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The Firefox Web Developer Toolbar Maximizes Your Productivity
If the saying "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" is true, then the majority of Web developers should have been committed to the asylum a long time ago. After all, the approach of repeatedly editing and reloading the page until everything is as desired is as universal as HTML itself. Part of the problem is perhaps related to the Web environment itself; getting started building Web sites is so simple that many developers fall into the trap of settling for a developmental approach which is simply "good enough," rather than exploring more sophisticated, streamlined strategies. If your pointer finger has grown callused from clicking the F5 button far too often, I encourage you to check out the Firefox Web Developer Add-in, which offers an extraordinary array of features which will greatly improve your productivity no matter the type or size of your next Web-related project. In this article I'll introduce you to Web Developer, providing and overview of its many features and talking in further detail about a few of my favorites. Installing Web Developer
Web Developer is actually a Firefox Add-on, although it's commonly referred to as a toolbar because when enabled it is situated in a manner typical of other toolbars such as the Google Toolbar. This approach puts many of the toolbar's features within easy reach. See Figure 1 for a screenshot depicting the standard layout.
To install Web Developer, launch Firefox and head over to the Web Developer Add-on page, located here. Click the Add to Firefox button to install the Add-on. A popup window will open, asking you to confirm the installation request. Click the Install Now button to continue. Following successful installation, you'll be prompted to restart Firefox to complete the process. Exploring the Web Developer Toolbar Options
Cookies: Use this menu to disable, view, clear, and delete session cookies.
CSS: The CSS menu allows you to dynamically add new CSS rules via a console window, add entirely new CSS stylesheets, view embedded style sheets, and even disable certain style types. This option can be quite useful for quickly testing slight CSS modifications to your site.
Forms: Using the Forms menu you can overlay any forms embedded into the page with information about the action, method, and form fields. Enabling the Form Information option will produce a summary of all forms found on the page, including their name, method, post action, and fields (including each field name, default value, and type).
Images: The extremely useful Images menu offers options for learning all sorts of important details about embedded images, including file sizes, dimensions, alt attribute values, and image paths. You can also use various menu options to hide all images in the page, hide only background images, and view images as they would appear with only their alt attribute values displayed.
Miscellaneous: The Miscellaneous menu offers a random array of features which don't fit squarely into one of the other menu categories, although don't discount what you'll find here; among other options you can enable a dynamic ruler which allows you to quickly and conveniently measure the pixel dimensions of any page element. Figure 2 demonstrates this feature.
Outline: The Outline menu gives you the ability to outline many page element types, including tables, block-level and deprecated elements, any element you mouseover, and more.
Resize: The Resize menu allows you to resize the browser window to any set of alternative dimensions. For instance, you could use this feature to resize the browser window to 800x600 pixels in order to experience what your Web site might look like on older computers.
Tools: The perhaps poorly named Tools menu allows you to validate your Web site's CSS, RSS feed, HTML, Section 508 conformability, receive an optimization analysis as determined by WebsiteOptimization.com, in addition to easy access to the DOM Inspector (if installed), Firefox Error Console, and Java Console.
View Source: Perhaps not surprisingly, the View Source menu gives you easy access to the page source.
Options: Last but not least, the Options menu gives you access to various Web Developer options and preferences.
LinkedIn Can Be One of Your Most Valuable Traffic Sources
LinkedIn is often discussed as a powerful social networking tool, particularly for business professionals, employers, and jobseekers. What is not discussed as frequently is the site's ability to simply drive traffic to your site. We talked to entrepreneur Lewis Howes (who claims that LinkedIn is one of the top traffic sources to his blogs) about how powerful LinkedIn can be for driving traffic.
We asked Howes why he thinks people don't generally associate LinkedIn with driving traffic like they would with other social networks like Facebook or Twitter. "Their perception of LinkedIn is of a resume, or a way to get a job, but they don't see all of the powerful tools within LinkedIn that allow you to drive traffic back to your site,"
LinkedIn has now announced that it is now being integrated into Microsoft Outlook, in one of the numerous convergences of social media and email that are increasingly taking place.
Lewis Howes "Anytime you can increase the size of your network on LinkedIn, it will give you the opportunity to distribute your content to more people, therefore driving more traffic back to your site," says Howes. "The Outlook integration is a way to connect more with your current LinkedIn contacts, and also help you grow you network as well."
In some ways, LinkedIn traffic may even be more valuable than traffic from other social networks and sites. This is simply due to the generally professional nature of LinkedIn itself.
"You need to take into consideration that LinkedIn has the highest average household income per user over any other social networking site (even NYTimes.com and BusinessWeek.com readers)," Howes tells us. "That being said, these are business decision makers you are targeting with your traffic from LinkedIn. The network is for real, and it will only continue to grow in time as there are currently 60 million professionals."
Now consider that LinkedIn could be one of your top traffic sources if you put enough effort into cultivating it as such. On a scale of 1-10, Howes says he'd rank it as a 7 or 8 on importance level for using it. "For me it is always one of the top 5 referring sites that drives traffic to my blogs," he says.
Howes went through ten steps in a post at ProBlogger.net. While the post is geared at driving traffic to your blog, you may find the advice helpful for other types of sites. In summary (he goes into much more detail about each of these in the post), the ten steps are:
- Complete your profile.
- Increase you connections.
- Customize your website links.
- Answer questions.
- Update your status.
- Join niche groups.
- Post comments in groups.
- Add RSS feeds to groups.
- Create a group.
- Add the blog application to your profile.
Now that LinkedIn can be integrated into Microsoft Outlook, I would suggest looking at getting that set up as well (steps here), if you want to get serious about including LinkedIn in your traffic strategy.
Of course there are plenty of other ways to use LinkedIn as a tool to increase the success of your business. As Howes lists, you can sell products, find new clients/employees, generate leads, receive funding, obtain sponsorships, sell tickets to events, as get press coverage to name a few.
Developer Says Windows 7 Eats Up Memory
Windows 7 is supposed to be much better at memory management than its maligned predecessor, Windows 7. But one developer said statistics show it's no better.
Feeling good about that new Windows 7 PC? Would you feel less sanguine if someone told you that recent tests show that 85 percent of Windows 7 PCs are in danger of maxing out the system's RAM?
That's at least the claim made this week by Devil Mountain Software, whose exo.performance.network, or XPnet for short, has produced controversial results before.
"New data from the exo.repository shows that better than 8 in 10 Windows 7 systems monitored by the exo.performance.network are running alarmingly low on physical memory. And nearly the same number are demonstrating significant delays in I/O processing -- ostensibly due to heavy virtual memory activity as Windows compensates for insufficient RAM," said a post to the exo.blog on Wednesday.
The firm's reports are based on results of data collected by XPnet, which Devil Mountain's team claims comes from nearly 23,000 subscribers to XPnet.com. In order to participate, subscribers install a small app on their PCs which collects data on various system conditions over time and periodically reports back with the results which are then tabulated and analyzed.
"Please RobMe" website highlights dangers of telling world your location
A website called PleaseRobMe has been launched to highlight the dangers of sharing too much information on the internet about your location.
The site pulls together updates on Twitter from people who publicly broadcast where they are at any given time, making the point that if they are in the pub, for instance, they are not at home and could be burgled.
The Dutch website lists "all those empty homes out there" and provides a running total of "new opportunities". The data is searchable by city or by people's Twitter usernames. A search for London reveals a stream of people who have recently left their houses.
The PleaseRobMe website has caused a stir, with some accusing it of making it easy for burglars to target people's homes.
The site took developers just a few hours to create after thousands began posting updates about where they were in the online social game Foursquare, which is based on a person's geo-location in the real world.
In Foursquare, a free application accessed through mobile phones, people send messages to friends and other players, including via Twitter, to say where they are. The more updates people give, the more places they visit, the more points they get. In some cases players "check in" at their own or a friend's home, giving the exact address.
There are several similar online applications, such as Gowalla, Brightkite and Google’s Latitude service.
The developers, Boy Van Amstel, Frank Groeneveld and Barry Borsboom, said that they did not want to encourage criminals, only to remind people that sharing information on the internet carried risks.
They say on the site: "Our intention is not, and never has been, to have people burglarized."
They explained: "On one end we're leaving lights on when we're going on a holiday, and on the other we're telling everybody on the internet we're not home. The goal of this website is to raise some awareness on this issue and have people think about how they use services like Foursquare, Brightkite, Google Buzz, etc. Because all this site is is a dressed up Twitter search page. Everybody can get this information."
Crimestoppers advised people to think hard before they posted personal details online.
"PHP Developers Prefer Using Windows to Build Enterprise Application
The open source PHP dynamic language is one of the most widely deployed languages on Web servers today. But what operating systems are PHP developers using to develop and deploy their applications? It's a question that has been asked before and now it's being answered with a new study from Zend, one of the lead commercial backers behind PHP.
The study surveyed 2,000 PHP developers in December and found that 85 percent reported that Linux was their primary operating system as a production environment for PHP.
Windows came in at a distant second at 11 percent while Mac OS X came in third at just 2 percent. However, when Zend drilled down into which platforms respondents prefer for their development, the rankings change dramatically.
According to the study, 42 percent of respondents reported that Windows was their primary operating system for development. Linux came in as No. 2 at 38.5 percent while Mac OS X remained in third place at 19.1 percent.
The findings indicate that while Microsoft Windows remains the top platform for developing in PHP, its lead may be narrowing. Back in 2006, a Microsoft executive reported that 85 percent of PHP developers were developing on Windows, but only 20 percent deployed on a Windows machine. The change comes despite joint work by Zend and Microsoft to improve the capabilities of PHP on Windows servers.
that the new study was based on over 2,000 completed surveys conducted in December 2009, some of which came from Zend customers. The survey was made public through the Zend Framework website, the Zend monthly newsletter, Twitter and DevZone.
'Microhoo' search deal given go-ahead
Microsoft and Yahoo! have won regulatory approval for their search partnership to challenge Google, the marker leader.
Under the terms of the ten-year "Microhoo" partnership, Yahoo! will use Microsoft's new Bing search engine technology on its own sites, while Yahoo! will act as the exclusive global sales force for the companies' premium search advertisers.
The agreement between the struggling internet portal company and software group will run for ten years, giving them an opportunity to provide advertisers with a viable rival to Google's money-making online advertising platform.
The deal was approved without restrictions by both the US Department of Justice and the European Commission. The companies said they plan to begin the partnership soon and have it completed by early 2012. Steve Ballmer, the Microsoft chief executive, said the regulatory approvals were an "exciting milestone".
The Bing search engine will process search requests and steer search-related advertisements on Yahoo! popular websites while Yahoo! will still control the user experience. Yahoo! is due to get 88 per cent of the revenue generated from the advertisements placed alongside the search results on its sites. Yahoo! has said it stands to gain about $500 million in annual operating income and $200 million in capital expenditure savings from the deal.
Carol Bartz, the Yahoo! chief executive, said: "This breakthrough search alliance means Yahoo! can focus even more on our own innovative search experience."
Since Microsoft launched Bing in June, it has slowly gained market share amid generally positive reviews. But it remains a distant third behind Google and Yahoo! which has been losing market share. In the US market Google has about two-thirds market share, with the combined share of Microsoft and Yahoo! at about 28 per cent.
Worldwide, Google is even further ahead. Google has about 70 per cent of the global search market compared with around 10 per cent for a combined Yahoo! and Bing. Google abandoned its own advertising alliance with Yahoo! in 2008 under pressure from the Justice Department. Microsoft had opposed the proposed tie-up after failing in a $47.5 billion takeover bid for Yahoo!
Analysts said how the two companies handle the planned transition will be crucial to the partnership's success in countering Google's dominance.
The companies said in a joint statement: "Yahoo! and Microsoft will each represent and provide customer support to different advertiser segments. Yahoo!'s sales team will exclusively represent and support high-volume advertisers, search engine optimisation and search engine marketing agencies, and resellers and their clients. Microsoft will represent and support self-service advertisers.
"Once the transition is completed, the companies' unified search marketplace will deliver improved innovation for consumers, better volume and efficiency for advertisers and better monetisation opportunities for web publishers through a platform that contains a larger pool of search queries."
Microsoft and Yahoo! said they continue to work with regulators in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan to provide all relevant information necessary for them to evaluate the transaction before the deal is launched in those countries.
HP Boosts Security With New Analysis Tools
Computing giant teams with Fortify to bolster software security with new static and dynamic code analysis offering dubbed Hybrid 2.0, expected to become available in the second half of 2010.
Detecting and fixing vulnerabilities in software can often be a complicated process. To help streamline that process, HP has come together with code analysis vendor Fortify to combine the benefits of dynamic and static code analysis.
