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A Sweltering Summer Of No Surprises

In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: A Sweltering Summer Of No Surprises
2. Today's Top Story
    - Google Toolbar Bug Warns Against Changing Search Engine Default
    Related Stories:
    - Review: Google Mobile Maps Goes In A New Direction
    - Google Shares Plummet In Stock Fiasco
3. Breaking News
    - Ballmer Analyzes Microsoft's 'One Big' Vista Mistake
    - Analyst: Microsoft Missed Vista Opportunity By A Mile
    - Story Lines Abound On Eve Of Black Hat 2006
    - IBM Previews Cool Blue, Expands Server Offerings
    - Craigslist Founder's News Venture Named
    - Gen Y Taking Technology To New Level
    - E-Mail Threats Plunge In July
    - Oracle Upgrades Tools For Visual Studio, Competes On Microsoft's Turf
    - Microsoft Files Patent Infringement Claim Against Belkin
    - Verizon's Earnings: Wireless Eats Traditional Telecom For Lunch
    - Mozilla Readies Firefox Re-Release To Fix New Bug
    - Intuit Adds Doc Scanning, Other Features To Quicken 2007
    - Brief: Microsoft Patent Envisions Free Hardware, Software
4. Grab Bag
    - Scientist Thinks Invisibility Possible In Future (Reuters)
    - Teleportation Takes Quantum Leap (National Geographic News)
    - Cars That Can't Crash: Technology Is Doable Right Now (LiveScience.com)
    - Monopoly Replaces Cash With Visa Debit Card (Geekologie.com)
5. In Depth: Municipal Wi-Fi
    - Most Home Users Secure Wi-Fi Networks: Study
    - Boston Wi-Fi Plan Comes With $20 Million Price Tag
    - Rhode Island Extends Rural Wi-Fi
    - Brief: Mac-Only Net Kick-Starts Boston Wi-Fi Plan
    - Blog: AT&T's Biggest Nightmare: Boston Free Wi-Fi
6. Voice Of Authority
    - Opinion: Apple's Copy Protection Isn't Just Bad For Consumers, It's Bad For Business
    - Apple's Copy Protection Isn't The Problem
7. White Papers
    - Taking Control Of Your IT Environment: Regulatory
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day:
"I'll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there's evidence of any thinking going on inside it." -- Terry Pratchett


1. Editor's Note: A Sweltering Summer Of No Surprises

You don't have to look very hard to find a lot of inadvertent humor in the news—you know, the "that's so funny, it hurts" kind of stuff. In fact, I've read quite a few news articles and blogs that fall into that head-shaking category, so here's my roundup of stories about things that probably won't surprise you, but maybe should.

  • Where is the love Microsoft just promised its competitors? OK, so it was more of a commitment to treating them fairly, but all and all long overdue. I know, you're thinking, hmm, maybe the EU and its staggering fine had an impact after all. Let's hope you weren't holding your breath over that one. Because as noted by Alice LaPlante in her sharply written recent blog, barely two weeks have gone by since Microsoft published 12 tenets designed to support more "ethical competition," and yet the company is already being called on the carpet for making a mockery of its pledge. Never mind the competitors—at the end of the day, this could cost the users. Perhaps you really can't teach an old dog new tricks.

  • I had to laugh when I read John Soat's recent top 10 tech list. Especially after I read No. 10: "Government regulation is not a friend to technology. This one's a bit obvious, but it bears keeping in mind. If you think Sarbanes-Oxley is a headache, wait until the privacy laws start rolling out of Washington. Soon, really soon." John is right, of course, but when it happens (and there's no sign it will be anytime soon, despite plenty of ammo to drive it), who's fault will it be? It's not like Washington is dying to enact privacy legislation—it clearly isn't. So if and when it happens, the industries and government agencies that collect our data molecules and atoms will have no one to blame but their sloppy selves.

  • Hang up and drive! A recent study finds cell phone-using drivers need to sober up. Tests conducted by the study found that cell phone users drive as badly as drunk drivers. And much like drunk drivers, they thought they were doing a fine job driving, even when they clearly weren't. The study also found no difference in whether the cell phone users were using headsets. Now, I ask you, is anyone surprised by these results? I know whenever I see someone responding slowly to traffic patterns, they're usually talking on a cell phone.

