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Software That's Great, And Not So Much

In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: Software That's Great, And Not So Much
2. Today's Top Story
    - What's The Greatest Software Ever Written?
    Related Stories:
    - Blog: 5 That Almost Made The List Of Greatest Software Ever
    - How Windows Measures On The Scale Of Greatness
3. Breaking News
    - Experts Ratchet Up Windows Worm Warnings
    - Symantec Beta Comes With A Painful Catch For Norton Users
    - VMware, XenSource Join Virtualization Forces For Linux
    - GoDaddy Launches Podcast Service
    - Review: JotSpot's 'Less Nerdy' Wiki Still Needs A Little Work
    - Brief: Microsoft Will Reopen Vista Test With RC1
    - RFID Market Sends Mixed Messages
    - 5 Ways To Lock Up Your E-Mail
    - Symantec Backup Exec Flaw Enables Remote Control
    - Brief: Vista Coupons Reportedly Set For October
    - IronPort Appliance Tries To Give Bounce Spam The Boot
    - Red Hat Readies New Linux Desktop Upgrade To Vie With Novell
4. Grab Bag
    - High-Tech Plain Talk (Baltimore Sun)
    - 25 Years Of The IBM PC (BBC News)
    - An Awakening In Bihar (BusinessWeek)
5. In Depth: Corporate Ethics
    - Former Brocade Execs Face New Stock Option Charges
    - SanDisk Sued Over M-Systems Acquisition
    - Broadcom To Delay 10Q Filing
    - Phone-Spying Cases Move To One Court
    - Rights Group Blasts Internet Companies Over China Policies
6. Voice Of Authority
    - Intel Preparing Students For Multicore Future
7. White Papers
    - Achieve Immediate Cost, Productivity, And Security Benefits By Automating IT Management
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quotes of the day:
"It's hardware that makes a machine fast. It's software that makes a fast machine slow." -- Craig Bruce

"Software Engineering might be science; but that's not what I do. I'm a hacker, not an engineer." -- Jamie Zawinski

"Software development is technical activity conducted by human beings." -- Niklaus Wirth


1. Editor's Note: Software That's Great, And Not So Much

Our top-story package today looks at "The Greatest Software Ever Written." That may sound fairly presumptive, but our reporter on this is the right man for the job. Charles Babcock has been watching software trends unfold for over two decades now.

Charles has long had a particular affinity for software, and he understands quite a lot about how it works and what makes for simple yet elegant design. He's covered everything from databases to open source and virtualization, from mainframe to desktop. He covered software metrics (remember "programmer productivity"?) a few years back—okay, maybe a few more than a few—and has been around through the Unix wars and the debates over relational versus hierarchical database management systems.

To be sure, Charles is a tough crowd. To make his list, a particular type of software has to be a programming accomplishment—in other words, it must advance the art of software from a technology perspective—and it must have had a major effect on society, or a substantial subset of society, or the computer industry as a whole. Perhaps it sparked a revolution in how we interact with each other, like Tim Berners-Lee did with the World Wide Web, or perhaps it changed the way we find information, as Google did with its search software. Going back some, and from a historical perspective, the Apollo 11 guidance system makes Charles' list not only because it helped land men on the moon in 1969, but because it had to do so within the 8 Kbytes of memory available in the on-board computer.

"Great software dazzles us by virtue of what it does correctly in the face of everything that could go wrong," Charles writes.

Equally instructive, in terms of Charles' frame of mind as he was thinking about this topic, is his blog entry about software that didn't make the list of the greatest, but that might have on a different day, or if he'd had another type of food for lunch, as he says. On this list of almost-but-not-quite: Smalltalk, video games, Sketchpad, GPS systems, and virtualization.

In a separate story, he explains why Windows didn't make the cut on either of his lists.

Take our poll and let us know which software you think is the best of all time. And if you have a bone to pick about any of our choices, or why something was left off our list, please let us know what we should have included. We want to know what you think, even if you want to tell us what a bunch of morons we are.

After all, as Charles e-mailed me when I asked him what if anything surprised him as he was putting this package together, this is a "somewhat personal and arbitrary process." For instance, he started out convinced that VisiCalc should make the list of greatest software, but "to my chagrin, the more I considered the case, the stronger my estimation of Excel grew." Overall, he says he learned things he didn't already know about software, including the history of BSD Unix, which he now views as the "progenitor of the open-source movement."

The only thing he would have done differently? "The list would have stretched to 25" if he had had more time.

Johanna Ambrosio
jambrosio@cmp.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

What's The Greatest Software Ever Written?
From rocket science to Google, from the old IBM mainframe days to Unix, check out our list—and feel free to disagree.

Related Stories:

Blog: 5 That Almost Made The List Of Greatest Software Ever
You would think after all that discussion about the greatest software written, I'd be finished, Charles Babcock writes. But no, here are five candidates that didn't make the list—even though they were very, very strong candidates.

How Windows Measures On The Scale Of Greatness
Microsoft's operating system didn't make the cut in InformationWeek's ranking of the greatest software ever written. Here's why.


