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Stories by Christopher Lindquist

Feature: Dirty code, licences and open source

Karen Copenhaver, a partner at law firm Choate, Hall & Stewart, tells a story about running a seminar for a large company. The goal of the seminar was to make it clear that software developers had a responsibility to abide by their company's guidelines surrounding the use of open-source, free and other third-party code.
Copenhaver thought it went well. Then the development group's manager came up to her and said, "You know, these fellows can't get everything they need to get done every day and worry about all of this stuff."

Written by Christopher Lindquist05 July 06 22:00

Dawn of a spam killer

Can't miss money makers. Improved masculine stamina. Fun with farm animals. Sexy schoolgirls. It's all there waiting for us in our e-mail every morning. Beyond being time-consuming to sort through and delete, those unwanted messages can also be downright offensive, creating an HR nightmare that has many IT departments looking for some relief.
One of the newest players in the antispam field is San Mateo, Calif.-based startup Deersoft Inc. The company's products are based on an open-source antispam software project called SpamAssassin (www.spamassassin.org), which was started in 2001 by Irish programmer Justin Mason. Not long after, Craig Hughes, CTO and cofounder of Deersoft, began working with Mason to enhance the software. That initial work led to a round of funding from venture capitalist Gordon Kruberg, and Deersoft was born.

Written by Christopher Lindquist08 Feb. 03 22:00

Ideas 2003: GPS finds new business

Using a global positioning system to pinpoint your location--or that of your employees, vehicles or even buildings--on the world map isn't tough. Just trot down to the local sporting goods store, and you can have a GPS for US$150 or less. Getting that GPS to integrate wirelessly with your back-end applications, however, requires considerably more work--and money. But soon, taking advantage of those same GPS features that can help a lost hiker get out of the woods could be as easy as paying a few extra dollars on your cell phone bills.

Written by Christopher Lindquist27 Jan. 03 22:00

Ideas 2003: 'You ain't nothin' but Ogg Vorbis'

Today, the most easily downloadable digital music sits in one of three formats: MP3, Real Audio and Windows Media Audio (.WMA). All three use compression algorithms to shrink huge files into manageable sizes, while retaining much of the clarity and quality we've come to expect in the CD age. The problem is that these formats are proprietary. Microsoft Corp. owns .WMA, RealNetworks controls Real Audio, and the German Fraunhofer Institute owns (and extracts royalties for) MP3. As a result, some smaller vendors and music makers can't afford to play in the digital audio game, while some listeners are bugged by the thought that their favorite tunes are held hostage by corporate-owned formats.

Written by Christopher Lindquist16 Dec. 02 22:00

Creative visualization

Dozens of information sources. Hundreds of thousands of data points. All of them critical to the future success of your company. But trying to analyze such massive amounts of information might even spin the number-happy head of A Beautiful Mind's John Nash.
That's where Spotfire steps in. The Somerville, Mass.-based company builds analytical tools designed to let corporations create on-the-fly visual representations of complex data sets, helping mere mortals pluck drops of gold from oceans of lead.

Written by Christopher Lindquist03 Oct. 02 22:00

Disappearing DAM?

Digital asset management (DAM) products may be a hot topic now, but a January report by Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group predicts that by 2004 or 2005, such tools will likely evolve into nothing more than a set of features inside more complete enterprise content management tools.
That said, Meta doesn't think customers should ditch DAM systems. Instead, the report, "An Update on Enterprise Digital Asset Management Systems," indicates that companies should still use DAM systems to manage their unstructured multimedia content, resting safe in the knowledge that existing tools from established players will likely be acquired by more inclusive content management players. That may provide some security despite ongoing consolidation in the marketspace.

Written by Christopher Lindquist03 Oct. 02 22:00

Big picture

While not necessarily a must-have for every corporation, multiscreen video display systems do have their place both for videoconferencing and more esoteric pursuits, such as information walls (think the trading floor of the Nasdaq stock exchange, large-scale network monitoring centers or the military).
To enable such video operations, Imtech offers the Activu control system, a software suite that can securely connect multiple display devices across a network or in the same room. The software can "mirror" the same video data across multiple displays -- from desktop systems to enormous video walls, letting large numbers of users view and interact with identical information simultaneously. Unlike proprietary systems, the Activu software runs on standard servers over a company's existing network, reducing overall implementation costs.

Written by Christopher Lindquist02 Oct. 02 22:00

Danger from within

Just when you thought that network security couldn't get any tougher, Moscow-based iNetPrivacy Software has released AntiFirewall. Taking advantage of a user's ability to browse web pages (something most companies don't completely restrict), the US$35 utility connects to external, anonymous proxy servers. Once connected to one of these servers, AntiFirewall users can establish FTP connections, use chat or instant messaging without restriction, and receive messages from external e-mail accounts, even if corporate security policies and firewalls would normally prevent such activities.
The product also screens the user's originating IP address, providing for anonymous communication from within corporate networks. (It does not, however, support the SMTP mail protocol, so users cannot send anonymous email messages.)

Written by Christopher Lindquist01 Oct. 02 22:00

Technology might keep us safe - at what price?

It seems strange writing a column about how 9/11 changed America's attitude toward technology. The events of that day obviously affected our views on a lot of important things: war, death, the US's role in world politics. Technology hardly seems to deserve a mention among such solemn company.
But prior to 9/11, would any well-known corporate leader -- even the notably vocal Oracle chairman and CEO Larry Ellison -- have come out for a national ID system? Would Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of the country's largest city do the same? And if they had, would their comments have been met with such muted criticism? The events of 9/11 made us receptive to incursions into our private lives that we wouldn't have accepted previously. And that fact is going to raise some dilemmas for CIOs going forward.

Written by Christopher Lindquist01 Oct. 02 22:00

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