  • If you can't entice customers to upgrade, punish them! At least that seems to be the theory behind a decision at Cingular to raise prices for users of older phones. Cingular wants to phase out cell phones based on older TDMA and analog technology and move to GSMC (Global System of Mobile Communications), said to be the world's most popular wireless standard. It's got quarterly numbers to reach and, by gosh, you're either with them or against them. So you won't upgrade, eh? Why, you analoged, wire-wrapped dinosaur of a technophobe. As of September, resisters to upgrading their Cingular phones will henceforth be slapped with a $5-a-month fine. Multiple that by about 8% of Cingular's installed base—or the targeted 4.7 million users—and that's an additional $23.5 million in revenue a year. Annualized, that's $282 million. Not too shabby. I wonder how many customers will be asking Cingular's customer service, "Can you hear me now?"

  • And if your subscribers won't watch the ads your service is designed to help them avoid, by all means help advertisers assess and counter the damage! It sounds like the idea here is to play both sides off against each other in a bid to make more money and stay relevant. TiVo says its new Audience Research and Measurement division will be monitoring a random sample of 20,000 subscribers to gather data about ad-skipping behavior, which will be used to help advertisers reach ad-zapping consumers like you. I suspect the universal response to this among TiVo subscribers (of which I'm not one) will be: "No thank you. We not only don't want to watch your stupid ads, but we certainly don't want to help TiVo help the advertisers we're trying to avoid by using TiVo figure out how to reach us anyway!"

    You can read a few more examples by going to my blog entry here.

    Patricia Keefe
    pkeefe@cmp.com
    www.informationweek.com


    2. Today's Top Story

    Google Toolbar Bug Warns Against Changing Search Engine Default
    There appears to be a bug in the latest version of the Google toolbar for IE, according to the Google Operating System Blog, which isn't affiliated with the search engine.

    Related Stories:

    Review: Google Mobile Maps Goes In A New Direction
    Google's latest service gives some cell phone users free access to real-time traffic information—but don't try to use it while driving.

    Google Shares Plummet In Stock Fiasco
    Something funky happened that sent Google's stock plummeting by $350 a share last week. Nasdaq officials are investigating.


    3. Breaking News

    Ballmer Analyzes Microsoft's 'One Big' Vista Mistake
    Microsoft's CEO blames the company's "Big Bang" approach for leading to Vista's delays. He says it tried to do too much too fast with all the core components.

    Analyst: Microsoft Missed Vista Opportunity By A Mile
    Most businesses aren't champing at the bit to upgrade to Windows Vista, says one survey, and that may not bode well for Microsoft's overall financial picture, which depends a lot on Vista sales.

    Story Lines Abound On Eve Of Black Hat 2006
    Typical of the drama that often unfolds at the security conference, Microsoft is making its first appearance at the event and will spend a day's worth of presentations touting the stronger security measures in Vista. On the same day, Joanna Rutkowska, a security researcher, will give a presentation titled "Subverting Vista Kernel For Fun And Profit."

    IBM Previews Cool Blue, Expands Server Offerings
    IBM says the new products, based on the AMD Opteron chip, will optimize power consumption at the chip, system, and software levels while delivering high-powered computing.

    Craigslist Founder's News Venture Named
    Daylife, backed by Craig Newmark, will "gather, analyze, organize, and create a new, distributed platform for the world's news," in the words of one participant.

    Gen Y Taking Technology To New Level
    While Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are using technology to do the same old things, these young adults are doing new things with new technology. Text messaging and games are hot.

    E-Mail Threats Plunge In July
    Caution is still needed, though, a security researcher says. While there may be fewer viruses and worms in the actual e-mail, hackers are spamming out messages that link to malicious sites where Trojan horses lie in wait for innocent victims.

    Oracle Upgrades Tools For Visual Studio, Competes On Microsoft's Turf
    Oracle Developer Tools work inside Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 instead of just Visual Studio 2003.

    Microsoft Files Patent Infringement Claim Against Belkin
    At issue is Microsoft's U2 technology, which allows peripherals such as a mouse to automatically sense whether a device is plugging into a PS2 or a USB port and connect to it.

    Verizon's Earnings: Wireless Eats Traditional Telecom For Lunch
    Businesses have been shifting to wireless, VoIP, and considerably more e-mail use, hurting Verizon's traditional base.

    Mozilla Readies Firefox Re-Release To Fix New Bug
    A recent Firefox update injected a new bug that stops the Windows Media Player plug-in from working on some sites.

