Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Linux Mint 14 “Nadia” released!


Linux Mint 14 “Nadia” released!

Written by Clem on Tuesday, November 20th, 2012 @ 10:27 am | Main Topics
The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 14 “Nadia”.
Linux Mint 14 Nadia
For the first time since Linux Mint 11, the development team was able to capitalize on upstream technology which works and fits its goals. After 6 months of incremental development, Linux Mint 14 features an impressive list of improvements, increased stability and a refined desktop experience. We’re very proud of MATE, Cinnamon, MDM and all the components used in this release, and we’re very excited to show you how they all fit together in Linux Mint 14.
New features at a glance:
For a complete overview and to see screenshots of the new features, visit: “What’s new in Linux Mint 14“.
Important info:
  • PAE required for 32-bit ISOs
  • Intel drivers, poor performance and high CPU usage
  • Moonlight
  • mint4win
  • Desktop icons in Cinnamon
  • CD images
  • GnomePPP and local repository

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ubuntu developers plan the road to Ubuntu 13.04


06 November 2012, 11:33

Ubuntu developers plan the road to Ubuntu 13.04

Ubuntu logo
At the Ubuntu Developer Summit[1] (UDS) that took place in Copenhagen last week, the developer community for Canonical's Linux distribution laid down the goals for the next release of the project, expected in April of next year. This information is now publicly available thanks to the work of Ubuntu community member Alan Bell[2], who extracted the meeting notes from the Etherpad instance used at the summit.
All in all, the developers set themselves 1,023 action items[3], 75 of which are classed[4] as "essential". Notable themes for the upcoming development cycle are changes in the quality assurance and release process of the distribution, the development of an Ubuntu SDK and an effort to streamline the submissions of applications for inclusion in the repositories. Several sessions also dealt with improving Ubuntu as a gaming platform.
After deciding to drop alpha releases[5] and concentrate more on "smoke testing" and automated tools like the UI testing framework AutoPilot, the developers also proposed a new release process[6] that iterates over merging fixes, testing and freezes every two weeks. The developers have also been discussing the creation of an Ubuntu SDK, although the meeting notes on this topic[7] do not mention much detail beyond the scope of the planned development kit. To go hand in hand with this, the review process for the Ubuntu App Developer programme[8] is also being worked on[9] to make it easier for developers to submit their applications for inclusion in the distribution.
With discussions within the upstream GNOME project pointing towards a stop on development for the GNOME Fallback Mode very soon, the Ubuntu developers have decided[10] to plan for this eventuality and become less reliant on upstream code from Fallback Mode. Unity currently uses parts of the panel and several indicators from that code base and the developers plan to ship their own stand-alone versions or migrate to different technologies.
Other notable topics at the UDS included improving the performance of several gaming engines on Ubuntu, including the preparation for a possible switch to the Wayland display server and a push to fix support for NVIDIA's hybrid Optimus graphics cards, a topic that famously raised Linus Torvald's ire[11] earlier in the year. The developers are also working on the Ubuntu TV implementation[12] and are undertaking a complete rewrite[13] of the Quickly development framework.

URL of this Article:
http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Ubuntu-developers-plan-the-road-to-Ubuntu-13-04-1744228.html

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Apple Officials Said to Consider Stake in Twitter

July 27, 2012 nytimes

Apple Officials Said to Consider Stake in Twitter

Apple, which has stumbled in its efforts to get into social media, has talked with Twitter in recent months about making a strategic investment in it, according to people briefed on the matter.
While Apple has been hugely successful in selling phones and tablets, it has little traction in social networking, which has become a major engine of activity on the Web and on mobile devices. Social media are increasingly influencing how people spend their time and money — an important consideration for Apple, which also sells applications, games, music and movies.
Apple has considered an investment in the hundreds of millions of dollars, one that could value Twitter at more than $10 billion, up from an $8.4 billion valuation last year, these people said. They declined to be named because the discussions were private.
There is no guarantee that the two companies, which are not in negotiations at the moment, will come to an agreement. But the earlier talks are a sign that they may form a stronger partnership amid intensifying competition from the likes of Google and Facebook.
Apple has not made many friends in social media. Its relationship with Facebook, for example, has been strained since a deal to build Facebook features into Ping, Apple’s music-centric social network, fell apart. Facebook is also aligned with Microsoft, which owns a small stake in it. And Google, an Apple rival in the phone market, has been pushing its own social network, Google Plus.
“Apple doesn’t have to own a social network,” Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said at a recent technology conference. “But does Apple need to be social? Yes.”
Twitter and Apple have already been working together. Recently, Apple has tightly sewn Twitter features into its software for phones, tablets and computers, while, behind the scenes, Twitter has put more resources into managing its relationship with Apple.
Though an investment in Twitter would not be a big financial move for Apple by any stretch — it has $117 billion in liquid investments, and it quietly agreed to buy a mobile security company for $356 million on Friday — it would be one of Mr. Cook’s most important strategic decisions as chief executive. And it would be an uncommon arrangement for Apple, which tends to buy small start-ups that are then absorbed into the company.
But such a deal would give Apple more access to Twitter’s deep understanding of the social Web, and pave the way for closer Twitter integration into Apple’s products.
Twitter has grown quickly, amassing more than 140 million monthly active users who generate a vast stream of short messages about their lives, the news and everything else. An Apple investment would give it the glow of a close relationship with a technology icon, and would instantly bolster its valuation, which, like that of other start-ups, has languished in the wake of Facebook’s lackluster market debut. In fact, word of the talks comes at a time when some are asking whether expectations for the potential of social media companies have gotten out of hand, and shares of Facebook, Zynga and other companies have wilted.
But Twitter does not need Apple’s cash. Earlier this year, Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive, said the company had “truckloads of money in the bank.”
The truckloads, according to people familiar with the matter, add up to more than $600 million in cash on hand. This comes from the $1 billion in financing it has raised over the years and, more recently, from a healthy flow of advertising revenue.
Regardless, Twitter is widely expected to pursue a public offering within the next couple of years, whether or not it agrees to deals with investors like Apple.
Apple and Twitter are logical partners in some ways. Unlike Facebook or Google, Twitter has no plans to compete with Apple in the phone business or elsewhere. And as Apple has found, social is just not in its DNA.
“Those guys are a great partner,” Mr. Costolo said of Apple in a recent interview. “We think of them as a company that our company looks up to.” Mr. Costolo would not discuss any potential investments or anything else related to the company’s relationship with Apple.
Spokesmen for both Apple and Twitter said on Friday that their companies did not comment on rumors.
If an investment were to happen, Twitter’s chief financial officer, Ali Rowghani, would be instrumental in cementing the deal. Mr. Rowghani joined Twitter in early 2010 after nine years at Pixar Animation Studios, where he worked directly with Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s co-founder.
Ties between Apple and Twitter are strengthening at a time of great uncertainty in the mobile market. Battle lines that seemed clear just a year ago are rapidly blurring as companies push into new areas of the market and clash with former allies.
Facebook, the world’s largest social network, is said to be working on developing its own phone or core software for phones. Similarly, Google acquired Motorola Mobility last year and is now in the business of building phones.
The jumbled landscape reflects the rising significance of mobile, as more consumers neglect their desktops in favor of computing that fits in their pockets. Eager to win on such a critical battleground, technology giants are rushing to control both hardware and software on mobile devices.
The turf wars have fortified alliances and pushed companies to choose sides. Apple’s dealings with Twitter, for instance, began after its relationship with Facebook soured. In 2010, the company was eager to integrate its Ping service with Facebook, but discussions broke down. Mr. Jobs, the Apple chief executive who died last year, told the technology news site AllThingsD that Facebook had demanded “onerous terms that we could not agree to.”
Apple, which had spent months preparing to hook Facebook into iOS, its mobile operating system, swiftly reworked it for Twitter. One former Twitter employee, who described Twitter as the “lucky mistress” in this chain of events, said the partnership was essentially “handed to Twitter on a silver platter.” Ping, in the end, never caught on with users.
For Twitter, the union has proved fruitful. The mobile integration, introduced in late 2011, made it easy for iPhone and iPad users to sling photos, maps and other media directly to Twitter. So far they have generated some 10 billion tweets. And, in recent months, Apple has also incorporated Twitter features into its operating system for computers as well as its advertising service.
The relationship with Apple is so prized at Twitter that the company assigned a vice president, Kevin Thau, to work with Apple full time, according to an Apple employee who asked not to be named.
Apple’s relationship with Facebook has started to thaw. Last month, the company said it would add Facebook features to the next version of its mobile operating system. Still, the two companies are wary of each other. Facebook, which recently began its own “App Center” and is intent on bulking up its mobile revenue, is likely to continue to bump up against Apple.
Analysts are concerned that Apple may fall behind in mobile software because of increasing competition and a lack of social features. And as Apple has shown, software and content can make or break hardware sales.
“Content was a key pillar in the success of the iPhone,” said Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC. He noted that consumer loyalty to the iTunes library, which many used to store their music collections, helped lift early sales of the phone. “Down the road, social engagement may dictate how consumers spend,” Mr. Hilwa said.
Nick Wingfield contributed reporting.