HP (NYSE: HPQ) and Fortify have dubbed their solution Hybrid 2.0, as it is technology that leverages applications from both vendors and bridges the gap between penetration testing and vulnerability root-cause analysis within source code.
"Hybrid 2.0 brings together static analysis, the inside-out view, with dynamic analysis, the 'outside-in' view, and taking it to a new level," Jeff Morgan, product manager at HP software, told InternetNews.com. "We're actively linking dynamic and static processes through some new and unique technology, and that will drastically increase what we can do."
Specifically, the joint solution involves HP Assessment Management Platform (AMP), Fortify Source Code Analysis (SCA) and Fortify Program Trace Analyzer (PTA) working together to connect penetration test results directly to source code analysis results.
Intel faces challenges in Windows 7 migration
Intel faces challenges in migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7, including application incompatibility and system readiness, the company said on Wednesday.
Intel worked with Microsoft to develop Windows 7 into a stable operating system, but there is still a lot of heavy lifting involved before migrating PCs to the new OS inside Intel's environment, wrote Intel staff engineer Roy Ubry in a blog entry. Challenges include issues related to backward application compatibility, Web browser support, 64-bit computing and privacy controls.
"It means that a significant amount of work needs to be invested to prepare for Windows 7 application readiness," Ubry wrote.
Intel last year announced it would migrate from the nine-year-old Windows XP OS to Windows 7 OS, skipping Vista, which was released in 2007. Now the company is starting its transition to Windows 7.
One of the biggest issues involves migrating applications that can run natively on Windows XP to Windows 7. The move from Windows XP systems to 64-bit computing in Windows 7 presents an application compatibility challenge while migrating PCs, Ubry wrote.
Windows 7 no longer supports 16-bit programs, and Intel still has many legacy applications that will require the company to support older operating systems.
"Initially, you would think this would not be a big concern; 32 bit computing has been around for many years, and most applications have been ported to 32 bit," Ubry wrote. But for companies that want to migrate to Windows 7, the 16-bit programs will need to be changed to either 32-bit or 64-bit programs.
Another challenge involves the way Windows 7 deals with 32-bit programs. Windows 7 saves 32-bit programs on a different path -- typically in a directory called Program Files (x86) -- from 64-bit programs, which are saved in the Program Files directory. That raises a set of problems while searching for specific applications, Ubry wrote.
"Applications that are hard coded to look for 'Program Files' at runtime will fail when the application is installed in 'Program Files (x86)'," Ubry wrote.
As much of a challenge as it is, the move to 64-bit computing is necessary and timely, Ubry wrote. It prepares Intel for future computing needs and takes advantage of the higher memory capability of systems available on the market today.
Intel has also delayed deployment of Internet Explorer 7 and IE 8, as they are not compatible with specific add-ons and applications written for Internet Explorer 6. Many applications like some Office add-ons and versions of Java are written to run with IE 6, and "mitigation of these issues must be addressed," Ubry wrote.
Intel is also trying to tackle some improved privacy features built into Windows 7 that could create issues when trying to run programs. Microsoft has improved security in Windows 7 with an improved UAC (User Access Control) feature, which seeks permission from a user before providing access to programs. But some programs may not seek user permission and could just fail without warning, Ubry wrote. Microsoft has provided an answer that could remedy the problem with the option to run the program as an administrator.
Intel is also taking a number of steps to migrate smoothly to Windows 7. The company has set up application inventories and test environments and has established a "safety net" to run native XP applications. The safety net includes running XP applications in virtualized environments or using XP Mode, a feature in Windows 7 that allows users to run native XP programs.
Google cyber-attack from China 'an inside job'
Google employees may have assisted hackers who launched a cyber-attack from China, prompting the company’s threat to leave the country, it has emerged.
The world’s most popular search engine is believed to be investigating whether one or more of its own workers bases in the Chinese offices helped those attempting to break into the e-mail accounts of human rights activists last month.
Last week, Google said that it may pull out of the country after it was was targeted, along more than 30 other companies, in a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China”. It has now emerged that a number of Chinese journalists may have also seen their e-mail accounts hijacked.
The company is continuing to investigate the incident which took place in mid-December. But unnamed sources told news agencies today that the attack could have been an inside job.
It is claimed that hackers targeted people who have access to specific parts of Google’s networks, with employees based in its Chinese offices helping to facilitate the hackers.
A Google spokeswoman said: “We’re not commenting on rumour and speculation. This is an ongoing investigation, and we simply cannot comment on the details".
Local media have also reported that some Google China employees were denied access to internal networks last week, while some staff were put on leave and others sent to its offices around Asia. Google said it would not comment on its business operations.
It is believed that investigators at the company are continuing with the assumption that hackers outside Google were the main culprits, but that the sophistication of the attacks had led them to explore other avenues.
Security experts said the breadth and scope of the attacks, which also targeted the computers of Chinese dissidents, indicated that they were almost certainly carried out by the Chinese state.
Google remains in talks with Beijing over its continued presence in the country. It has said it would pull out if had to continue to submit to the China’s sensors.
Privately, Google is resigned to leaving the web’s largest growing market. China has tried to downplay Google's threat to leave, saying there are many ways to resolve the issue, but insisting all foreign companies, Google included, must abide by Chinese laws.
Among the major firms targeted by the cyber-attackers were defence contractors, finance and technology companies, as well as human rights activists and journalists.
The victims are believed to include the web company Yahoo, the defence firm Northrop Grumman, and the chemicals giant Dow Chemical, all of which have refused to confirm whether they have been targeted. The internet and technology companies Adobe and Juniper Networks were also hacked.
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said in a statement today that Google Mail accounts used by journalists in at least two bureaux in Beijing had been hijacked and their emails forwarded to unknown email addresses. Many Chinese human rights activists have complained of the same problem.
The row between Google and China over the attacks, has led to a number of other spats and diplomatic incidents.
Today, France echoed the German government’s warning not to use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser, after it emerged that hackers used an unknown weakness in the software to launch the attack against Google and others.
Government agencies in both countries warned its citizens that it should not use any version of Internet Explorer until the security hole in the software was fixed.
Thomas Baumgaertner, a Microsoft spokesman, rejected the moves, pointing out that the attacks on Google were by highly motivated people with a very specific agenda.
“These were not attacks against general users or consumers,” Baumgaertner said. “There is no threat to the general user, consequently we do not support this warning.”
Meanwhile, the Google issue risks becoming another irritant in China's relationship with the United States. Ties are already strained by arguments over the yuan currency's exchange rate, which U.S. critics say is unfairly low, trade protectionism and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. Washington said it was issuing a diplomatic note to China formally requesting an explanation for the attacks.
JSF 2.0 Views: Hello Facelets, Goodbye JSP
JavaServer Faces (JSF) is a Java component UI framework for building dynamic pages for a web application. JSF technology provides an API for creating, managing, and handling UI components and a tag library for using components within a web page. The new release of JavaServer Faces, JSF 2.0, is a major release for the specification, and it will be part of the Java Enterprise Edition 6 platform. This latest release has several interesting features that make the development and deployment of JSF applications simple and easy.
Unlike JSF 1.x versions, which use JavaServer Pages (JSP) for views, JSF 2.0 mandates support for Facelets as the view technology for JSF pages. Like JSP, Facelets are an implementation of View Declaration Language (VDL), which allows developers to declare UI components in different presentation technologies using HTML templates. However, because the Facelets view technology has been designed specifically to leverage the features of JSF, Facelets provide JSF developers with a simpler, more powerful programming model than JSP. That is why beginning with JSF 2.0 Facelets will replace JSP (JSF 2.0 has retained JSP support only for backward compatibility).
In this article, we explore what makes Facelets superior to JSP for JSF applications, as well as how JSF 2.0 supports them. We use a demo application and provide some code samples to highlight the power of this new technology.
Facebook Lands Patent for News Feed
Social networking giant Facebook has won a patent for its news feed feature, locking in the intellectual property rights to one of its most popular features.
The patent describes "a method for displaying a news feed in a social network environment," detailing the flow and filtering of information about people's activities across the site.
"The method includes generating news items regarding activities associated with a user of a social network environment and attaching an informational link associated with at least one of the activities, to at least one of the news items, as well as limiting access to the news items to a predetermined set of viewers and assigning an order to the news items," the company wrote in its patent application. "The method further may further include displaying the news items in the assigned order to at least one viewing user of the predetermined set of viewers and dynamically limiting the number of news items displayed."
Facebook submitted its application for the patent in August 2006, three weeks before it took the news feed feature live on the site. The automatic syndication of people's activities sparked an immediate protest from the site's users, prompting Facebook to add more privacy controls in what would become a familiar pattern as the company has the company has frequently tested the bounds of how much information people are willing to share online.
But the controversy over the news feed quickly faded, and the feature has since become one of the site's most essential elements. It has also been widely imitated on other social sites, with rival MySpace, for instance, rolling out its own version of a news feed more than a year after Facebook's.
The patent would grant Facebook the rights to pursue action against other Web sites that include an algorithm-driven mechanism for sharing and distributing information, which has lit up the Internet with speculation about the potential implications for social sites with similar features such as MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter.
A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment on how Facebook plans to act on its new patent, telling InternetNews.com in an e-mailed statement:
"The launch of News Feed in 2006 was a pivotal moment in Facebook's history and changed the way millions of people consumed and discovered information on the site. We're humbled by the growth and adoption of News Feed over time and pleased with being awarded the patent."
The patent describes the method Facebook uses to gather and automatically publish people's activities, such as status updates or the addition of new photos, to their feeds, and details the filtering mechanisms by which users can limit who sees their information. Those types of activity streams have become central features of numerous social sites across the Web.
The patent names Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, along with seven other company employees, as the inventors of the news feed.
Five Fabulous PHP Frameworks
Today's web developer must be well-equipped in order to fully harness the enormous horsepower and features at his disposal, not to mention satisfy the tastes of an increasingly finicky user. It's also imperative to embrace sound practices that ensure high quality, testable code written with a minimum investment of time and effort.
Because these challenges are universally faced among the web development community, several frameworks have gained a considerable following thanks to their ability to abstract away commonplace tasks such as data validation and database and web services integration, not to mention SEO, template management, and testing.
In his PHPBuilder article, Jason Gilmore introduces you to five frameworks that are transforming the way today's PHP developers go about building web sites:
Rather than simply list the five frameworks that have managed to gain the most mindshare among the PHP community, Gilmore instead highlights at least one feature that differentiates each framework from the other solutions.
Should You Subscribe To Lots of Email Lists?
Should you subscribe to lots of Internet marketing (and other) email lists? After all, do you really want to be constantly inundated with emails from Internet marketers telling you to buy this, buy that… and often to buy the same thing as all the other Internet marketers are telling you to buy!
There’s certainly a limit to how much marketing email I can handle, but here’s why I subscribe – and stay subscribed – to a lot of Internet marketers’ lists and, more importantly, why I actually speed-read the emails they send: I get to see what they’re doing.
As I watch what they do, I also work out WHY they’re doing it.
I don’t just subscribe to Internet marketers’ email lists either. I also subscribe to the email lists of companies in the technology, health, investment, travel and various other fields. And I usually opt-in to receive email from large corporate brands too. Believe it or not, some big brands are doing some pretty cool things with email marketing. Check out this example from Borders: Now This Is Email Marketing.
It’s a classic example of learning by osmosis. And all it takes to build up my understanding of these Internet marketers’ email strategies and tactics is a few, painless minutes per day.
Of course, for many people, learning by ‘osmosis’ takes way too long. Can’t you ditch all the email noise and just buy a course on email marketing, product launches, etc and learn much more quickly that way?
Sure you can, and that may work better for you, but I reckon you’ll get the very best results by doing BOTH and, most importantly, by applying what you learn (start building a list and emailing them!)
Now, I should point out three VERY important things here. Firstly, I don’t recommend you subscribe to just anyone’s list. You want to subscribe to email marketers you respect and want to model in your own business.
Secondly, if you’re going to receive lots of email, you’ll want to ensure it’s manageable. I’ve set up rules and folders in my email reader so that everyone’s email goes into a specific folder. That way my email is manageable. I would NOT subscribe to lots of lists if I couldn’t manage all the email I receive.
Finally, I am a relatively fast reader, which helps in terms of quickly distilling someone’s email message. If you don’t consider yourself a fast reader – and don’t want to spend loads of time wading through marketing emails – then you have a few choices. You can just subscribe to a few, key lists – i.e. those of the marketers you want to model – or you can learn how to read more quickly (like most things, speed reading is a skill that can be learned, and it’s a pretty handy skill to have too).
