Stories by Frank Hayes

Tech luminaries we lost in 2011

It's been a rough year for the IT industry. The death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in October grabbed international headlines. But we also lost other major figures from almost every area of technology, including Xerox PARC founder Jacob E. Goldman, who died in late December. Here's one last look at some of the people who made a big difference.

Sure the Cloud's insecure; it's like everything else

Worried about security in the cloud? Fret over this instead: Last month, a hacker surfaced who claimed he can sell access to more than a dozen government, military and university Web sites all cracked easily because of bad programming.

The cloud issue you really can't ignore

Maybe it's time to rethink the cloud. Yeah, I know -- at this point, most IT shops haven't thought through the cloud the first time. But Microsoft's recent troubles keeping its cloud services available to users shine a harsh light on the issue of cloud availability and reliability.

For Microsoft, the pain is just starting

Microsoft cuts 5,000 jobs. That's the big news of the week. Not just because the layoffs will cut one in 20 of Microsoft's 91,000 employees. Not only because it signals just how hard Microsoft has been hurt by the failure of Vista and by shifts in the way big customers license and use software. Not even because of the grim sign it represents for the rest of the IT industry.

Data breach target: You

Heard about a competitor's security being breached? Then you're probably next. In fact, you may already be owned.

The How of Y

When it came to work, the great Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko liked to quote his friend Slats Grobnik: "If it's so good, how come they have to pay you to do it?"

Grokking SCO's demise

The SCO Group 's US$5 billion threat against Linux is effectively finished. On Friday, Aug. 10, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled that SCO doesn't actually own the copyrights that it was using to threaten -- and in some cases, sue -- Linux users.

Encrypting end user data is tough to do

Encryption is hard. Case in point: the US government, which requires its agencies to encrypt all sensitive data on laptops and mobile devices. But according to the US Government Accountability Office, as of last year, 70 per cent of such devices didn't encrypt -- and the other 30 per cent weren't in great shape either.

RFID redux

Let's talk about RFID. But first, let's imagine the Internet as it might be. Suppose every ISP required its users to buy only its own brand of modem. And use only its own proprietary Web browser. And connect only to Web sites certified by the ISP to work with that modem and Web browser.

'Office' politics and the XML file format fight

OK, try to follow this: Microsoft has spent the past two years slamming its Open XML file format through the process to make it an international standard. Along the way, there's been arm-twisting, committee-packing, bribery and other chicanery. But by last week, Microsoft was one step away from success.

HP+EDS means trouble for IT

How many heads will roll at EDS? That's the obvious question, now that Hewlett-Packard is buying the company. A back-of-the-envelope calculation says that at least half the employees of HP+EDS are in services, but they generate only one-third of the revenue. Conclusion: Up to 50 per cent of them will get the chop.

RFID and Wal-Mart: It's all about money

What if you threw a technology party and nobody came? Wal-Mart is in that position with RFID. In 2003, the retail giant said it wanted its 100 largest suppliers to put an RFID tag on every pallet of merchandise delivered after January 2005 -- and the rest of its suppliers to join the party soon after. But as Computerworld 's Sharon Gaudin reported last week, it hasn't worked out that way.

Frankly Speaking: Agile programming is no hooey

If you read Tom Hoffman's article "A Telco Giant Gets Agile" about how BT is using agile programming for a major software project, you may have stumbled a bit when you got to the description of the "Manifesto for Agile Software Development." Chances are good that, after a quick read, your reaction was "That's all agile is?"

Frankly Speaking: Microsoft's woes like IBM's of old

Gartner says Windows is "collapsing." Well, sure. Strictly speaking, Windows itself isn't in a state of collapse -- Windows XP is still useful to a huge population of customers. But for Vista and the Windows franchise as a whole, things do not look good.