Friday, July 13, 2012

IBM hands over Symphony office suite to Apache


ComputerworldUK

IBM hands over Symphony office suite to Apache

Hoping to further sharpen OpenOffice's competitive viability against Microsoft Office, IBM is donating the code of its Symphony open source office suite to the nonprofit Apache Software Foundation.
Apache could fold this code into its own open source office suite OpenOffice, on which Symphony was based. In June, Oracle donated the OpenOffice suite to Apache.
"Prior to Apache's entry, there really hasn't been enough innovation in this area over the past 10 years," said Kevin Cavanaugh, who is the IBM vice president for business and technical strategy in collaboration solutions. "It's been constrained because we haven't had a true open source community with a mature governance model."
Using OpenOffice as a starting point, IBM first released Symphony in 2007 as a no-cost alternative for enterprises to Microsoft's office suite. IBM hopes its potential customers will use the free Symphony instead of Microsoft Office and other commercial office suites, and reallocate money they previously earmarked for these paid offerings to advanced IBM services and software instead.
"Our interest is in the restructuring of IT budgets," he said. "It's not a charitable thing on IBM's part. We have lots of technologies pushing the boundaries in analytics, commerce, social software. Every time we free up an inefficient IT investment, we open up the ability for us to offer more efficient investment. "
The Apache Foundation will form a project team around Symphony, and IBM will continue to contribute to the project, as well as maintain their own version of Symphony. "We don't want to dominate the Apache effort, but we are willing to put huge contributions to our engineering resources into this effort. We don't want to do it alone," Cavanaugh said.
Apache's development model will be better suited for both OpenOffice and Symphony than IBM's own efforts, Cavanaugh claimed. "The model of having any one vendor dominate an open [project] has, in my experience, never worked," he said.
The 3 million lines of code IBM developed and maintained for Symphony could potentially offer a lot of value for OpenOffice. Some of the code provides advanced compatibility with ODF (Open Document Format), so that ODF documents can be used in web-based office suites, as well as by Microsoft Office.
Symphony also has a unique user interface model, which could simplify the OpenOffice suite. For instance, it features a sidebar that can allow users to edit the document properties, much like Microsoft's ribbon bar in Office. "We've heard from the community that people are interested in getting their hands on that and using it in OpenOffice," Cavanaugh said.
IBM also has "a tremendous amount" of code that improves the performance of OpenOffice, which is good news given that OpenOffice has, in the past, been criticized for sluggishness. Other bits of code are for bug fixes, so that "it is bullet proof enough to be used by major corporations," Cavanaugh said. IBM also has some enhancements that will help those with visual impairments use the software.
IBM and Apache have not decided yet which organisation will host the downloadable version of Symphony. One possibility is that Symphony may be made available from the OpenOffice.org site, which will eventually be maintained by Apache.
IBM itself uses Symphony as the baseline office suite for its desktop packages, and uses the software internally as well. The Symphony software suite has been downloaded over 50 million times thus far. It is available in 30 languages, for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Apple Macintosh platforms.

http://www.computerworlduk.com/news/open-source/3291596/ibm-hands-over-symphony-office-suite-to-apache/

GS1 Pilot Program Shows How RFID Can Track International Wine Shipments


GS1 Pilot Program Shows How RFID Can Track International Wine Shipments

GS1 Italy and GS1 Hong Kong have completed a project demonstrating how EPC technology could improve supply chain management, through greater visibility of crates of wine being shipped from Europe to Asia.
By Claire Swedberg

July 3, 2012—Based on the results of an international pilot using EPC Gen 2 RFID tags and readers to track shipments of wine from Europe to Asia, GS1 Italy and GS1 Hong Kong have determined that radio frequency identification technology could make the supply chain more visible, to the benefit of wine producers, importers and distributors—and the researchers also speculate that those benefits could extend to retailers and consumers. The two groups recently completed the pilot, which consisted of testing an RFID-enabled supply chain of wine between Italy and Hong Kong. The solution employs Electronic Product Code (EPC) passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags placed on bottles of wine, cartons and pallets, as well as temperature sensor tags placed in cartons and on pallets, and affixed to the wall of an Italian vineyard warehouse.

The project commenced in June 2011 and ended last August, while analysis of the data lasted until February 2012. It involved tracking wine products from four Italian wine companies to two Hong Kong importers/distributors (Watson's Wine Cellar and Summergate Fine Wines), and ultimately to wine shops in Hong Kong. Azienda Agricola Le Macchiole, an Italian vineyard and wine producer, participated in the pilot, along with Ceretto, Barone Ricasoli and Marchesi Antinori.


Passive RFID tags were attached to each bottle, carton and pallet.

The two GS1 agencies aimed to determine how well imported products could be monitored using an RFID solution to track the bottles from when they were shipped from the wine producer until they left the local importer, en route to the wine shop.

Italy is the third highest wine-producing country worldwide, producing 4.06 billion liters (1.07 billion gallons) of wine in 2011, 2.1 million liters (531 million gallons) of which were shipped to Hong Kong.

The pilot was intended to determine how well the sharing of RFID data between supply chain members could meet the needs of a growing industry. The Hong Kong wine sector has been growing, according to a USDA Foreign Agricultural Service GAIN report published in 2011, which reported that the dollar value of wine imports has more than doubled since 2008.

Typically, bottles of wine travel from the vineyard warehouse to a distribution center, and then on to a seaport in Italy for exporting. The goods are received at the Hong Kong port, and are directed through a warehouse and finally delivered to wine shops. The two GS1 organizations wanted to ascertain whether the technology could provide better information regarding whether there is sufficient stock to fulfill orders at the Italian vineyard's warehouse; determine how well RFID could be used to document when wine leaves the DC in Italy, is loaded onto a ship and arrives at a port in Hong Kong; and evaluate inventory levels at the Hong Kong importer.

Altogether, the pilot was conducted on eight pallets loaded with a total of 630 cases (containing a total of 3,780 bottles), says Linda Vezzani, an EPC specialist at GS1 Italy. GS1 Italy's staff installed an Intelleflex TMT-8500 battery-assisted passive (BAP) temperature-sensing UHF RFID tag at an Italian vineyard warehouse, on the wall on which the wine was stored, and also inserted a single temperature tag within one case on each pallet. Additionally, a temperature tag was placed on one of every set of two pallets before the loaded pallets were shrink-wrapped.


