's services to smartphones made by the world's biggest mobile phone firm.BBC NEWS | Business | Microsoft and Nokia form alliance
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Think of SharePoint as the jack-of-all-trades in the business software realm. Companies use it to create Web sites and then manage content for those sites. It can help workers collaborate on projects and documents. And it has a variety of corporate search and business intelligence tools too.Microsoft’s SharePoint Thrives in the Recession - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com
Microsoft wraps all of this software up into a package and sells the bundle at a reasonable price. In fact, the total cost of the bundle often comes in below what specialist companies would charge for a single application in, say, the business intelligence or corporate search fields.
It can’t do everything. Executives at Microsoft will readily admit that the bits and pieces of SharePoint lack the more sophisticated features found in products from specialist software makers.
“We don’t claim we do everything,” said Chris Capossela, a senior vice president at Microsoft. “If we do 50 percent of the functions that these other companies do, but they’re the ones customers really want, that’s fine. The magic is that end users actually like to use the software.”
This strategy seems to have worked even during the recession.
While Microsoft’s Windows sales fell for the first time in history this year, its SharePoint sales have gone up. Microsoft declines to break out the exact sales figures for the software but said that SharePoint broke the $1 billion revenue mark last year and continued to rise past that total this year, making it the hottest selling server-side product ever for the company.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Facebook in challenge to Google
Many expected Google or even Twitter to buy the company, which has been praised for its "real-time" search engine.
This type of search is valuable because it lets you know what is happening right now on any given subject.
"Google look out, Facebook knows the real money is in real-time search," said respected blogger Robert Scoble.
"Google is the king of regular search. FriendFeed is the king of real-time search. This makes the coming battle over this issue much more interesting," Mr Scoble told the BBC.
Back in May, Google founder Larry Page admitted that the search giant had fallen behind other services like that of Twitter, which boasts nearly 45 million users worldwide.
"People really want to do stuff real time and I think they (Twitter) have done a great job.
"We've done a relatively poor job of doing things that work on a per second basis," Mr Page said at the time.
BBC NEWS | Business | Retail sales 'continue to rise'
Retail sales rose again in July, as the wet weather lifted demand for furniture and homeware goods, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said.
This was a bigger increase than the 1.4% rise reported for June.
However, the BRC cautioned that rising unemployment was preventing a wider return of consumer confidence.
Sales of furniture and homewares saw their biggest year-on-year growth in three years during July, although the BRC said this was against a very low base in July 2008, and lifted by extensive discounting.
Photosynth - Garden Test Can You make out my garden? Use the highligts to see where major parts are.
Photosynth - Garden Test
An experiment in augmented reality. See if you can feel you are in the garden.
Monday, 10 August 2009
Consider the eight motivating factors for changing employee perception and behaviors when implementing a virtual meeting program. These motivators, and remedies to change behavior, are described below. If these eight motivating factors prevent travel reduction, then select the appropriate remedies to change behavior.T&E Plus: Virtual Meetings: Eight Motivating Factors
Common motivators that may derail a Virtual Meeting Program
Motivator: Job Performance
Employees believe that:
· Building relationships increases camaraderie thereby enhancing job performance
· Participating in person will enhance visibility thereby enhancing job performance
· Participating in face-to-face meetings is highly valued and considered "achievement"
· Leading or participating in new project or initiative requires face-to-face meetings
· Change performance metrics to encourage "less travel"
· Encourage virtual relationships
· Modify communications
· Scrutinize travel requests with strict approvals
· Improve policy
· Modify project expectations to increase virtual meeting usage
· Uninformed about current technologies and why to consider them
· Unaware that higher quality tools will enhance the experience
· Uninformed about the cost of using technologies
· Increase communications and marketing efforts on virtual communications technologies applicability
· Uneducated on how to use technologies
· Unsure of the process to reserve the technologies
· Less confident in abilities to prepare content to fit virtual delivery
· Provide training and support
Employees believe that:
· Customs, ethical, religious and other social reasons may encourage face-to-face presence rather than virtual methods
· First meetings often require face-to-face meeting to build camaraderie
· Provide support and leadership expectations that second meetings and follow up meetings should be conducted using virtual communications technologies
· Set clients expectations by helping both traveler and clients save money by additional use of virtual communications tools.
Employees believe that:
· Internal content, technology and logistics support may not be available
· Time zones may affect available technology support during meeting time
· The organization is offsetting travel carbon footprint
· Provide support structure to assist with process, reservations, virtual communication choices, content creation to match format, and technical support.
· Use carbon footprint as a change management driver that is acceptable to clients, government agencies and private sector
Employees believe that:
· International, national, regional and local laws and any aspect of the political environment might influence the initiative. An example may be that a face-to-face class is needed to fulfill a continuing education requirement and a virtual communication tool is not a viable replacement
· Determine the travel requirements during the budgeting process for travel activities
· Determine essential, versus non-essential travel and communicate to all employees
· Perception about the technology quality, content delivery, purpose or experience may affect the willingness to accept change within the environment.
· Develop a change management plan including incentives, communications, training, and leadership expectations.
Employees believe that:
· Traveling increases take-home pay
· Traveling increases rewards and perks that can be used for personal travel
· Traveling is an entitlement and one of the reasons for working at the organization
· Require supplier receipts (hotels, transportation)
· Require per diem pay-backs if monies are not used
· Incorporate corporate credit card program for travel expenses
· Strategically source hotel and other transportation suppliers for improved discounts; require compliance to preferred suppliers
· Modify pre-hire perceptions about travel opportunities