3. Breaking News

Experts Ratchet Up Windows Worm Warnings
The bug in question is one of 23 patched Tuesday by Microsoft. It affects all currently supported versions of Windows, can be exploited without end users needing to do anything, and according to some security watchers, rivals the bug that led to 2003's destructive MSBlast attack.

Symantec Beta Comes With A Painful Catch For Norton Users
Want to check out Symantec's preview of Norton Confidential? Beware—the beta is incompatible with other key Norton products, and you'll have uninstall them to preview the new add-on software.

VMware, XenSource Join Virtualization Forces For Linux
The goal is to allow different hypervisors to manage Linux virtual machines generated by a competitor's software.

GoDaddy Launches Podcast Service
The new service, Quick Podcast, offers podcasters hosting and publishing services starting at $5 a month.

Review: JotSpot's 'Less Nerdy' Wiki Still Needs A Little Work
The latest version of this innovative wiki combines an Office-like interface with a variety of collaborative online apps. But does this combination really work?

Brief: Microsoft Will Reopen Vista Test With RC1
The preview program will be open to everyone despite Microsoft's earlier promise that only testers of Vista Beta 2 would have access to RC1.

RFID Market Sends Mixed Messages
Vendor Alien Technology recently withdrew its planned initial public offering, and analysts point to other signs of slowdown, even as companies including Wal-Mart move ahead with their implementations.

5 Ways To Lock Up Your E-Mail
Malicious e-mail is on the rise. We've set up five steps to secure your e-mail against its biggest security threats.

Symantec Backup Exec Flaw Enables Remote Control
The vulnerability affects the RPC interfaces of Backup Exec and could enable a remote attacker to send malicious code to the application.

Brief: Vista Coupons Reportedly Set For October
The coupons would be used to help jump-start the holiday season and drive Vista sales by enticing customers who buy XP machines in the fourth quarter to upgrade to Vista.

IronPort Appliance Tries To Give Bounce Spam The Boot
Bounce spam spoofs the return address and then designs the e-mail to fail so that the e-mail is "returned" to the actual target of the attack.

Red Hat Readies New Linux Desktop Upgrade To Vie With Novell
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Desktop, which is expected to ship later this year, will compete head-on with the recently released Novell Suse Linux 10.

All Our Latest News

Watch The News Show

In the current episode:

Eric Chabrow With 'Big Blue On Blue World'
IBM buys FileNet, Big Blue partners with Pace University to meet the open-source demand, and more.

Curtis Franklin With 'Dressing Up Your Laptop'
The new Targus bag just might be the laptop case you're looking for.

Stephanie Stahl With 'High-Tech Fashion, Part 2'
More apparel companies are integrating high-tech accessories into their fashion wears.


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4. Grab Bag

High-Tech Plain Talk (Baltimore Sun)
Most cell phone users pass up the latest music and videos in favor of making calls.

25 Years Of The IBM PC (BBC News)
IBM made history on Aug. 12, 1981, with the announcement of a personal computer. It cost $1,565 and had just 16 Kbytes of memory.

An Awakening In Bihar (BusinessWeek)
Here's a look at how one rural school helps prepare poor youths for the Indian Institutes of Technology.


5. In Depth: Corporate Ethics

Former Brocade Execs Face New Stock Option Charges
Gregory Reyes, Brocade's former president, chairman, and CEO, and Stephanie Jensen, the company's former vice president of human resources, were charged this week in a new 12-count indictment for a scheme to backdate stock option grants to give employees favorably priced options.

SanDisk Sued Over M-Systems Acquisition
Two lawsuits have been filed in California, both on behalf of M-Systems shareholders regarding stock option backdating and "breaches of fiduciary duty."

Broadcom To Delay 10Q Filing
An ongoing investigation into stock option grants is the cause, and at this point there's no new estimated date for the filing for the quarter ended June 30.

Phone-Spying Cases Move To One Court
A panel decided this week that the lawsuits involving the National Security Agency and telephone records would move to the Northern District Court of California because that's where the earliest and most advanced action is pending "before a judge already well versed in the issues."

Rights Group Blasts Internet Companies Over China Policies
Human Rights Watch says Western nations should pass laws to protect Chinese political activists because companies like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo are more focused on working with Chinese authorities in a race to establish market share in that country.


6. Voice Of Authority

Intel Preparing Students For Multicore Future
The technology evolution that may well most significantly change the course of computing over the remainder of the decade and beyond is multicore processing, Darrell Dunn says. This trend will, however, add complexity to both hardware and software design. Intel hopes to ease the transition to multicore processing with new programs at major universities that target the next generation of software designers.


7. White Papers

Achieve Immediate Cost, Productivity, And Security Benefits By Automating IT Management
This Enterprise Management Associates white paper takes a close look at automated IT management, especially for medium-sized businesses. Examining the problems surrounding software and hardware inventory, compliance, software deployment, and patch distribution, EMA has found that appliance solutions such as Kace's KBOX can help.


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