Stories by Chris Bell

NZ hires accompany Novell-Attachmate merger

Novell’s acquisition by Attachmate coincides with news the company has added New Zealand staff. New partner executive Robin Hagen and customer account manager David Van Driel recently joined the company and are based in Wellington.

Local PC market at lowest ebb in nine quarters

Percentage growth in the local PC market plunged to its lowest level for nine consecutive quarters in the period ending December 2008. Growth declined 7% against the previous quarter, having fallen sharply throughout the year. Quarter on quarter growth declined throughout 2008, from about 13% to minus 7%.

IT contractors trade earnings for security

As contract work dries up, IT contractors are taking a hit to their annual earnings and accepting more secure permanent positions. That’s specialist recruitment firm Hudson’s interpretation of one of the findings in its January-June, 2009 report, Employment and HR Trends, for which it interviewed 2285 New Zealand employers.

Surely that can’t be legal, can it?

Whatever the technological and economic advantages of open source software, there is a potential legal risk from software that doesn’t offer the warranty protection of commercial products. Open source software might violate third-party intellectual property rights if a programmer has added infringing code to your open source application or operating system without your knowledge, exposing your business to potential injunctions and damages claims.
Global law firm Simpson Grierson advises that, as open source code is written by a number of programmers, OS software is usually provided on an “as is” basis, without warranties. And as has been reported in the Economist magazine and elsewhere, the open source movement’s general public licence (GPL) has never been legally enforced.

Back to the future: open source everything

THE OPEN AND CLOSED REGIONS of the software world are poles apart, and not even the open source community can agree on the terminology. So, secure in the knowledge that fear, uncertainty and doubt are rife, how do you navigate the open source minefield?
Open source code generally evolves through the cooperation of a community of developers and is made available to the public, enabling anyone to make a copy, modify or redistribute it without paying royalties or licence fees. Traditionally, software vendors have distributed their products with no access to the source code, making modifications technically impossible.

How secure is open source?

Received wisdom would have it that transparency makes systems more secure by allowing anyone to view the underlying software code, identify bugs and make peer-reviewed changes.
Computer security and cryptography expert Bruce Schneier certainly adheres to that theory. He’s been saying engineers should “demand open source code for anything related to security” since 1999. But not all security experts agree.

Curtain-raiser: step up and enjoy the show

Sean McBreen is the director of Microsoft New Zealand’s developer and platform strategy group. He helped organise Tech Ed 2005 and has been involved in Tech Ed 2006 from the start. We asked him to take a peek behind the curtain and give us the low-down on what to look forward to this year.

An expat Kiwi on the Redmond campus

Although it has a population of anything up to 35,000 itinerant ‘Microsofties’ and other visitors, it can be a lonely life for an expatriate Kiwi on the Redmond campus. “It’s so rare to come across a New Zealander in the grocery store or on the bus, you inevitably end up standing with them for half an hour and having a chat about when you were last in New Zealand and who was on Shortland Street,” says Paul Andrew, technical product manager for Windows Workflow Foundation.

Restoring your CEO’s peace of mind

Storage has become so commoditised that organisations often confuse the presence of storage technology in the computer room with a data backup plan for the business. Although storage and disaster recovery go hand-in-hand, just because you regularly backup your data doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be able to recover it — at least not within the timeframe your CEO demands — which might turn it into an even worse disaster.

Who uses open source?

Where do we begin when it comes to separating the open source words from the business reality? Where is open source in business and, in particular, in New Zealand business?

Slow to arrive, but here to stay

New Zealand organisations may have been somewhat slow to embrace open source, it isn’t because they fail to appreciate it.