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 Alice LaPlante
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Profile of Alice LaPlante

News & Commentary Posts: 90
Articles by Alice LaPlante

Hacking The Vote

7/30/2007
Anyone following the controversy over whether voting machines promote or threaten our ability to determine who, exactly, has won a particular election was probably not surprised by the initial results of California's review of voting systems released last week. The question is: will this latest evidence that such machines can be easily manipulated force much-needed changes before the next major election?

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Overseas Cell Phone Users: More Numerous--And More Courteous

7/16/2007
Sitting in a London theatre last week waiting for the curtain to rise, we were startled to hear the loudest cell phone ringtone we'd ever heard broadcast over the theatre's loudspeaker--quickly followed by another, then another, then another until there was a virtual cacophony of conflicting bells, whistles, snippets of Europop and Beethoven echoing through the hall.

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Taking A Break This Summer? Or Taking The Laptop?

6/25/2007
Sunglasses, check. Bathing suit, check. Camera, check. Laptop-that's a double negative. Yes, I'm doing that increasingly rare thing: having an untethered, nontech vacation. No electronic leash for me for the next two weeks. I'm even leaving my cell phone at home (what the heck, it wouldn't work where we're going anyway).

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The H-1B Debate: Beneath The Policy, The Personal

6/18/2007
I've spent the last few weeks researching an article on H-1B visas, and it's been both illuminating and painful to dig underneath the press releases of high-tech firms, lobbying groups, and politicians and talk to the individuals directly affected by how many H-1B visas are issued -- and how many of those guest workers actually get green cards.

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Travel Problems? Blame Technology

6/11/2007
It was just our luck: We got caught in the worst travel delay nightmare of the year. My family was flying from all over the United States to Washington, D.C., for a funeral. Although long expected, such things are never easy; on top of the emotional turmoil, of course, we were all wrestling with the many logistical issues: securing baby sitters and animal sitters, putting off pending work and social commitmen

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How Far Should We Trust Online Reviews?

6/5/2007
What do you want first, the good or the bad news? With the goal of ending this editor's note in an upbeat way, let's start with the, er, less reassuring results of a recent undercover investigation by Daily Tech about whether Internet sites that routinely evaluated hardware were accepting payola in exchange for reviews.

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Linux On Your Mind

5/25/2007
It's always informative to look at our most heavily trafficked stories to see what topics you're most interested in. No, it's not a scientific survey, but it certainly provides pretty powerful anecdotal evidence of what technologists are currently buzzing about. And judging from our numbers, you're rather obsessed with Linux--Ubuntu Linux, to be precise.

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Protecting Children Online: How Much Can--And Should--MySpace Do?

5/17/2007
Just yesterday, the superintendent of our school district sent an e-mail to all parents detailing how two men attempted to entice a 12-year-old girl -- who was one block from her school -- into their van. In our extraordinarily safe community where parents hover over their children like chickens over new-laid eggs, this was huge news. No one can stop talking about it. An artist rendering of the two men already has been plastered throughout town. Yet very few of the parents I've talked to are awa

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Bloggers Be Aware (And Beware): Legal Pitfalls Abound

5/4/2007
One myth of the blogosphere is that anything goes. After all--or so conventional wisdom says--that's what distinguishes bloggers from their colleagues in traditional media. Because they aren't hampered by timid editors, journalistic conventions, or even manners, they provide the public with unfiltered access to important events and opinions in a way that is both powerful and empowering. Indeed, the recent storm of hysteria over the proposed Post a Comment

Can't We Just All Get Along?

4/9/2007
Apparently not. And some wouldn't have it any other way. Anyone who has ever posted anything on a site with respectable traffic has been on the receiving end of what is, at best, mean-spiritedness, and at worst -- well, much worse.

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Et Tu, Scoble?

3/19/2007
On the heels of further bad news about Vista--the latest being that Adobe now says it has no plans to issue updates to the current versions of its products to ensure Windows Vista compatibility--comes a backstabbing by Microsoft's former pet poodle, Robert Scoble.

