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May

Open Source Licensing Detection Gets More Competitive

With the current economic recession, open source software is a route that some enterprise developers are increasingly considering as a lower-cost alterative to proprietary solutions. However, one of the potential issues with open source software adoption is license compliance-ensuring that developers and enterprises are not in violation with a particular license.

There are a few companies in the market today with solutions to help serve the need for open source license identification, including Black Duck, Palamida and now OpenLogic. The business itself is also evolving from just being about detecting licenses to becoming part of an entire open source software adoption lifecycle process.

"Open source has made its way into enterprises of all sorts, and because open source software is so pervasive now, it's critical for companies to look at how they comply with open source licenses," Kim Weins, senior vice president of products and marketing at OpenLogic, told InternetNews.com."Before they can comply with open source licenses, they need to know which open source licenses they are using. As much as you might think that's easy to track, it's not."

OpenLogic is an open source stack and services support vendor. While it provides commercial support for open source software-most recently including the Red Hat Enterprise Linux clone, CentOS-OpenLogic's flagship service is OpenLogic Exchange (OLEX), which enables enterprises to manage their open source usage.

This week, the company announced new OLEX services to provide license discovery and compliance.

Weins said the difficulty in license identification is that open source software is often bundled together in sophisticated ways. As a result, a single open source project can often have additionally open source projects inside of it-with bits of code inside that can all be under different licenses.

"It's not as simple as saying this particular application is licensed under Apache and being done with it," Weins said.

The issue has led to a number of high-profile legal spats over the last two years. For instance, the Software Freedom Law Center has settled out-of-court disputes with at least four different vendors over license violation issues that arose because of open source code buried with their software.

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Use Spring Batch's 'Chunk' Processing for Large Data Sets

Spring Batch is an amazing tool for efficiently processing large amounts of data. Sometimes data sets are too large to process in-memory all at once, so the JVM runs out of memory and buckles under the pressure. A better approach is to use Spring Batch's "chunk" processing, which takes a chunk of data, processes just that chunk, and continues doing so until it has processed all of the data.

This article explains how to create a simple Spring Batch program that fixes an error in a large data set. (Click here to download the source code.) Specifically, the large data set holds employee records for an organization, with columns for the employee's ID, name, and department ID. When the data was created, however, the department ID was accidently omitted. Thankfully, the department ID is the first two digits of the employee ID, so we can use the employee ID to fill in the department ID column. But the data set consists of 20,000 employees (I know, a bit unrealistic but you get the point).

We'll generate our own test data using Java.

Project Requirements

You should be working on a Linux box and have MySQL installed. You may need to do some initial configuration, such as creating a root user. Consult the documentation for your distribution, as well as the documentation on the MySQL website. Optionally, you could try out the example in this article with the H2 database.

You need a complete understanding of dependency injection and how the Spring core works. You also need to know some SQL. (But that's easy for an enterprise developer such as yourself. :-)

The following are the Java dependencies for this project:

  • The Spring 2.5 core (Download the 'with-dependencies' version)
  • xstream
  • Spring Batch, again get the 'with-dependencies' version
  • mysql connector/J

After grabbing all of your dependencies, be sure to add the various JARs to your project classpath.

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Firefox Gains 'Personas' Engine for Customization

Customizing and theming, or "skinning", your open source browser is about to get easier, thanks to the integration of Personas in the upcoming Mozilla Firefox 3.6 release.

The Personas engine, which enables users to easily change the way the browser looks, had previously been available as a Firefox add-on, but will soon become part of the default browser itself. Other popular Firefox add-ons, including Weave and Prism might one day follow suit, as well as a new technology for add-ons called Jetpacks, Mozilla said.

"Our add-ons site has over 6,000 add-ons, but it's a fairly heavy experience," Mike Beltzner, director of Firefox at Mozilla, told InternetNews.com. "You go there, you search, you find one, install it, then restart your browser. For cases where you're changing functionality, that makes a lot of sense, but what we've seen is that for a lot of people, for changing the way the browser looks, they're looking for something more lightweight."

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Compose a MVC Paradigm for PHP with Symfony

As you probably know, Model-View-Controller (MVC) is a programming technique that Wikipedia defines as: "an architectural pattern used in software engineering. The pattern isolates 'domain logic' (the application logic for the user) from input and presentation (GUI), permitting independent development, testing and maintenance of each." If you apply this definition to PHP, you may very well come up with the Symfony framework. Symfony is an open-source PHP web framework that provides architecture, components and tools for developers to build and maintain complex web applications faster. The Symfony framework uses the MVC architecture to make the web applications a lot easier and faster to modify.

