Archive for December, 2011

Intacct is hoping to build on its stake in the cloud ERP (enterprise resource planning) market via a three-way integration with’s CRM (customer relationship management) application and project management software from Clarizen.

The strategy is also meant to target professional services companies that are based on project work, such as architects, marketing firms, builders and systems integrators.

The integration was announced Tuesday as part of Intacct’s latest quarterly update to its financials software, which also includes some 225 improvements, according to the company. It also comes as privately held Intacct experiences significant growth, having added more than 1,000 customers this year, bringing its total to more than 5,000 said Dan Druker, senior vice president of marketing and business development.

Intacct has also aggressively grown its channel partner roster, adding about 100 so far this year, Druker said. These include VARs that have traditionally sold midmarket ERP applications from Microsoft Dynamics, Sage and Deltek, as well as large accounting firms, he added.

Unlike other cloud ERP vendors, such as Workday, Intacct is focused strictly on smaller and midmarket companies, Druker said. It is seeing most of its direct competition from NetSuite, according to Druker.

NetSuite is taking a somewhat different approach to broadening its functional footprint than Intacct. It has its own CRM software as well as a development platform that it and partners are using to build industry-specific extensions. One benefit of that approach can be a uniform user experience as well as the potential for tighter integration between various modules.

But Intacct’s decision to instead partner with Clarizen and makes sense in its own right, Druker said. “We don’t think we can build better CRM than, we don’t think we can build better project management software than Clarizen, but we know we make great financials software.”

Moreover, the integration between each application is quite deep and allows various users, from project managers to accountants and salespeople, “to work with the tool that’s right for them,” said Dan Miller, vice president of product management.

Data is synchronized between, Intacct and Clarizen in a way that provides relevant information for each end user. For example, a project manager working in Clarizen would receive data from showing that a new deal has been signed, thereby letting the manager know they need to start assigning or hiring staff.

Intacct is now a direct distributor of Clarizen, and companies can buy the combined package from the company starting at $1,500 per month plus user fees. Support for both applications is handled by Intacct. However, customers need to contract with separately.

One observer expressed a measured view of Intacct’s strategy.

The vendor’s partner-heavy model “plays well with the midmarket,” which is used to buying software from local companies rather than a far-away vendor, said Frank Scavo, managing partner of the IT consulting firm Strativa.

But the integration needs to be tested in the field, he added. “It sounds good on paper, and it certainly is a way to build out your functional footprint rapidly, but is the customer experience going to be as seamless as it looks on paper?”

Other new features in the release include real-time information on the total cost of a project; automated invoicing and milestone-based billing; improved value-added tax handling; a revamped, “consumerized” user experience; and an application marketplace where customers can buy add-ons from Intacct partners.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris’s e-mail address is


India’s reported plans to ask Internet companies to filter objectionable content may overstep the country’s own laws, according to legal experts.

The government has asked Internet companies like Yahoo, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft to remove disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory content on their sites even before it goes online, according to newspaper reports on Monday.

Executives of two of these companies confirmed on condition of anonymity that the country’s ministry of communications and IT has indeed asked for such filtering of content. A spokesman at the country’s ministry of communications did not return calls.

Rules framed earlier this year around India’s Information Technology Act require intermediaries like Internet service providers to remove content that is found objectionable within a period of 36 hours of being notified of the content. Intermediaries are also required to warn users against posting or uploading a variety of objectionable content in their user agreements and other rules and regulations.

But there isn’t a provision that requires intermediaries to filter and remove disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory content even before it is posted, said Pavan Duggal, a cyber law consultant and advocate in India’s Supreme Court.

The Indian government is said to have objected to online content found to be derogatory about the country’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the president of the ruling Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi.

Besides being technically complex, a demand for filtering raises the question as to which content should be filtered, Duggal said. Under Indian law, there is no provision which provides that derogatory or defamatory remarks and other content only against some political leaders should be singled out for special attention, he added.

“We asked the government to tell us which content they would like filtered, but they were at a loss,” said an executive of an Internet company, who declined to be named.

India has already been in disputes with technology companies such as Research In Motion over the issue of greater access to its law enforcement agencies to email and instant messenger services which it suspects that terrorists use. RIM has so far denied providing access to the government to its corporate mail service on BlackBerry Enterprise Server as it claims that the encryption keys are with customers and not with the company.

The Internet companies said to have been contacted by the government either declined comment or did not immediately respond to request for comments.

