IBM Hoping To SMash Mashup Security Concerns
IBM Research may have come up with a way to encourage users to at least experiment
more aggressively with mashups. Big Blue's lab boys on Thursday morning debuted
a new technology
called SMash -- a clever mashup itself for "secure
mashup" -- that they claim takes the security risk out of deploying mashups.
With the help of a little pixie dust, SMash makes it possible for very different
pieces of code to communicate back and forth, but at the same time the new technology
keeps them at arm's length so that malware doesn't infiltrate enterprise systems.
As IBM officials see it, the biggest technical reservation people have so far
about mashups is the porous nature of browsers these days, which let all sorts
of viruses walk right through the front door and crawl through the back door.
This shortcoming obviously made any sort of serious and widespread business
adoption of mashups impossible. But as consumer technologies increasingly make
their own way through the back door of larger companies, IT organizations are
more inclined to give users some of the necessary tools they need to protect
insecure versions of products readily available on the Web.
IBM is doing another wise thing as part of this rollout: It's donating the
SMash code to the OpenAjax Alliance, a group consisting of open source projects
and companies. This is a smart way to ensure that skeptical business users can
readily access the technology, play around with it and see what its possibilities
are for their respective development projects.
At today's announcement, IBM officials said they plan to offer up SMash in
its commercial mashup product, Lotus Mashups, which is due by the end of this
Wal-Mart Yanks Low-Cost Linux PCs
If anyone could help Linux-based PCs make a breakthrough at the retail level,
you might be willing to bet a week's pay it would be Wal-Mart selling low-cost,
fair-to-middling-performing systems. Well, not so much.
The nation's largest retailer has decided to take the Linux-based Everex TC2502
Green gPC, priced at $199, off
its shelves because of "unsatisfactory customer response." Just
last year Wal-Mart had decided to carry the system in 600 of its stores where
the company saw a lot of interest among users for buying low-cost PCs.
It makes you wonder, though, just how much broad-based interest there was in
those stores. In the past, Wal-Mart has yanked other low-cost Linux-based systems
from its shelves, including systems bundled with Lindows. At any rate, this
is just one more door slammed in the face of Linux's attempts to steal some
market share from Microsoft on the desktop. The open source operating system's
share still can't sneak past the 2 percent mark, according to IDC numbers from
late last year.
Wal-Mart officials said they would continue to offer the Everex system through
its Web site. In a prepared statement, they said they believe they could reach
a "more targeted consumer" that way. God bless them for their optimism
Windows Home Server Needs a Fix
It seems Microsoft is having more
than a little trouble finding the right pesticide to snuff out the bugs
eating away at its Windows Home Server product.
notified users about some of the insects responsible for corrupting files
about three months ago. Typically, Microsoft would jump on such a potentially
dangerous problem and hopefully deliver a fix in a month or two, at best. Unfortunately,
for the small but hearty group of Home Server users, this won't be the case.
In fact, the company put
up a bulletin notifying users that a fix likely won't come until June.
Yes, June -- or about a year after Microsoft initially released the product.
I think this classifies as more than a minor inconvenience for the users who've
invested their time and hard-earned dollars on this product.
According to the bulletin, files get corrupted only when customers use certain
programs to edit or transfer files stored on a server that has more than a single
hard drive. However, some of those programs include Microsoft Outlook and Intuit
QuickBooks, two pretty widely used pieces of software.
What's strange about this, of course, is that it's taking so long to fix the
problem. Especially since the Home Server team says it has located the source
of the problem, which is "at an extremely low level of the operating system"
and requires "thorough testing," according the team's blog. The team
goes on to say that it's making steady progress toward coming up with a fix,
though at least "several more weeks of testing" will be required.
Sorry, but this still isn't a real explanation for why it's taking so long
to fix a product that's been on the market now for about nine months. If Microsoft
had high hopes for volume sales of this product -- and they might be alone in
this aspiration -- it's throttling its own chances with each passing month.
Ed Scannell is the editor of Redmond magazine.