Symfony generates the front controller MVC logic component. The front controller and the layout are common to all actions in a Symfony-based application. You can use Symfony's Propel library to generate the classes of the model layer automatically. By providing a simple API for storing and retrieving data, the Propel library allows you to access your database using a set of objects. The database implementation is invisible to you. If you want to change the database, all you need do is modify a parameter. The view logic is a simple configuration file, which you can easily modify as you like.

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Dynamic Language Support in the .NET 4.0 Framework

Welcome to this installment of the .NET Nuts & Bolts column! The focus of this article will be on the dynamic language support that will be released as a part of the upcoming 4.0 version of the .NET Framework. In order to run the examples contained within this article you'll need to use an early preview such as a beta or CTP of the .NET Framework 4.0 release.

Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR)

Dynamic languages are those that have a loose coupling between applications and data services. They involved implicit typing, meta programming, and do not involve compilation. The popularity of dynamic languages such as Python, Ruby, and JavaScript can be seen all across the Internet. To date Microsoft .NET has been about static languages.

The argument for and against dynamic languages and static languages has been around since programming languages were first created. Each paradigm has its strengths and weaknesses. The Common Language Runtime (CLR) is a common platform introduced in Microsoft .NET 1.0 for statically typed objects. Since the static paradigm was the only paradigm supported, those seeking support for dynamic languages were forced to turn elsewhere.

The Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR) introduces support for dynamic languages on .NET. This creates the possibility of a "best of" scenario where you can use from both paradigms. The core infrastructure of the DLR includes expression trees (such as LINQ), dynamic dispatch to different binders, and call side caching to avoid resolving to the same location more than once. The DLR interfaces with other platform types via binders. There are binders that map dynamic objects to statically typed .NET objects, a JavaScript binder that allows binding directly to JavaScript in Silverlight applications, COM objects, and Python and Ruby. It provides a single programming experience for talking to all of these environments that are not statically typed

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Has Google Begun Changing How it Indexes the Web?

Last summer Google announced a new project called "Caffeine", which was described as a re-write of Google's web search architecture. Around that time, Matt Cutts discussed Caffeine with WebProNews, comparing it to the "Big Daddy Update" of 2005, which consisted of changes to the way Google crawls and indexes websites. It appears that more people are now seeing the effects from Caffeine out in the wild.

Back before the holidays, Google made it a point to assure everybody that Caffeine would not be rolled out (except for at one data center) until after the holidays were over - January at the earliest. The reason for this was that Google didn't want to shake everything up during a key time for businesses (they didn't want a repeat of the Florida update).

The company let everyone know about its intentions at PubCon in November. In fact, a few days ago, Google's Matt Cutts posted a video running through his presentation from that event on his blog. He also provided the slideshow. It covers much more than just Caffeine, but if you missed it, you may want to consider watching it anyway (Caffeine discussion starts at about 22:10 in the video and at slide 29 in the presentation).

"It's a re-write of our indexing infrastructure. It's taking the old way that we used to index things that we'd crawled around the web, and we're replacing that with new architecture that's fresh and that had been written to be more scalable, more flexible, [with] the ability to attach different types of data, and in the process of indexing, the ability to do more documents for a more comprehensive version of the web, and the ability to do it faster," Cutts says of Caffeine.

But enough background. Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable points to a WebmasterWorld forum thread where administrator Tedster claimed to have seen Caffeine in action at a number of IP addresses.

It seems to take 5 IP addresses to build the complete SERP, where in the past it often took only 3.

We don't know for sure if this is all really Caffeine in action though. Google hasn't commented on it, and has not made any announcements regarding Caffeine since what Matt said above. Some people don't believe this is Caffeine at all. As Schwartz notes, we'll have to wait for Google to say something.

Still, January is almost over, and Google said it would wait until after the holidays, specifically mentioning the month of January. It's about time for this to be rolling out to some extent. Speed has been emphasized a significant amount in Caffeine discussion, and Cutts told us that page speed would likely become a ranking factor. Regardless of whether or not you are witnessing Caffeine in action yet, rest assured that it will be here sooner or later, and any edge you can give yourself in the meantime is for the good of your own site's performance. Speed will not only supposedly help you in search going forward, but it just makes for a better user experience.

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E-mail marketing is a cost-effective way to communicate

E-mail marketing is a cost-effective way to communicate. Your business will benefit if you use it correctly. When you market via e-mail, you need to comply with federal regulations that affect all commercial enterprises.

E-mail Marketing Providers

One question that confronts most people is if they should use an e-mail marketing provider. If your business just sends out e-mails via Microsoft Outlook or another e-mail program you may be missing out on certain statistics and tools that help you manage your e-mail campaign.