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Remembering--And Banishing--The Bad Old Days

3/7/2007
Everyone in the tech industry remembers the spring of 2000. Yep, that year. Flowers might have been blooming, snow melting, trees beginning to turn green, but most of us simply didn't notice. In my neighborhood, that time was mostly memorable for the number of moving vans that pulled up to houses of formerly prosperous engineers and software developers, and which carried their belongings off to Tempe, Portland, Nashville, and other parts unknown. (Of course, other well-heeled profession

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Free At Last

2/26/2007
I just bought my daughter a laptop. Well, to tell the truth, although I purchased it for her to use, it was actually for my benefit: I was tired of being kicked off my own computer because she had homework that required word processing or access to the Internet. Shuddering at the thought of shelling out hundreds of dollars for Microsoft Office -- because though only in fifth grade, she needs PowerPoint as well as Word -- I downloaded the free office suite Post a Comment

We Heart Google

2/22/2007
Google, Google, Google. Lately, it's been all Google, all the time. And our readers can't seem to get enough of it.

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Looking Beyond Vista To The Larger OS Landscape

2/12/2007
In case you haven't yet done so, get thee to the article by longtime Dr. Dobbs Journal editor Mike Swaine on the future of operating systems. With his usual wit and technical acumen, Swaine dissects the current "identity crisis" that operating systems seem to be going through, pointing out that although--with the advent of subscription/service and hosted models--people have been predicting the end of the des

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Incisive Insight into Vista

2/5/2007
Preston Gralla has been around the technological block more than a few times. An amazingly prolific author, he has written more than 35 books that explore, explain, and enlighten--using plain-spoken and easily accessible prose--the intricacies of a broad range of technologies.

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Strange Anti-Microsoft Bedfellows

1/29/2007
What do Brussels and Des Moines have in common? An apparent determination to keep Microsoft's competitive instincts under control that goes far beyond what Washington had the belly for.

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Second Life, New Opportunities

1/8/2007
My 11-year-old daughter and her friends already are addicted to a virtual world. Called Club Penguin, it's for tweens, who create avatars--of course, they don't call them that--who are (quite naturally) penguins. Through their penguin alter egos, the kids can chat, build, and furnish houses (which are igloos, of course), and work at various jobs to earn money that they can spend on penguin clothes, furnishings for their igloos, and other goodies dear to the hearts of that species, er, age group.

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Vista Lagging, XP Unflagging

1/4/2007
Cost of upgrading to business versions of Vista: $199, $299, or $399, depending on which edition you choose. Cost of staying with Windows XP? Apparently priceless. That's one logical conclusion based on the stories that InformationWeek readers are clicking on fast and furiously these days.

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AT&T Concessions Bode Well For Consumers And Businesses Alike

12/29/2006
The long dragged-out battle over net neutrality took a decisive turn last week. Anxious to push through the largest telecom deal in U.S. history by the end of the year, AT&T made some serious concessions to the critics of its proposal to buy BellSouth. Most notably, the telecom giant assured members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it will not discriminate--either positively or negatively-

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Microsoft's Big Day

11/27/2006
Gentlemen and gentlewomen, start your engines. The next generation of Microsoft's flagship operating system (Vista), office productivity suite (Office 2007), and e-mail platform (Exchange 2007) will be officially unveiled this week. The event is hugely significant for Microsoft; its desktop and server products accounted for 82% of the company's $44.3 billion revenue last year. That's one big cash cow.

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How Trustworthy Is The Web?

11/13/2006
My eleven-year-old daughter loves Wikipedia. Just loves it. Give her an assignment that requires research, and that site is her first stop. And no matter how much I have cautioned her, she takes everything she finds there as gospel truth.

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The Good, The Bad, And The Implausible: More Predictions About The Impact Of Technology On The Future Of Society

9/25/2006
A new survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reflects strong disagreement over whether technology is good for humankind. Interestingly, the 742 handpicked "technology thinkers and stakeholders" who responded to the survey were largely in agreement about the ways that technology will evolve. But they contradicted each other about how this evolution will impact society in 2020.

