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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

SOA Appliances: IBM's Take

Despite the organizational challenges it presents, companies that tackle SOA do reap the benefits.

Visit IT Business Edge for the SOA Appliances: IBM's Take interview.

[more]

Governments Retain Value of Software with Open Source

Collaboration between governments on IT issues is helping to drive open source growth in the government sector.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Governments Retain Value of Software with Open Source interview.

[more]

Laptop Thefts a Sign of Progress, But Vigilance Still Key

Grabbing a laptop isn't a high-tech way to gain access to an organization's data. It could be a sign the crooks are struggling. In any case, now is not the time to relax.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Laptop Thefts a Sign of Progress, But Vigilance Still Key interview.

[more]

Putting HPC Through Its Paces

HPC solutions can offer a true competitive advantage. But there's such a thing as overkill.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Putting HPC Through Its Paces interview.

[more]

The Problem with High-Level Performance Analysis

The problem with high-level performance analysis? While it might tell you that you have a problem, it won't provide any guidance as to how to fix it.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Problem with High-Level Performance Analysis interview.

[more]

Weathersby Confident That OpenSSL's FIPS Validation Will Be Reinstated

The open source security protocol will be "upsetting the economic apple cart" again in short order, says the OSSI director.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Weathersby Confident That OpenSSL's FIPS Validation Will Be Reinstated interview.

[more]

Botnet Problem Worsens as Broadband Migration Grows

Service provider reaction to botnets, zombies and Trojans tracks how they approached spam. This won't do because this form of malware is more malevolent.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Botnet Problem Worsens as Broadband Migration Grows interview.

[more]

On-Demand PLM Can Supercharge Supply Chain

An on-demand delivery model allows mid-market companies to use technologies that were once too costly, like product lifecycle management.

Visit IT Business Edge for the On-Demand PLM Can Supercharge Supply Chain interview.

[more]

Let's Get Ready to Telework

A formal assessment -- like those offered by the Telework Consortium -- will increase the likelihood of success for a company's telework initiative.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Let's Get Ready to Telework interview.

[more]

VoIP Rollout Depends on Regulatory Stance

It's a foregone conclusion that VoIP is the platform of the future. How quickly a nation makes the transition has more to do with regulation than technology.

Visit IT Business Edge for the VoIP Rollout Depends on Regulatory Stance interview.

[more]

CRM Gets Smarter

Real-time CRM is moving forward, although "right time" is a better description than "real time."

Visit IT Business Edge for the CRM Gets Smarter inteview.

[more]

VoIP Spreads Outward

VoIP is continuing to grow as the migration from the core of the network to the access portion, which is a more complex undertaking, gains momentum.

Visit IT Business Edge for the VoIP Spreads Outward interview.

[more]

EII's Pros and Cons

EII makes sense, but only as part of a total information architecture.

Visit IT Business Edge for the EII's Pros and Cons interview.

[more]

Virtualizing the Desktop

A quick primer on desktop virtualization. Is it right for you?

Visit IT Business Edge for the Virtualizing the Desktop interview.

[more]

SaaS Savings, Let Me Count the Ways

Software-as-service savings, let me count the ways.

Visit IT Business Edge for the SaaS Savings, Let Me Count the Ways interview.

[more]

A Holistic Approach to Database Compliance

The "checkbox mentality" may appease auditors, but it's not going to do much to improve your processes or lower costs.

Visit IT Business Edge for the A Holistic Approach to Database Compliance interview.

[more]

IMS to Dominate VoIP Delivery

IMS may be the main purveyor of VoIP and related applications by the end of the decade.

Visit IT Business Edge for the IMS to Dominate VoIP Delivery interview.

[more]

RFID Can Add Value to Existing Wi-Fi Networks

As companies look to wring as much value as possible out of their Wi-Fi infrastructure, some are adding RFID-based location management applications.

Visit IT Business Edge for the RFID Can Add Value to Existing Wi-Fi Networks interview.

[more]

Take Care When Using Municipal Networks

Officials aren't paying enough attention to security in municipal Wi-Fi development.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Take Care When Using Municipal Networks interview.

[more]

Open Source Stack Providers Should Refine Their Market Focus

Instead of focusing on enterprise users as a whole, stack providers should target specific markets.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Open Source Stack Providers Should Refine Their Market Focus interview.

[more]

Cutting Online Credit Risk

The Merchants Risk Council was created in 2000 to share information about fraud, best practices, and trends in e-commerce.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Cutting Online Credit Risk interview.

[more]

Entering the Age of Virtual Storage

In terms of manageability and efficient use of resources, a virtualized storage environment could turn out to be your best friend.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Entering the Age of Virtual Storage interview.

[more]

Companies Want Lots of Eggs in Outsourcing Basket

Companies are finding that using multiple outsourcing providers results in increased flexibility, improved service and lower costs.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Companies Want Lots of Eggs in Outsourcing Basket interview.

