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Laptops grounded for good? Let's head to the Anger bar

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If you thought we were entering the dog days of summer, you were wrong. If you thought you were going to go on your summer holidays, you were also wrong.

Even as we write business and leisure travellers into and out of the UK are fighting over the last bottle of Evian in the airport WH Smith.

Short-term disruption all round, and let's face it, a nasty sinking feeling in the stomach.

Not us, you understand, but anyone who makes a living out of the electronic goodies that you wouldn't dream of leaving in your suitcase.

We may be overstating things here, but have you noticed how temporary, emergency measures have a tendency to become the law in situations like this?

OK, we're used to not being able to use our mobiles mid-flight. A few pairs of socks may ensure an iPod works at the other end. But really, if you can't actually listen to the damn thing, isn't it nothing more than an expensive, if stylish, backup device. Still, it'll help pass the time in the queues.

But under the current (temporary?) UK regime a laptop starts to look even more of a burden. The whole working on the plane fantasy goes out of the window. OK, so you can still use it at your destination. But that's assuming it's still in one piece after each leg of the flight. And, even it is built of reinforced Kevlar, how do you feel about a corporate machine being open to all viewers as it works its way through the baggage system, into the hold and back out again at the other end? Thought not.

Leave your royal edict after the tone

And while we’re on security. Are the ruling classes in this country really unable to secure their own mobile voicemail? Didn't they learn anything from Camillagate, Squidgeygate and all the rest? We haven't been deluged with press releases touting jerry built solutions to this particular security non-hole. But we will be.

Playing Poker Redmond-style

OK, back to the real world.

Microsoft swears blind it won’t be giving any special breaks for disgruntled enterprise customers who are hanging around waiting for it to release Vista. And Office. And…well, you know the score.

Customers on its Software Assurance program are getting restless it seems, as new software they'd expected to receive under the scheme is still being brought to life in Redmond's labs.

So what?, says MS, no special breaks. Whatever. No way. Er, except for the sort of incentives it always gives big customers. And the sort that customers'll be playing high stakes software poker for, especially those that have read an interesting report from Gartner detailing...the sort of breaks customers on volume licensing programmes can wheedle out of Microsoft if they play their cards right.

No price breaks? Gimme a break.

Secure banking?

Fancy living dangerously?

Researchers from Cardiff have warned online customers of HSBC that their accounts could be compromised. Rather easily. In fact, say the researchers, a simple keylogger would deliver everything naughtly people would need to take control of customers' accounts. HSBC has reviewed its procedures, and says there’s nothing to worry about. Nothing at all. Honest. So that’s alright then.

Meanwhile, Barclays caused a stir when it announced it would begin issuing online customers with card readers featuring one-time password generators to better secure their online business. Expect them to start clunking on your desk sometime next year.

Shooting holes in Vista, squeezing into a BlackBerry

Researchers at last week’s Black Hat hacker conference demonstrated how to inject hostile code into the current beta of Vista (that word again). Microsoft has said it wants people to poke security holes in Vista, so that it can patch as many as possible before it gets out into the real world. The worry is...they will.

The BlackBerry also got the hacker treatement last week, with researchers showing how the environment can be used to to circumvent corporate security. The upshot? BlackBerry servers need to be isolated too.

AOL searches low

AOL had an up and down week on the security front. On Tuesday it launched a free antivirus service – just a week after announcing free email and other services. Companies offering security out of pure altruism is always a good thing. We think. Sadly, it did this within about 24 hours of releasing details of three months worth of searches by roughly a third of its US users. This amounted to 10.8m normalised queries from 658,086 unique users, collected between March 1 and May 31 this year. AOL, to its credit, pulled the data and rushed to explain how such a breach of customer privacy could have occurred.

“This was a screw-up, and we're angry and upset about it,” explained a spokesman.

Yanking chain of NHS IT

Screwups? Well, everyone can understand one of those.

Still, you can't help thinking someone, somewhere made actually made a real effort to produce the mess that is the NHS's IT upgrade. A leaked report by the man in charge of the NHS IT system in the London area suggested the service might have been better off if the program had never existed. According to The Observer, the report described how hospitals were being "forced" to implement old software, just so it looked like NPfIT was delivering something. Tory MP Richard Bacon said it was time to scrap the programme before things got worse.

Meanwhile, UK schools should get a better deal on IT kit after BECTA launched a new procurement framework. The framework covers 16 suppliers and should save tens of millions for educational institutions. Why they couldn’t have just trained key negotiators in Redmond Rules poker is beyond us.

Exorcising the zeitgeist

Lets talk about Gartner. The brains over there have produced a list of the world's most overhyped technologies.

No one will be surprised that Web 2.0 is the "peak of inflated expectations". The analysts go on to puncture a raft of current buzz words and concepts. Ajax, mashups, sensor mesh networks, and event driven architectures are just some of those which are rigorously despun.

That isn't to say that these technologies lack merit. Rather, Gartner is putting them in context and giving a realistic time scale for when they'll really impact organizations like…well, like yours. Good stuff. And hush, anyone who suggests that the people most likely to overhype technologies tend to be analysts in the first place.

Summer sales

IBM continues to buy up companies while everyone is on the beach. Last week it swallowed up Webify and MRO software. This week it hoovered up FileNet for 1.6bn shiny dollars.

Brocade lashed $713m to gobble up fellow big storage vendor McData. Which means any remaining fast food puns are going to have to be used up pretty quick. We'll make it easy for you by centralising them all, and organising them under a value menu.

Sybase integrates

Sybase has launched its Data Integration Suite, which should combine integration search and workflow. Phew, that's a relief.

Google warns on naughty ware

Google, bless its colourful little balls, has started flagging up warnings when searches point the way to sites which could hold malware. For now, it'll redirect users to a general site, though more specific warnings will come in time.

Very uncivil servants

Talking of naughties, it's good to know the Civil Service has its standards. The Rural Payments Agency has de-indexed four workers after investigating reports of extremely bad behaviour at the Rural Payments Agency. And yes, the suits confirm, "There have been incidents involving faeces."

Hit me...hit me...hit........me

It's enough to make you want to punch something. Very very hard. Like everything else though, the Chinese have produced a cheaper, quicker way of doing the same old thing. Nanjing’s Rising Sun Anger Release Bar offers stressed-out boozers the chance to beat up on 20 handpicked malLe staff. They're also allowed to shout, swear and smash things up. The punters that is. The highly trained punchbags, sorry, staff simply have to take it. No doubt plenty of IT execs would happily use up their airmiles, hop on a line and order a pint of the cold stuff before cracking the bartender in the gob. First though, you're gonna have to find a plane.

So there you have. Silly season doesn't even begin to describe this week. See you same time next week.®

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