Technology

When Exxon Wanted To Be a Personal Computing Revolutionary 29

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-in-the-day dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this story about Exxon's early involvement with consumer computers. "This weekend is the anniversary of the release of the Apple IIc, the company's fourth personal computer iteration and its first attempt at creating a portable computer. In 1981, Apple's leading competitor in the world of consumer ('novice') computer users was IBM, but the market was about to experience a deluge of also-rans and other silent partners in PC history, including the multinational descendant of Standard Oil, Exxon. The oil giant had been quietly cultivating a position in the microprocessor industry since the mid-1970s via the rogue Intel engineer usually credited with developing the very first commercial microprocessor, Federico Faggin, and his startup Zilog. Faggin had ditched Intel in 1974, after developing the 4004 four-bit CPU and its eight-bit successor, the 8008. As recounted in Datapoint: The Lost Story of the Texans Who Invented the Personal Computer, Faggin was upset about Intel's new requirement that employees had to arrive by eight in the morning, while he usually worked nights. Soon after leaving Intel and forming Zilog, Faggin was approached by Exxon Enterprises, the investment arm of Exxon, which began funding Zilog in 1975."
Data Storage

220TB Tapes Show Tape Storage Still Has a Long Future 229

Posted by Soulskill
from the 11.73-libraries-of-congress-per-pony dept.
alphadogg writes: IBM and Fujifilm have figured out how to fit 220TB of data on a standard-size tape that fits in your hand, flexing the technology's strengths as a long-term storage medium. The prototype Fujifilm tape and accompanying drive technology from IBM labs packs 88 times as much data onto a tape as industry-standard LTO-6 systems using the same size cartridge, IBM says. LTO6 tape can hold 2.5TB, uncompressed, on a cartridge about 4 by 4 inches across and 2 centimeters thick. The new technologies won't come out in products for several years.
Microsoft

Microsoft Celebrates 40th Anniversary 142

Posted by timothy
from the 14,609-days-ought-to-be-enough-for-anybody dept.
HughPickens.com writes Alyssa Newcomb reports at ABC News that the software company started by Bill Gates and Paul Allen on April 4, 1975 is 40 and fabulous and highlights products and moments that helped define Microsoft's first four decades including: Microsoft's first product — software for the Altair 8800; Getting a deal to provide a DOS Operating System for IBM's computers in 1980; Shipping Windows 1.0 in 1985; Microsoft Office for Mac released in 1989; Windows 3.0 ships in 1990, ushering in the era of graphics on computers; Windows 95 launches in 1995, selling an astounding 7 million copies in the first five weeks, and the first time the start menu, task bar, minimize, maximize and close buttons are introduced on each window.

For his part, Bill Gates sent a letter to employees celebrating Microsoft's anniversary, and how far computing has come since he and Paul Allen set the goal of a computer on every desk and in every home, and predicting that computing will evolve faster in the next 10 years than it ever has before.
China

IBM and OpenPower Could Mean a Fight With Intel For Chinese Server Market 85

Posted by timothy
from the round-the-mulberry-bust dept.
itwbennett writes With AMD's fade out from the server market and the rapid decline of RISC systems, Intel has stood atop the server market all by itself. But now IBM, through its OpenPOWER Foundation, could give Intel and its server OEMs a real fight in China, which is a massive server market. As the investor group Motley Fool notes, OpenPOWER is a threat to Intel in the Chinese server market because the government has been actively pushing homegrown solutions over foreign technology, and many of the Foundation members, like Tyan, are from China.
Databases

Michael Stonebraker Wins Turing Award 40

Posted by Soulskill
from the much-deserved-recognition dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Michael Stonebraker, an MIT researcher who has revolutionized the field of database management systems and founded multiple successful database companies, has won the Association for Computing Machinery's $1 million A.M. Turing Award, often referred to as "the Nobel Prize of computing." In his previous work at the University of California at Berkeley, Stonebraker developed two of his most influential systems, Ingres and Postgres (PDF), which provide the foundational ideas — and, in many cases, specific source code — that spawned several contemporary database products, including IBM's Informix and EMC's Greenplum. Ingres was one of the first relational databases, which provide a more organized way to store multiple kinds of entities – and which now serve as the industry standard for business storage. Postgres, meanwhile, integrated Ingres' ideas with object-oriented programming, enabling users to natively map objects and their attributes into databases. This new notion of "object-relational" databases could be used to represent and manipulate complex data, like computer-aided design, geospatial data, and time series.
IBM

