Italian antitrust group examining Google News

Competition regulators in Italy have opened an inquiry into Google News at the behest of publishers who allege they were banned from search results unless they agreed to be part of Google News.
According to reports, Google's offices in Italy were searched Thursday by regulators seeking evidence that Google forced Italian news sites to make their copy available through Google News unless they were willing to be excluded from search result pages. A complaint was filed by an Italian newspaper organization, FIEG, which also decried the lack of information made available to publishers as to how Google News organizes links to stories.
Google Italy representatives were quoted in several places as saying "The Competition Authority has notified us of a claim against Google Italy. We're finding out more details today, although we do know that it's in relation to Google News, which drives significant traffic and new readers to newspaper Web sites."
Later in the day, Google posted a blog item on the inquiry, acknowledging the existence of the claim but spending most of the post explaining how publishers can remove themselves from Google News, but not search results, at their request.
Google News is definitely a sore spot for many publishing companies, who feel Google's news aggregation site siphons readers from their own Web sites. Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search products and user experience, appeared before Congress in May to defend Google against such charges, saying that Google directs an awful lot of traffic--which can be turned into ad revenue--to newspaper Web sites for free.
But allegations that Google is messing with search results pages in retaliation for a business decision are very serious. Google's search results are supposed to be completely automated--driven by algorithms and keywords--and a large part of the company's growth has been driven by the public belief that its search results are gospel.
The New York Times reported that Google had denied the charges regarding the search results. Google's blog post Thursday did not specifically address that allegation but said there is a mechanism for removing one's content from Google News yet leaving it among search results.
The inquiry also comes at a point in Google's history where just about everything it does gets examined through an antitrust lens, with a new administration in the U.S. taking a closer look at several parts of its business.
READ MORE - Italian antitrust group examining Google News

China biz software sector to be Asia's largest

The enterprise software market in China is set to emerge as the sector's largest market in the Asia-Pacific region, reaching US$9.4 billion by 2012, said Springboard Research.
In a report released Thursday, the research firm said the Chinese market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18 percent.
The study identified the high-growth software-as-a-service (SaaS) market, rapidly expanding open source adoption and cultural acceptance of software piracy as some key characteristics of the Chinese software market.
Michael Barnes, vice president of software research at Springboard, said the enterprise software growth is driven by a combination of strong, on-going economic growth and a relatively low software adoption rate.
While existing software investments are concentrated in local offices of foreign companies and internationally-focused Chinese companies, the market is expanding to other sectors, led by banking and state-owned enterprises, Barnes added in the report.
According to the study, system and infrastructure software represented nearly two-thirds of the market in 2008, while application software took the remaining share.
Comparing China with more mature IT markets in the region, Barnes noted infrastructure software spending represents a larger portion of total software spending in the country. However, this gap in spending will close as projects and budgets there shift from system and infrastructure, towards enterprise application-focused projects, he added.
Supply chain management (SCM) and content and collaboration are the fastest growing segments in the application software category, while middleware and security software lead the system and infrastructure category, the study reported.
The application market is still rather small in China. However, Barnes said with its small installed base, Springboard expects growth rates across most categories such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), SCM and customer relationship management (CRM), to "far outpace" regional averages for the next three to four years.
Global vendors need to pay attention to the enormous disparities that exist among Chinese businesses in terms of IT resources, process sophistication and technology adoption Springboard said, adding that these disparities often pose a risk to large-scale software project success.
Bryan Wang, research director and Springboard's China country manager, said for software vendors, a local, direct presence is often critical to growth in the Chinese enterprise software market.
"Given the language and cultural issues, as well as expectations over localized products and localized support and services, operating in China via an indirect model is extremely challenging," he added.
READ MORE - China biz software sector to be Asia's largest

Symantec eyes easier cloud security

Protecting enterprise data in the cloud is not "straightforward" enough, according to a Symantec executive.
Ken Berryman, Symantec's senior vice president of strategy and emerging businesses, said Thursday in an interview with ZDNet Asia that the cloud will eventually be "part of the way everybody accomplishes computing".
Moving to the cloud, he noted, is being recognized by smaller and, increasingly, large companies as a way to lower infrastructure costs. However, the cloud computing shift is complex and not an overnight endeavor.
"Moving things into the cloud today breaks most of your existing internal infrastructure…but it shouldn't," said Berryman. "The benefit of driving out costs in infrastructure will come when it's transparent to a customer, whether [it's a] physical server or virtual server or server in the cloud, or whether [it's] physical storage or virtual storage or storage in the cloud."
In reality however, additional engineering is required to properly manage data security in a mix of physical and virtual environments, Berryman pointed out.
"In many cases, customers can't simply move a server to the cloud because there's not a straightforward way to protect the information," he explained. "Existing tools won't allow [them] to assure compliance with policies across a cloud-based service and an on-premise service. While many of our tools provide full support for a virtual server, [when] that virtual server is outside of the internal network--it requires additional engineering to give you the same level of capability."
To fill the gap, Symantec is working to make it easier for customers to manage its existing products when a portion of their computing infrastructure is in the cloud, said Berryman.
In addition, Symantec is looking at securing information through means such as encryption "at an object level", to better assure customers that information which moves into the cloud is protected. The company is also exploring how to expand its partner-developer community by making it easier for others to build applications on top of its cloud services.
About 15 percent of Symantec's annual turnover is devoted to R&D, said Berryman. "A reasonably large fraction of that, although certainly not the majority" is channeled toward development specifically for software-as-a-service and cloud computing.
READ MORE - Symantec eyes easier cloud security

Not all employees are created equal

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

I read that famous line in George Orwell's Animal Farm when I was a child, so it wasn't until years later that I fully appreciated how accurately it reflected the real world.

That line popped back in my head again this week, amid a fiery debate that has been brewing in Singapore regarding racial equality. In fact, it got so fiery that the country's founding father and former prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, made a rare address during a parliament session Tuesday.

In his speech, Lee pointedly rebuked a Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) who had called for changes to better reflect undisputed equality for all races in Singapore. The senior statesman noted that ideals of racial equality remain that--ideals...well, at least, for now.

Lee said: "Our Constitution states expressly that it is a duty of the government not to treat everyone as equal. It's not reality, it's not practical. It will lead to grave and irreparable damage if we work on that principle."

So, the Singapore pledge, which espouses a united population regardless of race or religion, "was an aspiration", he said. He noted that the U.S. Constitution, inked in 1776, pledged that "all men are created equal" but in fact, the blacks were not allowed to vote until decades later following the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

I would highlight, too, that the while Americans frequently proclaim the U.S. to be "land of the free" and home of the "free world", their Pledge of Allegiance today still includes the phrase "under god"--a line that atheists and socialists in the U.S. have taken issue with.

Pointing to the NMP's assumption that there is racial equality in Singapore, Lee added: "I think it was dangerous to allow such highfalutin ideas to go un-demolished and mislead Singapore."

His statements may be deemed a little extreme but he highlights a reality that I feel has been long overlooked--that a society devoid of discrimination remains, and could very well remain, utopia.

If it wasn't the color of your skin, you'll inevitably be judged by how heavy you tip the scale, how symmetrical your face is, how quick you can recite the multiplication table, or how big your bank account is.

As long as people can be pigeon-holed into categories, whether officially or socially, I believe there will always be discrimination in some form or another.

Unfortunately, the same rings through in any workplace. Not every employee has leadership qualities, not every worker can submit a project as quickly as another, and not every colleague carries equal level of skills, knowledge or aptitude.

Above all, we're not all equal in the workplace. Regardless of how linear the organizational structure may be, there'll always be a hierarchy of some sort. So unless you run your own shop, you'll always have a boss to whom you report, and there'll always be someone who has a right to the final say over yours. That's the business reality, that's the corporate world and that's something I myself have gradually learnt to accept as I chalked up more years in the workforce.

Does that mean we're doomed to remain a society seething with prejudice and partiality? Yes, we may never be rid of bigotry, but we can learn to live and work better with it.

