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09/12/2017

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Once more, Java is the enemy. Almost straight away Microsoft forked .NET, for Windows desktop, store, Phone and ASP.NET.Platform ubiquity is one thing, but Microsoft seems to accept it needs the love and attention of outsiders to nail down .NET in ways it hasn't.Docker sailed a wave in 2014. It is an open source environment for building and managing apps inside containers regardless of external factors such as virtual machine, laptop or cloud - it taps into Linux kernel name spaces. Docker wasn’t exclusive to 2014 (the project started in 2013) but it captured the imagination and spirit of the distributed data-center times, winning all kinds of backers.Tapping the Linux kernel sidestepped the need for Hyper-V, KVM and XEN emulation, meaning a leaner and faster management and performance hit.The prospect was too tantalizing to resist, earning the love of Linux rivals Red Hat and Canonical, early support from Microsoft and from Amazon.

In the summer, Docker - the commercial firm that’s the open source project’s chief patron - released Docker 1.0 and then alpha Docker orchestration services.Story over then? The future is history? No. This is tech and there is money a stake after all, and this being open source fragmentation happens.Alleging Docker had drifted from the pure faith, CentOS chief exec Alex Polvi announced Rocket based on the CentOS infrastructure. Polvi said re-use had been sold out for larding Docker with other services turning it into a "monolithic binary". Rocket was a Linux-agnostic, ground-up alternative. Docker shot back that CentOS was more or less on its own. I guess 2015 will determine who is right.Chances are this could be like Cloudera vs. Hortonworks in big data - two tiny firms fighting in an ocean of opportunity. The question: who among top-tier tech firms can they quickly get on their side. The nightmare scenario for somebody is the devs who made 2014 the year of Docker follow one, and - in so doing - kill the other.

Open source software is secure precisely because it’s not obscure - so fans of the stuff tell us. Their code has fewer bugs than the proprietary equivalent and is less vulnerable to hackers and viruses, they claim, because there are more eyes looking for the holes. But somebody didn’t tell those working on OpenSSL.Sys admins were scrambling to fix systems when the open source version of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TSL) was found to hold a dark secret: a memory leak that could reveal users’ IDs and passwords and let wrong-doers snoop on traffic.Called Heartbleed, half a million trusted web sites were vulnerable to the hole, according to Netcraft, not to mention email systems, IMs, PCs and smartphones and tablets using the crypto library. Up to 4.5m patent records were exposed via Heartbleed following an attack on US health group Community Health Systems, running more than 200 hospitals.The hardest part? It could all have been avoided - Heartbleed was the product of a mistake made during coding.Security rock-star Bruce Schnier was frank: “One a scale of one to 10, this is an 11.”

Oh well, at least it was just an isolated event. Think again. I give you: Bash, the GNU Project’s Unix shell, that’s the default shell for many a Linux and flavour of Linux, that is used in Apple’s OSX and that been ported to Microsoft’s Windows. Bash was found to contain a back door named Shellshock that lets hackers take over systems to lift sensitive data and also run systems from afar.The hole was thought to have sat undiscovered by the light side of The Force for 22 years leading bureaucrats in the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office telling people to patch up ASAP as Red Hat, Apple and others scrambled to deploy fixes.Millions of Apple users got more than they bargained the morning after Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch in September: a free copy of U2’s Songs of Innocence in their iTunes - whether they wanted it or not. And many did not.U2 had performed at the hyped Californian event under the smiling gaze of self-outed Apple CEO Tim Cook. U2 front man Bono had determined receiving his Grammy-award winning band’s album would be a “treat”, but incredibly those outside of Bono’s egosphere saw it differently.Software downloaded to your device without your permission is regarded as spam or worse and Songs of Innocence was seen no differently by U2 haters. Twitter was alight with fury and the internet with advice on how to remove the hated Irish music, with Apple publishing its own advice.

