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The News Ė 01/18/01

Youíve Got . . .Wireless!

As you know if youíve been following these news alerts, I hate headlines about AOL that begin ďYouíve got.Ē Nonetheless, I perversely thought Iíd preempt todayís headline in (take your pick) InfoWorld, PC Week, Upside, or Business 2.0. After reading what follows, you may understand why I considered making the headline, ďYouíve got . . . a Problem with Your Web Site!Ē

So, AOL and Nokia inked a deal for AOL to use Nokiaís microbrowser technology, which allows cell phones to display Web pages. Now this makes me a little confused, since I thought Nokia had licensed Phone.comís microbrowser. So I go to Nokiaís site to check it out and was informed access was forbidden. Hah? After several reloads of the page, I get their main page, but the problem happened again minutes later. So I finally use their search to look for ďmicrobrowserĒ, and half the links I try to follow are not found and, too boot, the server canít even find the error document it wants to display to tell me the page isnít there. Cripes! I guess AOL should be glad theyíre not licensing Nokiaís server technology!

This just underscores the paramount importance of making sure your Web site works. All the time. No excuses.

I finally managed to dig up some interesting stuff, like a nice little piece on mobile architecture, and a closer look at the new 7100 phone. But bupkis on whether Nokiaís microbrowser is based on Phone.comís.

A visit to Phone.com causes me to recall that theyíre not Phone.com any more. (Yeah, thatís a stupid name for a company! No marketing potential there!) They combined with Software.com (Yeah, letís abandon that worthless brand as well!) to become . . . OpenWave. Much better, Iím sure you agree.

Anyway, after much fooling around, I find that, indeed, Nokia licensed Phone.comís UP.browser. But that doesnít mean thatís part of what Nokia is licensing to AOL.

At this point, Iím tired of looking. Itís just too difficult. Like most, these sites are not good at answering a specific question quickly and efficiently. Their search engines do a spotty job at best (try finding anything at Microsoft.com, for example). I guess we should just be grateful for easy access to their press releases.

So itís a great point to reinforce: Your Web site is your face to not only your customers and suppliers, but also to people who would like to write about you. Making it easy for them to do their jobs is just as important as making it easy for your customers to do business with you. Iím interested enough in the Nokia/AOL thing to look at the Web site and write this, but Iím not interested enough to call press relations in Finland. There are lots of people out there with a similar level of interest in your company.




Web Maturing Ė Users Now Need a Break

According to a recent study, online holiday sales reached $9.8 billion this season, more than double last year's $4.7 billion figure. However, thereís evidence that Web use is no longer a novelty, but a normal activity, from which one needs to take a break now and then. A Nielsen/NetRatings report shows that individuals spent an average of 14.9 hours surfing the Web in December, compared with an average 17.5 hours in October. In another measure, the average individual held 33 online sessions in October, compared with just 28 sessions in December.


So if your business plan is predicated on ever-increasing consumer Web use, Iíd rethink it. Usage may be ready to plateau. At least until decent wireless Web phones get here.





News Flash: Latest Internet Security Threat Doesnít Involve Microsoft!

Itís no secret that I donít like Microsoft operating systems. Not only are they unreliable (how many times do you want to reboot today?) and hard to use (ever try to resolve a hardware conflict?) their design principals favor ease of use for developers and not security. They offer a fertile ground for script kiddies, Internet crackers with little technical skill who use MSís scripting languages for attacks such as the ďIloveYouĒ virus. The list of incidents for Microsoft OSes in the last year is as long as your arm.


So itís weird to see a major news story on a security threat involving a non-MS OS. Now all the Microsofties out there, donít get irate. Iím not saying other OSes are perfect. They do have their own security problems, just not to the degree that MS OSes do. Anyway, it seems that thereís a new Internet worm (like a virus, but spreads even more quickly) that attacks Red Hat Linux systems that have not been properly configured.


Known as the Ramen worm, the worm spreads by scanning the Internet for servers based on Red Hat 6.2 or 7.0--identifying the servers by their release dates--and then attempts to gain access using several methods that exploit well-known vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities all have patches or workarounds available, but some users are either lazy or ignorant of the issues.


Anyway, since Red Hat Linux accounts for almost 70 percent of all Linux servers on the Web, this is a big deal. Infected servers display a main page claiming: "RameN Crew -- Hackers looooooooooooove noodles."


So Microsofties, youíre not alone! There are stupid system administrators even in the Linux world!






Shameless Plug: Free Wireless White Paper

A white paper I wrote on the emerging wireless market is now available from Geneer, a premier enterprise software consulting company and one of my clients. You can get it free just by surrendering a little contact information at:



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