Some preach the virtue of tolerance, but I don't think that's it at all. Tolerance suggests a compromise or sacrifice on someone's part, so that cannot be the best answer. Instead, I think it all boils down to one single trait, respect--basic respect for your colleagues and anyone you interact with, even if they hold beliefs and values that may not necessarily sit well with your own.

The crux of most conflicts today, be it in the workplace or society, is people's inability to afford a basic level of respect for their colleagues and their peers.

Unless you perceive yourself a deity, everyone is flawed. If we learn to accept the fact that no one is perfect, I think this world will be an easier place to live in.

That, however, cannot be a reason to be complacent, especially in the corporate landscape where no one is indispensable and your replacement is just a new hire away. And not all businesses are willing to settle for second best.

While I acknowledge that members in my team can't be perfect at everything they do, they know that I expect due effort from each of them to work on their weak points and strive for improvements.

Perfection may be unattainable, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't seek it.

As Lee said, even if we may never achieve absolute equality for all, we can still aspire to do so. I think that's an important message many today fail to understand, along with the need to have basic respect for their neighbors.

To gain the respect of others, you have to first give it. German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe sums it up well: "Being brilliant is no great feat if you respect nothing."
READ MORE - Not all employees are created equal

Is censorship the answer?

Mention the "c" word in Malaysia these days and all hell breaks loose. Censorship is indeed a highly charged word today, given that the country has gone through another iteration of what appears to be an attempt to censor the Internet.

Two weeks ago, news reports emerged that Malaysia was at the cusp of censorship through an Internet gateway filtering system, likening it to China's Green Dam project. A day later, the Malaysian Information Minister was waylaid during a press conference and cornered into admitting that the government is looking into such a filtering system.

But, he stressed that such a move was designed to filter offensive content such as child pornography and not political dissent, as many had assumed it was trying to do.

A few days later, the Cabinet confirmed Malaysia was not about to censor the Internet as it deemed such moves ineffective in a borderless world where information flows freely. It added that there were enough existing laws to punish those who break the law, including those who perpetrate wrong doings online.

There are many reasons why a move like censorship would provoke such a strong response. To begin with, Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world that has expressly stated that it would not censor the Internet. In a law outlined in the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, Section 3(3) states: "Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting the censorship of the Internet."

So, to propose any form of censorship would mean the government is not merely going back on its word, but contravening a law that is in existence.

Perhaps another major reason why this issue has caused a furor, especially in blogsphere, is that the government has been put on the defensive of late. It lost a lot of ground to opposition parties, where the battle for political propaganda is now fought more in the online realm, and less in the print world. Critics, however, feel that the proposed filtering system will blur the line on what can or cannot be published online, thereby giving the government ammunition to stifle political dissent.

It's good to note that the government clarified its position on censorship quickly as indecision on this matter would have impacted the country as a whole.

In the past, some people in the corridors of power who do not understand the Web and its associated technologies, would react to what was published online and consequently, proposed censorship as a means of dealing with the challenges that come from the open nature of the Net.

The truth is that there are many "undesirable elements" out there on the Net that affect our children and us. In fact, the government has used this as a justification for trying to impose filters on the Net. But, reflecting on it further, one would realize that censorship cannot be a simple answer to a complex issue. Someone once said: "We can't just create a 'walled-garden' to keep negativity out of the children's way because one day they will be tall enough to peep over that wall."

For starters, experts will tell you that there are many ways around filtering, of which some methods are so easily implemented that even a primary school kid can learn to do it. Second, what is right and wrong has nothing to do with technology per se, and to "kill" the Web, the medium of knowledge delivery, is like throwing out the baby with the bath water.

No one can deny the power the Web has brought to our nation, least of all the government. So unless Malaysia is prepared to embrace "cyber asceticism", and isolate itself from the world, the Web is here to stay, whether we like it or not.

But to address the multi-faceted issues the Net brings to the country, there's a need to holistically and impassively look at the challenges presented by the Net, without muddling the issues at hand.

It's unfortunate that there are government officials who say while it will not censor the Internet they are worried about the political fallout of not controlling the Net; and on the opposition side, you have those who blame the government for trying to shut them out.

Notwithstanding the many conspiracy theories that have been hatched as to what each political camp is trying to do to the other, I believe that both sides of the divide need to put aside their differences and come together to address the ills of the Internet, not merely from the standpoint of content, but also from security.

Issues like spam, phishing, Web intrusion, hacking, fraud and identity thefts, are but some of the very pressing issues that need to be looked into as these instances are rising before our very eyes. Throw in Web sites that incite hatred, terrorism, trafficking of children and peddling of child pornography, we have our hands full dealing with these threats.

There is an urgent need for all stakeholders including those from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, the Science, Technology And Innovation Ministry, the Education Ministry, CyberSecurity, law enforcement, as well as not-for-profit, social-based organizations to come together and tackle these issues as they stand, free from political intervention and personal agendas.

These stakeholders must realize that the nature of the Internet is not going to change and censorship per se, is not the answer. As the world becomes more globalized and as Malaysia becomes more dependent on the Internet, the country must form comprehensive frameworks and policies--comprising legal, technical and social issues--from which to address and mitigate these threats and challenges.

Only then will Malaysians be able to find the raison d'etre for the Net's existence--that is, to positively exploit it for the betterment of the country and its people, while shunning the bad that will ultimately destroy our way of life.
READ MORE - Is censorship the answer?

Checker eases app programming flowdoption of a new software development process framework

SINGAPORE--For Digital Scanning Corporation (DSC), the adoption of a new software development process framework has helped the company sell its software to a wider variety of customers.
Seah Liang Chiang, CEO and founder of the Singapore-based company, said its deployment of IBM's Rational Software integrated development environment has been a boon to its programmers.
DSC tracks and manages changes to its software codes based on Rational's methodology. This framework has afforded the local company more agility in adapting changes for customers, while keeping the code base stable, Seah said Tuesday at an IBM Rational event.
Prior to adopting the framework, much of its applications had to be recoded when customers requested customization or when programmers left the company, taking their intellectual property with them, he explained.
The ability to push out coding changes more stably, be it software updates or customization work, goes toward DSC's "Gillette" business model, where the company charges a lower price for the product and thereafter, relies on subscription fees customers pay in exchange for services and maintenance.
Seah noted: "Off-the-shelf doesn't cut it anymore because customers want the 20 percent [of the software] that is customized [to their needs]."
The ability to manage the programming process also allows DSC to broaden its customer portfolio.
Steve Robinson, vice president of IBM Rational Software, said its software was designed such that developers no longer needed to rebuild their codes from scratch. It does this by keeping base codes consistent, enabling programmers to build different components or modules--based on their clients' specifications-- on top of the base code.
According to Seah, this allows DSC to easily repackage and market varying customizations to customers from different vertical industries.
Robinson noted that software companies in the past did not prioritize the application development process, but this has since changed.
Companies now realize how much inefficiency can arise out of rebuilding software due to circumstances, for example, when programmers retire, he said. This has pushed application houses to increase their focus on ensuring the application development process can continue even after their programmers leave, he noted.
Seah could not provide statistics on how much time DSC's programmers have saved from adopting IBM's Rational application development framework, citing the company's short experience with Big Blue. The Singapore company signed on as a customer four months ago.
IBM's country leader for Rational Software, Paul Tay, said companies can expect to reduce their programming time by 15 to 50 percent.
READ MORE - Checker eases app programming flowdoption of a new software development process framework

Can cable faults ever go away?

