Up Front: NSA would have central role in military cyber command

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Defense secretary creates cyberspace military command

Morning of Tuesday, June 23, 2009 • As expected, DoD secretary Robert Gates has announced the creation of a new military command dedicated to cybersecurity and focusing on the .mil domain. The Washington Post reports that Gates will recommend that President Obama designate that the post be held by the director of the NSA; that would currently be Lt. Gen. Keith Anderson, who would likely be awarded a fourth star to do the job. Gates wishes the command to be launched by October and under full steam within one year.

The NSA, seriously? As Siobhan Gorman and Yochi Dreazen at The Wall Street Journal point out, it was the NSA's expanding role in federal cybersecurity that led former National Cyber Security Center head Rod Beckström to leave that job back in March. Officials at DHS, which houses the NCSC, were unavailable for comment.

That bright light shining on Oracle isn't Sun, yet

June 23, 2009 5:00 pm EDT • The word "Sun" only emerged from Larry Ellison's lips once, and not during his prepared remarks, during yesterday afternoon's Oracle quarterly conference call with analysts. (Seeking Alpha has the proof.) The company's acquisition of Sun last April did not officially close during its prior quarter (its fiscal Q4 2009) and it won't close during the next one, so the subject was practically off-limits.

That's a shame, because the question of how Oracle integrates Sun has everything to do with its present and future. Sun Microsystems gives Oracle the hardware it needs to make it competitive in providing "out of the box" installations for customers, and that was the subject of Ellison's sole reference to Sun yesterday in response to an analyst's question. But Sun's Java is also the engine behind two of Oracle's principal software product lines: its Fusion middleware and its Java application servers from BEA Systems (from a late 2007 acquisition). Oracle absolutely needs Java, but to get Java whole and intact and healthy, it needs Sun's people...and Oracle isn't a company that's known for acquiring the people behind its targets.

The only hint that Oracle would be willing to invest in those people who would either find themselves Sun employees or Sun rejects, came from Co-President Safra Catz. Referring to Oracle's record margins of 51%, which enabled revenues to rise to $6.9 billion for the quarter even while service-related revenue plummeted, Catz gave this little glint of guidance: "Obviously the Sun acquisition will change the margin story for a while, but it will improve also over time."

Boxee's big night includes Apps Dev Challenge winners

Morning of Tuesday, June 23, 2009 • Boxee for Windows? Boxee and Major League Baseball? Boxee and a Digg-for-TV project? Boxee with a capital "B," even? Tuesday was indeed a big day for the media-browser-slash-television service, which unleashed everything from alpha of that Windows software to a list of winners of the company's Apps Dev Challenge. Interactive TV Today has a fine summary, as does Boxee's own blog. The Industry Standard takes a closer look at the apps-dev community -- 120 and growing -- and the winners of the contest.

The Associated Press asks journalists to control their friends

June 18, 2009 • Editor and Publisher has the text of a social-networking policy that instructs employees of the Associated Press to not only to watch what they say online, but what their friends say on AP staffers' Facebook walls: "It's a good idea to monitor your profile page to make sure material posted by others doesn't violate AP standards; any such material should be deleted." Needless to say, not everyone's wild about the new "editing responsibilities."

Mashable's Ben Parr was forthright, calling it a social-media policy gone too far, saying, "What others post on your social profiles should not be grounds for punishment." TechFever Network wondered if the news organization had lost track of the "fine line between social exposure and social engage[ment]."

China digs in on Green Dam

July 1, 2009...no fooling > Complaints are increasing, protests are being planned, threats of lawsuits are in the air, and security researchers are having a field day, but little things like those aren't deterring the Chinese government from holding fast to the July 1 deadline for manufacturers to add the Green Dam filtering software to machines sold in that country.

Wikileaks on Monday posted an exploit targeting the software, which Ars Technica's Jacqui Cheng cheerfully described as "thereby giving the entire world the ability to mess around with the software once it hits Chinese computers in just over a week." Reuters has been keeping abreast of calls inside China to boycott the filter. People's Daily Online, meanwhile, said yesterday that widespread reports of a formal US complaint about the filtering situation were inaccurate.

Microsoft has a pull date for the Win7 release candidate

August 15, 2009 > Have you been putting off that Win7 RC download? Get on the stick, because the end is nearing. Microsoft expects to release Windows 7 to manufacturing in July, and the company announced on Tuesday that it will pull the download off of its servers on August 15.

By the way, here's something you may only see right here and nowhere else in your life...not even if you own the thing: It's Windows 7's retail package, which Microsoft unveiled last night. It's a little plainer looking than Vista's, but it keeps the "dog-eared" look on one corner. Dozens upon dozens of folks will rush to their retail software outlets to get their hands on one. (You wonder just how many operating systems are sold in boxes any more.)

Wednesday's tech headlines

Wall Street Journal

• Kindle users would like you to be a Kindle user too, and Geoffrey A. Fowler reports that thousands of them are volunteering to meet with strangers to show off their own personal Kindles. Amazon is amused but has no formal role in this.

• Philip Kaplan, whom we all once obsessively read back when he was helming F'edCompany.com in the early years of the decade, is now an entrepreneur-in-residence with Charles River Ventures. Feel the age creeping up on you.

• In your daily dose of earnings news, Oracle on Tuesday posted a revenue decline for the first time since 2002. They also reported their highest margins ever and said that the Sun acquisition should close in the quarter ahead. Ben Worthen reports.


• Fearless Technologizer leader Harry McCracken spent some time with RealPlayer SP, the beta of the next version of that media player, and tested its ability to grab YouTube (or other Flash) video and convert it to formats friendly to your iPod, your BlackBerry, your xBox, and so on.

• Mr. McCracken also got a look at HP's Mini5105, the company's "latest and most lavish netbook, " just announced. It's not an official review, but he seems to have liked what he saw.

San Jose Mercury-News

• Once upon a time, Steve Jobs bought a beautiful, historic home built in 1925 by George Washington Smith. Then he got tired of it and wanted to build something else, and he sort of let it fall apart while he bickered with the city of Woodside over whether he should get to tear it down. Eight years later, the house has a buyer, Jobs will pay to have the house taken away, and all is calm in Woodside. Now, what about Hangar One?

• The Merc-News says the recession's hitting home for Silicon Valley brides this year. Your reporter says it's simply not possible the news day was that slow in Silicon Valley that this is newsworthy.


• Bangladesh officials have signed an agreement with two mobile operators there to send early-warning messages to subscribers in two disaster-prone regions of the country. These are no ordinary SMS messages; they'll jump right onto the main screen of the phones instead of going to inboxes.

• Twitter users like music and music lovers like Twitter, according to a new NPD Group report. Active Twitter users buy 77% more music than non-users, and 12% of people who say they've purchased a digital download in the last three months also used Twitter.

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