Posts Tagged ‘ Twitter ’


Twitter faces growing pressure to attract new users and dramatically increase engagement on the platform. Can it ever rival the numbers and growth of Facebook?

Twitter’s honeymoon as a publicly traded company could be coming to an end. With growth stalling and timeline views on the decline for the first time ever, Twitter finds itself at a crossroads.

Twitter Suffers from Growing Pains
While its quest for more ad revenue continues unabated, the company faces even greater pressure to attract new users and dramatically increase engagement on the platform.

“Twitter has seen its sequential MAU growth rate decelerate sharply after hitting 50 million, raising concerns that its quirkier nature might cap its potential audience in the U.S. at a ceiling well below that of Facebook.”
— Seth Shafer, SNL Kagan

“We as a company aren’t going to be satisfied — I am not going to be satisfied — until we reach every connected person on the planet, period,” CEO Dick Costolo said at last week’s Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference.

The challenge ahead for Twitter coupled with Costolo’s grandiose goal puts the company in a predicament unlike any it has confronted before. It also fans the unfortunate, yet inevitable comparison to Facebook. While Twitter ended 2013 with an average monthly active user (MAU) base of 241 million, Facebook surpassed 1.23 billion. For every user that engages on Twitter, at least five are actively using Facebook.

“Twitter needs to do something to grow to the size of Facebook but the jury is still out if there’s a clear path for Twitter or any other company to do that, or if Facebook is a once-in-a-lifetime anomaly that was in the right place at the right time,” says Seth Shafer, associate analyst at SNL Kagan.

Costolo hasn’t helped matters by failing to meet previous internal estimates for growth either. Early last year the executive reportedly told employees that he expected to reach 400 million MAUs by the end of 2013. Failing to double its active user base last year, Twitter reported a 30 percent increase in its stead.

“Twitter’s overall MAU growth is still pretty healthy, but it’s all coming internationally where users monetize at a much lower rate. U.S. growth has slowed significantly at about 50 million MAUs,” says Shafer.

Facebook blew past 50 million U.S. MAUs without blinking and moreover, its sequential increases didn’t dip into the single digits until it surpassed about 120 million users in the U.S., according to SNL Kagan data.

“Twitter, however, has seen its own sequential MAU growth rate decelerate sharply after hitting 50 million MAUs, raising concerns that its quirkier nature and niche focus might cap its potential audience in the United States at a ceiling well below that of Facebook,” Shafer adds.

Twitter’s ‘Road Map’ for Growth
Nonetheless, Twitter’s lead executive says he is optimistic about rising user growth. While the company is being careful not to make specific promises or announcements about how it will improve on these points, Costolo has frequently referenced a road map of late that lays out a strategy for achieving better growth over the course of the year.

Pointing to field research and internal data on how users engage with the platform, he hints at a series of new features and design changes that are expected to drive new user growth. Twitter’s vault of data and newfound capability to experiment with multiple beta tests simultaneously has “informed a very specific road map for the kinds of capabilities we want to introduce to the product that we believe will drive user growth,” says Costolo.

He is quick to point out, however, that no single product feature or change to the platform will lead to a “quantum leap change in growth.” Instead it will be an accumulation of numerous tweaks throughout the year that give him confidence. “You’re going to be seeing a significant amount of experimentation of different ideas we have,” he says.

While dispelling concerns about lagging growth in the recently closed quarter, Costolo says there was no specific event or trend during the quarter that meaningfully impacts how the company thinks about user growth. Indeed, improvements made during the finals months of 2013, particularly in messaging and discovery, have already paid off. Favorites and retweets rose 35 percent from the previous quarter and direct messages jumped 25 percent over the same period, according to Twitter.

“I’m starting to see those interactions do what we hoped they would do,” he says. “It’s more about pushing the content forward and pushing back the scaffolding of Twitter.”

The company also hopes to attract new users by simplifying its on-boarding process and dramatically reducing the 11 steps a new account currently requires.

Under the Shadow of Facebook
Twitter has successfully maneuvered through its fair share of challenges before. Be it the fail whale sightings and power struggles of its early days or the feverish hunt for ad revenue of late, the company has found its way.

But now with its first complete quarter as a public company in the rear view, the demands for growth from investors will only get louder with each passing quarter. Twitter will have to deliver some big numbers in 2014 to keep Wall Street happy, but Costolo’s comments also suggest that much of that success will depend on a clear differentiation between Twitter’s role in the world and that of Facebook.

“Twitter is this indispensable companion to life in the moment,” Costolo says. “If you think about it as a product, I think that misses the impact and the reach of what we really believe is a content, communications and data platform.”

By that distinction, the opportunities afforded to Twitter are “enormous,” says Costolo. “We believe we are the only platform where you get an understanding of wide reach in the moment while it’s happening.”

Tapping into big data and personalization could help, but it won’t move the needle far enough for Twitter to reach the scale of Facebook, says Shafer of SNL Kagan.

Emerging from under the shadow of Facebook will be a struggle for Twitter unless it makes dramatic changes to the service or goes on an acquisition binge aimed at cobbling something larger together, he adds. And even that would be a challenge because of course, “we already have a pretty big thing like that called Facebook,” Shafer says.


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Author of Modern Seinfeld hired to write for Fox’s ‘Us & Them’

Some of us felt within its first 24 hours that the author or authors behind a novelty Twitter account called Modern Seinfeld were funny enough to write for a real sitcom.

Turns out we were right, as The Hollywood Reporter says the Fox sitcom “Us & Them” has added former BuzzFeed writer Jack Moore to its writing staff based at least in part on Moore’s contributions to the Seinfeld Twitter account.

