Archive | September 2007

Richie Rich

Company Founded by 12-Year-Old Gets $6.5 Million in Funding
by: Jerry Liao

If you think Richie Rich can only exist in a comic book – think again because it can happen in real life as well, actually it already happened.

A 12 year-old 6th grader by the name of Arjun Mehta from Silicon Valley founded a company called PlaySpan, the game industry’s first publisher-sponsored in-game commerce network. PlaySpan’s patent-pending in-game search, commerce and micropayment technologies enables game publishers and developers to generate new revenues, acquire new users and extend the loyalty of existing users. Leading game providers and virtual world publishers have selected PlaySpan as their official marketplace for virtual goods commerce. PlaySpan is based in Silicon Valley with offices in Mumbai, India and Shanghai, China.

So what so special with what Arjun did?

PlaySpan Inc., recently announced that it has secured $6.5 million in funding. New York based Easton Capital led the funding round, along with Silicon Valley based Menlo Ventures, South Korea based STIC International and Hong Kong based Novel TMT Ventures.

The announcement solidifies PlaySpan’s position in the online game and media sectors and enables the company to strengthen its leadership position in the rapidly growing virtual goods market. In-game commerce has surpassed the $2 billion mark this year and continues its rapid growth as more publishers adopt micro-transaction based revenue models.

“This investment is an exceptional endorsement for PlaySpan’s pioneering role in building the first publisher-sponsored in-game commerce network and technology. It will help create a new class of revenue opportunities for publishers and will allow gamers to enjoy their game experience with commerce,” said Karl Mehta, Co-Founder & CEO, PlaySpan Inc. “We are extremely fortunate to have a complimentary group of global investors that bring solid experience in the gaming, internet and financial service industries.”

“PlaySpan is clearly the pioneer in publisher-sponsored in-game commerce network with cutting-edge defensible IP. We are delighted to partner and help drive continued success of PlaySpan as a leader in this large growing market,” said John Friedman, General Partner of Easton Capital.

“In-game commerce and virtual economies are on the rise and we believe PlaySpan is leading this space with its publisher deals, breakthrough in-game technology and proven management team” said Shawn Carolan, Managing Director of Menlo Ventures based in Menlo Park, California. “We are excited about the opportunity and look forward to working with PlaySpan to maintain its market leadership.”

In addition to the funding announcement, PlaySpan also announced three new additions to its board. John Friedman, board member of IGA worldwide and General Partner of Easton Capital; Shawn Carolan, board member of IMVU and Managing Director of Menlo Ventures; and Steven Lee, Partner at STIC International are the newest additions.

PlaySpan is founded by Arjun Mehta, a 5th grader, passionate about gaming and software programming that can make game playing experience exciting and more importantly rewarding. PlaySpan started in Arjun’s garage in Silicon Valley in 2006 and was incorporated with Arjun’s earnings from selling online game items won from quests he fought while attending 5th grade at Challenger School in San Jose.

This is a great proof that it only takes a good idea to make it big in any industry. And age is not even a factor, you can be as young as Arjun or even younger or as old as you can imagine – for as long as you can still think and come up with new ideas.

You can learn about Arjun’s company by visiting and I hope you can pick up some idea or at least some inspiration – and be the next millionaire or even the next billionaire.

Ready for Primetime

INTELLICAD – The Intelligent Alternative for CAD Developers
by: Jerry Liao

When OpenOffice was introduced to the market, nobody gave it a chance to survive except for the open source advocates. No way can OpenOffice reach half the success of what Microsoft Office has reach they say. They don’t have the marketing machinery like Microsoft even if StarOffice or OpenOffice are backed by SUnMicrosystems Inc.

Where is OpenOffice now? Everywhere. Companies like Google and IBM are now supporting OpenOffice and even helping develop the free office productivity suite.