Telcos in Asia have stepped up investments over the last few years to enhance redundancy, cable routes and re-routing efforts, but the region is still not safe from cable disruptions.
Users located in the Asia-Pacific region were subjected to slow connections speeds to sites hosted outside of the region on Aug. 12 due to a fault in the APCN2 (Asia-Pacific Cable Network 2) undersea submarine cable. Telcos have pinned the fault to Typhoon Morakot, which struck China and Taiwan around that time.
Such disruptions are not new. In 2006, APCN2 was damaged by seismic activity, when an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale occurred off the southern coast of Taiwan. Early last year,undersea cables in the Mediterranean Sea suffered multiple cuts, crippling voice and data communications in the Middle East and South Asia.
APCN2 Segment 7 repair ongoing

Segment 7 of the APCN2 damaged by the recent Typhoon Morakot is currently undergoing repairs, and is expected to be restored within a week.
According to Mark Chong, SingTel's executive vice president of networks, the Asean Restorer cable ship is currently carrying out repairs to segment 7 of the APCN2. SingTel is part of the consortium that owns APCN2.
"The repair is targeted to be completed by the end of this month," he said in an e-mail. "The APCN2 Segment 1 was repaired on Aug. 14, which restored traffic to most destinations on the cable."

StarHub, another investor in APCN2, said even as repair work is ongoing, Internet connectivity had "normalized" the same week the damage was discovered.
Learning from the past
Industry stakeholders say progress has been made by telcos over the last few years in terms of redundancy and re-routing processes. On the other hand, any network downtime or lag is increasingly a source of irritation.
Matt Walker, principal analyst at Ovum, noted in a commentary earlier this month, projects such as the Transpacific Express and Asia America Gateway (AAG) have contributed to Asia's international network connectivity. "The region's cable systems are now much more meshed and resilient, and less prone to catastrophic failures", he pointed out.
"Redundancy is nothing new in undersea networks, but what's different is the number of alternate or backup paths now available in the event of a single failure," Walker explained in a follow-up e-mail interview. "Additionally, the rerouting process is much more automated now thanks to new technology such as optical switches and other devices."
Simon Cooper, vice president of network strategy, architecture and optimization at Tata Communications, pointed out that the "massive number of cable breaks" in the latest incident could have been a lot worse.
"Given the sheer number of cable breaks--for instance off Hong Kong--it [was] a testament to the industry that a near-normal service [was in operation]," he said in an e-mail.
Some users, he acknowledged, had still experienced slow Internet connectivity some 48 hours after the cable cuts were reported, but this was because of the multiple breaks and limited number of routes that had remained in service. "It [was] simply not possible to fully replace all that cable capacity until at least some of the repairs had occurred."
Michael Sim, StarHub's senior manager for corporate communications, said in an e-mail, the telco has, since the 2006 incident, acquired additional bandwidth capacity to expand and enhance its international connectivity, and to provide diversity to the existing submarine cable systems. One such investment is in the AAG.
"From StarHub's perspective, we want to ensure that we have additional bandwidth capacity on all the major cable systems, and a diversity of cables and alternate routes. Our involvement in AAG is part of this initiative to boost the resiliency of StarHub's international connectivity."
SingTel's executive vice president of networks Mark Chong, said the carrier increased its connectivity westward to Europe, and spread east-bound traffic onto more submarine cable systems.
Chong added: "We are currently building the new cable--Unity--from North Asia to the United States. We are therefore able to enjoy, and offer to our corporate customers, cable diversity which allows us to divert traffic from one cable system to another should the need arise."
According to Tata's Cooper, routing cable systems to avoid disaster-prone areas could alleviate some concerns of cable disruptions due to natural phenomena. The company's new TGN-Intra Asia cable system had been laid "with a specific view to avoiding the quake zone around Taiwan--by routing to the very south of the Luzon Straits".
Yet, "nowhere is completely safe from natural disasters", he noted.
"The only way to ensure that disruption is minimized in a disaster scenario is to plan and evaluate your network needs under various scenarios--whether it's a sub-sea earthquake or a [voltage drop in an electrical supply] in a particular city area--and to try to invest in a network that will have affordable survivability in those potential situations."
Major disruptions can bring important lessons but at the end of the day, practicality rules, said Ovum's Walker.
"The fact that both the December 2006 and August 2009 breaks were in the same general location--around Taiwan--will likely cause operators to look more closely at cable placement issues around Taiwan [and] the possibility for other landing points, et cetera," he noted. "But in reality all of these things are very expensive, and when the public hoopla around this dies down in a few weeks, there is a good chance things will go back to business as usual."
READ MORE - Can cable faults ever go away?

Microsoft coy on apps for Zune HD

While confirming that the Zune HD now sports an Apps menu, Microsoft is being circumspect on just how extensive the collection of programs it plans to offer for the media player will be.
An eagle-eye user this weekend spotted an Apps menu on some of the devices being demonstrated at Best Buy outlets as part of a preview weekend. Microsoft suggested on Monday that the Apps menu and Zune Marketplace will be home to the types of games found on past Zunes but hedged on whether and when it might offer a broader selection of software.
"Games came pre-loaded on the current version of the device, but we made a decision to take them out of the firmware update and let people choose what games they want to have for themselves--and it made sense to do this via Marketplace," a representative told ZDNet Asia's sister site CNET News. "As before, games are free; the only difference is that people get to choose. Right now, we don't have anything further to say regarding Apps functionality beyond what we've already shared."
Early versions of the device seen by CNET News had a games menu, but the games were similar to the kinds of free games included in the past.
Microsoft suggested that the Apps menu, for the moment, might just be an outlet for such games. However, the company is clearly leaving the door open for much more.
"We have games on the Zune today and those will carry forward to Zune HD, but that's not where we'll necessarily stop," Microsoft said.
The Zune HD is slated to go on sale September 15, though Best Buy and Microsoft are also taking pre-orders for the product. A 16GB version will sell for US$219, while a 32GB version is priced at US$289.
READ MORE - Microsoft coy on apps for Zune HD

Dell shows prototype at China Mobile platform launch

China Mobile introduced a new mobile platform Monday, and one of the presenting partners on hand has raised a few eyebrows.
Details of a Dell phone, reportedly called the Mini 3i, began to circulate on the Web almost immediately after being presented at the event, but Dell says it has not yet announced any smartphone for the China market.
"Dell was there supporting China Mobile as a development partner. We did not confirm or announce anything," said Dell spokesman Matt Parretta.
There was, however, a "proof of concept mobile device prototype" shown off at the event, Parretta said. That explains the photos, which depict a black, candybar-style handset that had a touch screen and was stamped with the Dell logo on the back.
Reports from the China Mobile event, which introduced the wireless operator's Android-based Open Mobile System, or OMS, say the Mini 3i was confined to operate on a 2G GSM network--no Wi-Fi access--but had a 3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, and a slot for a microSD card.
Industry observers and market analysts have been largely underwhelmed both by the idea of a Dell smartphone, and according to some who saw early prototypes, the execution of it as well.
READ MORE - Dell shows prototype at China Mobile platform launch

'I haven't changed my mind on SaaS': DebesHarry

Harry Debes hasn't changed his mind about software-as-a-service (SaaS).
Last year, Debes, CEO of ERP (enterprise resource planning) software maker, Lawson, told ZDNet Asia he foresaw the SaaS market "collapsing" in two years, because the SaaS model is not able to deliver sufficient profitability for providers.
While he said he hasn't changed his opinion on that point, Debes was careful to separate the concept of SaaS from cloud computing, in a follow-up interview with us on Monday.
Debes said: "I haven't changed my mind on SaaS," and that his remarks last year referred to a utility model, where customers paid for software on a per-use basis. He described cloud computing on a broader infrastructure level: "I'm a big believer in cloud computing, and how [customers] can take advantage of [elastic] capacity to reduce cost."
SaaS, by contrast, is a "financing option", he said. Customers can use Lawson's software hosted by a third-party provider, and work out a utility financing arrangement with another party, "but we are not a financing company", he said.
"We choose to remain profitable."
Nonetheless, the company is working on opening up more of its applications to the cloud. Lawson offers several modules on a hosted basis, and plans to roll out more over the next 12 months. "Enabling applications [for the cloud] will make us more competitive," he said.
Debes also hinted at the possibility of Lawson partnering with a hosting provider. He said the rise of Internet giants such as Google and Amazon have challenged traditional hosting players such as IBM and EDS, but said the company was not prepared to announce any tie-up yet.
Strengthened vertical focus
While Lawson has been focusing on vertical markets for the past few years, it has strengthened this angle by reorganizing the company globally by vertical segments, said Debes.
The company recently announced a string of appointed directors overseeing vertical markets in different regions. It has also repackaged its software products into industry-specific offerings.
Debes said: "You can't apply all the same tools to each vertical, so we created bundles that address [each vertical's] unique requirements."
For customers in developing regions, this also helps connect the midsized US$100 million companies with best practices gleaned from Lawson's larger US$5 billion clients, he said.
READ MORE - 'I haven't changed my mind on SaaS': DebesHarry