Moore tells The Hollywood Reporter that the Twitter account was “uniquely positioned” to help him. “I was basically pitching storylines, which is a huge part of being on a writing staff. Here’s 400 [of them] that illustrated a skill set.”

The premise of Modern Seinfeld is simple: What if the TV sitcom Seinfeld had never gone off the air? Hilarity ensues.
(Geek-Themed Meme of the Week Archive)

When I wrote about Modern Seinfeld last December it was less than a day old and had already attracted 28,000 followers. Today it has 619,000.

And has landed one writer one job.


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Microsoft and the future of Skype

Written by nancy@freetrainingkey.com
October 14th, 2011

The announcement Tuesday May 10 that Microsoft paid $8.5 billion for the online voice and video service, Skype, has prompted much speculation as to Microsoft’s motives and the future of the Skype service.

By any estimate, the deal was overpriced for a company that last year made a net loss of $7 million on revenues of $860 million. The projected Initial Public Offering for Skype was estimated at 50 percent less than what Microsoft paid for the service. This is Microsoft’s largest ever acquisition but still represents a small fraction of the software giant’s massive wealth. Microsoft has a net worth of around $220 billion.

Skype was first launched in 2003 by software developers Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. The two had previously developed the peer-to-peer file-sharing service Kazaa. Skype is based on the same underlying technology, which allows the service to utilize the power of user’s computers rather than investing in expensive server technology.

The ability to make international voice calls from computer to computer, and later to landlines, independently of the telecommunication giants proved instantly attractive. Skype had 50,000 registered users by September 2005, doubling that figure to 100,000 by April 2006. Today, an estimated 170 million people worldwide are Skype users. By 2010, Skype was said to be responsible for a quarter of all international telephone calls.

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Skype’s overwhelming success made it an early target of corporations seeking ways to capitalize on the user base. Online auction site eBay bought Skype for $2.6 billion in 2005 with a view to integrating it into its auction services. The integration never happened, and in 2009 eBay sold 70 percent of Skype to an investment group that included founder of Netscape, Marc Andreessen. The 70 percent stake was valued at $2.75 billion.

The purchase by Microsoft poses a real threat to democracy and the free exchange of ideas. What has become an essential utility for millions of people is now controlled by one of the world’s largest corporations, and one that has a record of subverting technological advances in the interests of maintaining its own monopoly. (See, “The Microsoft law suit, software development and the capitalist market”)

It is not yet clear how Microsoft intends to make a profit out of the Skype technology, or if Skype will go the way of so many previous purchases by the company, including Groove, Placeware, Massive, LinkExchange and WebTV, all of which were shut down.

Some commentators speculate that Microsoft could integrate the Skype services into its email client Outlook and the Exchange mail server, in the hope that this would encourage businesses to pay for the service. Other business possibilities include enabling real time video and voice services for the XboxLive network in the hope of encouraging a wider subscription base.

Though Microsoft already has its own video and voice technology in its MSN chat service and the NetMeeting service which is widely used in business, what it lacks is the massive user base of Skype.

It is entirely possible that Microsoft’s interest in Skype is bound up with the threat that it poses to the company’s profits through increased commercial use of the Skype service over NetMeeting. Skype not only offers cheap telephone calls and free computer to computer communications, but now features screen sharing and video conferencing, which make it an attractive free alternative to products such as NetMeeting.

Concerns as to the future of Skype were already raised following the eBay acquisition in 2005. One concern was the closed character of Skype development and the use of proprietary rather than open standards. Though there are free and open alternatives, there is no way for users to convert their Skype contacts over to an alternate system.

In 2007 an increasingly popular alternative to Skype emerged called the Gizmo Project. Though the Gizmo client itself was proprietary, the service used open transportation standards such as Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP). One advantage this project had over Skype was the ability to register a conference phone number and have people call in by standard phone as well as from a computer. Gizmo growth was slow due to the overwhelming dominance of Skype and the inability to access the Skype user base. Just as Gizmo began to stabilize and gain a significant user base, it was purchased by Google in November 2009. Google subsequently killed Gizmo in favor of its own Google Voice platform in April this year.

The development of the technology that made Skype possible is bound up with the technological advances of the last two decades that has led to unprecedented social interaction across borders. Along with social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook, Skype was cited as a factor in spreading the mass protests against the Mubarak regime in Egypt earlier this year. Services such as Skype not only risk falling prey to profit seeking capitalist corporations, but also government interference and even outright suppression.

In February of this year the New York Times reported, “The F.B.I. has been quietly laying the groundwork for years for a push to require Internet-based communications services — like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, BlackBerry and Skype— to design their systems with a built-in way to comply with wiretap orders.”

The newspaper quoted the F.B.I.’s general counsel, Valerie Caproni stating, “Due to the revolutionary expansion of communications technology in recent years, the government finds that it is rapidly losing ground in its ability to execute court orders with respect to Internet-based communications.”

Given Microsoft’s record in silently complying with government subpoenas, the FBI will no doubt welcome the acquisition as a means of establishing better control of this inherently subversive alternative to big business telecommunications giants who aided the Bush administration’s illegal domestic spy program and were granted immunity by the Democratic controlled Senate in 2008.

The two examples of printing and storage underline that a Chromebook is not just a laptop with a new OS but a new way of computing. Not only does it differ from traditional laptop OSes, but it also contrasts with the iPad and other tablets. Sure, tablets rely more heavily on cloud services than PCs do, but they provide local apps and storage, as well as direct connectivity. Those apps can overcome some of the limitations of the tablets; for example, there are iOS apps that let iPads print directly to wirelessly connected printers, not just to HP’s models or through a computer you have to leave on. Maybe we’ll see such apps eventually for Chrome OS, but Google has purposely kept Chrome OS limited to retain the purity of its cloud vision.

