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Portables

+ - SPAM: Netbooks Offered Nearly Free with Mobile Contract

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "Netbook prices in the U.S. are tumbling to practically nothing — but there are strings attached. According to an ITworld article, Best Buy is selling HP's Compaq Mini 110c-1040DX netbook for $0.99 with a two-year mobile broadband contract from Sprint. 'The contract limits subscribers to 5GB of Internet data usage per month, with extra fees if the limit is exceeded. Sprint's 3G mobile broadband plans start at around $60 a month.' And RadioShack is offering an Acer Aspire One for free with a two-year AT&T mobile broadband contract (also starting at $60 per month), according to the retailer's Web site."
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Editorial

+ - SPAM: Culture Club: How to Bring Cool to the Workplace

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "When you hear the words 'corporate culture' does a little piece of you die inside? It doesn't have to be that way. When Josh Fruhlinger started researching the topic for a recent ITworld article, he 'half expected to hear nothing but horror stories.' Instead, he 'heard from a lot of people who knew that they had a good thing going in their workplaces — and who were eager to tell [him] how they kept things going that way.' This includes, of course, those things that are straight out of the dotcom playbook — foosball, free snacks, and so on. But flexible work hours or vacation time and allowing employees time to work on projects they think are interesting can go a lot farther. For LiveOps, a company that offers cloud-based contact center services, the answer was a self-selected volunteer group that called itself 'the culture club' that organizes parties, helps orient new employees, and even organizes carpooling."
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Security

+ - SPAM: Out of Business, Clear May Sell Customer Data

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "Earlier this week, the Clear airport security screening service ceased operations, leaving many to wonder what would become of the personal information, including credit card numbers, fingerprints and iris scans, of Clear's customers. And now we know... The information could be sold to the provider of a similar service. Until then, Clear has erased PC hard drives at its airport screening kiosks and is wiping employee computers but the information is retained on its central databases. Clear customer David Maynor, who is CTO with Errata Security in Atlanta, wants Clear to delete his information but that isn't happening, the company said in a note posted to its Web site Thursday. 'They had your social security information, credit information, where you lived, employment history, fingerprint information,' said Maynor. 'They should be the only ones who have access to that information.'"
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Intel

+ - SPAM: New Chips Don't Deliver, Facebook Says

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "In an interview on stage at GigaOm's Structure conference in San Francisco on Thursday, Jonathan Heiliger, Facebook's VP of technical operations, told Om Malik that the latest generations of server processors from Intel and AMD don't deliver the performance gains that 'they're touting in the press.' 'And we're, literally in real time right now, trying to figure out why that is,' Heiliger said. He also had some harsh words for server makers: 'You guys don't get it,' Heiliger said. 'To build servers for companies like Facebook, and Amazon, and other people who are operating fairly homogeneous applications, the servers have to be cheap, and they have to be super power-efficient.' Heiliger added that Google has done a great job designing and building its own servers for this kind of use."
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Security

+ - SPAM: Reporters Find U.S. Gov't Data in Ghana Market

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "'Hundreds and hundreds of documents about government contracts,' were found on a hard drive purchased at a market in Ghana for the bargain basement price of $40, said Peter Klein, an associate professor with the University of British Columbia, who led an investigation into the global electronic waste business for the PBS show Frontline. The hard drive had belonged to U.S. government contractor Northrop Grumman and in a made-for-TV ironic twist, 'some of the documents talked about how to recruit airport screeners and several of them even covered data security practices,' Klein said. 'Here were these contracts being awarded based on their ability to keep the data safe.'"
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Government

