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July 29, 2002

T-Mobile May be Merged Out of Existence Before It Launches

Martin O'Donnell pointed out this article that appeared Saturday in The New York Times that says VoiceStream, aka T-Mobile, may sell itself to Cingular or AT&T Wireless before too long. This is the result of the restructuring of Deutsche Telekom taking place in Germany at this writing.


Among the jucier quotes in this article, a Morningstar analyst said, "VoiceStream is gone.... Without question, you cannot be the sixth player. It's bad enough being third, fourth, or fifth." Also, "Nobody got rid of {ex-Telekom CEO Ronn} Sommer to just leave things the way they were."

Western Digital Releases 200 Gigabyte 7200 RPM ATA Drive

CNET News.com reports that Western Digital is now shipping a 200 Gigabyte 7200 RPM hard disk. These drives require a new version of the ATA interface and are expected to cost $399 at retail.


This is an interesting development if someone produces a RAID controller compatible with it. Imagine the network attached storage (NAT) possibilities if three or more of these drives are hooked up in a RAID 5 configuration.

July 27, 2002

Utah CIO on Why OpenSource is a Tough Sell to Governments

Phil Windley, the Chief Information Officer of the State of Utah, writes a weblog called Windley's Enterprise Computing Weblog. Earlier this week, he posted an article called Barriers to OpenSource in Government that cites three categories of obstacles to the adoption of OpenSource software by government. They are:


  • technical issues,
  • perception issues, and
  • cultural issues.

The article itself gets down to more specific issues than that. It's very interesting because these are not just his perspectives, but the consensus perspectives of a panel of government IT people at the OSCON Conference in San Diego.

July 26, 2002

Telefonica is First European Telecom To Scale Back Cellular Telephone Operations

In an article called Telecom Giants Are Retrenching in Europe as Finances Wither, The New York Times reports that Telefonica has frozen its cellular operations in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. The company plans to retrench so that it can focus on its core operations in Spain and Latin America.


Telefonica's operations in Germany are a joint venture with Finnish cellular equipment company Sonera that is called Group 3G. The New York Times says that these companies have agreed to abandon that venture entirely.


This development may prove to be the beginning of a massive consolidation of mobile phone services throughout Europe and North America. The article points out asset sales that France Telecom and BT Group PLC, a company that used to be called British Telecom.

CNET Suggests Possible Apple/Sun Alliance for StarOffice

CNET News.com is reporting that Sun Microsystems and Apple Computer are collaborating on a version of StarOffice for OS X. Such a product would provide competition for Microsoft Office v.X.


The article touches briefly on the dispute between Microsoft and Apple over a legal agreement they struck several years ago when Steve Jobs returned to Apple as CEO. This agreement resulted in the development of Microsoft Office v.X, a product with a number of innovative features that has never sold as well as Microsoft and Apple originally expected.


Microsoft has publicly criticized Apple for its tepid marketing of Microsoft Office v.X. Meanwhile, Apple has succeeded in selling an increasing number of Macintosh computers to people who use them for multimedia creation and videography, rather than as general-purpose office computers.


Sun has a unique perspective on this. A senior Sun executive is quoted in the article as saying, "I don't want to sell StarOffice for OS X.... I want Apple to bundle it. I'll give them the code. I'd love it if I could get the team at Apple to do joint development and they distribute it at no cost--that it's their product. Nobody makes a product more beautiful on Apple than Apple."

Rebuilding on Ground Zero is Pivotal to NYC Regional Economy

Martin O'Donnell pointed out an op/ed piece that appeared in today's New York Times by Richard Florida, a professor of economic development at Carnegie Mellon University. In the piece, Dr. Florida suggests that reconstruction on Ground Zero will play a key role in the economic evolution of the Metropolitan New York area.


{The Metropolitan New York} economy is fundamentally a creative economy. Growth derives from the endless creation of new firms, new industries and new ways of doing things.... {The} most sensible overall planning approach is to help Lower Manhattan become what it is becoming anyway a multifaceted creative hub rather than to indulge in economic overplanning or try to micromanage the future....


The fear that Lower Manhattan is losing its status as a center of the financial industry, for example, is not new and should not be allowed to drive planning. Well before Sept. 11, financial-sector activity was diffusing away from Wall Street, as when Goldman Sachs & Company decided to move many operations to a new building across the Hudson River. But the Street isn't dead. If it were, firms would be moving to Austin or Taipei, not New Jersey.