GS1 Italy's staff inserted an Intelleflex TMT-8500 battery-assisted passive temperature-sensing RFID tag in one case on every pallet.

According to Vezzani, a label featuring a Lab ID UH100 passive EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID inlay (made with an Impinj Monza RFID chip) was attached to each pallet, case and bottle.

First, the shipment to Hong Kong was prepared, at which time employees attached an adhesive RFID label to every bottle. The unique ID number encoded on the tag was then stored in GS1 Italy's Web-based EPC Information Services (EPCIS) software, along with the bottle's stock-keeping unit (SKU). An RFID label, encoded with a Serialized Global Trade Item Number (SGTIN), was also attached to the carton once it was filled (with about six bottles). The carton was then passed through an Impinj Speedway Revolution R420 tunnel reader, and the ID numbers of the carton and each bottle's RFID tag were married to each other. The cartons were loaded onto a pallet, to which an RFID label, encoded with its own Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC), was attached. Next, the loaded pallet passed through an RFID gate, where another Impinj Speedway reader captured the pallet tag's ID number and associated it with the IDs of the carton and bottle tags.

The TMT-8500 temperature tags—provided to GS1 Italy by GS1 Hong Kong—measured and stored the temperature at regular intervals, and could then be read at the wine cellar in Hong Kong as the pallet was unloaded. This enabled the team to determine the conditions to which the wine had been exposed.

In addition, a TMT-8500 tag affixed to the wall of the vineyard's warehouse was read, to capture the temperature history within the storage area while the wine was located at that site.

Once the loaded pallet left the vineyard warehouse bound for the DC, the RFID tags, including the temperature sensor tag, were read again at the Impinj reader gate, and that data was stored in the EPCIS system. The tags were interrogated when the pallets arrived at Watson's Wine Cellar and Summergate, and again before the wine was shipped to the wine shops—each time using a Convergence Systems Ltd. (CSL) CS461 fixed reader installed at the door. Simultaneously, the sensor tags were read using an Intelleflex FMR-6000 fixed reader, in order to capture temperatures and tag ID numbers.

Read data collected in Hong Kong was stored on GS1 Hong Kong's ezTRACK Web-based application, based on the EPCIS standard. That information was then shared with the EPCIS-based data stored by GS1 Italy.

Based on the pilot's results, GS1 Italy determined that the accuracy of supply chain data could be increased from 80 percent (when orders were filled according to a purchase order) to 100 percent, and that logistics management could be improved based on having better knowledge of products' locations.

"This is the first-ever wine-traceability pilot by using EPC RFID in item level to improve global real-time product-shipment visibility," says Emma Chan, GSI Hong Kong's industry and product marketing manager. As a result of the pilot, she reports, the technology proved that retailers in Hong Kong can "achieve full visibility of the whole movement of the wine products, from oversea vineyard to their storage destination, which eventually improved their inventory management and quality assurance."

In the future, the technology could help retailers predict overstock or out-of-stock events, and provide consumers with quality assurance in stores, by reading a label's tag in order to access data regarding when and where wine was bottled, as well as the temperature at which it was stored.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Exclusive: Yahoo and Facebook Strike Patent Peace Deal


News

Exclusive: Yahoo and Facebook Strike Patent Peace Deal, Significantly Expanding Ad and Content Partnership

Published on July 6, 2012
by Kara Swisher

Executives at Yahoo and Facebook have completed an extensive strategic deal, as part of a final settlement of their contentious patent infringement lawsuit and countersuit.
According to sources close to the situation, the agreement will include a major expansion of their ongoing partnership, including a joint advertising sales effort, as well as cross-licensing of some key patents between the pair.
The deal has gotten approval from the companies’ boards — in fact, Yahoo’s directors agreed to it this morning in a telephonic meeting. It will be announced sometime later today.
No actual cash payment will change hands under terms of the deal over the patents, in contrast to the $550 million that Facebook paid Microsoft recently in another transaction related to AOL patents.
But sources said Facebook and Yahoo hope there will be significant upside in several possible advertising and other business deals between the pair that could yield large revenues if executed well.
In addition, there is a possibility that Facebook could later pay to license other Yahoo patents not included in this deal.
Discussions to settle the lawsuits — negotiated by Yahoo interim CEO Ross Levinsohn and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, among others — began almost as soon as Yahoo’s board ousted former CEO Scott Thompson, which I reported on in early June and Yahoo officially confirmed several weeks later in a regulatory filing.
The lawsuit was initially waged by Thompson, who reportedly promised directors that a big financial payoff of many billions of dollars could result from the patent lawsuits against Facebook.
At the time, despite strong support by its legal execs, many other Yahoo managers — including those who had crafted an earlier and successful content- and data-sharing agreement with Facebook — were blindsided by the aggressive move by Thompson. That included Levinsohn — who was then in charge of its global media unit — and other top execs.
So, after Thompson was gone and with board support, Levinsohn immediately reached out to Sandberg. In addition, Yahoo’s point person on the deal, VP of strategy James Heckman, met with a number of top Facebook execs including: Dan Rose, VP of business development and monetization; VP of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson; and business development director Chris Daniels.
Such an outreach was a major shift for Yahoo, but was possible due to a newly configured board in the wake of the Thompson departure.
Still, some directors who had pushed for the initial lawsuit that Yahoo unexpectedly lobbed against the social networking powerhouse in March have remained on the board and agreed to the latest settlement.
The reason for the change of heart? While many still felt Yahoo had a strong case, backed by important intellectual property in a range of key digital arenas, Facebook was prepping for a long and expensive battle by girding its patent defenses.
Thus, the possible end of the rancorous legal battle should be greeted with enthusiasm by Wall Street investors, as well as many detractors of Yahoo’s legal action across the tech landscape.
And, indeed, the company’s reputation definitely suffered as a result of the lawsuit, with many techies, both inside and outside the company, decrying Yahoo’s lawsuit.
Many of those engineers, as well as entrepreneurs — key constituencies for Yahoo’s revival — firmly believe a patent portfolio should only be used defensively.
Now, if the deal is approved, the move will have been turned a decidedly negative situation into a potentially stronger partnership.
Among the most notable parts of the deal is an arrangement to jointly sell big events and other packages to advertisers.
In addition, as it has in content, Facebook will allow Yahoo to be the first partner to feature information about its users’ “Likes” in actual display advertising on Yahoo.
Extending and adding to such contact-sharing was apparently one bone of contention in the talks to settle the lawsuits, although there had already been an element of that in a previous partnership between the pair. Yahoo is one of the few Facebook partners with access to information from its social graph; Facebook, in turn, gets user contact data from Yahoo.
Of course, how well the pair works together to deliver better experiences for its consumers and marketing for its advertisers remains to be seen.
But it’s clear that any rocky road in cooperation is much better than the legal quagmire both had been stuck in.
One thing is likely — the successful end to the tensions ups Levinsohn’s chances of getting the permanent CEO job. Directors have not given him the nod as yet, with another candidate — Hulu CEO Jason Kilar — as Levinsohn’s leading rival for the job.
URL: http://allthingsd.com/20120706/exclusive-yahoo-and-facebook-strike-patent-peace-deal-expand-ad-and-content-partnership/

Monday, June 11, 2012

First Linux Mint PCs go on sale By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols | June 10, 2012, 4:03pm PDT

First Linux Mint PCs go on sale   From zdnet Today-
(PS: I am writing this on new MINT 13 based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and Debian Sam Cohen)

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols | June 10, 2012, 4:03pm PDT

Summary: The popular Linux Mint desktop distribution has just released its first official PCs.



The Mint Linux mintBox PCs are ideal for both hobbyist and business use.

