Archive | February 2007

BenQ Mobile to be Split up and Sold

BenQ Corporation failed to find a buyer for BenQ Mobile, its ill-fated handset business, after months of negotiations and false starts. That means bankruptcy administrators will soon start carving up the company, selling off real estate, inventory and machinery to satisfy creditors.

Siemens AG agreed to sell its money-losing mobile phone manufacturing business to Taiwan’s BenQ Corp. in June 2005, but in August 2006, the new owner announced plans to cease investment in the German sites after concluding they were uneconomic.

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Full Speed Ahead

The Google Apps Premier Edition
by: Jerry Liao

Slowly but surely, Google is fast entering the application market and no longer just a search engine. Just recently, Google introduced a new version of its hosted services for communication and collaboration designed for businesses of all sizes – Google Apps Premier Edition. Google Apps Premier Edition is available for per user account per year, and includes phone support, additional storage, and a new set of administration and business integration capabilities.

Google Apps, launched as a free service in August 2006, is a suite of applications that includes Gmail webmail services, Google Calendar shared calendaring, Google Talk instant messaging and voice-over-IP, and the Start Page feature for creating a customizable home page on a specific domain. More than 100,000 small businesses and hundreds of universities now use the service. Google Apps Premier Edition now joins Google Apps Standard Edition and Google Apps Education Edition, both of which will continue to be offered for free to organizations.

Google also announced that all editions of Google Apps now include Google Docs & Spreadsheets. In addition, Google Apps now supports Gmail for mobile on BlackBerry handheld devices.

“Businesses are looking for applications that are simple and intuitive for employees, but also offer the security, reliability and manageability their organizations require,” said Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager, Google Enterprise. “With Google Apps, our customers can tap into an unprecedented stream of technology and innovation at a fraction of the cost of traditional installed solutions.”

Features unique to Google Apps Premier Edition include:

– 10 GBs of storage per user: Offers about 100 times the storage of the average corporate mailbox, eliminating the need to frequently delete email.

– APIs for business integration: APIs for data migration, user provisioning, single sign-on, and mail gateways enable businesses to further customize the service for unique environments.

– 99.9 % uptime: Service Level Agreements for high availability of Gmail, with Google monitoring and crediting customers if service levels are not met.

– 24×7 support for critical issues: Includes extended business hours telephone support for administrators.

– Advertising optional: Advertising is turned off by default, but businesses can choose to include Google’s relevant target-based ads if desired.

– per user account per year: Simple and affordable annual fee makes it practical to offer these applications to everyone in the organization.

In addition to Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk and Start Page, all editions of Google Apps now include:

– Google Docs & Spreadsheets: With this addition, teams can easily collaborate on documents and spreadsheets without the need to email documents back and forth. Multiple employees can securely work on a document at the same time. All revisions are recorded for editing, and administrative controls allow organizations to define limits on document sharing. According to custom analysis of Nielsen//NetRatings MegaPanel released this week, 92 percent of users of online productivity tools last October used Google Docs & Spreadsheets, making it the number one product in its class.

– Gmail for mobile devices on BlackBerry: Gmail for mobile devices provides the same Gmail experience such as search, conversation view and synchronization with desktop version on BlackBerry handheld devices for users of Google Apps. Gmail for mobile devices joins a list of other mobile options for Google Apps and BlackBerry users that already includes a Google Talk client and a variety of calendar sync tools.

– Application-level control: Allows administrators to adapt services to business policies, such as sharing of calendars or documents outside of the company.

To provide more options and value to customers of Google Apps Premier Edition, Google Enterprise Professional partners like Avaya and Postini are developing a variety of solutions based on our APIs, including email gateways, enhanced security, Google Calendar synchronization, third-party integration with Google Talk, as well as offering deployment, migration, and additional support services.

How this will change the landscape of the business software market will be known in the next few months. This new offering from Google is directly challenging Microsoft’s dominance in this space. Google has been preparing for this for some time now and has garnered some success already. How its competitors will respond to this move by Google is something to watch out for.