In terms of usage popularity, undoubtly office productivity suites are the most popular, then web development, then imaging tools and then Computer Aided Design (CAD) software application. CAD applications don’t normally make it to the news because it’s a very specialized application – mostly for architects, engineers and others involved in designs. And when in comes to CAD applications, the first thing that comes into mind is AUTOCAD.

AutoCAD is a suite of CAD software products for 2 (AUTOCAD LT) and 3-dimensional design and drafting, developed and sold by Autodesk. Now I have no problems with AUTOCAD, it’s a good software and it delivers – except it is expensive. And since I have been writing about OpenOffice, I have been receiving emails from my readers to feature an alternative for AUTOCAD LT (2-dimensional). It took me awhile to find one that I can say is a worthy contender to the AUTOCAD LT throne. The good news is I found one – INTELLICAD.

IntelliCAD ( is a full-featured, Computer Aided Design (CAD) software application, commonly used as a low-cost replacement for the considerably more expensive AutoCAD. It is (like AutoCAD) a general purpose CAD tool, used to produce a variety of drawings, from basic non-technical drawings, to architectural plans, civil and mechanical engineering designs and even 3D models, ready for sophisticated rendering by other software.

Features and Benefits
DWG file compatibility
IntelliCAD’s native file format is DWG. IntelliCAD opens, edits, and saves any existing DWG files saved in numerous versions, including DWG Version 2.5 through 2007, without conversion or data loss. IntelliCAD provides industry-standard compatibility with the Autodesk® AutoCAD® command set, as well as programming APIs, such as LISP and SDS (IntelliCAD’s C programming API). That means you can get to work immediately using the DWG files, commands, and applications you rely on.

Drawing productivity
IntelliCAD offers many productivity features to help you get the most from the time you spend creating drawings. You can organize items on layers, snap to items for precise positioning, work in model space and paper space depending on whether you’re drawing or printing, and create 2D or 3D models. Additionally, the IntelliCAD Explorer provides the unique ability to review and exchange layers, blocks, linetypes, dimension styles, and text styles between drawings with drag-and-drop ease. And thanks to IntelliCAD’s ActiveX integration, you can insert IntelliCAD drawings (or just parts of them) into Microsoft Office application files for many cross-application uses.

Building applications
If you have existing applications that were built using the ADS or AutoLISP libraries, you can quickly use them in IntelliCAD using the same languages and functions you are used to. IntelliCAD also includes a VBA object model to implement quick solutions or to create prototypes for SDS applications within your organization.

For the first time ever you can buy a heavy-duty CAD program that’s compatible with the DWG file format and industry-standard applications without the high price of other industry-standard applications. IntelliCAD’s low price makes it affordable to anyone who creates and uses DWG files.

Other features:
– Commands (instructions) used to create drawings are very similar to those used in the AutoCAD environment. An alias file is used to translate AutoCAD commands so you can for instance simply type O; the AutoCAD shortcut for the OFFSET command.
– The AutoCAD command line is supported although you can dispense with it if required.
– IntelliCAD creates (and reads) and saves files in AutoCAD’s .DWG format. IntelliCAD writes files back to version 2.5 AutoCAD [1980s file format], a capability long lost to AutoCAD!
– Users transferring from AutoCAD need spend very little time learning to use IntelliCAD, because the command environment is so familiar. Their store of CAD drawings can be opened directly in IntelliCAD. We offer special deals on bundling IntelliCAD with distance training materials.
– AutoCAD menu and script files are supported. Our version of IntelliCAD has a special bonus tools including hold clouds and layer manager.
– Multiple paper space layouts are supported.
– The IntelliCAD user interface is more intuitive than AutoCAD’s and the layout and toolbar icons makes it very straightforward for beginners to use.
– IntelliCAD runs AutoLISP applications with little need for conversion along with DCL, and the ADS system.
– Raster image display is supported. It is possible to import a wide variety of image files into the IntelliCAD environment.
– AutoCAD blocks and XREFs are supported.
– AutoCAD 3D surface commands are supported.
– True type fonts are allowed.
– Single line and paragraph text are available.
– An innovative Drawing Explorer has been developed which enables efficient management of text and dimension styles, layer control, blocks (a graphical preview is available) and external references.
– IntelliCAD allows multiple drawings to be opened in a single session. Entities can be copied (cut and pasted) accurately between drawings.
– Those new to CAD will find a rich set of resources available to help them learn CAD – books on AutoCAD, local technical college courses etc. which can be directly applied to learning to use IntelliCAD.