I love the Linux Mint desktop distribution. Lots of people love Mint. Mint’s my current favorite Linux desktop distribution. But, like most distributions, to run it, I had to install it myself. Now, Mint, in conjunction with CompuLab, is selling its first Mint-branded PCs.

True, you could buy a PC or laptop from ZaReason and a handful of other Linux PC vendors with Mint Linux, but the two mini-PCs that Mint and CompuLab are offering are the first to have Mint’s official blessing.

Setting up Mint 13: 2012’s Best Linux desktop

These PCs, the fit-PC3 basic and pro models are now available with Linux Mint branding under the name “mintBox.” According to Clement “Clem” Lefebvre, Mint’s founder, “The mintBox is amongst the toughest computers on the market. It features a die-cast solid-metal case which acts as a giant passive heatsink. Although the metal makes the mintBox heavier than other devices its size, it makes it feel really unique, robust and well engineered. More importantly, it cools down its components without needing any fans. Other than the noise coming from its internal 250GB hard-drive, the mintBox is completely silent.”

The mintBox comes with four USB ports: Two in the front, and two in the back. Two of these support USB 3.0. It also has a pair of external serial AT Attachment (eSATA) ports; two mini-Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) sockets, plus a mSATA port, and a good old RS-232 port. This tiny computer, smaller than a Mac Mini, also comes with Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Gigabit Ethernet. Both models also come with an HDMI port and a DVI adapter.

As you might guess from that construction and all those ports, the mintBox started life as an industrial computer. And, indeed, CompuLab is an embedded and industrial computer specialist.

The mintBox Basic, which list for $476 plus shipping, duty, and value added tax (VAT) comes with a 250GB hard drive. For a processor, it uses an AMD APU G-T40N. This is a 1GHz dual core, which includes an integrated ATI Radeon HD 6290 for graphics. This is an Intel-compatible embedded system unit. This system comes with 4GBs of RAM.

The higher end mintBox Pro retails for $549 plus shipping, duty, and VAT. It is identical to the Basic except it uses the higher-speed AMD APU G-T56N. This is a 1.65GHz dual core CPU and comes with an ATI Radeon HD 6320 for graphics. It also comes with 8GBs RAM and a ribbed metal case for better heat dissipation.

Lefebvre also claims that one of the highlights of both models are how “easy it is to open it. Both the RAM and the HDD are accessible from underneath the box. Use a standard screwdriver to open the bay and you can upgrade your RAM or switch the HDD for a SSD drive without any hassle.” This makes both ideal for people who like to upgrade their systems.

The mintBox, according to Lefebvre, with its Kensington lock and 4 small dents underneath it for the mintBox to be mounted on a VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) mount bracket and their low-power consumption “(respectively idle and full load: 8-17W for the basic model, 9-24W for the pro model) make the mintBox an attractive device for companies, hotels and cybercaf├ęs where it can be placed or mounted on walls securely and significantly reduce noise levels and electricity bills.” In other words, the mintBox is meant both for serious computer hobbyists and for serious business use.

The system has been tested with both Linux Mint 12 and the latest Linux Mint 13. According to a note by Lefebvre, it appears that the mintBox will be shipping with “Mint 13 OEM 64-bit, the big question is whether it’s Cinnamon [Mint's own GNOME 2.x style desktop based on GNOME 3.x) or MATE [A Gnome 2.x fork] by default and with or without ATI drivers. Both editions work out of the box on the hardware without drivers, except the sound output via HDMI.”

Audio via HDMI requires an AMD/ATI driver, fglrx. If not supplied in the system this can be installed via Mint’s Software Manager. I imagine this driver will be pre-installed as CompuLab and Mint ramp up production.

Both mintBox versions are available for purchase today. US and Canadian orders are shipped from CompuLab’s US office in Florida. Expected delivery time from “in-stock” is two weeks. In the rest of the world, the units are shipped from CompuLab’s Israeli offices. 10% of each sale goes towards Linux Mint.

Related Stories:

2012’s Best Linux desktop: Linux Mint 13

Fedora 17 & GNOME 3.4: Return to a useful Linux desktop (Review)

Ubuntu 12.04 vs. Windows 8: Five points of comparison

Mint’s Cinnamon: The Future of the Linux Desktop? (Review)

Linux Mint 12 Debian Edition Slideshow

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cloud Technology- What is Cloud Computing?


Cloud Technology

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing delivers IT as a service. It is about creating Efficient IT to enable greater responsiveness to business needs. It might be your own private cloud accessible only within your organization, the public cloud of an external provider or a hybrid cloud that spans both.
Features of a cloud include:
  • Virtually unlimited processing and storage capacity
  • Abstracted, pooled resources
  • Elasticity (the ability to scale up or down easily)
  • On-demand, self-service provisioning
  • High level of automation
  • Consumption-based billing
  • Above From Dell, Thanks

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Breaking News - IBM to acquire Vivisimo Software

Mark Register Special Edition Breaking News - IBM to acquire Vivisimo
Software
-
-
IBM announced a definitive agreement to acquire Vivisimo, a leading provider of federated discovery and navigation software that helps organisations access and analyse big data across the enterprise. Vivisimo is a privately held company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Vivisimo software excels in capturing and delivering quality information across the broadest range of data sources, no matter what format it is, or where it resides. The software automates the discovery of data and helps employees navigate it with a single view across the enterprise, providing valuable insights that drive better decision-making for solving all operational challenges.

Today's news accelerates IBM's big data analytics initiatives with advanced federated capabilities allowing organizations to access, navigate and analyse the full variety, velocity and volume of structured and unstructured data without having to move it.

The combination of IBM's big data analytics capabilities with Vivisimo software will further IBM's efforts to automate the flow of data into business analytics applications, helping clients better understand consumer behavior, manage customer churn and network performance, detect fraud in real-time and perform data-intensive marketing campaigns.

Please read the related press release or the frequently asked questions document and stay informed about all acquisition news by visiting the IBM Software Acquisitions Portal on PartnerWorld.

Continued success,



Mark Register
Vice President
Software Business Partners and Midmarket
IBM Software Group

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 Delivers 5 Years of Enterprise Linux Desktop Support


Ubuntu 12.04 Delivers 5 Years of Enterprise Linux Desktop Support/ thru datamation

By Sean Michael Kerner
April 26, 2012

For the first time in Ubuntu Linux's history, a desktop Long Term Support (LTS) release will be supported for as long as a server release. Ubuntu 12.04 LTS was officially released today, providing five years of support for both desktop and server releases.
Ubuntu 12.04 introduces a new Linux desktop for LTS users, while also providing a new way to more easily access non-Linux applications.
"In Ubuntu 10.04, we only had three years of support on the desktop, but in response to customer requests, for 12.04 we're standardizing for five years on both the desktop and the server," Steve George, VP of Communications and Products at Canonical, explained to InternetNews.com. "The reason for that is corporate customers generally rev their hardware every three years, but it often takes a year for them to get a large deployment upgraded, so they were looking for longer than three years of support from us."
"George stressed that having five years of support on the Linux desktop is a key milestone on the path to being able to deliver to corporate environments, something that is stable and secure.
"With an eye on corporate deployments of Linux desktops, Ubuntu 12.04 is also making it easier for enterprise users to access their non-Linux applications." VMware, Citrix and Microsoft Remote Desktop technologies are now all supported, providing Ubuntu 12.04 users with a way to access enterprise applications. George noted that, for example, if an enterprise migrated to Ubuntu Linux but they still have a single business application that they were not able to migrate, the new remote desktop integration will be a big help.
"Previously you could access, for example, a Citrix server remotely, but you'd have a separate window," George said. "Whereas with 12.04, it will be embedded in the operating system."
"So as far as the end user is concerned they can simply click their application icon in the Ubuntu Linux Unity interface and it will open up the Microsoft application seamlessly. Microsoft RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) support is directly integrated with Ubuntu. Citrix and VMware support is something that end users will have to take an extra step to acquire and download and install clients themselves.
"We've been working closely with the Citrix and VMware guys to make that available," George said. "By delivering this capability, we think it will be a lot easier for people to make the progressive transition across to Ubuntu as their default operating system."
"Licensing of Citrix and VMware clients is still handled on the server side, while the end clients are being made freely available.
"We've had examples of corporate customers that want to move across to a Linux desktop but the problem is they have one or two legacy applications that hold them back," George said. "So making the process of connecting to and using those applications really seamless from a user perspective is an important step."