In any case, when it comes to learning Internet marketing or any other skill, it’s often about doing ‘little’ things… but doing them every day. For me, one of those little things is monitoring what the top Internet marketers are emailing. The key lessons may not all sink in at once, but just like osmosis, they WILL sink in – and sink in deeply – over time.
After Getting Acquired by Google, ReMail Goes Open Source
Just about a month after acquiring the popular iPhone email client reMail, Google and the reMail team have decided to open source the application's code. While current reMail users were able to use the app, Google decided to pull the application from the App Store after the acquisition. Given that the reMail team was joining Google to work on projects unrelated to reMail, this looks like a smart move. The source code is already available on Google Code under the Apache 2.0 License.
When Google acquired reMail, we noted that this was a rather strange acquisition for Google, given that reMail is a native iPhone app and that Google is moving away from native apps. If anything, today's move towards open-sourcing the application clearly shows that Google acquired reMail for the team behind it and not for the application or the technology behind the app (which makes it easier for iPhone users to search their emails).
Open Source and the iPhone
As reMail's Gabor Cselle notes in his blog post today, open-sourcing this app will hopefully allow other developers to take some of the app's core features (handling IMAP, attachments etc.) and use it for their own ideas without having to reinvent the wheel. If You are interested in getting in touch with Cselle about using the source code, head over to the reMail Google Group.
Currently, there are only a few open source iPhone applications on the market. The most well-known open source iPhone project is probably the WordPress iPhone app.
Yahoo's Bartz Keen On Making Acquisitions
Believe it or not, Yahoo has a market cap of about $22 billion, and the company intends to put some of that money to good use in the near future. Carol Bartz stated at the Transformation 2010 conference that she intends to acquire more stuff this year.
In response to what could have been a "yes" or "no" question concerning acquisitions in 2010, Bartz answered "absolutely," pretty much guaranteeing that at least one purchase will take place. Bartz then explained to Abbey Klaassen, "This year it's about what technologies: Do we need to fill in the blanks, what analytics, what tools?"
Bartz also said, "Well just imagine whether it's acquiring an audience - a group of female bloggers, or whether it's acquiring some better analytics tools that help us guide campaigns with our partners, or whether it's technology. Last year we bought at company called Zoobut, which is better photo technology, so it let us do very modern photos in our mail. It's that sort of thing - audience, technology and tools."
The next few months should be interesting time for Yahoo, given that Microsoft will soon begin to exert a huge influence over the search side of its operations. Whatever purchases Bartz is considering could provide a good clue about what area(s) Yahoo will focus on moving forward.
One last note: For the record, Yahoo's stock is moving up in early morning trading, perhaps giving the company a bigger shopping budget.
Microsoft adds social networking to Outlook
Microsoft has launched its attempt to incorporate online social networking features into its widely used desktop e-mail software.
Features to be incorporated into the next version of Microsoft Outlook, used by 500 million people as part of its Office software applications, will turn the e-mail service into a hub of social information.
The move underlines the growing importance of networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn to businesses and comes a week after Google stumbled when it introduced its Buzz social network feature into its Gmail program. The search group has had to apologise and release several fixes after users found that Buzz could reveal details about a user’s contacts.
Google launched Buzz after watching Facebook become a serious threat to its dominance as people’s preferred access point to the internet. Facebook has more than 400 million users worldwide -- half of whom use the site every day.
Microsoft, which is an investor in Facebook, wants to use the power of social networks by bringing the updates into workers’ e-mail inboxes at the office.
When an Outlook user clicks to read an e-mail message, Microsoft’s new Social Connector software will allow a new pane on the main e-mail reading screen to fill with the sender’s most recent social-networking activities.
Dev Balasubramanian, the Outlook Office group product manager, said: “As you communicate you can see their social activities; you can see all the folks in your social network and it updates as you are reading your e-mail.”
Microsoft acknowledged that some companies might be concerned about employees wasting time on social networks at the office.
Will Kennedy, a corporate vice-president for the Office group, said the innovations could spur productivity. For example, users can pull up details, including a photo, about those attending a forthcoming business meeting without having to hunt through individual social networks.
“We don’t want this to be the next great time waster in the workplace," Mr Kennedy said.
The software group will put the popular social networking services into its next Outlook e-mail program, to be released with an Office 2010 set of applications in June. The Social Connector software that channels LinkedIn updates to Outlook inboxes was launched this week as an early test of the new service.
The LinkedIn connection lets people using the e-mail program stay in touch with any changes in job status, contact information or affiliations shared by colleagues in the 60-million strong online community. Elliot Shmukler, product management director, said: “Outlook powers the professional inbox so the match is very clear."
Analysts expect the release of Office 2010 to help boost profits at Microsoft as enterprise IT spending rebounds in the coming months. Weak sales of servers and software updates for businesses in 2009 has resulted in pent-up demand. The company’s Office unit is Microsoft’s biggest business, accounting for a third of the company’s $58.4 billion in sales in the last financial year.
Other companies are also aiming to boost collaboration between workplace colleagues by introducing social network features. Salesforce, a web-based business software company, recently announced a test program for Salesforce Chatter, an enterprise collaboration application which will allow workers to access real-time updates from Facebook and Twitter in a secure network from their computers or smartphones.
IBM Offers Mainframe Data Deduplication
"Deduplication" was one of the big buzzwords of 2009 as enterprises realized they were making backups of the same file many times over. Software and storage firms alike rushed to offer up software products to remove duplicates from backups and save space. Well, data deduplication now comes to the biggest iron from the biggest player: IBM mainframes. Enterprise Storage Forum has the details.
Big Blue is taking the dedupe technology from its Diligent acquisition and porting it to z/OS mainframe environments with the new System Storage TS7680 ProtecTIER Deduplication Gateway for System z. IBM claims as much as a 25 to 1 deduplication ratio for the new offering.
EMC's (NYSE: EMC) Data Domain unit and Bus-Tech are two other data storage vendors that have dabbled in mainframe deduplication.
The TS7680 combines a virtual tape library (VTL) solution with an inline data deduplication algorithm called HyperFactor, which IBM said indexes the complete content of a repository and can be permanently hosted in the RAM because of its small size. The TS7680 also features two-node clustering and up to one petabyte of physical storage capacity per system.
IBM says the combination of virtual tape and data deduplication can speed backup and recovery operations and reduce the costs of tape processing operations by using disk storage as a repository for the deduplicated data, so applications can complete faster and speed the batch-processing window.
Virtual tape systems will be seen by the mainframe as a standard tape library, so existing backup processes don't need to change to accommodate the systems.
Implementing OAuth Authorization on Social Networks
Web users today have their social data scattered across different social sites and they want to access and use this data from outside these sites. This leaves developers facing a serious security challenge: how to enable users to access their private data in social sites without having to share their credentials. OAuth is the perfect solution. This open authorization protocol allows standard and secure API authorization without exposing the user's credentials. OAuth also provides a mechanism to grant limited access (in scope, duration, and so on).
At a high level, the elements involved in the OAuth token-based authorization system are:
- User: Social network (Orkut, Facebook, Twitter, iGoogle, etc.) users like you and me
- OAuth Provider: Web site or social networking site where the user's private resources are stored
- OAuth Consumer: Web site, social networking site, mobile device, set-top box, etc. trying to access the protected resource on the other site
In his Web Developer's Virtual Library (WDVL) article, Jaswinder Singh takes you through the necessary steps for implementing OAuth on both the consumer and provider sides. He uses the example of an OAuth Consumer (Google OAuth gadget) that is trying to access the protected resources stored at an OAuth Provider.
Hackers exploit latest IE zero-day with drive-by attacks
Hackers are exploiting the just-disclosed unpatched bug in Internet Explorer (IE) to launch drive-by attacks from malicious Web sites, security researchers said today.
"This attack appears to be rather targeted at the moment, but as with other unpatched vulnerabilities in the past, this has the potential to explode now that the word is getting out," said Craig Schmugar, a threat researcher at McAfee, in a blog post today.
Attacks are launched from Web sites in a classic drive-by fashion, said Schmugar and others. "Visiting the page is enough to get infected," Schmugar said.
Symantec also confirmed that it has spotted in-the-wild attacks exploiting the critical vulnerability in IE6 and IE7 that Microsoft acknowledged yesterday. "We're still seeing just limited attacks," said Ben Greenbaum, a senior research manager on Symantec's security response team. "The exploit is carried out simply by visiting a Web page hosting the vulnerability. When the browser opens the page, the exploit causes the user's computer to download and execute another piece of malware."
Most of the malware downloaded and installed on the victimized PC consists of backdoors that let hackers install and run even more attack code. Among the malware is a .dll file that's injected into IE to provide additional remote access to the machine, Schmugar said.
"It started out as limited and targeted, but now, with the drive-by attacks, it's no longer only a targeted attack," he said in an interview today.
On Tuesday, Microsoft warned users of IE6 and IE7 that attackers were using an unpatched vulnerability in their browsers, but as is its practice, the company did not publish technical details of the bug.
Nor did Microsoft spell out a patching timetable, or promise that it would issue a fix before the next scheduled Patch Tuesday on April 13. Instead, it recommended that users modify access to "iepeers.dll," disable scripting and/or enable DEP (Data Execution Prevention).
According to Vupen Security, the bug is a "user-after-free" memory error in the way iepeers.dll handles certain data. "User-after-free" refers to an attempt to reuse memory space after it has been freed, said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security, in an instant-message interview.
Neither Symantec nor McAfee have yet found evidence that the attack code has been widely distributed via hacker forums or posted more prominently on the Internet. When that happens, Schmugar said, he expects attacks to quickly increase.
Microsoft may be forced to react with an emergency update if that happens, Greenbaum contended. "It's possible Microsoft may consider an out-of-band patch for this issue," he said.
Symantec notified Microsoft of its discovery of the drive-by attacks a few hours before the latter issued its advisory, Greenbaum said. "The timeline, however, makes us think that they already knew about the issue and were planning on posting the advisory very soon anyway," he noted.
Both Symantec and McAfee have created and distributed signatures that detect and block the installation of the malware that the drive-by exploit tries to inject into PCs.
Tuesday's advisory was the second in the past 60 days from Microsoft warning of ongoing attacks against an unpatched IE vulnerability. In mid-January, Microsoft said that a flaw in its browser had been used to attack several companies' networks, including Google's and Adobe's. Microsoft patched that vulnerability, and seven others, later in the month when it shipped an out-of-band update.
User can also upgrade Internet Explorer to IE8, which does not contain the bug and so is immune from attack.
60% of companies to skip Windows 7
According to a survey of over 20,000 IT administrators, conducted by ScriptLogic Corp., six out of ten companies have no plans to deploy Windows 7, while 34% will deploy it by the end of 2010.
42% cited "lack of time and resources" as the biggest reason for avoiding Windows 7. Another 39% had concerns about the compatibility of Windows 7 with their existing software. Sean Angus, a senior personal computer technician at Middlesex Hospital, was quoted in the survey as saying, "The IT department must complete thorough testing to ensure that the applications we rely on each day, specifically radiology information systems and financial applications, will be compatible, before deploying any new platforms or software to our 1,500 desktops."
Another part of the survey found that 35% had already skipped or delayed software upgrades or purchases to save money.
SMX Advanced Search Engine Marketing Expo for experienced marketers
SMX is arranging expos and conferences for experienced search engine marketers in Seattle on June 8 and 9 and in London on May 17 and 18.
The idea is to have knowledgeable practitioners meet to discuss search engine marketing without having to go through all the basics.
In the audience you will find advertising budget holders, in-house search marketers, brand managers, paid search advertising planners and buyers, organic search optimization specialists and web technology professionals.
In Seattle Google software engineer Matt Cutts will make participate in an “You&A” format keynote, an intimate and unscripted conversation with the audience.
The conferences will be chaired by search engine experts Danny Sullivan and Chris Sherman of Search Engine Land.
Google, BofA Lauded For Web Performance
With consumers increasingly used to snappy, responsive Web sites, online sites across all industries face increasing pressure to keep pace with sites like Amazon and Google.
According to officials at Gomez, a division of Compuware, the performance and overall responsiveness of Web sites has never been more important. That's why so many companies aspire to land atop the Gomez' annual Web Performance Awards list.
This year's honorees were broken down into a variety of industry groups, measuring their response time, availability and consistency of performance across geographies, networks and various times of the day.
Not surprisingly, Google garnered the top spot among mobile search providers. Gomez honored Bank of America for rendering the best performance among mobile banking sites while the IRS and Slate Magazine topped the government and media categories, respectively.
Datamation takes a closer look at the list of 2009's best-performing Web sites.
It's not exactly the Oscars, but the Gomez Web Performance Awards give companies significant bragging rights for having a top Web site in their market segment.