    Intuit Adds Doc Scanning, Other Features To Quicken 2007
    A redesigned home page for the program provides more information than earlier editions, Intuit says, while an improved setup process automatically identifies and creates multiple savings, checking, and credit card accounts.

    Brief: Microsoft Patent Envisions Free Hardware, Software
    Microsoft's latest patent application describes several possible applications for a targeted online advertising system under development.

    All Our Latest News

    Watch The News Show

    In the current episode:

    John Soat With 'Technology Is A Beautiful Thing'
    Boston goes Wi-Fi, the 18-to-26 set is doing more social networking and watching less TV, worm attacks are down, and more.

    Peter Gorenstein With 'The Nasdaq Is Flat'
    For the first time in history, Nasdaq opened from a remote location—the Infosys headquarters in Mysore, India.

    Laurie Sullivan With 'Morphing Tony Hawk'
    The skateboard legend stars in a computer-generated movie. The filmmakers used motion-capture software to turn real skateboard tricks into animation.


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    4. Grab Bag

    Scientist Thinks Invisibility Possible In Future (Reuters)
    It's unlikely to occur by swallowing a pill or donning a special cloak, but invisibility could be possible in the not-too-distant future, according to research published Monday.

    Teleportation Takes Quantum Leap (National Geographic News)
    The most obvious practical application for quantum teleportation is in cryptology. Scientists say quantum physics can provide a completely secure method of communication between two distant correspondents.

    Cars That Can't Crash: Technology Is Doable Right Now (LiveScience.com)
    The key to the crash-free future is vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Increasingly sophisticated GPS technology will soon allow you to pinpoint your vehicle's precise location at any given moment, and stability-control systems that track your car's speed and direction are now feeding such information to onboard computers. The primary challenge remaining is finding the means to communicate that data to cars in your projected path.

    Monopoly Replaces Cash With Visa Debit Card (Geekologie.com)
    Monopoly board game players can now pay for properties with debit cards. Game maker Parker has phased out the standard multicolored cash in a new version. Players will instead use a Visa mock debit card to keep track of how much they win or lose.


    5. In Depth: Municipal Wi-Fi

    Most Home Users Secure Wi-Fi Networks: Study
    Consumers are mostly afraid of personal information theft and eavesdropping, and the Wi-Fi Protected Access standard has made being secure much easier than it used to be.

    Boston Wi-Fi Plan Comes With $20 Million Price Tag
    Boston, coming late to the Wi-Fi access party, unveils a plan that calls for as much as $20 million to be raised by local businesses and foundations.

    Rhode Island Extends Rural Wi-Fi
    Gov. Donald L. Carcieri has provided a $200,000 grant to install a base station in rural Foster. That station, in turn, will connect to base stations already installed in Providence and Newport.

    Brief: Mac-Only Net Kick-Starts Boston Wi-Fi Plan
    The Mac network, dubbed Bostonopen.net, offers access to mobile Mac users for $15 a month.

    Blog: AT&T's Biggest Nightmare: Boston Free Wi-Fi
    AT&T and other telcos have been lobbying behind the scenes to outlaw municipal Wi-Fi. Now comes their biggest nightmare: Boston's Wi-Fi plan calls for no partnership with private businesses and instead relies on a nonprofit. Nonprofit! Them's fighting words for the telcos!


    6. Voice Of Authority: Dueling Viewpoints

    Opinion: Apple's Copy Protection Isn't Just Bad For Consumers, It's Bad For Business
    Apple's copy-protection technology makes media companies into its servants. Other copy-protection technologies, like Blu-ray and HD DVD, are just as bad, says Internet activist Cory Doctorow.

    Apple's Copy Protection Isn't The Problem
    Thomas Claburn responds by first noting that Doctorow, a noted sci-fi writer and Boing Boing editor, marshals a strong argument against digital rights management in his column in InformationWeek. But Doctorow's assertion that there's no good DRM oversimplifies an issue that's best framed in compromises rather than absolutes, argues Claburn.


    7. White Papers

    Taking Control Of Your IT Environment: Regulatory Compliance And Operational Excellence
    With the passage of legislation such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the notion of internal control has acquired a new level of importance for public companies. The purpose of this paper is to provide a primer on the auditor's notion of internal control and to explain the relevance of that notion to IT systems and processes.


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