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Issue No. 04 - July/August (2006 vol. 10)
ISSN: 1089-7801
pp: 11-14

Dr. Dobb's Journal
June 2006
"Ruby on Rails," by Michael Swaine
Rails, a Ruby-based framework used to develop Web applications that "babysit" databases, is quickly becoming a Java alternative. At this year's Jolt Awards, for example, Rails received top honors for Web development tools and was the topic of Jolt's winning technical book selection, Agile Web Development with Rails. Bruce Tate, a respected member of the Java development community, further fueled Rails' credibility by describing in his book, Beyond Java (O'Reilly, 2005), a project rewrite that he anticipated would take four months using Java but took just four days and roughly one-fifth the lines of code using Rails.
Swaine says that developers are jumping on the Rails bandwagon because of its features, including a fully integrated Web application framework that needs only a Web server, database, and the Ruby base language, "a language that combines the uncompromising object orientation of Smalltalk with the immediacy of Perl, Python, or PHP."
Mobile and Wireless Computing
Network Computing
13 April 2006
"Compressed Air," by Frank Bulk
Students' increasing desire for wireless access has prompted colleges and universities to tackle the challenge of dense wireless deployments in ways that help tomorrow's enterprise users address the same problems. They can't meet the volume of demand by simply installing another access point (AP) here and there. For one thing, signals interfere with one another when you get too many APs in a small area. Bulk says installing micro- or pico-cells can help the capacity problem by regulating output power to limit channel interference, but many older client cards don't support the proprietary standards that are part of such architectures. Northern Michigan University solved this problem by using Meru Networks' Wireless LAN Controller and several multiband, single-channels APs.
Channel assignment presents an even bigger challenge. Fred Archibald of UC Berkeley's School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science says it's like a Rubik's Cube: changing one location requires a reassessment of the whole array's needs. Archibald's solution is to deploy one AP for every 3,000 square feet using Cisco's 1100 series thin-AP system, which allows for automatic channel selection.
27 April 2006
"Wireless: Resistance Is Futile," by Dave Molta
A recent reader survey about enterprise wireless local area networks (WLANs) shows that IT staffs are increasingly responding to users' demands for wireless service despite various concerns. At the two extremes, 25 percent of respondents reported zero access points (APs) installed, but 15 percent reported more than 100.
The highest-ranked benefits cited were added employee convenience and satisfaction, followed by higher productivity and business-process improvement. Security concerns were the biggest barrier to adoption, followed by a dearth of compelling business justification and concerns about standards.
PC Magazine
6 June 2006
"A Moving Target," by Robert Lemos
Few antivirus firms have produced software to protect cell phones, largely because infecting cell phones still isn't that easy, but they might soon change their minds as evidence mounts that crimeware — malware that steals money or information — is becoming more widespread. The Red-Browser Trojan, for example, funnels money by connecting to premium-pay messaging services and sending out SMS messages, charging users up to US$6 per message. Another example is FlexiSPY, a surveillance program sold by a Bangkok firm as a way to spy on users without their knowledge. Lemos says that users can protect their cell phone data by transferring it to their PDAs, but most phones will remain vulnerable to viruses designed to steal money.
Technology Review
May/June 2006
"Cell Phones Say Hi to Wi-Fi," by Wade Roush
The day when users can have a single phone number — and phone — for home, office, and mobile isn't that far off. At conferences in Las Vegas and Barcelona, Chicago-based BridgePort Networks demonstrated new phones that carry both Wi-Fi and cellular radios. The phones, made by Chinese manufacturer E28, allowed conference attendees to wander out of Wi-Fi range and seamlessly switch to a cellular network without dropping calls.
Competitors such as California-based Kineto Wireless are working on similar technologies. However, BridgePort says the conferences were the first successful live demonstrations of call "handovers" using the emerging voice call continuity standard, which bridges packet and cell switching.
Human Resources
Network Computing
27 April 2006
"IT Compensation Inches Back Up," by Rich Karpinski
In 2005, IT salaries and bonuses reached a new high, surpassing the previous peak established in 2001 at the tech boom's pinnacle. According to a survey of more than 10,400 IT professionals conducted by Network Computing and InformationWeek magazines, the average IT manager made US$99,000 in 2005, and the average staffer made $73,000. Factoring in bonuses, salaries grew 3 percent for staffers in 2005 and 4 percent for managers, the survey reports. In the latter job category, the largest compensation packages were in Web infrastructure, data mining and data warehousing, human resources IT, and enterprise application integration.
Programming and Development
Visual Studio Magazine
Special Enterprise Edition
April 2006
"Integrate SOA Portals with WSE," by Derek Harmon
Harmon walks through the creation of a human-resources hiring portal to demonstrate the "patterns for a successful SOA" and the architectural decisions behind creating a reliable, reuseable SOA that solves real-world business problems. He explains that a successful SOA depends on a service-oriented marketplace and aggregated external services. He also outlines how to apply a portal-integration pattern to aggregate Web services using Web Services Enhancements 3.0, as well as the ASP.NET 2.0 Web Parts framework.
Network Computing
13 April 2006
"Anti-Phish Posse Seeks Deputies," by Andrew Conry-Murray
To crack down on the proliferation of phishing, antispyware vendor Sunbelt Software and the CastleCops Web site have joined together to form the Phishing Incident Reporting and Termination (PIRT) Squad. PIRT aims to get volunteers to report new phishing incidents in an effort to have them eliminated as quickly as possible. Once an incident is reported and reviewed, PIRT notifies several sources, including the firm being phished, the ISPs hosting the phishing sites, and antiphishing toolbar companies.
Alison Skratt is a freelance writer based in Oakville, Conn.
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