IBM Layoffs, Manifesto Saga, Google Tweaks

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IBM is laying off thousands more employees and is likely to ship more of those jobs overseas, news of which riled up a whole lot of people. A back-and-forth over a "secret" document regarding cloud computing -- of all things -- also stirred it up in some quarters, making us think that some folks really do need to get out in the sunshine a little more. Google brought some happiness to the mix, though, announcing it has added some semantic technology to its search engine.

1. Will IBM layoffs mean more jobs sent overseas? and IBM layoffs incite backlash: IBM provoked ire this week with word that it will cut 5,000 employees in North America and potentially move more jobs overseas. Seems that Big Blue missed the memo that emotions are running so hot these days that this kind of action doesn't just give CNN's Lou Dobbs another reason to foam at the mouth, but could, in fact, hurt business.

2. Microsoft criticizes drafting of secret 'Cloud Manifesto', Author of 'Cloud Manifesto' surprised by Microsoft protest and IBM leading 'Open Cloud Manifesto' charge: We have found the secret "Cloud Manifesto" brouhaha quite entertaining and await the next wrinkle in the ongoing saga. First, Microsoft criticized the drafting of what it claimed was a "secret" document about interoperability of cloud-computing networks. "Very recently we were privately shown a copy of the document, warned that it was a secret, and told that it must be signed 'as is,' without modifications or additional input," according to a middle-of-the-night Microsoft blog post. Then, the fellow who drafted the document spoke out to say that Microsoft had been involved in "active discussions" about the document. Then, InfoWorld got someone who worked on the document to spill the beans that IBM had been the guiding force pushing the document, which helped to explain Microsoft's foul mood over the whole thing. The manifesto is, by the way, due for release Monday.

3. Google rolls out semantic search capabilities: Google -- finally! -- added semantic technology to its search engine and coupled that with real-time data mining, which means that the engine will be better able to figure out the context of a search query and to look for concepts and associations related to it.

4. Facebook glitch hands off control of corporate Pages: This week's entry to bolster the case for those who simply do not get the appeal of Facebook came from one Tom Krieglstein, who noticed late Wednesday that he had administrative access to Microsoft, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines Pages at the social-networking site. To see if he really did have that kind of control, he sent out a link to a Star Wars group and it went to 825,000 people. Good thing he wasn't inclined to some real mischief.

5. HP sees early signs of stronger demand for consumer PCs: In a show of the desperation for good economic news, what would be an ordinary sort of product story got a lot of play at week's end -- Hewlett-Packard debuted its latest Pavilion laptop at an event in Singapore, where company executives said that they believe the worst of the slowdown in PC demand may be over. While we aren't quite ready to hop on the happy train just yet (and neither were analysts who were asked about the HP comments), a little optimism feels good right about now.

6. Nasty new worm targets home routers, cable modems: A worm that can infect 55 models of home-based routers and DSL/cable modems has surfaced. Psyb0t seems to have originated in Australia and is the first worm that can infect home routers and modems. It runs through combinations of 6,000 common usernames and 13,000 oft-used passwords to try to get into a home system. It is helped in this by the fact that most such routers will let you try an unlimited number of times to get the right username and password, which makes us wonder what took so long for this kind of worm to crawl out of a hole.

7. In poor economy, IT pros could turn to e-crime: We'll just go ahead and clump the bad news together here -- the lousy economy has sparked worries that IT workers who lose their jobs will be increasingly lured to become cybercriminals. So, if your company is laying off people in the IT shop, make sure to block their access as you hand them their pink slips, security consultants said.

8. Conficker's next move a mystery to researchers: Security researchers don't rightly know what will transpire when PCs infected by Conficker.c., the third version of the dreaded worm, starts trying to contact their controllers on April 1.

9. Put more IT spending in stimulus plans, Obama adviser says: Governments that are bailing out national economies, and by extension the global economy, should boost technology spending as part of their stimulus plans, an adviser to President Barack Obama's transition team said. Technology investments were key to U.S. productivity gains and other nations could also realize positive effects from boosting ICT spending, said Robert Atkinson, the founder and president of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation.

10. Today's IT spending survey laced with a little hope: We'll end on an up note -- the temperature has warmed up here in Boston and baseball season is fast approaching, so we're shedding our cold-weather recessionary blues, and it looks like some IT managers are, too. While a third of 400 IT managers surveyed in the U.S. and Europe said they expect their budgets to stay flat and half of them said that their budgets were cut (hold on, the glimmer of good is coming), 16 percent expect a spending increase this year. Not long ago, we would have been all about the bigger percentages, but in this case 16 percent sounds good, though we'll resist the temptation to round up.

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