Clicks & Notes

27 March 2005

Enterprise IT News

A trio of press releases…

Forrester Research - Top IT Priorities For European Enterprises In 2005

  • Infrastructure consolidation: Almost two-thirds of European enterprises plan to prioritize efforts to consolidate existing IT infrastructure — a quarter of them consider it a top priority for 2005.
  • Security and business continuity: Nearly 60% of European firms rank the upgrade of their security systems as a high priority; 48% of them intend to renew existing disaster recovery capabilities.
  • Packaged applications: Forty-nine percent of European enterprises place the deployment or upgrade of a major application software package as a top IT priority in 2005.
  • PC refresh: Forty-eight percent of European enterprises will replace or upgrade their existing PCs.

Forrester Research - A Dashboard For IT Management

New research from Forrester points to a convergence of disciplines that will result in an integrated IT management (IIM) dashboard, allowing IT managers to reduce IT budgets by as much as 30 percent while realizing value increases of 10 to 15 percent in the first year.

Other benefits include:

  • A dashboard with requests, priorities, resource allocation, schedules, and completed activities.
  • Centralized IT work requests for a true sense of demands against IT resources.
  • Enterprisewide views that permit cross-enterprise resource allocation.
  • A business-level view of concurrent and conflicting IT priorities.
  • High-level analysis and reporting, with drill-downs into specific metrics.

Forrester Research - Top Five Challenges For Enterprise IT Infrastructure Managers – And How To Resolve Them

  • the top five challenges are:
    • Consistent End-To-End Application And Service Performance Guarantees
    • Unplanned Infrastructure Changes Resulting In Incidents And Downtime
    • Unanticipated Infrastructure Effects From Consolidation And New Application Projects
    • Misconfiguration Of Network Objects
    • Wide Area Network Performance

Update: Another press release by Forrester, dating from last fall:

Forrester Research - The Five Top Measurable Metrics IT Management Should Focus On

  1. Alignment with business strategy. This should be the No. 1 metric that IT management uses to measure itself. Failure in alignment will almost certainly result in an IT organization that is viewed at best as a cost center to be managed.
  2. Stewardship of the IT budget. This is the second critical metric. While measuring actual results versus planned results is a sold metric, the ratio of IT budget spent on maintaining the status quo versus spending on new initiatives is a more powerful financial measure.
  3. User/customer satisfaction. This is a key element since IT essentially exists to serve its users. Measuring their satisfaction needs to be part of any IT management systems. We recommend an index that comprises survey results, interviews, and focus groups.
  4. An operational stability index. This should be calculated from three component metrics – availability, responsiveness, and security related outages.
  5. Future orientation. Long-term success of IT is based on the ability to attract, retain, and motivate skilled IT employees. Consequently, a metric that focuses on the human capital dimension of IT needs to be part of the measurement set.

See also:

InformationWeek Weblog - Do businesses want IT staffs to light a spark—or just keep the lights on?

A.T. Kearney released a report Wednesday showing that 30% of executives believe 20% or more of their companies’ annual IT budget is wasted, and is focused more on maintenance rather than growth initiatives.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 2:06 pm

27 February 2005

Free Windows Software

These lists all provide links to good free software for Windows…

Tech Support Alert - The 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities

Last updated February 21, 2005: 17 items updated, 11 additions, 6 deletions. In this latest update there are actually 61 utilities but this report will still be called now and forever “The Best-ever 46 Freeware Utilities.”

Lifehacker - Essential Windows freebies

  • software for “average” users, including more media- and communication-oriented software - 10 Open Source programs you should have

  • a more “geek"-oriented list

The Portable Freeware Collection

This site is dedicated to the collection and cataloguing of freeware that can be extracted to any directory and run independently without prior installation. These can be carried around on a memory stick / USB flash drive, or copied / migrated from PC to PC via simple copying of files. Hence the term portable freeware.

