Windows 7 Beta, Jobs' Health, the Economy Again

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Macworld Expo (sans Steve Jobs) and the International Consumer Electronics Show (sans Bill Gates) got the new year off to a start, providing plenty of IT news this week. Jobs' decision to forgo giving the Macworld keynote was in the news again, as he released a public letter saying his obvious weight loss owes to a hormonal imbalance. In another continuation of news that started last year, economic woes continued to hit IT (along with pretty much everything else). But happy new year anyway.

1. Ballmer sets loose Windows 7 public beta, Microsoft's Web site overwhelmed by would-be Windows 7 downloaders and FAQ: How to get the Windows 7 beta: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showed off the Windows 7 public beta in the opening keynote at CES Wednesday night in Las Vegas, with downloads available worldwide (beyond developers) Friday, leading to a rush that slammed the company's site even before the software was online.

2. Jobs says he has 'hormone imbalance': A hormone imbalance has caused Apple CEO Steve Jobs' marked weight loss, he said in a letter posted at the company's Web site. The letter was meant to put an end to rumors and speculation about Jobs' health after it was announced he would not give the keynote speech at this week's Macworld Expo. He is being treated for the imbalance, and doctors expect that by late spring he will have put back on the weight he lost. For months now his public appearances have set off rumors that he is badly ailing because he had become thin to the point of appearing to be gaunt. Jobs had treatment for pancreatic cancer in 2004 and ever since his health has been a hot topic of discussion.

3. Obama includes broadband, smart grid in stimulus package: Broadband rollout, an Internet-based smart-energy grid, computers for schools and a push for all U.S. medical records to be in electronic form within five years are part of President-elect Barack Obama's enormous economic stimulus proposal. In announcing his plan, he called the economic state of the U.S. a "crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime."

4. CES 2009 and Computerworld @ CES: New netbooks, PCs, digital cameras, digital camcorders, MP3s, HDTVs, home theater systems, car audio systems and assorted other gear -- as well as the hotly anticipated Windows 7 beta -- are on show through this weekend at CES. IDG reporters are at the show in force, checking out the new gadgets and gizmos and offering first impressions.

5. Macworld Expo: For a change, Apple didn't announce any consumer-electronics-quaking news at this year's installment of Macworld, but Macworld the Web site/magazine still found plenty to write about.

6. Wall Street Beat: IT faces tough start to 2009: Lenovo, EMC, On Technologies and Logitech are laying off employees, and Intel and Time Warner have issued earnings warnings ahead of upcoming quarterly financial result announcements. So, the new year is off to its expected dismal start with regard to the economy.

7. Satyam chief quits, admits faking financial results and Indian outsourcers face scrutiny after Satyam debacle: The chairman of Satyam Computer Services, the Indian outsourcer in the news lately because of various troubles, resigned and admitted the company exaggerated its financials. Satyam's balance sheet includes inflated figures, nonexistent accrued interest, understated liabilities and overstated credit amounts, B. Ramalinga Raju confessed. His brother, B. Rama Raju, the company's managing director, also resigned. The news is sure to lead to increased scrutiny of other Indian outsourcers.

8. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter users beware: Trying to figure out how alarmed to be over the spate of headlines regarding the targets for cybercriminals that LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have become? CSO Senior Editor Bill Brenner cuts through the chatter in his column, which includes links to news coverage of a number of attacks involving those sites, which ensnared high-profile users, Obama among them. And then there are other types of social networks ...

9. Social networks link terrorists: While it's no secret that cyberterrorists are using technology, including the Internet, to plot, recruit and communicate, Evan Kohlmann, a senior investigator and private consultant for Global Terror Alert, provided details on how that is happening, and how to stop it, during a security conference in New York.

10. Outlook '09: A lot of us were glad to be rid of 2008, and although 2009 is expected to be a fasten-seatbelts sort of year with a lot of bumps along the way, there's still something to be said for a new year and its possibilities. Network World offers tips for how to budget in difficult times and takes a look at IT forecasts for the year, hot startups and interesting people in IT to keep an eye on.

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