 

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What this all means is that a Chromebook probably won’t replace a laptop, at least not anytime soon. Odds are it’ll be used like an iPad: as an additional “+1″ device for use on the go, in cafés, at conference halls, in lobbies, and during quick trips. In that sense, it competes with the Apple iPad, Motorola Mobility Xoom, and the Motorola Mobility Atrix Lapdock, which also are designed for on-the-go computing, but the four devices approach such mobility differently. It will be interesting to see if the Chromebook approach of pure reliance on the cloud gains traction compared to the Lapdock approach of augmenting a smartphone when on the go and the tablet approach of the iPad and Xoom of providing a mix of local and cloud services.

As Chrome OS gains polish, its Web apps look clunkier
When I first used the Chromebook, I was concerned about the lack of fit and finish in the demo apps at Google’s Chrome Store. Now that the Chrome OS itself has gained polish and responsiveness, the Chrome OS Web apps feel even clunkier. Using Webmail, for example, is an awkward experience compared to using a “real” mail client, whether on a laptop or tablet.

Web apps don’t handle direct manipulation well, such as dragging mail folders, so they tend to be more labor-intensive in their usage and less sophisticated in their capabilities. Although I appreciate Chrome OS more and more, I really dislike the Web apps — which are what you would use day to day for anything other than basic Web activities.

Google really needs to redefine what a Web app is, perhaps by taking its Google Docs suite and making them work like a “real” app suite. Right now, Google Docs is fine as a waystation for shared data and on-the-go touch-up work, but it’s not a comfortable tool for real editing, calendaring, emailing, spreadsheet work, or presentation work. (Microsoft’s Office Web Apps is no better.)

Google has promised to add local storage to Google Docs, so you can keep working on files when disconnected, but it hasn’t yet delivered, despite an original claim of a March 2011 beta release. It’s harder these days to be disconnected, if you’re willing to pay for data access — even airplanes offer in-flight Wi-Fi service. But there are periods of the day when you are disconnected, such as during your commute or waiting for take-off in a plane — and not everyone can afford all the 3G and Wi-Fi plans to stay nearly always connected.

Currently, a tablet can handle that mix of online and offline situations, whereas a Chromebook cannot. Chromebook users need to make sure their files are synced before they lose their connections. The good news is that if you don’t close the browser window and the battery doesn’t die, the document you were working on stays in the local cache and should sync when you regain connectivity.

I believe the connectivity issue will not be a deal breaker for most users — but the awkwardness of the Web apps compared to using a laptop or an iPad will. After all, an iPad is a lot lighter and easier to carry around than a Chromebook, though a Chromebook has the advantage (like the Lapdock) of providing a full desktop Web experience, unlike the iPad or other tablets. And you can get a light laptop that’s no bigger or heavier than a Chromebook — with full computing capabilities. The Chromebook beats laptops in terms of battery use, but that may not be enough of an advantage to be a substitute.

Still, there’s something compelling about the Chromebook concept. Chrome OS is showing more promise now than in its December 2010 beta debut, but still feels gawky compared to an iPad. Google has a little time before commercial Chromebooks appear. Here’s hoping it has some truly amazing Web apps in development ready to redefine today’s low expectations of what a Web app can do.

Dirty IT jobs: Partners in slime

Written by admin
May 9th, 2011

Dirty Job No. 2: The shadow
You probably don’t want to know where your coworkers are going on the Web. But sometimes you have no choice. Nancy Hand knows this, well, firsthand.

 

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Until three years ago, Hand was a network engineer for a large public utility in the Southwest. When any of that site’s 3,000 employees got a malware infection, Hand received an alert via the utility’s McAfee software. She was then called in to investigate by remotely combing through the employee’s browser cache, looking for the source of the attack.

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Along the way, Hand got to see where these employees had been surfing while they were allegedly working. Most of the time what she found was benign — a lot of sites devoted to cooking, fashion, cars, and day trading. Inevitably, though, she’d encounter the darker side.

Like the employee who swore it was a spam email that caused his browser to visit that members-only bondage site, though how that email also managed to create a member profile for him was less clear. (Hand says the head of  IT security jokingly awarded her the “Golden Garter Belt” for uncovering that one.)

Or the company vice president whom Hand discovered had been spending work time visiting TeenageVirginSluts.com. Naturally, he was the VP of IT.

“He was my boss’s boss’s boss,” she says. “After I found this I contacted my manager and said, ‘We have a zero-tolerance policy for this kind of thing, so I am officially notifying you of what I found.’ To my knowledge nothing was ever done. About a year later that VP got fired for another sexually related infraction.”

Some employees ended up being escorted from the facility by armed guards, though Hand never knew whether it was due to something she had found.

“Sometimes it was a little unsettling to be on the machine of someone I’d met in another part of my job who seemed like a very toe-the-line type of person, only to discover it wasn’t true,” she said. “People aren’t as innocent as they seem. And the next time they complained about catching a virus, I’m thinking ‘Well, you sort of did this to yourself.'”

Dirty jobs survival tip: Be prepared to go it alone.

“Management didn’t seem to take any of it very seriously, even after we got hit with a denial-of-service attack that put us out of business for almost an entire day,” she says. “It all becomes political, even though you think it shouldn’t be. The VP is given a pass, but the secretary gets fired.”

Microsoft Office 2010 takes on all comers

Written by admin
May 8th, 2011

Microsoft Office 2010 takes on all comers: OpenOffice.org 3.3.0
OpenOffice.org has long been a commonly suggested replacement for Microsoft Office. It offers several common office-suite features at a much lower price — free — than Microsoft Office itself, although many of those individual features don’t have the level of polish or advancement found in commercial office-suite products. That said, for people who don’t need the absolute latest and greatest functionality in every category, OpenOffice.org is a solid piece of software. (In the interest of full disclosure, again, I admit I have been frustrated by its limitations, but I can recognize that for many other people it will more than do the job.)