IBM Will Share Tech With China To Help Build IT Industry There 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the different-tack-from-Google dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from Reuters: IBM Corp will share technology with Chinese firms and will actively help build China's industry, CEO Virginia Rometty said in Beijing as she set out a strategy for one of the foreign firms hardest hit by China's shifting technology policies. IBM must help China build its IT industry rather than viewing the country solely as a sales destination or manufacturing base, Rometty said. ... [Her] remarks were among the clearest acknowledgements to date by a high-ranking foreign technology executive that companies must adopt a different tack if they are to continue in China amid growing political pressure. A number of U.S. technology companies operating in China are forming alliances with domestic operators, hoping a local partner will make it easier to operate in the increasingly tough environment for foreign businesses.
IBM

A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute 110

Posted by timothy
from the straight-to-godwin dept.
theodp writes Now that we have hard data on everything, observes the NY Times' Virginia Heffernan in A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute, we no longer make decisions from our hearts, guts or principles. "The gut is dead," writes Heffernan. "Long live the data, turned out day and night by our myriad computers and smart devices. Not that we trust the data, as we once trusted our guts. Instead, we 'optimize' it. We optimize for it. We optimize with it." To win Presidential elections. To turn web pages into Googlebait. To sucker people into registering for websites. Of the soon-to-arrive Apple Watch, Heffernan notes: "After time keeping, the watch's chief feature is 'fitness tracking': It clocks and stores physiological data with the aim of getting you to observe and change your habits of sloth and gluttony. Evidently I wasn't the only one whose thoughts turned to 20th-century despotism: The entrepreneur Anil Dash quipped on Twitter, albeit stretching the truth, 'Not since I.B.M. sold mainframes to the Nazis has a high-tech company embraced medical data at this scale.'"
Caldera

Not Quite Dead: SCO Linux Suit Against IBM Stirs In Utah 170

Posted by timothy
from the no-one-expects-the-mcbride-inquisition dept.
An anonymous reader points to a story in the Salt Lake Tribune which says that The nearly defunct Utah company SCO Group Inc. and IBM filed a joint report to the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City saying that legal issues remain in the case, which was initiated in 2003 with SCO claiming damages of $5 billion against the technology giant, based in Armonk, N.Y. That likely means that U.S. District Judge David Nuffer, who now presides over the dispute, will start moving the lawsuit — largely dormant for about four years while a related suit against Novell Inc. was adjudicated — ahead. What kind of issues? In addition to its claims of IBM misappropriation of code, SCO alleges that IBM executives and lawyers directed the company's Linux programmers to destroy source code on their computers after SCO made its allegations. The company's other remaining claims are that IBM's actions amounted to unfair competition and interference with its contracts and business relations with other companies. IBM has remaining claims against SCO that allege the Utah company violated contracts, copied and distributed IBM code that had been placed in Linux and that SCO created a campaign of "fear, uncertainty and doubt" about IBM's products and services because of the dispute over Unix code.
Blackberry

BlackBerry's Latest Experiment: a $2,300 'Secure' Tablet 95

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-people-who-think-high-end-tablets-are-too-cheap dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After missing the boat on smartphones, BlackBerry has been throwing everything they can at the wall to see what sticks. From making square phones to insisting users want physical keyboards, their only standard is how non-standard they've become. Now they're expanding this strategy to the tablet market with a security-centric tablet that costs $2,300. And they're not doing it alone — the base device is actually a Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5. The tablet runs Samsung Knox boot tech, as well as software from IBM and encryption specialist Secusmart (which BlackBerry recently purchased). The device will be targeted at businesses and organizations who have particular need for secure devices.

"Organizations deploying the SecuTablet will be able to set policies controlling what apps can run on the devices, and whether those apps must be wrapped, said IBM Germany spokesman Stefan Hefter. The wrapping process—in which an app is downloaded from a public app store, bundled with additional libraries that encrypt its network traffic and intercept Android 'intents' for actions such as cutting or pasting data, then uploaded to a private app store—ensures that corporate data can be protected at rest, in motion and in use, he said. For instance, it can prevent data from a secure email being copied and pasted into the Facebook app running on the same device—yet allow it to be pasted into a secure collaboration environment, or any other app forming part of the same 'federation,' he said."
IBM

IBM Reported To Be Developing Blockchain-Based Currency Transaction System 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the mining-your-own-business dept.
An anonymous reader writes: According to a Reuters source, IBM is working with the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks to develop a digital currency transaction system using the same blockchain technology that underpins Bitcoin — but which will deal with existing national currencies. The anonymous source says: "These coins will be part of the money supply...It's the same money, just not a dollar bill with a serial number on it, but a token that sits on this blockchain," Despite vocal community protest about the potential "co-opting" of a geographically-neutral cryptocurrency in favor of a centrally-controlled distributed transaction ledger, the IBM project, if true, is only one among hundreds seeking to leverage the blockchain for new transaction systems.
Security

Flaw In Dropbox SDK For Android Lets Attackers Steal Data Sent To Users' Account 23

