Powerset vs. Google: Get ready to tumble

Friday, February 9, 2007
Powerset vs. Google: Get ready to tumble
Business 2.0 Beta
Despite a great deal of hype over its licensing deal with Xerox’s PARC, Owen Thomas isn’t so sure a search engine startup has what it takes. “Powerset is replaying Google’s initial strategy – launching a search engine with a disruptive technology when all the other players have settled on an approach that they think works well enough. But unlike Google in its early days, Powerset is being way too noisy about what it’s up to,” he writes. “And a great search technology is nothing without lots of users. What Google mastered was the art of analyzing data about how users searched to determine which algorithms worked and which ones didn’t. And even today, it’s constantly tweaking its search results to improve them, based on years of data about millions of users. Without a game plan to match Google’s user base, I don’t see how Powerset can possibly leapfrog Google.”

Red Hat never quite fit the JBoss founder
Content Log

After news breaks that Marc Fleury will not be staying on at Red Hat, John Newton offers an inside scoop. “There was clearly a culture clash between Marc and Red Hat that could not last. Someone said that he is DJ’ing in clubs in Atlanta right now. No doubt his next venture will have something to do with Web 2.0,” he writes. “It was a coincidence that I was just speaking with Bob Bickel, JBoss’s VP of Strategy and Marc’s erstwhile collaborator at JBoss. Bob was helping out with some strategy issues that we have and it’s good to be able to tap into the experience of both Bob and Marc. Bob left the software industry entirely and is now training to become a high-school teacher.”

Sun can’t have it both ways with GPLv3
VMUnix Blues

The company apparently likes what it sees with the latest open source licence, but Mark Mayo forsees dire consequences for any attempt at “forking” it. “The fact that they’ve actually framed the entire GPLv3 debate under the context of dual-licensing, like it’s a given? Well, that literally sent a chill down my spine,” he writes. “Go read the first page of responses on the forum. You can smell the fear. Fear that this isn’t a community project afterall. Fear that we’ve been betrayed. Fear that Sun actually thinks that what works for a development model like MySQL would work for OpenSolaris. Fear of what that implies for the community. Rational or not, these types of thoughts are what emerge once licensing wars start to erupt. I’ve seen these holy wars before. Many have. They never end well.”

Yahoo! Pipes brings content filtering to a new level
What’s Next?

The search engine’s tool for combining and aggregating feeds is getting some rave reviews, including one by Roo Reynolds. “Ireally love the system already, and am looking forward to making some cool things with it,” Roo writes. “What gripes, you ask? Well, for one thing to populate a for-each module I have to drop the other module into it directly from the side bar; it doesn’t work if you drag them in from your workspace. A small thing, and it only took me 30 seconds to figure it out, but it’s not obvious. It’s a compliment to the system really, and when something is this close to being perfect a couple of tiny flaws make you notice how good it really is.”

Thursday, February 8, 2007
RSA focusing on data, rather than network security
Bakman’s Blog
As the conference in San Fransisco continues, Alex Bakman find himself a bit overwhelmed. “It is truly solution overload. It is hard for me to see how a security professional can understand what all these products do, especially when a lot of vendors are offering a two-inch solution for a problem that’s two miles wide,” he writes. “Securing an IT infrastructure is a multi-dimensional problem that no one company can solve. On the other hand, no one can possibly be successful securing their enterprise if they have to piece dozens of solutions together. There will continue to be significant consolidation among security solution providers in attempt to bring more depth to security solution offerings.”

Hotmail by any other name would not have been as sweet
Inside Microsoft

Despite rumours it was changing the name of its free online message service to Windows Live Shift, Microsoft sticks with the original, Nathan Weinberg reports. “Hotmail is a hugely famous brand, a part of the internet’s history, but that isn’t the only reason I like the idea of keeping it,” he writes. “There have been a lot of complaints lately about the Windows Live branding, and associating the famous Hotmail brand with the Windows Live name, will clear up confusion, not just about email, but will help associate the entire platform with the old MSN platform, helping users make the link in their heads.”