+ - SPAM: Senators Challenge AT&T's Exclusive iPhone Dea 1

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "In a Senate hearing Thursday to study the effect of long-term handset exclusivity deals, like the one between AT&T and Apple, Paul Roth, president of retail sales and services for AT&T said that exclusive deals benefit consumers 'in three ways: innovation, lower cost and more choice.' But the senators, including Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, found it difficult to see why a phone maker wouldn't prefer to sell to all customers of all the carriers. 'I'm having a difficult time trying to envision why an innovator, given the size of the market and the number of outlets, is not going to innovate to produce a product that is equally competitive [to an exclusive phone] ... because it wants to appeal across different providers,' said Kerry. Roth replied that 'exclusive deals enable innovation because the operator and manufacturer share the risk,' and suggested that 'operators will ask manufacturers for certain features on phones but manufacturers will often only do so if the operator agrees to buy a certain number of phones.' Robert Frieden, professor of telecommunications and law at Penn State University, argued that the Carterfone precedent, which spurred innovations such as the fax machine should apply to this issue. 'We take for granted the right to own and attach telephones to the wired network. That freedom should extend to wireless networks,' said Frieden."
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Handhelds

+ - SPAM: Kindle Pricing, Business Models and Source Code

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "A trifecta of Kindle-related news surfaced this week, with Jeff Bezos speaking at Wired's 'Disruptive by Design' conference on topics including Kindle pricing and business models. And yesterday, reports blogger Peter Smith, 'there was a flurry of blogging activity yesterday stating that Amazon had released the Kindle source code. Once everyone caught their breath, it became apparent that the files in question were just some open source libraries that Amazon had modified (they're being good open source citizens and releasing mods they've made to open source code — good for them!), not the complete source code.' Now, back to the Kindle pricing: According to a post at Wired, Bezos said Amazon opted to sell the Kindle for 'something akin to the actual cost for hardware,' rather than subsidizing the hardware costs and requiring a monthly subscription or requiring the buyer to purchase a certain number of books per month because 'fees and minimum purchase requirements create friction.' Smith has a different take: 'If I'm buying a Kindle from Amazon that enables me to buy books from Amazon, I'm broadcasting a desire to buy Kindle books. I would welcome some subsidization of the hardware since I'm going to be buying content anyway. No, I really think Amazon priced the Kindle the way they did because they thought they could get away with doing so (and they were right, it would seem).' Meanwhile, over at the New York Times, Bezos said 'that he sees Kindle-the-device and Kindle-the-book-format as two separate business models, and that the Kindle iPhone App won't be the last software reader to appear.'"
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Government

+ - SPAM: IRS Now Wants To Repeal Cell Phone Tax

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "Last week the IRS caused an uproar when it requested public comments on ways to clarify a decades-old law that would tax personal usage of business cell phones. But IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said that the request for comments did not mean that the largely ignored rule would now be enforced. 'Some have incorrectly implied that the IRS is 'cracking down' on employee use of employer-provided cell phones,' Shulman wrote. 'To the contrary, the IRS is attempting to simplify the rules and eliminate uncertainty for businesses and individuals.' And in fact, the IRS is now recommending that the law be repealed, saying that 'the passage of time, advances in technology, and the nature of communication in the modern workplace have rendered this law obsolete.'"
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Input Devices

+ - SPAM: Guitar Hero Modified For Greater Accessibility

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "'A bunch of friends and I were always playing Guitar Hero and one night when we were playing one of them asked me what my research was,' says Bei Yuan, a Ph.D. student studying accessibility at the University of Nevada, Reno. And 6 months later Blind Hero — Guitar Hero for the vision impaired — was born. The player wears a glove with vibrating fingers that correspond to the colors on the Guitar Hero game. When a finger vibrates, the player hits the color on the guitar. Yuan says the researchers have 'contacted Activision and they are very interested in the project,' but it's not ready for commercialization yet."
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Government

+ - SPAM: Senators To Examine Exclusive Handset Deals

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "Based on a request that a group of rural operators sent asking the FCC to examine the practice of handset exclusivity, four members of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet sent a letter to the FCC expressing their concern. Small operators, like U.S. Cellular argue that 'exclusive handset contracts divide wireless customers into have's and have not's.' But nationwide operators, including Verizon, maintain that 'in the absence of exclusivity agreements, wireless carriers would have less incentive to develop and promote innovative handsets.' The Commerce Committee expects to hold a hearing on the issue on Wednesday."
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Databases

