Stories by Steve Fox

Is Desktop Linux for real?

A year ago, Computerworld wouldn't have published an article describing how to switch from Windows to desktop Linux. The operating system's installation glitches hadn't been smoothed out, app and basic utility support was still too spotty, and peripheral device support lagged. Oh, yeah, there was one more thing: The demand simply wasn't there.

Finding that dream tech job

Anyone who lived through the dot-bomb implosion in the early Aughties has probably developed a healthy dose of skepticism -- especially about all those caffeine-fueled high-tech jobs that shriveled up when the tech downturn hit. After the great bust, many techies began looking for more down-to-earth opportunities, namely opportunities that led to solid jobs with companies that were likely to still be in business a few years down the road. New worlds to conquer, stock options that could vault one into the eight-figure income bracket, high excitement? Thanks, but no thanks.

Open source hippies and opinionated bloggers

According to basic e-mail etiquette, mass-forwarding an e-mail message is annoying, inconsiderate, and just plain bad form. (And don't get me started on those "REPLY ALL" scoundrels-- grrrr!). But I'm going to break with protocol here, because I simply must share a few choice words from Randall Kennedy, our Enterprise Desktop blogger. Kennedy and I had been trying to come up with a descriptive subtitle for his blog. To tell me about his approach, the ever colorful Mr. Kennedy sent me a deliciously juicy e-mail, which I excerpt below.

Gaming for business

What does gaming have to do with mainstream business? Until recently, I'd have answered, "not much." But a conversation with Tim Keanini of nCircle made me rethink my position.

Moving up the IT stack

IBM's purchase of asset and service management powerhouse MRO Software - hot on the heels of HP's Mercury acquisition - could signal a new chapter in the IT industry. After years of helping IT support a Rube Goldberg style infrastructure, the major vendors are hoping to give both IT and business honchos a broader view.

Exploiting everyday end-user behavior

So what keeps IT pros awake at night? Typical IT administrators have no shortage of worrisome situations to ponder during those long, sleepless hours.

Opinion: Too tired of 2.0

Are you as tired as I am of hearing any new development referred to as "2.0"? Suddenly every journalist with a point to make (and a deadline to meet) has gotten the fever: SOA 2.0, Mobility 2.0, Microsoft 2.0, even China 2.0 and India 2.0. And that's not counting the ubiquitous, if defensible, references to Web 2.0.

Life after Gates

Give Microsoft credit. What other company could pull off a stop-the-presses announcement on news that its No. 2 guy was stepping down ... in two years? That's a lifetime in the software industry. Yet with a slew of new Microsoft products and technologies rolling out between 2006 and 2007, the role of that particular No. 2 -- chief software architect Bill Gates -- looms large.

Beating the competition

If we were seeking a mantra, we might just opt for "IT is the business," a quote from Netflix's Tom Dillon. In an InfoWorld interview, "Why IT gives business a competitive edge", the movie-rental company's COO was asserting that IT should be integral to a business's goals, not an afterthought or simply a support mechanism. The conclusion: When fully aligned -- even woven into -- core business strategy, IT can foster competitive advantage and drive market leadership.

Managing merger mania

Oracle gobbles up Siebel (buuurp). Sun swallows StorageTek (slurp). Adobe feasts on Macromedia (brrrap). And let's not forget Sprint and Nextel's $35 billion hookup, eBay's purchase of Skype, the Symantec-Veritas wedding, or scores of other megabuck deals that are roiling today's enterprise market.
Yep, tech companies have suddenly come down with a whopping case of the consolidation crazies. But disruption can be minimized by maintaining close contact with your vendor.

IT's seven dirty words

IT has its own set of seven dirty words. Try saying any one of these in polite IT company, and someone will hand you a bar of soap to wash your mouth out. My filthy seven:

Return of the thin client

Deja vu alert! Meet your next enterprise desktop - the thin client. OK, so this phrase has triggered the part of your brain that controls eye rolls and guffaws.

Opinion: May the best tech win

The best technology doesn't always win. Blame poor marketing, bad timing, or just plain dumb luck, but the dustbins of history are lined with examples of superior technologies that failed to capture market share. Everyone mentions Betamax, which had its clock cleaned by VHS. But I prefer to cite personal favorite XyWrite, a fast, flexible app from the late '80s that made competing word processors look like manual typewriters. Ditto the 64-bit DEC Alpha, which had the chops but not the marketing muscle needed to win.