Unity

"Perhaps the biggest user-visible change for corporate users of the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS will be the Unity desktop interface. The Ubuntu 10.04 LTS has the GNOME 2 desktop as the default interface.
"The Ubuntu 11.04 release was the first time that Unity was included in an Ubuntu release, though that was not an LTS. Over the last year, Unity has been improved such that it's now ready for corporate users. The desktop has also now been improved for power users by way of the HUD (Heads Up Display) which provides a new way to control and access application functions.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lenovo CEO: ‘We’ve never been so close to the top’

Lenovo CEO: ‘We’ve never been so close to the top’    from zdnet see Lenovo IdeaPad

By Zhang Xiaonan | April 18, 2012, 4:17am PDT

Summary: At Lenovo’s fiscal 2012 pep rally, president and CEO Yang Yuanqing reveals the company’s objective in the coming fiscal year: To be number one in global PC market.

On April 11 in Beijing, Lenovo held its fiscal 2012 pep rally with the title “Wow! Begins Now”. At the ceremony, Lenovo’s president and CEO Yang Yuanqing revealed their objective in the coming fiscal year, “Our goal is to be No.1 in global PC market. It’s the first time we’ve ever been so close to the top.”

April 1 was the first day of Lenovo’s fiscal 2012. According to a April 11 Gartner report, in the first season of 2012, HP’s shipments were 15,305,413 with a 17.2% share.

Meanwhile, Lenovo’s market share was 13.1%, only 4 percentage points from that of HP. Gartner’s report showed that Lenovo experienced the strongest growth among the top five vendors, as its shipments increased 28.1 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Lenovo has been enjoying healthy growth in the professional market, while the company successfully expanded into the consumer space.

However, it is widely known that low profits prevail in the PC market. In its lasted fiscal season, Lenovo only had a profit margin of 1.8%. With the aim to take the biggest share in the market, which means further expansion, will Lenovo have an even lower profit margin in the future?

When asked this question, Chen Xudong, senior vice president of Lenovo Group and president for Lenovo China Region, said, “This pressure will push Lenovo to stretch from the red ocean of PC and sail into the blue ocean of smart TV and smartphone.”

Lenovo calls it “PC+ Strategy”, which covers terminal products like PCs, smart phones, table PCs and smart TVs.

Yang Yuanqing said, “Lenovo’s smartphones have been among the Top 3 in the Chinese market.” In the Lenovo Earnings press release of third season ,2011, Lenovo’s smartphones were a 2-digit market share. The price of Lenovo’s smartphones is 1,000 yuan RMB(US $159) each. In fiscal 2012, Lenovo will release 40 new models of mobile phones and expand its business to overseas markets.

In the field of tablet PCs, Lenovo’s third generation tablet PC has been advanced: 8.7 mm thick, 580 grams and 20 hours of standby time (including peripheral circuits). As the only partner of Microsoft and Intel in the domain of tablet PCs, Lenovo will be the first to release its tablet PCs with Windows 8 system in Oct 2012.

Lenovo’s smart TV ideaTV K91 will be officially released on May 8, which adopts the voice-control technology.

Despite the greater profits and opportunities promised by the blue ocean, Yang Yuanqing stressed that the PC will always be the backbone of Lenovo.

In the PC market, Lenovo’s firmest support still comes from China. With a 35.3 % market share, Lenovo has been on the top among its rivals and set up the goal of 40 % market share this year. Outside China, Lenovo has 2-digit increase in 13 emerging markets with a 14 % market share in India, while in mature markets of America and European countries, Lenovo PC sales are weaker.

On April 2, former Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci was appointed Lenovo’s senior vice president and head of EMEA(Europe, Middle East and Africa). Lanci said Lenovo will try to be among the top three in these three regions — Europe, Middle East and Africa.

At the ceremony, Yang Yuanqing said, “I personally love the statement of Lenovo made by an American press, that Lenovo is a combination of Apple and Starbucks in the fast developing China. But it’s not enough for us to be just like that. Hopefully next time when this press reports the situation of Lenovo, they will change ‘in China’ into ‘in the world’.”

Nokia loses global cellphone lead to Samsung for first time since 1998

Nokia loses global cellphone lead to Samsung for first time since 1998


By Matthew Miller | April 26, 2012, 9:32pm PDT

Summary: Samsung is a force in the smartphone world and just ousted Nokia for the global cellphone lead, which Nokia has led since 1998.

The first quarter is always a bit slow after the big holiday mobile phone season, but today we see data that brings a tear to my eye. According to IHS data, Nokia lost the global cellphone lead for the first time since 1998 as Samsung overtook them with 92 million cellphones shipped in the first quarter of 2012. Apple still leads in smartphone sales, but Samsung is in second there too and is the new force to be reckoned with.

I have been a fan of Nokia phones for about 10 years, but the times are changing and I have to admit I was a bit surprised by this news. I know that Nokia has fallen quickly in the smartphone market, but thought their Series 40 cellphones would keep them in the global cellphone lead for some time. Samsung now claims the title of global cellphone leader and I imagine that will continue to grow with their feature phones and Bada phones.

This quote from the report is quit telling, “Smartphones represented 34 percent of Samsung’s handset shipments in the first quarter. In contrast, smartphones accounted for just 14 percent of Nokia’s shipments.”

In the smartphone market, Apple shipped 35 million phones with Samsung right behind at 32 million. Nokia is down 39% to just 12 million smartphones sold in the first quarter and has their work cut out with their focus on Windows Phone that is having serious issues gaining consumer adoption. IHS stated that there was no data provided yet for HTC or Motorola since they haven’t posted their first calendar quarter results for 2012, but neither of these companies will be fighting it out for one of the top two spots anyway.

With the Galaxy S III announcement coming next week and a new iPhone likely several months away, it is likely that Samsung will pass Apple in the smartphone market soon as well.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

IBM Pure Systems Flash News April 11 2012

IBM Pure Systems Flash

See the Link on chanasystems.com Business Page for IBM Products
On April 11, IBM introduced our first two IBM PureSystems family offerings; IBM PureFlex and IBM PureApplication Systems . We launched these unique expert integrated systems across North America in more than 67 local cities and virtual events to 7,000+ clients, Business Partners and IBMers – with more than 20,000 clients and Business Partners reached globally. In addition, there were more than 40,000 mentions across the web, including Twitter, blogs, and Facebook posts.

What is all the excitement about?


This announcement radically simplifies the enterprise IT. Backed by a $2 billion R&D effort, IBM's new PureSystems family will make corporate computing easier, more secure and less expensive to manage.

Also, PureSystems are ready for the cloud and they tightly integrate computing, storage and networking into a single, ready-to-run machine. This approach makes it much easier for clients to install and manage than traditional servers and associated components.

Each of the IBM PureSystem family offerings have three truly unique attributes:

1. Integration by Design: Deeply integrating and tuning hardware and software in a single, ready-to-go system with built-in security and reliability designed for multiple architectures. The systems are modular and based on open standards.

