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8/17/2005
11:12 AM
Patricia Keefe
Patricia Keefe
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Open Source, Security, And Podcasting

www.informationweek.com
Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2005

In This Issue: Open Source, Security, And Podcasting
1. Editor's Note: Are We Being Served?
2. Today's Top Story
    - New Rating System Aims To Take Mystery Out Of Open-Source Tools
    Related Stories
    - Popular Open-Source Data-Compression Technology Reveals Ugly Flaw
    - Odd Byte: Danish Students Apply Open-Source Philosophy To Beer
3. Breaking News
    - Microsoft Tests Two Flavors Of Windows Server
    - Stanford Computer Scientists Unveil Anti-Phishing Software
    - Spanish Authorities Say Internet Phishing Ring Disbanded
    - New Bill Proposes Tougher Punishments For Identity Theft
    - Wells Fargo Intros Anti-Theft Alerts
    - Hackers Working On Cisco Exploit
    - Claria Tries To Remake Pop-Up Ads
    - IT Buyer Optimism Fades
    - AMD Debuts Entry-Level Dual-Core Athlon, Cuts Prices
    - IE 7 Busts Some IM Clients
    - Informatica Under New Management
    - Shopping Mall Boasts Massive Wi-Fi Network
4. In Depth: Pondering Podcasting?
    - Podcasting Craze Spurs Land Grab
    - Podcast Porn Proves Popular
    - Podcasting, Phishing, RSS Still Gibberish To Most
    - Safeguard Podcasts Now, While The Technology Is New
    - iPodder.org--Your Podcast Directory
    - Podcast Users Expected To Reach 60 Million In Five Years
5. Voice Of Authority: Microsoft Vs. Google
6. White Papers: Identity Management
7. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
8. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day:
"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it." -- G.K. Chesterton


1. Editor's Note: Are We Being Served?

I was sitting in a news meeting yesterday, multitasking as usual, when a story discussion grabbed my ear. Reporter Tony Kontzer had seen a report from Business Travel News that intimated that self-service online capabilities have progressed to the point where companies see themselves being able to deliver the kind of "high-touch" service online that used to be available only in stores--and indeed, in some cases, is now being provided online only. Consumers, meanwhile, believe they're getting very personalized service online and, as a result, are moving way from brick-and-mortar stores.

Now if true, this means that not only have some consumers abandoned real storefronts for the convenience of online (and I count myself among them), but Web-site design and technology have advanced to the point where customers are comfortable exchanging the human interaction you get in a physical store for the support provided by online businesses. That would really be a milestone.

My head whipped around a bit, because frankly, I'm skeptical. While I agree that there has been a definite improvement in online customer service--especially the immediate online help offered by some consumer sites, in particular ones with roots in mail order--it's ironic and downright frustrating that many of the pioneering online companies, and even some of the top providers of online services, dispense distinctly unhelpful anti-customer nonsupport.

I'm talking about eBay, PayPal, Yahoo, and Comcast for starters. You can probably think of more. You simply cannot reach a human being, and, you know what, sometimes you need to speak to one. In some cases there's no number to call. As for trying to E-mail customer support, well fahgeddabutit. You can ask a specific question, but in my experience with those companies, what you get back is a templated response. I might as well have been directly linked back to their unhelpful FAQs.

The dearth, or rather the death, of customer support is by no means limited to online. You will never again call your local post office if the masterminds at the Postal Service have anything to say about it (thanks goodness for friendly mail carriers), and many banks won't provide numbers for local branches. Why should you be able to call the folks you know at the local branch when you could just as easily call some impersonal call center in Timbuktu?

The lack of access to humans and/or real answers is particularly galling in the online realm. You can read more of my take on this increasingly frustrating situation in my blog entry.

On a completely different note, we'd like to thank the many readers who took the time to respond to our poll in Monday's issue on newsletter delivery times, as well as those of you who went the extra mile and wrote in with some creative suggestions. We'll get back to you shortly with the results!

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


2. Today's Top Story

New Rating System Aims To Take Mystery Out Of Open-Source Tools
Carnegie Mellon University, Intel, and SpikeSource are developing a system to help IT departments determine which open-source tools they should be adopting.

Related Stories:
Popular Open-Source Data-Compression Technology Reveals Ugly Flaw

A buffer-overflow vulnerability in Zlib could allow attackers to crash zlib-enabled applications.