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Doctor in Charge

The Mobile Clinical Assistant
by: Jerry Liao

While technology in the healthcare office has streamlined many tasks, many health organizations aren’t taking full advantage of the capabilities new technology offers in terms of point-of-care data access. Like for example a wireless environment, doctors, nurses or other staff can remotely access patient records, order lab tests, x-rays or prescriptions, and go online for more information or consult with a colleague-all from the exam room or bedside. Now staff can update electronic patient records on the spot, without having to return to a workstation for data entry or spend time searching paper records.

Have you been to a hospital recently? Be it private or public hospitals. Did you ever noticed the clipboards at the end of the patients’ beds? These bedside notes contains information about the patient: name, symptoms or illness and the medications given. What happens if one action was not written? That could spell a lot of difference to the patients well being. To me, information and availability to anyone who needs it is very important in giving the proper care to people who needs caring.

Just recently, Intel Corporation announced the mobile clinical assistant (MCA) is ready to enable nurses to spend more time with patients, do their jobs on the move while remaining connected, and manage the administration of medications. Motion Computing’s C5 is the first product based on Intel’s MCA platform and has earned support from clinicians and nurses participating in pilot studies around the world.

As Intel’s first platform built specifically for healthcare, the MCA is an important step in the company’s efforts to better connect clinicians to comprehensive patient information on a real time basis. The lightweight, spill-resistant, drop-tolerant and easily disinfected MCA allows nurses to access up-to-the-minute patient records and to document a patient’s condition instantly, enhancing clinical workflow while reducing the staff’s administrative workload.

Some of the Motion C5 features designed to ease the nurse’s daily workload include: wireless connectivity to access up-to-date secure patient information and physician’s orders; radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for easy, rapid user logon; a digital camera to enhance patient charting and progress notes, to keep track of wounds as they heal; and bluetooth technology to help capture patient vital signs.

As part of the solution, Intel and Motion Computing worked closely with electronic medical record (EMR) and other clinical software companies to refine their applications for use on MCA. Innovative technology and clinical software leaders included Allscripts, Cardinal Health, Cerner Corporation, Eclipsys Corporation, Epic Systems Corporation, GE Healthcare, iSoft, McKesson, Nexus, Siemens Medical Solutions and Welch Allyn.

To develop the MCA, Intel also conducted a broad range of pilot studies in hospitals worldwide, including El Camino Hospital in Northern California, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust in the United Kingdom, and Changi General Hospital in Singapore. Social scientists from
Intel’s Digital Health Group conducted ethnographic studies of clinicians using the MCA at each hospital to understand the platform’s usage, usefulness and usability in the context of real clinical work practice. Across these hospital settings, nurses and physicians appreciated the integrated handle; immediate anytime, anywhere access to secure patient information and orders; and the docking station that allows them to easily swap batteries to achieve shift-long use.

“Today technology comes to the aid of those who help others,” said Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO. “The mobile clinical assistant was defined and shaped by the clinicians who will use it. They have told us it will improve their decision making and patient care while easing overall workloads. This is a great example of putting innovative technology to work
solving real needs.”

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center, one of the leading hospitals in the nation and a frontrunner in healthcare innovation, collaborated with Motion Computing on the C5’s development. The medical center is now conducting pilots to measure improvements in workflow and nursing satisfaction with regard to patient care. The UCSF
Medical Center is one of many hospitals showing an interest in the new MCA platform. Alegent Health, a large healthcare system across Nebraska and Iowa, is also conducting a Motion C5 study, and hospitals in several different countries have already signed on to pilot and deploy MCA in their care settings. In the United Kingdom, Intel and Motion Computing will launch the new platform, highlighting their work with the National Health Service.

Intel worked closely with Motion who embraced the vision of a new category of devices and is leading the industry in providing a better solution for nurses and doctors.

“Delivering solutions that improve the quality of care is a strategic priority for Motion, and we have heard directly from clinicians how technology can help them spend more time caring for their patients,” said Scott Eckert, Motion president and CEO. “We’re excited to be working with Intel to bring the C5 product to market, as well as the healthcare software community to help build the MCA platform category. We look forward to extending our outcome-driven approach to help our healthcare clients achieve their objectives for clinician productivity and patient care.”

“The announcement represents a new kind of collaboration between hardware and software companies and end-users, such as UCSF, to bring a solution to the market that better meets the needs of nurses and doctors,” said Dr. Michael Blum, UCSF chief medical information officer.