2. Built-in Expertise: Providing flexibility, choice, simplicity, and agility to drive business velocity. IBM PureSystems capture and automate what the experts have typically done from infrastructure to application.

3 . Simplified Experience: From setting up the system, to operating, maintaining, and upgrading over time, IBM PureSystems simplify every part of the IT lifecycle.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A tale of two distros: Ubuntu and Linux Mint

A tale of two distros: Ubuntu and Linux Mint

Seeing is believing
Regardless of operating system, the user experience is always mediated through the user interface, or UI. Since Mint is based on Ubuntu, comparisons between the two OSs for desktop use come down almost entirely to the UI.

Ubuntu 11.10's Unity desktop

The Linux Mint 12 desktop
Beginning with version 11.04, Ubuntu switched from a purely GNOME environment to its own Unity shell running on top of GNOME with the long-term goal of replacing GNOME and its reliance on the X Window system with the Wayland display server.
Mint, on the other hand, has chosen to follow the path of GNOME development and has gone with GNOME 3 and the GNOME shell with MGSE — the Mint GNOME Shell Extensions. This is quite significant since it marks the largest divergence between Ubuntu and Mint since the latter's inception.
One of the primary functions of a user interface is to provide a method of navigation. Both Unity and the GNOME shell mark a transition from task-based cascading text menus, augmented with small icons, where the emphasis is on the text, to an application-based UI with arrays of large icons, augmented by small text, where the emphasis is on the icons.
This move has been prompted, at least in part, by the advent of devices such as smartphones and tablets with small touchscreens, and the need for an operating system that provides a more consistent user experience across a wide range of form factors. However, in their current form such interfaces look a little out of place on large desktop displays.
Where next?
Designing a successful new user interface isn't easy, particularly when you're trying to persuade established users to adopt new paradigms. Unity and GNOME 3 both abandon the old text-based cascading menus in favour of a graphical icon-driven system. Both UIs present an array of large icons with a small line of sometimes curtailed text underneath. This may work well on smaller devices with touchscreens, but on a desktop system with a large non-touch monitor even a small number of application icons quickly fill the screen area. As as result, the eye has to travel further to scan and identify the required application from a square grid, and much bigger mouse movements are required to select the intended application than would be necessary with cascading text menus.

Ubuntu's icon-based Unity interface is better suited to small touchscreen tablets than desktop PCs with large non-touch monitors
Text menus occupy a relatively small area, with the text precisely describing each menu choice. Navigating cascading text menus does not require a lot of mouse movement. The disadvantage is that once the menus become extensive and several layers in depth, navigation to the desired menu choice becomes more difficult. Text menus don't work well on small displays.
Both Ubuntu's and Mint's developers are making efforts to improve their navigation and selection process, and are working on extending their user interfaces. Mint 12 has MGSE (Mint Gnome Shell Extensions), which is a desktop layer on top of GNOME 3 that reinstates the experience of cascading text menus. Mint 12 also offers the still-experimental MATE desktop environment, which can be chosen by clicking on the gear-wheel icon at logon. MATE is a fork of the GNOME 2 shell with its own independent group of developers, who disingenuously describe it as "a non-intuitive and unattractive desktop for users, using the traditional computing desktop metaphor".
Linux Mint 12 shell extensions: MGSE (top) and MATE (above): both appear at the bottom-left of the desktop when the Menu button is clicked
The Mint developers are planning to go further than MGSE with a new shell called Cinnamon. This is planned for adoption as the default desktop in Mint 13, which should appear sometime in May following the April release of Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin). Version 1.2 of Cinnamon is already available, and can be installed in Mint 12 through the Software Manager. As with any of the alternate shells, it can be selected from a drop-down menu at logon by clicking on the gear wheel icon.

The Cinnamon shell 1.2 running on Linux Mint 12
The Ubuntu developers recently announced the slightly oddly-named Head-Up Display or HUD — a feature it's hoped will make its way into the upcoming 12.04 LTS release. Here, the term 'heads up' is used more in the American idiomatic sense of an advance alert, or in the sense of targeting a required behaviour. HUD uses a fuzzy logic system so that when the user types in a fragment or phrase expressing what they intend to do, HUD produces a response. This could be an application selection, or a command that hopefully matches the user's intent. For example, in the vector graphics program Inkscape, typing 'drop shadow' could result in the system offering a shortlist of commands that manipulate shadows. HUD can be seen as an extension of the predictive text that's already present in the Unity and GNOME shell interfaces.
Here is what Mark Shuttleworth has to say about the HUD in his 24 January blog:
"The desktop remains central to our everyday work and play, despite all the excitement around tablets, TV's and phones. So it's exciting for us to innovate in the desktop too, especially when we find ways to enhance the experience of both heavy "power" users and casual users at the same time. The desktop will be with us for a long time, and for those of us who spend hours every day using a wide diversity of applications, here is some very good news: 12.04 LTS will include the first step in a major new approach to application interfaces...Say hello to the Head-Up Display, or HUD, which will ultimately replace menus in Unity applications."
Shuttleworth also says that the adoption of the HUD fuzzy logic system could be the precursor to the eventual adoption of voice control in Ubuntu. For trial purposes, the HUD repositories for the experimental code can be added to the software sources of Ubuntu 12.04 alpha via the PPA — ppa:unity-team/hud.

Ubuntu's Head-Up Display (HUD) locating the Bookmarks command for the Firefox browser (see this blog post for more details)
Both Ubuntu and Linux Mint have evolved considerably since their beginnings. The future could well see Mint abandon its connection with Ubuntu to grow closer to its roots in Debian and GNOME, while Ubuntu has already decided to move away from GNOME and may continue to diverge from Debian.
Which distro is for you?
Ubuntu and Linux Mint are both stable, mature distributions with a wide range of compatible applications. If you're a business requiring commercial-level support for which you're willing to pay, then Ubuntu is the obvious choice. Home users who want out-of-the-box support for a wide range of media and can put up with the slightly later release dates might well prefer Mint.
Some people take a rather dim view of Ubuntu's default earth-tone colour palette, and Mint certainly provides an appropriately cool green-and-grey alternative. Ubuntu does offer desktop themes in alternative palettes, although the default 'orange'-hued Ambience theme arguably has the most polished appearance.
Then there's the choice between Ubuntu's Unity interface and Linux Mint's modifiable GNOME 3 shell. As we've seen, the UIs for both distros are works in progress, and in practice both offer an easy switch to variations on the earlier GNOME 2 if you don't get on with the default offerings.

Test setup
I have been using and writing about open-source software for about four years and have used Ubuntu as my main operating system since version 9.04. Although aware of Linux Mint, I had not previously tried it, simply because it's based on Ubuntu.
For this comparison I needed a Mint system, and rather than run it as a virtual machine, or on another computer, I decided to install it as a bootable option on my main work PC — an AMD Athlon64 X2 system with 2GB of RAM running on an MSI K9N motherboard.
I had an empty bay in my hot-swap drive cage and a spare 500GB drive, so I plugged the drive in installed Linux Mint to it and then opened a terminal window and ran the command 'sudo update-grub'. This added Linux Mint to my boot menu, so I could then choose between Ubuntu 11.10 64-bit, Windows XP or Linux Mint 12 64-bit at boot time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Comments on Ubuntu Linux

 Canonical Survey Reveals Worldwide Ubuntu Server Trends
from :  the varguy 
http://www.thevarguy.com/2012/02/17/canonical-survey-reveals-worldwide-ubuntu-server-trends/ for the complete article.
Who uses Ubuntu, where and why? That’s a question a lot of parties in the open source channel likely ask themselves. It’s also one that’s hard to answer, since public data on Ubuntu deployment is scarce. But it became a little less so recently with the publication of the results of Canonical’s latest survey of Ubuntu server users. Read on for the highlights.
The stakes surrounding the deployment of Ubuntu on servers are high. They’re a measure of Canonical’s success relative to other competitors in the open source channel such as Red Hat and Novell. They also say something about the health of Linux as a whole. And last but not least, they reveal a lot about technology trends in the open source ecosystem and beyond — where open source is being deployed, what kind of applications are popular and where the channel’s momentum might lead it in the future.