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All The News That's Fit To Goog . . . Er, Search For

8/7/2006
The last seven days were hopping for Google watchers. Indeed, judging from the company's frenetic pace, it won't be long before Stanford has an endowed chair of Googleology--which has as much chance of being located in the law school or sociology department as in the computer science building.

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Spawn Of Wikipedia

7/14/2006
So can commoners--as the British like to refer to those not of aristocratic birth--be trusted? That's the question that two of the founders of Wikipedia appear to have asked themselves recently. And they appear to have come up with radically different answers.

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Forcibly Led To ODF Water, Microsoft Finally Drinks

7/7/2006
It's not like Microsoft had much choice in the matter. Even Brian Jones, an Office program manager, admitted in his blog that it was government demands that pushed Microsoft to finally do it (after he made some snarky comments that the firm hasn't seen much demand for it from corporate or consumer customers). What I'm talking about, of course, is Post a Comment

If Vista Leaves You Cold

6/20/2006
If you don't plan to jump on upgrading to Windows Vista right away, you've come to the right place. Our top story for this week is Fred Langa's terrific article showing you how to completely rebuild, repair, or refresh an existing XP installation without losing data--and without having to reinstall user software, reformat, or otherwise change or destroy your PC's setup.

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Forget Paper Trails: The Internet Has A Longer Memory

6/12/2006
Should employers be entitled to look up their prospective hires' profiles on MySpace.com and other social networking sites? Or has an important line been crossed--both ethically and legally? A career counselor at New York University, who routinely deals with recruiters from major corporations, said dozens of companies were checking out social networks and personal Web sites before deciding who to hire, according to a

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IT Analysts Duke It Out In Cyberspace. So Why Should You Care?

5/23/2006
Pay attention: There's a free-for-all happening among IT analysts. Currently controlled by a handful of major analyst houses--which suck up 80% of a market that rakes in $2 billion a year in revenues--the industry is being turned upside down by a swarm of upstarts that are using blogs, podcasts, and open online forums to propagate their opinions about vendors, technologies, and products. So why should you care one iota about this turf war?

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SOA Riches Spill Forth At Gartner Summit

12/13/2005
Gartner held its Application Integration and Web Services Summit last week, and a flurry of SOA-related news came out of it. Top of the list was the news that Tibco now offers a way to deploy quick, "tactical" SOAs through the latest version of its PortalBuilder, which minimizes custom coding and makes it possible to connect new Web services to legacy systems and packaged applications. Then, Post a Comment

SOA And Security

12/6/2005
We had a couple of terrific how-to features this week for you on SOA Pipeline. The first focuses on security and SOA. Peter Lacey explains why, if your company is ready to begin implementing a true service-oriented architecture (SOA), you'll need to consider what technologies are used to enable messaging and message processing, and how to secure those messages as they flow through the network and are retained in memory or on disk.

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Education Key To SOA Success

11/1/2005
We have the results of two surveys from SOA Pipeline for you this week. The first one asked, why consider implementing an SOA? Not surprisingly, more than half of you (53 percent) said you were seeking to lower integration costs. After all, analysts report that the majority of IT budgets these days are going toward integration efforts, and an SOA does promise to enable easier connections between applications and data.

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Still-Evolving Standards Chief Challenge Of SOA

10/18/2005
If you haven't heard of the SOA Leaders Council, it's something you should check out. It's a collaborative peer-to-peer community of corporate and government SOA users who share their experiences and expertise with real-world SOA implementations. There's not a single vendor in sight. Instead, actual users talk about actual projects--both successes and challenges.

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Web Services Accelerating, SOA Still Emerging

10/11/2005
There have been widespread reports that implementation of service-oriented architectures (SOAs) is slower than expected. A new survey of adoption patterns for SOAs and Web services by webMethods appears to back this up, showing that although more than 80 percent of respondents from 500 companies currently deploy Web services, SOA adoption is still "formative." According to the survey, there are two main things standing in the way of SOA adoption--and concern about the technology itself isn't o

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Take The 'Web' Out Of 'Web Services'?