So to our readers, mission accomplished for me. There’a free-trial that you can use so that you can try if it can really deliver your requirements. And before I forget, the greatest benefit of INTELLICAD over AUTOCAD LT is price. For the cost of a single AutoCAD LT license, you can get more or less 10 IntelliCAD licenses.

And if INTELLICAD can deliver your needs for a much lesser cost, then it’s called SAVINGS.

Say It Sign It

From Speech to Text to Gesture
by: Jerry Liao

The power of using a database to provide humans the much needed information is beyond imagination. Most of you are familiar with applications like dictionary, thesaurus, encylopedia, references, search engines and more – all powered by database systems and algorithms. But most of these applications are text based.

I did saw one application wherein the system will conduct image searches. Nope, it’s not the usual text to image search. This is image to image. The user will post an image and the system will search images that will resemble the entered image. The system will based its search on the image color, shape, contour, and others. I find this system amazing, until I heard IBM has developed an ingenious system called SiSi (Say It Sign It) that automatically converts the spoken word into British Sign Language (BSL) which is then signed by an animated digital character or avatar.

SiSi brings together a number of computer technologies. A speech recognition module converts the spoken word into text, which SiSi then interprets into gestures, that are used to animate an avatar which signs in BSL.

Upon development this system would see a signing avatar ‘pop up’ in the corner of the display screen in use — whether that be a laptop, personal computer, TV, meeting-room display or auditorium screen. Users would be able select the size and appearance of the avatar.

This type of solution has the potential in the future to enable a person giving a presentation in business or education to have a digital character projected behind them signing what they are saying. This would complement the existing provision, allowing for situations where a sign language interpreter is not available in person.

“IBM is committed to developing IT solutions that are inclusive and accessible to all members of society,” said Dr Andy Stanford-Clark, Master Inventor, IBM Hursley.

“This technology has the potential to make life easier for the deaf community by providing automatic signing for television broadcasts, and making radio news and talk shows available to a new audience over the Internet, or by providing automated voicemail transcription to allow them to make better use of the mobile network.”

Guido Gybels, Director of New Technologies at RNID, said: “RNID welcomes any development that would make the Information Society a more equal place for deaf and hard of hearing people. British Sign Language users are amongst the most disenfranchised citizens as a result of services and products not being designed with their needs in mind. There is clearly still a long way to go before such prototypes become fully capable, off-the-shelf products, but it is encouraging to see that mainstream research is contributing to this objective of a more inclusive society.”

John Glauert, Professor of Computing Sciences, UEA, said: “SiSi is an exciting application of UEA’s avatar signing technology that promises to give deaf people access to sign language services in many new circumstances.”

This project is an example of IBM’s collaboration with non-commercial organizations on worthy social and business projects. The signing avatars and the award-winning technology for animating sign language from a special gesture notation were developed by the University of East Anglia and the database of signs was developed by RNID (Royal National Institute for Deaf People).

With an estimated 55,000 people in the UK for whom BSL is their first language, there are great opportunities for businesses, including firms in the leisure and entertainment industries, to make themselves more accessible to this audience, and also to communicate more effectively with them.

SiSi has been developed in the UK by a research team at IBM Hursley, as part of IBM’s premier global student intern programme, Extreme Blue. In the European part of the programme, 80 of the most talented students from across Europe were selected to work on 20 projects and given whatever equipment, support and assistance they required. Working for an intense 12 week period alongside IBM technical and industry leaders, they focused on innovative technology projects, such as SiSi, all of which had real business value.