Microsoft Engineers' Response to Diggers' Calls to Kill IE6

Engineering POV: IE6

The topic of site support for IE6 has had a lot of discussion on the web recently as a result of a post on the Digg blog. Why would anyone run an eight-year old browser? Should sites continue to support it? What more can anyone do to get IE6 users to upgrade?
For technology enthusiasts, this topic seems simple. Enthusiasts install new (often unfinished or “beta”) software all the time. Scores of posts on this site and others describe specific benefits of upgrading. As a browser supplier, we want people to switch to the latest version of IE for security, performance, interoperability, and more. So, if all of the “individual enthusiasts” want Windows XP machines upgraded from IE6, and the supplier of IE6 wants them upgraded, what’s the issue?
The choice to upgrade software on a PC belongs to the person responsible for the PC.
Many PCs don’t belong to individual enthusiasts, but to organizations. The people in these organizations responsible for these machines decide what to do with them. These people are professionally responsible for keeping tens or hundreds or thousands of PCs working on budget. The backdrop might be a factory floor or hospital ward or school lab or government organization, each with its own business applications. For these folks, the cost of the software isn’t just the purchase price, but the cost of deploying, maintaining, and making sure it works with their IT infrastructure. (Look for “nothing is free” here.) They balance their personal enthusiasm for upgrading PCs with their accountability to many other priorities their organizations have. As much as they (or site developers, or Microsoft or anyone else) want them to move to IE8 now, they see the PC software image as one part of a larger IT picture with its own cadence.
Looking back at the post on Digg, it’s not just IT professionals. Some of the ‘regular people’ surveyed there were not interested in upgrading. Seventeen percent of respondents to the Digg IE6 survey indicated that they “don’t feel a need to upgrade.” Separately, a letter to a popular personal technology columnist last week asked if people will somehow be forced to upgrade from their current client software if it already meets their needs.
The engineering point of view on IE6 starts as an operating systems supplier. Dropping support for IE6 is not an option because we committed to supporting the IE included with Windows for the lifespan of the product. We keep our commitments. Many people expect what they originally got with their operating system to keep working whatever release cadence particular subsystems have.
As engineers, we want people to upgrade to the latest version. We make it as easy as possible for them to upgrade. Ultimately, the choice to upgrade belongs to the person responsible for the PC.
We’ve blogged before about keeping users in control of their PCs, usually in the context of respecting user choice of search settings or browser defaults. We’ll continue to strongly encourage Windows users to upgrade to the latest IE. We will also continue to respect their choice, because their browser is their choice.
Dean Hachamovitch
READ MORE - Microsoft Engineers' Response to Diggers' Calls to Kill IE6

Enterprise guide to saving on wireless

As mobility is increasingly being elevated from a "nice to have" feature to a "must have" for companies, businesses stand to benefit by diligently managing wireless service costs.
The stakes are high: mobile phones are becoming entrenched as a corporate productivity tool. According a recent Gartner report, 40 percent of enterprise knowledge workers will cease using desk phones by end-2013.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the subsidizing of employee mobile phone bills is a common practice. Shalini Verma, communications research manager at IDC Asia-Pacific, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview that nearly 43 percent of enterprises in the region engage in mobile device-related sponsorship for some or all of their employees.
"In general, the mobile service bills of the mobile workforce with customer-facing roles are partially or fully subsidized by the employer organizations in this region," she said. "In markets such as the Philippines and China, enterprises even hand out prepaid cards to employees."
At a broader level, Gartner estimated that 80 percent of businesses will overspend on their wireless service costs by an average of 15 percent over the next five years. On top of that, the average cost per user for voice services will decline annually by less than 2 percent during the same period.
Phillip Redman, Gartner's research vice president for mobile and wireless, urged businesses to look at four key areas of wireless expenditure over the next 12 months. These, he said in the report, revolved around contracts, management of mobility, international roaming fees and fixed mobile convergence.
1. Contracts
Contract negotiation and service provider consolidation are common themes in the current economic climate, according to Redman. However, organizations ought to make carrier negotiations an ongoing process, he pointed out. "Don't wait until the contract is up, to begin."
IDC's Verma concurred, adding that large enterprises with offices in multiple locations may be able to obtain preferential rates or waiver of some charges, by using a regional or global telecom service provider.
In addition, multiple service providers do "add a level of complexity", she pointed out. On the other hand, businesses can consider engaging a service provider or a systems integrator to do mobile service contract management to help minimize telecoms expenditure.
2. Management of mobility
Companies, said Gartner's Redman, need to do better in identifying key user segments and requirements, and match those needs with the requisite services. User groups should be kept to between four and six.
Companies also need to identify key cost metrics, including average minutes of use, average cost per user, total enterprise minutes above plan and total enterprise minutes below plan, and cost-savings opportunities, he added.
Keeping to a primary mobile platform may also be more cost-effective, as supporting more than one increases complexity, which leads to higher costs.
3. International roaming
Apart from limiting travel and mobile usage while traveling, companies can consider adopting mobile roaming plans or working out roaming cost reductions with mobile operators, said Redman. Other options include local phone rental, local SIM cards, international VPN dialing and voice over Wi-Fi.
International data bills, he added, can sometimes reach thousands of dollars within a short period, as they are based on traffic volume and the number of logins. Among other options, companies can choose to disallow ad hoc use of international wireless data, or pursue data plans designed for international use.
4. Fixed mobile convergence (FMC)
Companies can explore the role that integration of fixed and wireless technologies and mobile unified communications (UC) play in cost reduction, noted Redman.
Businesses, however, need to be aware of various factors, such as the benefits of FMC and mobile UC, the maturity of available products, and "how mobile UC will drive the adoption of UC and the replacement of wired telephony for mobile users in the next five years".
READ MORE - Enterprise guide to saving on wireless

Facebook jumps on real-time bandwagon

The race to real-time search is on.
Facebook has started sending out invitations to selected users to beta test a trimmer version of the page it terms Facebook Lite, according to online reports.
The new version allows users of the social networking site to perform real-time searches on status updates belonging to other Facebook users, positioning itself head to head against Twitter.
Facebook Lite's announcement follows news of Facebook's acquisition of social aggregator, FriendFeed.
The FriendFeed acquisition is expected to give Facebook broader reach to index more user-generated content online. FriendFeed aggregates social activity such as blog posts and Twitter feeds.
Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst with Forrester Research, was quoted in an article saying Facebook's reaching out to public sites outside its network will help it compete with search giant, Google.
"Facebook needs to be more of a public site to stay relevant when it comes to Google and Twitter. The more content that is available publicly, the better off Facebook is," he said.
Earlier this week, Google too announced an experimental new search architecture, codenamed Caffeine, in an effort to get searches faster. Google said it intended to boost the search engine's index size, indexing speed and accuracy.
Competing search engines, Yahoo and Bing, are eyeing the real-time search game as well.
Even though Yahoo plans to outsource its search function to Microsoft, Yahoo Labs' head, Prabhakar Raghavan was quoted in a Reuters report saying the company intends to develop real-time search capabilities.
He said the company could "mine" Twitter messages, allowing users to take a glimpse into the real-time chatter happening on the microblogging site.
Microsoft's Bing search engine has a function that its engineers can use to prioritize news of a particular event, should a breaking news story occur. This allows links to news events to take precedence over the typical search results.
Besides the activity from these Internet giants, there is a rumble of activity coming from startups eyeing the real-time opportunity.
According to angel investor Ron Conway, real-time search presents some US$5 billion to be made from retailers and marketers looking to tap new advertising and e-commerce avenues online.
READ MORE - Facebook jumps on real-time bandwagon

