Tech trends and business ideas

All things that motivate entrepreneurs

Friday, January 30, 2009

Come out of the cocoon, Mr.Ellison

Bob Evans of Information week in his open letter to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison to wind down its sinful 22% software maintenance cost –

“No one's asking you to slash the 22% fee irresponsibly and give away your ability to create great new products and support the ones your currently have. But the longer you dig in and tell CIOs that you're not interested in the wicked expense challenges they're facing, the longer they're going to remember that when the current recessionary climate fades and new alternatives gain strength. As Manjit Singh, CIO of Chiquita Brands, suggested to InformationWeek, what about some alternative tiers for which you charge less and in turn provide less? Singh proposed a 12% fee that would offer bug fixes but not upgrades -- is that not an idea worth considering? Or 12% for support 9-to-5 rather than 24 hours?

Or 15% with support delivered by a third-party network of Oracle (NSDQ: ORCL)-authorized teams? Mr. Ellison, it's easy to see why you like the current system, where someone pays, for example, $4,000,000 for a software license and then pays you $880,000 every year for "maintenance." And maybe CIOs will continue to find that's a fair exchange of value. But maybe they won't -- as you know better than just about anyone, the IT industry is an archetype of creative destruction, where faster/better/cheaper alternatives relentlessly stalk, attack, and kill older/slower/more-expensive models. Perhaps the model you and Charles Phillips and the entire Oracle global team have built is so extraordinarily singular that it will endure forever and remain unassailable from the forces that have ground down every previous eternal model in the technology business. But may be not.”

Oracle is not immune to challenges of the times. No company is. Sooner they recognize and change, the better ! Hubris loses in the end, always.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, January 29, 2009

When the going gets tough, the bad get going

Former disgruntled Fannie Mae Employee and Unix engineer Rajendrasinh Makwana, 35 is not the kind to just pack up and leave quietly. After being fired from Fannie Mae, Makwana was apparently pissed off…very pissed off. Proving that you can be highly intelligent and still be stupid before packing off for one last time from his workstation, he proceeded to imbed malicious code on Fanny Mae servers, which had it kicked into action like it was supposed to on January 31, would have destroyed data on all Fannie Mae servers. The script was thankfully spotted by chance before it went off. For his little stunt he is now facing up to 10 years in prison, though currently out on a $100,000 bail. Well done genius.

In a recession, companies are often forced to take steps that leave a broad wake of unhappy and stressed workers, and according to a global survey, disgruntlement-driven damage is the No. 1 security worry of IT decision makers. The studies estimated that data theft and cybercrime breaches last year cost businesses worldwide more than $1 trillion in data loss and recovery expenses, and it warned that companies are more vulnerable now than ever. This could be a wake-up call because the current economic crisis is poised to create a global meltdown in vital information. Increased pressures on firms to reduce spending and cut staffing have led to more porous defenses and increased opportunity for crime. The economic downturn across the board is motivation enough for those who harbor hostility towards their ex-employers for their current sorry plight. It could be possibly on a lot of people's radar right now.

No. I don’t work for a IT security solution provider and have no vested interest other than to spread a word of caution.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Does web content aggregation violate copyright laws?

Content aggregation is not entirely risk free.

I am referring to the recent settlement between GateHouse Media, publisher of community newspapers and New York Times Co., parent company of The Boston Globe and site. In context is a suit over the appearance of headlines and first paragraphs from GateHouse news publications on's new hyper-local sites. In its lawsuit, GateHouse claims that is building community-oriented sites that rely on the work of GateHouse reporters thereby violating its copyright and trademark laws by taking Gatehouse's newspaper headlines and lead sentences published on its home pages. GateHouse’s major worry is about the empowerment of Boston Globe’s readers that gain the ability to access GateHouse content while by-passing ads appearing in GateHouse home pages – and the extended fears of consequential loss of its ad revenues.

The settlement envisages GateHouse will set up technical barriers to prevent's scraping spiders from automatically scarfing up its headlines and RSS feeds, and will honor those barriers.

To me, on a first glance it's the perfect lose-lose solution. readers lose an opportunity to be exposed to GateHouse stories, and GateHouse loses the traffic from those external links. And everyone loses if more sites take similar steps to restrict the entry points to their content. May be, the arrangement is not binding on others or it may not even set a legal precedent. But could it not persuade a Judge in another similar case to lean on the direction and terms of this verdict? Have web advertisers got on board without visualizing the extra mileage that linking freedom provides? To rephrase the question – would they have come to GateHouse Media if told that the extra ad mileage is snapped shut because of linking restrictions?

I think it’s time to dust up and endorse Russel Shaw’s (of ZD Net) earlier proposal to pass a “Freedom to Link” Act !

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Happy Birthday, spreadsheet"

PC Mag columnist and tech critic John Dvorak on spread sheets.

"2009 marks the 30-year anniversary of the now-ubiquitous spreadsheet program. And society as a whole has deteriorated ever since its invention. It was the spreadsheet that triggered the PC revolution, with VisiCalc the original culprit. Can anyone say that we've actually benefited from its invention? Look around: I think we've suffered.

For one thing, the spreadsheet created the "what if" society. Instead of moving forward and progressing normally, the what-if society questions each and every move we make. It second-guesses everything. Because of the spreadsheet we've been forced to "do the numbers" whenever possible; once the numbers are in the spreadsheet, the what-if process can begin.

In fact, the spreadsheet has resulted in the rise of the once-lowly accountant/bean counter to a position of influence—and often the executive suite. How often in years past—the pre-spreadsheet era, that is—did an accountant take over a company? When and why did the CFO become a title? These people, at best, were once known as comptrollers.

I don't blame any of these folks for taking advantage of the spreadsheet and the evolution of what-if. But why give them the keys to the car when you knew they couldn't drive? Look around and see what's happened. You can thank the spreadsheet for all of this junk. Happy birthday."
Well, putting an accountant in the driver's seat is certainly not advisible if the business seeks innovation $$ and relies a lot on open pipe R&D. They would never come to terms with something that yields return over the long term, something that is an exclusive preserve of the visionary. But guess who gets called in when you need those dollars to kick it in? Go to an investor and the first thing he would ask is "show me the RoI" ; and the bean counter is ushered in - that is to say, spread his sheet :-)

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Google says "No, I don't pollute the planet enough"

A recent report by a Harvard physicist estimates that a Google search generates about seven grams of carbon dioxide based on the electricity required to keep the company's servers running.

The headlines about the study quickly proliferated around the globe, with the UK's Inquirer chiding, "Googling pollutes the planet." Well, sure, but so does just about every other human activity. And it is in that context that Googling and Internet usage must be judged.

In short, the Google says it's not just me. Here is a good comparison of google choking with other gas guzzler - the boring automobile...

Labels: ,