In This Issue: 1. Editor's Note: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of Mobility 2. Today's Top Story - Microsoft Fixes Flawed Patch Related Story: - Two New IE Bugs Uncovered 3. Breaking News - Stolen Laptops Force OMB To Order Federal Security Updates - Yankee Group: Time Is Ripe For Oracle Linux - Adobe Updates Flash Player - Microsoft Buys Asset-Management Software Vendor - Dell Expands Support Services For Business - Verizon Business Launches Managed Wireless LAN Services - Palm, Xerox Settle Patent-Infringement Suit - AMD, IBM Climb In Latest Supercomputer Rankings - How To Upgrade To Fedora Core 3, Part 1 - Biometric Touch Points - German Publisher Drops Legal Action Against Google Library Project - Dell Pledges To Recycle All Its Hardware For Free - HP Expands Integrity Virtualization, Oracle Capabilities - IBM Bets Big On Chinese Startups - VeriSign Hit By Stock-Option Probe - SocialIM Launches Instant Messaging App For Online Communities 4. Grab Bag: Mobile Web; Online Child Porn - W3C Agrees On Mobile Web Practices (Beta News) - Lawmakers Tackle Online Child Porn (Washington Post) 5. In Depth: Net Business - NBC To Promote Fall Lineup On YouTube - RealNetworks Puts Ads In Free Online Games - Wireless Firms Agree On Rules For Mobile Web Sites 6. Voice Of Authority - Microsoft Backs Off WGA...A Little 7. White Papers - Voice Developers Get The Best Of Both APIs 8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek 9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription
Quote Of The Day: "Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them." — Bill Vaughan
1. Editor's Note: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of Mobility
Our two most relied upon computing/communications devices—the laptop and the cell phone—are making headlines this week.
The failure rate on laptops (and desktops)—failure defined as necessitating replacement of a hardware component—is dropping, but remains higher than a rate I'd consider optimal. The annual failure rate of notebooks ranges from 15% for systems bought today to a projected 20% in three years (the rates are significantly lower for desktops). In my experience, the corporate-issue laptop has been a stalwart; I can't recall a hardware failure in more than 10 years with a notebook. The personal laptop I purchased about 18 months ago—a middle-of-the-road model from a top-name supplier—is flaking out, with failures or near-failures of critical components that have me convinced I'll be replacing it before it reaches two years of age. Are 15 to 20% of you experiencing hardware failures on laptops less than three years old? If so, that's not a great indicator of product quality, even if it's better than it was before. Please respond with comments to this blog entry.
Laptops, with frequently poor handling and inadequate security practices, have emerged as another weak link in a long string of customer data losses. There's a must-read update from The Wall Street Journal. Companies, it seems, are finally responding to the problem. In a report called "Laptop Lockdown" (subscription required), the Journal details companies that are aggressively tightening (or creating) policies regarding data that can and can't be on laptops, how those laptops must be handled, and so on.
Boeing now requires laptops to be physically locked with a cable to a stationary object in offices, conference rooms, and cars so that no one can walk away with them. It forbids confidential data from being stored on laptops. And it has begun random audits of laptops to check for unauthorized or unsecured files. The most sensible and obvious of these measures is the policy defining what can't be stored on a laptop. There's no excuse for other companies not to follow suit, at least on this one obvious security practice.
As much as we rely on laptops, the cell phone is equally critical for business and personal communications. Yet when traveling by air, one of the last things many of us want is a chatterbox on a cell phone within earshot. Despite some earlier signs that cell phones would become ubiquitous in the air, progress has slowed. A closely watched Boeing service may be terminated, Verizon is ending its Airfone in-flight service, and the near-term outlook for cell phones on planes in the United States is "bleak," according to our report. There's nothing bleak in that news.
An in-flight cell phone slowdown won't matter to Intel, which made an unceremonious exit from the cell phone processor business following what InformationWeek blogger Darrell Dunn labels as a failure of historic proportions, leading to the sale of the business to Marvell for $600 million despite an investment estimated in the billions. Dunn observes that Intel tried to slip that one by quietly under its splashy Woodcrest server processor announcement earlier this week. No such luck.
Microsoft Fixes Flawed Patch Microsoft reissues one of the dozen June security bulletins with updated patches to fix flaws in the original, which broke dial-up functionality for some users.
Two New IE Bugs Uncovered A pair of unpatched bugs in Microsoft's popular Internet Explorer browser may soon be in play, as proof-of-concept code has gone public for both.
3. Breaking News
Stolen Laptops Force OMB To Order Federal Security Updates Government agencies have 45 days to implement long-standing data security requirements, as well as some new ones, including encrypting all data on mobile machines, requiring token- or card-based two-factor authentication for remote access, and tracking data extraction from federal databases.
Dell Expands Support Services For Business The premium service is available to a broader set of customers than Dell's previous premium service, which required a minimum of 200 servers. Platinum Plus will require only 100 servers.
IBM Bets Big On Chinese Startups One Chinese company in the location-based services market has been able to grow its customer base by 30% and increase revenue by about five times with help from IBM.
VeriSign Hit By Stock-Option Probe Before receiving this week's official requests from the SEC and a U.S. attorney in California, VeriSign said its board had started an internal review and analysis of its historical stock-option grants.
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Wireless Firms Agree On Rules For Mobile Web Sites The World Wide Web Consortium has created 60 guidelines to help developers design sites that are easy to use on cell phones, including a way of making the content appear right at the top of a cell phone screen, allowing users to avoid scrolling past multiple navigation links.
6. Voice Of Authority
Microsoft Backs Off WGA...A Little Microsoft called its pilot of the nagging Windows Genuine Advantage Notification tool over and done. But although it backtracked a bit—an update to the tool, also issued today, dials back on the frequency with which Notification dials into Microsoft's servers—the company is pushing ahead with the controversial anti-piracy plan.
7. White Papers
Voice Developers Get The Best Of Both APIs This white paper examines the advantages of low- and high-level APIs. It also provides developers with guidelines for choosing the API that will best achieve their development requirements.
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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.
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.