[more]

Every Extend Extra Review

The developer behind Lumines and Meteos brings more of its trippy, trademark style, but it neglects to deliver equally compelling gameplay. [more]

SimCity Review

SimCity is one of those true classics that remain fun and addictive years after their original release. [more]

Link: The Faces of Evil Screens

32 new shots posted. [more]

Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon Screens

29 new shots posted. [more]

11/28/2006 Daily Hardware Reviews

DailyTech's roundup of reviews from around the web for Tuesday... [more]

Dell Puts the Brakes on Mail-in Rebates

Dell shifts to a "lower price" strategy... [more]

Xbox 360 Gets Video Transcoding

TVersity opens up the real-time video streaming to the Xbox 360 without the need for MCE... [more]

Opera Adds Social Skills to Mobile Browser

Now you can hack MySpace while on-the-go... [more]

Mainstream Press Chimes in on Console Race

There appears to be a minor consensus... [more]

Wal-Mart Offers Downloadable Movies with a Twist

Wal-Mart to offer "Superman Returns" DVD bundle with option to download a digital copy... [more]

DOMTool

DOMTool. A nice utility that takes HTML as an input and outputs the correct DOM methods for inserting that content into a document. [more]

HTTP Performance Research

HTTP Performance Research. Yahoo! User Interface Blog reports on wise conservation of bandwidth. [more]

Highlight: WatchMojo.com

What is WatchMojo.com?

With more and more people turning to their computers for entertainment rather than their television sets, WatchMojo.com strives to produce original content for said people to watch. Their mission is to create informational and entertainment videos for the world wide web's growing audience.

So kick back, relax, and get your mojo here.

Today's Highlighted Videos


Click here to watch "Guide to Ties - The Windsor Knot"
Most men have no idea what they're doing when it comes to tying a tie let alone fashion in general. This guide shows you how to tie them properly and this clip shows the classiest knot of all, The Windsor.
1 min 20 sec



Click here to watch "Guide to Belly Dancing - Part 1 Introduction"
An introduction to the art of belly dancing and some of its history and definitions.
59 sec



Click here to watch "Fashion Faux-Pas for Women - Part 4"
A look at some common fashion mistakes that women make, and some suggestions for remedying them.
47 sec



Click here to watch "Bartending Tips - How to make a Mountain Dew drop shot"
Bartending Tips: A bartender shows you how to mix a Mountain Dew drop shot!
40 sec



Click her e to watch "Guide to Drums - The Double Stroke"
A drummer demonstrates how to properly execute a double stroke.
1 min 48 sec

Share these videos with your friends using the "Send link to a friend" feature! Learn how here!



[more]

Getting Loaded

Posted by: Dave MacLachlan, Member of Technical Staff, Mac Team



Categories are a really interesting feature of Objective-C, especially for those of us who came from C++. Not only do categories allow you to extend other classes for which you may be lacking the source, but they also give you a really simple way of hiding interfaces from your clients without all the baggage of a pImpl pattern. We use categories a lot here at Google to "enhance" the system frameworks.



We do run into a couple of major problems with categories, though. One issue is about class-specific initialization. Objective-C has traditionally had three solutions for class-specific initialization:

  1. lazy initialization
  2. +initialize
  3. +load
With lazy initialization, we call our initialization routine as necessary to make sure our class-specific stuff is initialized before we use it. This works fine except that in implementing it, we often end up writing code where every method starts with a method call to the initialization check, which is ugly and a potential source of stupid bugs.



+initialize is the "best practice" for initializing class variables. For a standard class, it works great. This technique usually does almost everything we want it to do and has reasonably clear semantics, although the part that says "you could be invoked more than once" is a bit of a pain. The problem with +initialize is that it is virtually useless for categories, in that if I override a class's initialize method in my category, I can't call the original initialize. Also, if I have two categories on a class, and both have initialize methods, it is unclear which one will be called. Even if it works now, there's no guarantee the original framework you're extending won't be "enhanced" and break you in the future when an initialize method is added to the class you extended. So, as far as cat egories are concerned, +initialize is pretty much useless. Interestingly if you think about it, in some ways +initialize is very much like lazy initialization, with the details hidden under the covers. Basically, you have the runtime doing the check instead of you having to code it.



+load is an interesting option, and probably one of the less understood areas of how the Objective-C runtime actually works. According to the NSObject documentation:

  1. +load is invoked once per class or category.
  2. +load is usually invoked before +initialize, but not always.
  3. You can't be sure your superclasses are loaded.
  4. You can't be sure any other classes are loaded.
  5. You know, you really should be using +initialize.
Item 1 is great, but there are a lot of interesting little caveats that follow it. Basically, the docs say you can't call ANY other classes, including your superclass, safely from within a +load. Looking at the obj-c runtime code (ADC registration required), we can get a bit more information on how +load works. We see that we are guaranteed that our superclasses are "+load"ed before we are "+load"ed, but we can't call out to other classes, so officially we can't use NSDictionary, NSString, et al. In practice, this appears to work pretty much all the time, but I certainly wouldn't intentionally ship code that depended on it.



