Silverlight in the spotlight

Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Mix ’07 may be remembered as the day the Web changed

As Microsoft gathers developers in Las Vegas this week, Jeff Prosise brings out the hyperbole for Silverlight.”What does it mean? It means goodbye JavaScript, hello C#. It means managed code in the browser. It means an escape from HTML and browser DOMs and a better way to build browser-based UIs using XAML. It means incredibly rich browser experiences and a whole new generation of RIAs,” he writes. “In recent months, I’ve felt as if I’ve been shortchanging audiences when I talk about Silverlight because I couldn’t use the word CLR in the same sentence as Silverlight. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, I can’t wait to get out and tell audiences what Silverlight is really all about.”

Monday, April 30, 2007

A newswire marries a search engine
Information Arbitrage

International media outlet Reuters said it will buy Israeli-based text mining firm Clearforest for US$30 million, Roger Ehrenberg reports.”Each has moved the ball forward in their own way and now they will try to advance it even further as a team,” he writes. “It is very validating that a company like Reuters would see the value in a firm like ClearForest; clearly this small band of technical experts has something to contribute to helping Reuters manage and display its content. I look forward to watching their progress over the ensuing months and years.”</p

Dell memo indicates a lot is in store

With rumours about a pending channel strategy flying, Dwight Silverman assesses the idea. “The company has been very cautious about expanding (its retail strategy), and in fact dropped plans earlier this month to open a retail store in New York City. No doubt the lessons learned from Gateway’s retail future make Dell nervous about diving head-first into that pool,” he writes. “I’m not sure retail is going to save Dell, or even enhance its position in the market. As Michael Dell is well aware, it adds a layer of cost and complexity to selling PCs. And, most of Dell’s PC designs are humdrum, a fact that wouldn’t be helped by placing them in a slick retail setting.”

Friday, April 27, 2007
A fond farewell to ‘Crazy Ken’
PSP Fanboy

Sony announces that the “Godfather of the PlayStation,” Ken Kutaragi, is retiring, Nick Doerr writes. “He’s passing on the torch to Kaz Hirai and the new, fresh, young management team! Good. It’s a good thing to know what’s best for the company, even at your own expense. We salute him for that. But… what are his dreams? The PS3 Grill?” he wonders. “While this is heartbreaking news for those who think Kutaragi was doing a stellar job with the PS3, recall that he was given a promotion recently that consequently took him out of most day-to-day operations of Sony and the PlayStation 3.”;

Vendors, please spare us the bubblewrap
Darren Barefoot

Dell is just one example of an irritating trend, Barefoot says. “Why do those ridiculous bubble packages exist? They’re ubiquitous, impossible to get into and everybody loathes them. Companies that use them (and who doesn’t) are sending the wrong message to their customers — ‘We like this packaging, and don’t care if you hate it. You don’t matter,'” he writes. “A company in an undifferentiated gadget market (like, say, memory sticks) should switch packaging to something simpler and more usable, and make a big deal about it. All factors being equal, plenty of consumers would switch brands (and pay a little more) simply for greener and easier to open packaging.”;

Thursday, April 26, 2007
Pidgin is more than the sum of its brand names
Anil Dash
The service that was once dubbed “GTK+ AOL Instant Messenger” has come a long way, according to Dash. ” Now, the last time an essential open source internet client shed its geeky name in favor of one that was more approachable, Phoenix became Firebird and later Firefox. The evolution of the naming of these clients doesn’t just reflect the incessant legal sniping over IP and branding that a lot of small projects face, but is also a measure of a focus on the image of the projects,” he writes. “This is somewhat atypical for a lot of open source projects, as some contributors can see a focus on branding as irrelevant to, or even contradictory to, making a good product. But while the Pidgin site lacks some of the slickness and polish of the Firefox site, it’s still miles better than the standard ‘choose a SourceForge mirror for your tarball’-style experience that a lot of comparable projects present to the world.”

Single-tasking is not really doable
Jon Udell

The Microsoft evangelist discusses the increasing need to juggle several virtual balls at once. “I’m lucky enough to be able to block out a lot of distractions and interruptions, and to spend an unusually large fraction of my working life in a state of flow. To the extent that I’m able to get a decent amount of quality work done, I tend to cite long periods of focused concentration as the reason why,” he writes. “Since we don’t really have a choice about whether to multitask or not, the real issue becomes: What’s the right way to do it? The answer may be very different depending on whether you’re optimizing for individual or group productivity.”

Microsoft’s future in the cloud looks cloudy
Between the Lines

While attending this week’s SAP user conference, Dan Farber finds little reception to the idea of a browser-based MS Office. “Clearly, Google’s emerging Office and the other cloud-based suites aren’t materially affecting Microsoft’s bottom line. But, you would think that among the 500 million Microsoft Office users and the rest of the digital universe that a desire, a demand for supply, exists to have a cloud-based Microsoft Works (not even the full blown MS Office, which would choke in some aspects if it were purely cloud-based). Microsoft Outlook has 200 million users, and Outlook Web Access has 100 million users. Zoho has a plug-in for Microsoft Office that lets users work offline with Microsoft Word or Excel and save changes in their cloud-based Zoho applications.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Wikipedia shouldn’t stop with the CD
Concurring Opinions
The group reference tool plans a static version of its online content, but Daniel J. Solove proposes an even more radical move.”Wikipedia should create ‘approved’ static versions of certain articles, which do not readily change and which are reviewed and approved by a professional editor or expert. In other words, Wikipedia could select special editors with expertise in certain areas, vet their credentials, and have them do a thorough edit of an entry,” he writes. “The entry would then be frozen as a special version. People could still edit and change the entry, but the special version would be readily available for those who wanted to rely on the entry for citation purposes.”

