Overheard: Word of the Day


May 21, 2008  1:21 PM

Overheard: Why would anyone want to attack the firmware?

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
dept_justice.jpg The danger with embedded devices is that they are often forgotten. They don’t always get patched or audited, and they can contain application-level vulnerabilities, such as flaws in the remote management interface that leave the door open for an attacker.

Rich Smith as quoted in Permanent Denial-of-Service Attack Sabotages Hardware

We aren’t seeing the PDOS attack as a way to mask another attack, such as malware insertion, but as a logical and highly destructive extension of the DDOS [dedicated denial of service] criminal extortion tactics seen in use today.

So this is about corporate sabatoge? Or criminals wiping out a few routers and extorting money for keeping the rest of the company’s network operational? Wow.  Sounds like a good plot for a John Grisham book. 

Rich Smith (HP System Security Lab)  has even come up with a cool name for the attacks: phlashing.  And the fuzzing tool he developedfor either launching an attack or detecting vulnerabilities? PhlashDance. 

May 21, 2008  12:13 PM

Overheard: Telepresence is the new magic word for videoconferencing

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
david_hsieh.jpg I’ve seen videoconferencing vendors trying to upgrade their offerings with high-definition media and larger screens to compete with telepresence technology. You can put wings on a pig and call it a bird, but it still won’t fly.

David Hsieh, as quoted in Telepresence industry to pass $1 billion in 2013

Videoconferencing is out. Telepresence is in.

It’s been ten years since I’ve attended a meeting in a videoconferencing suite.  I remember it feeling like I was talking to astronauts on the moon. The audio lag was at least five seconds. 

The new telepresence technology is too pricey for small to mid-sized businesses, but just like in the old days — there will be telepresence centers where you can take advantage of the technology. Cisco has partnered with Regus business centers and HP has partnered with Marriott to make it happen faster.


May 20, 2008  1:09 AM

Overheard: Live Mesh — your Briefcase in the cloud

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
stan_schroeder.jpg To put it really simply: the promise of the Mesh is that you won’t have to care where you are or which device you’re using – your data will always be there. You’ll only have to care about which data you want to share with whom.

Stan Schroeder, Live Mesh – The Version You Can Understand

I got my invitation for Live Mesh about two weeks ago. The toughest part was finding someone to play with — to share documents and other content with. Once I dug in, I realized “Hey, this is nothing new!” About ten years ago, there was a very handy web-based app called Briefcase that sort of did the same thing. It was much clunkier, but the idea was there.

Briefcase was a very valuable tool when I was training and moving from building to building. I could keep everything I need on the Web, get to a new building and download what I needed for a particular workshop. I could post all my bookmarks, PowerPoint presentations, handouts…whatever. I could make things in my briefcase public, keep them private or share them with specific users.

Sometimes lately, when I’m writing about new technology, I feel like I’m in some strange time warp. Everything new is just updated old.


May 19, 2008  12:46 PM

Overheard: WiMAX gets a marketing makeover

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
michael_mace.JPG It turns out the announcement isn’t a new vaporware wireless technology, it’s my favorite old vaporware wireless technology, WiMax. Sprint finally figured out what to do with it.

The unbelievably frustrating part is that Sprint has pretty much slipped the deployment plan for WiMax by another two years. It’s hard to get excited about a new technology, no matter how great the investors, when I have zero confidence in the companies’ ability to deliver.

Michael Mace, WiMax gets closer and further away at the same time

The involvement of Google means we’re very likely to get a pretty much open ecosystem on a major wireless network, which Silicon Valley has been collectively screaming about for years. The size of the investments mean there is a lot of money available to build out the network. People ought to be dancing in the streets here, but instead most of them appear to be either yawning or throwing spitwads.

I’d be out there dancing myself if it weren’t for the slip in the schedule.

Hat’s off to Michael Mace for explaining the real buzz around WiMAX.


May 16, 2008  8:26 PM

Overheard: Google frogs going back to the small pond

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
adam_lashinsky.jpg It would be easy to dismiss the exodus of some of Google’s best people if it were an isolated occurrence. It isn’t.

Adam Lashinsky, Where does Google go next?

