Jan 20 2009

Irish Companies involved in TM Forum

Category: Standards,TelecomsTeknovis @ 6:03 pm

I previously wrote about the Irish Companies involved in W3C, so today I am going to list the Irish companies (and organisations) that are involved in the TM Forum. Again, I am basing these lists on the online membership list.

The Irish companies that are currently members are:

The non-Irish companies that have technical operations in Ireland that are currently members are:

At least I think that all of those companies have technical operations in Ireland. It can be very difficult to tell from their web pages.

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Jan 19 2009

a.exe

Category: SecurityTeknovis @ 10:08 pm

Today is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. This is supposed to be due to a combination of credit card bills relating to Christmas shopping, pay-day still more than a week away, and bad weather :o

I am not sure how true this is, but the last few days were a bit depressing for me :o I think that one of my Windows 2000 computers might have become infected with a virus, and I cannot figure out how!

It all started when I noticed a file called a.exe that suddenly appeared in one of my folders. The creation time of this file was a few minutes before I noticed it. So my first reaction was to upload the file to VirusTotal. This is a really great web site that allows you to email or upload a file for free, and this file is then scanned by the most up-to-date versions of 39 different virus scanners. VirusTotal reported that 21 of the 39 virus scanners found a virus in my file :( You can read the full report.

VirusTotal most frequently identifies the worm as Pinit or Spamuzle. The best information I can find about these is from ThreatExpert and Symantec.

However, based on these descriptions my computer is not infected. This does not surprise me because only my administrator account has the privileges to make those changes. Furthermore, my hardware firewall would prevent the virus from communicating with the outside world. Blacknight also correctly identifies the file as a virus, and prevents it from passing through the email system.

So everything looks great, and it appears that I was not infected. However, the fact still remains that a.exe came from somewhere! This is really annoying me that I cannot find its source :|

The other aspect of this that is adding to my unease is the current rampage of the worm known as Conficker, Downadup, or Kido. See Windows worm numbers ‘skyrocket’ for more details about this worm. Is this a coincidence, or is my problem somehow related to this?

I would really appreciate if anybody can provide me with any insight in relation to any of this!

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Jan 15 2009

Social Welfare Fraud

Category: SecurityTeknovis @ 10:42 pm

I read a really interesting news story today about an employee of the Irish national postal company. This employee’s job was to process social welfare recipients’ claims when they came into the post office. This consisted of scanning a date stamped voucher that covered the current time period (week or month I presume), and then paying out the correct amount of cash.

However, the employee discovered that she could also scan another voucher representing a future period from the recipients’ voucher books and that the system would allow her to make that payment. She simply pocketed this second payment :) The post office only kept records of payments for 21 days, so after that period the voucher could be used again!

This raises some very important security issues:

  • The system designers should have built a check into the system to ensure that the vouchers were valid at the time they were being redeemed. This validity should consist of a valid from date and a valid to date.
  • The system designers should have built a check into the system to ensure that the vouchers were not previously redeemed. This is substantially easier to do when the system checks the validity of the dates.
  • For bonus marks the system designers could allow vouchers to be revoked, and consequently they would need to include a check in the system to ensure that the vouchers were not revoked. Again this is substantially easier to do when the system checks the validity of the dates.

The full article is Quirk in An Post system used in fraud, although I would not call it a quirk!

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Jan 14 2009

Netbooks

Category: Mobile ComputingTeknovis @ 7:27 pm

Last weekend I had to visit my local computer store. While I was there I had a look at the Netbooks. Although I am aware of what Netbooks are, this was my first time to actually play with one. Maybe I should be ashamed of being so slow to do this!

I was really impressed with the Netbooks that I saw. I focused mainly on the Windows XP ones. I think that the idea of using Linux from a performance view is great, and I love the idea of a solid state hard disk. However, I think that I still feel more comfortable with Windows. Also, there is always going to be some piece of must-have software that I need that will require Windows.

