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Articles: techwatch: 2008 February

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Blu-Ray Wins
Friday, 2008 February 15 - 11:39 am
Wal-Mart is expected to drop the HD-DVD format in favor of Blu-Ray soon, joining Netflix and Best Buy in backing a single high definition media standard. That's it, folks... the war is over; Blu-Ray wins (at least, until physical media is dropped altogether in favor of downloadable content).

So just to be clear: a superior technology that's more expensive and backed by Sony wins out over a widely available cheaper alternative.

Somewhere, the inventor of Betamax is chuckling.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

Tuesday, 2008 February 5 - 10:56 pm
Google is famous, or perhaps infamous, for its strict hiring standards and its population of brilliant employees. So it was with some interest that I read about a security vulnerability in Gmail. Apparently, if someone manages to steal a Gmail session cookie (by snooping your network traffic), they can impersonate you and access your account.

The reason this is interesting to me is that here on, I was very careful to prevent this vulnerability. I do use cookies so that you can remain logged in to the site, but the cookie is tied to the IP address you're using to log in, so it can't be used by anyone who's snooping your machine or your connection (unless they also manage to grab your IP address). Now granted, I don't use SSL on my site to further protect your connections, but that's just because I'm too cheap to pay for it, not because I didn't think about it.

So I have a security feature that Gmail doesn't. Nothing against all the geniuses at Gmail, but... hey, if I thought of it, shouldn't you have, too?
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Posted by Ken in: site-businesstechwatch

Microsoft to Buy Yahoo?
Saturday, 2008 February 2 - 10:51 am
So. Microsoft wants to buy Yahoo for $44.6 billion.

I can just imagine a conference room full of Microsoft executives, poring through PowerPoint slides about "synergies" and "leverage". At that level, you can see how Microsoft would be desperate to fight Google in the web search and advertising arenas.

But at so many other levels, this is an odd acquisition at best. Yahoo's Linux/PHP technologies won't fit with Microsoft's Windows-based technologies. The two companies have many products that are direct competitors (instant messaging, mail, search, maps); either they'd somehow have to be mashed together, or one would have to be killed off.

Culturally, Yahoo has embraced open source and open web standards. Is Microsoft looking for a way to move in that direction, or to quash it?

If Microsoft were to proceed with this, I think that five years down the road, most of what we know of Yahoo would be invisible or gone. Everything you see would be covered in garish "Windows Live" dressing... exactly the kind of poorly designed, ad-burdened, proprietary, heavy-handed mess that makes people eschew Microsoft for Google and Yahoo in the first place. Analysts will look back at this purchase as an act of desperation... and a colossal, $44.6 billion mistake.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

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