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IT News: Employment Rate Slows for the First Time in a Year

Plus, MS sponsors video game safety tour, TopCoder competition hits the Web, more.

First, the bad news: According to the National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses, as of September, IT employment stands at 3,667,100 -- up by about 4 percent from September 2005, but not much different from August 2006. This marks September 2006 as the first month in over a year not to show significant growth in IT employment. Blame a slowdown in the hiring rates of non-IT companies, says the NACCB. The good news? The unemployment rate among IT pros is still less than half the national average. http://www.naccb.org

MS Takes Safety to the Streets
Back in the day, parents just needed to protect their kids from racy TV shows; now, many video games and Web sites have enough graphic content to rival anything on late-night HBO. Which is why Robbie Bach, head of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division, is spearheading a 20-city bus tour with a name that's a mouthful: "Safety Is No Game. Is Your Family Set?" With Best Buy and the Boys & Girls Club of America as co-sponsors, the tour will focus on educating parents about the built-in parental control features in Windows Vista and the Xbox 360 that filter what games or sites children can access. http://www.xbox.com/isyourfamilyset

Like 'Iron Chef' But with Binaries
The 2006 TopCoder Collegiate Challenge is coming to a Webcast near you. College programmers representing 92 countries are currently vying for their chance to be part of the Nov. 17 finals in San Diego, which will air live on AOL's developer site in a four-hour Webcast. Look out for celebrity commentators and prizes totaling in the $200,000s. http://www.topcoder.com

New Products: Attachmate, Logitech, More
With Windows Vista right around the corner, we knew it wouldn't take long to hear about products that would be Windows Vista certified. Sure enough, Attachmate Corporation might be the first, with EXTRA! X-treme 9, the company's host access application. Attachmate says the certification ensures that EXTRA! users -- along with users of Reflection, another name in Attachmate's line of host access products -- will be able to integrate with Vista securely and then connect to IBM, UNIX and OpenVMS applications. EXTRA! X-treme 9 will be available in November 2006. http://www.attachmate.com/en-US/Partners/win-vista-info-ctr.htm

Logitech wanted to show its support for Windows Vista, too, and went all-out in this past week's DigitalLife tradeshow, displaying a gamut of peripherals that the company expects will be Vista logo certified by the time Vista launches. On display were the ChillStream contoller (a plug-and-play game pad), the QuickCam Ultra Vision Webcam and the diNovo edge keyboard. http://www.logitech.com

While the great American tradition of road tripping wouldn't be complete without a few wrong turns here and there, Microsoft's latest version of Streets & Trips caters to those of us who'd rather go from Point A to Point B without getting lost at points G, W and Q. Retailing at $129 for a model equipped with a GPS locator ($39.95 for one without), Streets & Trips 2007 integrates with Windows Live Search to give users access to listings for restaurants, gas stations and hotels. And a bonus for getting there on time: road construction updates and cost-of-gas estimates. Those in Europe haven't been forgotten, with AutoRoute 2007. http://www.microsoft.com/streets

The task of monitoring a company's Exchange system can be a daunting one. For companies that don't want either to tax their own resources or to invest in Microsoft's Operations Manager to make sure that Exchange is working smoothly, TechTell might be the solution. For $49.99 a month, the company will provide comprehensive, round-the-clock Exchange monitoring that covers everything from client verification to mail queue length monitoring. http://www.techtell.com

Brand new to the market is SafeBook, Devon IT's thin client terminal that travels like a notebook computer. Starting at $799, the SafeBook runs Windows XP Embedded and doesn't have a hard drive, so it can't lose data or be affected by viruses or spyware, says the company. Devon IT also says that one of the SafeBook's biggest selling points is its portability: It can work on any connection and has a battery that'll last for over six hours. http://www.safebook.net

QiNetix Software, CommVault's line of data management products, will now be used in Microsoft's Partner Solution Center in Redmond, and in Microsoft Technology Centers across the United States. This means that more customers in more cities now have a chance to test and validate CommVault's software before deployment. http://www.commvault.com

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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