Stories by Tom Yager

The world is a GUI place: Apple and Longhorn

SAN FRANCISCO (11/17/2003) - I wrote a little-read tome called The Multimedia Production Handbook for Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Publishing Co. Even though I wrote it, I recall almost nothing about it now, but I do remember that the first chapter was a treatise on the practical usefulness of multimedia. At the time, the consensus among the serious media was that sound, animation and video had no place in business software. That attitude prevails, although the tide is turning.

InfoPath makes Office shine

SAN FRANCISCO (10/03/2003) - If you want to skip straight to the lowdown, then yes, Microsoft Corp.'s Office 2003 is a must-have upgrade for enterprises. In terms of providing features that individual users need, the productivity suite reached the zenith of its evolution with Office 2000. But Office 2003 Professional Enterprise Edition and Professional Edition for retail deliver XML capabilities that are compelling to companies as a whole, and Enterprise Edition's inclusion of InfoPath turns Office into a powerful front end for IT shops rooted in XML (which, if sense prevails, describes all of IT). Office 2003 Enterprise's XML enhancements alone are worth the upgrade cost.

Live Communications Server 2003 limits IM

SAN FRANCISCO (10/03/2003) - The rapid uptake of IM among technology workers presents a conundrum for management. On the one hand, productivity rises when team members can engage in user friendly, real-time communication. IM is also more versatile than other real-time alternatives. It's not merely a text-based substitute for the telephone; once a channel between users is established, those users can share text, voice, video, files, whiteboards, presentations, and remote terminal sessions. On the other hand, companies are so fearful of security threats, and of the potential dip in productivity due to personal IM on work time, that they have resorted to blocking IM traffic on their routers.

Software patents set sail

SAN FRANCISCO (10/03/2003) - The European Commission's vote on software patents drew as many anxious observers in the United States as it did in Europe. At stake was the possibility that America's bizarre patent system would leak like an oil spill across the Atlantic. If that were to happen, Europe would soon be in the grips of a patent frenzy, just as we're experiencing here.

Die, die accursed PC

SAN FRANCISCO (09/26/2003) - The PC is the black and white TV in the wood cabinet. It's the round, tan thermostat dial, the avocado-green fridge, the Steve Miller Band. It is the beast that kills by boring its victims to death.

Flash: Orion to collide with earth

I recently celebrated my own weirdness by burning six hours on the road for a 45-minute discussion with Sun Microsystems’ CTO of software, John Fowler, who was visiting nearby to stump for Sun’s much-anticipated Project Orion.

Vendors: follow the money

System and component prices started their free fall during the bubble, when insatiable demand cleared shelves as quickly as they were stocked.

Getting past 1984

Recently I wrote about the need for a voluntary, verifiable digital ID for internet-connected computers. That's controversial, but not nearly as polarising as the concept of wireless IDs. That brings to mind government-mandated tracking implants that turn us all into moving blips on a giant screen in Washington.

Identity theft: It's not about you

Technology is a real time-saver for criminals. They can scam thousands of less-savvy internet users by sending legitimate-looking PayPal or AOL queries.

Company time

Technology and economic necessity are making it impossible for people to maintain neatly compartmentalised lives. Employers love that their salaried workers expect to take their work home. Cellphones, BlackBerry handhelds, and notebook computers make commute and travel time productive.

Sun's sweet talk

Sun Microsystems's Greg Papadopoulos shook hands and answered questions in front of the wall-sized panel of white boards he had filled with his charts and diagrams. By the end of his two-hour chat with analysts, he had put a fresh coat of paint on Sun's ages-old tag line, "The network is the computer."

Microsoft's rethink

HailStorm (the snappier code name for Microsoft's .Net My Services) is not dead, it's merely in stasis until Microsoft can sort out some issues -- little issues, such as whether it's possible to make money selling piecemeal web services to end-users, or whether Microsoft can sell direct-to-user services without alienating major partners.

Avoiding merger fallout

Uncertainty attends all mergers. Under the best conditions, it takes several months for the merged entities to identify and trim redundant personnel and projects.