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Microsoft Offers To Help Firefox Run On Vista

In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: In-Flight Internet Access: Although Much Wanted, Little Demand For It
2. Today's Top Story
    - AOL Chief Technology Officer Resigns: Sources
    Related Story:
    - AOL To Dig For Spammer's Gold
3. Breaking News
    - Microsoft Offers To Help Firefox Run On Vista
    - Delta Air Lines Outsources Technology Operations To IBM
    - Google Mobile Maps Smoothes Traffic Tie-Ups
    - Google Ends 11-Month Run Of Market Gains
    - Backup Power To Cost Data Centers More
    - SanDisk Targets iPod With 8GB Music Player
    - Backlash Feared Over New eBay Seller Fees
    - What's In A Name? Ask Apple And Google
    - Analysis: Now Is The Time To Consider Open Source CRM
    - Acquisition Could Help Google Combine Image Search And Facial Recognition
    - Virtual Linux Could Be Answer To Costly Data Centers
4. Grab Bag
    - Holdout Bands Give In To iTunes (Wired)
    - The FBI's Upgrade That Wasn't (Washington Post)
    - How To Write Unmaintainable Code (Canadian Mind Products)
    - Blog About End Times (Boing Boing)
5. In Depth: Dell
    - Dell Customers Have To Wait Four Weeks For Replacement Batteries
    - HP Gains Ground As Dell's Woes Continue
    - U.S. Technology Shares Fall As Dell Stumbles
    - Dell Announces New AMD-Based Desktops And Servers As Quarterly Financial Results Disappoint
    - SEC, Directors Investigating Dell Fiscal Issues
6. Voice Of Authority
    - Get Used To It: Mousy Hair, Chapped Lips, And Boredom En Route
7. White Papers
    - Lessons Learned: How To Prevent PCI Audit Failure
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day:
"Guide to understanding a net addict's day: Slow day: didn't have much to do, so spent three hours on usenet. Busy day: managed to work in three hours of usenet. Bad day: barely squeezed in three hours of usenet." -- Anonymous


1. Editor's Note: In-Flight Internet Access: Although Much Wanted, Little Demand For It

Many business travelers—and I'm one of them—spent the weekend scratching their heads over the inability of Boeing to make a go of its Connexion in-flight Internet access service.

Granted, it was a tough week to be wishing for niceties when a terrorist plot had just been foiled—and when so many air passengers were happy just to settle into their regulation 17.2-inch seats and leave the gate. And as Mitch Wagner pointed out in his editor's note yesterday—backed up by a plethora of excellent InformationWeek articles (see here, here, and here)—perhaps the increased security precautions mean it's time to consider leaving our laptops at home. Of course, if you're flying in and out of London, you don't have a choice in the matter: it's no laptop or no go. But sooner or later things are going to calm down, and my guess is that laptops will continue to be a fixture for business travelers.

That said, there's a mystery at the heart of why Boeing needed to pull the plug on Connexion late last week. I don't mean a mystery about the business decision. Boeing reportedly spent more than $1 billion trying to keep the six-year-old program alive, and with just 11 airlines signed on, was obviously bleeding cash. And industry observers were speculating that Boeing chose last week to make its announcement precisely because of the backlash against laptops on board.

No, the mystery is why it failed. You'd think in-flight broadband would be a no brainer. After all, it's getting to the point when people won't even stop for a cup of coffee unless free Internet access is thrown in with the non-dairy creamer. So why wouldn't they jump with joy at the thought of ubiquitous connectivity at 30,000 feet?

Sure, it was pricey. You paid about $10 an hour, or $30 per flight, for the privilege of being online. Performance also could apparently be spotty (I never had the chance to use the service myself, so I'm going on published reports), as it depended on how many of your fellow travelers were online at the same time. Still, you would have thought that people's hunger to be connected would have outweighed these inconveniences.

I'm a perfect example. I'm no big spender, but I would have forked over my $30 in a heartbeat to be able to work online during the many tedious flights between San Francisco and Chicago I take every year. Judging from all the people who sigh when they have to log off (the San Francisco airport is one big hotspot) and board the plane, I don't think I'm alone.

I'd like to emphasize here that I'm arguing for in-flight Internet access, not cell phone use. Count me among the 85% of all travelers polled who say they'd rather slit their wrists than have to listen to someone else's inane cell phone conversation while being held captive in economy class. (OK, I'm paraphrasing. But I mean it.)

But connecting to the Internet instead of watching the latest Owen Wilson or Hilary Duff movie? I'm there—and so is everyone else I've talked to. In fact, I haven't run into a single person who thinks that a wired airplane is a bad idea. Even the people who love the idea of being occasionally unreachable—and I sympathize, I sympathize—recognize that they can simply refrain from logging on. Like the old doctor joke goes, so doing that hurts? then don't do it. Unlike cell phone service, in-flight Internet access shouldn't inconvenience—or enrage—your neighbor.

Yet, puzzling enough, there was virtually no interest in the service. On the international flights that actually offered Connexion, usage was in the "low single digits," according to Boeing. And no one taking domestic planes even had the choice. Although Boeing inked major deals with United, American, and Delta in June 2001, Sept. 11 put an end to them. After that date, U.S.-based carriers were cutting, not adding, amenities for passengers.

That was part of the problem right there. Boeing had to sell the service to airlines, not to consumers. And airlines have simply not been in the position to spend money on what are viewed as extraneous features.

