Stories by Eric Lai

NZ's NextWindow rides Windows 7 touch-screen wave

Auckland-based NextWindow's optical touch-screen overlays, which are already used to touch-enable Dell and HP PCs, are being adopted by PC and monitor makers rushing to take advantage of touch-screen support in Windows 7.

Free software group attacks Windows 7 'sins'

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) on Wednesday launched a campaign against Microsoft Corp.'s upcoming Windows 7 operating system, calling it "treacherous computing" that stealthily takes away rights from users.

Informatica to join Amazon EC2 cloud service

Informatica, one of the last of the standalone data integration software vendors, is bringing its on-premise enterprise software to's hosted service EC2.
PowerCenter Cloud Edition will have all of the features of version 8.6 of its standard flagship PowerCenter suite, says Girish Pancha, Informatica's executive vice president and general manager of data integration.
Users will be able to buy the service, now in beta and due for release in September, via a standard licence or hourly.
The service is aimed at data integration developers who are increasingly hosting data on's S3 data storage service, Pancha says. It may also help Informatica, which tends to sell to enterprises with large data integration needs, win smaller customers.
"We are not worried about cannibalisation," he says.
Informatica fills a hole in the enterprise software lineup available on EC2, which is loaded with databases and data processing apps such as Oracle, MySQL, Microsoft's SQL Server, and Hadoop, and application servers like IBM WebSphere, JBoss, and Oracle's WebLogic, but lacks any data integration or ETL (extract, transfer and load) tools.
"We believe that we are the first to offer data integration in the cloud," Pancha says. "This is green field for us. Over time, others will follow us. Ultimately, it will be our traditional competitors."
Informatica already had a SaaS offering called Informatica-on-Demand. This is aimed at business users rather than developers, he says, and was mostly used to integrate cloud-based data back into an on-premises data repository.
Informatica announced the cloud service late last month.
Informatica, which has been the subject of Oracle takeover rumours, relies heavily on customers using both its apps and Oracle's, acknowledged Informatica CEO Sohaib Abbasi during a recent conference call with Wall Street analysts.
Abbasi said Oracle's full-fledged entry into the data integration market via its acquisition of GoldenGate won't hurt Informatica's business, and that the two companies will continue to "partner very strongly".
He said: "In the past five years, we have not competed against GoldenGate. And the reason for it is that we provide distinctly different technologies. The best way to characterise GoldenGate technology would be for data movement applications and that's why they are used primarily for high availability," Abbasi said. "The competitive landscape has not changed much over the years ... I expect that we will continue to enjoy as strong a partnership with Oracle as we do with HP and SAP and Microsoft."
Abbasi also said that the upcoming version 9 of PowerCenter will offer more features to attract business users, rather than IT users like data integration developers.

Yale researchers create database-Hadoop hybrid

Yale University researchers have released an open-source parallel database that they say combines the data-crunching prowess of a relational database with the scalability of next-generation technologies such as Hadoop and MapReduce.

Flash now available to Android device vendors

Embedded software maker Bsquare confirmed last week it has ported Adobe Systems' Flash mobile player to ARM-based smartphones and smartbooks running Google's Android operating system.

Intel 'breaks' Moore's Law with new Atom chips

It seems Moore's Law doesn't apply to the next generation of Intel's Atom chips. The low-cost, power-sipping chips, codenamed "Pineview," will greatly improve upon both of those traits, but at the expense of any significant speed boost, according to authentic-looking specs leaked this month.

Google guru calls JavaScript a performance killer

Nowadays, even regular web surfers know some of the things to avoid when designing a website for fast performance. Cut the number of requests to the web server. Shrink JPEG sizes. Employ a content delivery network vendor like Akamai Technologies or Limelight Networks.
The problem is, according to Steve Souders, steps like these aimed at optimising the web server make only a tiny impact.
"We used to tear apart the Apache [web server] code to figure out what Yahoo was doing," said Souders, who was Yahoo's chief performance engineer for several years before moving to Google in the same role.

Forget the netbook, here's the smartbook

If you still blanche at the term "netbook" for being an ungainly piece of vendor-speak, then prepare to be nauseated later this year as "smartbook" supporters start to bang that marketing drum.

Intel to appeal European anticompetitiveness fine

Intel intends to appeal the European Commission's 1.06 billion Euro (NZ$2.43 billion) fine for anticompetitive behaviour in the chip market, with CEO Paul Otellini arguing that the EC "ignored or disregarded" evidence "refuting" its judgment.

Microsoft: Windows 7 is faster on SSDs

Microsoft recently gave a strong, though qualified, endorsement for running Windows 7 on PCs equipped with solid-state disk (SSD) drives, saying it has tuned the upcoming operating system to run faster on the still-emerging storage technology.