This is a very thought-provoking piece and points to different issues than the aesthetics that have caused the bickering over the alternative master plans for redevelopment.

Happy System Administrator Appreciation Day!

Today is System Administrator Appreciation Day. This is, "A special day, once a year, to acknowledge the worthiness and appreciation of the person... who really keeps the wheels of your company turning." The idea of a system administrator's day has received a surprising amount of press, including likely sources such as Computerworld and Infoworld, and unlikely sources like BBC News.


The System Administrator Appreciation Day Web Site includes system administrator job descriptions (in case you didn't know that the people who run your network or your web server are system administrators) and gift ideas. We like the idea of taking your system administrator to lunch, but, we're biased....

July 25, 2002

NY Times Article Tries to Associate Google with Loss of Privacy

A truly bizarre article was published in today's New York Times called Net Users Try to Elude Google Grasp. The reporter who wrote it found several people who consider themselves victims of some loss of privacy because Google indexed and archived material that they had published on their own web sites. The author also found a person who was concerned that petitions that he had signed in college had shown up on the Internet with his name attached. Another person was concerned about the fact that he was mistaken for someone with the same name.


Most people we know are glad to see that the information they post on the Internet shows up through search engines. A lot of people have found jobs by posting their resumes to a web site and getting lucky because their future employer searched for a part of their skill set.


This article won't change how the Internet works, but it helps explain some of the weird expectations people have of how it should work.

July 24, 2002

John Rigas and Two of His Sons Indicted on Federal Fraud Charges

Dave Aiello wrote, "Reuters is reporting that John Rigas, two of his sons, and two business associates were arrested after being indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on securities fraud charges in connection with the bankruptcy of Adelphia Communications. Separately, The Security and Exchange Commission also filed a civil suit against the company, the five former Adelphia executives, and a fourth member of the Rigas family."


"John Rigas, a pioneer in the cable industry and a dedicated supporter of the communities in which he lives, violated a cardinal rule of business by running the company he founded like a fiefdom. None of the good that Rigas has done in his life justifies the way he has conducted himself. He may not be guilty of everything that the Government alleges, but he has obviously lived beyond his means for a long time, and this has resulted in the destruction of other people's assets."

July 23, 2002

Corante Microcontent Publishes Comprehensive Review of Weblog Tools

In one of the longest, most comprehensive surveys we've seen, Microcontent News has published a Blogging Software Roundup. This article identifies 28 different weblog publishing solutions, and fits all of them into a sort of weblog publishing taxonomy.


It's hard to believe that there are so many different web services, software products, and OpenSource solutions that can be used to produce a weblog. We recommend this report to anyone trying to understand the weblog community from a technical perspective.

Fast-enough, easy-to-use economical eMac

ZDNet comments on the eMac While the flat panel iMac has many excellences, it is relatively expensive for students or undemanding home users. The new eMac provides an attractive, adequately speedy, easy-to-use PC without the hefty price tag of the iMac.

Although the eMac is bulkier and not any faster than the iMac, it has a larger display which is worthwhile for students and consumers.

July 22, 2002

PerlMonks Search Alternative

One of the issues with using PerlMonks recently is the intermittent availability and sometimes questionable result quality of the PerlMonks Super Search. In attempting to use SuperSearch over the weekend, we noticed the following addition to the instructions on that page:


There are certainly some serious issues with this new search technique (including generating "Server Error"s -- no need to report those). You might be happier using Google's advanced search against perlmonks.thepen.com.

It turns out that perlmonks.thepen.com is a static version of the PerlMonks web site. It was a good idea to build this parallel site because PerlMonks itself is not very search engine friendly. This is because of the high percentage of dynamically-generated content on the site.

July 20, 2002

Major New Version of Perl Released

On Thursday, a major new version of Perl was released. The new version is 5.8.0, and it includes the following improvements:


  • better Unicode support
  • a new threads implementation, and
  • a new Input/Output layer

The release notes and links to the download mirrors are located on dev.perl.org.

July 19, 2002

Drudge Report: Limbaugh Crushing O'Reilly in Head-to-Head Competition

The Drudge Report says Rush Limbaugh remains dominant in markets where his program is opposite Bill O'Reilly's radio program, The Radio Factor. According to the article, in Chicago "Limbaugh on WLS hit a 6.8 share... O'Reilly on WAIT pulled a {0.3}...." In Los Angeles after six weeks of head-to-head competition, "Limbaugh pulled a 4.5 share... on KFI to O'Reilly's KABC 1.8...."


