Carrier IQ

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Carrier IQ

What should have been a simple diagnostic tool that would securely anonymize customer information is turning into the years last big cause c??«l???bre, as the FBI has all but admitted that its using the software in its investigations. Ive watched enough episodes of The Wire that Im not surprised by that news, but I am disappointed in the carriers and the handset makers for keeping the scope of Carrier IQs data capturing under wraps. I suspect theres a lot more to this than weve heard so far, given the widespread use of the software and its deep hooks into a range of mobile platforms.

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RIM on the Ropes

The beleaguered handset manufacturer was once on the cutting edge, but now its just the punchline to a bad joke, as one disaster after another strikes the companys public image. Between taking a bath of almost half a billion dollars on unsold PlayBooks, the arrest of two senior sales staff for their booze-fueled mid-air rampage, and the companys share of the enterprise market—which declines with every day that passes—it might be time for the Canadian technology giant to prepare some space in the dustbin of history.

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Oracles stewardship of the project turned into a clustered mess this year, as defectors released a competing, and arguably better, version of the productivity suite. The Document Foundation had set itself up in late 2010 as an organization truly committed to an open-source suite, in contrast to Oracles treatment of products it had acquired as a result of its purchase of Sun Microsystems earlier that year. The foundation released the LibreOffice suite in January to relatively positive reviews. By mid-year, Oracles lack of interest in was painfully evident and the company donated the suite to the Apache Software Foundation, where it seems to be going nowhere, having stalled at the 3.3 release while LibreOffice continues to evolve and grow.

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Mac OS X Server

Apples enterprise offerings continued to devolve throughout 2011, following a year that saw the company walk away from its Xserve datacenter-grade hardware in favor of a desktop- and mobile-focused strategy. Anyone who might be tempted to defend the companys de-emphasis of the server as a platform was handed a big fat bowl of shut up in July, when Apple released Mac OS X Lion, with the server components sold as a $49.99 add-on to the client OS, with management tools dumbed-down beyond all recognition. Should the company ditch the Mac Pro in 2012, that will leave the Mac minis server configuration as the companys sole entry in the server marketplace.

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VMware License Spotlight

VMware released vSphere 5 and changed the license structure at the same time. The so-called RAM tax in VMwares initial vSphere 5.0 license was based on the amount of vRAM allocated among virtual machines (which might be less than the total amount of physical RAM installed.) VMware reacted to user concerns and modified the initial license terms, while retaining the basic premise of using vRAM allocation as the basis for license fees. VMware made changes to mollify customer concerns, in particular adding a cap so that a single VM instance would never cost more than one enterprise license. With the elimination of at least one mid-range SKU, VMware has stirred the waters and brought license fees into the spotlight for a product that already has a premium price reputation.

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Dropbox Drops Password

A code change at file sharing site Dropbox temporarily allowed access to 25 million user accounts. The breach occurred when the company applied a code change at 4:54 p.m. EST on June 19 that caused problems with the authentication mechanism. The problem was discovered about four hours later and Dropbox killed all of the sessions of those who were logged in and accessing the data. The password issue allowed access to the 25 million accounts and the information stored inside by typing in any string as the password. The bug was possible because Dropbox handles encryption and decryption on its servers instead of the individual user computers. Since it holds the encryption key, it controls who can open the files, not the user. And for a short time, neither Dropbox nor the user had much control at all.

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No Title

HP PC JitterOn August 18 Hewlett-Packard ,then CEO Leo Apotheker revealed that HP was seriously considering shedding its personal computer businesses. Just two months-and a CEO change later-Meg Whitman, HPs new CEO and president, wrote in an Oct. 27 statement that HP objectively evaluated the strategic, financial and operational impact of spinning off PSG... Whitman continued, Its clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees. That, alongside similar back-and-forth over its WebOS mobile platform, was a whole lotta uncertainty to throw into the IT world and thus earned a mention in our list of 2011 flubs.

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Netflix-Qwikster Split

In July, DVD-by-mail and on-demand video content provider Netflix announced plans to split its DVD and streaming services into separate subscriptions, a move that meant a hefty price increase for users of both services. In response to broad subscriber outcry, Netflix moved to further divide these services, by spinning off its DVD rental operation into a separate business, called Qwikster. Far from quelling customer complaints, the prospect of having separate Web sites, in addition to separate bills to pay, further enraged customers. Shortly after announcing the split, Netflix backtracked and shelved its Qwikster plans, though the company ended up with a major loss of subscribers over the incident.

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