Ubuntu Server Edition Survey 2012

On Feb. 14, 2012, Gerry Carr, Canonical’s director of Communications, posted results of the latest survey of Ubuntu server users. This is the third time the survey, completed on a voluntary basis on Ubuntu’s website, was taken. The last one was in 2010.
The full report is available here, but some notable highlights that help reveal how Ubuntu is being used — and where it might be headed in the future — include:
  • Traditional applications — web, database and mail servers — constitute the clear majority of current Ubuntu deployments. That suggests users trust Ubuntu for high-volume, mission-critical services, although it also means Ubuntu may still have room to grow when it comes to more novel server technologies, such as those related to the cloud.
  • And on that note, when asked whether Ubuntu is a viable platform for cloud-based deployments, a whopping 70 percent of users declined to answer (of the remainder, 27 percent answered yes and 3 percent said no). Canonical interprets that trend as evidence that many users currently lack sufficient experience working with the cloud, which may be true, though that still seems like a huge number of abstentions. Whatever the explanation, it seems clear that Canonical needs to work harder to encourage Ubuntu use for the cloud — as indeed it has been — to avoid being left behind in this growing segment of the IT world.
  • Interestingly, most Ubuntu servers are running on traditional desktop PCs. As the report pointed out, “the prevalence of the tower PC probably reflects the number of hobbyist and home users responding to the survey.” I also wonder, though, if this suggests that Ubuntu may still lack as strong a presence in the server rooms of large organizations as some of its competitors.
  • More than half the respondents were located in Europe, and barely a quarter were in North America. According to the report, other data (which Canonical has not shared) suggests that in fact most Ubuntu server deployments are in the United States, with Europe overrepresented in the numbers released Tuesday because the survey was better publicized there. I’ll take the report’s word for that, but assuming it’s true, the higher response rate among Europeans nonetheless may be linked to the stronger presence of Ubuntu among governments and other large organizations in Europe.
  • Although the data on users’ perceptions of the compatibility of Ubuntu with other platforms is a little hard to make out, since it’s presented only in a graph, it looks like most respondents believe Ubuntu works pretty well with other systems. In addition, there appears to be no major difference in its perceived ability to integrate with open source vs. proprietary platforms, suggesting that Ubuntu has done a good job of building bridges into the closed-source world — no mean feat given the many hurdles to integrating open source technologies with proprietary ones.
  • Last but not least, KVM is now more popular than Xen as a virtualization hypervisor among survey respondents — but both still lag behind VMware. And surprisingly, VirtualBox ranked relatively high given that it’s mostly a desktop-oriented solution. (Perhaps this finding, however, also reflects the fact that many respondents are hobbyists who may be running server technologies alongside desktop ones).

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Which emerging economies have the most monetary and fiscal wiggle-room?


Free exchange

Shake it all about

Which emerging economies have the most monetary and fiscal wiggle-room?


THE downturn in the euro area and the wobbly recovery in America have already taken their toll on the emerging world. Setting China’s still-bouncy economy to one side, the average growth rate in other developing countries is estimated to have slumped to an annual rate of less than 3% in the fourth quarter of 2011, from 6.5% in the first quarter. Some of that slowdown was the result of policy tightening to cool overheating economies and curb inflation, but it also reflects weaker exports and reduced capital inflows. If the euro-area debt crisis worsens, things will get nastier for emerging economies.
The good news is that whereas most rich countries have little or no room to cut interest rates or to increase public borrowing, emerging markets as a group still have lots of monetary and fiscal firepower at their disposal. That room for manoeuvre served developing countries well during the downturn of 2008-09: monetary and fiscal easing was more effective in boosting demand than it was in the rich world, thanks to healthier private-sector balance-sheets. Although the emerging markets have less room for easing now than they did in 2008, when they collectively ran a small surplus on their budgets, their average budget deficit last year was only 2% of GDP, against 8% in the G7 economies. And their general-government debt amounts on average to only 36% of GDP, compared with 119% of GDP in the rich world.
A healthy aggregate picture masks some big differences, however. Some governments have much more scope to loosen policy than others. An analysis by The Economist ranks 27 emerging economies according to their monetary and fiscal wiggle-room.
We began by using five indicators to assess each country’s ability to ease monetary policy. The first was inflation, which ranges from 2% in Taiwan to 20% or more in Argentina and Venezuela (using private-sector estimates for the former rather than the government’s dubious figure). Lower food prices have reduced inflation in many countries, but it remains above 5% in half of them. Our second measure is excess credit: the gap between the growth rate in bank credit and nominal GDP over the past year. This looks most alarming in Argentina, Brazil, Hong Kong and Turkey. In contrast, Chinese bank lending is now rising more slowly than GDP.
The third monetary indicator is the real interest rate. This is negative in about half of the economies, but is over 2% in Brazil and China. Fourth, we look at currency movements against the dollar since mid-2011. Nine countries, including Brazil, Hungary, India and Poland, have seen double-digit depreciations, with the risk that higher import prices could push up inflation. Our final gauge is the current-account balance. If global financial conditions tighten, it would be harder to finance a large current-account deficit, and so harder to cut interest rates. Turkey is the most vulnerable country on this measure, with a deficit of 9% of GDP forecast for 2012. India, Poland and South Africa are tipped to have deficits of around 4% or more.
We graded each country on all five indicators. We then added up the scores to produce an overall measure of monetary manoeuvrability (rankings for the individual indicators can be found here).
Next we devised a fiscal-flexibility index, combining government debt and the structural (ie, cyclically adjusted) budget deficit as a percentage of GDP. The most profligate governments, by emerging-market standards, are those of Brazil, Hungary, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Poland, with debts close to 60% or more of GDP. The last four countries also have huge structural budget deficits of 6-9% of GDP, leaving governments little room to respond to another downturn. In contrast, Russia, Singapore and South Korea have ample scope for a fiscal stimulus.
 Our interactive index ranks these 27 emerging economies across all six individual indicators
Some economists argue that China could not be saved by a big fiscal stimulus like that in 2009. Although its official government debt is only 27% of GDP, this excludes bank lending to local governments, which could push the total above 60% of GDP. But the Chinese government also has vast assets, notably its shares in state-owned enterprises, so its net fiscal position remains healthy.
The average of these monetary and fiscal measures produces our overall “wiggle-room index”. Countries are coloured in the chart according to our assessment of their ability to ease: “green” means it is safe to let out the throttle; “red” means the brakes need to stay on. The index offers a rough ranking of which economies are best placed to withstand another global downturn. It suggests that China, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia have the greatest capacity to use monetary and fiscal policies to support growth. Chile, Peru, Russia, Singapore and South Korea also get the green light.
Red alert
At the other extreme, Egypt, India and Poland have the least room for a stimulus. Argentina, Brazil, Hungary, Turkey, Pakistan and Vietnam are also in the red zone. Unfortunately, this suggests a mismatch. Some of the really big economies where growth has slowed quite sharply, such as Brazil and India, have less monetary and fiscal firepower than China, say, which has less urgent need to bolster growth. India’s Achilles heel is an overly lax fiscal policy and an uncomfortably high rate of inflation. The Reserve Bank of India has sensibly not yet reduced interest rates despite a weakening economy. In contrast, Brazil’s central bank has ignored the red light and reduced interest rates four times since last August. In its latest move on January 18th, the bank signalled more cuts ahead. That will support growth this year but at the risk of reigniting inflation in 2013. Desirable as it is to keep moving, ignoring red lights is risky.
Economist.com/blogs/freeexchange