Flash array vendor Texas Memory Systems (TMS) Tuesday released its first high-availability NAND flash array. The RamSan-720 array is targeted at hosting the highest performance, mission critical data.

The new array has no single point of failure at both the hardware and management software level. The storage system includes redundant power supplies, dual RAID controllers, dual internal flash card interfaces, and memory battery backup.

The 1U (1.75-in high) rack-mountable unit comes with 12 flash modules. Each module has redundant I/O ports, a 500GB flash card and one expansion unit for an additional 500GB flash card, giving users the option of having either a 6TB or 12TB of total raw capacity (5TB and 10TB usable) in one array.

The RamSan-720 flash array

Eric Eyberg, a senior analyst at Texas memory Systems, said the new RamSan array is well suited for virtual environments, including virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI), as well as for cloud computing environments.

“Say you’re a cloud provider and you offer various applications — say databases and web servers — to your tenants. You want them to be able to access that very quickly, but you can’t depend on high-availability from the application, so you put the applications on these boxes. Now you can run a bunch of [the applications on each box] and scale out your user base,” Eyberg said.

The 12TB RamSan-720 model contains 80 single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash chips.

In the latest RamSan array, each controller manages 20 chips, which allowed TMS to offer twice the capacity of its predecessor, the RamSan-720’s array, which managed 10 chips.

Also setting the RamSan-720 apart from the previous generation of the company’s flash arrays is a third layer of RAID protection.

Each module in the RamSan-720 contains two or four FPGAs, (field-programmable gate array or programmed integrated circuit) that are customized to stripe data between modules and between NAND flash chips. So 9+1 RAID parity is performed at both a system level, between NAND flash modules and at the chip level. Therefore, if any chip or module fails, data is not lost, Eyberg said.

“We prefer to think of it as each independent layer having its own RAID 5,” Eyberg said. “A lot of our competitors have done RAID across modules. Now, we’re offering the best of both worlds: RAID across and within modules.”

At a hardware level, for every 10 NAND flash chips, one is used for parity and one is used as a hot spare in case a chip fails. TMS offers users the ability to off the inter-module RAID in order to recapture an additional 1TB or 2TB of capacity by reclaiming the parity chips.

TMS also claims its RamSan-720 uses less power than comparable boxes — 300 to 400 watts of power when operational.

The RamSan-720 offers the same performance as its 710 predecessor, 5GB/sec and 410,000 I/Os per second (IOPS). Data latency rates are under 100 microseconds, Eyberg said.

The RamSan-720 is priced at $20,000 per terabyte.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian , or subscribe to Lucas’s RSS feed . His e-mail address is .

Read more about storage in Computerworld’s Storage Topic Center.

A Carrier IQ executive Monday downplayed the significance of the company’s effort to patent a technology it said can help wireless carriers undertake “advertising audience segmentation analysis and content copyright analytics.”

The company applied for a patent for the so-called Service Intelligence Module Program Product in March, 2010.

The application says that the technology can, among other things, combine and analyze “service intelligence modules related to games, financial transactions, and medical diagnostics.”

The patent application asserts that the technology would let carriers “configure a processor to read content selection, read location data, read application activity, and determine presentation/deselection of advertising messages.” It also claims that the product could be used to “group identifiers of mobile device users who have a higher probability of occupying a certain geographical area,” as well as provide carriers with a “means for tracing copyright ownership of content displayed on the device.”

In an interview yesterday, Carrier IQ marketing vice president Andrew Coward downplayed the claims in the patent application and emphatically contended that none of the company’s current products offer the capabilities described. The Service Intelligence Module Program Product would offer much broader capabilities than Carrier IQ prodcts offer today, he said.

Coward said that while there are many different ways Carrier IQ technology can be used, its products today are focused solely on improving wireless network and handset performance.

“In the formative years of the company, we recognized there were multiple uses for our technology on the handset and sought to ensure that others would not be able to leverage what we do,” Coward said. Thus the company filed the patent application last year, he added.

“We absolutely recognize the power of our technology to extend into additional areas. But [the company has] found that, as with all start-ups, it is essential to focus on what you do well, which in our case is delivering detailed analytics on why phones and networks don’t always work to consumer’s satisfaction,” he said.

“Today, we are focused 100% on customer quality of experience for wireless devices and networks providing tools for customer care and network planning and optimization,” Coward said.

In recent days, Carrier IQ has been at the center of a major privacy controversy prompted by Connecticut security researcher Trevor Eckhart’s report that describes Carrier IQ’s current software product as a hard to detect and even harder to remove data collector. The report said that the tool can be used for highly intrusive tracking of Android, BlackBerry and other smartphone users.