Consumers aren’t the target for RIM’s 8830
The Boy Genius Report

As the Waterloo tech firm launches a device with international roaming, Joshua Karp takes an early look. “Like the previous Verizon BlackBerry before it, it will operate on their traditional EV-DO network while in the U.S., with the ability to operate on international GSM networks abroad. It’s a tad bit taller than the BlackBerry 8800 we all know, coming it at 4.9″ tall, compared to the BlackBerry 8800’s 4.5″ height,” he writes. “Not much else has changed, with the now-ubiquitous trackball and media player. The BlackBerry 8830 won’t have a camera as this is a business device, guys.”

Use Mozilla’s Firefox extension wisely
The PC Doctor

As the end-support date for the latest version of the browser gets pushed back until May, Adrian W Kingsley-Hughes recommends an upgrade. “I’ve also been asked by a few readers if I think that this is a good move on the part of Mozilla.  Yes, I believe that it is,” he writes. “Encouraging users to move up to the latest version of browsers is key to security and allowing users to continue to use older browsers is sending out the wrong message.  Personally, I’d like it if Mozilla (and other browser makers) time-bombed the browser so that users had to update after a specific period of time had elapsed.  Using old browsers is very bad for security.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2007Vonage should learn from this case
Jon Arnold

The VoIP provider wins a permanent stay of a lower-court order that would have barred the company from signing up new customers. That order followed a jury trial in which Vonage was found to be in violation of three Verizon patents covering voice over IP technology. The ruling does not affect a previous court order demanding that Vonage pay Verizon a 5.5 per cent royalty and US$58 million in damages. “I’ll just comment that I hope Vonage DOESN’T go back to’business as usual,’ as Jeff Citron has been saying. That’s exactly what’s gotten them into this mess – they need to be doing business as UNusual,” analyst Arnold writes. “They have two very valuable assets right now – customers and cash. You got those two, and you should have a successful business. Seems to me they need to deploy these resources very differently now – not just to keep what they have, but to intelligently build on this going forward.”

Former MetaMatrix exec happy about Red Hat buy
Pure Danger Tech

The firm’s former chief architect applauds the open source distro’s acquisition.”I think that Red Hat/JBoss is a great place for the data integration and metadata management technology that MetaMatrix developed. My area of deep expertise at MetaMatrix was in the federated query engine that supported relational and XML processing across a heterogeneous set of data sources,” Alex Miller writes. “In particular, we had some great query optimization technology and a high-performance and scalable query processing engine. Underneath that was a Connector API with connections to all your favorite databases and data sources and on top was access via JDBC, ODBC, and SOAP.”

Yahoo! and Gracenote: Music and lyrics
Mixed Content

The search engine forms a partnership that gets Colin Brumelle’s attention. “I just hope there’s an open API of course, so we can generate awesome thematic playlists,” he writes. “Just imagine some of the neat queries you could add to playlist generating tools like MusicIP or Pandora – ‘Give me 10 songs about lost love regained.’ Or if it’s a cold night out, you could generate a playlist based on the concept of “fire” (and related terms like warmth). It’s a gold mine waiting to be tapped!”



Everything you’ve heard about Google’s food is true
Adam Ostow

The co-founder of a starup called Mindsay discusses the last days of the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. “We dropped by Web2Open, a conference within the Web 2.0 Expo where anyone can start a session.  It was a decent opportunity for networking, but the sessions themselves seemed like soft sells for various products and services.  I suppose I can’t really criticize attempts at free marketing though, since we scattered our own data sheets throughout the conference center,” he writes. ” No better way to close out the day than free food, and thanks to a friend of mine now working at Google, I had the hook up.  I can now report that the legends that circulate about the splendor of Google’s food are most definitely true, as I feasted on lamb vindaloo, salmon salad, bbq chicken breast, ribs, and just about anything else they had to offer.”

Monday, April 23, 2007
Blogs don’t have to be brutally honest, but they can’t be fake
Loose Wire
To help all would-be surfers out there, Jeremy Wagstaff offers his own guide to choosing blogs. Rule No. 2: Watch out for the over-enthused. “Never read someone who is ‘excited’ about everything,” he writes. “We all have our ups and downs and they should be reflected in our blogs (I don’t do enough of this, to be honest. There, I’m being frank about not being frank enough.) The point is this: If we’re interested in reading someone’s thoughts on a subject, chances are we’re interested in their more life-oriented thoughts and experiences too. Without overdoing, it of course.”

What does that start page say?

Though he’s still an avid user of NetVibes and My Yahoo, Kevin Newsome says he’s tired of squinting.”These applications need to give users a way to permanently set the text size, preferably at the module level.  Sure, I can change text size at the browser level, but that makes every other page look too big,” he writes. “The first one of these applications to give me a way to permanently set text size will become my primary start page.  I suspect there are scads of other baby boomers like me who also want and need this feature. I don’t understand why it doesn’t exist.”

Desparate Registrars tug at your heartstrings
Domain Name Blog

As a public service, Dave Zan discusses the scenario where site owners receive a “renewal” notice that’s really a solicitation. “The problem is, some solicitation letters emphasize this reality so well they tend to reach into the person’s emotions. It’s a long-time, maintained belief among many marketers and copywriters that people buy on emotions and justify it with logic later,” he writes. “Unfortunately for the unsuspecting consumer, this type of letter might easily ‘rattle’ them into sending money promptly to the company who sent that notice. Then they’ll likely experience untold nightmares trying to get their money back when they finally realize the error of their ways.”

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