Overheard: Word of the Day

A Whatis.com blog


October 27, 2008  1:34 PM

Overheard: Who will be the first cabinet-level CTO?



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
broadband, CTO, National CTO, Technology
white-house.jpg A month or so ago the question of whether the next president should have a CTO came up in a work conversation among a diverse group of tech policy folks. We all agreed that the title is nice, but you would need to establish and delineate real power for it. Of course, the best way to do this would be to create a cabinet position for technology and innovation. People rolled their eyes at this until it was reminded to them that we do have a Secretary of Agriculture.

Sean Garrett, The Case for a National CTO

It’s about time the White House acknowledged that we’ve moved from the agrarian age to the information age.  Having a national CTO is a great idea — I bet that we could learn a lot about pitfalls from going back and learning how the position of Secretary of Agriculture came about. First, we’ll need to define what a CTO’s responsibilities are. (At some companies right now, the CTO reports to the CIO — at others, the CIO reports to the CTO.) Then we’ll need to decide whether the CTO should actually have experience in technology or whether he/she should come from business.

From Wikipedia:

On May 15, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln established the independent Department of Agriculture to be headed by a Commissioner without cabinet status.  Lincoln called it the “people’s department”. In the 1880s, varied special interest groups were lobbying for Cabinet representation. Business interests sought a Department of Commerce and Industry. Farmers tried to raise the Department of Agriculture to Cabinet rank. In 1887, the House and Senate passed bills giving cabinet status to the Department of Agriculture and Labor, but farm interests objected to the addition of labor, and the bill was killed in conference. Finally, on February 9, 1889, President Grover Cleveland signed a bill into law elevating the Department of Agriculture to Cabinet level.

October 23, 2008  2:43 PM

Overheard: Is putting your anti-virus app in the cloud really a good idea?



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
Cloud AV, Cloud computing, Nathan McFeters, Security
nathan_mcfeters.jpg Here’s the thing with cloud computing — it has awesome potential for good, but it’s really going to complicate some of our current thoughts on security as your company’s data gets thrown into a giant data gumbo with everyone else’s data.  I feel pretty confident that we’ll see a good amount of enterprising hackers enjoying that gumbo.

Nathan McFeters, AV in the cloud… wait, what?


October 22, 2008  7:06 PM

Overheard: Using disposable email accounts to see who’s selling your name



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
disposable email accounts, Email, Spam
sharon-hurley-hall.jpg One good reason to use disposable email addresses is that it makes it easy to identify who has sold your details to spammers. If you use a unique address for each site you sign up with, then you will know instantly who to point the finger at. You will soon find out who can be trusted with your data – and who can’t.

Sharon Hurley Hall, Disposable Email Addresses


October 22, 2008  3:34 PM

Overheard: Where do you keep your honeypot?



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
botnets, honeypot, Malware, Microsoft
john_markoff.jpg The door to the room simply reads “the lab.” Inside are racks of hundreds of processors and terabytes of disk drives needed to capture the digital evidence that must be logged as carefully as evidence is maintained by crime scene investigators.

John Markoff, A Robot Network Seeks to Enlist Your Computer

John Markoff gives a nice overview of what Microsoft is doing to help fight cybercrime — and why:

Just as gangs will often force a recruit to commit a crime as a test of loyalty, in cyberspace, bot-herders will test recruits in an effort to weed out spies. Microsoft investigators would not discuss their solution to this problem, but said they avoided doing anything illegal with their software.

One possible approach would be to create sensors that would fool the bot-herders by appearing to do malicious things, but in fact not perform the actions.

In 2003 and 2004 Microsoft was deeply shaken by a succession of malicious software worm programs with names like “Blaster” and “Sasser,” that raced through the Internet, sowing chaos within corporations and among home computer users. Blaster was a personal affront to the software firm that has long prided itself on its technology prowess. The program contained a hidden message mocking Microsoft’s co-founder: “billy gates why do you make this possible? Stop making money and fix your software!!”


