Don't Trust Those IRS Computers?

I finally broke down and filed my taxes electronically this year, only to discover that the IRS network may not be as secure as it could be.

According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) office, there's lax control over the accounts given to administrators configuring and maintaining the routers and switches on the network. Specifically, a number of accounts needed to be reauthorized, and several were being used without authorization.

Do you file electronically? Do you trust the IRS to handle your electronic data securely? Let me know at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

AMD Announces Job Cuts
In a reflection of both the slower economy and its own weakened competitive position, chip maker AMD announced this week that it was planning to cut its workforce by 10 percent -- that's about 1,600 of its employees -- by the third quarter of 2008. The company hopes to return to profitability later this year.

Few of us would disagree that a strong AMD is essential in ensuring both innovation and low chip prices in general. AMD's rapid move to multicore systems several years ago resulted in a burst of innovation from both itself and Intel. Let's hope that continues.

Do you use AMD processors? Why or why not? Let me know at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

EMC Agrees To Acquire Iomega
EMC said it has agreed to acquire Iomega for $213 million in order to bolster its offerings, particularly for consumers and small businesses. The companies had been in talks for several months, after an initial offer had been rejected.

Iomega still makes the Zip drive, which had a brief burst of popularity in the early and mid-1990s as high-density, inexpensive storage. However, it has long since gone out of fashion, and today the company focuses on its Rev backup drive and network storage.

I still own two Zip drives, but haven't used them in years. How about you? Is your Zip drive still functional? Tell me about your Zip storage at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

Online Sales Remain Robust
According to research firm Forrester, online sales are expected to rise 17 percent this year, even as traditional stores see slowdowns related to lower consumer spending.

Of course, online spending starts from a much smaller base, but its continued strong growth is still impressive.

Online retailers said their plans include ramping up their investment in ads on social networking sites (like Facebook.com and MySpace.com), and doing less promotions and old media advertisements.

Are you buying more online these days? If so, why? Fill me in at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

Mailbag: Is Yahoo Worth It?, Next Stop for Virtualization
In light of some recent developments in the Microsoft-Yahoo bidding drama, Doug suggested that Microsoft should just forget about Yahoo and use its money to innovate. Some of you are nodding your heads:

Couldn't agree with you more.
-Dan

Yahoo is a distraction. I surf all the time and rarely bump into a Yahoo enterprise. Recently, a friend asked me into a Yahoo group. What a disappointing piece of '90s software that was.

For a billion, Microsoft could buy 37 signals, get 2 million users, Web 2.0 nirvana and Ruby on Rails, a programming language with buzz. Well, you know what I mean: Buy tomorrow not yesterday.
-Garry

But if the deal does go through, Stephen already has some ideas about what Microsoft should do:

If Microsoft wanted to make some money after it buys Yahoo, it should lower the price of the Yahoo Vista Ultimate Edition -- with or without Bill Gates' signature -- to $99. Most of the complaints about Vista are really price- and version-related. Think back to when XP came out over six years ago; did you run that on your old DOS 286 box? I think not.
-Stephen

Doug had a few bones to pick with virtualization, but mostly agreed with Gartner's description of it as the "highest-impact trend in [the] infrastructure and operations market." Kurt adds his 2 cents:

You're right on with virtualization, but don't forget the next big "v" bang: software virtualization. I'm waiting for M$ to do something substantial with its SoftGrid purchase. The health care industry will definitely embrace it once it gets some real press.
-Kurt

Agree, disagree? Tell us where you stand! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Peter Varhol is the executive editor, reviews of Redmond magazine and has more than 20 years of experience as a software developer, software product manager and technology writer. He has graduate degrees in computer science and mathematics, and has taught both subjects at the university level.

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