Gomez, a division of Compuware (NASDAQ: CPWR), said Web site awards were given for three main criteria: best performance on average for 2009, response time (including how fast pages load and end-to-end processes like searching on the site or loading an image), and availability and consistency (measuring how consistent performance is across geographies, networks and times of day).
The best and worst of dot-com mania
In 2000, 63 dotcom millionaires appeared on the Sunday Times Rich List. A year later there were just 26. Here are some of the best and worst:
Amazon.com: Founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, Amazon started as an online bookstore. Although others were chasing the internet gold rush, Amazon followed a “slow build” strategy. The company told unhappy shareholders that through the 1990s, it did not expect to make a profit.
But those tactics meant that, when the dotcom bubble burst, Amazon was strong enough to survive and finally turned a profit in 2001.Today it is one of the world’s leading e-retailers - dominating the market in online book sales. It has turned to building its own products, launching its revolutionary Kindle electronic book reader in 2007.
Venda: Dan Wagner had experience with building successful start-ups. In 1994, he brought Maid, a financial information company, to market. In 2000, he began a new business that would power websites. He wanted to call the firm Venda, but the owner of the domain name asked for £5 million to buy it. After the dotcom bubble burst, he bought the Venda name for £12,000. Then for £250,000 he bought the technology platform behind Boo.com, the online fashion store that was another dotcom victim. Now Venda powers Tesco’s fashion site and has companies such as Panasonic and TK Maxx as customers.
Hotmail: Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith founded Hotmail in 1996. The web-based e-mail system allows users to access their inbox from anywhere in the world. Millions started taking up the service. On Mr Bathia’s 29th birthday, the company was sold to Microsoft for $400 million, making him a 1,333 per cent profit on a product that he was giving to his customers for nothing. Safely in Microsoft’s stable, Hotmail was attached to the US group's Windows software, which runs the majority of the world’s computers. Hotmail has gone on to be the world’s most popular webmail service.
Napster: This was launched in 1999, the brainchild of Shawn Fanning, a student at Northeastern University in Boston. The service gave users an easy way to share their music, undermining the business model for music companies who previously sold copies of these songs exclusively. The service was closed by a court order in 2001, after legal battles with record labels and music copyright holders. The Naptser brand and logo was bought separately and now operates as a legal paid-for music service. It may seem like a failure, but Mr Fanning’s invention kick-started the file-sharing revolution and pushed the music business into the digital world.
Google: The world’s most popular search engine was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Users loved the service, but it was a great idea without a business model. This was until Google decided to sell advertising alongside search results. It waited before launching its IPO in August 2004.Today, its revenues exceed $6.5 billion (£4.3 billion) and it is considered the world’s most influential internet company. Although it has interests in publishing, online video and telecommunications, 99 per cent of its revenues are still the result of search advertising.
Lastminute.com: When the online travel agency arrived in 1998, co-founder Martha Lane Fox became the poster girl for the e-boom. Lastminute just got in under the wire; its 2000 stock market flotation coincided with the bursting of the bubble. The shares jumped 40 per cent the day it floated but had lost nearly half its value within three weeks. A survivor, the business was sold for £577 million in 2006 and is still around today.
Pseudo.com: In 2000, Josh Harris, chief executive of pseudo.com was being described as “the Warhol of webcasting.” The company was attempting to create an online TV network. Shows such as “Launder My Head”, a computer animation, were gaining a cult following. It grew to have 175 employees. Mr Harris said at the time: “The new boy is in town; the new boy is taking over as king of media... I’m in a race to take CBS out of business.” A few months later, the company filed for bankruptcy. A senior executive was forced to tell its staff: “We ran out of money, it was that simple."
Moonfruit: Wendy Tan and Eirik Pettersen helped to build Egg, Britain’s first internet bank and had enthusiastic backers for their new project. In January 2000 they launched Moonfruit, a company that would help people to make their own websites. They raised £5.4 million from investors - the majority coming from Bernard Arnault, the luxury goods tycoon. Moonfruit’s plan was to sell advertising while giving away its software packages free. But not enough firms wanted to advertise, and Moonfruit did not have enough users to make it worthwhile.Next year at least 60 staff were dismissed. It still exists today, selling free and subscription-based models of its software.
Jewishnet: Set up at age 16 by Benjamin Cohen, who became the Internet’s youngest and UK’s first paper millionaire the next year when the social site was valued at £5 million. Cohen eventually sold his shares for a mere £40,000. He is now a journalist at Channel 4.
Boo.com: If Lane Fox, was the poster girl, Kajsa Leander, along with Ernst Malmsten one of two photogenic Swedes who set up this fashion site, was the antithesis. Boo.com typified the excesses of the era. It collapsed in May 2000, six months after it launched after investors refused to put up fresh funds. Their reluctance was understandable; the site had burnt through $135 million amid talk of lavish living and flights on Concorde.
Open Source Developers Pick Android Over iPhone
More open source projects are moving to Android despite the iPhone's early lead, according to a new study.
While the Apple iPhone remains the undisputed king of mobile app downloads, Android has been winning converts among open source developers since its inception. Now, Android has made enough of a splash that it can claim more open source developers than the iPhone, according to new research by Black Duck Software.
Of course, that takes into account more than just mobile apps, with libraries and other bits of software being counted. But the findings suggest that while the iPhone continues to reign in the overall number of downloadable applications, the Google-backed mobile OS may be winning fans thanks to its more open nature. Developer.com takes a look.
Mobile platforms like Apple's iPhone and Google's Android have become a key focus for open source developers. And the trend is only increasing, though new research has found that over the course of the last year, there has been a shift in which mobile platform has the most open source development activity.
A new study by Black Duck Software found that at the end of 2009, there were 224 new open source software projects on Google's Android operating system, bringing its total to 357 open source projects in all. That's enough to leapfrog Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone to take the top spot in the number of open source projects being developed on either platform.
URL shorteners slow Web redirection
Web redirection through universal resource locator (URL) shorteners is adding extra seconds to page load time and only a few have optimized their domain name servers (DNS) for international users, according to Web site monitoring firm.
In a Wednesday blog post, Netherlands-based WatchMouse reported findings from its one-month monitoring of 14 most popular URL shorteners. The firm noted that for a URL redirection to add over half a second to page load time is "really way too much" and will "substantially" affect user experience.
Facebook's fb.me was found to be the slowest, adding over 2 seconds on average to page load time. Even the best-performing URL shortener, Google's goo.gl, added an average of 0.36 second to page load time, with YouTube's youtu.be next in line with 0.42 second.
The firm also found that only a few of the URL shorteners have been optimized for international use. This means that while URL redirection may be fast for a visitor in the United States, users in Asia may have to wait a while more to reach the page.
Uptime-wise, only goo.gl and Twitter's twt.tl scored 100 percent in average uptime availability. Snipurl's snurl.com ranked the lowest in uptime with slightly over 98.1 percent.
The monitoring took place from mid-February to mid-March. WatchMouse monitored the uptime and performance by checking the URL shorteners every 5 minutes from its 44 global monitoring stations. It measured the redirections and not the actual loading of the pages.
WatchMouse noted that redirection was expected to be completed within 8 seconds without error. If the redirection time was exceeded or a second error established, the firm would verify the results from another monitoring station before counting the result as poor availability or unavailability.
Web sites using shortened URLs also face the danger of losing the redirection if the URL shortener goes down. Organizations such as Archive Team and Internet Archive both have projects that save the shortened as well as original links, so links can be redirected even if the URL shorteners shut down.
Don't use Firefox says German government
The cyber-security response unit in the German government has advised citizens not to use Firefox because of a major security flaw in the browser.
BürgerCERT, part of the German Federal Office for Security in Information Technology, has warned internet users to avoid using Mozilla's browser until the company releases Firefox 3.6.2, scheduled for 30 March.
Hackers could use the vulnerability to create malicious websites that can infect users' PCs, although there haven't been any reports of such attacks happening.
Mozilla says that the flaw, which was discovered last month by security researcher Evgeny Legerov, will be patched in Firefox 3.6.2.
You can download a beta of Firefox 3.6.2 containing the fix, but this update has yet to be rigorously tested by Mozilla.
Some security experts have doubted the wisdom of switching browsers every time a flaw is identifed.
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, wrote in his blog: "Switching your web browser willy-nilly as each new unpatched security hole is revealed could cause more problems than it's worth. For instance, imagine how much training some users will require to switch from one browser to another.
"My advice is to only switch from Firefox if you really know what you are doing with the browser you're swapping to. If you stick with Firefox, apply the security update as soon as it's available," Cluley continued.
It's Time to Stop Worrying About Cloud Security
One of the perceived hurdles to wider adoption of software as a service (SaaS), and for that matter, cloud computing platforms in general, is the concern for security.
But is that concern really warranted?
Certainly, security needs to be top of mind for any data-handling entity. Not only are there risks of data loss, corruption, and vandalism, there are serious legal ramifications, particularly for publicly traded companies that need to protect their customers' information and their shareholders' value.
But is this concern any greater when the data is housed outside the firewall? Or is security possibly enhanced precisely because the data is housed externally?
Here's the way I think about this: When my corporate data is housed on my own servers and data warehouse, it is protected by the best efforts of my staff charged with overseeing the safety and security of the data. All well and good, but unless I'm a large entity that has devoted significant resources to funding and maintaining data security, the chances are that my “security team” is also charged with other duties. These other duties may include tasks ranging from application maintenance to hardware moves and changes, and everything in between. So, how sure am I that my assets are completely protected?
Looking at the situation from the perspective of a company that has moved its data to a SaaS platform, my responsibility is to maintain oversight of my SaaS provider and monitor its protective measures. Is this different from managing my internal security team? I think it is, and in a significant way.
The SaaS provider, in its own self-interest, has as one of its primary responsibilities the safekeeping of my data. Why is that? Because one breach of security is likely to end that company's business. That position alone means that the SaaS provider has security at the top of its list of priorities... probably even higher on its list than application enhancements. Unlike locally installed applications that can be rolled out in beta releases, leaving it for the adventurous to check for security leaks, the SaaS provider's business is at stake with every untested change.
Another point to consider is that SaaS providers live by service-level agreements (SLAs). Employees and departments may issue internal SLAs and may be held accountable for their employment, but external SLAs are typically more readily enforceable. Again, the SaaS provider has its business at stake, particularly when SaaS contracts are month-to-month agreements and can be terminated on 30-days notice.
All of this logic may fall on deaf ears until the security of SaaS/cloud platforms has become a given. But to that point, when was the last time a SaaS or cloud platform has been reported to be affected by a security breach?
Compare that with the frequency of internally hosted security problems, not to mention breaches perpetrated by internal staff. The time has come to look at the reality of SaaS and cloud security issues, and move on.
Microsoft Offers SEO Friendly URLs with URL Rewriter
Everyone understands the value of a readable URL. But many web applications and websites still output complex ones that no one, even a search engine can understand. Microsoft now makes it easier to map those complex URLs to simpler ones.
Writing Friendly URLs
If you are a web developer or website administrator you know those complex URLs that are pumped out of your website are a pain to understand and not easily indexed by search engines. And neither of these things is good for you when you are trying to get traffic to your site.
Microsoft now offers an easy way to make those complex URLs easier to read and SEO friendly using a new IIS 7.0 extension called URL Rewrite.
Features of URL Rewriter 2.0
URL Rewrite provides a number of capabilities that enable you to create powerful rules that support both inbound and outbound links. Rules can be defined that use regular expression pattern matching, wildcard mapping and rewrite providers written in .NET.
The module comes with URL rewrite templates for different types of URLs so you don't have to build your rules from scratch. Of course you can start from a blank template if you like.
Along with the ability to create easy to read URLs, you can also tell IIS to redirect any instances of the complex URL still being used to redirect to the new one you create.
You can also create a rule to enforce lowercase on a URL, supporting SEO. And if you are in the process of moving pages on your site, you can create rewrite maps that allow you to indicate where the new locations for the pages are.
Free to Download
The URL Rewriter is free to download and install. Using the Microsoft Web Platform installer is likely your best approach to get the extension up and running quickly.
In addition, Microsoft has provided a lot of articles and tutorials on using the Rewriter as well as a number of extensibility samples that implement rewrite providers for three of the most common use cases.
Top 10 Skills in Demand in 2010
According to a survey conducted by Global Knowledge at the end of 2009, the following are the top ten IT skills employers are looking for this year.
- Project Management : Increasingly, organizations are looking for project managers who can help them achieve a good ROI.
- Security : With malware, DDoS and other attacks on the increase, employers are looking for security skills such as information risk management.
- Network Administration : As enterprises upgrade to Windows Server 2008 R2 and the Windows 7 client, they want network pros to keep things running smoothly.
