Once Again, Worrisome Financial News Prevails

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Start to finish, the week was full of news related to the sorry state of the global economy, with Sun capping things off by announcing it will cut thousands of jobs. Casting a little hopeful light on yet another week of dismal news was optimism from IT professionals who say that, unlike with previous downturns, they aren't being ordered to make drastic cuts.

1. Sun waves goodbye to 18 percent of workforce: Sun Microsystems is cutting 5,000 to 6,000 jobs -- 15 percent to 18 percent of its workforce -- in an effort to save US$700 million to $800 million in costs, the company said Friday, ending a week that was rife with dismal financial news for IT vendors. The company is also reorganizing its software division, with Executive Vice President of Software Rich Green deciding to take his leave from Sun.

2. Wall Street Beat: Bad news gets worse for IT: Although many believe that IT will weather the current economic crisis (see number five), that optimism didn't do much to make it any easier to stomach yet another week of dismal financial reports, layoffs (see number one) and general turmoil.

3. AMD launches 'Shanghai' quad-core Opteron and AMD bails out IT: Advanced Micro Devices launched Shanghai, its latest quad-core Opteron processor, ahead of schedule and insisted that problems with its Barcelona chip earlier this year are behind the company. AMD lost market share and credibility after bugs were found in Barcelona's cache memory, causing mass shipments of the processor to be delayed. Although at least one analyst said that the current plight of the global economy means this is not the optimal time to launch a new processor, early reviews of Shanghai were good, with Infoworld's Tom Yager saying that IT could really use the boost brought by the launch.

4. 2008 Salary Survey: IT pay takes tiny leaps: Some 7,000 IT workers responded to Computerworld's annual salary survey -- if your pay hasn't changed and your bonus has been eliminated, you're not alone. Besides providing IT salary data, the survey package of stories includes a look at hot jobs to consider, as well as ways to plump up the old paycheck.

5. IT pros tackle economic crisis head on and 8 reasons tech isn't dead ... yet: IT leaders got together this week at SIMposium 2008, where the financial crisis was top on everyone's mind. The current economic malaise differs from past downturns in that IT departments are not being ordered to make big cuts. "This downturn is different. In the past, IT has been told by the business to cut, cut, cut and both IT and the business have paid dearly for that," said Jerry Luftman, SIM vice president for academic affairs and distinguished professor and associate dean at the Stevens Institute. "Rather than panicking and making drastic cuts, IT has been working more closely with the business for years and is being strategic about how to weather the economic issues now." There are other encouraging signs that IT's prominence and importance to companies will help when it comes to weathering the economic storm.

6. XO laptop to go on sale in 30 countries on Monday: One Laptop Per Child's XO laptop goes on sale on Amazon.com Monday and will be available to the general public in 30 countries outside of the U.S. and Canada for the first time.

7. Web site collects ideas for Obama's CTO: U.S. President-elect Barack Obama said last year when he was campaigning that he would be the first president to appoint a CTO and assuming he sticks to that campaign pledge the first person in that new national role will start the job with a lot of advice. A Web site has been set up where people can offer their ideas and vote on what the CTO should work on. Created by Front Seat in Seattle, the site went up on Wednesday and by Thursday afternoon had already collected more than 8,300 votes on ideas.

8. LCD makers settle price-fixing charges, agree to fines: LG Display, Sharp and Chunghwa Picture Tubes agreed to plead guilty and pay a total of $585 million in criminal fines for conspiring to fix LCD (liquid crystal display) prices, the U.S. Department of Justice said. LG was nailed with $400 million of the fines -- the second-largest fine ever from the DOJ's Antitrust Division. The companies expressed regret over their actions and agreed to cooperate with an ongoing DOJ antitrust investigation.

9. Survey: Despite risks, employees still holiday shop at work: Although online holiday shopping from work computers poses risks to corporate networks, most employees will do some sort of such shopping in the coming weeks and most companies don't have any effective plan in place to stop them. Nor do they have any mechanism for educating employees about the risks. Such were the findings from ISACA, a global, nonprofit group of IT professionals. So-called Millennials, aged 18-24, will spend up to five work hours shopping on their work computers, and that group is the least concerned about exposing corporate networks to security risks, the survey found.

10. How 10 famous technology products got their names: Ever wonder how the BlackBerry got its name? iPod? Twitter? Various other iconic tech products? The answer to that question for 10 of most famous products or Web sites around today can be found at the link.

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