Hope this development encourages everyone of us to continuously develop applications not only to benefit businesses but to benefit society as well. Despite the advancement in technology, we will never run out of ideas – for as long as our intention to help is pure.

Balance of Power

IBM Adds Lotus Notes Code To OpenOffice Project
by: Jerry Liao

Can Microsoft Office be dislodged as the most popular office productivity in the computing space? Maybe yes, maybe no – but it’s worth a try.

A couple of weeks back, Google and Capgemini announced a collaborative effort for the later to extend its outsourcing portfolio to include Google Apps Premier Edition which prompted Microsoft to come up with a ten-point list of questions companies should consider if they are considering to switch. Now if that is not enough bad news for Microsoft, here’s another one:

The community announced that IBM will be joining the community to collaborate on the development of software. IBM will be making initial code contributions that it has been developing as part of its Lotus Notes product, including accessibility enhancements, and will be making ongoing contributions to the feature richness and code quality of Besides working with the community on the free productivity suite’s software, IBM will also leverage technology in its products.

“This is great news for the tens of millions of users of and the thousands of individual members of the community”, said John McCreesh, Marketing Project Lead. “We welcome IBM’s contributions to further enhancing the product. But equally important is IBM’s future commitment to package and distribute new works that leverage technology supporting the ISO OpenDocument Format standard. ODF is a once in a generation opportunity for the IT industry to unify round a standard, and deliver lasting benefit to all users of desktop technology.”

“In the seven years since Sun founded the project, has fueled and filled the need for document data and productivity tools that are open and free. Open source software and ODF are having a profound impact around the world, with numerous communities and organizations coming together to support these initiatives and governments, and corporations and schools standardizing on the software. We look forward to working with IBM and the other members of to ensure that this momentum continues. We invite others to join us in the community and participate in building the future as and ODF continue to gain popularity across the planet,” said Rich Green, Executive Vice President, Software at Sun Microsystems, Inc.

“IBM is very pleased to be joining the community. We are very optimistic that IBM’s contribution of technology and engineering resources will provide tangible benefits to the community membership and to users of technology around the world,” said Mike Rhodin, General Manager of IBM’s Lotus division. “We’re particularly pleased to be teaming with the community to accelerate the rate of innovation in the office productivity marketplace. We believe that this relationship will improve our ability to deliver innovative value to users of IBM products and services. We also believe that the collaboration will lead to an even broader range of ODF-supporting applications (ISO 26300) and solutions that draw from the technology.” is the leading open-source productivity suite. It includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, database, and other modules; it uses the ODF as its native file format as well as fully supporting other common file formats (including Microsoft Office). The software runs on all major platforms, including Microsoft Windows (including Vista), GNU/Linux, Solaris, and Mac OS X, and is available in over 100 languages. is fully interoperable with other popular suites and may be used free of charge for any purpose, private or commercial; the license is LGPL.

Since the project’s creation by Sun Microsystems in 2000, nearly 100 million have downloaded the product; thousands contribute to it. As an international team of volunteer and sponsored contributors, the community has created what is widely regarded as the most important open source project in the world today. The community acknowledges generous sponsorship from a number of companies, including Sun Microsystems, the founder and primary contributor.

Now why is this announcement big for Microsoft and for every user? Because OpenOffice has been here for quite some time and one of the main reason why people are even considering to use the product is because it’s free. Microsoft fanatics are saying that feature per feature, OpenOffice comes short. For OpenOffice advocates, the application is enough to do ones office requirement.

