Google's Magic Pixie Dust - InformationWeek
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Google's Magic Pixie Dust

In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: Google's Magic Pixie Dust
2. Today's Top Story
    - Intel Reports Banner Fourth Quarter
    - Report: PC Sales Boom
3. Breaking News
    - Extensions Are Key To Firefox Success
    - Search-Crazy Swedes Name Baby 'Google'
    - False Alarm: No Worm Against Windows Bug Yet
    - Google Clarifies Privacy Policy
    - Microsoft's Latest Critical Fixes Include Buggy Windows Patch
    - State CIO Group Names New President
    - Macromedia's 'Flash Lite' To Support Wireless Apps
    - Monster Buys South Korean Job Site
    - IBM Acquires SOA Vendor
    - Oracle-Siebel Customers Have More Hopes Than Details On Post-Merger Plans
    - Feds Order Banks To Strengthen Online Authentication
    - EBay Yanks Auction Of Avian-Flu Vaccine
    - Silicon Advances Could Propel China's Nascent 3G Market
    - Cisco To Strengthen Its Security Framework
4. In Depth: Hewlett-Packard
5. Voice Of Authority: Google
6. White Papers: Mobile Enterprise
7. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
8. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day:
"We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true." -- Robert Wilensky

1. Editor's Note: Google's Magic Pixie Dust

I definitely want some of the magic pixie dust that Google uses. Google gets away with stuff that other companies--particularly Microsoft--get hammered for. But Google gets a free pass. Because it's Google. And everybody loves Google.

Microsoft faces constant scrutiny for the data it collects--or might collect--on its customers. Four years ago, when the company introduced "product activation" to stem piracy, privacy advocates cried foul. Likewise, Microsoft proposed technology code-named HailStorm as a way of consolidating login information for multiple sites; privacy concerns eventually scuttled that proposal.

Google regularly gets away with this kind of thing. According to its privacy policy, Google explicitly reserves the right to track every time you click on a link from one of its searches. If you use Gmail as your primary E-mail--and many people do--Google keeps a repository of all your E-mail and indexes it for marketing purposes.

And yet there's no outcry against Google; nobody complains except for a few privacy advocates (and, unfortunately, the phrase "privacy advocate" these days is simply a polysyllabic way of saying "kook").

By tracking clicks and storing E-mail, Google is keeping a detailed dossier on each of its users Internet-usage habits. And that means it knows a lot about our real lives, too, because, here in the 21st century, our online habits are reflections of our real lives. We shop online, do finances online, and use the Internet to research our medical conditions, hobbies, and leisure activities.

Google is a great company. All of us use Google many times every day. I have a Google account and remain logged into it all day, so that I can enjoy the benefits of the personalized home page and Google Reader (which, by the way, is terrific). But I don't use Gmail, because I don't want to entrust Google with all my E-mail. (I mean, heck, forget about privacy; what about if their server crashes and it turns out the guy who was supposed to make backups was instead spending his days drinking Four Roses bourbon and watching The Guiding Light?)

Google's motto is, "You can make money without doing evil." But the company isn't staffed by angels; they are as capable of doing evil as any of the rest of us, and we're all very capable of doing evil when you put big buckets of money in front of us.

For more on this subject, or to comment, visit my blog entry. Or you can read what columnist Fred Langa had to say a few months ago about Google and privacy.

Mitch Wagner

2. Today's Top Story

Intel Reports Banner Third Quarter
Microprocessor sales for the third quarter set a record high, though there was downward pricing pressure resulting in flat selling prices.

Related Story:
Report: PC Sales Boom

Shipments rose more than 17% in the third quarter, and Dell and Hewlett-Packard did very well indeed.

3. Breaking News

Extensions Are Key To Firefox Success
Mozilla's developers built Firefox from the ground up to give third-party extension developers room to run. The results have been more successful, and more vital to the open-source browser's long-term prospects, than any of them could have imagined.

Search-Crazy Swedes Name Baby 'Google'
Walid Elias Kai, who works for a Swedish search-optimization company, and his wife, Carol Kai, have named their boy "Oliver Google Kai."