9/28/2005
There's been a lot of blogging lately about the notion that the word "Web" should be dropped from "Web services" leaving only "services" to describe the technology. Jeremy Geelan, of Sys-Con, first raised the issue, quoting a plethora of sources from 19th century philosophy John Stuart Mill to Sun's Jonathan Schwartz and Bill Gates. Among other conclusions he comes to is this one: Microsoft wants to chain "Web services" to the realm of th

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Readers Favor Best-Of-Breed SOA Technologies

9/13/2005
We have the interesting results of two different SOA polls for you this week, each of which sheds light on the way that SOA technology is being implemented in the enterprise. First, we asked readers if they were depending on smaller, best-of-breed players for their Web services/SOA technologies, or if they were holding out until larger vendors solidified their positions. You told us that most of you (56 percent) have gone with the smaller vendors, as opposed to 44 percent of you, who are waiti

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SSO: The Holy Grail Of SOA

9/7/2005
SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) was in the spotlight again last week. An XML-based framework developed by OASIS Security Services Technical Committee, SAML allows companies to securely and automatically share identity information on the Web.

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The Clueless CIO

8/31/2005
We recently ran a poll to determine how "in the loop" the CIO is about Web services development efforts. We chose to ask about Web services because that's where SOA efforts usually start: at the grass roots of the organization, used to solve sticky integration issues that can't easily be solved by more traditional methods.

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Impetus To Move To SOA Coming From IT Community

8/23/2005
What's driving the move to service-oriented architectures (SOAs)? According to Sandra Rogers, program director for SOA, Web services, and integration research at IDC, the good news is that most of it is coming from the IT rather than the vendor community. Compliance is a huge issue, as are new regulations that require process tracking and auditing. There's also a heightened urgency to get control of end-to-end business processes. And then there's the promise of speedy deployment, and the high de

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Web Services Insecurity

8/17/2005
Back in 2002, only 5% of businesses had finished Web-services projects, according to IDC. But over the next couple of years, most organizations will have deployed Web services in one form or another, and the overall market should be worth a whopping $21 billion by 2007.

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Hands-On SOA

8/9/2005
This week we had a plethora of superb hands-on features on service-oriented architectures (SOAs). The first one was a review of Axis 1.2.1 by our chief SOA reviewer, Shane Turner. Shane points out that as more companies turn to Web services as a viable means of deploying light-weight, distributed application components, the matter of adhering to accepted standards becomes paramount. One such standard that many companies and organiza

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ESB For SOA Reliability

8/2/2005
An SOA promises many things -- you can keep using existing applications rather than building them from scratch, they are scalable and robust, and, if designed right, should be capable of "on-demand" response to the needs of the enterprise. But one of the trade-offs of SOA is reliability, especially with Post a Comment

Survey: M&A Activity Good For SOA Marketplace

7/18/2005
We have the results of two recent polls from SOA Pipeline for you this week. The first was prompted by Sun's snapping up of SeeBeyond to strengthen its SOA hand; we asked if mergers and acquisitions are good or bad for the industry, and you overwhelming said that they were good. A full 70 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that "Mergers and acquisitions are good for the SOA market, they strengthen the resources behind critical technologies." Only 30 percent agreed with the statemen

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Should Cell Phones Be Banned In The Car?

7/14/2005
I've always been concerned about the safety issues of using a cell phone in the car. Is there anyone who hasn't been shocked at someone driving badly, only to discover that person had a cell phone glued to his or her ear? I was therefore happy

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Welcome To SOA Pipeline

6/27/2005
Welcome to SOA Pipeline! On Friday we officially renamed and relaunched the site in order to better serve you, our readers. The main reason for the name change is that we feel we can make SOA Pipeline encompass a much broader strategic focus. Service-oriented architectures are where most enterprises are heading right now; Web services provide a way to get there (but not the only way). We feel that the pipeline would be able to focus on the overall strategic roadmap to an SOA, which can include

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