I'm just posting a release emailed to me as I haven't found an online version of the release yet. I'm not sure that there are many articles that claim virtualisation was invented recently, particularly as IBM has been selling VM/370 for donkey's years (the clue's in the name), and I assume that the work John Walker is referring to here is the research that spawned VM.

For added merit, check out the "ring-based security" mechanism which sounds suspiciously like the old Multics security system (which features if only vestigially in every 32bit x86 processor):

ISACA expert claims virtualisation dates back to 1960s
London, UK 2nd March 2011 - A leading IT security expert claims that, despite all the media hype, virtualisation is actually not a new technology, and dates all the way back to the 1960s. Professor John Walker, member of the Security Advisory Group of ISACA’s London Chapter and CTO of Secure-Bastion, said that, although it’s not a new technology, it has recently come to the forefront again and offers organizations many benefits to the enterprise IT environment.
Professor Walker, gave an online presentation in which he said that whilst virtualisation's benefits include reduced server sprawl and a quicker build time, there are clear security issues. As with any system, or application configuration, he said, control is vital to security, and its professionals should remember that this security principal applies to the on-line and off-line images alike. IT professionals, he went on to say, should take care to ensure that new builds are tracked, and that, again, as with conventional systems and applications, virtualised environments need to be patched up and fixed. "They also suffer from vulnerabilities," he told his audience.
Professor Walker also detailed his "ring security strategy", which defines the virtual environment as the operating system block and three rings: ring 0, ring 1-2 and user applications.
Despite the potential security headaches associated with virtual networks, Professor Walker said that VLANs have become a great security enabler for the enterprise and that VM environments are ideal platforms for IT testing.
VM systems are also ideal tools for the mobile security tester, he went on to say, adding that this is because they support the running of multiple operating systems, multiple applications and multiple tools. "And if you break it, you just recopy the image," he explained. The cloud, however, changes a number of things. Professor Walker said that the advent of cloud computing has seen¾and will continue to see¾the use of virtualisation advance. The question is, he added, are VM applications getting too expensive?

I have one question: why? Why is this news? Who thought sending this out was even approaching a good idea?

Blacklisting Cision

26 November 2010

Just under a year ago, Cision unilaterally decided to subscribe me to its ‘wire service’. They didn’t ask; they just harvested the email address from my site and started relaying press releases.

It wasn’t a big deal. Although I received such well-targeted material as “Lush hosts Mother’s Day parties nationwide!”, “Old Spitalfields - New Future” and “Vote Jack the Goat for Prime Minister 2010!” - exclamation marks and all - the quantity coming through was not enough to warrant getting them to change it.

Then Laureate Education appeared with some release about a deal with the University of Liverpool. Once again, it had no relevance to me but it was no worse than the other stuff that turned up on this distribution service. Then another one appeared. And another one. In total, I received about 15 copies of the same release.

It was probably a technical glitch but the rate at which they were coming through quickly became an irritation. The sensible thing to do was to contact Cision and tell them about it. But how? There isn’t even so much as an unsubscribe option at the bottom of these releases - that in itself is against EU rules on commercial bulk emails. They might be able to claim an exception for business use but it’s not a great position to take given the attention being given to PR spam today.

But there isn’t even an effective contact email or number unless you dig right through the Cision UK site. The most prominent contact page is simply the kind of form that routes to whichever intern was unlucky enough to draw the short straw that day. The only phone number goes to an automated phone system in which the only relevant option is to go through to the ‘research’ department, who have precious idea what Cisionwire is, let alone how to deal with a mailbot suffering a spasm.

The only questions they could resolve were whether my contact details were right and did I want to unsubscribe from everything. One of them was at least six months out of date. Actually, this is good going for Cision. It’s possible to go for years with the wrong details from my experience of dealing with their research department, and that’s if you actually take the time and trouble to find the right department and ring them about it. Trust me, I’ve tried.

The other record was the address being used by Cisionwire. They had no idea how they got this email, other than claiming “it came from the NUJ’s website”. That cannot be the case because the freelance directory does not publicly list email addresses.

Did I want to unscubscribe? You betcha. But for good measure I blacklisted the sending server for when their email harvesting bots (or interns) happen by at some point in the future. I can live with the other stuff that turns up in the inbox but Cision has demonstrated once too often that it’s just too useless to deal with.

Disposable ebooks

29 July 2010

kindle-holiday.jpgAgainst the shiny, glowing iPad, the latest iteration of the Amazon Kindle is not much to look at. But the price, look at the price. $140 for the basic model. The device is now within spitting distance of where it needs to become a near-disposable piece of electronics hardware, much like a digital watch or a pocket calculator.

Criticisms of the Kindle tend to revolve around the idea that it’s no iPad. But Amazon doesn’t need it to be an iPad. The Kindle app runs happily enough on iOS, so why compete head-on. The Kindle is all about increasing the number of people who can buy ebooks from Amazon’s store. At $140 or so, the Kindle is still a bit on the high side.

But the Kindle is now only a couple of years away from the price point where people can view it as an impulse purchase. Almost five years ago, I reckoned $50 was the point ebook readers need to reach for them to displace conventional books – at least those that people don’t really want to show off on shelves. But anything south of $100 is getting close to good enough.

It’s at that point you can stick them in airport shops. You can offer three preloaded bonkbusters and expect holidaymakers to pick one up, knowing that it will last all holiday and be a lot lighter than packing a bunch of thick paperbacks.

Once below a shop price of $100, the opportunities grow for personalising Kindles or lookalikes – for that kind of price, the bill of materials is so low and the volume economics large enough for manufacturers to consider doing special, branded editions. And Amazon can consider licensing the design to other manufacturers to do designer versions that will sell for more than the base device but which don’t carry much extra manufacturing cost.

I honestly can’t see publishers getting into that, other than an operation such as Penguin, which can use its old orange and white styling to good effect on the case of a Kindlealike. But, as with netbooks, it’s not a big leap of imagination to see some design houses deciding to take the core unit and wrap their own styled case around it.