October 22, 2008  2:57 PM

Overheard: Stealth layoffs at Yahoo



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
holiday, IT budgeting, IT layoffs, Technology, Yahoo
pink_slip.jpg By disguising layoffs as negative reviews, Yahoo management may push employees to leave, sans severance.
Yahoo’s stealth layoffs

The Company’s goal is to reduce its current annualized cost run rate of approximately $3.9 billion by more than $400 million before the end of 2008. The Company anticipates that both headcount and non-headcount-related costs will be reduced by these actions. Because the majority of expenses are headcount-related, Yahoo! expects to reduce its global workforce by at least 10 percent during the fourth quarter of 2008.

Whenever I read about reducing head counts and see the photo above, a little tune runs through my head.
“It’s the most – wonderful – time – of – the – year!”

I’m glad I’m not working at Yahoo. If their press release says they’re letting 1500 employees go, you can bet it’ll be closer to twice that number by the time the Christmas carnage is over.

And with all the “crisis of confidence” sound bytes in the media, I’m also going to bet that the commenter over at Valleywag hit the nail on the head.  This year, as never before, there will be some creative aspects to the traditional laying off of employees before the holidays.

Of course we all know the words to the song as we gather round the water cooler around the beginning of December .  You can expect the traditional “downsizing” and “reorganizing” verses that we’ve come to associate with garland and mistletoe. But this year don’t be surprised if employers introduce some new lyrics to the song and we find ourselves singing about “stealth layoffs.”

Stealth layoffs sounds much more hi-tech than “pushing an employee out so we don’t have to pay him benefits, severance or unemployment insurance.”  For the latest numbers in layoffs, be sure to check out Rafe Needleman’s Tech Layoff Scorecard.


October 21, 2008  11:43 AM

Overheard: Drizle will target MySQL users



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
Cloud computing, Database, Drizzle, MySQL, Technology
monty.jpg Drizzle will target the MySQL core users, the web users whose requirements have been ignored for years while the core MySQL developers have added features that they don’t need.

Michael Widenius, What if


October 15, 2008  4:28 PM

Overheard: Hubble telescope hardware failure



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
burn-in rate, Technology
allard_beutel1.gif The hardware failed, it’s unrecoverable.  They did testing and it’s no longer fixable from the ground.

Allard Beutel, as quoted in Hubble Space Telescope Suffers Serious Failure


October 14, 2008  7:28 PM

Overheard: Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) QoS



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
Technology, Wi-fi, WMM
david_callisch.jpg To really solve these VoIP problem, Wi-Fi systems must be able to constantly choose transmission paths between the AP and voice device that deliver the strongest signal, fewest delays and lowest packet error rates, while simultaneously attenuating any interference or noise.

David Callisch, Minding the VoIP…

Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) is four traffic queues (voice, video, data and background) that are shared among all users. The problem is if one VoFi device is lost (for whatever reason) the AP typically retransmits to that device before servicing other devices. The solution is to have a wireless LAN system that uses a per-client, per-traffic class QoS scheme so every client and traffic flow is fairly serviced.


October 14, 2008  11:28 AM

Overheard: IPTV vs Internet TV – What’s the difference?



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
Internet TV, IPTV, Technology, Telecom
van_den_dam_rob2.jpg IPTV is a system where video content is transmitted in the form of IP-data packages over a closed secure network. The infrastructure is configured such that viewers can only receive the IPTV provider’s own TV-channels. IPTV focuses primarily on the TV-set in the living room, generally a wide-screen TV with high image quality. A Set Top Box (STP) is required to receive the signal.

Rob van den Dam, IPTV AND INTERNET TV DEVELOPMENT – Let the TV-battle begin


October 9, 2008  4:52 PM

Overheard: NEOSSat project announced on 100th anniversary of meteorite crash



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
NEOSSat, satellites
dawn_walton.jpg Fittingly, the NEOSSat project was announced just a few days before the 100th anniversary of the Tunguska event, when a meteorite blasted into the Earth’s atmosphere over a Siberian forest, scorching and knocking down millions of trees over 2,000 square kilometres.

Dawn Walton, A Canadian gadget that may save the world


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