The Road Warriors Guide - What’s On My Pen Drive

If you spend any amount of time on the road in the IT industry, you’ll undoubtedly have equipped yourself with a software “toolkit” that you use on a regular basis. Those readers of a “certain age” will recall fond memories of carrying a box of floppies loaded with diagnostic and test software that would get hauled out at every site.


a guide to very small software for your PC. Virtually all of the programs listed here are free of charge and for use under Windows (Palm and OS X pages also exist)

AnandTech - Freeware replacements for commonly warez’ed programs

there are free replacements for a lot of commercial software that people commonly pirate

Update 28 February 2005: Pricelessware

The Pricelessware list is a compilation of software collected through a yearly vote by the participants of the alt.comp.freeware newsgroup. It is a list of what people have voted as “the best of the best in Freeware".

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:40 pm

26 February 2005

The Mac Mini and Switching from PC to Mac

If I had the extra cash lying around, I’d love to add a Mac Mini to my stable of computers… - Mac Mini – More Than Meets the Eye

  • suggests numerous ways to make use of a Mac Mini, including:
    • 1: As a Portable Depot for Digital Pictures
    • 7: As a Hardware Firewall for Laptops
    • 8: As a Physical Security System, for controlling security CCTV cameras, coordinating alarms, etc.
    • 13: As an iPod Feeding Station

Computerworld - Mac mini to the max – Part 1 and Part 2

I also have a hunch this will be a godsend to IT departments in mixed environments where Macintoshes and Windows-based PCs have to play well together. Why? Because a lot of companies likely have extra keyboards, monitors and computer mice lying around. And since the Mac mini comes with none of those peripherals, it’s perfect for IT folks eyeing Mac upgrades for older models – or thinking about trying a Mac or two in their corporate environment to see how it might work

Working Smart - I Finally Took the Plunge

  • notes on making the transition from PC to Mac
  • (via Lifehacker)

Update 28 February 2005: Personal Technology (Wall Street Journal) - While Switching to Mac Will Improve Security, It Isn’t for Everybody

In general, the best candidates for a switch to the Mac are those who use their computers overwhelmingly for common, mainstream consumer tasks.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:29 pm

04 February 2005

Identity Theft, Online Scams, and Password Failure

Computerworld - FTC: Identity theft, online scams rose in ‘04

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said it received 635,000 consumer complaints in 2004, as criminals sold nonexistent products through online auction sites or went shopping with stolen credit cards. Identity theft – the practice of running up bills or committing crimes in someone else’s name – topped the list with 247,000 complaints, up 15% from 2003.

Technology Review - The Password Is Fayleyure

Today’s password authentication schemes are little more than security placebos. They perversely inspire abuse, misuse, and criminal mischief by deliberately making users the weakest link in the security chain. Greater teleprocessing power has made stealing or cracking password sequences ever faster, better, and cheaper.

(via Tomalak’s Realm)

Update: Here are some tips for making up passwords that are relatively easy to remember, but difficult to guess…

Cutting Through - Secure passwords with nursery rhymes

Take a phrase or saying, or perhaps a line from a song that you can remember readily, then type the first letter of each word as you say it to yourself… You can make it even more secure by throwing in a few number / character substitutions - zeros for the letter ‘o’, for example.

Eric’s Archived Thoughts - Password Production

The general idea is to pick a two-word combination you can easily remember (and) interleave the words… In cases where your two words have different lengths, you can always tack on numbers.

(via Cutting Through)

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 1:58 am

02 February 2005

Spam Notes

The Register - Interview with a link spammer

For even a semi-competent programmer, writing programs that will link-spam vulnerable websites and blogs is pretty easy. All you need is a list of blogs - which again, even a semi-competent programmer will be able to pull together (by searching for sites with keywords such as “Wordpress", “Movable Type” and “Blogger") a huge list of blogs to hit.

(via Jeremy Zawodny’s Linkblog)

Datamation - Can Antispammers Win the War?

Although many antispam experts have criticized the U.S. CAN SPAM Act as too weak, Prince notes that the act includes an absolute prohibition against two techniques spammers depend upon to acquire addresses in the first place. These are harvesting attacks (where spammers use harvesting software to collect addresses from pages at random), and dictionary attacks, in which spammers send messages to random addresses to learn which ones are active.

