Swine Flu Spreads, Apple Hires, Twitter Hack

Hands down, the swine-flu outbreak captured the headlines this week (and led to some obviously hysterically hyped headlines along the way). Amid the speculation about how much havoc the new virus will wind up wreaking on the world, there also was some more moderated speculation about what Apple is up to in hiring a bunch of chip designers. Oh, and another high-profile Twitter account was hacked ... again.

Hands down, the swine-flu outbreak captured the headlines this week (and led to some obviously hysterically hyped headlines along the way). Amid the speculation about how much havoc the new virus will wind up wreaking on the world, there also was some more moderated speculation about what Apple is up to in hiring a bunch of chip designers. Oh, and another high-profile Twitter account was hacked ... again.

1. E-health data collection key to tracking swine flu spread, Is IT ready for a pandemic after mergers, layoffs? and 10 tips for swine flu planning: Whatever happens (or doesn't happen) with the swine flu, the outbreak serves as a reminder that it is always a good idea to have plans in place for dealing with pandemics and other disasters. As usual, IT is playing a role in tracking the new virus and the Internet is in prominent play as well, both in terms of spreading important information and news, and as a tool for those who market in hype, fear and opportunistic spam.

2. Apple snapping up chip designers: Apple has been in a hiring binge for its chip design team, which has given Apple fans, and critics, further fodder for the ever-popular activity of speculating on what the company is up to.

3. Update: Hacker: I broke into Twitter: A French hacker claimed to have gotten administrative access to the Twitter account of the site's director of product management. Twitter cofounder Biz Stone said on a blog that there was indeed an account breach. The site has experienced a number of security issues in recent months (see number eight for more on issues and benefits of Twitter).

4. DOJ probes Google book search settlement and Google pushes back in tussle over book search settlement: Federal lawyers have met with Google and with critics of a lawsuit settlement forged with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, according to news reports, raising the possibility that the U.S. Department of Justice may be considering an antitrust case against the Internet monolith. The lawsuit involved Google's book search engine. But a Google spokesman said publicly that the settlement was structured "specifically to encourage competition." The agreement is also said to be so complex that it was expected that the DOJ would want to check it out more thoroughly.

5. Taiwan's big five DRAM makers post massive losses and IT earnings down, but investors hopeful: The five largest DRAM makers in Taiwan reported enormous financial losses this week. Taiwan has a plan under way to restructure the DRAM industry there, but the financial reports renewed concern about how some of the companies can go on without direct help from the government. Even though there was other grim quarterly earnings news from IT vendors, investors seem to think that the bottom has been hit in various sectors.

6. Windows 7 in October? Here's the scoop: A U.K. tech-focused Web site reported that Windows 7 will be out in October, citing an Acer representative with spilling the beans.

7. IBM supercomputer to compete on Jeopardy: The top contender for cool IT news of the week came from IBM, which is developing a supercomputer called "Watson" that will be able to compete on the popular quiz game show, "Jeopardy!" A show pitting Watson against human competitors is in the offing, IBM said. We'll take artificial intelligence for $200, Alex!

8. Why most Twitter users give up and Twitter quitters just don't get it: More than 60 percent of new Twitter users bail out of using the site (we hesitate to call it a "service") a month after signing up, according to a Nielsen Online study. PC World columnists took dueling standpoints on the value and lack thereof to be found in Twitter. We confess that the opposing viewpoints made us wonder about those of us who don't get it, but have never signed up to be Twitter users, but perhaps that's something to chirp about some other time.

9. Qualcomm settlement good for Broadcom, investors: Qualcomm and Broadcom settled years of legal wrangling over patent disputes, which analysts declared will be good for both chip makers and their customers, too. We can say that not having the back-and-forth to write about any more will free up some of our time as well.

10. Military enlists open source community: In an interesting twist, the U.S. Department of Defense is using an open-source approach to develop software, launching a collaboration initiative so its developers can share software, systems components and network services.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

Security vs. innovation: IT's trickiest balancing act