There are several advantages of using an e-mail marketing provider. The first of which are metrics and analytics reports.

These tools give campaign managers the information they need to determine performance and where improvements need to be made. Additionally, built in tools help you craft your e-mails to comply with existing spam regulations.

Where do you get a Database to Market to?

Looking to build a database of targeted e-mail addresses? The best place to start is your current information on existing customers or known prospects. If you don't have access to this resource, then you need to build one from scratch.

You have a couple of options here. You can buy or rent lists from specialist providers. Renting is less expensive in the short term, but remember these contacts are never actually owned by your business. This approach doesn't work for everyone.

Another option is to buy a list or two to get started and send out a promotion where people come to your site and "opt in" to a new e-mail database that will contain individuals who are now interested in your products or services. Then, through other campaigns and other marketing efforts, continue growing your list that you now own.

E-mail Frequency -- How Often Should you Send out E-mail?

Typically, people who have opted in to your e-mail campaign will probably stay loyal to you if you don't bombard them with too many e-mails. Over-mailing your subscribers can turn them off.

Monitor your unsubscribed count after each blast. Slow down your frequency if you see many subscribers bailing out. As a general rule, no more than once a week is a good place to start. Adjust accordingly.

Consider testing your responses before you send an e-mail to your entire database. Select a small sample of subscribers to do a test push and check for responses.

Spam -- E-mail Compliance

So what happens when the fine line between requested marketing e-mails and unsolicited messages (spam) is crossed? The consequences can and have led to upset customers -- and even lawsuits.

Laws are still catching up with the technology, but you should be aware of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Many states also have laws that govern e-mail advertising, so investigate these before doing an e-mail blast.

Familiarize yourself with these regulations before developing your campaign to ensure you don't fall into any legal traps.

The Landing Page Should fit the E-mail and the Offer

Make sure to lead your reader to the right destination through the links provided in the message. People hate wasting their time, and if this happens even once, you stand the risk of losing credibility.

By tailoring your landing page for links, you also make better use of your Web site to further engage the customer's interest.

How to Use Graphics

Many people like to get their e-mails in a text format. So if you plan to use images you should consider those who prefer text.

If you decide to use images, label each image so that those who receive e-mails as text can make sense of the message. Images should also complement your message content, not take away from it. Also remember that a large image can push content below the fold and large images can slow message loading.

Social Media and E-mail Marketing

The messages you send out to your subscribers could be of interest to others. If your subscribers feel the information is valuable they will likely share it with their friends. Don't underestimate the use of social media as an adjunct to your e-mail marketing campaign.

Also, be prepared for any responses generated from your e-mail marketing campaign. Small companies can easily become overwhelmed with responses and not have the resources to respond in a timely manner. It's important to anticipate demand and plan accordingly.

Make sure you learn from your campaigns. Not all will be successful, but pay attention to how customers respond and update campaigns accordingly to improve each time.

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Zend Framework 1.10 Joins PHP to Windows Azure

Zend - one of the lead commercial sponsors behind PHP - and Microsoft have had an ongoing relationship over the last few years to make PHP a first class citizen on Windows Servers.

Now Microsoft is help PHP to take the next step, into the cloud.

Today Zend Framework 1.10 was released including support for Microsoft Windows Azure cloud services. Zend Framework is a PHP framework for application development and deployment that already has benefited from contributions from IBM, Google and others.

The new Zend_Service_WindowsAzure component was actually contributed by Microsoft to the open source Zend Framework project. It enables to PHP developers to call Windows Azure APIs from within PHP applications.

"The ubiquity, simplicity and flexibility of PHP make it ideal for building cloud applications. Native Windows Azure support in Zend Framework 1.10 brings the power of Windows Azure to a substantial community of Zend Framework users,"said Zeev Suraski, Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder of Zend in a statement.

Is this a good thing for open source?

Sure it is. Azure is just another deployment option and with the new Zend Framework capabilities PHP developers now have yet another choice.

It's also great to see open source contributions from Microsoft like this one. Microsoft's goal is to make it's platforms the ones that developers - any developers PHP or otherwise - want to deploy on. By making this open source code donation they're making a good step forward in their goal, at least for PHP developers.

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Drupal Opens the Garden to Boost CMS

Drupal wants to put you on notice that setting up a Web site is about to get a lot easier. That's what it's claiming with its new Drupal Gardens offering, which looks to demystify the process of building and hosting powerful Web sites.

Drupal's already powering the content management systems in use by Red Hat, Mozilla and the White House. Developer.com hears from the open source effort's founder on what's coming down the pike.

The Drupal open source content management system (CMS) is on the verge of a major overhaul that could see it become more powerful and user-friendly.