 

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Don’t be thrown off if you come to OpenOffice.org from the Microsoft Office side. The program’s UI is very vintage 2003 — dockable toolbars instead of the newer ribbon/tab metaphors that are now all the rage. That said, future versions of OpenOffice.org may sport a more modern look, although this is still very much under wraps — nothing more than mock-up designs of such a UI have surfaced yet.
Office suites file format compatibility and other features
Office Open XML    Office legacy format    ODF     Spelling and grammar checking    PDF export     HTML export    VBA macro support
Microsoft Office 2010    Native format    Excellent    Good    Excellent     Good     Very good     Native
OpenOffice 3.3.0    Good    Excellent    Native format    Fair     Excellent     Good     Limited
LibreOffice 3.3.1    Good    Excellent    Native format    Fair     Excellent     Good     Limited
IBM Lotus Symphony 3.0    Good    Excellent    Native format    Fair     Excellent     Poor (conversion by plug-in only)     Limited
SoftMaker Office 2010    Excellent    Excellent    Excellent    Good     Very good     Good     VBA-like scripting language
Corel WordPerfect Office X5    Fair (.docx only)    Good    Fair (.dot only)    Good     Very good     Excellent     None
Google Docs    Very good    Excellent    Excellent    Fair     Excellent     Excellent     None

13 features that make each Web browser unique

Written by admin
May 7th, 2011

FireFTP, for instance, is one of the deeper extensions that’s hard to spin up from the classic three languages: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It takes advantage of the access to the file system and the low-level access to the TCP/IP stack. Some people may feel the thinner APIs from the other browsers act like a better sandbox and thus offer more security — and they’re right. But many of the most sophisticated extensions for Firefox require the flexibility of dipping into native code and interfacing directly with the operating system.

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Internet Explorer 9: Emphasis on energy efficiency
Everyone may be talking about JavaScript compilation engines and hardware integration, but the idea of measuring browser energy consumption is a new one. Here, Microsoft is leading the way, claiming that IE9 is the most energy-efficient browser.

Of course, there’s no easy way to test this assertion, even with an electrical meter because the computer could be burning electricity on some background task. However, the idea is meaningful, in large part because handheld devices need to be very careful with power consumption. While no one really notices if their video card on the game machine requires a separate pipeline from the Middle East to keep it running, everyone squawks when the phone dies halfway through the afternoon.

IE9 does not yet run on phones, but it may affect laptop energy conservation. Furthermore, simply paying attention to browser energy consumption may put Microsoft ahead of what could soon become a very important game.

Chrome: A separate process for each tab
For the past few years, interest in multiprocess architectures has been growing among browser developers. Here, Google has taken the lead, splitting the work of Chrome tabs into different processes. This approach relies on the operating system to isolate crashes, thereby making the browser more stable. In other words, if one plug-in or Web page goes south, the OS isolates the danger, usually ensuring that the other tabs sail on unaware.

Of course, all browser makers are rolling out multiprocess technology in different ways and at different speeds. Open your PC’s process display window and start cracking apart the tabs — you’ll see that the browsers spawn a few processes, but only Google Chrome keeps opening them up. Chrome is the browser most committed to separating the workload and letting the operating system act as a referee.

Some argue that this belts-and-suspenders approach is overkill and not worth the overhead, claiming that the browser makers should not fall back on the operating system for support. Others suggest the browser experience can end up being slower if related windows are split into different processes. To combat this, Chrome sometimes puts pages from the same domain in the same process, but you can expect arguments over the best way to handle multiprocessing to continue for the foreseeable future.

Internet Explorer 9: Jump lists and site pinning
Jump lists began as little menus attached to icons in Windows 7. Right-click an application’s icon and you’ll find shortcuts to app-specific tasks and recently accessed files as determined by the app’s developer. Now these jump lists are part of IE9, and every Web designer can specify a quick list of important pages for users to access quickly with a right-click. IE9 takes the jump-list concept one step further by allowing you to “pin” websites to the bar at the top of each window where they can be easier to reach. The jump list adds a pull-down menu for these pinned websites. It’s a good solution for common destinations, like email or shopping sites.

Chart: Apple’s amazing year of iOS

Written by admin
May 6th, 2011

Mobile devices running iOS generated $43.79 billion for Apple during calendar 2010, or about 57 percent of revenues. But it is the rise in overall revenue and net profit that is most significant, as seen from the chart above. Perhaps more surprising, Apple’s calendar first quarter 2011 net profit was just slightly less than that of the holiday quarter, when iOS device sales were even stronger.

 

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The revenue curve from Q1 to Q4 2010 is simply stunning. Apple revenue nearly doubled, as did its net profit — from $13.5 billion to $26.7 billion and $3.1 billion to $6 billion, respectively. In April 2010, Apple launched iPad, which generated about $10 billion in revenue during 2010. Without iPad, Apple would have generated only $66.28 billion last year — still impressive.

By my reckoning, Apple sold about 81 million iOS devices during 2010 — or about half the number Apple says had shipped by the end of first calendar quarter 2011.

While the gains across the metrics are absolutely impressive for calendar 2010, first quarter 2011 stands out by a different measure. Not surprisingly, Apple revenue fell by about $2 billion going from the holiday quarter, which is to be expected. What’s startling: Net profit dipped slightly, $5.99 billion from $6 billion, during sequential quarters.

