July 28, 2014

Top 25 free tools for every Windows desktop
While smartphones descend on computer cognoscenti like Mongol hordes and tablets tempt the tried and true, the good ol' Windows desktop still reigns supreme in many corners of the modern tech world. That's where I live, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. If you haven't looked at free desktop programs lately, you'll be surprised. The inexorable shift to a post-PC world hasn’t deadened the market or dulled innovation. Quite the contrary. The current crop of free-for-personal-use (and cheap for corporate use) desktop apps runs rings around the best tools we had not long ago.

The Coming Human Body On A Chip That Will Change How We Make Drugs
Borrowing microfabrication techniques from the semiconductor industry, each organ-on-a-chip is built with small features, such as channels, vessels, and flexible membranes, designed to recreate the flow and forces that cells experience inside a human body. The structure can mimic the inhalation of, say, an asthma medication into the lungs and, later, how it’s broken down in the liver. It might one day help the military test treatments for biological or chemical weapons; hospitals to use a patient’s own stem cells to develop and test “personalized” treatments for their disease; and, of course, drug companies to more quickly screen promising new drugs.

Attackers install DDoS bots on Amazon cloud, exploiting Elasticsearch weakness
Security researchers reported earlier this year that attackers can exploit Elasticsearch’s scripting capability to execute arbitrary code on the underlying server, the issue being tracked as CVE-2014-3120 in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database. Elasticsearch’s developers haven’t released a patch for the 1.1.x branch, but starting with version 1.2.0, released on May 22, dynamic scripting is disabled by default. Last week security researchers from Kaspersky Lab found new variants of Mayday, a Trojan program for Linux that’s used to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

How To Build A Federal Information Security Team
The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) was established in 2010 to raise national cyber security awareness, broaden the pool of cyber security workers through strong education programs, and build a globally competitive workforce. NICE developed a national cyber security workforce framework to codify cyberwork and to identify the specialty areas of cyber professionals. An update to the framework was announced in May of this year. But initiatives such as NICE need additional time and effort in order to achieve tangible and lasting results. What can agencies do in the short term? Here are some recommendations:

Big Switch Networks Launches Mature Hardware-Centric Data Centre SDN Solution
One of the biggest concerns I hear is about hardware and software SDN is reliability and what happens if the controller fails ? I spoke with Rob Sherwood, CTO at Big Switch on this issue. The network can sustain the loss of both SDN controllers and will continue to operate. In the event that both controllers are down and the network changes, the flow table in the device will have pre-calculated redundancy paths to cover failures in the physical network through cascading flow rules in Switch Light tables. If this sounds impossible, you should get in contact with Big Switch to understand it (they call it Sunny and Cloudy Day flow management).

Mobile Now Mission Critical
Mobile budgets are increasing, according to Forrester. Last year, 52 percent of insurers surveyed said they would increase mobile budgets by at least 5 percent and 14 percent said they would increase more than 10 percent, as insurers’ market positions increasingly depend on mobile strategies. Insurers also are responsible for responding to evolving customer demands in order to increase market share and build brand loyalty. As a result of these and other factors, mobile has become business critical for insurers. Deployed successfully, mobile applications can help insurers accomplish three objectives:

Can Data Analytics Make Teachers Better Educators?
Teachers are an excellent example. They've always been data workers — assessing students' understanding of the material based on test scores, classroom engagement, quality of homework, etc., with the goal of improving that understanding. Knowing that individual students learn in different ways, many schools today have adopted the idea of personalized learning as their pedagogical approach: They assess each student on their learning needs, interests, aspirations and cultural backgrounds to create a personalized education program designed to maximize education outcomes.

RackWare Adds Disaster Recovery to Cloud Migration Software Suite
The newly added capability provides whole-server protection and failover. It’s an alternative but not necessarily a replacement to more expensive DR options, such as running a fully replicated data center architected for high-availability or clustering technologies. RackWare’s benefits over traditional disaster recovery are set-up speed and simplicity. Workloads are protected in as little as an hour, compared to days and weeks it takes to deploy more complex disaster recovery options. The disaster recovery in RMM 3.0 is already being used in production by a few select customers. Sunkara said the limited access period helped the company gather feedback and fine-tune the product. It’s now widely available.

Bank of America: When software relationships turn sour
"This is a relationship that has gone bad. It is very rare to get this kind of escalation," said Neil Ward-Dutton, research director at MWD Advisors. "Part of the way to maintain revenue is by enforcing audits, but normally if the [customer] has been using software outside the agreement, you negotiate and come to a compromise." Commenting on the challenges Bank of America could face if the Tibco software it uses is “impounded”, he said: "If Bank of America has fairly well-defined projects, then migrating modern middleware should not require much recoding, since the applications would use standard coding. But there is always some vendor proprietary tools, which may need workarounds."

Why a Media Giant Sold Its Data Center and Headed to the Cloud
"As we moved down this digital path -- everything from creation to distribution -- we started looking at our operations and looking at what we should be and shouldn't be in," Simon says. "One of the questions we asked ourselves was: 'Do we really want to be in the business of running data centers anymore?'" Reaching the answer to that question was difficult. But in the end, Simon's higher-ups agreed: CondA(c) Nast would get out of the data center game. "The transition was a lot less challenging that the decision to do it," Simon says.

Quote for the day:

"Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision." -- Peter F. Drucker

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