Drupal is among the leading CMSs, in use by Red Hat, Mozilla and WhiteHouse.gov to name a few.

Drupal is gearing up for its 7.0 release, which can now be previewed by way of a new effort called Drupal Gardens. With Drupal Gardens, Acquia-the lead commercial sponsor behind Drupal-is providing an early look at version 7 with a new hosted build-your-own-Drupal-site online service.

Drupal founder Dries Buytaert said the new effort aims to expand the market for Drupal and make it easier for people to build sites.

"Drupal Gardens is essentially Drupal as a service," Buytaert told InternetNews.com. "It's a hosted version of Drupal and it's also a managed service so people don't have to worry about upgrading or security fixes. We take care of all of that."

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Google to End Support for IE6

Google will phase out support for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 Web browser starting in March, the company said Friday.

"Many other companies have already stopped supporting older browsers like Internet Explorer 6.0 as well as browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers. We're also going to begin phasing out our support, starting with Google Docs and Google Sites," Rajen Sheth, Google Apps senior product manager, wrote in a blog post Friday.

The announcement comes more than two weeks after Google reported that its servers had been the target of attacks originating in China. Those attacks targeted a vulnerability in IE 6, for which Microsoft has since issued a fix.

Support for IE6 in Google Docs and Google Sites will end March 1, Sheth said in the post. At that point, IE6 users who try to access Docs or Sites may find that "key functionality" won't work properly, he said.

Sheth suggested that customers upgrade to Internet Explorer 7, Mozilla Firefox 3.0, Google Chrome 4.0 or Safari 3.0, or more recent versions of those browsers.

According to StatCounter, IE6 has 18 percent market share among browsers.

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Azure Makes Cloud Computing Innovation Safe

If you think cloud computing is hard to define, try deploying it. That's one of the main appeals and pitches from Microsoft with its Azure services. It wants to make cloud computing simple and easy to deploy. Datamation checks to see if it's all that.

One of the more interesting problems facing startups today is the double bind that cloud computing offers innovative new software companies.

On the one hand, deploying new innovative software in the cloud is a godsend for startups trying to appease the IT department's often obstructive attitude toward new software. This is particularly true of anything that requires IT resources to install and manage.

On the other hand, being able to support a newly developed cloud-based offering means building and deploying a cloud infrastructure with the up-time and redundancy that cloud customers have come to expect, before a single contract is signed and a single customer dollar has been put in the bank. It's a daunting dilemma for those three guys in a garage with a great idea that they're trying to turn into a software product.

Herein lies Microsoft's biggest cloud opportunity: Azure has a role to fill as a low-cost, Windows-ready deployment option for new cloud computing offerings. With Azure as the deployment platform, startups can offer 99%-plus up time, failover capacity, and all the other terms and conditions that can make a fledgling startup's support infrastructure look like a seasoned cloud-based offering.

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dotCMS Readies to Support CMIS

Open source dotCMS announced that the upcoming 1.9 release will feature an implementation of CMIS v1.0, which is currently in public review.

According to the vendor, Will Ezell, CTO, has been working with other content management vendors supporting CMIS -- IBM, Alfresco, others -- who are part of the founding members of the specification.

dotCMS says it plans to invest in CMIS to help decrease the amount of connector and integration work on the customer's part. "The big win is the huge increase in the amount of content available to all. dotCMS felt that CMIS would be very attractive to larger enterprises -- a key target for the company," said Bill Beardslee, SVP, strategy and development.

"Fresh, highly relevant content is the most crucial aspect of building traffic and converting visitors into customers. CMIS unlocks the power of a content repository, creating opportunities for those organizations that know how to pair content with commercial opportunities," added Ezell.

dotCMS, who is also an OASIS TC member, plans to roll out their CMIS implementation iteratively. Version 1.9 is scheduled to go GA in Q1 2010 and will include a draft implementation that will be finalized by release 2.0 some time in Q3 2010.

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WordPress for Android Now Available

The battle between Google and Apple over the mobile device marketplace is in some ways a battle between open source and proprietary software. Google's taking the open source route, and now the open source WordPress blogging software has just rolled out WordPress for Android 1.0.

"This initial release of WordPress for Android," reports TechShout, "should enable users to manage their blogs while on the go."

With their Android powered mobile device, WordPress users will be able to manage multiple blogs, moderate comments, create and edit posts including categories, tags and photos, as well as create and edit pages.

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Sun Updates Java SE 6 for Performance

Sun is updating Java for the first time this year providing fixes for over 300 bugs. While the total bug tally may seem high, the latest Java update more about enhancing features and performance than it is about security fixes.