The revenue surge is over, and the chart for 2011 will likely be different. Apple is forecasting $23 billion revenue for second calendar quarter. Throughout 2010, Apple exceeded forecasts by at least $1 billion a quarter — $2.67 billion for calendar Q1 2011. So calendar Q2 could still grow sequentially. Wall Street analysts are projecting $24.45 billion for the quarter, but their estimates have been running low, too.

Microsoft on Monday announced that its new cloud PC management solution, Windows Intune, will be launched in its first complete RTM build on March 23 at the Microsoft Management Summit, and will be commercially available in more than 35 countries thereafter.

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Windows Intune is a cloud-based desktop management solution which lets IT techs manage remote systems through their browser. Microsoft is marketing Intune toward two different types of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs.) First, companies that don’t yet have a PC management infrastructure, and want one that won’t incur a big material cost; Second, companies that have lots of “virtual” and remote employees.

First launched in beta just under a year ago, Windows Intune has the ability to: Manage Microsoft Updates, firewall and malware protection, monitor remote PCs and provide assistance, and keep track of hardware inventory and software licenses and compliance.

Windows Intune will be available in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom and United States.

Current beta testers will continue to have access to Windows Intune until April 18, and companies interested in trying out the solution will be able to sign up for a 30-day trial when it launches in the next few weeks.

The Administration Service lets IT departments enforce software configurations, IT policies and connectivity profiles while also managing the kinds of applications users can have on their PlayBooks. RIM is also providing IT departments with a catalog of business-approved applications that can be safely downloaded onto PlayBooks and given access to corporate data.

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When you combine these three security features – Balance, Bridge and the Administration Service – it becomes clear that RIM’s PlayBook gives enterprise users the most security features and options of any other tablet on the market. The tablet’s ultimate success, though, could come down to whether corporate users feel they need these strong precautions or whether they can mostly get by with the more limited security features available on the iPad

Report: Open XML ISO Standard Unlikely

Written by admin
May 3rd, 2011

Microsoft is fairly likely not to have its Open XML document format accepted as a standard by the ISO, research firm Gartner said in a research note last week.

The reasoning behind this is that the standardization body has already approved the OpenDocument Format (ODF), and would likely not accept two standards.

Gartner also had bright news for ODF, saying that it felt fairly confident that by the beginning of the next decade, half of all governments and a fifth of commercial organizations would use the format to exchange documents.

 

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Microsoft’s Open XML was submitted to the European Computer Manufacturers Association (Ecma) for approval in November of last year. Microsoft had hoped to use this as a prelude to ISO submission, but with ODF’s approval the success of doing so is now unclear.

“Until Massachusetts’ decision, Microsoft seemed to ignore growing support for ODF,” Gartner said. “Microsoft plans to submit its XML format to ISO after Ecma approval. But ISO will not approve multiple XML document formats.”

Gartner recommended that those who could be affected by more widespread use of ODF begin looking for applications that support the format now. However, it said migration to other platforms, while cheaper to acquire, might end up being expensive in the end.

“If you need compatibility with Microsoft Office formats or cannot cost justify a migration, lobby Microsoft to support ODF and look for plug-ins that allow you to open and save ODF files from within Microsoft applications,” the firm suggested.

Last week, Betanews reported on the discovery by two university researchers, made at a recent security conference, that security companies often deal with governments that can compel certificate authorities to produce SSL security keys for them. Those keys can then be used to sign certificates as any other Web site, enabling a law enforcement authority — hypothetically speaking, of course — to spoof virtually any other site.

 


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Today, Betanews heard from world-renowned security expert Kurt Seifried, author of numerous books on Linux system administration, network security, and cryptography. In the May 2010 issue of Linux Magazine, Seifried reports on his own discovery, which goes one very critical step further: You don’t need to be a government, he found, to compel a certificate authority (CA) to issue an SSL certificate for a major Web mail service of your choice. You just need a valid credit card.

“Brief summary: One way to get certificates for domains you don’t own: 1) Find a free Web mail provider. 2) Register an account such as ssladmin. 3) Go to RapidSSL.com and buy a certificate. When given the choice of what e-mail address to use, simply select ssladmin. 4) Go through certificate registration process (this takes about 20 minutes). 5) You will now have a secure Web certificate for that Web mail provider,” Seifried told Betanews this afternoon.

In his Linux Magazine article, Seifried lists several other permutations of generic-sounding e-mail account names that may be given to the guy in charge of administration, including the obvious postmaster, administrator, and root. In his own tests, Seifried says, it usually took only a half-hour to acquire a perfectly valid certificate for a major Web mail service.

“The industry-accepted standard for confirming someone is who they say they are and that they control a domain is that ‘the CA takes reasonable measures to verify,’ which is very ambiguous at best and meaningless at worst,” reads Seifried’s article. “One CA proposed that customers could fax a signed letter on company letterhead as proof that they controlled a domain (Have they not heard of word processors and image editing programs? Or online fax services?). CAs want to sell as many certificates for as little money as they can; if this puts users at risk but doesn’t cost the CA anything, then there is no incentive to fix things.”

We asked Seifried, what can the general user do to protect himself against a possible authoritative spoof using a false certificate? We didn’t like the sound of his answer: “Nothing. User education hasn’t worked and won’t work…The only reason I know the difference is I investigated this a while back; I’ve been writing about how broken SSL is off and on for a decade now.”

Seifried credits Mozilla Firefox for at least giving the user good visual clues as to the validity of a signed certificate — for instance, using the color-coded bars next to the HTTPS: address in the upper bar. But ask everyday folks what those colors mean, he said, and they wouldn’t be able to tell you. Are there further steps Mozilla, or any other browser maker, could take to make “Trust” more meaningful to the user, and less likely to be something else for him to ignore? “Well there would be one possibility, but it’ll never happen, and that would be to boot out all the CAs that don’t do a good job verifying domains/etc. and only have root CAs that do a good job,” Seifried responded.