URL shortener Trim reopens 'indefinitely'

URL shortening service Trim is reopening its doors, restoring service to both existing Trim links and the core of the site that lets users make new ones. A company blog post that details the change of plans says that the company will continue to run Trim "indefinitely" while a trustworthy buyer is sought out.
Trim originally began experiencing problems late last week as all of its shortened links stopped working for several hours. Then, over the weekend, the company announced that it would be shutting down come the end of December, taking all of its shortened links with it.
In Tuesday's announcement, the company reiterated that the move to shut down, then re-open was not a publicity stunt, nor will it ever change how the service handles URLs such as adding a framebar or interstitial advertising that forces users to wait, or click through an ad to get to the source link. Such options could bring in revenue, but the company says that would go against the very principals Trim was founded on.
The post also warns other link shortening services that the odds continue to be "stacked" against them with Twitter using competitor Bitly as the built-in link shortener. "This is a basic reality of challenging monopolies," it says. "This type of favoritism will become an issue for all Twitter developers."
While Trim had a heavy following, users may not be willing to come back to it without knowing when or if another company will buy it. It's also unclear how long parent company Nambu Network would be able to continue operating without a buyer, despite the offer to keep running it at a loss.
READ MORE - URL shortener Trim reopens 'indefinitely'

Non-traditional cures to keep projects on schedule, on budget

Telling a client the project is late and running over budget is unpleasant and possibly humiliating. Two nontraditional methods for involving in-house personnel from the project's inception, can help keep things on track.

When your client's in-house personnel fail to meet your benchmarks for scheduling and costs, everyone points a finger at you. After all, you're the one who proposed the project, so it's your fault.
The numerous methods for keeping a project on track and on budget often don't work because clients abdicate their authority to the expert (you). It's an unrealistic expectation because you're at the mercy of in-house attitudes and politics, and therein lies the problem: You have to make the client's management and in-house personnel part of the process.
By sharing project ownership, you can hold them just as responsible to meeting schedules and budgets as they hold you. Sharing project ownership is a bit unconventional for some IT consultants, but it's worth trying.
Rely on a spec team
Traditionally, IT consultants draw up a set of specifications, which the client signs off on.
Regardless of how thorough you are, you will make mistakes. Yet, this has been the traditional method for scoping most projects, and it's why schedules collapse. While you're reevaluating, rewriting, and waiting for approval, the project falls behind.
Instead of taking total responsibility for scoping the project, assemble a specification team that consists of you, your technicians, and the client's managers and users. The entire team should work out the specifications together.
The in-house personnel will prove invaluable in helping you avoid the pitfalls and problems they've already incurred. Also, because it's their project too, it's more likely they'll proactively seek solutions to meet the timetable and budget rather than be complacent.
A team comes with a serious inherent problem: There's no incentive for the in-house employees to work with you. In fact, taking part in the process may even put them behind in their own work. You'll need management's encouragement, and it can be tough to persuade management to free up the necessary personnel.
If the project's important enough (and the budget's high enough), you can probably convince the company's IT manager or CIO that project scrutiny up-front will avoid costly delays later.
Schedule from the top down
When scheduling projects, you traditionally consult with in-house personnel to determine how much time they need to complete their project-related tasks. You know that people pad those estimates, but you can't really do anything about it.
To make matters worse, if you're collaborating with several levels of in-house personnel, that padding seems to grow exponentially.
You need everyone's input, but when it comes to scheduling in-house tasks, consult both the individuals and management. Managers see a bigger picture; this doesn't negate the individual's position in that picture, but management knows the critical nature of the project. In fact, management can decide to allocate more resources (time, money, and temporary help) if necessary.
Nontraditional might be just what you need
Some IT consultants will balk at both of these tactics; they see in-house personnel as intrusive and uninformed, and they don't want clients deciding scheduling benchmarks.
If your projects stay on schedule and on budget, keep on the same path because you're doing something right. On the other hand, if your projects aren't meeting schedules and budgets, it might be time to try something new.
READ MORE - Non-traditional cures to keep projects on schedule, on budget

Sony laptops can't use Windows 7 XP mode

Sony has said that it will enable Intel's Virtual Technology, which supports Windows 7's "XP mode", only on select Sony Vaio models in the future, according to a report by The Register in the United Kingdom.
There will be 10 Vaio PC models that will be incapable of running XP mode, which allows legacy Windows XP applications to work with the new Windows 7 operating system.
Not a single member of the current Vaio product family supports Intel's VT, even though it's one of the features of the Intel Core 2 Duo mobile processor used in the Sony systems.
The Bios has been blocked in all current Vaio systems from working with hardware virtualization in the Core 2 Duo, The Register reports.
Why? Few requests and security reasons, one Sony representative, Xavier Lauwaert, wrote:
"Contrary to perceived opinion, we have received very little if any requests to enable VT technology up until very recently.
In addition, our engineers and QA people were very concerned that enabling VT would expose our systems to malicious code that could go very deep in the Operating System structure of the PC and completely disable the latter.
For these two reasons we have decided, until recently, not to enable VT.
However, with the advent of XP Virtualization, there is impetus for us to relook at the situation and I can share with you that we will enable VT on select models.
Though, I fear to say that the Z series will not be part of our VT-enabling effort.
Indeed, we will focus on more recent models.
In the hope this clarifies the background of our decision as well as our plan moving forward."
It's fair to say customers who purchased Sony systems in anticipation of upgrading to Windows 7 are a little put-off, and some are even calling for a class-action suit against Sony, claiming the company hasn't been transparent with its decision.
READ MORE - Sony laptops can't use Windows 7 XP mode

Java gets new math know-how

Apache Commons developers have released a major update to the Apache Commons Math project, which is designed to extend Java with specialized mathematical and statistical components.
Apache Commons was formerly a part of the Apache Foundation's Jakarta, an umbrella project for developers creating open-source software for the Java platform, but is now an independent project overseen by the organization. In general, the Commons is intended to create and maintain reusable Java components.
The latest version of Apache Commons Math, version 2.0, is a major release that contains bug fixes, new features and changes to existing features, and is not compatible with earlier versions of the project.
The code, made available last week, can only be compiled and used with Java 5 or later, Apache developers wrote in the project release notes.
Among the new features are decomposition algorithms in the linear algebra package, support for sparce matrices and vectors, several new optimization algorithms, support for curve fitting, new multistep integrators, and a Mersenne twister pseudo random number generator.
The new release fixes flaws in previous versions of the code.
"Users are encouraged to upgrade to this version, as in addition to new features, this release includes numerous bug fixes," the developers said.
READ MORE - Java gets new math know-how

Nokia: Symbian has smartphone 'heritage'