There are many sick and dying people out there who want a new chance at a full and normal life. The advancement of technology in the healthcare industry is not about solving technology problems; it’s about solving people problems.

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Application Development Process

Application Development Process

To some, application development or software development is as easy as asking a developer to create a program for their business and that’s it. The client will simply tell the developer what they need and what they want to happen and leave the other parts to the developer. More often than not, the technology appreciation of the client does not meet with the
business appreciation of the developer. So the end result – an unfinished project, a frustrated client and an unpaid developer.

Although project success is something that cannot be guaranteed, there are some standard and proven steps to follow to ensure a higher rate of successful system
deployment. Before we go to these steps, let me tell you the factors that often contributes to a failed application development project:

1. Lack of business planning.
2. Lack of top and senior management support.
3. Lack of design specifications.
4. Lack of functional specifications.
5. Lack of communication, coordination and
cooperation from various departments within the company.

Now as a general rule, a project always starts from a need or as an idea that requires a solution. Normally, this stems from meetings and brainstorming sessions. When this happens, make sure to include all parties involved – business division managers, technical team, senior management and others. Everyone who will be impacted by the project should be involved and represented. Leave one of them and problem will surely occur. So here are the steps that you should follow to ensure a higher application development project success:

1. Business Requirements
It is very important that you list down what your company needs, and write it down in a very
user-friendly format and language, avoid technical jargons. This will serve as your guide to ensure that all aspects are covered. This document will also help you determine the process, identify your hardware and software specifications and others.

2. Design Specifications
To explain this in its simplest form, let’s go back to the basic. Treat this as determining your input, process, output. Determine where the data will be coming from; what will the system do with the data, and how will it be reported or stored.

3. Database Design
This is one of the more important aspect of the development process, designing what and how your data should be stored. Each fields should be identified: name, type, and length. A well-defined database structure will bring ease to the development process.

4. User Interface Design
What the user will see and how it would interact with the system should also be carefully design. Ease of use should be given the highest importance, next is design flexibility for future changes.

5. Review Description
Before going to the next level, have everything reviewed. To make sure that every thing was
considered and included.

6. Functional Design
This is where you will create a reference manual that will contain everything that you have planned and designed. This will be used as a reference by your technical team that will be in-charge of development, integrate, test and released the completed application. This is where you also need to decide which software tool to use, hardware, performance, security requirements, policies, error-handling and system limitations if any. After achieving this
stage, you will have a more accurate timeline that will lead to the completion of the project. The timeline should be followed and a regular reporting should be done as well.

7. Development
Actual development begins. Everything that was planned will now be put into action. Each completed steps or modules should be reported to the entire team, so as any changes from what was planned.

8. Testing
Every module should be tested properly and the entire system should also tested as a whole. It is recommended that a parallel implementation with a manual or an old system should be done rather than a shot-gun implementation.

9. Debugging
Changes or improvements should be done if needed. Never rollout a half-baked system. Keep testing the system until it is almost near error free. If the desired result has been achieved then the system can now be introduced to the company.

10. Training
Training the users on how to use the new system is also important. You can assign division heads and assistants to learn the new system and they’ll be the ones to train their sbordinates. A regular meeting should be done with each division to assure a smooth
implementation of the system. Any complains or concerns should be addressed the soonest time possible.

The most important and critical ingredient of a successful project is communication and involvement. From the top level executives, senior managers, business unit managers and technical team – all of them should be inform of any developments and changes. Problems and obstacles will definitely arise which may lead to loss of momentum and support from the
members. That is why a cohesive team should always be maintained to avoid such from happening.

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Drive-By Pharming

Wireless Internet Users’ Vulnerability Found
by: Jerry Liao

Most of my friends are now asking me the procedure on how to have Wireless Internet at home. And why not, the convenience it gives every member of the family plus the elimination of wires at home is enough reason for users to consider going wireless.

But aside from its advantages, one should also consider its disadvantages. And security is one of them. Recently, Symantec Corp., in conjunction with the Indiana University School of Informatics, has uncovered a significant new security threat. In this attack, dubbed “Drive-by Pharming”, consumers may fall victim to pharming by having their home broadband routers reconfigured by a malicious web site. According to a separate informal study conducted by Indiana University, up to 50 percent of home broadband users are susceptible to this attack.