- Virtualization : Cloud Computing. This relatively new skill set is in high demand this year.
- Business Analysis : As we emerge from the recession, business analysis is making a comeback.
- Business Process Improvement : The need to reduce operating costs and improve cash flow is driving demand for BPM skills.
- Database Management : Companies are looking for Oracle, DB2 and Sybase experts to address DBA issues.
- Windows Administration : Many companies are upgrading Windows and installing Exchange Server 2010 and SharePoint 2010.
- Desktop Support : As the economy improves and new workers are hired, desktop support will become increasingly important.
Bing tests real-time search upgrades
Microsoft is testing real-time search features and additional mapping applications for its search engine, Bing.
Searchers using Microsoft's Bing will benefit from additional features by this summer, the company has said.
Included in the raft of new functions, which Microsoft is currently testing on a small subset of users, are better real-time search features to add to its collaboration with Twitter.
"One of the most interesting information sources we see on the web today is real-time data," said Microsoft's Todd Schwartz.
"[Now] when you search for a publication such as the New York Times, Bing not only gives you quick access to specific sections of the destination website, but also provides the most popular shared links from that publication," Schwartz continued.
Other changes to Bing being tested include moving the Quick Tabs to the top of the page and offering more real-time suggestions to the autocomplete feature.
Recent data suggests that Bing, which has teamed up with Yahoo's search service, is starting to make a minor dent in Google's dominance of the search market.
However, with Google still boasting nearly 90 per cent market share in the UK, there is still some way to go.
Chinese city is world’s hacker hub
A CITY in eastern China has been identified as the world capital of cyber-espionage by an American internet security company.
The firm traced 12 billion emails in a study which showed that a higher number of “targeted attacks” on computers come from China than previously thought.
Researchers for Symantec found almost 30% of “malicious” emails were sent from China and that 21.3% came from the city of Shaoxing alone. They were able to identify key targets for the hackers as experts in Asian defence policy and human rights activists, strongly suggesting state involvement.
Symantec is assisting the investigation into suspected hacking attacks on Google, which closed its website in China last week rather than censor itself on behalf of the ministry of state security.
Cyber-espionage uses emails sent in small volumes with legitimate-looking attachments or documents to fool the user into letting a malicious code infect their computer. “The ultimate aim ... is to gain access to sensitive data or internal systems by targeting specific individuals or companies,” the report said.
Symantec succeeded in tracing individual computer registration numbers, known as IPs, to find the true source of the attacks. Previously, hackers in China had been able to camouflage themselves behind servers in Taiwan.
The findings show China was the source of 28.2% of global targeted attacks. It was followed by Romania, with 21.1%, presumed to be mostly attempts at commercial fraud. The United States came third, followed by Taiwan and then Britain, with 12% of attacks.
On Programmer Laziness & Anonymous Types
Some thoughtful person took their time to respond to a blog that using anonymous types constitutes laziness. An anonymous type is a type defined on the fly by using the "New With" construct, naming the parameters and providing initializers. In fact, the compiler code generates the class as an anonymous type when you do this. I submit that this in fact is not laziness, but a diligent use of time.
Archimedes is attributed with saying "give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I will move the world." Saying that employing this or that tool--the proverbial lever if you will--is lazy is short sighted. There is a certain beauty in toiling long and hard to accomplish an end, but what constitutes long, hard, or even toil. If you or I think hard enough about a problem and the result of that labor is a tool that favors future labor savings have we not indeed labored long and hard?
Terms like long, hard, and lazy are relative. What is long to one is short to another. The same is true of hard and lazy. A calculus problem can seem insurmountable to many people, but those schooled in calculus may be able to solve the problem in short order. What about people that don't do physical work, but make disproportionately large amounts of money? Compare entertainers to ditch diggers. Clearly the ditch digger probably toils in the classical sense of the word, but practicing an art-craft is clearly labor and may be hard to the artist.
I encourage you to forget about words like toil, hard, and lazy as programmers. Focus on finding levers that make your labor easy. If you are toiling at writing code then you may just be missing the critical lever. Clearly there are millions of lines of code in the .NET framework already written; it is no more lazy to use these lines of code than it is to expect a better living through a college education. Look at it another way. If you avoid laborious coding then your brain and time are free to invent clever new solutions. Stand proudly on the shoulders of greatness to achieve inspired genius. If you can write code in fewer lines, solve problems with simpler means, or rely on existing tools, idioms, and engines to make your life a little easier and to get to the heart of a solution faster than you are certainly not lazy.
IBM to Help Defend FAA From Cyber Attacks
The Federal Aviation Administration is bringing in IBM to help design a new network security system for better protecting the agency's infrastructure against cyber threats.
It's a move that comes almost a year after the FAA announced that it had suffered a data breach in which hackers penetrated its servers and made off with sensitive employee data.
Now, with data security and the nation's air travel safety potentially at stake, the FAA is betting on an advanced new system in development by IBM. eSecurity Planet takes a look.
As it looks to expand its cybersecurity efforts in the nation's capital, IBM has secured a partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration to develop technology to secure the agency's sprawling information systems.
Under the project, IBM (NYSE: IBM) plans to develop a prototype analytics system that will monitor and defend the FAA's civilian aviation networks and infrastructure against hacking attacks, botnets, and other cyber threats.
Ruby Development Gains Commercial Support on Java as New JRuby Version LoomsM
The JRuby language is getting commercial support for developers this week, thanks to Ruby specialist Engine Yard.
The JRuby language enables developers to leverage the features of the Ruby programming language on Java infrastructure. With the new commercial support for JRuby, Engine Yard is aiming to help expand the addressable footprint for the open source development language.
Engine Yard is no stranger to JRuby, and has employed the project's founders since they left Sun in 2009.
The support comes at a key time for the JRuby community, as a new version is in the works that will significantly expand features available to the developers, which the project's leaders hope will broaden the uptake of the language.
"It's funny how many people use JRuby and don't actually tell us," JRuby Project Lead Thomas Enebo told InternetNews.com. "The magnitude of how many people are using JRuby is really difficult to gauge since JRuby for the most part just works.
Enebo said that he and his colleagues are often approached at industry conferences by people asking about the availability of commercial support. It's that demand that led Engine Yard to throw its lot in with the project.
Engine Yard's support is based on what is available in the open source JRuby project, and the firm isn't layering in additional proprietary elements in an open core approach, which has been gaining popularity in the open source market lately. Under the open core model, vendors use the open source project as a base and then provide proprietary bits on top.
"We've talked about it in the past and I can't say we wouldn't do something like that in the future," Enebo said. "But we've been pretty focused on growth and whenever we've come up with some great idea we always balance whether we want to grow the platform or monetize an idea. So far everything has come down on the growth side."
Currently JRuby is at its 1.4 release, Enebo said that the 1.5 release is due out within the month.
JRuby 1.5 is expected to offer developers an easier framework for using Ruby code with Java.
"In 1.5 we will [have] the ability to generate a Java dot class file that will have the Java type signatures that Java expects but the class will be backed by Ruby code," Enebo said. "So people will be able to compile a Ruby class down to a Java dot class file and use it as though it were a Java-compiled class."
Mozilla Rushes Out Fix for Hack on Firefox
A new update comes on the heels of yet another Pwn2own exploit, along with a promise of patches for older Firefox versions, as well.
When white hat hackers point out flaws in your product, it's for your own good and you should take advantage of it before the bad guys do. Mozilla is doing just that. Days after hacks were exposed in the Pwn2Own contest, it is pushing out fixes for Mozilla 3.6. eSecurity Planet has details on the hack and the fix.
Mozilla isn't wasting any time in its efforts to protect users against new security risks.
Last week, Mozilla’s open source Firefox Web browser was publicly exploited in the Pwn2own hacking competition at the CanSecWest security conference. Late on Thursday, Mozilla moved to fix the Pwn2own flaw with the Firefox 3.6.3 update.
The problem -- a memory corruption flaw that Mozilla titled "Re-use of freed object due to scope confusion" -- could lead to arbitrary code execution. The flaw was publicly demonstrated at Pwn2own by security researcher "Nils" of MWR InfoSecurity.
"By moving DOM nodes between documents, Nils found a case where the moved node incorrectly retained its old scope," Mozilla stated in its security advisory. "If garbage collection could be triggered at the right time then Firefox would later use this freed object."
'Web Science' is New IT Degree Program at RPI
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has become the first school in the country to offer a bachelor's degree in Information Technology and Web Science.
Computer science departments have steadily added courses to keep up with new technology such as programming in Java and Web development.
But as Datamation reports, there is more to computing than creating programs and Web sites. With the onset of social media, mobile applications and services, the Web is having a significant impact on society and now RPI is broadening the scope of its degree program to address these issues.
Add the "Web" as an official, university-sanctioned science and field of study. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, N.Y., has announced it now offers the first undergraduate degree program in the U.S. devoted to the interdisciplinary field of Web Science. In addition, RPI will offer a master's concentration, in "Information Technology and Web Science."
RPI said students in the interdisciplinary degree program will investigate issues on the Web related to security, trust, privacy, content value, and the development of the Web of the future.
"The study of the Web has been siloed into certain areas. It's not that nobody studies the Web, it's that everyone does in completely different ways," RPI professor James Hendler told InternetNews.com. Hendler, one of the inventors of the Semantic Web, is part of a team of interdisciplinary scientists and engineers at Rensselaer that developed the new program.
WordPress and VaultPress to Backup Blogs in the Cloud
VaultPress and the open source WordPress.org blogging platform have announced a private beta version of a cloud backup system.
"VaultPress protects more than just your content," the company's Web site says. "VaultPress understands the complete WordPress environment. This means your plugins, dashboard, themes, comments, and even your post revisions are all safeguarded and ready to be restored."
On his blog, Matt Mullenweg said, "I'm very excited about this service because it is the first step toward my dream of every WordPress, regardless of where it's hosted, to have best-in-the-world network (cloud? ;) ) services that take all the worry and hassle away."
The application asks how much you are willing to pay to backup your blogs - VaultPress is planning to charge $30 a month.
RIM Targets Devs With Java & Web Tools Update
BlackBerry developers will find a lot of new features in the just-released set of updates from Research in Motion.
Research in Motion long owned the smartphones for business segment with its BlackBerry line of devices, but developers are moving to Apple's iPhone and Google's Android platform in droves, particularly, but not limited to, the consumer side.
As EnterpriseMobileToday reports, RIM has moved to upgrade its developer tools in a bid to make creating programs faster and give devs better access to features and software built in to the popular line of BlackBerry smartphones.
Research In Motion has released updates to its Java and Web development tools for its popular BlackBerry line of smartphones.
Heading the list are a BlackBerry Java plug-in for Eclipse v1.1, BlackBerry Web plug-in v2.0 and a new BlackBerry Java software development kit (SDK) version 5.0 that includes more than 20,000 APIs.
RIM said the new tools will help developers quickly and easily build Web-based BlackBerry widgets or Java applications that leverage the unique benefits of the BlackBerry Application Platform and share information across core BlackBerry and third-party applications.
The news comes as RIM is facing fierce competition in the smartphone sector. Apple's iPhone has grabbed the crown for coolness among smartphone makers and a range of devices based on Google's Android software are gaining traction both in the consumer and enterprise markets.
Connecting Your Zend Framework Application to Microsoft Azure
The PHP support in Microsoft's Windows Azure Platform was further strengthened last month with the release of Zend Framework 1.10, which includes native Azure support via the Zend_Service_WindowsAzure component. As with any cloud computing service, the success of Azure is going to rest largely on the ability to interoperate within even the most heterogeneous environments.
Microsoft's interoperability efforts for Azure are indicative of this importance, with great strides being made to provide developers with the ability to connect not only .NET applications to Azure services, but also those built using languages such as Java, PHP, Python, and Ruby.
The web is a kid’s game and the big boys can’t have Chatroulette
Andrey Ternovskiy is at the centre of a bidding war. The 17-year-old Russian is sitting on one of the internet’s hottest properties since Facebook and wealthy investors are offering millions to buy the concept. But the teenager is not selling — not yet, anyway.
Mr Ternovskiy is the creator of Chatroulette, a site that allows users to make random connections with strangers — to see and to speak to them — anywhere in the world. When people visit the site, their webcam is automatically switched on and they are linked to another user.
After this, there are no rules. People can speak through a video link, try to entertain one another, or — as is invariably the case — click “next” to find a more interesting stranger.
Since its launch last November with 500 users, Chatroulette has grown at breakneck speed and now has ten million visitors a month. The expansion has caught the eye of investors who want to buy into the web’s next big thing.