I can understand why so many people are choosing Netbooks instead of regular laptops. I know many people who do a lot of travelling for work with their laptops, but all of these people could replace their laptops with Netbooks. So I can understand why Intel is getting concerned that the Netbooks are reducing demand for its more powerful, and expensive, processors. For more about this read Here Come The 12 Inch Netbooks, And Intel Isn’t Happy About It, and the associated lively discussion.

I must admit that I am very tempted to buy one ;) I think that my biggest concern is that I already use my PDA for many of the tasks for which Netbooks are designed. Therefore, I might always choose to take my PDA with me and leave the Netbook behind. I need to think about this a bit more…

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Jan 13 2009

The Calibre of Irish Software Engineers

Category: Second Level,Third LevelTeknovis @ 8:58 pm

I read a really interesting blog post recently titled The hard truth about the Irish knowledge economy that is commenting on the fact that Google has decided to abandon its plans to create an additional 100 jobs in Dublin for software engineers. The apparent reason for this change is plan is that it has been unable to recruit staff of the right calibre.

According to the original newspaper article upon which this post is made, John Herlihy (Google’s vice-president for online sales and the head of its Dublin-based European headquarters) made the following comments:

We wanted to recruit up to 100 software engineers, but we couldn’t find candidates of the calibre we were looking for in Ireland

The jobs have been lost. We have since built different engineering teams in countries including Poland, Norway and Switzerland. We have a great team of 30 engineers here, but it could have been 100

Many of the comments in response to this post believe that Google actually cancelled these new jobs due to the changing economic circumstances. I actually tend to agree with this point of view, especially after I read Details about Google’s layoffs — actually, no, none. That article seems to suggest that Google is not very forthcoming in relation to its employment details.

John Herlihy is also attributed to saying:

I’m not sure the quality and the output of our third level [colleges] is as good as we think it is. There’s a huge amount of dumbing down at third level and second level

John Looney (a Google employee) makes the same argument in the response that he posted:

Most Irish computing graduates are crap, due to our apathetic university system.

I do not think that I would describe computing graduates as “crap”, but I understand why John is saying this. I would say that there are huge variations in standards between software engineering graduates. Many employers in Ireland share this opinion, as I described in IT Graduate Recruitment in Ireland.

John Looney continues:

… Ireland is just not an attractive location for high-end computing folk (wages vs. cost-of-living is rubbish).

Yes, I fully agree with him regarding the cost-of-living in Ireland. Furthermore, I think that the quality-of-life here is quite poor compared to many other EU countries.

John Looney continues:

It doesn’t help that most good Irish engineers get jobs through their friends, so have no interviewing experience…

I agree with John that a lot of good Irish software engineers get jobs through contacts and referrals, but I think that this is a good for both the potential employees and the employers. In my experience, recruitment by referral happens more in Ireland than any other country.

Finally, John Loney writes:

If the government is serious about a ‘knowledge economy’, we need real tech universities. Ones that fail people if they can’t pass the course (rather than make the course easier) …

My perception, and experience, is that the Irish universities are simplifying courses to ensure that failure rates remain low. I find it absolutely amazing that some Irish universities will accept students who do not have the highest level of maths into engineering courses!

I think that this simplification approach actually began within second level education. There are too many people choosing “easy” subjects that have no relevance to their chosen career paths.

Perhaps the most controversial opinion is one expressed by John Herlihy:

We’re throwing massive amounts of money at third level institutes. Too much. You can’t continue to throw public money after seven universities. You have to decide whether we only need two or three, and which of those will be top.

Wow! I bet that the Irish universities will not be happy with that opinion, but I actually think that it makes sense. However, I think that this is already changing, because money is now being invested into research groups that span multiple universities rather than replicating the same research on a smaller scale in each university. See Science Foundation Ireland Funded Research Groups for examples of this approach.