To me, the main advantage of Microsoft Office over OpenOffice is Outlook, not for it’s email functions but for its integrated calendar, email and personal information manager (PIM). With the entry of IBM, this advantage is shattered into pieces. Having IBM in the fold automatically equips OpenOffice with the functionality of Lotus Notes and Lotus Calendar. Organizer and workgroup functions into OpenOffice? That’s what I call Fire Power.

with this recent development, what is going to stop PC manufacturers to include OpenOffice as part of their package? It adds more value to their offering at no extra cost for them. So now, we can really say that OpenOffice will give Microsoft Office a run for its money.

Car of Dreams

Volvo ReCharge Plug-In Hybrid Concept Car
by: Jerry Liao

We have heard of cars powered by solar energy like the “SINAG” project. Cars powered by water and of course the most popular of them all – electricity. All pointing to two ultimate goal, to save money from that expensive gasoline and to protect our environment from pollution.

Here’s one project where we can learn a thing or two on how other car manufacturers are doing it:

Volvo Cars is introducing the Volvo ReCharge Concept, a plug-in hybrid with individual electric wheel motors and batteries that can be recharged via a regular electrical outlet for maximum environmental benefit. Recharging allows the car to be driven about 100 kilometres on battery power alone before the car’s four-cylinder Flexifuel engine is needed to power the car and recharge the battery. Volvo ReCharge Concept makes its debut in a specially designed Volvo C30 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

“A certain proportion of electrical vehicles will be necessary to meet the CO2 emission demands of the future. Since the Volvo ReCharge Concept combines an excellent battery range with a backup combustion engine, it is a very interesting concept,” says Magnus Jonsson, Senior Vice President Research and Development at Volvo Cars. The ReCharge Concept has been developed at the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center (VMCC), the Volvo Car Corporation’s think-tank in Camarillo, California.

“This is a ground-breaking innovation for sustainable transportation. A person driving less than 100 kilometres a day will rarely need to visit a filling station. In the USA, this may apply to almost 80 percent of drivers,” says Magnus Jonsson. Thanks to the excellent electrical range from a fuel consumption angle, the Volvo ReCharge Concept is exceptionally kind to the car owner’s wallet.

When driving on electric power only, operating costs are expected to be about 80 percent lower than that of a comparable petrol-powered car. When driving beyond the 100 km battery range, fuel consumption may vary from 0 to 5.5 litres per 100 km depending on the distance driven using the engine.

“This plug-in hybrid car, when used as intended, should have about 66 percent lower emissions of carbon dioxide compared with the best hybrid cars available on the market today. Emissions may be even lower if most of the electricity in intended markets comes from CO2-friendly sources such as biogas, hydropower and nuclear power,” says Magnus Jonsson.

The Volvo ReCharge Concept combines a number of the latest technological innovations into a so-called “series hybrid” where there is no mechanical connection between the engine and the wheels.
– The battery pack integrated into the luggage compartment uses lithium-polymer battery technology. The batteries are intended to have a useful life beyond that of the car itself.
– Four electric motors, one at each wheel, provide independent traction power.
– Four-cylinder 1.6-litre Flexifuel engine drives an advanced generator that efficiently powers the wheel motors when the battery is depleted.

To help maximize the environmental benefits, the Volvo ReCharge Concept has high-efficiency tyres developed by Michelin. They are specially designed to accommodate the wheelmotors. Further more, the car has All Wheel Drive in the truest sense of the term. Power to each wheel is controlled individually. The energy that is generated during braking is transmitted to the battery pack. When the system is ultimately developed, traditional wheel brakes will be completely replaced by electrical brakes with minimal energy wasted through friction. To ensure reliable operation of the drivetrain and braking system, driver inputs are fed into a quadruple-redundant electronic control system.

“The only requirement is that the car owner has access to electrical outlets at convenient places, such as at home or at the workplace. A full recharge takes 3 hours. However, even a one-hour quick charge should provide enough charge to drive about 50 kilometres,” says Magnus Jonsson.