This has led to a battle between Russian and American suitors to secure Mr Ternovskiy’s talents. For Russia’s web leaders to break America’s dominance of the internet, they need one of their brightest stars and ideas to stay at home.
Among those to have met Mr Ternovskiy recently is Yuri Milner, a Moscow-based web magnate who owns more than 5 per cent of Facebook and is the social networking site’s biggest foreign investor. It is understood that Mr Milner is so keen on Chatroulette that he offered to buy 10 per cent of it, telling the teenager to “name his price”.
Yet Mr Ternovskiy is holding out. Google, Skype and Yandex, Google’s main rival in Russia, are also believed to have held talks in recent weeks.
Mr Ternovskiy said recently: “I get calls all the time where people say they want to buy my site, but I think that some of them are not serious: they are only offering me $1 million.” For now, he says, he does not want to sell the concept. Instead, he is looking for ideas, expertise and investment to help to develop the business. He has been in the United States recently, where it is thought he has been talking to potential investors in New York and San Francisco.
Chatroulette has gained attention in university campuses, blogs and media worldwide, thanks in large part to its community of extroverts and oddities. Although some might balk at the experience, the chance, quickfire connections of Chatroulette are central to its appeal. Users really do not know who they will see next. Visitors say they have stumbled on a man wearing a deer costume who begins every conversation with: “What Up Doe?” Many users appear on screen dancing in their rooms, hoping to get others to join them wherever they are. An artist offers to speed-draw portraits.
Then there are the more alarming stories. Many people appear naked, trying to solicit erotic chats or sexual acts. There have also been reports of scenes of fake suicide. For this reason, Chatroulette has been described as the “wild west” of the web — a return to the unregulated, anonymous chatrooms popular in the early days of the internet.
Although it could make Mr Ternovskiy a teenage millionaire, he has yet to make any money from the project. He has begun to sell advertisements on the site, but Google said that he could not yet receive the funds as he was under the age of 18.
His first investor was his mother, who gave him €8,000 (£7,240) to buy the servers required to start the site from his bedroom. But Mr Ternovskiy’s parents are said to be concerned about him. The high-school student has not attended classes in weeks and could be expelled for truancy.
Google Release Chrome 5 Beta
Chrome 4 was released — what — 3 minutes ago? It was actually the end of January but, seriously Google, what is it with these rapid version updates? What happened to the decade-long betas?
I’m not convinced anyone cares about browser version numbers, but that hasn’t stopped Google releasing Chrome 5 beta. If you’re not a Windows user, you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s also available on Mac and Linux.
The browser’s still lean and mean, but Google has squeezed in a few new features:
Extensions :Browser extensions will be supported on all platforms and the API will receive a number of updates.
Automatic language translation, full screen mode, and real (non-cached) refresh will also be available on Mac and Linux — Windows Chrome 4.1 users already have these features.
Flash plugin : Despite Google being advocates of HTML5, Adobe’s Flash plugin will be provided as standard. Chrome will install version 10.1 and automatically update the plugin without user intervention.
It’s also rumored that a PDF plugin will be available. Please, no!
Synchronization : Bookmarks can already be synchronized across multiple installations, but version 5 will offer passwords, form autofill entries and themes.
Windows 7 integration : Aero Peek and Jump Lists will be supported but, fortunately, you will be able to adjust the behavior if you normally browse with 93 tabs open.
Geolocation : This new HTML5 feature can inform a website of your location (if you permit it). Mobile users with GPS will receive the most accurate location information, but it is possible to obtain an area from your IP address and/or wireless networks.
Native Client and WebGL : Chrome 5 will contain early versions of:
- NaCl — open-source plugin which allows native 32-bit x86 code to run in a browser, and
- WebGL — hardware-acclerated 3D graphics
No release date has been announced, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Chrome 5 final appeared very shortly. At this rate, Chrome will be into double-figures before IE9 is released.
Microsoft Launch Visual Studio 2010 Today
Week-long launches are being held in Las Vegas, London, Beijing in China, Banglore in India, and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Smaller events are being held in the following US cities: Denver, Orlando, Oak Brook, Boston, Brooklyn, Arlington, Costa Mesa, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, San Francisco, Detroit, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Seattle. Worldwide conferences can also be attended in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, and Sweden.
Three editions of the package will be available:
- VS 2010 Professional: the core application.
- VS 2010 Premium: the Professional version with additional facilities, Microsoft Office, Expression Studio, Visio, and Project.
- VS 2010 Ultimate: the Premium version with additional test case and management facilities.
All three versions include test editions of Windows Server, Azure and SQL Server. They can be installed on XP SP2, Vista SP1, Windows 7, Server 2003 SP2, Server 2008 SP2 or better.
Visual Studio may not cheap, but the prices and MSDN subscriptions compare well with other professional development products when you consider what you’re getting. Microsoft also provide free Express versions based on VS 2008.
If you’re an ASP.NET developer, here’s what you can expect in VS 2010:
- .NET 4.0 — the latest edition of the framework
- integrated Silverlight development
- MS Office programmability in C#
- F# (F-Sharp), a new language which supports more than one programming paradigm. Syntactically, it looks a little Pythonesque, but I’m no Python expert so please feel free to ridicule me below!
- parallel programming tools
- team collaboration facilities
- code analysis to help you avoid common errors
- a clearer, less cluttered IDE with better multi-monitor support
I think Microsoft are heading in the right direction with VS and ASP.NET. They appear to be following web standards and the tools are maturing well. VS 2010 will almost certainly be a success, but would you consider switching from your current language and platform of choice?
AOL is preparing to close the social networking website Bebo
Bebo, once the social networking site of choice for Britain’s teenagers, is preparing to close, unable to hold on to its users as they grow up and leave for rivals such as Facebook.
AOL, which bought Bebo for $850 million (£560 million) two years ago, has told its employees that it plans to sell or close the site. Although the service remains relatively popular in Britain and Ireland, its numbers have been dropping worldwide and a dwindling audience in the US seems to have killed off the business.
“Bebo, unfortunately, is a business that has been declining and, as a result, would require significant investment in order to compete in the competitive social networking space,” Jon Brod, of AOL Ventures, told employees in an e-mail.
He said that Bebo’s operations would be evaluated by the end of May and that AOL would actively seek buyers for the site. It is understood, however, that no potential buyers have so far come forward. Analysts said that AOL had vastly overpaid for the service and would get only a fraction of its investment back.
Bebo is the latest victim in an increasingly competitive market. Founded by the British businessman Michael Birch and his partner Xochi in 2005, it briefly shone, challenging MySpace for dominance in the craze for social networking. Both sites have since been overtaken in user numbers by Facebook.
Bebo pitched itself as a youth site, aimed at the 18-24 age group but tending to have an audience younger than that. It became particularly popular in Britain and Ireland.
Yesterday few former users appeared to mourn its demise. “Bebo was a bit if a craze at the beginning,” said Conor Buchanan, 18, a student from Northumberland. “It was fashionable to have it. Everyone you saw every day at school would be on it, and you could put your favourite video up there to share with your friends.
"Then Facebook came along and it was just better. There were more things to do, like playing games against your friends and competing on scores. MySpace and Facebook both felt more sophisticated, more mature. Bebo suddenly felt quite childish."
Jenny Bartley, 17, an A-level student from Devon, said: "I have stopped using Bebo because I think it is limited compared with Facebook, and not as grown-up. A lot of my friends had switched over, so to stay connected with them I switched too."
Figures from the market research company Nielsen said that at its peak, in October 2008, the site had 5.8 million active users in Britain. Today that number has fallen to only 1.8 million. Over the same period, by comparison, the number of Facebook users has grown from about 15 million in Britain to 23.4 million.
But it is Bebo’s failure to crack the American market that seems to have convinced its corporate owners to cut it adrift. According to comScore, a web statistics company, Bebo has about 5 million American users compared with the 210 million people who use Facebook.
One industry insider said that the sale of Bebo to a bigger, well-established company such as AOL was the reason for its downfall because the new owners could not replicate the ethos and enthusiasm of its founders. Other commentators pointed out that Bebo’s inability to turn a profit was shared by similar ventures.
"Social networking sites all have this problem," said Nate Elliott, principal analyst with Forrester Research. “They cannot figure out how to make money. Even Facebook claims only to break even."
Five reasons for failure
It doesn’t make any. Social networking sites encourage users to post images, video, music and more, all of which cost money to host on servers. The hope is that the volume of users will prove appealing to advertisers, but it has not
The crowd has moved on
On the face of it, Bebo is still a popular site. It is particularly strong in Europe. It has about five million users in the US, however,compared with 210 million for Facebook
Its youthful demographic created problems. Tales of paedophile stalking created panic and parents stopped their offspring logging on
Bebo failed to attract advertisers, who are reluctant to be associated with user-generated content
It belongs to "The Man"
Part of the reason for Facebook’s phenomenal success is its perceived independence. When a corporate giant such as AOL takes over, it can act as a deterrent, a reminder of the corporate nature of the world that users are trying to escape online
Infosys Is Microsoft’s Tech Helper
Infosys, a big outsourcing company based in India, got a nice win on Tuesday, grabbing a three-year contract to handle all the technology services and support for Microsoft itself.
The announcement prompts two lines of thought.
First, can't Microsoft get its own technology to work by itself?
Second, the contract may say something about Microsoft's plans for technology services. As Microsoft increasingly becomes an enterprise business, catering to corporate customers, there has been a lot of industry commentary and speculation that it might well make a big push into services - perhaps even buying a big technology services company like Accenture or one of the India outsourcers like, say, Infosys.
The Infosys pact, it seems, points to one of two paths for Microsoft: it doesn't plan to make a big move in services, or Microsoft is giving Infosys an audition.
If Microsoft were serious about being a big player in services, it would presumably tend its own garden. I.B.M. does and so does Hewlett-Packard, which just acquired the big services supplier EDS.
With the Infosys deal, Microsoft is not passing tech-support headaches to an outsider that it had been handling on its own. Until now, Microsoft used several technology helpers. "This is simply the consolidation of work that used to be provided by multiple vendors to a single provider, Infosys," Microsoft said in a statement.
The Microsoft-Infosys partnership is also an implicit reminder of one of technology’s truisms. Making software and making it work tend to be very different endeavors. Microsoft, apparently, is going to stay in its end of the pool.
"Microsoft is a pioneer in innovation," said Anand Nataraj, head of the infrastructure management services business at Infosys.
Microsoft’s talent, he added, lies in "making the latest products. They are good at what they do."
Perl 5.12 Debuts as Open Source Language Progresses
Perl is getting an update this week that will advance the open source development language with new capabilities.
With Perl 5.12, support is being added for pluggable keywords, which could help to improve Perl developer efficiency.
"The pluggable keyword mechanism hooks directly into the parser, so the mechanism allows the implementation of that keyword to define the syntax of the rest of the statement," Jan Dubois, a senior developer at ActiveState, told InternetNews.com.
ActiveState is a lead commercial vendor providing a packaged binary distribution of the language called ActivePerl. ActiveState also includes a number of popular additional modules with ActivePerl. Dubois noted that ActivePerl also includes both a command-line and a GUI version of Perl Package Manager that allows users to download, install and update pre-compiled additional modules from repositories maintained by ActiveState and other third parties.
The new Perl 5.12 release comes at an interesting juncture for the Perl community as new user growth may be slowing down while development continues on Perl 6.
The Perl dynamic language has been around since 1987, and Perl 5.0 appeared in 1994. Longevity is hallmark of Perl development, a feature that's reinforced with a fix in Perl 5.12. Perl 5.12 includes a fix for a the year 2038 Unix flaw, which restricted Perl to show dates only up to the year 2038, at which point it would reset the calendar back to 1970.
While the new Perl 5.12 release advances the Perl 5 platform, developers have been working on Perl 6 since at least 2004, and that project might still stretch out for years to come.
"Some people are tired of waiting for Perl 6, so the Perl 5 development effort is picking up again," Dubois said. "Hence the release of Perl 5.12."
There are currently a number of implementation efforts for Perl 6 underway, with Rakudo probably being the most prominent and advanced, Dubois said. In his opinion, it will still be many years before Perl 6 Rakudo could become a serious alternative to Perl 5 for most users.
"It is hard to predict if this is ever going to happen or not," Dubois said.
But Perl 5 users won't have to wait for Perl 6 to get updated, as there is a plan in place for a new Perl 5 version next year.
"Perl 5.14 should be released in about one year with more new features, but the release date will not depend on any particular feature being done," Dubois said. "It should ship with whatever is done at that time."
Though Perl is a relatively old language, it remains in wide use in the enterprise. Dubois noted that ActiveState has large enterprise customers, including CA, Goldman Sachs and Boeing, that continue to use Perl in their business systems and distributed applications.
