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While floppy disk drives have been a staple storage mechanism for the PC, computer manufacturer Dell Computer Corp. recently decided the drives will have no place in future product lines. According to Dell, the company plans to stop installing the drives as standard on its Dimension offerings as early as March, unless its customers request otherwise. The company has already ceased making the floppy-disk drives standard on all notebook computers. Typical floppy disks are capable of holding up to 1.44MB of data, but Dell believes more portable technology including universal serial bus (USB) hard drives, re-writable CDs and Zip drives are more appealing to users.

Open source a threat, says Microsoft

Microsoft Corp. has confirmed it sees the open source software movement as a threat to its commercial business model in a quarterly report it recently filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The statement amplifies comments made by Microsoft chief financial officer John Connors recently about the threat of Linux to Microsoft’s server business.

“The popularization of the open source movement continues to pose a significant challenge to the company’s business model,” Microsoft wrote in its recent filing, pointing to recent efforts by proponents of the open source model to convince governments worldwide to mandate the use of open source software. Microsoft said it may have to reduce the prices it charges for its products, and revenue and operating margins may consequently decline if the open source movement continues to gain market acceptance.

Pocket PC to roll out on AT&T network

Microsoft Canada Co. recently announced that its Pocket PC Phone Edition and Smartphone 2002 operating system will be available to Rogers AT&T Wireless customers on the carrier’s Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) network.

The companies say they will also work together to provide and promote wireless offerings to business users. The Pocket PC Phone Edition platform, coupled with other server products, will allow customers to synchronize their calendar, e-mail, contacts and notes on their Rogers wireless device, according to the companies. In addition, they say customers can send, receive and view files created in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Rogers’ wireless clients will have the option of wireless communications – voice, e-mail, MSN Messenger or short message service (SMS), the company said.

Missing hard drive found in Regina

Authorities in Regina earlier this month announced they have found the hard drive that went missing from ISM Canada Inc., which contained the personal information of millions of Canadians.

According to police, the hard drive that disappeared Jan. 16 from security service provider ISM’s Regina offices carried a variety of information including personal customer account information of a unit of the Co-operators Group Ltd., Saskatchewan Telecommunications, Saskatchewan Power Corp., the Investors Group Inc. as well as other Manitoba-based businesses.

Authorities are keeping mum on where the disk was found and the identity of the suspect charged in connection with the missing disk as of press time. But a spokesperson at the Regina police department confirmed there was no evidence to suggest any of the information contained on the disk was used maliciously.

Data collection key to NASA investigation

NASA officials said this week that voice messages, video and photos being collected from the public are helping to determine the cause of the space shuttle Columbia disaster. The trick will be managing that data. Agency officials said they’re considering using in-house tools, including a Web-based application called the InvestigationOrganizer that was rolled out in November, to aggregate the data. The application provides data storage, management and analysis capabilities to accident investigation teams.

In the past, NASA said, its accident investigation teams had no standard methods or tools for information storage, management, dissemination or analysis. NASA’s InvestigatorOrganizer uses a database, a document-sharing system and a Web-based data navigation system that allow scientists to browse through information, organize it and file it so that it can be accessed online in a common file-sharing system.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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