Pharming is about redirecting a user to a spoofed Web site by ‘poisoning’ the local domain name server (DNS). Poisoning a DNS server involves changing the specific record for a domain, which results in sending the user to a Web site different from the one intended, unbeknownst to the user. This type of attack involves Trojan horse, worms or other technologies that attack the browser address bar, thus redirecting the user to a fraudulent Web site when the user types in a legitimate address.

Drive-by pharming is a new type of threat in which a user visits a malicious web site and an attacker is then able to change the DNS settings on a user’s broadband router or wireless access point. DNS servers are computers responsible for resolving Internet names into their real “Internet Protocol” or IP addresses, functioning as the “signposts” of the Internet. In order for two computers to connect to each other on the Internet, they need to know each other’s IP addresses. Drive-by pharming is made possible when a broadband router is not password protected or an attacker is able to guess the password for example, most routers come with a well-known default password that a user never changes.

Drive-by pharming involves the use of JavaScript to change the settings of a user’s home broadband router. Once the user clicks on a malicious link, malicious JavaScript code is used to change the DNS settings on the user’s router. From this point on, every time the user browses a web site, DNS resolution will be performed by the attacker. DNS resolution is the process by which one determines the Internet address corresponding to a web site’s common name. This gives the attacker complete discretion over which web sites the victim visits on the Internet. For example, the user may think they are visiting their online banking web site but in reality they have been redirected to the attacker’s site.

These fraudulent sites are almost exact replicas of the actual site so the user will likely not recognize the difference. Once the user is directed to the pharmer’s “bank” site, and enters their user name and password, the attacker can steal this information. The attacker will then be able to access the victim’s account on the “real” bank site and transfer funds, create new accounts, and write checks.

Symantec Security Response recommends that users employ a multi-layered protection strategy:

• Make sure their routers are uniquely password protected. Most routers come with a default administrator password that is easy for pharmers to guess.
• Use an Internet security solution that combines anti-virus, firewall, intrusion detection, and vulnerability protection
• Avoid clicking on links that seem suspicious for example, those sent to you in e-mail from someone you don’t recognize.

Existing security solutions on the market today cannot protect against this type of attack since drive-by-pharming targets the user’s router directly, and the existing solutions only protect the user’s computer system. Symantec’s Consumer Business Unit has been actively working on technologies to help address this problem using client-side technology. Symantec’s goal is to develop the means to automatically impede the attack by using a number of embedded techniques running on the client, embedded in the network stack, and in the browser.

So I guess the security firms are saying: Why have I not thought of that? It is good that we have discovered this kind of attack, but in general we are still doing a reactive solution and not proactively solving the problem.

My question is still the same: Why are the attackers always one step ahead of the security experts? Are the attackers smarter? This is the exact reason for the notion that security firms or experts are the ones supporting the attackers or virus writers. Until we reach a proactive state of securing computers, this belief will always exist. And who knows, the day will come that this belief will become a reality. The responsibility of proving us users wrong is in the shoulders of the security firms – and we are waiting for your actions.

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IBM Philippines appoints new CFO

IBM CFOIBM Philippines has announced the recent appointment of Rommell D. Silva as Chief Financial Officer (CFO). He will be responsible for the overall financial concerns of IBM in the country. In his new role, Silva will also be part of the country management committee team.

Rommell Silva joined IBM Philippines in 1993 and over the last 14 years, has assumed various roles holding both local and ASEAN positions. He then came back to the Philippines and served as Finance Controller back in 2002 up to November 2006, his last assignment prior to the promotion. He also concurrently served as acting CFO of IBM Business Services for 5 months from January – May 2004.

Silva has attended several career management programs and is a constant excellence awardee throughout his career in IBM. His educational background includes a 6th place finish overall in the CPA Licensure Board Examinations, batch 1992. He is a graduate of the De La Salle University.

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When The Angels Came

The True Meaning of Life

“For the saved, death ushers us into the presence of Christ. “To be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23). So real is the promise of the believer’s resurrection, that the physical death of a Christian is called “sleep” (1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 5:10). We look forward to that time when “there shall be no more death” (Revelation 21:4).”