"The influx of new users has slowed down, but if you watch the Perl-related IRC channels, then you can see new people arriving several times a day that have just installed Perl for the first time and are looking for help," he said.
Cyber Command Plans to Focus on Coordination
Nominee for the new Department of Defense position says the agency is going to lead other agencies in cyber attacks instead of waging its own.
One of the realities of modern warfare is that computers are as important as tanks. The U.S. military has created a new group, called Cyber Command, to supporting the information and communications systems of the military forces, and in extreme situations, get involved in a battle by attacking enemy networks.
Of course, this raises all kinds of concerns on the part of civil libertarians on whether that capability might be turned on civilian networks, and what if a cyber attack is routed through a neutral or even friendly nation? The rules of engagement are murky, and President Obama's nominee to run that post had some explaining to do. eSecurity Planet details his testimony.
President Obama's nominee to head the Pentagon's new Cyber Command said the division would primarily focus on its defensive role at his confirmation hearing Thursday morning, downplaying the concerns that it would become a military instrument to wage cyber warfare against hostile nations.
"This command is not about efforts to militarize cyber space," Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Today's hearing comes nearly six months after Alexander's nomination, delayed in part by lawmakers' concerns about the mandate and role of the Cyber Command, which Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced last June.
The Top 7 Reasons to Create Your Facebook Fan Page Now
If you don't have a Facebook Fan Page you are simply leaving traffic and profits on the table. To encourage you to take action and create one today, here are the current top 7 reasons to get one now.
Traffic - Currently Facebook is the #2 most trafficked website in the world, second only to Google. The first rule of traffic I learned on the Internet is to not chase after traffic. Find out where the traffic is going and get in front of it. Again, the number 2 website in the world in terms of traffic.
5000 vs. Unlimited - When you have just a Facebook Profile you are limited to only 5000 followers. While that may seem out of reach to you at the moment, as you grow you are going to want to have more room. A great benefit of a Fan Page is you can have an unlimited number of fans and followers.
You can market - On your profile page you are discouraged from marketing. In fact, do it too much and you account can be suspended. On your Fan Page you are allowed to and even encouraged to market. Be sure you earn the right to market though by providing great information and connections.
Like a blog but better - A Fan Page is like a blog only better. While there are several features that I like better than a blog, my favorite is the immediacy with which followers and fans can respond to your updates and you can connect and interact.
Frequency of communication - Email your list more than once a day and you will get subscribers unsubscribing in droves. Update your Fan Page 2 - 3 times a day and not only do you not get unsubscribes, you get more followers as your updates show up in the communication stream of your followers, and others become interested in your message.
Build your list - I encourage my students and members to do two things on their Fan Page: 1) Include an opt-in box on the side bar, and 2) Use your updates to invite people to your other opt-in pages to get more good stuff from you. By the way, your Fan Page fans and followers are a list too!
Audio & Video - You can also include Audio and Video messages as well. This is a wise thing to do, as it turns your page into a multi-media site that communicates at many levels.
IBM's Lessons From Linux: You Can't Control It
But you can influence it. A top IBM Linux executive details the missteps that Big Blue suffered while coming to terms with its role in the open source OS community.
IBM today may be thought of as one of the key contributors to a number of high-profile Linux and open source projects, but ten years ago, when the company was just dipping a toe into the open source world, it was a far different story. It took some time and several mistakes for Big Blue to understand how best to work with a wider community of developers.
IBM's Dan Frye takes a trip down memory lane to look at where IBM went wrong in its early approach to Linux, what it learned, and how businesses can apply those lessons internally.
Ten years ago, IBM had a single mission for Linux: Make it better. Now in 2010, IBM (NYSE:IBM) has a decade of experience in working to do just that, and is sharing its knowledge about how companies and developers can better participate in the Linux community.
Speaking in a keynote session at the Linux Foundation's Collaboration Summit, Dan Frye, vice president of open system development at IBM, provided his insights into some do's and don't when trying to work with Linux.
For IBM, one of the hardest lessons it had to learn was one about control. Mainly, there is none.
Facebook offers charities free ads in child safety row
Facebook is offering millions of pounds of free advertising to children’s charities as part of a charm offensive following a row with police over the installation of an online safety button.
Charities will meet this week to decide whether to accept the offer from the social networking site. However, the NSPCC told The Times that it would reject the advertising were it to be an alternative to installing the safety button pioneered by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
Facebook has been in a dispute with the police agency over the website’s refusal to carry the button — which would give users one-click access to police or other agencies to report concerns about online offending or cyber-bullying. The argument intensified after the murder conviction of Peter Chapman, a sex offender, who posed as a teenager online to lure a 17-year-old to her death.
Although chief constables and the main political parties want Facebook to install a safety button, the site has refused to do so. Instead it has announced a safety and awareness campaign which it says will include donating a billion advertising impressions to charities over the next two years.
The NSPCC said: "If Facebook has any proposals that would make children safer, we would be happy to hear about that. But we would not be interested in anything as an alternative to the alert button."
Emma-Jane Cross, of the charity BeatBullying, said that it “would welcome the opportunity to work with Facebook to help them set up a panic button system, something we have done with Bebo and MSN”. However, the charity added that it would accept the free advertising offer, were it made, in order to spread the anti-bullying message. Both charities are members of the Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety which on Thursday will discuss Facebook’s proposals.
After meeting the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre last week in Washington, Facebook said that it was determined to “promote ‘safe interaction’ practices online” and had “invited the UK’s leading internet safety organisations to join the campaign and to share their expertise”.
The company said that giving the charities advertising space would be "the equivalent of a million safety messages from experts every day. The goal is to help everyone know what to do if they feel threatened".
A source at one charity described the company's offer as "a cynical approach to try and appear nice and cuddly".
Children's charities back the call for the safety button but most are expected to accept the offer of free advertising.
Drupal Development Proliferates as Version 7 Nears
Getting the next version of Drupal, the popular open source content management system, is top of mind for Drupal creator Dries Buytaert. But speaking at the Drupalcon conference this week, Buytaert noted that Drupal 7 still requires additional work, with more than a hundred bugs remaining until Drupal 7 is ready.
Yet that's not stopping work on other efforts to push Drupal development forward.
This week, Acquia, the lead commercial sponsor behind Drupal for which Buytaert serves as co-founder and CTO, announced new training, hosting and distribution efforts -- moves that aim to further spread the growing footprint of Drupal deployments while work on Drupal 7 development continues.
One of the key areas where Drupal is expanding is by way of its distributions, versions of the software that include the core application along with specific, contributed modules that together meet certain market needs or use-cases. Buytaert said that there are now at least 19 Drupal distributions available, while his company, Acquia, is now in the process of building its own distribution called Drupal Common, which he described as a social media CMS.
For Buytaert, the distribution approach is one that sets Drupal apart from other open source content management systems like WordPress and Joomla.
"If we're smart, this could result in breakout growth for Drupal," Buytaert said.
Overall, Buytaert noted that the current Drupal 6 release has found good success in the market and has increased adoption. According to Buytaert, Drupal now powers 1 percent of all Web sites, with enterprise users including Accenture, Capgemini and IBM, which are now developing projects based on the CMS. Buytaert said he sees the growing usage of Drupal by such large businesses as a great validation for the work that developers have been doing in the project.
Now that Drupal 7 is on the way, Buytaert expects that Drupal adoption will grow. With Drupal 7, Buytaert pointed out that the project has benefited from the open source participation of the community, with more than 6,611 patches having been committed to Drupal 7. Those patches have come from 732 different people contributing to the project, he added.
Moving forward, Buytaert said that once Drupal 7 is released, the focus will shift to Drupal 8, key features of which include configuration management and staging.
From a business perspective, as Drupal has grown, the commercial side of its support from Acquia has grown as well. Acquia CEO Tom Erickson told InternetNews.com that 2009 was a fantastic year for Acquia, noting that it now has over 450 customers for its Drupal commercial support services.
Acquia is now also offering training services and has a new hosting partnership for midsized Drupal deployments on Rackspace.
"We've also successfully raised money at a time when other companies are not being funded. We have raised $8 million," he said, referring to last year's influx of new capital from backers North Bridge Venture Partners and Sigma Partners.
Microsoft Says Silverlight 4 On the Way
The next iteration of Microsoft's rival to Adobe Flash is due out within hours, and promises a number of improvements.
Adobe may control a majority of the online streaming media and animation market with Flash, but that hasn't stopped Microsoft from slowing the pace of development of its rival Silverlight software.
This week, Microsoft is set to unveil the latest version of Silverlight, promising a handful of improvements designed to give it a leg up on its entrenched competitor. CodeGuru takes a look at what's in store when Silverlight 4 makes its debut less than a year after it shipped Silverlight 3, sporting performance improvements and new features. And we'll see what Microsoft says those enhancements can offer developers.
Microsoft will begin shipping the next major release of its media streaming competitor to Adobe Flash on Thursday.
The announcement came on Tuesday during a keynote speech at Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) DevConnections conference in Las Vegas by Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Platform.
Among the new and upgraded features in Silverlight 4 is additional out-of-browser support so that users do not have to be running a browser in order to use Silverlight's features.
Introducing DotNetNuke, the Open Source, .NET-driven CMS
With businesses clamoring for the ability to manage complex content repositories and community interactions over the Web, the prospect of creating custom solutions from scratch is becoming increasingly unpalatable. Developers are instead opting to leave content management's often gory details to an enterprise content management system, using the time and effort saved to customize and extend these systems for the business' specific needs. Over much of the last decade, millions of .NET-oriented organizations around the globe have turned to DotNetNuke for their content management needs.
Its origins intertwined with the 2002 ASP.NET 1.0 release, DotNetNuke has since become one of the world's most popular .NET-oriented open source projects, and by far the most popular .NET-driven content management solution. Capable of being immediately deployed upon installation makes DotNetNuke an ideal choice for small organizations seeking a solution requiring little overhead, yet its ability to scale and extensible architecture prove it an attractive choice for global corporations such as Midas, Pier 1 Imports, and Marriott. Read on to learn more about what DotNetNuke has to offer.
Wipro latest Indian outsourcer to post strong results
Wipro today reported strong growth in its IT services revenue for the quarter ended March 31, indicating that it is benefiting from a recovery in demand for offshore IT services.
The business environment is returning to normal, the company said.
Its competitors, Tata Consultancy Services, and Infosys Technologies, also reported growth in revenue and profits this month. The two companies have stepped up hiring in anticipation of a larger demand for their services.
Wipro, which is India’s third largest outsourcer, said that its IT services revenue was $1.17 billion, up 11.5% from the same quarter last year.
IT services revenues for the fiscal year ended March 31 was $4.4 billion, an increase of 1.6% over last year.
The company's results for the quarter are in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
Wipro has a diversified business that also includes consumer care, and it does not break out its profits by business segment.
Its IT services business accounted for 75% of total revenue in the year ended March 31.
The company added 5,325 staff in this business in the quarter ended March 31, taking the total number of employees working on IT services to 108,071 as of March 31, 2010.
The company’s IT services business added 27 new clients in the quarter.
The recovery for Indian outsourcers is steady, as is evident from their results in the last few quarters, according to analysts. However, most of the expenditure on outsourcing is still aimed at cutting costs, rather than at investments in new technologies for revenue growth, said Siddharth Pai, a partner at outsourcing consultancy firm, Technology Partners International (TPI), said earlier this week.
Why CIOs Are Choosing Cloud E-Mail
E-mail is hot again. Major vendors, from Microsoft and Google to IBM and Cisco, are vying to provide this venerable communications application. While Microsoft Exchange is the on-premises champ, e-mail delivered as an online service resets the competition, as customers large and small look to reduce costs and eliminate operational headaches.
The competition has just started. Of the roughly 996 million business mailboxes worldwide, IDC estimates, only 2%--20 million--were software as a service in 2009. But when it comes time for companies to upgrade their e-mail, they must consider SaaS options. GlaxoSmithKline, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Panasonic, and the city of Los Angeles are among the jumbo accounts--tens of thousands of employees--that have moved their e-mail to the cloud.
Although Microsoft is the e-mail market-share leader on-premises, it's betting that most customers will move to the cloud. "We'll look back in five years and say, 'Why would anyone run their own e-mail?'" says Tony Scott, CIO of Microsoft, whose 90,000 in-boxes run on the vendor's own SaaS environment. Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division, says half of the company's Exchange, SharePoint, and Dynamics CRM revenue will come from service-based products within four years.
E-mail can be divided into three categories: premises, hosted, and SaaS. SaaS is built on a multitenant architecture and delivered over the Internet. With a hosted service, the e-mail servers might reside on a customer premises and be managed remotely or operated off the customer premises, but each customer gets dedicated servers and storage.