You’re not just practicing oral hygiene — you’re innovating!
Research, Technology and Teamwork Blog

The director of HP’s Mobile and Media Systems Lab discusses how to get the best ideas out of a team. “If it strikes your passion, then you’ll think about it all the time and you’ll figure out any way to get it done. You won’t even see obstacles, as you’ll just push them aside as you work towards your goal. Also, you’ll not only think about your idea while you’re at work, but you’ll think about it when you’re brushing you teeth, and that’s when you’ll have the Eurekas that will move the project forward!” Susie Wee writes. “If I know that someone’s idea comes from a 20 year hobby that they’ve been spending their nights and weekends on or that it solves a long-time problem that they have been concerned about, then I’ll actually consider that as experience and passion that will roll into the project and increase its chance of success. And again, if it crosses the right level of passion then I know I’ll be getting those brain cycles as you’re brushing your teeth- another key element to success!”

Five ways to fix Google’s RSS application
901 AM

If the search engine wants to be a formidable competitor in this space it needs to make some changes, Curtiss Thompson suggests, including new story notifications. “Many software-based RSS aggregators allow for pop-up notifications to alert their user to news that was just published. Why couldn’t Google Reader do the same thing with their webware based RSS aggregator much in the way they do in Gmail with Gtalk IM notifications (though this would certainly require the ability of user customization),” he writes. “Furthermore many users want to see the integration of the Gmail and Google Reader services, as there are also two methods created to combine these two great services together. It would also seem a logical enough of a move for Google to create standalone Greader software application that does the same thing, but has the benefits that come with a software application.”

Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Three cheers for Job’s music manifesto
Download squad
Following the Apple CEO’s open letter on digital rights management (DRM), Grant Robertson offers an assessment. “Ok, so in points the letter is factually incorrect. It tends to over-simplify the DRM debate by discounting any open alternative. As a well-known and widely read enemy of DRM, I’ll take it,” he writes. “The simple fact is Steve has hopped on the bandwagon of industry figures proclaiming the death of DRM for music. Naysayers swore this day would never come and, they might have been right save for the constant downward pressure provided by groups like Defective By Design, music blogs of all stripes and genres as well as the actions of several European countries. I’m not at all convinced that Jobs’ changed stance comes from an altruistic place deep within his stylishly dressed torso but, all the same, I welcome him to the right side of the argument.”
Daring Fireball: You’ve got to read between the lines
Boing Boing: Let’s see if he means it
Don Dodge: For once, Gates and Jobs agree

The RSA Conference could beef up its own security
27B Stroke 6

Executives from Sunbelt Software demonstrated how easy it was to download adware from Zango and The Best Offers and by checking Google searches run by previous users. One should never trust a public kiosk computer, but at the RSA security conference, one expects the public computers will at least be locked down as well as the public library’s boxes,” Ryan Singel writes. “Seems the Windows XP boxes — supposedly protected by Sophos — were actually just Windows XP machines running with full administrative privileges — meaning any user could install whatever he might like — including malware and key loggers. The machines didn’t even have Sophos’s Anti-Virus installed — instead they used AVG Professional 7.5 (a perfectly good anti-virus program, but its made by Grisoft — not Sophos).”

Sun: Our ODF plug-in is better than their ODF plug-in

The company’s Simon Phipps announces a way to provide interoperabilty between the Open Document Format and MS Office. “We’ve done what Microsoft could and should have done in the first place instead of FUD-ing and fighting,” he writes. “We’ve used freely available open-source code to build seamless, intuitive support for ODF into MS Word. No unmaintainable XSLT. No funky, redundant additional menu items. No tortuous workflow designed to make users treat ODF as second class. No pre-requisite for the OOXML add-in to make it work. Just peer support for the industry-standard file format, using open source rather than building from scratch so the improvements that are made to OpenOffice.org lead to improvements in the plug in.”

Gmail access is no longer about who you know
Search Engine Land

The move shows a change of heart for the Web firm, according to Barry Schwartz. “At one point, Gmail invites were even selling on eBay for well over $250 a pop,” he writes. “In the middle of 2005, the system opened more widely, when Google allowed anyone in the US to get an invite by having an invitation code sent via SMS to their mobile phone. It now appears to be officially a public beta, which means you don’t need a Gmail invite or SMS code to gain access to your own Gmail account.”

Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Web 2.0 isn’t a toolset, it’s a mindset
A partnership between the Economist Intelligence Unit and a technology confererenc led to a research project on Web 2.0 adoption. Hadley Reynolds offers a preview of the results. “While blogs and wikis lead in terms of the attention they have gotten in the early going of the past couple of years, the strong interest in online communities and soliciting customer engagement in innovation anticipates a trend toward more open business models that in the end will be far more important than the technologies of user participation themselves,” she writes. “Real business value will be created by core network effects that wind up transforming elements of the way companies do business. So the theme becomes ‘it’s the network, stupid,’ not simply the tooling, however much of a change the tools themselves represent.”

Just because IT feels secure doesn’t mean it is
Scheier on Security

Prior to his talk at the RSA Conference in San Franisco, Bruce Schneier offers an excerpt from a new essay on security psychology. “The truth is that we’re not hopelessly bad at making security trade-offs. We are very well adapted to dealing with the security environment endemic to hominids living in small family groups on the highland plains of East Africa. It’s just that the environment in New York in 2006 is different from Kenya circa 100,000 BC. And so our feeling of security diverges from the reality of security, and we get things wrong,” he writes. “The essay examines particular brain heuristics, how they work and how they fail, in an attempt to explain why our feeling of security so often diverges from reality.”

Vista is the beginning of Microsoft’s market share-slide

It’s only been released to consumers for about a week, but Steven Hobson isn’t optimistic about the latest platform. “MS has always had a pretty screwed up way of versioning their OSes starting primarily with XP. With Vista though they have gone way overboard and are creating consumer confusion right across the board. This combined with their outrageous pricing schemes is causing even some of the diehard Window users to reconsider upgrading to Vista; or even leaving Windows behind for good,” he writes. “Microsoft may have finally gone too far with its pricing and versioning of Vista; to the point that for the first time I really believe that people are seriously looking at their alternatives. At this time I think that Linux is still in the average user limbo land whereas the Mac is something that is on many more people’s radar.”

Monday, February 5, 2007
If you only rent 10 movies this winter, rent these
Houston Chronicle’s Tech Blog
As Oscar season heats up, Dwight Silverman offers a list of must-sees for technology enthusiasts of all kinds. His picks include The Matrix, some Star Trek films and, oddly enough, Repo Man. “Emilio Estevez plays a punk who takes a job as a repo man. ‘Repo man is intense,’ Harry Dean Stanton tells him, and that’s an understatement. Geek alienation and the blanding down of mainstream society are the themes here,” he writes. “Those who missed the 1980s may not get the references to black-and-white generics — Estevez dines from a can marked simply ‘Food’ — but a little history lesson never hurt anyone.”

Tech professionals shouldn’t think like cab drivers
Instigator blog

After a ride from a particularly ambitious taxi driver, Ben Yoskovitz has an insight. “It seems salespeople often think the same way. Land a deal, do it quick, with as little effort as possible, so they can get to the next one. The Big Kahuna. The Mother Of All Sales,” he writes. “It’s a bad way to think. It alienates the people you’re currently working with and shows a lack of true interest in building a relationship. Plus, the next deal could be for less. The sale you just closed might not have been enough to buy that condo in Maui, but who knows how much repeat business could have been had with a bit more effort, thoughtfulness and authentic relationship building.”

Business-to-business users aren’t any easier than consumers
A Mogul To Be

Startups struggle over the question of what market they should pursue, and Robert McIntosh suggests that B2B customers come with their own individual quirks. “If a vendor is not well established in their market they will have a hard time making a go of it. It is kind of an ironic fact that for the most part the bigger the vendor and software package the lower the quality of that software, but companies don’t buy quality, they buy a name brand such as IBM, BEA, Microsoft, Oracle, etc.,” he writes. “Another downside is that companies also look for a laundry list of features, which means far more work for you. It doesn’t matter that they probably don’t need all of the features they are asking for because someone in the company read some article somewhere that said they needed it.”

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