Nokia's experience as a smartphone maker for enterprise users is its best defense against the competition in that space, said the world's largest phone maker.
Kenny Mathers, Nokia's Asia-Pacific head of developer relations and marketing, told ZDNet Asia in a phone interview Nokia's smartphone Symbian platform is more enterprise-ready than the competition, because it has been around for much longer.
"The longer the platform exists, the more mature and the better position it is to respond to new use cases," he said.
According to a recent report from, Apple is set to beat Nokia at the smartphone game, with some commentators expecting Apple to outsell Nokia in the segment by 2011.
Mathers said Nokia is ready for the competition with its Symbian platform, which was "built for smartphones".
He said Nokia's 10-year experience with Symbian has resulted in a lot of research and intellectual property generated on the platform. This has opened "far more extensive" APIs (application programming interfaces) to developers than the competition, which have allowed developers to build more sophisticated applications, he explained.
He said Nokia boasts developers from 62 countries to its mobile app marketplace, Ovi Store. The company is reaching out to the smaller ISVs (independent software vendors) that cater to the mass market, he added.
Symbian tapping open source community
Mathers also pointed to the range of partners in the open source Symbian Foundation. "Symbian is a lot more mature in terms of security and features as a result of more people taking an interest."
Google's competing platform, Android, is also open source, and has roped in partners the likes of HTC and Intel into its Open Handset Alliance.
Mathers said: "The big difference between Android and Symbian is that the latter is very mature, and has been around for 10 years more.
"It isn't a new platform where we're learning how to utilize smartphones. Android is a new platform that is evolving, whereas Symbian has a lot of heritage in the smartphone space and has the support of a large number of app developers."
Craig Heath, Symbian's chief security technologist, said in an e-mail interview Symbian's security architecture was designed with privacy and security in mind.
Android and the iPhone's platforms, on the other hand, are based on Unix security mechanisms "originally designed for multi-user timesharing minicomputer systems, and are not well-suited to the needs of modern, personal, mobile devices", he said.
He also said Symbian's security profile is benefiting from the platform going open source.
"Publication of source code may make it easier for attackers to find security vulnerabilities, but at the same time we benefit from a significantly larger community of developers who are contributing to improving the security of the platform," he said.
Broad portfolio is Nokia's strength
Aloysius Choong, IDC Asia-Pacific research manager, personal systems research, said Nokia's broad device portfolio and content services strategy will continue to see it through against the competition.
He said in an e-mail interview: "Sure, you could argue that the Nokia 5800 and N97 aren't as sexy as the [Apple] iPhone or the Samsung Omnia 2, but the stories of Nokia's demise have been greatly--and grossly--exaggerated.
"This is still a company that commands a global market share of almost 40 percent, and that ships a 100 million phones a quarter."
Nokia's trump card is its broad portfolio offering, spanning handsets that sell for less than US$50 to over US$1,000, he added.
Furthermore, selling mobile phones is but part of a broader strategy for Nokia, which is angling handsets as its entry point into the consumer market of Web services and content, said the analyst.
This places Nokia in competition with smartphone providers such as BlackBerry-maker, Research In Motion (RIM), and opens the opportunity to tap the mobile data market in developed markets, he said.
While the smartphone segment is a hotly contested ground, Choong noted Nokia's dominance in the emerging markets.
"Emerging markets are important because, as incomes increase, more users are joining the Internet revolution. At the same time, more and more companies, including Nokia, are bringing the Internet to lower price points and targeting the bottom of the pyramid," he said.
A recent report on the entry-level phone market too acknowledged Nokia's reign in the segment. The emerging markets were also instrumental in boosting its overall market share, Nokia reported a year ago.
READ MORE - Nokia: Symbian has smartphone 'heritage'

Tech Mahindra Launches Interoperability Test (IOT) Lab Services for Next Generation Networks (NGN)

BANGALORE, India , August 11:

- The Company Sets up an IOT Lab in Bangalore, India
- To Support TEMs, TSPs & ISVs for Voice & Video Domains
Tech Mahindra, a global systems integrator & technology solutions provider to the telecom industry today announced the launch of an IOT Lab to offer Test Services to Telecom Service Providers (TSPs), Telecom Equipment Manufacturers (TEMs) and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs).
The state-of-the-art Lab, established at Tech Mahindra's facilities in Bangalore, will host a variety of network infrastructure elements sourced from multiple vendors enabling it to execute IOT Programs focused towards multiple technology areas. The span of technologies include Class4/Class5 migration, Fixed mobile convergence, IMS, 3G/4G Wireless & PacketCable/DocSIS.
The availability of multiple equipments from various vendors will enable TEM's to interoperate their products at a short notice without having to make the necessary capital investments. This initiative of Tech Mahindra is the first-of-its-kind inIndia.
Tech Mahindra, with its strong credibility in Technology & Processes has a decade of proven experience in hosting labs of similar scale & size for Tier-1 TEMs. This coupled with easy access to equipments & Test Services makes it an exciting proposition for Vendors in the Telecom eco-system. The Testing services employ state-of-the-art automation practices and include complete documentation and reporting of results.
As the first IOT lab customer, Tech Mahindra has signed a contract with Sonus Networks to deliver IOT programs for Sonus Networks' Class 4 and Class 5 Softswitch & IMS based products.
On the occasion of the lab inauguration, L Ravichandran, Executive Vice President & COO, Tech Mahindra said, "We have been continuously evolving & broadening our R&D Offerings for TEMs & TSPs in an effort to increase the Technology & business value delivered. The IOT Lab offering is one such initiative which strengthens Tech Mahindra's leading position in delivering superior services and solutions to our customers."
"The access services market is evolving and equipment vendors in the industry need to collaborate to support interoperability between their products for simpler, more cost effective deployments. The Tech Mahindra IOT lab has the resources and expertise to offer a high quality, effective product testing process designed to help us to get our customers networks into service more rapidly," commented Shailin Sehgal, Vice President of Product Management & Marketing, Sonus Networks.
Further on, Tech Mahindra has a roadmap to extend the lab capabilities across NGN elements to expand the scope of offerings to its customers.
About Tech Mahindra
Tech Mahindra, country's 5th largest software exporter, is a leading provider of solutions and services to the telecommunications industry, majority stake owned by Mahindra & Mahindra Limited, in partnership with British Telecommunications plc. With total revenues of Rs 4464.7 crores in the year ended March 31, 2009, Tech Mahindra serves telecom service providers, equipment manufacturers, software vendors and systems integrators. Tech Mahindra solutions enable clients to maximize returns on IT investment by achieving fast time to market, reduced total cost of ownership and high customer satisfaction.
The Company acquired 31% stake in Satyam Computer Services Ltd, since rebranded Mahindra Satyam, through a preferential allotment in April 2009. Pursuant to an open offer and further preferential allotment, Tech Mahindra now holds 42.70% shares in Mahindra Satyam through its subsidiary Venturbay Consultants Private Limited.
Assessed at SEI-CMMi Level 5 and PCMM Level 5, Tech Mahindra's track record for value-delivery is supported by 25000 professionals worldwide who provide a unique blend of culture, domain expertise and in-depth technology skill-sets. Its development centres are ISO 9001:2000 & BS7799 certified. Tech Mahindra has principal offices in the UK,United States,Germany, UAE, Egypt,Singapore,India,Thailand,Taiwan,Malaysia,Philippines,Canada & Australia.
Log on to:
    For further information please contact:
    Tech Mahindra: Komal Wadhavkar -
SOURCE Tech Mahindra
READ MORE - Tech Mahindra Launches Interoperability Test (IOT) Lab Services for Next Generation Networks (NGN)

Green electronics EPEAT registry goes global

The Green Electronics Council said Monday it is making its EPEAT rating system, now mandated in U.S. government agencies, available for computer gear sold in other countries.
Products certified by EPEAT--which stands for Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool--are listed in a registry. Products are judged on 23 attributes that make up an environmental performance rating. There are 28 optional attributes as well.
The ratings--gold, silver, or bronze--cover monitors and desktop computers right now. The organization, which is made up of manufacturers, recyclers, and advocacy groups, is in the process of establishing an EPEAT rating for televisions, printers, and copiers. It also expects to take on consumer electronics and servers, according to executive director Jeff Omelchuck.
Registries for monitor and PC buyers will now be able available in Canada, Europe, China, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Mexico. The Green Electronics Council says it now has 1,300 products listed and participation of 30 vendors, which represents US$60 billion in tech purchases.
While the Department of Energy-run EnergyStar rates energy efficiency, EPEAT covers other factors including the amount of toxic material used in electronics, manufacturers' recycling and take-back policies, and packaging.
To get the EPEAT certification, manufacturers need to fill out a complex form, which is reviewed by EPEAT. It also performs independent audits, sometimes through third parties, "to keep them honest," according to Omelchuck. The nonprofit is funded by members' fees.
Federal agencies are required to ensure that 95 percent of their computing equipment is EPEAT-certified. The actual adoption rate, however, is lower with about 13 of 22 agencies last year approaching the 95 percent purchasing market, according to Sarah O'Brien, director of communications at the Green Electronics Council.
Corporate computer buyers are showing growing interest in the EPEAT rating, said Steve Hoffman, director of strategic marketing and sustainability initiatives at Hewlett-Packard, which has had EPEAT-certified equipment since 2007.
"When you get outside the public sector, we are all seeing higher awareness around the environment," Hoffman said.
READ MORE - Green electronics EPEAT registry goes global