False Alarm: No Worm Against Windows Bug Yet
A security firm mistakenly identified a new Trojan as the first to exploit one of last week's vulnerabilities in Windows, but it has corrected itself.

Google Clarifies Privacy Policy
The company described in more understandable terms what it does with user data, but remains mum on how long it hangs onto the information.

Microsoft's Latest Critical Fixes Include Buggy Windows Patch
Microsoft says customers reported a wide variety of strange behaviors after installing one of three patches released last week. It's the second time in three months Microsoft has released a buggy patch for problems it deemed "critical."

State CIO Group Names New President
Matt Miszewski, CIO of Wisconsin, will lead NASCIO in 2006; at this week's conference he says he wants to get to know other state IT leaders to see where their "pressure points" are.

Macromedia's 'Flash Lite' To Support Wireless Apps
A new version of Macromedia Flash will support an application-development environment called Brew, used for creating mobile services including E-mail.

Monster Buys South Korean Job Site
The $94 million deal helps Monster expand into up-and-coming markets.

IBM Acquires SOA Vendor
DataPower, a maker of appliances used to simplify and speed up Web-services applications, will become part of IBM's software group.

Oracle-Siebel Customers Have More Hopes Than Details On Post-Merger Plans
Customers with heavy investments in both Oracle and Siebel say they have high hopes for the merger--as well as fear of the unknown.

Feds Order Banks To Strengthen Online Authentication
Regulators say the use of single-factor authentication is inadequate for safeguarding against account fraud and identity theft.

EBay Yanks Auction Of Avian-Flu Vaccine
The auction was stopped because it violated the company's rules; sales of prescription drugs are forbidden on the site, according to an eBay spokesman.

Silicon Advances Could Propel China's Nascent 3G Market
A new chipset, dubbed Mars, comes with added firepower for handling multimedia and Web-based applications and will soon be available in China.

Cisco To Strengthen Its Security Framework
The company is adding support for more types of network devices and is making available client software to ensure that antivirus and other protection is up to date.

All our latest news

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Listen to InformationWeek's five-part interview this week with entrepreneur and visionary Ray Kurzweil, by editor-at-large Eric Chabrow. Kurzweil's book describes how IT and other technological and scientific advances will unrecognizably transform what it means to be human. In the current entry, Kurzweil describes how thinking machines with emotions might be developed as early as 2038. But Jeff Hawkins, inventor of the Palm Pilot and an artificial-intelligence researcher, sees those machines as centuries away.

In the rest of the series:

  • Part One: Kurzweil describes the Singularity.
  • Part Three: How technology advances provide society with creative solutions and potentially destructive consequences.
  • Part Four: How IT executives face new challenges in managing technology of the future.
  • Part Five: With technology so pervasive in the future, protecting individual privacy will be a challenge.

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    4. In Depth: Hewlett-Packard

    HP's Hurd Pledges Tens Of Billions For New Technology Initiatives
    HP is one of the few companies that will invest heavily on the research side of R&D, which will lead to new technologies in the years ahead, the CEO said.

    HP CEO: Company To 'Double Down' On Core Products
    Hurd pledges the vendor will continue to concentrate on servers, PCs, printers, and management software; don't look for a printer spin-off anytime soon.

    HP Renews Pledge To Evolve, Not Change
    "Here is the big announcement: There isn't going to be one," said Ann Livermore, executive VP of HP's Technology Solutions Group. "We're not going to make any fundamental shift in HP."

    5. Voice Of Authority: Google

    Google Is Hiring
    Thomas Claburn says Google is adding about 10 new employees every day and notes that financial advisers say the rapid pace of hiring could moderate the company's earnings. If you're thinking about working for Google, and the stock options and glamour aren't enough for you, how about free pizza?

    6. White Papers: Mobile Enterprise

    Flexibility For The Wireless Enterprise
    The intense growth that we've seen in the mobile Internet since 2000 shows every indication of continuing. This rate of growth is happening at a quicker pace than the ownership of cell phones, PCs, and fixed phones, as measured from the date of their invention. This trend is clearly going to continue in the marketplace.

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