Web of Conspiracy

The Philippine National Broadband Network (NBN) Project
by: Jerry Liao

Here we go again, a government project hounded by controversy and accusations. I am talking about the $ 330million National Broadband Network deal entered by the Philippine government with Chinese firm ZTE Corporation. Cases were already filed with the Ombudsman and the Supreme COurt. Investigations in both Senate and Congress are already being prepared.

Before we go any further, let me just tell you what a broadband network is all about. A broadband network is a network that enables a device to transmit a large amount of information (including voice, data and video) on the same cable over long distances at a rate of more than 1.5 million bits of information per second.

Going back to the issue, not only is the deal anomalous as claimed by many, money seems to be exchanging and offered left and right. Former National Economic and Development Authority secretary now Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Romulo L. Neri in a radio interview over DZBB came short of admitting that he was offered P 200 million in relation to the NBN deal. When asked by radio host Arnold Clavio as to what led Neri to reject the offer, Neri simply said that he is afraid of “karma”.

Neri during the interview said that the only advantage he can see with regards to the government-to-government agreement with China is it offers the lowest interest at three percent. With this, the goverment automatically gets savings as much as 40-percent discount from the project. The long term benefit of the project according to Neri is it will bring down the cost of telecommunications in the Philippines eventually.

Let us say that indeed the country will save the stated numbers, but what I want to see and hear is how much are we going to incur in as far as operating the project is concern? Who will run the project once done? When will the project be accomplished? Time involves money. How will the network be used? By whom? How much will the usage be for the consumers?

Another angle that I really find so funny was the defense of COMELEC chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. for his alleged role in the contract. In a television interview, Abalos said that all he did was to be a good host and there was no way he could be involved because he is not even aware of what a broadband is. If that is true, then how did the chairman evaluated fairly the COMELEC computerization project? Is the chairman saying that the broadband connection was not considered during the project evaluation since he is not aware what a broadband is all about? How will the election data be transmitted? Anyway, that’s another story altogether.

I also want to mention that other countries do have their own broadband network initiatives, and most if not all are discussing its plans on how it will be built and how will it benefit its citizenry. Ours is different, we are discussing who benefitted from this project to the extent that even the members of the American and European Chambers of Commerce are now interested to know what really went on with the deal. They want transparency. Why? Because they will be using the infrastructure as well, and users have the right to know – more so the citizen of this country.

I don’t have any issues with regards to the country implementing a broadband network. Modern communication services requires broadband network and from the economical point of view, utilizing having a network for multiple services is an advantage. This will enhance communications, entertainment, healthcare, games, computing, business productivity, security, education, job training and many other areas common to people’s daily lives. However, if doubts surrounds a project, I believe a second look is needed. Not only about the project price but the project details as well.

And when I say project details, I just don’t mean the ZTE NBN deal alone. I want to see how the government intends to use the network. Do we have the applications in place already that warrants such a bandwidth? Do we have the proper procedures already? Why buy a new supersonic jet when you don’t even know how to fly an ordinary single engine plane? Although it’s a loan, people’s money will be used to pay for these loans. I hate to see a situation where a high speed communication infrastructure will result to a higher taxes for Filipinos.

Malacañang already said that the government will not cancel the project just because of the uproar, and will only answer allegations in court. I am not a lawyer and thank God, I am not a politician. As an ordinary citizen of this country, I am just saddened that a good project like having our own broadband network will turn into a controversy. Well, if you live long enough here in the Philippines, you might just say – “What’s NEW?” Look at the bright side, at least anomalies are now happening in high-tech deals, and not to ordinary projects like garbage collections or buying office supplies.

Anyway, I will just leave you my readers with one question to answer – Do we need a fiber optic backbone now? Or do we need to have a moral backbone first? Can the government be the first one to answer this please?

A Wireless Whirl

Survey Reveals a Need to Protect Mobile Wireless Users
by: Jerry Liao

Mobile devices nowadays are as powerful as personal computers, particularly in the area of connectivity. Not only can mobile users use their mobile devices to communicate via voice and text messaging, but they can also access their emails. Users can now compose, send and receive emails even with attachements.

