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John Soat
John Soat
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IT Confidential: U2, U.N., And Robots Invade The Homeland

Craig Conway is crying all the way to the bank. The former CEO of PeopleSoft, who was so rudely interrupted in his executive duties by the PeopleSoft board on Oct. 1, was awarded a $3.2 million lump-sum payment, along with stock options and additional cash payments that could bring his total severance package to about $18 million. Fortunately for him, Conway won't be burdened by having to negotiate his severance with Oracle, which appears close to prevailing in its hostile bid to acquire PeopleSoft, having raised, then lowered, then hinted at lowering even further its offer for the application vendor. Before his PeopleSoft days, Conway was a top sales exec at Oracle, but his statements over the last months have made it clear he burned that bridge awhile ago.

Two English gambling sites were hit with denial-of-service attacks last week, according to U.K. Web-monitoring firm, resulting in one of them being offline for several hours. There was no comment from either site, but online gambling sites are becoming the favorite targets of cyberextortionists. "Industries conducting large volumes of transactions are emerging as targets for a cottage industry of digital extortionists," Netcraft said in a statement. "These attacks typically are preceded by a request for payment from parties who claim the ability to 'prevent' an imminent attack. If no payment is made, a DoS attack follows."

"I hate U2," said my 17-year-old son during a commercial between innings while we were watching the baseball playoffs last week. That's bad news for Apple Computer, which has signed up the aging rockers for a big promotion of its popular iPod music player. Apple already is running an iPod commercial that features U2 front man Bono singing the Irish band's latest single, "Vertigo." And Apple plans a promotion involving iPod and its music-download service, iTunes, around the band's upcoming album, "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb." A word of advice to Apple: Hip is the most relative of relative terms, and U2 may be well past it (sorry, Steph).

Robots are taking over--can't anyone stop the robots! Don't look to the United Nations, which last week released a report that predicted the number of robots people will have in their homes will increase by 4 million over the next three years. The United Nations is referring to housework-type robots--vacuum cleaners, floor polishers, lawn mowers, leaf rakers, that kind of thing. The report was produced for a U.N. conference in Geneva last week called "A Robot In Every Home?" that also featured a robot exhibition on the lawn outside. The report was co-sponsored by the International Federation of Robotics.

Lawn mowing? Vacuum cleaning? I thought that's what kids were for. Unfortunately, my son thinks that's what parents are for. What do you think? Send your preference, or an industry tip, to or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about executive compensation, cyberextortion, or the United Nations, meet me at's Listening Post.

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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