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11/12/2004
06:20 PM
John Soat
John Soat
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IT Confidential: Personal Use: Unclear On The Concept

An FBI agent downloaded a copy of the stolen source code.

Last week, a Connecticut man was arrested for allegedly selling the source code to Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 over the Internet. William P. Genovese Jr., a/k/a "illwill," a/k/a "xillwillx@yahoo.com," was arrested on federal charges related to sales of the source code, "which had previously been misappropriated by other individuals," according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office. Microsoft got wind of illwill last February, and the FBI got involved in July. If convicted, Genovese, 27, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Genovese was convicted last year of infecting about 2,000 PCs with a spyware virus, and was sentenced to two years' probation.

Microsoft claims a small software vendor is violating its trademark on the name Excel. Savvysoft, a New York software company, said last week that it's facing a trademark- infringement challenge from Microsoft over the name of its spreadsheet-enhancing product, TurboExcel. "Microsoft has never been granted a registered trademark on Excel and there are over a hundred third-party products with Excel in their name," said Rich Tanenbaum, Savvysoft founder, in a statement. "Microsoft's own Web site offers downloads of over a dozen products with Excel in their name. As any trademark lawyer will tell you, when you've got a trademark, and you let other companies use it, you lose it."

Purdue University recently kicked off a four-year project to try and teach humanoid robots to move like people, including learning how to combine movements. Purdue is collaborating with researchers at the Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Japan, experts in humanoid robotics. "What we're going to try to do is capture the essence of how people learn movement skills," said Howard Zelaznik, a Purdue professor of health and kinesiology, in a statement. The work is funded with a $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Information Technology Research program. "We aren't trying to make the robot perfect," Zelaznik said. "People aren't perfect. When we move, we are variable, we're imprecise, we make errors."

Instant messaging at work is not all business, and at home it's not all play. That's the word from the Meta Group, which found that 57% of respondents to a recent survey admitted using IM at work for personal reasons. On the other hand, 56% of respondents to the survey of 300 global organizations use IM at home for business purposes. Meta also found that while 3% of companies prohibit personal use of the phone, and 5% prohibit personal use of E-mail, nearly 16% ban personal use of IM. Also, 68% of companies allow limited personal E-mail use, but only 44% had the same rule for IM.

If I admit that 99% of my E-mails and IMs are to co-workers, does that make me a conscientious employee or a loser with no friends? Don't answer that. Just send me an industry tip to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about software piracy, Microsoft's intellectual property, or IM versus E-mail, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.


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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