Major carriers Sprint and AT&T have admitted using the Carrier IQ software, but insist that the technology can only be used to help wireless carriers diagnose operational problems on wireless networks and devices.

Some security researchers have backed the positions of Carrier IQ and the carriers, concluding that the software is more benign than critics had assumed in the immediate aftermath of Eckhart’s report.

For instance, Dan Rosenberg a secrity consultant at Virtual Security Research, posted the results of his analysis of a Carrier IQ installation on Samsung’s Epic 4G Touch. Rosenberg said his analysis showed that Carrier IQ was not configured to record SMS text bodies or web page and email content, and couldn’t configured to do so.

Coward categorically said that Carrier IQ cannot be used for keystroke logging or to view a user’s mobile content.

Concerns related to the use of its software show hardly any signs of abating despite the findings of selected researchers and the claims of the company.

At least three lawsuits have been filed alleging that major carriers such as AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile as well as handset makers such as HTC, Samsung, Motorla and Apple violated various U.S. statutes, such as the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communications Act, and the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, by using Carrier IQ’s software.

Lawmakers in the U.S and Europe have also expressed concern over the data collection enabled by Carrier IQ’s technology and whether the data is collected surreptitiously.

On Friday, Rep. Edward Markey, (D-Mass.), requested that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigate the privacy concerns surrounding the Carrier IQ software.

The furor created by Eckhart’s disclosure has prompted Carrier IQ to rethink how it will handle future technologies, Coward said.

“While we might wish to extend our business and analytics into new areas in the future, we have just received an abject lesson in ensuring that consumers fully understand the technology in their hands,” Coward said.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan , or subscribe to Jaikumar’s RSS feed . His e-mail address is .

Read more about privacy in Computerworld’s Privacy Topic Center.

Microsoft’s C# language appears set to overtake C++ in regard to its popularity with developers, a monthly survey of programming languages finds. But the language could be held back because C++ is better for mobile application development, an official in charge of the survey said.

In a release this week of the Tiobe Programming Community Index, which gauges the popularity of different languages, C# was ranked fourth, used by 8.205 percent of developers, barely behind C++, used by 8.252 percent. C++ has been consistently ranked third in the index since 2001, occasionally overtaken by Perl, Visual Basic, and PHP. Topping this month’s index were Java, used by 17.56 percent, followed by C, at 17.057 percent.

[ Developers recently offered first reactions to Microsoft’s planned Visual Studio IDE upgrade. | Read more on application development in InfoWorld’s Developer World newsletter. ]

Throwing up a potential roadblock to C#’s rise is that C++ offers better performance and thus is better for mobile applications, said Paul Jansen, Tiobe managing director. “If you look at the current trends, C# will surpass C++ in the next couple of months. But there might be a chance that C++ is strong enough to stay atop of C# because it is better [suited] for mobile application development.”

Tiobe does cite Microsoft changes to C# as a driving factor in its rise. “Almost every year a new, revolutionary language feature was added, and most of them were an instant success among programmers,” Jansen said. “As a consequence, C# is currently known as the most modern and sexy language of all ‘enterprise’ programming languages. ” C++, meanwhile, has not gotten a lot of attention from Microsoft the past couple of years, Jansen said. “The only noticeable change they established in recent times was the creation of a bridge between C++ and C# called C++/CLI (Common Language Infrastructure), which is a kind of [an] extended subset of C++.”

The Tiobe index bases popularity rankings based on the number of skilled engineers worldwide, courses, and third-party vendors associated with a language, with numbers determined by examining data from search engines such as Google and Yahoo as well as sites like Wikipedia and YouTube. Tiobe’s index for the month also found more popularity for small languages running on the Java Virtual Machine. Groovy entered the top 50 languages, ranked at 45th, while Clojure entered the top 100.

This article, “C# wins developers, but Java still reigns,” was originally published at Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Read more about application development in InfoWorld’s Application Development Channel.

The Week in iPhone Cases: Colorwheel

Another week has gone by, which means that it’s time for another one of our trademark iPhone-case roundups. This installment features the usual mix of types (and, as it turns out, shapes), and it illustrates the fact that the market is so huge that manufacturers don’t hesitate to experiment with new materials, unusual features, and odd add-ons.