“Basically right now, when a CA checks ‘ownership’ of a domain, it checks one e-mail address, which is trivial to bypass especially with, say, a free Web mail provider,” he continued. “If it were to add more checks — i.e., the CA generates a random string (say an MD5 sum) and requires you to place 8987a978d987e987c978.html or whatever in your webroot at www.yourdomain.com to prove you have control over the Web server as well; and maybe a DNS check, like requiring you to create a DNS record of iugasdcviuoba.yourdomain.com to prove that you have control over the DNS — that would greatly help, because in that case, you either are a legit domain owner, or the attacker has such a degree of control over your domain that any checks won’t matter. The funny thing is, Google used to do this for some of its services like Google Analytics. Also making the e-mail check more stringent — i.e., only e-mail_address@the domain listed in WHOIS, or well-known and typically controlled e-mail address such as postmaster@, would also help greatly.

“But then buying a certificate would take time and the verification process would fail more often (waiting for DNS propagation/etc.), so it’s very unlikely to happen. Once you get a certificate in the root CA store, you basically have a license to print money.”

Mobile phone chipset gets DivX certification

Written by admin
May 2nd, 2011

Continuing its meandering process of certifying as many devices in the “three screens” market (PC, TV, mobile) that it can, DivX has announced a partnership with Korea’s Mtekvision semiconductor company, certifying one of that company’s processors for mobile devices.

 

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The MtekVision MV8722, part of the company’s “Maple” family of processors will allow playback of DivX video at resolutions up to 720×400 pixels.

The MV8722 is a member of Mtekvision’s “Maple” family of mobile chipsets which include processors used in ISDB-T receivers, prominent mobile TV standard for Japan and Brazil, and record-breakingly small Camera Control Processors (CCP).

DivX has already certified three individual handsets, two of which are made by Samsung, a major buyer of Mtekvision “Maple” products like the MV317 camera processor.

Handsets utilizing the new DivX-certified chipset have not been announced yet.

Who want to be a MCITP Certified?

Written by admin
May 2nd, 2011


Administration field is getting advanced each year and now, with the help of administration concepts, it is possible to check as well as solve with all issues that are happening. Some of the important designations included in the MCITP certification are networking operating analyst, system administrating professional, technical support executive, networking technician and network analyst etc.

Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCITP) Help prove your expertise in systems administration on Windows Server 2003 and earlier operating systems by earning a Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCITP) certification. For newer technologies, such as Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Windows Server 2008, or Microsoft SQL Server 2008, the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) is the appropriate certification to pursue.

 

Here are some of the key concepts in a MCITP Certification Exam:

1. Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment. This exam will measure your ability to manage technical tasks like Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment that often includes monitoring server hardware and optimizing disk performance. Other technical task involves Managing Users, Computers, and Groups, Managing and Maintaining Access to Resources, Managing and Maintaining a Server Environment, and Managing and Implementing Disaster Recovery. Study guides for this concept are widely available. It is best that you read about them.
2. Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure. The focus of this concept is networking and the internet. For this concept, the examinee should read about managing and maintaining IP addresses, Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining Network Security, and Maintaining a Network Infrastructure. All these are important because a Systems Administrator should be adept in handling problems in relation to networking and internet.
3. Operating systems are also one of the key concepts in the MCITP certification Exam. In order to pass this category the examinee should read and focus one of the following topics: Configuring Windows 7, Configuring Windows Vista Client, and Installing, Configuring and Administering Windows XP Professional. There is no need to study all the operating systems, the examinee only has to pick one OS and focus on that OS.

 

Earning a Microsoft Certification helps validate your proven experience and knowledge in using Microsoft products and solutions. Designed to be relevant in today’s rapidly changing IT marketplace, Microsoft Certifications help you utilize evolving technologies, fine-tune your troubleshooting skills, and improve your job satisfaction.

 

Whether you are new to technology, changing jobs, or a seasoned IT professional, becoming certified demonstrates to customers, peers, and employers that you are committed to advancing your skills and taking on greater challenges. In addition, certification provides you with access to exclusive Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) resources and benefits, including opportunities to connect with a vast, global network of MCPs.

 

If your preparing for career change and looking for MCITP Training the best online training provider that provide the all the and complete MCTS certification exams training in just one package, certkingdom self study training kits, save your money on bootcamps, training institutes, It’s also save your traveling and time. All training materials are “Guaranteed” to pass your exams and get you certified on the fist attempt, due to best training they become no1 site 2009 & 2010.
In addition I recommend Certkingdom.com is best and No1 site of 2008 which provide the complete Windows Server 2003 certified professionals training, Microsoft MCITP, Microsoft MCTS, Cisco CCNA, Cisco CCIE, CompTIA A+, IBM, Citrix, PMP, ISC, and lots more online training self study kits, saving your time and money on all those expensive bootcamps, conventional training institutes where you have take admission pay fees first and if you don’t want to continue no refunds no transfer to any other training course, If you planed to take CCNA or specialization in MCSE 2003 all the process starts again; as for getting online training can be much beneficial and you don’t need to take for fill any from to switch your training on any desire certification.

Microsoft shuts down malware-friendly Autorun

Written by admin
April 29th, 2011

Microsoft has finally disabled the feature in older Windows versions that helped spread worms like Conficker

Microsoft has, at long last, put the brakes on the notoriously exploitable Autorun feature found in older versions of Windows. Arguably synonymous with “autoinfect,” the Autorun feature is directly responsible for helping propagate worms by giving bad guys a way to easily spread malware via USB devices.

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Autorun works by automatically executing code embedded in autorun.inf files on USB devices and other portable media. The change to Autorun, pushed out Tuesday among an array of security patches, disables Autorun via Windows Upate. Disabling the feature previously required manually tweaking the registry or applying a roundabout fix.