Fact is, Google’s torrid growth is finally slowing, as the company’s sheer size dictates it must. And size necessitates changes. Gone are the days when Google could take full advantage of its quirkiness. It’s the market leader now, which presents a classic conundrum: Which is more important, process or innovation? For all Google’s success, it still has just one meaningful way of making money: its powerful search-advertising system.

 This article ties in with CNN Money ‘s Top 50 employers list.  I had the pleasure of working for their #3 pick during college — Wegman’s.  The Google article has me wondering — is it always more fun when you’re young and struggling? Or is it just that looking back, it SEEMS like it was more fun.  


May 16, 2008  6:05 PM

Overheard: Is CNet – CBS marriage the beginning of a trend?

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
peter_cohen.jpg This deal raises the question of whether any CBS competitors will decide to get into the game of buying Internet content companies.

Peter Cohan, CBS to buy CNet: Who’s next?


Peter offers three possible targets:

  • TheStreet.com (NASDAQ: TSCM) – This provider of business, investment and ratings content has $65 million in sales and a market cap of $236 million.
  • TechTarget (NASDAQ: TTGT) – This provider of online content for buyers and sellers of corporate information technology (IT) products has $95 million in sales and a $531 million market cap.
  • WebMD Health Corp (NASDAQ: WBMD) – This provider health information services to consumers, physicians and other healthcare professionals, employers and health plans has $332 million in sales and it’s market capitalization is $1.7 billion’

The Associated Press reports that CBS  is buying CNet  for $1.75 billion.


May 15, 2008  1:26 PM

Overheard: Biometric verification, the Lunch Lady, and Big Momma

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
schoollunch.jpg “Never again will a student hold up a lunch line to search for his/her ID card, fear peer pressure for being on a Free or Reduced meal plan, or have someone else charge a meal on their account.”

Advertisement for Sagem Morpho biometric scanner

Parents and educators concerned about the childhood obesity epidemic now have a new
ally that’s helping them apply tough love in the school cafeteria: fingerprint biometric
readers linked to point-of-sale (POS) systems and home internet connections that help them
monitor and restrict kids’ unhealthy lunch purchases.

Ok, this is kind of creepy. I can picture parent’s I’ve known really doing this. What’s next? Video monitors so you can check from work and make sure your kid isn’t trading with someone else? It’ll be interesting to see how this next generation figures out how to set parental boundries.


May 13, 2008  10:39 PM

Overheard: Overclocking is a personality trait

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

Question: What kind of idiot would do that to NEW, EXPENSIVE hardware?

Answer: The same kind of person who, 10 years from now — when he gets his amazing new 200,000 GHz 512 bit processor with a terabyte of RAM — will say “How do I overclock it?”

This conversation on Slashdot made me laugh out loud. They were talking about an AMD Athlon 64 General Overclocking Guide. It’s totally beyond me why any sane person would want to take perfectly good hardware, void the warranty, put so much extra stress on components that the hardware’s lifespan is significantly shortened — and risk causing a fire — just so he could brag on some discussion board about how fast he got something going.


May 13, 2008  12:19 PM

Overheard: Social networking? SHOW ME THE MONEY!

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
dollarsign.jpg

Facebook’s real problem isn’t privacy, it’s monetization.

Dave McClure, as quoted in Social-networking sites work to turn users into profits

 In many respects, it is the same query that dogged portal companies in the mid-1990s and search engines in the early ’90s. Some were sold. Some went public. Some went belly up.

The ongoing challenge is to concoct a potion — be it through banner ads, premium subscriptions or licensing agreements — that no one has perfected. Facebook, crown jewel of the field, is valued at $15 billion but barely turns a profit.


May 13, 2008  11:42 AM

Overheard: The Great Firewall of China

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
great-wall-of-china.JPG Depending on how you look at it, the Chinese government’s attempt to rein in the Internet is crude and slapdash or ingenious and well crafted.

John Ritter, The Connection Has Been Reset

When American technologists write about the control system, they tend to emphasize its limits. When Chinese citizens discuss it—at least with me—they tend to emphasize its strength. All of them are right, which makes the government’s approach to the Internet a nice proxy for its larger attempt to control people’s daily lives.


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