So Long, Sir Clarke
You, I'm sure, have heard that Sir Arthur C. Clarke left
us last week
at the age of 90. Clarke was a true renaissance man. Many forget
that he was a real scientist and technical visionary. He invented the idea of
orbiting satellites and later proposed them as a way to bring the Internet to
the Third World.
I was lucky enough to correspond with Sir Clarke for several years. Even though
he was way over in Sri Lanka, Clarke read AmigaWorld while I was editor
in chief. Clarke loved the Amiga and used it to explore Mandelbrots, geometrical
shapes that expand inward and out infinitely. The shapes they form also make
great hippy T-shirts. These fractals drove his novel The Ghost from the Grand
Clarke would fax me his thoughts, along with clips of Mandelbrots carved into
corn fields in England as well as stories about the 25th birthday of HAL, the
computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. I now have a prize collection of letters
and newspaper clippings from one of the world's greatest minds. Who says journalism
Clarke more recently survived the tsunami and worked to find better ways to
predict these waves and warn coastal inhabitants.
What's your favorite Arthur C. Clarke work? Let us know by writing me at email@example.com.
The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation
is also a good place to park some of your extra dough.
VMware Ain't the Only Hypervisor
VMware made news last month when Dell, HP and IBM all
agreed to bundle a small, tight version of VMware with its servers. This
made it seem almost like VMware is the only game in town, the Microsoft of virtualization.
The reality is the field is far more complex and competitive.
It's not just the looming threat of Hyper-V, which will be huge as Microsoft
is making all the right moves with pricing and enticing developers. Citrix is
also playing big-time in this space with its acquisition of Xen. Sun is basing
its new xVM hypervisor on Xen, and last week HP
announced that it will embed a version of XenServer on HP servers -- just
like it's doing with VMware.
Like the early days of productivity software and even desktop operating systems,
this market is wide-the-heck-open. This is gonna be fun.
There's a New Web Site in
Call it Redmond Report Take 2. Last week, we launched a new Web site that's
so simple in concept, even I could've thought it up (but I didn't; my boss Henry
Redmond Report (yup, it shares its name with this here newsletter) is simply
a bunch of links from a bunch of sites to a bunch of stories about Microsoft.
Like I said, pretty dang simple. Already, the site has stories about Vista
Service Pack 1, a new Word exploit and advice about what company Microsoft should
buy (instead of Yahoo).
So click over to RedmondReport.com,
then write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
and let me know what you think.
Mailbag: Microsoft vs. Novell,
Readers share more
of their thoughts on Novell's antitrust
suit against Microsoft:
I'd be the first to admit I don't know much of anything about Novell's
lawsuit but, IMHO, Microsoft Office won the war long before Novell cobbled
together its suite of long-forgotten also-rans. WordPerfect's first Windows
offering wasn't very good and pretty buggy. dBase really stumbled before even
the transition to Windows. I recall Lotus' first Windows product being pretty
good but not compelling. The Microsoft offerings, with the possible exception
of Access which had no real Windows-based competition and eventually grabbed
FoxPro's engine, were far better.
Quattro Pro? An old Borland hand-me-down. WordPerfect? Another hand-me-down.
Didn't Corel once own them? Who else? I remember Novell putting this suite
together and wondering how desperate a company can get. These Windows products
had failed time and time again! I recall even Novell admitting it was a last-ditch
effort at the time.
Does anyone in their right mind actually believe that Novell was sitting
on a multibillion-dollar product line (forgetting the fact whether Microsoft
sabotaged it or not)? Next, they'll sue the open source movement that's produced
the only real competition, OpenOffice, for predatory pricing!
Overall, I'd like to see MS get more than chastised. I've watched it since
the 1980s as it shot one competitor after another in the knees; it seemed
like it canvassed the entire software market, and whenever any software company
became too successful, Microsoft would either hobble the other company's app
in the MS operating system (as they did to Lotus 1-2-3: "DOS isn't done
'til Lotus won't run!"), or else include a scaled-down version of the
competing program with the MS OS of the day. So I'd like to see Novell win
a big one.
I don't have any first-hand information to back this up but I always worried
it was the case. When I worked at a company named Revenio in Burlington, Mass.
about six years ago, there were a few software engineers there who had worked
at MS in Waltham. They always claimed that while in the employ of MS it was
the mantra of the company to pick whoever was in their crosshairs and say,
"Windows is not done until Lotus won't run" or "Windows is
not done until Novell won't run." Years back, I heard from employees
of Dell that MS made it abundantly clear when they first started offering
Linux on their machines that MS would make life very difficult to the point
that Dell abandoned the Linux market. They stayed out of the Linux market
I hate being a conspiracy theorist, but man, oh man, it always seemed
obvious who was next on the MS list and MS never seemed to fail in crushing
its competitors: Lotus, Aston-Tate, Novell, Netscape... I would like to believe
Microsoft just plain won, but its products were not superior; its products
were always good enough and marketed well. Maybe that's the key, where it
focused its effort. In any event, it did win. It's the de facto standard and
you cannot run a business without it so I am not sure it matters much. Even
if Novell wins the suit, a couple billion dollars is not enough to hurt MS.
It will just prolong the inevitable for Novell -- the long, slow death spiral.
I definitely believe that Microsoft did something to impede WordPerfect's
progress. At our junior college, around 2001-2003, we were teaching "Integrated
Office Applications" using Microsoft, and also "Word Processing"
using WordPerfect. I remember having to fight (configure) the computers in
the students' computer labs: WordPerfect ran the semester before, but now
suddenly needed "Administrator" privileges. Each new semester was
a challenge, to see what would suddenly no longer work, and how to fix it.
We had used Lotus in our curriculum. I had Quattro Pro at home, and was
quite satisfied with it. The main thing about Excel was that it was bundled
and convenient. And once the new skills were acquired, it integrated much
better into Word documents.
week, Lafe reported on the Hannaford
Bros. security hack and asked readers whether they've had any experiences
with stolen personal data. Here's what some of you had to say:
Were that to happen in Florida, there's a good chance that hackers can
access the Florida county public records Web sites to obtain everything they
need to know about people, including SSNs, some bank accounts, certainly home
addresses, sometimes Florida drivers license numbers -- all because the county
records clerks bought and installed software that also provide images of documents
instead of just the text indexes of documents that the state law called for.
Now, for the last seven years, many property owners' identity data is up for
I had my debit card number stolen from a restaurant firm, Not Your Average
Joe's, that I used to frequent in Acton, Mass. Oddly enough, there was a company-wide
e-mail alerting our employees about the theft. A couple of days later, I noticed
a $1,500 purchase on my statement from an electronics store in Florida. I
went to the company's Web site and everything there was listed in Spanish,
no English anywhere. Apparently, someone bought a large flat-screen TV using
My bank credit card account was hacked semi-recently. The (National City)
bank was running Windows 3.1 on its teller stations at the time -- remember,
with Program Manager? A story had apeared the month before warning that some
NCB accounts had been hacked.
A hacker used my card number online to order a Fuji FinePix 9000 camera
for around $900. He forgot to change the delivery address, and it was dropped
on my doorstep with no signature. When I contacted the seller (Best Buy),
I convinced an employee to forward the original e-mail to me before I mentioned
the word "hacked." After I said that word, Best Buy refused to discuss
the matter with me. (I still have the camera.) I used the e-mail header to
track the order back to an IP address in Texas. The bank refunded my money
and gave me a new card, no problem. They refused to take any action with the
information on the hacker. I explained the whole issue to the local FBI, and
was told that they didn't have the resources to do anything about it. Hmm...
Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to email@example.com.