The update affects Windows Server 2008 and pre-Windows 7 versions of the desktop OS. Windows 7 comes with Autorun pre-disabled.

Importantly, the change does not affect the behavior of autoplay, which automatically executes the code on CDs and DVDs. Microsoft offer website guidance on its on how to disable that feature.

Microsoft shuts down malware-friendly Autorun

Written by admin
April 29th, 2011

Microsoft has finally disabled the feature in older Windows versions that helped spread worms like Conficker

Microsoft has, at long last, put the brakes on the notoriously exploitable Autorun feature found in older versions of Windows. Arguably synonymous with “autoinfect,” the Autorun feature is directly responsible for helping propagate worms by giving bad guys a way to easily spread malware via USB devices.

 

Best Microsoft MCTS Training – Microsoft MCITP Training at Certkingdom.com

 

Autorun works by automatically executing code embedded in autorun.inf files on USB devices and other portable media. The change to Autorun, pushed out Tuesday among an array of security patches, disables Autorun via Windows Upate. Disabling the feature previously required manually tweaking the registry or applying a roundabout fix.

The update affects Windows Server 2008 and pre-Windows 7 versions of the desktop OS. Windows 7 comes with Autorun pre-disabled.

Importantly, the change does not affect the behavior of autoplay, which automatically executes the code on CDs and DVDs. Microsoft offer website guidance on its on how to disable that feature.

Nokia lays out serious risks in Microsoft deal

Written by admin
April 29th, 2011

In a government filing, Nokia describes the many threats it faces as part of its agreement to use Windows Phone
In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, Nokia laid out the threats it faces as part of its planned deal with Microsoft.

 

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There are many, according to Nokia. Some have already been identified by critics of the agreement, under which Nokia will phase out use of its Symbian operating system in favor of Microsoft’s Windows Phone software. Publicly held companies routinely disclose all the possible risks of their businesses to shareholders.

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The immaturity of that software, just released in phones in November, is one serious risk, Nokia said.

“The Windows Phone platform is a very recent, largely unproven addition to the market focused solely on high-end smartphones with currently very low adoption and consumer awareness relative to the Android and Apple platforms, and the proposed Microsoft partnership may not succeed in developing it into a sufficiently broad competitive smartphone platform,” Nokia wrote in the filing.

While the companies have signed a “non-binding term sheet,” they still have to negotiate the final contract, a process that might take longer than expected or might not happen at all, Nokia warned.

By choosing Windows Phone, Nokia may forgo more competitive alternatives that would let its phones reach greater and faster acceptance in the market, it said.

Also, the transition to Windows Phone might take too long to allow Nokia to compete, given the ongoing development of other platforms, Nokia said.

In the same filing, Nokia said it expects to take two years to make the transition to Windows Phone as its primary platform. During that time, it will continue to support Symbian in the hopes of transitioning the installed base of 200 million Symbian owners to Nokia Windows phones, Nokia said. It reiterated its hopes of selling an additional 150 million Symbian phones in future years.

Nokia pointed to other threats as well, such as the danger that the deal could erode its brand identity in areas such as China, where it is quite strong, and fail to enhance the brand in areas such as the U.S., where it is currently weak.

Another challenge will be building a profitable business model around a platform like Windows Phone, for which Nokia must pay royalties, Nokia said. While Symbian is a royalty-free operating system, it didn’t come without significant costs to Nokia, which spent more than $400 million in 2008 to buy the half of the Symbian company that it didn’t already own.

In the filing, Nokia also warned about the challenges it faces internally as it implements the new plan for Windows Mobile. For example, it may not be able to change its mode of working or culture to work effectively with Microsoft, the company said. Because Nokia anticipates laying off a large number of workers, the remaining employees may lose motivation, energy, and focus, thus reducing their productivity, Nokia said.

Because of all of the uncertainty resulting from the proposed deal, the company said it will not provide annual targets for 2011, although it expects its devices business to grow faster than the market.

It did not further elaborate on the precise amount of money that Microsoft will contribute to Nokia. In February, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said that Microsoft would pay Nokia billions of dollars as part of the deal over an unspecified time.

10 Strategies Microsoft Should Follow in 2010

Written by admin
April 27th, 2011

Table of Contents:
1. 10 Strategies Microsoft Should Follow in 2010
2. Microsoft Needs to Keep True to the Enterprise

News Analysis: Microsoft had a relatively successful year. But 2009 is nearly history and Microsoft must look ahead to 2010. Google and Apple will remain its biggest competitive challenges. However, Microsoft would be wise to avoid unhealthy obsessions about the competition. Here is a look at 10 strategies Microsoft should follow in the new year.

 


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10 Strategies Microsoft Should Follow in 2010

Now that 2009 is coming to a close, it’s time for Microsoft to look ahead to 2010. The software giant will be met with several challenges during the year. It will need to face off against Google, an increasingly disconcerting competitor that seems to have its sights set on Redmond.

It also needs to take on Apple, which has enjoyed unfettered growth in the mobile space. It gets even worse when one considers that Microsoft also needs to worry about regulators that have major problems with the strategies Microsoft follows. Needless to say, it will be a tough year for Microsoft.

That’s why Microsoft needs to be smart about the moves it makes. It can’t simply expect to maintain status quo by offering services and solutions that don’t appeal to user desire. It also can’t expect to run roughshod over the market without the European Union having a few things to say about it. So as Microsoft prepares for the challenges that it will face in 2010, it’s important that it has the right strategies in place to ensure it will be successful.

We have 10 strategies Microsoft should follow in 2010.

Let’s take a look.