O'Reilly doesn't go up against Limbaugh in New York, but he has reportedly lost 0.2 rating points compared to the previous occupant of the time slot, Bob Grant, who continues on WOR at a new time.

VoiceStream Rebranding Itself as T-Mobile

Martin O'Donnell pointed out that VoiceStream has begun to rebrand itself as T-Mobile in the United States. T-Mobile is the brand name that Deutsche Telekom uses for mobile communications worldwide.


Telekom chose California and Nevada as the first markets in which to perform the name change. This is easy for them because VoiceStream has not been present in those markets up to now. The company says that it will phase in the name T-Mobile on a market-by-market basis in July and August.


CTDATA buys some mobile telephone services from VoiceStream. We have noticed that the names VoiceStream and T-Mobile have appeared jointly on bills in the Northeast U.S. for the past couple of months. No indication of any marketing offensive yet, however.

Fair Use Advocates Can't Get a Word in at Commerce Department Meeting

On Wednesday, Newsforge reported on the difficulties Fair Use and Open Source advocates had in getting an opportunity to speak at a U.S. Commerce Department public hearing on Digital Rights Management.


The workshop did have its moments of controversy within the invited ranks, with representatives from Phillips Electronics and IBM saying the average consumer was under-represented in the discussion. When Bond was asking panelists what government can do at this point, digitalconsumer.com's Spencer said: "The role of government is to make sure there's consumer representation. I think we need to have more consumer groups at the table."

It wasn't that they didn't try. According to the article, "Fair use advocate Seth Johnson... stood in the back of the 100-seat room with his hand up for two hours, but Bond never acknowledged him."

Economist: The Great Telecom Crash

The cover story of the July 20 edition of The Economist is The Great Telecom Crash. It calls the bankruptcy of Worldcom, Global Crossing, 360networks, etc., "ten times bigger than the better-known dotcom crash" and says that "the rise and fall of telecoms may indeed qualify as the largest bubble in history".


We will probably find that the deployment of multiple independent fiberoptic networks by competing companies across North America, Europe, and Asia, will be similar to the initial overbuilding of railroads in the 19th century:


  • many early investors will lose/have lost their shirts,
  • consolidation will render the competitive marketplace unrecognizable compared to what it has been, and
  • it will take a long time for the world to soak up all of the excess network capacity.

Unsurprisingly, The Economist concludes that "The likely winners, it is already clear, are the former 'Baby Bells' in America and the former monopoly incumbents in Europe. Because they own the 'last mile' of the network that runs into homes and offices, these operators have a firm grip on their customers and solid revenues."

July 18, 2002

German Web Site Provides Comparison of Laptop Manufacturers' Linux Compatibility

We saw an article on Slashdot that points out a comparison of laptop manufacturers support for and compatibility with Linux. This analysis was done by MobiliX, and they've done a fine job. For example, they make the following accurate comments about Dell Computer:


In the beginning of 2000 DELL has announced "...the Latitude CPX and the Inspiron 7500, come with Red Hat Linux 6.1 and are certified by Linuxcare". This project seems silently gone, though DELL announces Linux laptops it doesn't seem to deliver them (at least in Germany). But they offer Linux solutions on... Latitude and Inspiron notebooks via DELL's Custom Factory Install....

Anytime someone makes a serious effort at this sort of analysis, we try to point it out. Sadly, Linux support on laptops has always been a moving target.

Microsoft CEO Says Windows No Longer the Low Cost Solution for IT

Earlier this week, VarBusiness published an account of a speech that Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, gave at the Fusion 2000 conference. According to the article, Ballmer thinks Windows is no longer the lowest cost solution for corporate IT departments. Ballmer is quoted as having said:


We have prided ourselves on always being the cheapest guy on the block--we were going to be higher volume and lower priced than anybody else out there....


One issue we have now, a unique competitor, is Linux. We haven't figured out how to be lower priced than Linux....


We are actually having to learn how to say, "We may have a high price on this one, but look at the additional value and how that value actually leads to a lower cost of ownership despite the fact that our price may be higher".


