29 December 2012

Can HP Survive the Post-PC Revolution?

Can HP Survive the Post-PC Revolution?
> December 29, 2012
> http://www.WebProNews.com
> Can HP Survive the Post-PC Revolution?
> By: Sean Patterson | Staff Writer
> On November 20, 2012, Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced its second quarterly write-down of over $8 billion dollars in a row. That in itself is cause for alarm, but the fact that HP blamed the write-downs on two of its largest recent acquisitions means the company could be flailing to find a foothold in a world where PCs and printers are quickly becoming niche products.
> In 2012 the market for tablets and mini tablets exploded as Apple, Amazon, Google, and other manufacturers bet big on the technology. And it's worked. Global shipments for tablets are expected to rise to 210 million in 2013, beating estimates for PC shipments.
> Welcome to the the Post-PC era. Here's your tablet.
> Will the desktop PC ever truly be gone?
> Give us your predictions in the comments.
> HP's flirtation with mobile technology consisted largely of its acquisition of Palm in 2010. However, the company wasn't able to compete with Apple, and discontinued all of its webOS products near the end of 2011. HP recently released several hybrid PC/tablet devices based on Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system, but if Microsoft's Surface is any indication, those devices aren't particularly in demand, at least from home consumers.
> So, losing the hardware game that had sustained it for decades, HP has turned to its enterprise services for revenue. Unfortunately, value hasn't been found there either, and HP has announced 29,000 layoffs planned by the end of fiscal year 2014.
> In HP's third quarter 2012 earnings report, the first $8 billion write-down was blamed on Electronic Data Systems (EDS), an IT services company HP bought in 2008 for $13.9 billion. It's value didn't hold, and HP shares continued to decline. At the end of 2012, HP stock is trading at around $14, down from highs of around $50 near the beginning of 2011
> The company's fourth quarter 2012 earnings report blamed the majority of the second $8 billion write-down on Autonomy, a British knowledge management service company it acquired in 2011 for $10.2 billion. There was a twist this time, though. HP specifically laid the blame for more than $5 billion of the write-down on former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch and other former Autonomy executives. HP brazenly accused Autonomy execs of "serious accounting improprieties, misrepresentations, and disclosure failures" prior to the acquisition.
> Almost immediately, Lynch fired back at HP, claiming that HP mismanagement was responsible for key people leaving Autonomy after the acquisition. Lynch even created a website and issued an open letter to combat the allegations. In his letter he denies any wrongdoing on Autonomy's part, saying, "I utterly reject all allegations of impropriety." He points out that world-class auditing firms, as well as HP's own accounting people, had access to Autonomy's books during the due diligence period of the acquisition.
> Lynch goes on to accuse HP of operational and financial mismanagement of Autonomy, and leveled some allegations about HP department infighting that made the company appear rather childish. He implored HP to explain, in detail, how $5 billion dollars in accounting fraud could have gone unnoticed.
> HP responded to Lynch's open letter, though it did not detail the numbers in its allegations. Instead, HP insisted that the matter would be resolved by the UK Serious Fraud Office, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the U.S. Department of Justice. It then haughtily added that it looks forward to "hearing Dr. Lynch and other former Autonomy employees answer questions under penalty of perjury." On December 28, 2012, it was confirmed by HP that the U.S. Department of Justice is currently investigating Autonomy's accounts.
> Obviously, someone is lying. Either Lynch and other Autonomy execs are guilty of a nearly unfathomable amount of fraud and deceit, or HP ran Autonomy (and possibly EDS, for that matter) into the ground with shoddy management. Either way, HP overpaid for Autonomy, a move that shows just how desperate the company is to gain traction with its enterprise services.
> Who is telling the truth, HP or Mike Lynch?
> Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
> As HP looks to the future, it's hard to see 2013 being a turnaround year for the company. In addition to Autonomy-related lawsuits which will carry on for years, the company's restructuring efforts will continue to cut into its quarterly profits. While Apple and Samsung compete to dominate the new frontier of computer hardware, HP will be limping toward a coherent, fully-integrated business structure.
> This doesn't mean the death of HP, though. In its many decades of existence the company has, much like IBM, re-invented itself a few times, and it is likely to survive by doing so again. Exactly what value HP will be bringing to customers in the future isn't clear, but come 2015 the company should be lean enough for a solid leader take it in almost any direction.
> How can companies like HP succeed in the future?
> Let us know in the comments.
> Sean is a staff writer for WebProNews. Follow Sean on Google+: +Sean Patterson and Twitter: @St_Patt View all posts by Sean Patterson
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26 December 2012

Open Software Jumpstarts Academic Communities

Center for Digital Education (12/19/12) Tanya Roscorla

City University of New York (CUNY) researchers have developed Commons in a Box, an open source software platform that enables universities and other organizations to install and manage community sites for faculty, staff, administrators, and students.  The software runs on WordPress and a plug-in for WordPress called BuddyPress.  "When you build your own network, it's meant to be very customizable and very flexible," says CUNY Academic Commons' Boone B. Gorges.  "But with that kind of customizability comes a certain amount of complexity that was a barrier for a lot of people."  Commons is designed to make learning communities accessible for organizations that do not have the staff or funding to design their own communities.  An installation manager guides users through the steps to get their site up and running, and the system will not let anyone deactivate one thing if that deactivation will break something else that is activated.  "What we're offering is a way for communities to really own their own data and their own spaces and to be in control of them, which we think is a pretty important move for higher education," says CUNY Academic Commons director Matthew K. Gold.