So it appears that if we stay with traditional Objective-C, we are basically stuck with lazy initialization for doing class-specific initialization in a category. Luckily, if we break with tradition, we can use the "constructor" attribute. Yes, the syntax is ugly, but it does potentially solve a lot of our problems.



Constructors (which is a horrible name that must have been intentionally designed to cause confusion with C++/Java constructors) are guaranteed to be called after +load but before main. This gets rid of several of the caveats of +load, because you can be guaranteed that all your classes are loaded and that +initialize will be invoked on classes as needed by your constructor function.



So doing something like the following gives us a nice, relatively clean way of class-specific initialization in a category.

 

@implementation Foo(FooBarAdditions)

....

@end



@interface Foo(FooBarAdditionsPrivateMethods)

+ (void)initializeBar;

@end



@implementation Foo(FooBarAdditionsPrivateMethods)

+ (void)initializeBar {

// Initialize stuff here

}

@end



void __attribute__ ((constructor)) InitializeFooBar(void) {

static BOOL wasInitialized = NO;
if (!wasInitialized) {

// safety in case we get called twice.
[Foo initializeBar];
wasInitialized = YES;
}

}



@synchronized swimming Feedback



Thanks to reader Ron Avitzur for pointing out that the nice Objective-C workaround for the DCLP that I showed in a recent post is officially bad. He's got a nice writeup on his blog about why even though it's pretty, it's nothing more than a global flag, which in theory doesn't get us around the problem at all.
[more]

Tech Tip: More operators join the inmeta operator





In the last tech tip we talked about how the inmeta operator can be used to do sophisticated queries leveraging the metadata associated with your documents. What if your needs are more complex? You not only want to do queries based on specific meta tag values but also need to provide price range searches on your e-commerce site or date range searches inside your document management system. Luckily we added few interesting operators in the recent release of the Google Search Appliance and they will play nicely with the inmeta operator.



We added new operators for doing number (including price) and date range searches. For number range searches, just add two numbers, separated by two periods, with no spaces, into the search box along with your search terms. For date range searches, use the daterange operator. Let's take a look at some common examples and see these operators in action.



An e-commerce site sells electronics and apparel goods and wants to make it easier for it's customers to search products by keywords and also restrict the searches by price range and other numeric meta tags. For example to express a query that searches for rain jacket in the price range of $100 to $500 one would enter a query like:



rain jacket inmeta:retailprice:$100..$500



You can also express a query that searches flat panel TV between 30 to 50 inches; one would enter a query like:



flat panel TV inmeta:size:30..50



In case of enterprise search, a search-user may be interested in the documents within an ECM system like Documentum or Livelink that provide information about "marketing plan" but restrict to only those documents that were published between Jan 1 2006 to Nov 27 2006. To express such a query one would simply enter a query like:



marketing plan inmeta:publishdate:daterange:2006-01-01..2006-11-27.



I have also seen e-commerce sites that use the Google Search Appliance to power their search, implement a simple search front-end that has a search box and a price slider along with it. Search-users enter the keyword in the search box and pick the appropriate price or number range using the UI widget. The search front-end in turn converts that request to the appropriate search syntax described in the above examples. This way the search-user not only has the power to express complex searches but she also doesn't need to familiarize herself with the additional syntax.



These range-based operators are more examples of how you can provide the power and precision of Google search with the flexibility and customization that your business requires.
[more]

Google Apps for Your Domain

Every now and then we will share updates from other Googlers about the products they're working on if we think that info will benefit Google Analytics users. Google Apps for Your Domain is similar to Google Analytics in that it offers simple and useful ways to view and share information online. And with these apps, you are actively creating information as well. Marlin Gilbert from the Google Apps team explains:
Like Google Analytics, Google Apps for Your Domain gives you the opportunity to focus your precious resources on campaigns and program s that rapidly grow your business. We built these tools to enable your team to communicate and collaborate more effectively without any additional hardware or software. Everything is online and accessible from any internet-connected device through a standard web browser. And you can customize the tools your company uses with your own special branding, color scheme and content.

Currently, you can take advantage of Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar and Google Page Creator and the new start page feature. For instance:
  • Using Gmail, without changing your email addresses, your employees can enjoy a faster and clearer way to read email conversations, and find saved messages with powerful search tools.
  • Coordinating complex schedules is a breeze with Google Calendar.
  • Keep your people in touch through Google Talk and use Google Page Creator to mak e your web page ideas come to life.
  • The start page is a central place for your employees to preview their inboxes and calendars, access your essential content, and search the web.
And we are working to make more apps available soon, so you can keep focusing on what you do best.