That's because Java SE 6 Update 18 (also known as 6u18) does not include any security updates at all-unlike its predecessor, Java SE 6 Update 17, which was released in November 2009 and included fixes for multiple vulnerabilities.

Still, that doesn't make the new update-which may turn out to be the last from Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA) before it is acquired by Oracle-any less significant.

To Dave Hofert, senior group marketing manager for the Java Platform Group at Sun, the release marks a high-water mark for Java.

"Probably the largest improvement in this release is the performance work that we did for our virtual machine, called HotSpot," Hofert told InternetNews.com. "This helps improve performance for both Java and JavaFX applications."

"After that, we have improved the usability of the Java installer (we have replaced the underlying installer mechanism) and of Java Web Start applications," with a clearer progress bar, he said.

Other improvements in 6u18 usher in still more performance gains. For instance, with the new release, Sun noted that that jar file creation is faster.

"The fix of a long-standing bug related to jar file creation has greatly improved creation time," the 6u18 release notes state. "For example, for a given jar file, it is possible that you might see a creation time improvement in the range of 20 percent."

The 6u18 release also improves the startup time for Java applications and applets. JavaFX, in particular, gets a runtime speed boost. JavaFX is Sun's effort to create an RIA that aims to compete against AJAX, Flash and Silverlight. With the 6u18 update, Sun's efforts have improved the start of JavaFX applications by as much as 15 percent, it said.

The performance of user interface (UI) applications also gets a boost by way of smaller memory consumption by text rasterizer and faster processing of images. Memory handling overall has been improved with the 6u18 release as well.

"In the Client JVM (Java Virtual Machine), the default Java heap configuration has been modified to improve the performance of today's rich client applications," the Sun release notes state. "Initial and maximum heap sizes are larger and settings related to generational garbage collection are better tuned."

With Java SE 6 Update 18, Sun has also makes it possible to read larger .ZIP files of up to 4 gigabytes in size. Previous Java releases were limited to being able to read .ZIP files of only 2GB or less.

Java Security Updates to Come

Sun provides two different types of Java updates: General releases with bug fixes and enhancements, such as 6u18; and security-only updates, which take place three times a year.

"The reason we do this is that many enterprise customers wish to adopt the security updates as fast as possible and we try to minimize the number of changes so as to minimize our customer's testing cycle," Hofert said.

The next security release will occur later this quarter, he added.

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Facebook Makes Major PHP Push With HipHop

After kicking the tires for six months, Facebook thinks its HipHop PHP runtime is ready for prime time. The social networking colossus says it's aiming to bring the open source project to scale, rather than fork the language.

The open source dynamic scripting language PHP is widely deployed across the Web, powering countless Web sites (including the Internet.com network). Now Facebook is aiming to change the game with today's release of a major new PHP effort called HipHop.

With HipHop, Facebook is providing a new runtime that is intended to improve PHP use in large-scale deployments. The HipHop effort, which also includes a new Web server, has already been in use by Facebook for the past six months, though the project is just being made public today.

Facebook developers say the HipHop effort isn't an attempt to fork the PHP community, but rather, a move to help PHP scale.

"There are two different pieces to keep in mind, one is the PHP language itself, then there is the runtime that actually goes and interprets the language and runs it," David Recordon, Facebook's senior open programs manager, told InternetNews.com. "What we've done is we've implemented the PHP 5.2 language with a few features removed. Our plan is to keep the language the same, but what we've changed is the underlying runtime and the process of going and transforming the source code into C++ and then compiling it and pushing out the compiled binary."

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Mozilla Confirms Firefox Add-On Malware

Open source browser has nourished a wide-ranging ecosystem of add-on plugins, but today Mozilla warned of two that aim to spread malicious programs that could steal users' information.

As it's grown in popularity, the open source Mozilla Firefox Web browser has fostered a broad ecosystem of add-ons that expand its functionality. As it turns out, though, that same ecosystem can also potentially expose users to risk.

Mozilla today disclosed that a pair of add-ons hosted on its addons.mozilla.org (AMO) site included Trojans. As a result, if a Windows user installed the add-ons, they would be infected by malware that could potentially steal their information.

The two infected add-ons are Version 4.0 of Sothink Web Video Downloader and all versions of Master Filer download manager.

"This vulnerability is known to affect Firefox on Windows only, if either Master Filer or Version 4.0 of Sothink Web Video Downloader are installed," Mozilla wrote in a blog post confirming the security issue.

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5 Reasons Why Your Email Campaigns Disappear

Twenty percent of email in the United States and Canada is still not making it to the inbox while 3% of email goes to the "junk" or "bulk" folder and another 16% goes missing, according to Return Path's Global Deliverability Benchmark study for the second half of 2009.

