SAN FRANCISCO (10/10/2003) - In my book, there are two kinds of upgrades: the unnoticed and the long-remembered. With the first kind, no one notices that there's an upgrade in process. The second is a lot more dramatic, and while the long-term benefits of such a process may be easily defined, the pain is all anyone remembers.
Stories by P.J. Connolly
SAN FRANCISCO (10/10/2003) - The exchange e-mail server is a good barometer of Microsoft Corp.'s strengths and weaknesses. After all, Windows NT had to adapt the Exchange directory service for its own use back in the mid-1990s, and after the release of Windows 2000 and the admittedly more robust AD (Active Directory), many customers decided to stick with existing Exchange 5.x installations instead of upgrading to Exchange 2000, which required Windows 2000 and the complexities of AD.
SAN FRANCISCO (10/03/2003) - Portal solutions generally take one of two approaches: the centralized, "corporate" approach, or the distributed, "team-based" approach. Neither is perfect. Centralized information portals simply aren't flexible enough to meet the needs of the people who use the data. Team-based portals address the flexibility issue but create more data silos, and these portals often are not maintained or supported as a part of the enterprise's IT operations.
SAN FRANCISCO (10/03/2003) - Perhaps the greatest challenge for any knowledge worker, however broadly defined, is capturing the scribbles that one makes in the course of a day. These often start on sticky notes, scratch pads, cocktail napkins, and similarly awkward -- and easy to misplace -- media. Enterprises face an even greater hurdle when trying to corral the notes of hundreds or thousands of knowledge workers. Often, valuable information must be laboriously retyped, but this is impeded by both sloppy handwriting and an incomplete understanding of the context.
Let's be honest with ourselves. The introduction of new technologies is by default going to present new security challenges. That's because it's easier to get something to work than it is to get it to work in a secure fashion. Whether we want to admit it or not, this is because invention always follows the path of least resistance.
Slow news weeks are a columnist's nightmare. Granted, a lot of you have probably used the new year period to catch up on old business, load those patches you've been meaning to get to, dig through the paperwork and the emails piling up, and so on; but my life would have been made a lot easier if another email virus had been unleashed or a Fortune 500 company's network had been taken over by a gang of teenagers. In the absence of a readily identifiable topic -- or target, if you prefer -- for today's trip to the soapbox, I think it's time to serve myself some humble pie.
Defining arrogance is like defining pornography: We know what it is when we see it. I've been accused of arrogance often enough -- usually by people who don't know me very well, but occasionally by enraged girlfriends -- that I find it easy to identify in others. We certainly have a lot of arrogance going around this year; and for a change, I don't even have to mention Microsoft.
Maintaining control of the message seems to be the new strategy for the 21st century. It worked for President Bush in last year's election, and Microsoft seems to be applying it to security vulnerabilities.
At the end of the annus horribilis 2001, the state of IT security doesn't look at all encouraging. Computer viruses and DoS (denial of service) attacks are so common they barely make the news, and many security managers don't know whether they should be worrying more about anthrax or computer viruses.
Once upon a time, it was possible to dismiss Linux distributions as Unix knockoffs for undergraduate slackers who might someday be allowed on the real hardware if they behaved themselves.
Since September 11, previously obscure security concepts such as biometrics and steganography have become front-page fodder. Cries for tighter security in all aspects of our daily lives are being met with the dull stare of condemned sheep.
The most important thing to do in a crisis is to keep your cool. It's also the most difficult thing to do, and some of us aren't doing very well after the attacks in Washington and New York. Much of the stress comes from the misinformation that's circulating. Bad data rarely leads to good decision-making.
The month of August wasn't a good one for many of you who spent the dog days patching your servers. Whether you were fending off the Code Red worm or installing Novell's mysterious Padlock patch on your GroupWise servers, there was plenty to keep you busy.
When I discussed the case of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov two weeks ago (Crypto law misguided), I had no way of knowing that he was going to be granted bail the day after the column appeared in print. Remember, folks, I write this gem a dozen days before you read it, so I can't claim responsibility for getting him sprung.
Russian developer Dmitry Sklyarov is now a guest of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, having been charged with violation of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). The feds and Adobe Systems Inc. are unhappy because Sklyarov reverse-engineered the encryption scheme used in Adobe's eBooks technology. This may be perfectly legal in Russia, but here it's a felony.
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