+ - SPAM: Oracle Beware: Google Tests Cloud-Based Database

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "On Tuesday, the same day Google held a press event to launch its Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, the company quietly announced in its research team blog a new online database called Fusion Tables. Under the hood of Fusion Tables is data-spaces technology, which would 'allow Google to add to the conventional two-dimensional database tables a third coordinate with elements like product reviews, blog posts, Twitter messages and the like, as well as a fourth dimension of real-time updates,' according to Stephen E. Arnold, a technology and financial analyst who is president of Arnold Information Technology. 'So now we have an n-cube, a four-dimensional space, and in that space we can now do new kinds of queries which create new kinds of products and new market opportunities,' said Arnold, whose research about this topic includes a study done for IDC last August. 'If you're IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, your worst nightmare is now visible.'"
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Microsoft

+ - SPAM: Project Natal On Late Night - Gaming Legitimized?

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "In a sign that gamer culture may finally have arrived, Project Natal was shown last night on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon — and not as 'some kind of sideshow goofiness,' notes blogger Peter Smith. 'And who was running the demo? Kudo Tsunoda from Microsoft Game Studios, trademark sunglasses intact,' adds Smith. 'Not some high profile PR figurehead, but one of the people working on bringing the technology into our living rooms in the not-too-distant future. This wasn't the first time a game-maker was on stage with Fallon. Apparently in an earlier show, game designer Tim Schafer appeared with Jack Black to talk about Schafer's game Brütal Legend (Jack Black provides the voice of the game's main character).'"
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The Almighty Buck

+ - SPAM: OpenSource World Offering Free Admission

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "The organizers of OpenSource World, the conference formerly known as LinuxWorld, are offering free admission — for qualified IT professionals — to this year's event, scheduled for Aug. 11-13 in San Francisco's Moscone Center. Organizers have implemented a qualifying process in order to weed out marketing staffers from vendors that aren't exhibiting at the show, but might be interested in attending to check out the competition, said event chairman Don Marti. 'The kind of people the program committee wants to reach are those hardcore sysadmins and working IT managers.' Key topics will include Drizzle, a database project based on the MySQL codebase, mobile development and security."
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Cellphones

+ - SPAM: Sometimes iPhone Whiners Are Right 1

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "In a blog post on ITworld, Josh Fruhlinger writes about the ire iPhone fans directed at AT&T (with Apple spurring them on) — and why it's justified:

The MMS delay is kind of unfathomable, as multimedia messaging ought by rights to be a cash cow; the tethering thing is something that users have wanted for years — and which has been possible with jailbroken iPhones pretty much from the beginning — and so the delay on that is particularly galling. I'm willing to bet that AT&T's foot-dragging here is largely due to their creaking network. They probably need to do some last-minute jiggering to get MMS to work properly without overwhelming the works with endless 300 KB pics of cute kitties or whatever. When it comes to tethering, well, I have bad news for you: it's going to cost you. I know linear geek logic says "I have unlimited Internet access through the phone now, therefore I should be able to use that unlimited access how I choose"; but it's only possible for AT&T to offer you that unlimited access on its current network because it knows you won't use it the way you would if, say, you had a computer with unlimited access. Charging for tethering serves multiple purposes: it makes them money which they can (if they're smart) reinvest in their network, and it cuts down on the number of people using said network, until that network is spruced up. The real thing to whine about here is that it isn't ready now; surely Apple let AT&T know well in advance that tethering was coming, and it would have been smart to have pricing plans good to go on June 19th.

"

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Programming

+ - How to Sponsor an Open Source Sprint

Submitted by
Esther Schindler
Esther Schindler writes "Does your favorite open source project need just a little extra functionality? As Esther Schindler explains in this IT World article, your company can encourage the developers to add the features you've been yearning for — for far, far less money than you imagine. She interviews companies who have sponsored "code-a-thons" for Drupal, Plone, simwiddy, and a set of applications for British Telecom, and provides specific pointers.

To ensure that the event happens and that it meets its goals, you must connect with the right members of the community and motivate them to work with you. "It's not like these people are paid to work for your interests," points out Brightcove's Whatcott. If your business already has project committers on its staff, then it's just a matter of leveraging existing relationships. But, says Stahl, "Someone less 'core' in the community might well have a harder time."

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