M'sia to censor Internet content

Malaysia reportedly has plans to censor Internet content viewed in the country.
According to latest news reports from AFP and Reuters, the country intends to impose an Internet filter to block "undesirable" content.
From sources, ZDNet Asia understands the ban is to cover only pornographic content, but is not confirmed if it will be limited to such when it is eventually put in place.
The Reuters report added that Malaysia has denied plans to use the filter to police other content, such as blogs and Web sites. It is feared that the filter would be extended to curb content expressing political dissent.
So far, the government has emphasized it will only control pornographic content. Information Minister Rais Yatim was quoted as saying: "The safety of our children is not an Internet game. We will find any way to ensure we are free from the culture of pornography among children
"Those who call themselves liberals should look at what has happened to other countries who have become victims, where child sex occurs and pornography is widespread."
This move, however, contradicts a 1996 guarantee from the government that it would not censor the Internet.
China too recently mandated all PCs to be shipped with Internet-filtering software. The "Green Dam-Youth Escort" software is expected to be aimed at controlling pornographic content as well, but the Chinese government has not explicitly ruled out the possibility of censoring other types of content, as well.
Malaysia's neighboring country, Singapore, also practices censorship through a blacklist of Web sites. Last year, it banned two pornographic sites in a "symbolic statement", Singapore's Media Development Authority (MDA) was quoted as saying.
READ MORE - M'sia to censor Internet content

Culprit found for latest LHC leaks

The latest delays to the restart of the Large Hadron Collider are likely to have been caused by a faulty hose, according to Cern, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
Liquid helium leaks in the world's largest particle accelerator were probably caused by a problem with a flexible hose in the liquid helium transport circuits, the organization said an article in its official bulletin, published last week.
The hose vented helium into the vacuum insulation of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), Cern officials suspect.
Cern has revised the restart date of the LHC several times since the experiment was put out of action last September by an electrical fault. According to the latest estimates, the particle acceleration experiment is unlikely to restart before mid-November.
The vacuum leaks occurred in sectors 8-1 and 2-3 in July. At the time, Cern said that the sectors would have to be warmed from 80K to room temperature to effect repairs.
On Monday, the organization changed that plan, saying the vacuum subsectors at the end of the sectors will be warmed to room temperature to locate the leaks and repair them. The rest of those sectors will "float" in temperature from 80K.
Both leaks happened at the place where the final magnet of those sectors, which is known as Q7, joins the electrical feedbox, known as the DFBA.
The LHC experiment is designed to enable research into fundamental questions about nuclear particles, such as the existence of dark matter.
READ MORE - Culprit found for latest LHC leaks

Intel grid-computing app helps scientific research

Chip company Intel has launched a beta application that lets people contribute their spare processor power to humanitarian scientific projects. The grid-computing application Progress Thru Processors, which people can download from social-networking site Facebook, allows users to donate spare computing cycles to research into climate change, cancer and malaria.
"Progress Thru Processors underscores our belief that small contributions made by individuals can collectively have a far-reaching impact on our world," said Deborah Conrad, Intel's general manager of corporate marketing, in the company's announcement on Tuesday.
People can choose to donate processor power to, which tests the accuracy of models of climate change; Rosetta@home, which determines proteins for cancer research; or Africa@home, which models malaria transmission.
Intel said the application automatically runs in the background, and consumes cycles only when the processor is not fully used.
The company developed the application in conjunction with GridRepublic. The non-profit is a gateway to grid computing projects including Seti, the alien intelligence search project, and LHC@home, the grid-computing project to process data from the Large Hadron Collider.
"The social and scientific utility of volunteer computing is a function of the number of participants--the more people we sign up, the greater the good we can collectively do," said Matt Blumberg, executive director of GridRepublic, quoted in Intel's statement.
READ MORE - Intel grid-computing app helps scientific research

Microsoft: Asia faster to embrace hosted services

Asian businesses will take to Microsoft's hosted messaging and collaboration products more quickly that those in the United States, according to the IT vendor's top executive.
Allison Watson, corporate vice president for Microsoft's worldwide partner group, told ZDNet Asia in an interview that businesses in Asia and Europe are expected to embrace the company's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) product faster than those in the United States.
"We believe the takeup for BPOS will occur faster outside the U.S. market, especially in Asia which [is] used to a more digitally-connected environment," said Watson, who was in town as part of a region-wide series of meetings with the company's Asia-Pacific partners.
BPOS refers to the company's e-mail, Web conferencing and collaboration workspaces products: Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, and Microsoft Office Communications Online.
Watson also touched on how the company's new cloud will impact its partners, where Microsoft last month unveiled its Windows Azure plans to partners at its WPC (Worldwide Partner Conference) event. The platform is set to go on sale in November, but is currently available as a free trial download so partners can build and test products atop the cloud, she said.
The cloud brings new revenue opportunities for Microsoft's partners across different segments, specifically, operators and resellers that now have the option of charging for an ongoing service, over on-premise deployments, she said.
Watson said: "This presents a smoother revenue stream because they can get into the services business. For resellers, it [is about] the opportunity to [sell] to midmarket [customers] because [the cloud] takes care of the backend."
In particular, she said interest has been high among ISVs (independent software vendors) because they can deliver SaaS (software-as-a-service) without the initial capital outlay. A services-based model, too, would provide systems integrators and custom application developers a steady stream of income, Watson pointed out.
She added that last month's debut of the Windows Mobile application catalog helped significantly drive the company's partner network for mobile development. "In terms of the fastest growing sector of development in the partner ecosystem [globally], I would say it's mobile."
She noted that the company is adding support in "huge amounts" for its mobile ecosystem, but that growth of the mobile space is outpacing its efforts.
According to Microsoft, its partner ecosystem accounts for 95 percent of its US$60 billion per annum revenue. In 2005, its WPC event partner contribution was 98 percent, the company said.
READ MORE - Microsoft: Asia faster to embrace hosted services