SaaS e-mail's market share doubled since 2007, IDC estimates. Fourteen percent of companies that use outsourcing have SaaS e-mail, our InformationWeek Analytics survey of 530 business technologists finds.
What's the draw of SaaS? First, companies can get substantial cost savings, as SaaS's multitenant architecture allows for economies of scale. Second, companies don't have to sacrifice features or availability to get those savings. Third, IT departments can employ fewer people by handing over time-consuming and costly maintenance to a provider, and they can focus some of those people on more strategic tasks. Fourth, some companies find that SaaS e-mail makes it easier to give employees the mobile access they're demanding, such as from home PCs.
As you can see from our table on p. 24, SaaS e-mail providers offer services for as little as $3 per user a month. The recession kick-started market growth, as companies considered options that might have otherwise seemed too daring.
Take Sanmina-SCI, a nearly $6 billion-a-year global contract manufacturer. Sanmina-SCI moved more than 16,000 employees from premises-based Exchange to Google Apps as part of a company-wide push to reduce costs. "We looked at servers, backups, personnel tied up in running things," says CIO Manesh Patel. "When we ran that analysis and did the comparison, it was a fairly compelling case to move to the cloud." The move saves the company about $10 per month per employee, Manesh says, which works out to about $1.9 million a year--a figure any CIO would be happy to bring to a budget meeting.
At Blue Man Productions, which runs the popular Blue Man Group shows, the cost of maintaining e-mail servers for its 500 employees in five U.S. cities, plus Berlin and Zurich, ran into six figures, says company IT manager David Wharton. Switching to a SaaS-based Exchange offering from AppRiver cut the cost by a third, he says.
UK developer Jeremy Keith devised the best explanation:
Microsoft Begins Beta of New Home Server
Microsoft is readying the first major update to Windows Home Server more than two years after it initially launched. By going 64-bit-only, is the product too much or too little?
For years, power home users had to improvise making their own servers, so Microsoft finally came out with a special version of Windows two years ago, dubbed Home Server. Since then there hasn't been much activity, mostly because Microsoft had its hands full with Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2.
But now, Microsoft has a new version of home server in the works, and Microsoft seems to be going all out. Among other things, this is a 64-bit-only product. Even Windows 7 still comes in 32-bit flavors. And there is more. Datamation has the details.
Microsoft quietly announced the beta test of the next version of Windows Home Server (WHS) this week -- but questions still remain about its long-term survival.
Codenamed "Vail," the next version of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) WHS adds media streaming via remote access, the ability to backup and restore multiple PCs, and a simplified user interface (UI), according to a recent blog post by Dave Berkowitz, Microsoft's senior communications manager.
Most Common Blogging Mistakes You Need to Avoid
Promoting an online business can be easy if you know the tools and techniques to use. One effective way used by internet marketers is blogging. How can you make your online marketing through blogs more effective? Below are ten blogging mistakes you should know to help you avoid committing them:
1) Not being committed
If blogging is just your past time, then you can get away with blogging whenever you feel like it. But if you’re blogging is part of your online marketing technique, commitment is important. See to it that you give time to blogging on a regular basis.
2) Not getting any help
If you’re maintaining a blog for marketing online, consider getting some assistance. Trying to update and optimize your blog alone can a difficult job especially if you have other tasks to attend to. Have another person, or better yet, a team to help you attend to your blogging tasks.
3) Not targeting an audience
Niche blogging is surely the way to go. If your blog is not targeted to a particular niche or audience, it would be too difficult to get the traffic you want.
4) The lack of passion
In reality, if your main purpose for blogging is just to sell your ads, then this won’t take you very far. People will instantly see right through you if your blogs are all about commercials. An Adsense ads on your blog without quality content cannot give you a more positive result.
5) Not being original
Some bloggers rely solely on news feeds from other sources. However, if people can read the same content in your blog that they can find from other places, they will not be convinced to subscribe to your blog. They may not even bother to re-visit you.
6) Not analyzing your website traffic statistics
Your web stats can tell you a lot of information. It can tell you which page of your site most readers like, it can tell you which days you receive more visits, where you hits are coming from, what type of readers go to your site and other important details.
7) Not making the needed changes
Don’t be contented with just the same layout, the same content, and the same structure on your blog. If something’s not working, then have the initiative to make some changes. The adage “there’s always room for improvement” also applies to blogging.
8) Not editing your posts
If you don’t have time to do the editing or you don’t have the editing skills, it is best to hire an editor to do it for you. The role of an editor is to make sure that your posts are free from grammatical errors, typos and punctuation mistakes. It will make your blog more credible and professional.
9) Not using RSS feeds
RSS feeds allow people to get updates from your blog. There are many free feeds on the web that you can use. Make sure that your blog has RSS feeds buttons that your readers can simply click on.
10) Not using keywords on your title tags
Without keywords on your titles, it would be more difficult for search engines to find you. On the other hand, keywords on your title tags allow search engine spiders to crawl on your page and categorize your content easily.
Add NoSQL Data Storage to Your PHP Development with Redis
With NoSQL becoming all the rage for Web developers who are tired of building complex SQL, will NoSQL databases replace traditional relational databases in PHP development? Probably not, but for those PHP developers who are ready to make the leap, the Redis NoSQL database server provides a powerful and speedy alternative to relational database servers. Redis is similar to Memcached in terms of speed, but the data isn't volatile. That means that when your server reboots, your Redis data will still be there. You can back it up too.
Key-value NoSQL databases like Redis are very appealing, particularly because of their speed, flexibility and scalability. Because Redis is a key-value database not a relational one, you don't have to spend an inordinate amount of time building a SQL schema and worrying about relational stuff such as foreign keys and primary keys. Of course, you still need to design your database, but you don't have to think about whether to use second normal form or third normal form.
In his PHPBuilder.com tutorial, Keith Vance demonstrates how simple building a Web application using PHP and Redis is.
Google brings 3D Earth view to the web
One step closer to that 3D browsing experience
Google has announced that it has finally taken off the training wheels of its Google Earth plug-in and merged the application with its Maps service.
Released originally as a standalone app, Google Earth brings a 3D view to the world, allowing you to zoom across countries and see famous landmarks and terrain close up and personal.
Google has now launched Google Earth as a plug-in to its Maps service, offering a more detailed view of the world around us.
In a blog post, Google said about the new plug-in: "If you're one of the hundreds of millions of people who use Maps worldwide, you can now explore the world in luxuriantly-detailed, data-rich 3D imagery and terrain from Google Earth.
"If you've already downloaded the Google Earth Plug-in, you should be able to see Earth view in Maps right away. Otherwise, you can just install the Plug-in to enjoy a Maps experience that includes angled Earth views, 3D buildings, smooth panning and zooming and a great introductory showcase of places to visit and things to see."
To make the service as easy as possible to access, Google has integrated an Earth button on its Maps page, so you can toggle between the satellite, Maps and 3D view.
Google is actually a little late to the party with its 3D plug-in – Microsoft has been has been offering the same sort of functionality for over a month now on its Bing Maps service.
IBM Taps Cloud With Cast Iron Systems Buy
The purchase of Cast Iron Systems gives IBM customers a bridge between traditional on-premise solutions and cloud computing.
From IBM, Microsoft, Google and Salesforce to thousands of startups, just about every business software company of note has a cloud computing offering or has one in the works. But enterprises with big investments in more traditional on-premise solutions aren't about to dump their software infrastructure and start over.
If, as many believe, the future of software is on-demand, cloud computing applications, there will be a transition period as companies migrate to the new software model. Datamation reports that IBM's latest purchase is aimed at addressing the needs of companies in both the on-premise and cloud computing camps.
IBM today reinforced its commitment to what most see as the future of enterprise computing with its acquisition of Cast Iron Systems, a privately held cloud-computing software and services company that aims to simplify life for companies eager to blend their on-premise and on-demand application suites.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but by virtue of the purchase IBM sent an unmistakable message to competitors and customers alike that it's serious about providing the inevitable bridge between old-school, on-premise software installations and on-demand applications that are cheaper and more malleable in an increasingly mobile computing landscape.
IBM (NYSE: IBM) shares inched up $0.61 a share, less than 1 percent, to $129.61 following the announcement.
"The combination of IBM and Cast Iron Systems will make it easy for clients to integrate business applications, no matter where those applications reside," Craig Hayman, general manager of IBM's cornerstone WebSphere unit, said in a statement. "This will give clients greater agility and as a result, better business outcomes."
Web 2.0 Security a Focus of INET Conference
As Web 2.0 and social networks grow in popularity, including in the enterprise, user's personal information and privacy is at risk.
In the new world of Web 2.0, social network sites encourage users to post personal information about where they are, what they're buying and who their friends are. But how safe is this information? And how trustworthy are the social networks?
eSecurity Planet reports on a new conference that will attempt to tackle the privacy and security issues that put user's information at risk.
A week after the Web 2.0 Expo showcases the latest and greatest new services on the Web, the San Francisco chapter of the Internet Society will host what's likely to be a comparatively somber, though relevant, INET conference focused on trust and security issues facing the Web.
"The idea is to explore how do we transition to an online community we can trust? What do we want the model to be? Could it be a multi-faceted approach?" Zaid Ali, president of the Internet Society's San Francisco chapter, told InternetNews.com.
Google to Sell eBooks As Soon As Next Month
It’s no secret: Google’s been working toward selling eBooks for over a year (with their intentions public since BEA last May). And now it looks like they’re almost there, according to the Wall Street Journal. The search giant could enter the battle against Amazon, Apple, et al., in late June or July.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Google isn’t looking to fight the Kindle, however (or yet?). Although they partnered with the makers of the COOL-ER e-reader in September, Google plans to offer a bookstore that’s platform-independent, the WSJ reports. But no proprietary devices isn’t the only departure from the Amazon/Kindle model:
Google says users will be able to buy digital copies of books they discover through its book-search service. It will also allow book retailers—even independent shops—to sell Google Editions on their own sites, giving partners the bulk of the revenue.
The company would have copies on its servers for works it strikes agreements to sell. Google is still deciding whether it will follow the model where publishers set the retail price or whether Google sets the price
The browser-based Google Editions, along with Google Books, will provide the storefront and the books. Meanwhile, Google’s book licensing agreement may still be in limbo with the DoJ—and that’s something they definitely need to work out before they can hope to make it big.
Meanwhile, if all goes well for Google Editions, this could mean big news for Google at large. As Evan Schnittman, vice president of global business development for Oxford University Press, told the WSJ:
Google Editions will also be critical because it represents "the ultimate test" of whether the ability to search, find and instantly buy content will generate significant gains in revenue. "This tears down barriers"
Open Source R Language Undergoes a Commercial Revolution
The open source R language has been in use by statisticians to do data analysis, predictive modeling and visualization for over a decade. This week, R is set to undergo a revolution of sorts with a revamped commercial effort that is aiming to advance the language's adoption.
Commercial R vendor Revolution Computing has been in the market for the past two years and is now rebranding itself as Revolution Analytics. The company is also rolling out a new roadmap for its R tools that it hopes will expand the market.
"We've seen R really start to spill over into the commercial world in recent years," Jeff Erhardt, chief operating officer at Revolution Analytics, told InternetNews.com. "The market for R is anywhere there is a company that is collecting a lot of data and is looking to get an edge by doing analysis of that data or forecasting. We get involved with investment banks and hedge funds and we also see it used in the pharmaceutical industry."
At Revolution Analytics, the company is building on top of the open source R language with its Revolution R Enterprise product, providing additional tools and capabilities to R users. Erhardt noted that the Enterprise product provides additional scalability beyond that which is available in the core open source project.
"We make R run fast on modern hardware," Erhardt said. "The open source project in general only makes use of one CPU or core, while our version makes use of all CPUs and cores that are present in hardware."
David Smith, vice president of community at Revolution Analytics, explained to InternetNews.com that the way R is currently set up, there is the core language and then there are packages and applications built on top of that. In his view, it is the combination of the core R programming language and the additional packages that actually comprise what people think of when they consider R.
One of the new packages that Revolution Analytics is working on is an approach to further expand the data scalability of R.
"Today, R is memory-bound and cannot handle large data sets," Smith said. "So we'll be bringing out in the near future a solution for handling massive datasets in the terabyte and petabyte range."
Erhardt added that Revolution Analytics is agnostic in terms of how it actually interfaces with data sources.
"In terms of the internal implementation, we've developed an intermediate file format that is based on the NoSQL model," Erhardt said. "But it is neither column- nor row-based and has been designed with the needs of statistical algorithms in mind."
Revolution Analytics is also working on R usability. Smith noted that R, to date, has been a command-line-driven language, which has represented a challenge for some mainstream enterprise users.