Thursday, August 10, 2006

IBM filing to purchase FileNet

Today IBM announced that it has agreed to purchase FileNet for $1.6 billion. FileNet is one of the leading companies in content and document management software space. The company is headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, and has been around for an impressive 24 years. Last year, FileNet generated about $422 million in revenue.

IBM will integrate the FileNet product into its content management software. This will be interesting, since the IBM content management software has significant overlap with FileNet’s P8 suite. (An example of this is the fact that both companies offer Business Process Management (BPM) systems.

Apparently, the purchase was done mostly to give IBM access to FileNet’s customer base. "This leaves a company like FileNet in a difficult position," said AMR Research analyst Jim Shepherd.

IBM will pay $35 per FileNet share (a slight premium over Wednesday’s share price). The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

It would appear IBM is on a spending spree. The FileNet deal comes on the heels of the $740 million purchase for MRO Software (an application for managing physical assets) and privately held software company Webify Solutons.

IBM's software group has bought more than 50 companies in the past 10 years--suggesting that the larger companies just continue to get larger!

We are a customer of FileNet. Do you think we should be concerned for the future of the FileNet software? If people like Mr. Shepherd are correct, that this is an acquisition purely to acquire customers--and I think he is correct--then we should be concerned.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

How to print to PDF free!

I often need to print my documents to PDF. In the past I have purchased a product directly from Adobe to provide me with this function.

Today, I had someone ask me what to use for a quick and cheap solution. The first thing that came to mind was to go to the creator of the preparatory PDF format—Adobe--but this solution is not quick and certainly does not come without a price tag. So off searching I went for a better solution and the goal was to come up with a totaly free solution. Here the top four vendors (all cost and, with one exception, ad free):

  1. CutePDF
  2. PDF995
  3. PDFCreator
  4. PrimoPDF

[List and resarch provided by and BB]

These are all great tools—Easy to install, easy on the pocketbook and with the features you need. What more can you ask for? Go to it, install it and enjoy it!

Monday, August 07, 2006

August 6th--Next national holiday?

August 6 was a major milestone in the history of technology. 15 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee released his WWW project onto the internet. This was the start of the World Wide Web (“WWW”).

[Berners-Lee also created the first Web browser and the first hypertext editor.]

What did we do before the World Wide Web? 15 years does not seem like a long time, but look at the impact the WWW is having on our lives. I cannot imagine going back to a time where we did not have all the information readily available that we now take for granted. Surfing the internet is a part of everyday life. (According to Wikipedia; “the phrase "surfing the Internet" was first popularized in print by Jean Armour Polly, a librarian, in an article called Surfing the INTERNET, published in the University of Minnesota Wilson Library Bulletin in June, 1992.”)

It is amazing to me how 15 short years have changed the way we work, communicate, and, to some extent live (or at least change our lives)--maybe to the point where we should celebrate or at least recognize the date that started it all.

I wonder what the next 15 years will bring to us?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

157 mpg – Dream or reality?

This vehicle maybe closer than we all think. A German company, Loremo AG, has developed a concept car that gets 157 mpg!

The prototype will be shown at an upcoming automobile show in Geneva. This sharp-looking unit is projected to get great gas mileage without a complicated hybrid drivetrain, fuel cells, or plug in paraphenalia. On top of all of this, it does zero-60 in ten seconds and reaches a top speed of 100 mph.

Loremo is planning to introduce the car to the European market in 2009. What would you pay for a car like this? Good looking, sporty, room for four, two cylinders, a 20hp turbo diesel motor, and respectable performance.

The price tag of $13,000 is well less than I expected. This should put other car manufacturers on the defensive and make all of us think hard about considering Loremo for our new car need in 2009 or so.

I hope Loremo is able to execute and make this dream a reality.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Is the sun setting on corporate America?

Today, Sun Microsystems notified hundreds of employees that they will be losing their jobs. (This is a second phase in a program to cut 4,000 to 5,000 employees between June of this year and June of 2007.) This layoff affected about 1900 workers here in the US, and throughout the rest of the world.

Sun lost money last quarter, but the company reported revenue of $3.8 billion which was more than the $3.6 billion Wall Street expected.

Today, as I was reading about Sun Microsystems' job cuts, there was an article on the same page about 5,000 layoffs pending at AOL. All of this downsizing activity makes me wonder if we're starting to see a trend in the technology sector.

Do you think this is just a shift in demand--and that job cuts are purely results of companies not keeping up with times? Or is this something that we, as IT professionals, should be worried about as a growing, lasting trend?