A Google Wave reality check

Lars Rasmussen sighed, half an hour into a demonstration of Google Wave, the company's audacious attempt to reinvent Internet communication: we'd found another bug.
Rasmussen had patiently worked around other minor bugs during the demo Tuesday at Google's headquarters, but when images dragged into a wave wouldn't load properly, he asked his brother Jens, seated at the conference room table, to get an engineer on the issue right away. It's about two months before Google opens up Wave access to a larger audience, and there is a ton of work to be done.
Google Wave was unveiled in May at the Google I/O Developer conference, and dazzled attendees with its goal: a combination of real-time communication with social-networking and search capabilities built into a familiar interface. Wave is more than just an in-box on steroids, however. It's also a communications platform that developers can use to build their own applications, something that many were excited about in the early hours of Wave's life on the public stage.
Behind the scenes, the reality is sobering for the Rasmussens and the 6,000 or so people actively using Wave. Job No. 1 for the brothers Rasmussen--who are managing the Google Wave project--is making sure Wave is stable enough to accommodate 100,000 new users that will start doing the Wave after September 30, when Google opens up the limited preview to a wider audience.
At the moment, around 25 percent of all Wave sessions end in a crash, Lars said. That's obviously not acceptable and, in an ironic twist, the highest priority bug on Google Wave at the moment involves search.
"I would imagine in six months this will be fast, slick, stable and usable," Lars said. "Right now, you have to be a super early adopter (to use Wave). By September 30, an early adopter."
Wave has been in the works for about two and a half years. The original prototype--constructed in nine months to pitch the concept to CEO Eric Schmidt and co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page--was actually discarded in favor of a system that provided better scale, Lars said.
Much of that time has been spent simply designing the workflow of Wave: how to add people to a wave, reply to a wave, add pictures, and create rules. Wave shares some basic infrastructure with Gmail, but is essentially a completely separate undertaking and has been a bit of an "organizational experiment" for Google in terms of giving an important project a great deal of autonomy, Lars said.
So why go public now, with so much yet to be accomplished? The brothers Rasmussen have heard the shouts of "vaporware," and actually chose the opposite launch strategy for the product that launched their Google careers: Google Maps wasn't unveiled until it was complete.
The difference with Wave is that Google believes developer feedback is crucial to its evolution as a product. "We wanted to get people thinking about how we're going to use it and what people are going to use it for," Lars said.
For now, however, Wave is carefully labeled as a "developer preview," a status that doesn't even rise to the level of one of Google's ubiquitous beta projects. While Google still has no formal process for determining what projects are previews as opposed to betas as opposed to full-blown products, the goal for Wave is reduce the number of crashes to less than 1 percent of all session starts, at which point the "beta" tag can be more confidently applied.
When introducing Wave in May, Google said it hoped to open the service up to the general public some time in 2009. That seems unlikely when viewing Wave in late July, but launching a product that has been hyped as much as Wave with anything even close to the number of bugs currently present would be a disaster.
Lars knows this. "Google can be a cushy place to work; we're not going to run out of payroll anytime soon. But we're putting a lot of pressure on ourselves."
READ MORE - A Google Wave reality check

Microsoft's Bach on Zune, Natal and Windows Mobile

Microsoft has long talked about a vision in which people can buy content like movies just once, and then watch them on a variety of devices. That vision will finally start to become a reality this fall, Microsoft's entertainment unit president told ZDNet Asia's sister site CNET News last week.
The company's Entertainment and Devices unit president Robbie Bach said there won't be one seminal moment when users magically get the ability to take purchased content everywhere. But, starting later this year, some of that notion will start to take hold.
"I think you are going to see that steadily happen," Bach said in an interview. "It's not going to be a cut-over date...What it is more going to be is a steady pace. You already see us make some things available in multiple places. You will see more of that this fall. You will see more of that next year."
Partly in anticipation of that, Microsoft is rebranding the movie and TV show store on its Xbox 360 to use the same Zune brand as it uses with its PC-based music and movie service. Over time, Microsoft wants Zune content to also show up on mobile phones.
There are two pieces to delivering on that vision: one is the technology, and the other is getting the content owners to offer the needed licensing. In general, it is the latter that is the harder, Bach said.
"All of the things about what you can buy and what you can buy where have less to do with technology and more to do with rights negotiations," Bach said. "We'll steadily make progress on that. It's generally in the best interest of content providers and it's certainly in the best interest of consumers."
On the Windows Mobile business, Bach acknowledged that Microsoft has seen its rivals move at a faster pace.
"If your point is we haven't advanced Windows Mobile as fast as we like, I think the answer is that's true," Bach said. "You are going to see that change."
He noted that Microsoft has shifted a lot of new talent into that part of the business. "We've made a lot of changes on the team in the last 12 months and that is starting to bear fruit."
However, Bach continued to hold off on providing any details on when to expect the version of Windows Mobile beyond the interim version 6.5 update due out on devices later this year.
"My view on these topics is 'talk is cheap'," he said. "The next thing we are going to show people is Windows Mobile 6.5. There's plenty of innovation in the pipeline."
At one point Windows Mobile 7 was expected early this year, but the product has fallen way behind schedule and is now expected some time next year.
Bach, who demonstrated the company's Project Natal motion-sensing technology for a crowd of financial analysts Thursday, said the technology will help the Xbox better appeal to casual gamers and people who don't even think of themselves as gamers. It will also appeal to the hard-core gamer crowd, he said.
"Even the folks who are hard core Halo or Splinter Cell players, they are also going to want to play Natal games," he said.
The company, which first announced that Natal effort at this year's E3 gaming event, has said Natal will be available as an add-on to the Xbox 360 console. However, it hasn't said when it will be available.
"I'm not planning on being any more specific today," he said.
One thing that will be available this fall is the Zune HD, Microsoft's would-be rival to the iPod Touch. Although I had gotten a brief peek at the product in May, I didn't really get to check out the browser. I played with an updated build of the product on Thursday and was pleasantly surprised to see the browser has the kind of pinch zooming that one finds on the iPhone or in Windows 7. On the down side, I didn't see anything to indicate it will have serious gaming abilities.
READ MORE - Microsoft's Bach on Zune, Natal and Windows Mobile

Netizens driving firms' social responsibility

Online communities are making a bigger impact on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the Asia-Pacific region, a new study has revealed.
According to CSR Asia's The Future of CSR: 2009 Report, the Internet and online community emerged No. 10 on the list of factors driving CSR agendas, marking the first time the category is listed in the report. CSR Asia provides information, training, research and consultancy services on sustainable business practices.
Released last week, the report was based on interviews with 73 CSR experts in the Asia-Pacific region, on CSR trends over the next 10 years and how businesses should prepare for and respond to them. The findings were presented to journalists and bloggers from China, India and Singapore at a roundtable hosted by Hewlett-Packard at its Halo telepresence facilities in these countries.
Erin Lyon, executive director of CSR Asia, noted a proliferation of online social commentaries on businesses, where such forum or community discussions touch on various aspects that include companies' impact on the environment, as well as business practices and governance.
Bulletin board discussions are a growing trend, especially in China, Lyon told ZDNet Asia. "For example, during the Sichuan earthquake, Chinese bloggers commented on [the amount of] donations made by companies. They drew up a list of contributions [that revealed] how some companies were enjoying big profits [but] giving less," she explained.
Government a key driver
Governments exhibited the most influence for CSR initiatives in the region, moving up from 3rd position in CSR Asia's index last year, to pole position this year.
According to the 2009 report, voluntary institutions had limited success tackling social and environmental challenges in the Asia-Pacific region. Going forward, governments are expected to step up pressure for change via regulations on environmental and labor issues.
Lyon cited changes in legislation in China where CSR reporting has become a government requirement for companies. "Regulations from Europe and elsewhere will be imported to the Asia-Pacific region," she added.
Other regulatory pressure is likely to come from stock exchanges, securities regulators and institutions, tasked with tackling health and safety, according to the report.
Climate change top of mind
Experts interviewed in the study also said climate change would dominate CSR agendas over the next decade, where companies were expected to allocate more resources to this issue.
The emphasis on energy efficiency, the reported added, will force companies to demonstrate that they are reducing their own carbon output. Businesses will also have to prove they are collaborating with others on managing climate change, which signals the integration of environmental concerns with sourcing activities.
Environmental performance will increasingly be part of a company's reputation and brand, CSR Asia said in its report. Businesses' impact on the environment will be under closer scrutiny than before.
Top environmental change concerns cited in the report revolved around the availability of clean and safe water, loss of bio-diversity and changing land use. According to Lyon, businesses must ready themselves for such changes--by performing risk assessments and developing green strategies--before they actually happen as environmental issues will ultimately affect their bottom lines.
Experts interviewed also point to a strong push toward corporate governance. The current economic turmoil has led to increased concerns over the way companies are governed and how decisions are made.
"New corporate governance structures are seen as being at the heart of new models of economic sustainability," the report indicated. Pressure from a "new breed of socially responsible investors" will increase the pressure on businesses to behave in an ethical way. As a result, the CSR experts expect companies to be increasingly transparent and accountable in the future.
READ MORE - Netizens driving firms' social responsibility