Maybe we should stop being amazed that a Microsoft executive is capable of telling the unvarnished truth. We think everyone in the IT market could deal with Microsoft if they presented their offerings as "more expensive but worth it". Then, all they have to do is deliver on the proposition.

Microsoft to Sell Active Directory Separately from Server OSes

CNET News.com reports that Microsoft has decided to sell Active Directory separately from its Windows server operating systems. This is an interesting development, because they have decided to position Active Directory squarely against competing offerings from Novell and Sun Microsystems.


It would be really interesting if they decided to make Active Directory available as executables for other vendors operating systems. Could you imagine running Active Directory services on Solaris?

July 17, 2002

Forbes Says Linux is Not Just for Geeks Anymore

Whenever a magazine that is widely read by the business elite publishes an article about Linux, it's important to read it. This week, Forbes Magazine is running an article called Linux is Not Just For Geeks Anymore. The article says that Lehman Brothers "expects to save more than $10 million a year within 18 months, by using Linux" to replace servers running Solaris from Sun Microsystems.


The strategy is to replace Solaris servers only on applications that are proven to run well under Linux. Presumably, that would mean applications like web and email servers. One application the article specifically says that Lehman will not be running on Linux is enterprise databases.

Six Different Proposals Unveiled for Redevelopment of WTC Site

The New York Times reports that The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation unveiled six different proposals for the redevelopment of Ground Zero. A briefing on the development proposals took place at Federal Hall, across the street from The New York Stock Exchange, yesterday.


The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey specified in its requirements that the plans must contain sufficient retail and commercial space to entirely replace the space that was destroyed in the terrorist attack. This is why the proposals all include multiple large office buildings.

NJ Residents Apparently Fear of Nuclear Accident Less Than NY Neighbors

The New York Times reports in today's edition that New Jersey residents seem to fear nuclear accident less than people in neighboring states like New York and Connecticut. The article points out that New Jersey has four nuclear reactors: one in Forked River, south of Toms River, and three in Lower Alloways Creek Township, southeast of Wilmington, DE.


How many New Jersey residents even know where Lower Alloways Creek Township is? It's hard to find on Mapquest-- you have to look for a place name within it, like Hancock's Bridge.


While we are not saying that New Jerseyans should fear a nuclear accident in this state, it's probably a good idea to take this opportunity to educate ourselves as to the location of these power plants in case an accident ever did take place.

July 16, 2002

Fast Company on the Trials and Tribulations of TiVo

In the August issue of Fast Company, Scott Kirsner wrote an article called Can TiVo Go Prime Time? It's another in the endless series of articles asking if TiVo can ever really become a profitable free-standing business by making money solely on royalties from manufacturer's of TiVo-enabled personal video recorders and from TiVo service fees.


There's a lot of good information in this article, including the fact that there are currently about 425,000 TiVo subscribers, and the CEO sees the business generating "significant free cash flow" when it hits 1 million subscribers.

July 15, 2002

Yahoo! Mail Substituting Entire English Words in HTML Messages as a Security Measure

When we first read about this on Slashdot, we thought it might be an April Fool's Joke three and a half months late. But, believe it or not, Yahoo! Mail is changing the text of email messages sent to its subscribers in the HTML format. Need To Know, a UK-based web site, says:


In a fantastically clumsy attempt to prevent cross-site scripting attacks, the free e-mail wing of the sprawling giant has long been replacing complete English words in the text of HTML mail sent to its users. Mention "mocha" in an HTML mail to a friend with a yahoo.com account, and your choice in coffee will be silently switched to "espresso"....

According to the document containing the full list of automagic Yahoo! replacements, "Yahoo's hack doesn't respect word boundaries: so evaluate would become
reviewuate, retrieval becomes retrireview."


Hey, we never said that the developers at CTDATA were the greatest programmers in the world, but even the regular expressions we write in our 0.1 code are less greedy than this. Maybe we should come up with a topic for "How Not to Do" something. Anybody got an idea for a "worst practices" icon?

MSN Just Says No to Supporting Customers with LANs in their Homes

Martin O'Donnell pointed out an article from The Seattle Times where Paul Andrews documents the procedure MSN uses to systematically deny its users of technical support when it learns that those users also have a Local Area Network installed in their homes. The time has come for mainstream ISPs like MSN to start dealing with reality and work with customers who have more than a single PC setup at home.