The stats are slightly worse for the B2B sector, which has a delivery rate of just 75%. These are not pretty numbers for email marketers, Return Path concludes. "Deliverability is still a crisis for commercial senders."

There are a number of reasons why these numbers are low.

1. Many senders still don't have access to reliable data on their deliverability situation.

According to Return Path these senders are instead relying on reports that show a "delivered" metric that tends to be 95% or higher.

"But in most cases this is not the Inbox Placement Rate - the percentage of mail that actually arrives in the inbox. Rather it is simply a reporting of the number of messages sent minus the number that returned a hard-bounce message. This creates a false impression that nearly 100% of email messages arrive as intended."

2. Senders are leaving a lot of money on table - on average about 20%, Return Path also found.

This is because marketers find it easier to concentrate on the money they can make - especially since email is a low cost channel. But such thinking make it easy to disregard or overlook lower deliverability rates, Return Path argues.

"For example, if you deploy a campaign to one million subscribers with an average conversion rate of 5% (50,000 buyers) for a value per conversion of $10, you should earn $500,000 in revenue from that campaign. But if 20% of your email never made it to the inbox, then the numbers look very different. With an 80% inbox placement rate, only 800,000 subscribers would receive your email and at the same conversion rate and value, your email revenue drops down to $400,000 for that same email campaign."

Multiply that by the number of campaigns sent every year and it turns into millions in lost revenue. "What senders fail to realize is that those dollars can be recouped simply by maintaining a good reputation and implementing basic best practices that are proven to improve inbox placement. While achieving 100% deliverability is key, even a 5% increase to your inbox placement, results (for this example) in $100,000 more in revenue per campaign."

3. Senders are still failing to implement best practices around reputation and behavior.

Reputation is the driving factor that determines whether or not email makes it to the inbox, Return Path notes. However not all use such tactics as welcome messages or easy opt-out procedures.

4. Senders' have poor policies on handling bounces.

The amount of email disappearing doesn't align with the philosophy of the ISPs, writes Word to the Wise.

Yahoo and increasingly other ISPS are using temporary failures as a way to regulate and limit email sent by senders with poor reputations, issuing 4xx 'come back later' messages. When an ISP issues a 4xx message during the SMTP transaction the email should be queued and retried, Word to the Wise says.

"Modern bulk MTAs (MessageSystems, Port25, Strongmail) allow senders to fine tune bounce handling, and designate how many times an email is retried, even allowing no retries on a temporary failure. What if the missing mail is a result of senders aggressively handling 4xx messages? Some of the companies I've consulted for delete email addresses from mailing lists after 2 or 3 4xx responses. Other companies only retry for 12 - 24 hours and then the email is treated as hard bounced."

5. Global campaigns require different approaches.

The Return Path survey also found better deliverability rates overseas. In Europe, 85% of email arrives as expected with 3.6% ending up in the "junk" or "bulk" folder and 11% not delivered at all. Asia Pacific does better than Europe and North America with 86.9% of email delivered to the inbox, 3% is "bulked" and another 10% is missing.

The difference between the US and Europe is due to ISPs' approach to filtering, said George Bilbrey, president of Return Path. (via DM News). "North American ISPs tend to use reputation more when deciding if an e-mail gets delivered, and European ISPs do much more content delivery filtering," he said.

In China, e-mails were more likely to get delivered if they were sent from within the country. "This is not commonly the case," said Bilbrey. "We recommend that senders who target Chinese consumers work with an e-mail provider that sends from within China."

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Eclipse Plug ins Help Build Apps for the Oracle Fusion Middleware Platform

Underlining what it says is its commitment to open source communities and developers, Oracle (news, site) has just announced the release of a new enterprise pack consisting of a number of certified plug-ins that enable developers to build Java EE and Web Services applications for the Oracle Fusion Middleware platform.

The new Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse supports development with technologies including Database, Java SE, Java EE, Web Services, XML and the Spring Framework, and comes with a new feature called AppXRay, which allows Java developers to work in team settings and reduces run time debugging and code quality.

The bottom line, Oracle says, is that this new pack will provide for shorter, faster release cycles that better keep pace with the underlying open source Eclipse platform, or more simply put -- higher quality development in less time.

And the benefits? There are four main ones including:

  • Enables WebLogic developers to combine their expertise in Eclipse with the capabilities of Oracle Fusion Middleware.
  • It is enterprise ready and includes capabilities that enable the development, assembly, build, deployment, debugging and testing of Java SE, Java EE, Web Service, ORM and Spring applications.
  • It plugs into your existing Eclipse app, preserving configuration and customization work.
  • Supports multiple platform revisions.