Bono, who with U2 is a familiar Apple ads front, hit the celeb retreat-mode button delivering a brand-new tune: a warbling apology, banging on about megalomania and self promotion. Apple insisted the stunt was a hit, claiming 81m “experienced” the album and 26m downloaded the thing in its entirety.U2 weren’t the only Apple PR blowhards on hand to puff its latest phone. Occasional tech guru and career spokesperson Stephen Fry beat lines of adoring press to proclaim Apple’s latest phone “the most exquisite mobile ever made.” Fry, however, also seemed think Apple had “all but three per cent of the personal computer market.”But as if that weren’t embarrassing enough, it transpired that this superlative device had been made so super thin by the Angels of Cupertino that it bent if it interfaced with the cheek of your bottom rather than the cheek of your face. Thus was born Bendgate. Apple reckoned instances of the banana prone phone had been overstated while hardware maker Foxconn said it was all nothing more than nasty rivals spreading malicious innuendo about the fruity firms lovely phone.Microsoft’s long wanted to be like Apple and for a brief period in October it was - just not in an enjoyable way. A few ill-chosen comments by Sataya Nadella abruptly ended the new Microsoft’s chief exec’s honeymoon period in office. Wrapping up a Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Event, Nadella was asked his advice for women seeking a pay rise. His advice? Do nothing just rely on that thing women do so well. What was that, exactly? He wasn’t clear, but above all they should rely on their “super powers.”

Nadella later manned Twitter, the preferred medium of its PR chief, to spaff on further about gender pay gaps but it was too late and the damage was done. Chastened, he pledged a series of initiatives making sure women get equal pay at Microsoft and to generally close the gender gap. Thereafter Microsoft’s tweeting PR chief had his boss put on a very tight lead and on a much-hyped company event in London, Nadella used the magic of his words to put his audience to sleep.Captain Ellison demotes self to boiler room Silicon Valley’s longest serving CEO suddenly stepped aside this year. Larry Ellison had been running the world’s largest database maker since 1977, but suddenly on 18 October, the company said Ellison would be chief technology officer with his deputies Safra Catz and Mark Hurd taking over as CEOs. This being Oracle, the reason was provided on a need to know basis and you didn’t need to know.Ellison is one of the world’s richest men and best compensated business chiefs - a man with a net worth that even the once-unwanted kid from Brooklyn struggles to comprehend. His firm rose from database player to dog: half of the RRBMS market is Oracle. The other 50 per cent is IBM, Microsoft and everybody else.

But recent years have been unkind on both Oracle and Ellison. He laughed off cloud computing, missing out on a huge potential opportunity, while sales of Oracle software failed to regain the highs of the pre-2008 bust glory days. He stepped aside on a third-success quarterly miss - Oracle’s fourth out of the last five. Hardware has been a millstone, too, as the Sun server and systems business he bought in 2010 has dragged down Oracle, going down with overall market server sales.Ellison had had his famously fantastic compensation package cut by more than half on the back of Oracle’s lack luster performance. But that, apparently, wasn’t enough.If we were being charitable, we’d suggest Ellison was retiring himself: aged 70, he’s three years past the official US retirement threshold with no successor.But don’t think Ellison is out in the cold. He remains Oracle’s single largest shareholder and has a place on the board. Whether, and how, the database king returns will depend on his personal plans and how Oracle performs under Catz and Hurd.

The internet wanted it so much in 2013 it was wishing it to happen. In 2014 it did happen. Sort of. What? Smart watches, from Apple and Microsoft.Only the most diehard of fanbois could love what was Cook-ed up with the Apple Watch, which was nothing like the mock ups or hype had suggested it would be: a wristable in a variety of styles and finishes, it will be controlled from a small dial and features a large screen for sending and receiving messages, making calls, recording fitness data, with Siri loaded for voice search.But it relies on the latest iPhone to get online and to send and receive data. In other words: the Apple Watch is an iPhone accessory. Also it has crap battery life - one day’s charge, Cook admitted under some journo pressing. All that for $349 - plus the cost of that iPhone.Disappointment, too, for Redmond fans waiting to smote fanbois: at least the Apple Watch looked good. Microsoft’s Band will only attract other computer and outdoors types, happy hiking up Mount Rainer or yomping across a muddy Mitcham Common.

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