For me, the outlook is positive. As one-hit wonders Timbuk 3 once sang, the future's so bright, I gotta wear shades (but perhaps only for people and companies that have the stomach to change).

Do you have the stomach for change, or are you just holding on hoping more of yesterday? I am ready for whatever the future will bring.

This poem is my gift to corporate America:

Up, down
I will change with the times!

[If either of the members of Timbuk 3 reads this post, contact me and we can collaborate on turning my poem into your next hit song!]

Norwegian cooking

Surfing the net for some Norwegian culture, I came across this interesting video of three Norwegians singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in the kitchen.

The video, shown on Norwegian television on a show called “Lille Lørdag,” features a band with banging on kitchen appliances and singing their hearts out. I might be mistaken, but I think this is how “Lutefisk” was discovered.

It seems that the “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is a popular song—check this one out. Probably more 80s music than you can handle in one day!

Are you ready for Vista?

You may be ready...but the billion-dollar question is, are Microsoft and Vista ready for you? From what I am reading and seeing the answer is NO.

XP has been in the market for nearly five years and Microsoft is struggling, even after excising major features, to get us to the next generation OS. The latest forecast from Microsoft is that Vista will release to major companies sometime in November and for general distribution in January. This schedule is clearly not what Microsoft was hoping for with a delay beyond the holiday season.

In spite of the delayed schedule, there are still questions--even internally at Microsoft--about the company's ability to meet this date. Last month, Bill Gates revived doubts about the timing of the release, saying that there was a "20% chance" of another Vista delay.

I have Vista Beta 2 and definantly think Vista a some a ways to go. Robert Scoble wrote in his Scobleizer blog, "This sucker is just not ready. Too many things are too slow and/or don't work. I've been on the betas of every Windows OS since Windows 3.1 and Vista is starting to feel good, but it doesn't feel good enough to release to the factory in October. It feels like it needs a good six more months than that, which would mean a mid-year release next year."

I agree with him.

Please Microsoft, take your time. Ensure that you have a solid operating system before you release it to the public. Maybe we should have a Beta 3 before you do a general release. Whether it is November or March, I am looking forward to a stable, quality Vista release!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Outsourcing—not just a cost driver

Today, Wells Fargo announced its plans to open a technology center in Hyderabad, India. Wells Fargo experienced great growth over the past year, growing by 31% (making them second--based on volume--in the originator market space, following Countrywide Financial Corp). Wells Fargo employs more than 150,000 people in North America.

The company says the expansion is not based on cost savings but the availability of technology resources in North America. "This is simply about supply and demand," said Victor Nichols, Wells Fargo's head of IT. "Like most major U.S. companies, we're facing a shortage of qualified technical talent, and we're not able to continue to meet this growing demand for such talent here in the United States alone."

The plan for the operation in Hyderabad is to hire 30 to 50 people initially, with plans to employ as many as 300 by the end of 2007.

The number of U.S. computer science graduates has fallen by over one-third during the past four years. The combination of fewer technology and operations specialists--along with lower costs overseas--will continue to drive the demand for outsourcing.

“What can I do to prevent this?” you may ask.

The answer is simple: talk your children into entering the technology space. 80-90 hour work weeks, along with constant change, expanding competition...are you willing to do this?

It is no cakewalk being the Finance Minister of Norway.

Last October, a student threw a cake in the face of the newly appointed Finance Minister of Norway, Mr. Halvorsen. On Halvorsen’s first day on the job, he was attacked outside his office with a cake plastered squarely in the back of the head. The situation would be funny in the silent movies of the 1930s but is not considered funny at all by the Norwegian government.

The attacker--a 24-year-old student from Norway--wanted to stimulate the debate about whether Norway is served by having a minister of finance from the Socialist Left Party. The situation described by the 24-year-old student as a prank is considered a serious offense by the Norwegian government. Today, the student is facing a 15-year prison sentence for the “prank.” "We ended up with a relatively serious charge," chief public prosecutor Marit Bakkevig told a local newspaper.

Halvorsen did not press charges over the incident, but been summoned as a witness for the trial, which is scheduled to be held in Oslo on Oct. 11. The cake-student was completely unprepared for the backlash and has since dropped his studies and lost his job.

I think the student should think long and hard about how to communicate his views in the future. At times, communication can have unintended consequences and a surprising impact. Hopefully, I will not get a cake in the head as a result of this post.