(Image Caption: CM4’s Q Card)

CM4: The Q Card (iPhone 4 and 4S; $40) is a case-cum-wallet made of faux leather that, according to the manufacturer, can comfortably hold three credit/debit or ID cards and some cash, eliminating the need for carrying a separate wallet. The case also includes a protective cover that keeps your iPhone’s screen free of scratches and skin oils.

(Image Caption: Holga’s iPhone Lens Filter Kit)

Holga: The iPhone Lens Filter Kit (iPhone 4 and 4S; $25) is…well, rather unique. As a snap-on case, it protects your handset from dust and scratches while providing a comfortable grip, and it’s available in black, white, silver, red, or blue. As a lens kit, it comes with a sort of color wheel that provides you with eight special lenses for enhancing your photos, with effects that range from artful distortion to colorization.

(Image Caption: InCases’s Snap Case Warhol Collection)

InCase: The Snap Case Warhol Collection (iPhone 4 and 4S; $40), which we covered back in a September roundup has just been extended with six new designs, including Andy Warhol’s famous self-portrait. Like all the company’s Snap Case models, the cases in this collection provide snap-on protection that’s both sturdy and resistant to scratches and dents.

(Image Caption: The Opena)

Opena: The Opena (iPhone 4 and 4S; $40 AUD) combines a sturdy iPhone case with an equally sturdy stainless-steel bottle opener—perfect for when you’re out and about with your phone and a screw-top cap is nowhere to be found. The case, made of PC/ABS plastic, is available in black or white.

(Image Caption: One of Pong’s iPhone Cases)

Pong: This company’s iPhone cases (iPhone 3G, 3G, 4 and 4s; $40 to $60) promise protection from the radio-frequency radiation emitted by cell phones. According to the manufacturer, each case can reduce radiation leakage by up to 95 percent below FCC limits without compromising a handset’s reception. Four different models are available in a variety of materials and colors.

(Image Caption: USBFever’s Camera Style Case)

USBFever: The Camera Style Case (iPhone 4 and 4s; $17) is designed to make taking pictures with your iPhone easier than ever. Its contoured grip helps you hold your handset firmly in one hand, while a shutter-release button works nicely with iOS 5’s volume-button shutter functionality. The case even comes with a handy strap that makes it easy to keep your phone at the ready.

Mobile device users worried their personal data may not be safe in light of recent reports of security flaws can download apps, monitor tell-tale signs and adjust settings to protect themselves.

Here’s a rundown of the latest concerns and tips to keep the hackers and thieves at bay.

Carrier IQ

First security researcher Trevor Eckhart claimed that a piece of diagnostic software made by Carrier IQ and installed on 140 million handsets worldwide was secretly recording user data such as keystrokes and Web browsing history. Since then, privacy advocates, consumers and Congress have been in an uproar.

While Verizon Wireless has said it doesn’t add to its phones any software from Carrier IQ, Apple, AT&T, Sprint, HTC, Samsung and T-Mobile have said some of their phones use the software. Research In Motion and Nokia have said they don’t load the software onto their phones.

Some skeptics believe, however, that the scandal may be overblown, especially since no one has attempted anything like a “peer review” of Eckhart’s conclusions.

TIP: If you’re concerned, a free app to detect Carrier IQ showed up at the Android Market on Dec. 2.

Pre-loaded Apps

Researchers from North Carolina State University have discovered that some pre-loaded apps on Android handsets contain serious security vulnerabilities that could be used to wipe the handset, steal data, or listen to calls.

The threats were found on eight different smartphones from Google, HTC, Motorola and Samsung.

And if you think that’s bad, speaking in London this week, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said more than 150 private sector organizations in 25 countries have the ability to not only track mobile devices, but also intercept messages and listen to calls, as well as access Internet browsing histories and email accounts, reported ZDNet. That information can then be sold as wholesale information to governments or other private industry partners.

TIP: One thing you can do to protect yourself is delete your browsing history from your cell phone through the settings feature on your handset. If you are really concerned, don’t use your mobile device to make bank or other sensitive transactions. Instead, use your laptop or desktop and make sure you have anti-virus software installed.

Skype Alert

Skype’s 171 million registered users might be in trouble too.

Researchers at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University made video calls to 10,000 random Skype users and found that even when recipients didn’t accept the incoming call, their Internet Protocol, or IP, address could still be stolen and used to find out who they chat with, what they download, and even their location.

TIP: If this one concerns you, keep Skype turned off unless you are expecting a call, and don’t use your real name for your user name.

Privacy At Risk

As time marches on, one thing is certain: this tug-of-war between tech users who want privacy and commercial entities who keep dreaming up new ways to breach it, unintentionally or not, isn’t going away, especially since researchers are continually bent on stirring the pot.