Happily, other options are on the way. Both Live TV, a subsidiary of JetBlue Airways, and AirCell have said they're working on in-flight Internet access services that they hope to have ready next year. Such services are expected to be cheaper, and of higher quality, than the Boeing offering. We'll see if the airlines find them attractive enough to offer to what I can't help still believe would be a very eager constituency.

What do you think? What would you pay to have unlimited Internet access while in flight? Are there any downsides to this being an option for air travelers? Let me know by responding to my blog entry.

Alice LaPlante
Alice.laplante@gmail.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

AOL Chief Technology Officer Resigns: Sources
A researcher in AOL's technology research department and the employee's supervisor have also left the company in the wake of the disclosure of search data for over 500,000 customers, a source familiar with the matter said. AOL's not commenting.

Related Story:

AOL To Dig For Spammer's Gold
Online company plans to dig up yard of spammer's parents to collect millions of dollars it won in court.


3. Breaking News

Microsoft Offers To Help Firefox Run On Vista
In an online posting, Microsoft's Sam Ramji said he would make company engineers available to Firefox and Thunderbird coders.

Delta Air Lines Outsources Technology Operations To IBM
IBM will assume operation of the computers and software that support Delta's customer reservations, business recordkeeping, flight management, and maintenance tracking systems.

Google Mobile Maps Smooths Traffic Tie-Ups
The service provides free access to real-time traffic information on cell phones.

Google Ends 11-Month Run Of Market Gains
Americans conducted 6.3 billion searches in July, down 2% from June, but up 30% from a year ago.

Backup Power To Cost Data Centers More
Price increases for hardware are being called necessary because of increases in the cost of raw materials and components, notably copper, steel and lead.

SanDisk Targets iPod With 8GB Music Player
The Sansa e280 has a $249.99 price tag and is positioned to take on the red hot iPod Nano.

Backlash Feared Over New eBay Seller Fees
Some are calling for sellers to strike in the U.S. and Australia this week. Sellers in the U.K. went on strike last week.

What's In A Name? Ask Apple And Google
Vendors take steps to protect valuable trademarks from exploitation by others.

Analysis: Now Is The Time To Consider Open Source CRM
Open source apps are a tiny fraction of the CRM market, but the advantages and advancements make it a worthwhile contender for more.

Acquisition Could Help Google Combine Image Search And Facial Recognition
Google says it plans to use facial-recognition technology to improve its photo-organization tool. But the search giant may have more mind.

Virtual Linux Could Be Answer To Costly Data Centers
Forget the new-product hype. The biggest buzz at last week's LinuxWorld conference was the potential of Linux in the data center.

All Our Latest News

Watch The News Show

In the current episode:

John Soat with "Money Matters"
U.S. tech stocks fall last week on the heels of Dell bad news, MSFT shares rise after buy-back plan increased, and energy efficient technologies more than tripled in Q2.

Doug Henschen with "Get Your Scorecard"
Chrysler Group creates monthly scorecard to track performance of dealerships across the country.

Sacha Lecca with "Big Dog"
Not your traditional beast of burden. Take a look at Boston Dynamics "Big Dog" robot.


----- The latest research, polls, and tools -----

Protecting Data
Identity theft is on the rise across the globe. Learn how your peers are protecting customer data and managing privacy issues in the InformationWeek/Accenture Global Information Security survey.

Do You Access Our Content From A BlackBerry Or Treo?
Many of our readers do, and we want to ensure that you get the best experience in using our content. So we've created a PDA-friendly version of our news content, with similarly streamlined content pages, that should make the PDA experience a good one. Check out our latest enhancement.

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4. Grab Bag

Holdout Bands Give In To iTunes (Wired)
Although recently more bands succumbed to the siren song of iTunes, some big names, including the Beatles, are steadfast holdouts. How long can this last?

The FBI's Upgrade That Wasn't (Washington Post)
Despite the massive investment—$170 million—the feds ended up with an unusable system.

How To Write Unmaintainable Code (Canadian Mind Products)
Java programmer Roedy Green, in the hopes of spurring job opportunities for other Javaheads, provides tips on how to write code that is so difficult to maintain that programmers can guarantee themselves a "lifetime" of easy employment keeping it up to date for their employers.

Blog About End Times (Boing Boing)
The Signs of Witness blog focuses on the increasing stream of news about religious people who believe that the world is about to end—and have evidence that supposedly proves it.


5. In Depth

Dell Customers Have To Wait Four Weeks For Replacement Batteries
Computer maker cautions customers not to use faulty laptop batteries.

HP Gains Ground As Dell's Woes Continue
The battle lines are shifting in the PC wars as HP rebounds while Dell struggles.

U.S. Technology Shares Fall As Dell Stumbles
Dell shares fell 5.1% after Goldman Sachs downgraded it to "sell" based on news of falling profits and an SEC inquiry.

Dell Announces New AMD-Based Desktops And Servers As Quarterly Financial Results Disappoint
Dell plans new AMD-based desktops beginning next month and two-socket Opteron servers by year's end.

SEC, Directors Investigating Dell Fiscal Issues
News of the investigations comes the same week the company announced the recall of 4.1 million laptop batteries.


6. Voice Of Authority

Get Used To It: Mousy Hair, Chapped Lips, And Boredom En Route
Larry Greenemeier provides commentary on the palpable suffering of business travelers when the airplane pushes back from the gate and it's time to shut off laptops, cell phones, and BlackBerrys.


7. White Papers

Lessons Learned: How To Prevent PCI Audit Failure
Although protecting customer credit card information is a critical issue facing retailers, many companies have yet to implement systems that meet the PCI Data Security Standard's requirements. This paper identifies proven tactics that help companies achieve PCI compliance.


8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek

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