Research firm Gartner reported that wireless email will reach commodity status by 2012. The report also indicated that wireless e-mail will become increasingly popular with both businesses and consumers, due to the increasing availability of wireless e-mail support both in devices and from service providers as well as by improved usability. Corporate use will also rise as enterprises come under increased pressure to provide real-time communications for their expanding mobile workforce said Gartner.

But as wireless usage becomes more and more popular, the threat that goes with it is something mobile users should not ignore. COmpanies who empowers their workers to become mobile workers should pay a lot of attention to their security.

A global third-party study commissioned by Cisco and the National Cyber Security Alliance reveals behavioral findings among mobile wireless workers that spotlight the human side of security as businesses and IT organizations empower more and more employees to remain connected outside of their offices.

Conducted this spring by InsightExpress, an independent market research firm, the study explores what’s at stake for businesses striving to become mobile, and therefore more agile and efficient. It reveals findings gleaned from more than 700 mobile employees in seven countries that have adopted wireless technologies widely: the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, China, India, South Korea, and Singapore. Although the study uncovers risky behavioral trends, the results represent a major opportunity for IT to play a more proactive and strategic role in protecting their employees and businesses overall, both through education and solutions.

This is especially relevant as adoption of wireless and mobility technologies increases. For example, IDC reports that by 2009 the number of mobile workers in the United States is expected to reach more than 70 percent of the country’s total workforce. Korn/Ferry International reports that 81 percent of executives globally are constantly connected via mobile devices.

“Wireless and mobility technologies are here to stay. They’re a fact of life,” said Ron Teixeira, executive director of NCSA, an organization chartered to educate the public on online security and safety. “While this study shows mobility provides businesses with new risks, so do other Internet services and new technologies. Mobility and the Internet can be used securely and safely if businesses institute a culture of security within their workforce by providing their employees with continuous cyber security awareness and education programs.”

Almost three of every four (73 percent) mobile users claimed that they are not always cognizant of security threats and best practices when working on the go. Although many said they are aware “sometimes,” 28 percent of them admitted that they “hardly ever” consider security risks and proper behavior. Some of these mobile users even admitted that they “never” consider safe best practices and didn’t know they needed to be aware of security risks. When asked why they were lax in their security behavior, many mobile users offered reasons like, “I’m in a hurry”, “I’m busy and need to get work done,” “Security just is not top-of-mind for me,” and “It’s IT’s job, not mine”.

According to Ben Gibson, director of Cisco’s wireless and mobility solutions, this reasoning highlights the importance for IT to engage users and educate them on good security behavior. A good security culture drives good security behavior, he says.

“Businesses are increasingly entrusting more and more employees with access to corporate information anywhere outside of the office, and this doesn’t need to be a growing concern – not if the proper security technology and IT-user engagement model is in place,” Gibson said. “After all, embracing mobility and truly leveraging the power it gives businesses – agility, access, responsiveness, efficiency – requires protecting and educating employees to prevent them from undermining this value. This is a role IT can and should play more proactively than they traditionally have in the past.”

The benefit of being able to work from anywhere is undeniably big and great, but it comes with a risk, a big risk – SECURITY. If handled wrongly, the risk of having a mobile workforce may even overshadow the benefit that the technology brings. Gartner predicts that the increasing convergence of corporate and consumer technologies is leaving many user organizations exposed to increased security risks.

My advice to companies is to give security a lot of thought. Give security more emphasis in your strategic planning. Better be sure than sorry right?


Acer to buy Gateway, Gateway to buy Packard Bell
by: Jerry Liao

In his book, Alvin Toffler said that bigger companies will acquire smaller companies either to strengthen their offerings or to lessen their competitions. Toffler also mentioned that in every industry, only the fittest will survive. Consolidation will happen, and only a few brands will be left.