1. Drastically improve Windows Mobile

It’s not enough for Microsoft to simply address the problems users have with Windows Mobile. The company needs to drastically improve its mobile OS if it even wants to stay relevant in the space. Right now, Windows Mobile is little more than an “also-ran.” It lacks multitouch support, it has none of the features users are looking for in next-gen offerings today, and the number of apps available to the platform pale in comparison to anything Apple offers. Windows Mobile is in desperate need of improvement.

2. Leverage Bing

If Microsoft wants to be successful online, it needs to do a better job of leveraging Bing. In 2010, the company must integrate Bing into just about everything it does. Bing Search should be in Windows Mobile. It should become a key component in Windows 7. It should especially find its way into Microsoft’s many online services. Bing is the centerpiece of Microsoft’s online strategy. It must be leveraged.

3. Adhere to the EU’s demands

The European Union has a major problem with Microsoft. It believes that the company is engaging in practices that the governing body finds unacceptable. When Microsoft made the deal to offer users the opportunity to download up to 12 different browsers, it was the smart play for the software giant. It can’t spend 2010 trying to find ways around that agreement. Microsoft needs to do what the EU wants and move on with other strategies.

4. Get to work on Azure

It’s unbelievable that Microsoft would allow Google to be the first company to move into the online-operating-system space. As a software firm, most expected Microsoft to lead the way to the Web. It hasn’t. That needs to change in 2010. The company needs to work hard on Azure and get it to market as quickly as possible. It can’t allow Google to steal the online-OS spotlight. Microsoft could easily find itself trying to catch up to Google, rather than leading it.

Microsoft Amalga data-aggregation software and CSC’s practice management will allow 9.4 million people to access Chicago’s health-information network.

Microsoft, IT integrator and cloud-service provider CSC, and health-data-exchange software developer HealthUnity have announced they will contribute the technology and practice management for the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council’s MetroChicago Health Information Network.

 

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Founded in 1935, MCHC is a membership and service association of more than 150 hospitals and health care organizations in the greater metropolitan Chicago area.

Serving 9.4 million people, 66 hospitals and major outpatient care organizations, the HIE (health-information exchange) is expected to be the largest metropolitan health-data exchange in the United States. HIEs enable physicians to view and share EHRs (electronic health records) from various databases.

“The HIE will be one of the largest in the country and will allow our region’s health care market to improve efficiency by creating a network where health information flows with the patient, no matter where care is received,” Mary Anne Kelly, vice president of MCHC, said in a statement.

Local Chicago hospitals have been enthusiastic about the project, according to Kelly.

“Seventy percent of hospitals in the Chicago metro area have already become founding members of the HIE, which is a testament to area health care organizations’ stalwart commitment to improving quality and patient safety,” Kelly said.

Like the physician data network Microsoft recently announced for Hawaii, the Chicago HIE, announced April 25, will have the Microsoft Amalga data-aggregation platform at its core.

Amalga allows doctors to see a unified view of a patient’s medical history from various providers’ databases at the time of care. The software is used to create HIEs to share EHRs.

“As the industry continues to focus on delivering value—better care at the same, or lower, costs—the flow of data across organizational boundaries and the ability to analyze and report on data across patient populations are increasingly important,” Peter Neupert, corporate vice president of the health-solutions group at Microsoft, said in a statement. “MCHC is leading its health care provider members to adopt technologies that can help drive value throughout the care-delivery process, enabling a healthier population.”

The data-analysis capabilities of Amalga will be key to providing the information needed to improving continuity of patient care, Robert Reese, CSC’s North America partner and managing director for health care delivery, told eWEEK.

CSC will manage the day-to-day operations of the HIE, including hosting, tech support, patient privacy and proprietary security capabilities. In addition, CSC will build on its experience with the New England Health Exchange network.

Meanwhile, with its document exchange software, HIE software provider HealthUnity will be the “traffic controller” for the data, Reese said.

The goal of the project is to allow doctors to better coordinate care by sharing test results and information on condition, medication and allergies from other providers within the region. Having this information could save lives in a medical emergency when patients may not be able to share this information themselves.

With the Chicago HIE, providers will also be able to monitor emerging outbreaks of influenza or other diseases.

Participating organizations rather than the government will fund the HIE, according to Microsoft.

Other HIEs have been set up recently by GE Healthcare in Pennsylvania, Harris in Florida and Hewlett-Packard in Texas.

Microsoft has released the first platform preview for Internet Explorer 10, less than a month after the launch its much-hyped Internet Explorer 9 browser.

 

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The technology giant unveiled IE10 earlier today at its Mix11 developer conference in Las Vegas. The preview, which is now available for download, isn’t a reinvention of the browser (Microsoft’s goal with IE9), but rather a continuation of the work it did in hardware acceleration, HTML5 and CSS3.

“IE10 builds on full hardware acceleration and continues our focus on site-ready Web-standards,” said Dean Hachamovitch, IE’s corporate vice president, in an announcement. “This combination enables developers to deliver the best performance for their customers on Windows while using the same, Web-standard markup across browsers.”

Hachamovitch said that Microsoft is only three weeks into IE10′s development, but it’s already comfortable showing off what it has built so far. On stage at the Mix11 conference, he demonstrated some of its capabilities against Google’s Chrome browser and revealed that IE10 will include additional support for CSS3, including Gradients and the Flexible Box layout. Additional IE10 previews will be rolling out every eight to 12 weeks.

Microsoft released IE9 on March 14 after 40 million downloads during its beta. IE9 has been well received: At its peak, IE9 was downloaded 27 times per second. Still, Microsoft knew that it couldn’t rest on its laurels. Mozilla’s Firefox 4 browser was downloaded 5,000 times per minute during its first day of availability, and Google Chrome is already at version 11.