Last February 15, 2007, I visited the wake of Brother Ed, the friend I met during Eva’s treatment. Yes, I wrote about Brother Ed in my previous story entitled “The Sure Hand of God”. Brother Ed passed away last February 12, 2007 at around 8:20pm due to colon cancer. He was 47.

The mood at Brother’s Ed wake was a bit different. As I enter the chapel, the atmosphere was so light and cool. Brother’s Ed relatives, friends and children were all there like one big happy family. Brother Ed’s older brother Dexter and Dexter’s wife Emma welcomed me as I arrived. I sat in one of the benches there, beside me is another good friend of mine Dr. Boy Medel.

Dexter related to me the last moments of Brother Ed. February 11 (Sunday), Brother Ed went into a comma due to Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia). This is primarily because Brother Ed is barely taking in any food. He was rushed to a hospital and was given some medication which bring his conciousness back.

Then he was transferred to another hospital and had a relapse and was again given the same medication. At the hospital, Brother Ed told Dexter that he wanted to go home and had asked them not to give him anymore medicine if in case he will have another relapse. Brother Ed said that he’s body is already tired and he wanted to go. Words that put Dexter in a predicament – after all, letting go is not an easy task. Dexter consulted Dr. Medel about Brother Ed’s request and they arrived to a conclusion that they will take him home the next day.

A little over lunch of February 12, 2007, Brother Ed was already home. Dexter said Brother Ed was in a very cheerful mood. He requested that his favorite song be played and he wanted everyone around him to sing the song. He sang the song and even managed to move his body as if he’s dancing and following to the music beat. Brother Ed was also able to talk and meet all his children (Seven all in all), perhaps to tell them how much he love them all.

Dexter also told me that Brother Ed was able to say his apologies to all those he wronged before. He was able to put everything in place as well like his last will and testament. In other words, not only did the Lord gave Brother Ed the time to prepare the things he needed to be prepared, but the Lord also gave Brother Ed the time to experience the love, grace, blessing and mercy of our Dear Lord and Savior.

Later in the afternoon, Brother Ed called his Brother Dexter and said he was looking for Jesus Christ – his Savior, for the room was full of evil spirits. Dexter went to get his Bible and the Holy Rosary and prayed with Brother Ed. Brother Ed also asked for his own rosary and followed the prayers of Dexter and Emma. While these things are happening, Brother Ed was commanding all evil spirits to leave him for he said he is waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ.

Minutes past, Brother Ed calmed down and told Dexter that all the spirits in his room left except one. Dexter asked Brother Ed where the lone spirit is. Brother Ed told Dexter that the spirit is right beside Dexter and it’s a good spirit. After uttering those words, Brother Ed went home to our Lord Jesus Christ. Maybe, just maybe, the good spirit Brother Ed saw was his angel, came down to Earth to bring him back home to our Fathers kingdom.

At the wake, while Dexter and Emma was relating to me all these, I can sense that Brother Ed has brought peace and love within his love ones. You can really sense the love around the chapel. Everyone was saying that despite what Brother Ed went through, they consider him blessed. And I couldn’t agree less, indeed Brother Ed was so blessed for he was able to experience the Lord’s love.

Brother Ed was able to receive the Lord’s love and promise. That all we need to do is to love and accept Him as our Lord and Savior and we will join Him in Paradise. A blessing that is offered to everyone, sadly not everyone accepts this blessing and promise from God.

Death is something that is surely to come to everyone. How and when is the only variable in this definite part of life. Some die in their sleep, some in accidents and some due to sickness. Death can come so fast that some can’t even say goodbye to their love ones – more so to accept the Lord in their life.

As my angel Eva said before: “After life, no amount of prayers can save you”. So the next question is: since the love and promise of the Lord is there for us to take, why are we not taking it? What are we waiting for? Wat do we got to lose by loving our Lord. NOTHING. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I have been there before, so I know how it feels, I know the difference between a life with God inside you and a life with no God at all.

Thank you again Brother Ed for the friendship. Not only was I able to gain a friend but also a family, a family that loves Brother Ed so much. And to all my readers who have not accepted the Lord as their Savior, this is my message: Do not wait for the same experience Brother Ed went through, you may not be able to handle it, more so you may not even have the same opportunity as what is given to Brother Ed. Receive the Lord now and accept him as your only Savior. I am giving you my word – you will not regret it.

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