Friday, January 6, 2012

IBM Acquisition of Emptoris Bolsters Smarter Commerce Initiative, Helps Reduce Procurement Costs and Risks


IBM Acquisition of Emptoris Bolsters Smarter Commerce Initiative, Helps Reduce Procurement Costs and Risks


ARMONK, N.Y., - 15 Dec 2011: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a definitive agreement to acquire Emptoris Inc., a leading provider of cloud and on-premise analytics software that brings more intelligence to procurement and supply chain operations with spend, supplier and contract management for Smarter Commerce. Financial terms were not disclosed.
With more than 350 customers in 75 countries, Emptoris is based in Burlington, Mass. with offices in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Australia, India, Brazil and China. Emptoris' global clients span multiple industries including consumer products, financial services, healthcare, telecommunications, chemical/oil/gas, utilities, construction and industrial manufacturing.
The acquisition is the latest addition to IBM's Smarter Commerce initiative, launched in March 2011, which is aimed at helping companies respond to shifting customer buying patterns. Emptoris brings to IBM Smarter Commerce a set of new, flexible and integrated solutions that orchestrate and manage the sourcing and procurement of goods and materials as part of supply chain management. Supply chain intelligence using these solutions enables better inventory management and can create large savings opportunities.
For example, a large global oil and gas company established a centralized sourcing network across its entire enterprise operating in more than 80 countries, which enabled them to focus on the most strategic, highest cost, frequently-purchased items. This brought speed, transparency and simplification to the sourcing process. As a result, the company runs thousands of sourcing events per year managing more than 15,000 suppliers in 10 languages, achieving more than 9 percent reduction on managed categories of goods.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Is Ubuntu's Bleeding Edge Hurting Linux? By Matt Hartley January 3, 2012

Problems occur with newer Linux enthusiasts who don't realize that installing the latest Linux release isn't always the best way forward.


http://www.datamation.com/open-source/is-ubuntus-bleeding-edge-hurting-linux-1.html

Is Ubuntu's Bleeding Edge Hurting Linux?
By Matt Hartley
January 3, 2012


Like most computer enthusiasts, I find myself seeking out Linux distributions that offer a bleeding edge experience. That said, I'm also careful not to place bleeding edge operating systems onto a desktop machine I rely on for daily use.

After all, why put my daily productivity at risk only to discover possible bugs with a cutting edge OS! Therefore, my bleeding edge Linux experiences tend to be used on my notebook only, thus leaving my desktop free of any surprises.

Unfortunately for many Linux enthusiasts, the above approach isn't always something that's considered. While we do see most IT pros choosing stability over a bleeding edge experience for the workplace, many people outside of the IT realm tend to install the latest Linux releases without a single thought as to stability.

This approach presents a problem, especially with newer Linux enthusiasts who don't realize that installing the latest Linux release isn't always the best way forward.

In this article, I'll explore the disconnect with newer users and distribution development teams. I’ll talk about why I feel both parties contribute to the ongoing confusion as to whether it's best to select stability over a bleeding edge Linux experience.

The end user to developer communication breakdown

It's not a secret to advanced Linux enthusiasts that running the latest release of their preferred distribution is likely going to lead to some bugs along the way. It's the nature of working the kinks out of new software.

Unfortunately, newer users are often under the impression that if a Linux distribution has come out of its beta stage, it's going to be perfectly stable to use. The fact of the matter is that this simply isn't always the case.

I don't believe there is any question that distribution development teams have done everything they can to handle software bugs. However, it's rare that they can get to all of them before the new version is released to the public. Expecting anything else is simply unrealistic. This is why many experienced Linux enthusiasts will opt for an older, more stable release of the same Linux distribution.

Now the problem with this is that most distribution maintainers do a lousy job at explaining the differences between stable vs non-stable releases, and when end users should update and when not to. The only distribution I've ever seen really make a concerted effort to keep people from updating their Linux distributions and software unnecessarily is Linux Mint. There may be others that do a fair job here as well, but none of them are using Ubuntu as a base distribution from which to build from (to my knowledge).

A logical solution to this problem is to make it clear on distribution download pages which releases are bleeding edge, then provide a link that explains how that affects stability, known bugs, etc. Taking this approach would not only prevent the ongoing misunderstandings on various Linux forums, it would also save time for everyone involved.

The attraction of bleeding edge software

So why do some Linux enthusiasts feel the need to jump onto the latest distribution releases in the first place? If you were to ask these users directly, they would say that they want access to the latest software releases available. And when using distributions such as Ubuntu, often you must run a newer release of the distribution in order to get the latest features available.

Let me say this again: Some Linux distributions rely on you upgrading everything to get access to the latest software. This is not to imply that this is the case with rolling releases or other Linux distributions that allow you to manually craft your own Linux experience.

Now in some instances, even with Ubuntu, a motivated enthusiast can get around the need to upgrade their distribution just to enjoy the latest software. Depending on the application in question, sometimes adding an Ubuntu PPA archive is enough to bring a target application to its more recent release. But when it comes to desktop environments, along with various frameworks like MLT, using a supported distribution release is often the best route to take.

If you're an advanced user, this would be a moot issue for you as you've likely customized your distribution to meet your specific needs. For other Linux users, however, this issue presents a bit of a paradox. This is especially true when the affected user finds there's a bug in the software that's resolved in a newer release of the same application.

Does that user chance an upgrade to the potentially less stable newer release of the Linux distribution? Perhaps instead, it's best to just wait awhile and make do with things as they are.

Bleeding edge software consequences and solutions

The answer to this problem is right there in front of us. We need to advocate heavy testing with Linux LiveCDs before actually installing the distribution.

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Is Ubuntu's Bleeding Edge Hurting Linux? : Page 2
By Matt Hartley
January 3, 2012
I realize this sounds painfully obvious, however for countless users out there, the message isn't being conveyed effectively. Newer users need to do heavy testing with networking and resolution settings, among other common issues they might run into. Nothing frustrates me more than reading about a newer user who blindly upgraded to the next "big release," only to break their wireless connection or create an unstable desktop experience. This sort of nonsense is avoidable and we need to stop expecting people to just "know" this stuff.

New users aren't mind-readers and they certainly aren't going to spend weeks reading through random forum posts or poorly marked help pages before upgrading. It's time for distributions wanting a larger market share to step up to the plate and deal with this problem head on.

Do you think I'm overstating the issue? Fine, visit this Ubuntu download page and show me where any sort of warning or disclaimer is posted? The best we have is the offer of "long term support" without really explaining why this is important. While Ubuntu is certainly not the only distribution guilty of this lax effort on release details, they are the most popular.

Use a Wizard, Harry!

Why in the world isn't there a "Linux Release Wizard" posted on the download pages of popular Linux distros? I realize it might seem like a lot of work, but clearly, it's a needed feature.

The goal of such a wizard wouldn't be to help individuals select one distribution of Linux over another. No, instead the goal would be to help Linux users select the best currently supported release to best match their specific expectations.

Keep in mind that most new Linux users don't have the slightest idea which release of a Linux distribution is best matched for their needs. They do, however, have a firm grasp on how certain software titles are to be used in the first place.

Are any of these issues going to topple the current successes for Linux on the desktop? Of course not, as experienced Linux enthusiasts are already aware of the status quo in this space. But as new users find their way over to the Linux platform, some important decisions about disclaimers will have to be made. Because eventually it all comes down to what kind of reception we're interested in getting back from new Linux users.


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