This new enterprise pack is available already, but if you want to find out more you can check out this introductory video, or download it from the Oracle website.

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Google in the broadband business?

Nothing is simple when Google is involved, as the company's "Think Big With a Gig" experimental fiber-optic network announcement today once again makes evident.

Google Inc.'s plan to provide fiber-to-the-home connections at 1Gbit/sec. speeds -- that's 100 times what most American broadband users now get -- will have consumers salivating, but some experts say it's unlikely that Google will ever become a network carrier that regularly installs and maintains fiber connections.

Instead, the announcement appears to be Google's way of prodding federal regulators and broadband service providers like AT&T, Verizon and cable companies to do more to expand their broadband push.

The goal Google ultimately has in mind, some believe, is to make sure that networks with fat pipes are available soon, so consumers and businesses can use more bandwidth-intensive Google applications.

Mike Jude, an analyst at Stratecast, a division of research firm Frost & Sullivan, said Google's announcement seems "more like a ploy" directed at pushing for network neutrality in data networks, so those networks will be regulated in ways that will enable Google, end users and other application companies to openly use the networks owned and operated by traditional carriers.

Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, today welcomed Google's broadband test announcement and said in a statement that the FCC's own National Broadband Plan "will build upon such private-sector initiative."

But Jude and others said there was reason to be suspicious about Google's announcement. "Google's ulterior motives are to use the broadband network, not necessarily build the network," Jude said in an interview. "Google's in the business of building big data centers, not networks. They have no experience building networks, honestly."

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Microsoft Live Messenger Tops 300M Users

Microsoft said this week that its Live Messenger instant messaging client has now reached some 300 million users.

However, in perhaps what's just as significant an announcement, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) said those users are spread out among 76 nations and 48 languages worldwide.

The announcement came via a post on Microsoft's Inside Windows Live blog on Tuesday.

"People use Messenger for 163 billion minutes every month, which is about 9.4 percent of all time consumers spend on the Internet worldwide," Jeff Kunins, group program manager for social networking in Windows Live, said in the blog post.

"More than 40% of our users sign in each day (more than 130 million daily users) [and] every day, those users share over 1.5 billion conversations and send more than 9 billion messages," Kunins added.

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Microsoft Adds Web Features to Sharepoint 2010

The company is trying to attract Web developers to Sharepoint 2010, while at the same time keeping the product integrated with a long list of other Microsoft products.

Microsoft is trying to attract Web developers to Sharepoint 2010, while at the same time keeping the product integrated with a long list of other Microsoft products and services.

Pleasing everybody is difficult, though. Despite the numerous changes Microsoft has made to Sharepoint to make it easier to use and manage for both developers and customers, it can still get gummed up.

One issue that's not been addressed, said Microsoft senior director Tom Rizzo at the Sharepoint Technology Conference near San Francisco on Thursday, is the 256-character limit on naming documents, folders and subfolders, which users can accidentally exceed.

"We didn't address it because we allow so many ways to get at Sharepoint -- Internet Explorer, Windows Explorer, and so on," said Rizzo in response to a question from a developer, who said her users struggle with the problem. "We try the best we can to tell you if you're going to break it. We can do that in certain scenarios, but not in all access methods. When we get rid of WebDAV access in the future we can address it.it's a pain point we hear about, and it's high on our list (to fix)."

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Google Buzz: 5 Things You Need to Know

Google Buzz brings status updates, links, videos and other shared features into the Gmail interface. If you've updated through Facebook or Twitter you'll be comfortable with the process: enter a quick sentence or paragraph describing ... well, anything really. Your thoughts. A recommended link. A question. It's all fair game.

1. How does Google Buzz work?

Google Buzz appears as an option in you Gmail navigation. Buzz uses the people you email and chat with most often to build the first iteration of your network. This network was originally created by default -- you didn't have much say in the matter -- but it's since been changed to a more user-friendly list of suggested people to follow.

You can choose to share Buzz updates publicly or privately on a post-by-post basis (more on that below). One caveat: the contacts you follow are publicly available through your Google Profile page. Google got deserved criticism for this, so it added a number of user management features soon after launch. You can read more about the improved user tools here.

You'll need to go through a couple gyrations if/when you want to block a contact you're following (a rare circumstance, but not unheard of -- especially if your first flush of following was too enthusiastic). First, you have to unfollow the Buzz contact. Only then will you see the block option.

If blocking feels too Draconian, Buzz has a built-in mute tool that let's you remove updates from your stream. Andy Beard uncovered this handy mute shortcut:

  • 1. Turn on keyboard shortcuts in Gmail.
  • 2. Go to your Buzz section. Click on the update you want to mute. A little black arrow designates a selected update.
  • 3. Press "M" on your keyboard to mute this update. The conversation will fade out of the Buzz stream. It's still searchable.