Fast Company - The Dirty Little Secret About Spam

What the good guys want and what the bad guys want are more or less the same thing. J.P. Morgan Chase and Kraft U.S.A. promote credit cards and coffee in ways that aren’t so different from the tactics employed by anonymous peddlers of porn and gambling. “Legitimate” marketers would rather the spammers disappear – but not if that means quashing the opportunity that both groups enjoy.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 12:57 am

29 January 2005

Internet Hazards

Computerworld - Making the Internet Safer For Your Employees:

  • covers firewall settings, email security, and group policies

Wired News - Turning the Tables on Spammers:

Project Honey Pot is a distributed system that catches spammers who collect e-mail addresses from websites without authorization, a practice known as e-mail address harvesting.

Computerworld - Study: More identity theft off-line than online:

72% of the thefts of personal information from scams last year was done off-line

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:47 pm

Software Notes


  • yearly roundup of the best free software according to the alt.comp.freeware newsgroup

Acrobat Reader Speedup:

  • a free Windows utility that helps shorten the amount of time it takes for Adobe Acrobat to load
  • (via SearchEngineWatch)

Make Firefox Faster:

Warning over Microsoft Word files:

  • sensitive information can be inadvertently leaked due to the way Microsoft Word maintains data in edited files
  • Microsoft has a Remove Hidden Data add-in that can be used to expunge this information

Running open source without dropping Windows:

  • businesses are exploring using open source software such as Mozilla Firefox and Open Office in place of Microsoft applications, while continuing to run the Windows operating system
  • however, “those with complex Microsoft Excel or PowerPoint files probably won’t be able to work with open source alternatives because of file and macro compatibility issues”
  • places to look for open source options for Windows:
  • (via InformIT)

Open Workbench:

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:37 pm

27 January 2005

Web Browser News and Notes

Robin Good’s Latest News - Free Fall: Internet Explorer Has Now Lost 30% Of The Browser Market

according to my own traffic statistics based on a sample of over 600,000 visitors from over 180 countries, Internet Explorer controls slightly more than 70% of the browser market, where, just twelve months ago it had over 91% of it - Firefox Advantages

The benefits of tabbed browsing hit home when you create folders of related bookmarks. For instance, on my computer I have a folder of a dozen technology-news bookmarks and another 20 or so bookmarks pointing to political Web sites. A third folder contains 15 or so bookmarks for sites devoted to the World Champion Boston Red Sox. With one click, I can open the entire contents of these folders in tabs, in the same single window, allowing me to survey entire fields of interest.

Computerworld - Business Must Be Cautious With Firefox

Many mission-critical applications have been built on Internet Explorer, and most organizations don’t have the budget or resources to recode them. In addition, PCs’ application loads need to be properly tested to ensure that nothing breaks with the addition of a different browser.

Added 02 February 2005: Computerworld - Readers respond to Firefox column

Michael Gartenberg’s Jan. 24 column ‘Business Must Be Cautious With Firefox’ generated the most reader mail that we’ve seen in a while. Here’s some of what readers had to say…

Wired News - Opera, the Forgotten Browser

Ironically, many of the features that are now favorites among Firefox users first appeared in Opera, such as Multiple Document Interface, known as tabbed browsing in Firefox, and Mouse Gestures, which allow users to control the browser by moving their mouse instead of clicking on icons. Opera can also match Firefox’s boast of enhanced security – that is, better security than what IE supplies.

BBC NEWS - Latest Opera browser gets vocal

The latest version of the net browser can be controlled by voice command and will read pages aloud.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 7:19 pm

26 January 2005

Blog setup notes

A few notes about the setup of this blog:

  • I’m using WordPress as my blogging engine. It has a reputation for being very easy to set up, and it’s true – you really can have a functional blog up and running in as little as five minutes. Customizing and configuring it, of course, takes a bit longer…
  • One of those customizations was putting together a new web stylesheet (the default one that’s supplied with WordPress isn’t particularly attractive). I started off with this alternative stylesheet and modified it to produce my own look.
  • I’m using the WPBlacklist plugin to help fight off comment spam.
  • The RSS feeds are being optimized with Feedburner for maximum compatibility with various newsreaders.

Fortunately, none of this was too difficult to set up. However, there’s always room for improvement, and you’ll likely see a few more tweaks implemented over time.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:34 am

© Jennifer Vetterli, 2005