It's unrealistic to expect everyone who might have the technical wherewithal to install more than one PC and a WiFi network in their home to also be good at troubleshooting things like PPP configurations. People shouldn't be expected to disconnect everything in their home and isolate a single PC whenever they have internet access questions.

July 13, 2002

Dave Winer Remembers a Conversation with Gene Kan

Over on Scripting News, Dave Winer remembers a discussion he had with Gene Kan on this date in the Year 2000. Gene Kan was one of the leading figures in the Gnutella community who was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound earlier this week in Belmont, CA, near San Francisco. Winer said:


People have all kinds of theories about why {Kan} shot himself, I don't think it had anything to do with disappointment. Lots of people go through that, no one gets through life without lots of disappointment.... Depression is a disorder. Sometimes when the chemicals in your bloodstream are wrong they make you feel worthless. When that happens it can be hard to stay in the game, remembering that such feelings often pass, pretty quickly. At age 25, lots of people don't know that. It's a tough time of life....

Apple Closes Security Hole in OS X Updater

Martin O'Donnell pointed out a CNET News.com report from several days ago that said Russell Harding had posted details on how to fool Apple's OS X SoftwareUpdate feature into downloading an operating system patch that contains a backdoor. Earlier today, Slashdot reported that Apple had closed that hole with an updated SoftwareUpdate program. The article on Slashdot characterizes Apple's response as quick, and says that the SoftwareUpdate program now checks for valid cryptographic signatures.


RedHat's Red Hat Network, which performs a similar OS management and update functions for Linux, has verified cryptographic signatures for a long time.

July 12, 2002

Hackers Substitute Bogus Stories for Real Ones on USA Today Web Site

The San Jose Mercury-News reports that hackers replaced some stories on the USA Today Web Site on Thursday night, forcing the company to shut down its web site for about three hours. USAtoday.com reportedly has 9 million unique readers per month, making it one of the most visited web sites on the Internet.


The false articles that were inserted on the web site included reports that Israel was under missile attack, that the Bush Administration had appointed a propaganda minister, and that the Holy See had denounced the Bible as an April Fools Joke. All of the bogus stories were attributed to the Associated Press.

New Jersey to Tax E-ZPass Users $12 Per Year

The New York Times reports that Governor McGreevey has decided to put a $1 per month surcharge on E-ZPass accounts that are managed by the New Jersey E-ZPass Consortium. This is a bizarre situation because many New Jersey residents who are E-ZPass users are registered with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the New York State Thruway Authority, or another agency from a bordering state. E-ZPass customers registered with agencies other than the New Jersey E-ZPass Consortium will not be subject to the $1 per month fee, even if they are New Jersey residents.


The New York Times article says, "The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority charges an initial $27 for the plastic transponder, or tag, from its members...." We wonder what would be wrong with a similar initial fee for new E-ZPass customers in New Jersey? If the point of this new fee is to eliminate the reported $469 million debt, why not assess each new user once and be done with it?

Tour de France Passed Through Perl During Stage 2

Our friends over at use.perl.org reported that The Tour de France passed through Perl, Germany during Stage 2. Apparently, Perl is a village in Saarland near the border with Luxembourg and France. Merijn Boeren, a fellow Perl developer, visited Perl a couple of years ago, and got several good pictures of the signs at the outskirts of the village.


Those of you who read CTDATA regularly know that some of us have a big interest in Perl and cycling. This story is just too much of a coincidence to let pass.

July 11, 2002

AAHA Officiating Program Relaunched as a Slash Site

We're pleased to announce that The Atlantic District Officiating Program Web Site (also known as AAHArefs) has been relaunched as a Slash-based web site. This will allow content to be added to the web site more quickly. It will also allow the site functionality to be enhanced as CTDATA improves its other web sites.

July 1, 2002

CTDATA Contact Information

On July 1, 2002, CTDATA moved its main office to East Windsor, NJ. Our new contact information is shown below:


Chatham Township Data Corporation

P.O. Box 1057

Hightstown, NJ 08520-1057


Voice: 609-918-9650

Fax: 609-918-9681

Dave Aiello, CTDATA's president, can be reached by email at dave_aiello at ctdata.com. (This email address was slightly modified to limit its usefulness to spammers.)

http://www.ctdata.com/


Chatham Township Data Corporation is a New Jersey Corporation with its headquarters in East Windsor, NJ. Its internet servers are co-located in Seattle, WA.