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Got Cloud? What Companies Want
January 07, 2014
Cloud service users are becoming more vocal about what they want from cloud providers and how they want to pay for it -- and cloud providers may be listening. They are beginning to offer more flexible options and are gradually shifting to utility-style pricing models. There is no single factor driving these changes, but some of the things potential users want are showing up in their offers.
Surveillance Rights and Wrongs, Part 2: No Clear Answers
January 04, 2014
Civil liberties groups and privacy advocates rejoiced when U.S. Federal District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled last month that the NSA's collection of bulk telephony metadata is likely a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, their joy was short-lived. Later in the month, U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley ruled that it is legal.
Surveillance Rights and Wrongs, Part 1: Begging the Questions
January 03, 2014
The National Security Agency's surveillance of Americans' emails, Web searches and phone calls has angered the nation, but lawmakers remain divided on the issue. Bipartisan groups have spoken out against the surveillance and a few have introduced legislation to curb it, but some contend it is essential to protect America from its enemies.
Plasma's Fade to Black
December 20, 2013
As the 2013 International CES approached a year ago, it was clear that a showdown between OLED and 4K -- or UltraHD -- was brewing in the TV display market. A year later, that showdown is fully under way, but with a notable twist. Specifically, Panasonic's announcement in late October that it would exit the plasma display panel market in the coming months took many by surprise.
Portrait of the Artist as a Social Media Fan
December 18, 2013
Artists are using social media to market their work, communicate their ideas and even create new forms. Kiran Umapathy's Headphones Project, for example, documents what randomly selected headphone-wearing strangers are listening to with a story, photo and link to the song. This project -- like many other art projects these days -- lends itself well to social media sharing.
Digital Santa, Part 3: Riding High on the Turbo Cyber Sleigh
December 11, 2013
Flashing strobe lights, streaming LEDs, whining jet engines, a Space Shuttle's roar ... this isn't your grandpa's Santa Claus sleigh. Just about everyone has some mental image of Santa's sleigh -- a hyperflux supervehicle drawn by high-flying reindeer genetically modified for delivering gifts and toys to girls and boys around the world, for instance.
Goodbye, Win XP - Hello, Linux?
December 11, 2013
Microsoft will stop security support for Windows XP this coming April, meaning that more than a few remaining users of the long-standing OS need to come up with an alternative plan. Almost a third of desktop computers still run Windows XP, according to Net Applications. More than 15 percent of midsize and large enterprises will still have Windows XP running on at least 10 percent of their PCs after support ends.
SMBs Hop on Virtualization Gravy Train
December 06, 2013
Mentioning virtualization technology to typical computer users in a work environment will get you a puzzled look. Despite the apparent obscurity of this IT trend, virtualization is making an increasingly large impact on SMBs. Some type of virtualization was reported in place by 77 percent of firms with 500 or fewer employees who responded to a recent survey.
Digital Santa, Part 2: Tech Tools of the Trade
December 04, 2013
Steady mall work might be the bread and sugar-plum butter for many working Santas, but there are good fees and tips to be earned at Santa gigs -- photo studios that invite Santa in for special portraits, kids' preschool events, private parties and more. Today, old-style Santas just won't do for techie tykes who want their Yuletide magic plugged in and amped up.
Build Your Own Simple Linux Banking Tool
December 03, 2013
The Linux OS lacks an effective yet simple checking and banking tool. There are money-management tools for Linux users, of course, but most full-fledged offerings are overkill for monitoring spending patterns and balancing financial accounts. In general, Linux financial applications are either too complex to use without an accounting degree or too simple to be truly useful.
A Tale of Two Browsers: Chrome v. Chromium
November 26, 2013
If you've ever used Google's free Chrome browser, you may be aware that it's closely related to another, similarly named Google project called "Chromium." Chrome and Chromium share a heavy portion of their core browser code, but Chrome is a proprietary Google product, while Chromium is open source. Both serve Linux, Windows and Mac OS X platforms, however.
Digital Santa, Part 1: It's a Mall World
November 25, 2013
Red costume, white beard, ruddy cheeks, cheery voice and smiling, twinkly-eyed charm -- all are indispensable tools for any self-respecting Santa Claus. Nowadays, however, there's a lot more than mere lovable magic going on in the business of being Mr. Claus. Modern Santa has gone high-tech, and today he's all about things like Web landing pages, smartphone apps and ever-more-impressive techno-spectacle.
Technology's Artsy Side
November 20, 2013
Google Earth sometimes makes mistakes: Freeways look like they are upside down or waterfalls flow sideways. For engineers or programmers, these might seem like things to fix. For artists like Clement Valla, however, they're artistic opportunities. Valla's project Postcards from Google Earth, for instance, looks at these mistakes and asks not how to get rid of them, but what they mean.
Want Customization With That?
November 19, 2013
Enterprise software vendors want you to believe that they can customize their software to fit your company's particular needs. That promise is also one of open source software's chief claims to fame. So is the make-it-your-way vendor promise a better option than what the open source community offers? No solution involving tailoring versus customizing business software is really free.
Graphene: Have Strength and Conductivity, Will Transform
November 16, 2013
A developing technology using an ultra-thin layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb structure could start revolutionizing consumer electronics and many other industries in less than five years. Known as "graphene," the material's special strength and conductivity make it an ideal component of super-fast, very sensitive and low-cost devices.
The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Robots
November 13, 2013
Robotic instruments that could be programmed to play music, respond to human musicians, and even improvise were a source of fascination for Steven Kemper during his graduate student days. To bring to life his machine music vision, Kemper and colleagues Scott Barton and Troy Rogers founded Expressive Machines Musical Instruments, and began designing PAM.
How to Avoid Cloud Vendor Lock-In
November 13, 2013
Vendor lock-in has been such a standard part of enterprise IT over the years that it often goes unnoticed and unquestioned. Recently, however, that lock-in mentality has followed enterprises to the clouds. One might not think that vendor lock-in would exist for those who use open source software or open cloud solutions. Think again.
Insecurity and the Internet of Things, Part 2: Dangers Lurk
November 06, 2013
In early September, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's first action involving security and the Internet of Things came to fruition. The FTC came to a settlement with Trendnet, which makes Internet-connected video cameras, over the firm's lax security practices. The settlement was over intrusions that occurred in January 2012, when hackers posted live feeds from about 700 Trendnet cameras online.
FOSS in the Enterprise: To Pay or Not to Pay?
November 05, 2013
One of the big attractions behind the growing popularity of open source software is the ability to get it and use it for free. In a world of ever-rising costs in pretty much every other aspect of business and life, "free" is an offer that's increasingly difficult to refuse. Support is one area, however, where "free" may not be all it seems -- particularly for enterprises.
Social Media's Winning Educational Ways
October 30, 2013
Social media is changing the way teachers teach and students learn. When students from the Montclair Kimberley Academy visited Ireland a few years ago, they blogged on Wordpress, posted photos on Flickr, uploaded videos to YouTube, and tweeted. That social media engagement contributed to their education in new and profound ways, said their teacher, William Stites.

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