TIP: One new app that can help keep Apple devices safe from snooping is Hotspot Shield, which compresses and encrypts your mobile data. The app runs in the background and will compress and encrypt all incoming and outgoing exchanges on the fly. For Android users, PCWorld recently walked readers through setting up Android’s built-in security tools and suggested a few third-party extras that add valuable safeguards for your personal information.

If you’re a regular GeekTech reader, you may have seen our post about an emerging technology that lets you control you phone just by waving your hands in front of it. You also may have heard of this thing called Siri that answers your questions when you talk to it.

Pretty cool right? Not compared to Senseye, which strips out the need for hands and voice altogether, allowing you to do things like scroll through Web pages and play games using nothing but your eyes.

The hardware uses a tiny camera to track your pupils, and it passes this input along to your device. Its creators project that the technology will make it into new phones by 2013. However, they plan to have a product out before then that you’ll be able to attach to existing smartphones and tablets.

Hopefully this will let you do things like enter a passcode for your phone in a fraction of the time it takes now: Think facial recognition, only more secure. Not only that, but it could make phones a lot more accessible to people with disabilities. I can’t wait to see where this goes, and how much more accurate it gets. Check out Senseye’s website for a longer and more in-depth video.

[Senseye via The Next Web]

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Google is working out any bugs in the latest update to the Android mobile operating system before releasing it broadly, and that’s good news for Samsung Nexus S users.

Some Google employees are testing an over-the-air update of Android 4.0 on their Samsung Nexus S smartphones, according to a report from Android Police. The development was leaked on Google+ by Adel Saoud, Google AdSense Policy Applications and Signals Developer, who said the update was “looking great.”

It could still take weeks or months before the update, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich, is released. Considering all the hype, expect it to be sooner rather than later.

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus released in the U.K. last month was the first phone to ship with ICS on board and is getting rave reviews minus some sound volume problems, although Samsung has developed a fix that solves them.

In the meantime, some advanced Android users who can’t wait are getting ICS early by using custom ROMs made by developers after Google recently released the open source code for Android 4.0. Developers can release these ROMs faster because they don’t have to deal with all the red tape a giant enterprise like Google does, especially when you throw carrier manipulation into the mix.

PCWorld recently featured one such custom ROM for the Samsung Nexus S, but you shouldn’t try hacking your phone in this way unless you know what you’re doing and are comfortable with the risks involved in modifying your phone.

A safer bet for many Android users is to wait for the official release.

There are several ways you can prepare your phone for the update, such as: cleaning up, backing up and updating your apps, backing up your data and making sure on the big day your phone is well charged and connected to a network so that any attempts by the OS to “phone home,” register, or otherwise finish the process are possible.

Apple iPhone 4S users can easily annoy people around them by talking to their handset when using the built-in assistant feature known as Siri.

The nuisance can be even more of a problem than listening to someone have a regular phone conversation. That’s because when using Siri, you often need to speak unnaturally — adding punctuation, for example, when sending messages.

The New York Times recently highlighted a slew of examples of people engaging in annoying behavior using the 4S.

But fear not. You can enjoy Siri and practice good etiquette at the same time. Here are five tips.

Hold the phone up to your ear. While YouTube is littered with people playing around with Siri using speakerphone, they do it because of recording for video. In real life, you don’t need to use the speaker to talk to Siri.

Use the standard 10-foot rule. Don’t talk to your phone if you’re within 10 feet of strangers in a quieter locale such as a restaurant or standing in line. This is the same for a regular cell phone conversation. Obviously, if you’re in Grand Central Station nobody’s going to care what you’re doing. Once you sit down in the train, however, it’s a different story.

Be mindful of your audience when playing around with Siri. The 10-foot rule flies out the window if you’re in the company of friends who want to hear what your awesome new phone can do, or hear some of its funny quips. Ask it how much wood a wood chuck could chuck, for example, and it’ll respond, “42 cords of wood, to be exact. Everyone knows that.” So, yes, Siri can be fun. Maybe just don’t play around like this while alone in your cube at work to the distraction of co-workers.

When in public, tap it if you can. If there’s a chance your conversation with your machine is going to perturb someone, let your fingers do the walking instead. The voice assistant feature is optional and you can do everything you need without actually using it.

Don’t be a showoff. Even Bluetooth headset users still get pegged for trying to be lofty when communicating hands free in a shopping aisle, when they could use their phone in the usual way like everybody else.