Posted by Soulskill
from the many-points-of-failure dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from IBM's security team have discovered an authentication flaw in the Dropbox Software Development Kit (SDK) for Android that can be exploited to capture new data a user saves to its Dropbox account. The flaw has been extensively documented by the researchers in a blog post, but the things you initially need to know are these: the vulnerability can be exploited if you use an app that uses a Dropbox SDK Version 1.5.4 through 1.6.1 (the latest one is v1.6.3), or if you visit a specially-crafted malicious page with your Android web browser targeting that app, and that's only if you don't have the Dropbox for Android app installed. Also, an attacker can't access the data you have previously stored in your Dropbox account.
Security

Anthem Blocking Federal Auditor From Doing Vulnerability Scans 116

Posted by samzenpus
from the suspicious-behavior dept.
chicksdaddy writes Anthem Inc., the Indiana-based health insurer, has informed a federal auditor, the Office of Personnel Management, that it will not permit vulnerability scans of its network — even after acknowledging that it was the victim of a massive breach that leaked data on tens of millions of patients. According to this article, Anthem is citing "company policy" that prohibits third party access to its network in declining to let auditors from OPM's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) conduct scans for vulnerable systems. OPM's OIG performs a variety of audits on health insurers that provide health plans to federal employees under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, or FEHBP. Insurers aren't mandated to comply — though most do. This isn't Anthem's first time saying "no thanks" to the offer of a network vulnerability scan. The company also declined to let OIG scan its network in 2013. A partial audit report issued at the time warned that the company, then known as WellPoint, "provided us with conflicting statements" on issues related to information security, including Wellpoint's practices regarding regular configuration audits and its plans to shift to IBM's Tivoli Endpoint Manager (TEM) platform.
United States

US Govt and Private Sector Developing "Precrime" System Against Cyber-Attacks 55

Posted by samzenpus
from the knowing-is-half-the-battle dept.
An anonymous reader writes A division of the U.S. government's Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) unit, is inviting proposals from cybersecurity professionals and academics with a five-year view to creating a computer system capable of anticipating cyber-terrorist acts, based on publicly-available Big Data analysis. IBM is tentatively involved in the project, named CAUSE (Cyber-attack Automated Unconventional Sensor Environment), but many of its technologies are already part of the offerings from other interested organizations. Participants will not have access to NSA-intercepted data, but most of the bidding companies are already involved in analyses of public sources such as data on social networks. One company, Battelle, has included the offer to develop a technique for de-anonymizing BItcoin transactions (pdf) as part of CAUSE's security-gathering activities.
Open Source

Linux Kernel Switching To Linux v4.0, Coming With Many New Addons 264

Posted by timothy
from the year-of-the-hurr-durr dept.
An anonymous reader writes Following polling on Linus Torvald's Google+ page, he's decided to make the next kernel version Linux 4.0 rather than Linux 3.20. Linux 4.0 is going to bring many big improvements besides the version bump with there being live kernel patching, pNFS block server support, VirtIO 1.0, IBM z13 mainframe support, new ARM SoC support, and many new hardware drivers and general improvements. Linux 4.0 is codenamed "Hurr durr I'ma sheep."
Businesses

Microsoft To Offer Azure Credits To Compete With IBM, AWS 29

Posted by timothy
from the first-one's-free dept.
Amanda Parker writes Google, AWS and IBM already offer incentives for start-ups to join them. Microsoft is trying to lure start-ups and SME's to its Azure profile by offering them $500,000 in Azure credits. The deal, announced by Y Combinator, is only available to Y Combinator-backed companies and will be offered to the 2015 Winter and future batches. In addition to this, Microsoft is also giving Y Combinator start-ups a three years Office 365 subscription, access to Microsoft developer staff and one year of free CloudFlare and DataStax enterprise services. The move signifies Microsoft's desire to compete with Amazon Web Services and Google, both of whom already offer credits and freebies.
Businesses

Massive Layoff Underway At IBM 331

Posted by Soulskill
from the hope-you-land-on-your-feet dept.
Tekla Perry writes: Project Chrome, a massive layoff that IBM is pretending is not a massive layoff, is underway. At more than 100,000 people, it is projected to be the largest mass layoff by any U.S. corporation in at least 20 years. Alliance@IBM, the IBM employees' union, says it has so far collected reports of 5000 jobs eliminated, but those are just numbers of those getting official layoff notices. According to anecdotal reports, IBM appears to be abusing the performance appraisal system to cut additional employees without officially laying them off.
Stats

Cutting Through Data Science Hype 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the this-year's-silver-bullet dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Data science — or "big data" if you prefer — has evolved into a full-fledged buzzword, thanks to marketing departments around the world. John Foreman writes that part of the marketing blitz has been focused on how fast big data analysis can be. Most companies offering some kind of analytic service try to sell you on how it'll make it easy for you to quickly find and fix the problems with your business. But he points out that good, robust models need a stable set of inputs, and businesses often change far too quickly for any kind of stable prediction. He takes IBM's analytic services as an example, quoting Kevin Hillstrom: "If IBM Watson can find hidden correlations that help your business, then why can't IBM Watson stem a 3 year sales drop at IBM?" Foreman offers some simple advice: "Simple analyses don't require huge models that get blown away when the business changes. ... If your business is currently too chaotic to support a complex model, don't build one."
IBM