14 December 2012

Tomcat JDBCRealm



JDBCRealm is an implementation of the Tomcat Realm interface that looks up users in a relational database accessed via a JDBC driver. There is substantial configuration flexibility that lets you adapt to existing table and column names, as long as your database structure conforms to the following requirements:
  • There must be a table, referenced below as the users table, that contains one row for every valid user that this Realm should recognize.
  • The users table must contain at least two columns (it may contain more if your existing applications required it):
    • Username to be recognized by Tomcat when the user logs in.
    • Password to be recognized by Tomcat when the user logs in. This value may in cleartext or digested - see below for more information.
  • There must be a table, referenced below as the user roles table, that contains one row for every valid role that is assigned to a particular user. It is legal for a user to have zero, one, or more than one valid role.
  • The user roles table must contain at least two columns (it may contain more if your existing applications required it):
    • Username to be recognized by Tomcat (same value as is specified in the users table).
    • Role name of a valid role associated with this user.

Quick Start

To set up Tomcat to use JDBCRealm, you will need to follow these steps:
  1. If you have not yet done so, create tables and columns in your database that conform to the requirements described above.
  2. Configure a database username and password for use by Tomcat, that has at least read only access to the tables described above. (Tomcat will never attempt to write to these tables.)
  3. Place a copy of the JDBC driver you will be using inside the $CATALINA_HOME/lib directory. Note that only JAR files are recognized!
  4. Set up a <Realm> element, as described below, in your $CATALINA_BASE/conf/server.xml file.
  5. Restart Tomcat if it is already running.

Realm Element Attributes

To configure JDBCRealm, you will create a <Realm> element and nest it in your$CATALINA_BASE/conf/server.xml file, as described above. The attributes for the JDBCRealm are defined in the Realm configuration documentation.


An example SQL script to create the needed tables might look something like this (adapt the syntax as required for your particular database):
create table users (
  user_name         varchar(15) not null primary key,
  user_pass         varchar(15) not null

create table user_roles (
  user_name         varchar(15) not null,
  role_name         varchar(15) not null,
  primary key (user_name, role_name)
Example Realm elements are included (commented out) in the default $CATALINA_BASE/conf/server.xmlfile. Here's an example for using a MySQL database called "authority", configured with the tables described above, and accessed with username "dbuser" and password "dbpass":
<Realm className="org.apache.catalina.realm.JDBCRealm"
       userTable="users" userNameCol="user_name" userCredCol="user_pass"
   userRoleTable="user_roles" roleNameCol="role_name"/>

Additional Notes

JDBCRealm operates according to the following rules:
  • When a user attempts to access a protected resource for the first time, Tomcat will call theauthenticate() method of this Realm. Thus, any changes you have made to the database directly (new users, changed passwords or roles, etc.) will be immediately reflected.
  • Once a user has been authenticated, the user (and his or her associated roles) are cached within Tomcat for the duration of the user's login. (For FORM-based authentication, that means until the session times out or is invalidated; for BASIC authentication, that means until the user closes their browser). The cached user is not saved and restored across sessions serialisations. Any changes to the database information for an already authenticated user will not be reflected until the next time that user logs on again.
  • Administering the information in the users and user roles table is the responsibility of your own applications. Tomcat does not provide any built-in capabilities to maintain users and roles.

08 December 2012

Mobile Browsers Fail Georgia Tech Safety Test

From ACM TechNews:
Mobile Browsers Fail Georgia Tech Safety Test
Georgia Tech News
(12/05/12) Michael Terrazas

Georgia Tech researchers have found that mobile Web browsers are so unsafe that even cybersecurity experts cannot detect when their smartphone browsers have landed on dangerous Web sites. "We found vulnerabilities in all 10 of the mobile browsers we tested, which together account for more than 90 percent of the mobile browsers in use today in the United States," says Georgia Tech professor Patrick Traynor. The main issue is graphic icons known as secure sockets layer (SSL) or transport layer security (TLS) indicators, which alert users when their connection to the destination Web site is secure and that the Web site they see is actually the site they intended to visit. Due to the small screen associated with most mobile browsers, there is not enough room to incorporate SSL indicators as with desktop browsers. Displaying a graphical indicator that a site is secure in a Web browser's URL field is on the security guidelines recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium for browser safety. "Research has shown that mobile browser users are three times more likely to access phishing sites than users of desktop browsers," says Georgia Tech researcher Chaitrali Amrutkar.

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