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
- 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
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
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
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
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.
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.
From evaluating the worth of your IT qualifications to examining
the role that corporate culture plays in U.S. companies,
InformationWeek offers a range of online tools that are
informative, confidential, and totally free.
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.
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.
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.
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5 Top Federal Initiatives For 2015As InformationWeek Government readers were busy firming up their fiscal year 2015 budgets, we asked them to rate more than 30 IT initiatives in terms of importance and current leadership focus. No surprise, among more than 30 options, security is No. 1. After that, things get less predictable.