The Mainframe Is Dead! Long Live the Mainframe! 164

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new-stuff dept.
HughPickens.com writes The death of the mainframe has been predicted many times over the years but it has prevailed because it has been overhauled time and again. Now Steve Lohr reports that IBM has just released the z13, a new mainframe engineered to cope with the huge volume of data and transactions generated by people using smartphones and tablets. "This is a mainframe for the mobile digital economy," says Tom Rosamilia. "It's a computer for the bow wave of mobile transactions coming our way." IBM claims the z13 mainframe is the first system able to process 2.5 billion transactions a day and has a host of technical improvements over its predecessor, including three times the memory, faster processing and greater data-handling capability. IBM spent $1 billion to develop the z13, and that research generated 500 new patents, including some for encryption intended to improve the security of mobile computing. Much of the new technology is designed for real-time analysis in business. For example, the mainframe system can allow automated fraud prevention while a purchase is being made on a smartphone. Another example would be providing shoppers with personalized offers while they are in a store, by tracking their locations and tapping data on their preferences, mainly from their previous buying patterns at that retailer.

IBM brings out a new mainframe about every three years, and the success of this one is critical to the company's business. Mainframes alone account for only about 3 percent of IBM's sales. But when mainframe-related software, services and storage are included, the business as a whole contributes 25 percent of IBM's revenue and 35 percent of its operating profit. Ronald J. Peri, chief executive of Radixx International was an early advocate in the 1980s of moving off mainframes and onto networks of personal computers. Today Peri is shifting the back-end computing engine in the Radixx data center from a cluster of industry-standard servers to a new IBM mainframe and estimates the total cost of ownership including hardware, software and labor will be 50 percent less with a mainframe. "We kind of rediscovered the mainframe," says Peri.
Education

Chicago E-Learning Scheme Embraces Virtual Badges For Public Schoolers 46

Posted by timothy
from the credit-for-hooky dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Over at the Chicago City of Learning, children are asked to join the CPS Connects initiative and instructed to provide their Chicago Public School (CPS) student ID to "connect your learning experiences in your school and around the city". Doing so, explains the website, will allow kids to "earn digital badges that unlock new, related opportunities and can give access to live learning experiences throughout Chicago from program partners," which will serve as "an indicator of achievement to colleges and employers." The initiative aims to "get 80% of all 3rd-12th grade students to claim their accounts by January 30th." Before you scoff at the idea that a child's future could depend on his or her Digital Badge collection, consider that the supporters helping government make it happen include the MacArthur Foundation, Gates Foundation, and Mozilla, and a number of business and education partners have made public pledges committing to help accelerate the spread and scale of digital badges for learning. Digital badge-based employment has also earned a thumbs-up from the White House. It's unclear, but might make sense that Chicago kids' digital badges will be collected and shared in the citywide data warehouse being built by the 'cradle-to-career' Thrive Chicago initiative, which is working with the Mayor's Office and CPS to develop a "data system that integrates data from multiple partner agencies, links program participation data to other youth data, and provides a web interface where partner agencies can access youth data targeted on improving youth outcomes at the individual and aggregate levels." After all, the data collected will include "student demographics, school attendance, grades, student behavior, out of school time program participation, and progress to graduation." Not only that, Thrive Chicago's Leadership Council includes the interim President of the MacArthur Foundation (as well as Microsoft and IBM employees)." Update: 01/12 15:52 GMT by T : An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the MacArthur Foundation, which has now been corrected.
Open Source

Big Names Dominate Open Source Funding 32

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-open-source-benjamins dept.
jones_supa writes: Network World's analysis of publicly listed sponsors of 36 prominent open-source non-profits and foundations reveals that the lion's share of financial support for open-source groups comes from a familiar set of names. Google was the biggest supporter, appearing on the sponsor lists of eight of the 36 groups analyzed. Four companies – Canonical, SUSE, HP and VMware – supported five groups each, and seven others (Nokia, Oracle, Cisco, IBM, Dell, Intel and NEC) supported four. For its part, Red Hat supports three groups (Linux Foundation, Creative Commons and the Open Virtualization Alliance).

It's tough to get more than a general sense of how much money gets contributed to which foundations by which companies – however, the numbers aren't large by the standards of the big contributors. The average annual revenue for the open-source organizations considered in the analysis was $4.36 million, and that number was skewed by the $27 million taken in by the Wikimedia Foundation (whose interests range far beyond OSS development) and the $17 million posted by Linux Foundation.