E-tales: ERP, pardon me

With news that JD Edwards has been swooped upon by PeopleSoft a change to a rather awkward acronym seems imminent. JBOPS referred to JDE, Baan, Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP, the big five as they were at one point.

With news that JD Edwards has been swooped upon by PeopleSoft (see PeopleSoft deal catches JDE unawares), a change to a rather awkward acronym seems imminent. JBOPS referred to JDE, Baan, Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP, the big five as they were at one point.

With the "J" soon gone, it's just BOPS, though now Baan is to be combined with SSA, maybe it's SOPS? Hey, Microsoft's big in ERP now, so MOPS, but so is Lawson Software. SLOPS, anyone?

Ballmer cashes in

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently netted $US1.19 billion from the sale of 49 million shares in the company. To placate nervous investors and make sure analysts didn't read too much into his action, he put out a statement saying "even though this is a personal financial matter, I want to be clear about this to avoid any confusion and I remain excited about the potential for our technology to change people's lives". Ballmer added that he remains "as committed to Microsoft as ever". Well, he's only selling a small chunk of his holding in the company -- he still has 421,519,622 shares. Microsoft shares were about $US24 last week.

Sponsoring aggravation

Echoing events of a year ago, we hear that MEC Distributors has felt the weight of a major sponsor at an event. It decided to exhibit its ruggedised computer products from Panasonic and LG Electronics LCD monitors at the E-nabling event put on by the Auckland Chamber of Commerce at the Carlton hotel. MEC apparently then got a bit of a hard time from the Chamber's people as HP is a sponsor of its IT events. But nothing in the conditions said exhibitors couldn't show products that conflicted with those of sponsors, and MEC's range is hardly head-on to HP's.

Last June Microsoft’s sensitivity to the positive press about Linux was on display in Tauranga. Michael Doerner, owner of BayPC Consulting, was an exhibitor at a jointly sponsored Microsoft and Telecom Business Club event in the town. He was surprised on returning to his stand in the afternoon, having set it up earlier in the day, to find that newspaper clippings relating to Linux had been removed from display by Microsoft.

Body of knowledge

It's always galling to be corrected by one's offspring, but more so when the subject is, however peripherally, related to one's own specialist field.

A Computerworld staffer's daughter is studying art history, and was tasked with an essay on a number of painters, including one Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.

"Ah, Ingres," said our man, "I think there's a database system named after him."

"It's not 'inn-grez', daughter replied smartly. "He was French; it's 'Ahngr'."

Could it be that the software industry has been pronouncing it wrongly all these years?

The website of Ingres owner Computer Associates offers comfort with a statement.

"Trivium: Ingres is an acronym for INteractive Graphics REtrieval System (revealing the nature of the project out of which the experiments with relational databases arose). By happy accident, there was also a French artist by the same name ... A highly placed source who wishes to remain anonymous confirms that the selection of the name was an accident.."

Just as well; monsieur Ingres pictured his female models in an artificially eroticised style, with unnaturally flexible bodies and disproportionate limbs. In today's feminist-influenced art courses, he is not highly regarded. Or maybe CA could make it a positive point about flexibility and scalability.

Mother tongue

If you're a smart linguist with expertise in Middle East and/or Asia-Pacific languages and like a bit of intrigue, your government wants you. Spy agency GCSB is looking for linguist analysts, ie those proficient in at least one foreign language, interest in the world, the ability to find out things and figure out what's what, and who know how to silently shoot people with poison-tipped darts. (Or something like that.) Some interest in journalism or IT, and maybe military experience, will help your case.

Spooky news

And speaking about spy agencies, the sophisticated technology and analysis tools used by CIA agents on TV appears to be the fantasies of over-caffeined scriptwriters. A new report paints a very different picture of information technology use within the agency.

The unclassified report, entitled Failing to Keep Up with the Information Revolution, offers a withering assessment of the CIA's use of IT for intelligence analysis, calling the agency's networking and information-searching capabilities "primitive" and saying that the CIA's emphasis on secrecy fundamentally discourages IT use and adoption by CIA analysts.

The study was conducted by a scholar working with the CIA's Sherman Kent Center for Intelligence Analysis, a think tank attached to the analyst training center in the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence.

The report appeared in the most recent edition of the intelligence community publication Studies in Intelligence and is posted on the CIA website.

The CIA did not respond to a request for comment, but the report is said to have been circulating widely within the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) since its completion around six months ago, according to Barbara Pace, editor of "Studies in Intelligence".

The study's author, Bruce Berkowitz, interviewed almost 100 CIA employees involved in producing national security analysis, including intelligence analysts, technicians and managers regarding their work and use of technology, soliciting their ideas for using IT more effectively, according to the report.

Sky high

A British start-up, SkyLINC, plans to go live this year with a broadband service based on balloons stationed 1.5km above the ground. The idea is that the helium-filled balloons are held in place by a tether linking them to the ground and a fibre-optic cable sends signals from a base station to an antenna in the balloon. SkyLINC claims the service will be able to deliver "fibre-grade services at DSL prices", but some observers in the UK believe SkyLINC could be shot down, so to speak, if BT decides to lower its leased line service prices to match SkyLINC's offering. SkyLINC claims speeds of up to 10Mbit/s will be possible and has catchily named the service Libra (low cost integrated broadband radio access). Talk about compatibility issues ...

Out there somewhere

Overworked sysadmins take comfort: it could be worse. Last week Kee Hinckley of somewhere.com issued a plea on the Bugtraq mailing list for owners of Axis video cameras to check the setup of the camera’s email snapshot feature. Older cameras shipped with a default address of mail@somewhere.com, meaning somewhere.com’s mail servers receive 10,000-15,000 snapshots from the video cameras every day.

"On occasions when we’ve bothered to look we’ve seen things ranging from computer rooms to jewellery store security cameras," Hinckley wrote. "Probably not the kind of thing you’d want to be sending to strangers."

Somewhere.com is the most widely forged address on the net; the company says it receives over 100,000 messages a month, mainly bounces resulting from spam with a somewhere.com sender address.

None of this is really necessary: the domain example.com has been reserved by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority for exactly that purpose -- an example domain name.

Edited by Mark Broatch.

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