Danish Students Apply Open-Source Philosophy To Beer
Technology students make the recipe available over the Web--at no charge, of course.


3. Breaking News

Microsoft Tests Two Flavors Of Windows Server
Beta tests of the next version of Windows Server include a stripped-down version, called Windows Longhorn Server Core, that loses the Windows GUI and includes only the most common server functions.

Stanford Computer Scientists Unveil Anti-Phishing Software
A pair of browser plug-ins changes how passwords are transmitted and detects phishing sites.

Spanish Authorities Say Internet Phishing Ring Disbanded
The ring used servers in different countries; so far 15 people have been arrested, including one who fled to Argentina.

New Bill Proposes Tougher Punishments For Identity Theft
The Personal Data Privacy and Security Act would require enterprises with more than 10,000 customers to implement a security and auditing plan and to notify their patrons when there's a suspected breach.

Wells Fargo Intros Anti-Theft Alerts
Wells Fargo & Co. on Monday introduced an E-mail-alert system designed to help online banking customers detect impending identity theft.

Hackers Working On Cisco Exploit
Security experts and hackers at the DefCon conference are reportedly working on an exploit based on vulnerabilities in Cisco's Internetwork Operating System.

Claria Tries To Remake Pop-Up Ads
Its new service, being launched this month, will still require a software download, but the company insists it's being more proactive about getting customers' approval and says the ads will be better targeted to a specific person's browsing habits.

IT Buyer Optimism Fades
But things are expected to pick up later this year, according to a research firm.

AMD Debuts Entry-Level Dual-Core Athlon, Cuts Prices
The company also dropped prices of other X2 processors.

IE 7 Busts Some IM Clients
The first beta of Microsoft's new Internet Explorer breaks some instant messengers, including the popular Trillian. The only fix: Remove IE 7 or purge an offending .dll file.

Informatica Under New Management
One year after assuming the CEO job at Informatica, Sohaib Abbasi assesses where the company and the data-integration market are going.

Shopping Mall Boasts Massive Wi-Fi Network
West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, offers visitors a Wi-Fi network the size of 48 city blocks.

All our latest news

VIDEO: Every day, The News Show's John Soat offers his offbeat take on the latest IT headlines.

In Monday's episodes:

John Soat Has News You Can Use

Lori MacVittie On Oracle's New Math

Curtis Franklin On Storm Warning

Ivan Schneider On Cell-Phone Help


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4. In Depth: Pondering Podcasting?

Podcasting Craze Spurs Land Grab
There are dozens of tools and options for broadcasting on the Net, but real progress is waiting until someone figures out how to pay music owners for the right to use tunes in podcasts.

Podcast Porn Proves Popular
Racy podcasts, often called "porncasts," are among the top five most popular downloads on iTunes. Steve Jobs says Apple won't publish porn, but some of the material is pretty explicit. Where should Apple draw the line?

Podcasting, Phishing, RSS Still Gibberish To Most
A survey about Internet terms finds that most Americans aren't on the cutting edge of technology, except when it comes to security. Spyware, firewalls, cookies, and adware are understood by most.

Safeguard Podcasts Now, While The Technology Is New
We need to safeguard podcasting now, while the technology is new and still growing, rather than wait until the eggs are already broken, as we did with E-mail and Web-borne infections, says Mitch Wagner.

iPodder.org--Your Podcast Directory
Browse by category--books, computers, law, movies, etc.

Podcast Users Expected To Reach 60 Million In Five Years
The number of podcast users in the United States is expected to increase nearly 15-fold over the next five years, a research group says.


5. Voice Of Authority

Business Technology: Microsoft Vs. Google: A Rorschach Test
The growing battle between Microsoft and Google, besides being fun to watch, has John Foley thinking about the nature of competition in the tech industry and where things are headed. So he took the old inkblot test and offers up his gut reactions.


6. White Papers

Identity Management: A Growing Player In The Regulatory-Compliance Challenge
If you're finding that costs and lost productivity from supporting your organization's compliance initiatives are causing elevated stress levels, you're not alone. Many enterprises position identity-management solutions among their top three initiatives to help manage compliance with numerous regulations.


7. Get More Out Of InformationWeek

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