Here's how Buzz looks once it's part of your Gmail account (click to see a larger view):

2. How is Google Buzz integrated into other Google products?

It's built into Gmail, so that's where it lives. Just like Facebook, Buzz shows pictures, videos and links inline. You don't have to click out to YouTube, Flickr, or other external services to view a lot of the content your contacts share.

Comments posted to Buzz items appear in your Gmail inbox, so you'll receive call-backs to your Buzz feed whenever there's activity of note. Facebook implemented this same feature long ago, and you can now respond to Facebook comments through email replies. I've always thought the email hook was one of Facebook's most important features. Apparently, Google did too.

Buzz updates appear in Google Profile pages, and Profiles have RSS feeds. That means you can use all sorts of services to sort and mash-up Buzz information. You can learn more about Google Profiles here.

If Buzz is all a bit much for you, you can filter Buzz updates out of your Gmail inbox or turn off Buzz altogether.

3. Is Google Buzz a substitute for Twitter or Facebook?

Based on early information from The Wall Street Journal, Google Buzz is more of a threat to Facebook than Twitter. Buzz gives you direct access to videos, links and status updates shared by your contacts. Sound familiar? That same mix is what makes Facebook an engagement powerhouse.

The public/private functionality built into buzz is interesting because it appears to reside in the space between Twitter's public functionality and Facebook's private messaging. I realize you can make tweets private and Facebook updates public (especially now), but each service carries a different expectation. It looks like Buzz will use a public/private switch as a differentiator.

Buzz also partially resides in FriendFeed's super-aggregator domain (FriendFeed is owned by Facebook). You can integrate your Picasa (owned by Google), Flickr (owned by Yahoo), Twitter and Google Reader updates into your Buzz feed.

4. How is Google Buzz integrated with mobile?

iPhone and Android users can access Buzz by visiting buzz.google.com on their mobile browsers. There are no separate mobile apps (yet ...).

The really interesting thing about mobile Buzz is its use of location. A "nearby" view shows public updates in your vicinity -- sort of like Foursquare. This view also incorporates updates from people you don't follow. As you'd expect, Buzz also works with Google Maps.

5. What's in this for Google? Do they want to keep me tied to Gmail?

It's a pretty simple: the more time you spend in Google products, the more opportunities that creates for advertising and branding.

Moreover, time and attention are the Web's scarcest resources. That's why Google embedded Google Talk in Gmail years ago. And now, with Buzz, Google certainly wants to siphon as much time and attention as it can from an on-the-rise competitor like Facebook.

Google is also a long-view company, and sometimes it takes a while to see the connections between various products. But here's an example: Michael Arrington noted that Buzz makes Google Profiles, those once-static "about me" pages, far more robust. Will there be more Buzz cross-pollination? I wouldn't be surprised. Google has a history of using data across services.

One thing I wonder about, though: What does Google Buzz mean for Google Wave? The two services have overlap -- not completely, but enough to be significant. I've found Wave to be great for collaboration ... when I remember to check it. I had to go so far as to set a weekly Wave check-in alarm in my calendar. That's not a good sign. But Gmail? I'm always logged in because email, after all these years, remains a killer app. It's going to be interesting to see how Buzz and Wave divvy up their turf.

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SAP Gets New COO, Shakes Up Board

The software giant's makeover continued Thursday when it named Gerhard Oswald as its new chief operating officer and announced that former Business Objects CEO John Schwarz has resigned from its board.

The reshuffling of SAP's management suite continued Thursday when the German software giant named Gerhard Oswald as its new chief operating officer, replacing Erwin Gunst who resigned due to health issues.

Oswald, a nearly 30-year SAP veteran, was previously responsible for the company's global service and support group and has served as an executive board member since 1996.

Also, SAP (NYSE: SAP) announced that John Schwarz, who served as CEO of Business Objects before it was acquired by SAP in 2007 for $6.7 billion, tendered his resignation from the company's supervisory board, effective immediately.

The announcement comes less than a week after CEO Leo Apotheker resigned from the top post and was replaced by new co-CEOs Bill McDermott, formerly the company's head of field organization, and Jim Hagemann Snabe, formerly SAP's head of product development.

"The new composition of the SAP Executive Board and management changes will support the leadership structure of the co-CEOs announced earlier in the week," co-founder and supervisory board chairman Hasso Plattner said in statement.

"We regret that John Schwarz has decided to leave the company," he added. "He has been instrumental in achieving the successful integration of Business Objects into SAP in record time and helping to build out SAP's market leadership in business intelligence."

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