In the I.T. industry, acquisitions are all over: Lenovo buying IBM PC, HP acquiring Compaq, EMC bought VMWare, Cisco acquiring LinkSys, Google buying YoTube, Oracle and Microsoft also buying companies left and right. The list goes on and on, and if the list is not enough proof of what Toffler said, here’s another one:

Acer Inc. announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Gateway, Inc. Gateway is the fourth largest PC company in the US and a leading retail PC provider. The combination will create a multi-branded PC-company with over US$15 billion in revenues and shipments in excess of 20 million PC units per year.

Under the terms of the agreement, Acer will commence a cash tender offer to purchase all the outstanding shares of Gateway for $1.90 per share, which represents total equity value consideration of approximately $710 million. The acquisition has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both Gateway and Acer and is subject to standard closing conditions, including approval under Hart Scott Rodino, Exon Florio and similar laws outside the U.S. The acquisition is expected to close by December 2007.

Gateway earlier announced that it intends to exercise its Right of First Refusal to acquire from Lap Shun (John) Hui, all of the shares of PB Holding Company, the parent company for Packard Bell BV – a leading European PC vendor based in France. In addition, Gateway is currently in discussions with a third party with regards to a sale of its U.S. based Professional business.

“This strategic transaction is an important milestone in Acer’s long history” said J.T. Wang, Chairman of Acer. “The acquisition of Gateway and its strong brand immediately completes Acer’s global footprint, by strengthening our US presence. This will be an excellent addition to Acer’s already strong positions in Europe and Asia. Upon acquiring Gateway, we will further solidify our position as number three PC vendor globally.”

Gianfranco Lanci, President of Acer, added, “Both Acer’s and Gateway’s geographical presences and product positioning are highly complementary. We believe that our combined scale will lead to significant efficiencies. Gateway has built one of the industry’s most powerful and unique brands and with this acquisition, we will have the opportunity to implement an effective multi-brand strategy and cover all the major market segments. In time, we intend to actively manage our brand portfolio and differentiate our brands to address different consumer segments. We are also acquiring a world-class team and Gateway’s employees will be critical to our combined success.”

“We believe our complementary geographical and product mixes, and our mutual focus on the consumer market makes Acer an outstanding partner for Gateway.” explained Ed Coleman, CEO of Gateway. “Joining with Acer will enable us to bring even more value to the consumer segments we serve and capitalize on Acer’s highly regarded supply chain operations and global reach to expand the scope of the Gateway and eMachines brands around the world. Acer has made impressive strides in the global PC market and the board and I welcome this merger.”

The combination of Acer and Gateway is expected to result in significant revenue and cost synergies. The considerable increase in scale will result in reductions in per unit procurement and component costs for both companies. This combination also creates a real opportunity for the cross-selling of product portfolios by leveraging the customer relationships of both Acer and Gateway. Significant savings are also expected through the increased efficiency of the combined back-office functions. The pre-tax synergies are expected to be at least $150 million. In addition, this transaction is expected to be accretive to Acer’s earnings per share in 2008 without synergies.

Why is this happening?

William Knoke, president of the Harvard Capital Group investment firm calls it the “Amoeba Form”. It is like the jellylike blob of cytoplasm seen under the microscope: it is amorphous, changeable, and conforms in shape to its environment; it is difficult to distinguish where one ends and the next begins. Watts Wacker, co-founder of the FirstMatter consulting firm said by teaming up with other companies, the corporation of tomorrow will be able to assemble the strengths of many partners to become far more nimble and responsive. It will exist in a world of varied, complex, and powerful relationships – a world where “your biggest competitor also may be your most important ally” and “your most important employee will also be working for your biggest competitor.

Business wise, the consolidation of Acer / Gateway / Packard Bell may result to a bigger market share for Acer to better compete with Dell and HP. Consumer wise, we will still have options and choices when buying our next computer. The only difference now is we will now have “quality choices” and hopefully competitively priced as well.