snydeq writes: The InfoWorld Test Center has announced its Technology of the Year Award winners, chosen from hands-on testing of technologies aimed at end-users, developers, IT pros, and the businesses they serve. Pure open source projects and commercial products rooted in open source proved their mettle, accounting for nearly a third of the winners in categories ranging from mobile devices to cloud services. As for Windows 8? Not a winner.
snydeq writes: "The NYTimes reports on the San Francisco's shifting socio-economic landscape thanks to a massive influx of tech workers and tax and regulation breaks to big-name startups. 'In a city often regarded as unfriendly to business, Mayor Edwin M. Lee, elected last year with the tech industry’s strong backing, has aggressively courted start-ups. But this boom has also raised fears about the tech industry’s growing political clout and its spillover economic effects. Apartment rents have soared to record highs as affordable housing advocates warn that a new wave of gentrification will price middle-class residents out of the city. At risk, many say, are the very qualities that have drawn generations of outsiders here, like the city’s diversity and creativity. Families, black residents, artists and others will increasingly be forced across the bridge to Oakland, they warn.'"
snydeq writes: "Deep End's Paul Venezia decries the government's lack of attention to e-voting technology, despite ongoing flaws and clear indications that the government makes 'extremely good use of technology when it suits them — such as spying on their own citizenry or developing missiles that can travel hundreds of miles and hit a shoebox.... Lapses persist everywhere, from systems that can be compromised by someone with an eighth-grade education and $26 to voting machines that helpfully hack themselves.' Venezia writes. 'Years continue to go by without any sort of controls, regulations, or reliable testing of electronic voting systems that are used by millions of Americans to cast their ballots. State governments have a much firmer grasp on how to interface with car computer systems to fail an inspection if ODB-II error codes are logged than they do with electronic voting.'"
snydeq writes: "A recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics sheds light on the business cycle for the tech industry, and if the dot-com bust is any indication, we may soon witness the implosion of today's mobile tech jobs boom. Venture capital firms are drastically reducing investment in the mobile industry, a trend that could render many mobile ventures unable to meet their rapidly increasing payrolls in the near future. And while the dot-com era is remembered for its profligate excess and perks, 'the real destroyer of the balance sheet was the payroll' — so much so that U.S. BLS chief regional economist Amar Maan suggests that many tech entrepreneurs would be better off opening a restaurant."
snydeq writes: "Deep End's Paul Venezia waxes befuddled on the ongoing existence of the fax machine. 'Consider what a fax machine actually is: a little device with a sheet feeder, a terrible scanning element, and an ancient modem. Most faxes run at 14,400bps. That's just over 1KB per second — and people are still using faxes to send 52 poorly scanned pages of some contract to one another. Over analog phone lines. Sometimes while paying long-distance charges! The mind boggles,' Venezia writes. 'If something as appallingly stupid as the fax machine can live on, it makes you wonder how we make progress at all. Old habits die hard. It just goes to show you: Bad technology generally isn't the problem; it's the people who persist in using that technology rather than embracing far superior alternatives.'"
snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Peter Wayner provides a look at 10-plus mobile browsing alternatives, from Firefox, to Opera, to SkyFire, to Mercury, and more — a rapidly evolving area fraught with confusion, especially for developers seeking to target the mobile Web. 'All of this turmoil is creating opportunities. On the iPhone, the formerly unknown browsers are quite nice. They run quite well and sometimes offer the ability to run Flash content directly because they have compiled Flash into the stack. There are a surprisingly large number of new names appearing, and some are beginning to be mentioned in the same breath as the big browsers that dominate the desktop,' Wayner writes. 'The turmoil is also changing the definition of what a browser might be. A number of small applications such as Instapaper, Flipboard, and Evernote never set out to be browsers, but people are using them to read Web pages.'"
snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Peter Wayner offers a look at 13 promising features unique to one browser. From Chrome's support for SPDY, to IE9's emphasis on energy efficiency, to Firefox Sync, browser vendors are working hard to establish any edge that might attract more users to their stack of code. And while speed and HTML5 compatability remain key in the battle of the Web browsers, unique features often point the way forward. 'Given the pace of browser updates these days, don't be surprised to find the best of the bunch being copied by competitors soon,' Wayner writes. 'After all, yesterday's browser bells and whistles are today's must-have features.'"
snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Galen Gruman looks beyond PlayBook's compelling demo to see a business tablet that may not offer enough upside to prevent the iPad from gaining traction in the enterprise. 'The big miss is the set of apps available. Apparently, there are none beyond the basics that RIM provides, such as calendaring and contacts. Because the PlayBook uses a new operating system based on the QNX microkernel implementation of Posix, the Java ME-based BlackBerry OS apps won't run on it. So, BlackBerry developers and users alike must start over again for apps,' Gruman writes. Moreover, PlayBook's presumed BES-enabled security advantage over the iPad in the enterprise is somewhat misleading, as iOS 4's security and manageability capabilities are more than adequate for the vast majority of enterprises. Still, PlayBook offers intriguing possibilities for tablet use in business contexts, most notably phone tethering, BlackBerry mirroring, and multicore processing, as well as its new Web-based BlackBerry development platform."
snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Paul Venezia outlines eight problems the IT industry must solve in the next 5 years on behalf of IT organizations everywhere. From a solution to the desktop, to disk-free virtualization servers, to a complete reworking of software licensing, each problem takes into account the everyday needs of IT pros, providing a wish list for solutions to the big problems that get in the way of IT doing its job."
snydeq writes: "Deep End's Paul Venezia discusses a particularly troubling trend in IT: IT vendors who have no problem charging high prices to fix their own products, even design defects. 'In short, I really don't want to pay vendors to fix their own mistakes, but that seems to be the "value proposition" in more and more areas of IT,' Venezia writes, telling the tale of a particularly balky storage array. 'I contacted the vendor, since this array was new and had a three-year hardware support agreement. I described the problems and was told that unless I purchased a software support agreement, I was out of luck. I didn't need hand-holding to configure anything, I hadn't broken anything, and there were obviously significant bugs, but I was on the hook to pay to find out if these problems would be addressed in upcoming software releases — or to get any further information or troubleshooting steps. That's just crazy.'"
snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Robert Scheier offers in-depth advice on how IT can get the most from its procurement budget — and avoid getting fleeced by its tech vendors. 'Despite the shaky economic recovery, consultants say it's still mostly a buyer's market, with vendors competing for your IT dollar. Use the uncertain economy — and the knowledge that vendors need your dollars — to drive smart deals based on a clear-eyed knowledge of your real needs,' Scheier writes, adding that knowing how sales reps are compensated, rejecting pricey maintenance plans, and negotiating with senior executives are key, as is a keen understanding of the kinds of dirty vendor tricks that can be pulled in any negotiation. 'You may be looking for a better deal because of the tough economy — but so are the vendors who are trying to preserve income and even grow despite the tough times. Many will play hardball as well, and a few will go beyond tough negotiations to underhanded techniques.'"
snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Paul Venezia sees RIM, Apple, Google, and Microsoft re-enacting the desktop wars of the '80s and '90s, this time in handheld form. And while RIM is playing the IBM role in the smartphone sequel to the PC wars, and Apple is Apple, Google has taken up the Microsoft position, releasing an inferior product to Apple's but having licensed it everywhere on every form of device through just about any carrier. 'The wireless wars are every bit as heated as the PC wars — except that they are transpiring at Internet warp speed. If history is any guide, RIM will become an also-ran in the consumer and business smartphone market; Apple will enjoy a steady revenue stream from the iPhone; and Google's Android will basically take over everything else, if for no other reason than because it's everywhere else.'"
snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Peter Wayner provides a deeper look at browser plug-ins — mechanisms by which users can customize their Web experience and tweak the performance of their browser of choice. 'All the major browsers make such customizations easy, though each employs a different mechanism,' Wayner writes. 'What's great about these additional blocks of code and images is that they're usually packaged for easy installation. In most cases, one click starts the process. And there's little reason to worry about the mechanism itself. The process works smoothly — most of the time.' From face-lifts, to tailoring to the browser to suit your surfing habits, to bringing the outside world in, customizing your browser to the perfect balance of features and speed has never been easier."