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Jan 12 2009

Attracting Investment in 2009

Category: EntrepreneurshipTeknovis @ 10:39 pm

Enterprise Ireland wrote an article that will be of interest to anybody who is seeking early stage investment in 2009. The full article is Angles Investors to the Rescue in 2009?

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Jan 11 2009

John McCain’s PDA sold to Journalist

Category: Mobile Computing,SecurityTeknovis @ 9:48 pm

This is definitely going to be my last post about the US election in 2008! However, I am writing this because it highlights a serious security risk!

It appears that when the election campaign ended John McCain’s organisers sold everything associated with the campaign. I think that would be normal. Included in the sale was John McCain’s PDA. I do not really understand this, because I could not survive without my PDA! However, not everybody needs one! Significantly, this PDA was not wiped, reset, or formatted before it was sold! Luckily (or unluckily – depending on which way you look at it) the PDA was bought by a journalist! I guess that all of this gives new meaning to transparent politics :)

For more details about this see McCain campaign sells unwiped Blackberry for $20.

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Jan 10 2009

Google Street View

Category: Location Based ServicesTeknovis @ 6:15 pm

I think that Google Maps is really powerful, and I love reading about, and viewing, some of its more interesting aspects (for example the high-resolution photos of a well in Chad).

I also think that Google Street View is a great extension to Google Maps, and the user interface (including Pegman) makes it really easy to use.

It is great to see that more cities in the EU are becoming available. The Spanish cities of Barcelona (or should this be the Catalan city), Madrid, Seville, and Valencia were recently added according to Spanish cities surrender to Street View. Google records the information using slightly modified cars, as seen in the Flickr group pool Google Street View Cars.

As Google Street View becomes more popular it is inevitable that people will be recorded doing unusual things. There were a few examples recently of unusual recordings that caught my attention. The system should automatically blur faces, but it does not always work.

I noticed while writing all of this there there is a new Google icon. It appears that I am not the only person who noticed this according to Google Gets A New Favicon, Again. It’s Uh.. Colorful.

For more information about Google Maps and Street View see the official Google Lat Long Blog.

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Jan 09 2009

2009 Irish Blog Awards Nominations

Category: InternetTeknovis @ 8:20 pm

The Irish Blog Awards are now accepting nominations for 2009 on 2009 Nominations. The available categories are:

  • Best Popculture blog
  • Best Blog from a Journalist
  • Best Food/Drink Blog
  • Best Fashion Blog
  • Best Arts and Culture Blog
  • Best Political Blog
  • Best Group Blog
  • Best Use of the Irish Language in a Blog
  • Best Technology Blog/Blogger
  • Best Sport & Recreation Blog
  • Best News/Current Affairs Blog
  • Best Specialist Blog
  • Best Newcomer
  • Best Blog of a Business
  • Best Music Blog
  • Best Personal Blog
  • Best Humour Blog
  • Best Photo Blog
  • Best Blog Post

Further details of each category are described in 2009 Nominations. Well done to Damien Mulley for organising these awards!

I certainly will be voting. My problem is that I have definite ideas about which blogs to nominate in certain categories, and I am not aware of even a single blog in other categories!

I think that the launch timing of my blog was too late to enable it to mature sufficiently to be considered for the best newcomer category :(

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Jan 09 2009

Irish Government Research Investment

Category: Fourth LevelTeknovis @ 8:56 am

It is great to read that the Irish Government has just announced that it is to invest a further €300 million in research in €300m for cutting-edge research. I think that this type of investment is needed to ensure that Ireland remains a significant location for business in the future.

I also think that this is quite a brave mood for a very unpopular government, especially as many other more visible services are being cut to reduce costs.

However, there is something that concerns me about this announcment.

The funding will be targeted at developing buildings and other infrastructure for research.

Why invest in buildings? Buildings will not help the economy! Indeed, many would argue that the focus on building over the last few years is a significant cause of the current financial problems.

Furthermore, is there not already an oversupply of commercial property in Ireland at the moment?

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