Google Apps for Your Domain is free, and currently in beta. Learn more and get started here.


[more]

Adieu to Google Answers





Google is a company fueled by innovation, which to us means trying lots of new things all the time -- and sometimes it means reconsidering our goals for a product. Later this week, we will stop accepting new questions in Google Answers, the very first project we worked on here. The project started with a rough idea from Larry Page, and a small 4-person team turned it into reality in less than 4 months. For two new grads, it was a crash course in building a scalable product, responding to customer requests, and discovering what questions are on people's minds.



Google Answers taught us exactly how many tyrannosaurs are in a gallon of gasoline, why flies survive a good microwaving, and why you really shouldn't drink water emitted by your air conditioner. Even closer to home, we learned one afternoon that our building might be on fire.



The people who participated in Google Answers -- more than 800 of them over the years -- are a passionate group committed to helping people find the information they need, and we applaud them for sharing their incredible knowledge with everyone who wrote in.



If you have a chance, we encourage you to browse through the questions posted over the last 4+ years. Although we won't be accepting any new questions, the existing Qs and As are available. We'll stop accepting new Answers to questions by the end of the year.



Google Answers was a great experiment which provided us with a lot of material for developing future products to serve our users. We'll continue to look for new ways to improve the search experience and to connect people to the information they want.
[more]

SOA to Impact Outsourcing, but How?

Two of the perennially hottest topics in tech are service-oriented architecture and outsourcing. So a ZDNet blog that examines how the two may impact each other caught our eye. In this post, the blogger contends that SOA adoption could drive an increase in outsourcing. Why? Because staffers familiar with legacy mainframe apps can’t spare the time to [...] [more]

Google Embraces Location-Based Services in Mobile Strategy

With its eye on the power of location-based services, Google is steadily pumping up its mobile strategy. A News.com interview with Deep Nishar, director of product management for the company, doesn’t give away too many details on Google’s mobile strategy, but Nishar does hint at moves toward maximizing integration of technologies like GPS (Helio’s Drift [...] [more]

Denial Not a Good Thing for Mobilized Organizations

Perhaps security folks are so accustomed to dealing with wireless safety issues that they miss the forest for the trees. The forest, in this case, brings an especially unpleasant reality: People don’t care enough about mobile security to do anything about it. Signs of this not-so-benign neglect are everywhere. Pointsec Mobile Technologies recently conducted a survey [...] [more]

Microsoft Not Winning Any Popularity Contests in Foreign Markets

No pressure, Microsoft. Only the future of the software giant appears to be riding on the Windows Vista OS and Office 2007 suite. The long-delayed products are expected to hit the street soon, and analysts are sharply divided on the reception they will receive. Oh yes, and the entire software paradigm appears to be shifting, with Microsoft [...] [more]

Microsoft Entry Will Change the Security Software Picture

Microsoft's entry commoditizes the security market.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Microsoft Entry Will Change the Security Software Picture interview.

[more]

VoIP Faces Typical Data Net Security Issues ? And Then Some

VoIP is vulnerable to attacks that affect all data networks as well as some unique exploits.

Visit IT Business Edge for the VoIP Faces Typical Data Net Security Issues -- And Then Some interview.

[more]

IT Spending Slowdown: 'Soft Landing' or Hard Times Ahead?

Is a Q4 deceleration in IT spending indicative of the "soft landing" the Street has been looking for, or is it a harbinger of tougher days to come?

Visit IT Business Edge for the IT Spending Slowdown: 'Soft Landing' or Hard Times Ahead? interview.

[more]

UK's FAST Serious About Software Compliance

It's not enough for managers of UK-based subsidiaries to pass software compliance duties off on their U.S.-based bosses.

Visit IT Business Edge for the UK's FAST Serious About Software Compliance interview.

[more]

Oracle on SOA, Event-Driven Architecture

The war on dirty data can be won -- but you have to pick your battles.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Oracle on SOA, Event-Driven Architecture interview.

[more]

Red Hat, NIST Circulating Open Source Vulnerability Info

Thanks to Red Hat, the National Vulnerability Database now gets almost real-time updates on how vulnerabilities will or will not affect users.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Red Hat, NIST Circulating Open Source Vulnerability Info interview.

[more]

Business Value, Not 'Cool,' Will Sell IP Telephony Apps

IP telephony product and platform hype take a backseat to applications and services that truly drive business value.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Business Value, Not 'Cool,' Will Sell IP Telephony Apps interview.

[more]

The Ins and Outs of Business Management

The open secret in the software management business is that there really isn't much difference between business intelligence and business process management.

Visit IT Business Edge for the Ins and Outs of Business Management interview.

[more]