For the past year, I’ve been inundated by emails from people claiming to be foreign domain-name registrars. They’ve been working me, in increasingly dire language, that my brand is in danger. To quote from one of them:

We are Asia Domain Name Registration Limited, which is the domain name registrar centre in Asia. We have something important need to confirm with your company.

On the Apr 28 2008, we received an application formally. One company named Fenghua network services inc applied for the internet brand Keyword {one of our brands}.

These days we are dealing with it, After our initial examination, we found that the internet brand Name and domain names applied for registration are as same as your company’s name and trademark. hope to get the affirmation of your company because that may relate to your intellectual property on internet. Now we have not finished the registration of Fenghua network services inc yet, in order to deal with this issue better, please let someone who is responsible for trademark or domain name contact me as soon as possible.

My response has been to delete these messages. There are too many of these messages, coming from too many sources, with too much incorrect information, for them to be legit.

I’m not the only one who thinks so. Here’s a warning sent out by the Joshua Kuvin, CTO of American Business Media (a trade association that BZ Media belongs to):


If you receive a foreign e-mail from any country or anyone stating that you are in danger of losing your company or brand’s domain name (in China .cn; or Germany .de; or Europe .eu; or even the United States .us), do not reply!

If you wish to have these domains, you can register these domain extensions yourself using, or any others.

By replying, you are actually alerting these foreign e-mail spammers (mostly from China and Hong Kong) that your Web site, brand or company is a valuable commodity. They will purchase the foreign domain name extension and try selling it back to you.

Thank you, Joshua. I agree: The only good response is no response.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

We still have some users on Microsoft Office 2004 for the Mac. From time to time — generally after a restart or a fresh login — there’s a huge delay when launching Word.

The message that Word displays, in the splash graphic, is “Optimizing font menu performance…”

Depending on the speed of your machine’s processor, and the number of fonts installed, this can take literally four or five minutes on an older machine.

This is done because Word offers rich WYSIWYG font menus in the Formatting Palette, so you can see what fonts look like, as well as the font name. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Word 2004 reads and processes every installed font in order to pre-build that WYSIWIG menu upon startup. That can take a long time, and because that process is both CPU-intensive and I/O-intensive, many older Macs are rendered unusable while this happens.

Here’s how to eliminate that annoying delay:

• Make sure you have a document open
• Select Word -> Preferences…
• In the preferences pane, select General
• Uncheck the box marked “WYSIWYG font and style menus”
• Press OK

Now, Word 2004 will start almost instantly each time.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Yesterday, Microsoft released a series of patches to Microsoft Office — for both Windows and Macintosh — that plugged a serious Remote Code Execution flaw in Word and Outlook.

As detailed in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-026, which is rated as “critical”:

This security update resolves several privately reported vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word that could allow remote code execution if a user opens a specially crafted Word file. An attacker who successfully exploited these vulnerabilities could take complete control of an affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights.

This security update is rated Critical for supported editions of Microsoft Word 2000 and Microsoft Outlook 2007 and rated Important for supported editions of Microsoft Word 2002; Microsoft Word 2003; Microsoft Word Viewer 2003 and Microsoft Word Viewer 2003 Service Pack 3; Microsoft Word 2007; Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats; and Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac and Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac.

For Mac users, the company has issued Service Pack 1 for Office 2008; it fixes this bug and adds many other fixes and enhancements. Office 2004 users have a minor update, 11.4.2, which seems to be only focused on this bug fix.

If you use Office for Mac, you should test and deploy those updates.

There are similarly a number of updates for Office for Windows.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Have you noticed that United Airlines doesn’t use the “Friendly Skies” slogan any more? No wonder.

The company does a lot of things now that aren’t great for customers. For example, now you have to pay to get a seat with an extra couple of inches of legroom… at rates ranging from $14 to $109 or more, each way.

And now they’ve changed their frequent-flier program, called Mileage Plus, to take away some of the benefits of taking short flights. It used to be that you accrued miles on Mileage Plus based on how many miles each flight segment was… but if you had a short flight segment of less than 500 miles, they rounded it up to 500. So, if I flew from San Francisco to Los Angeles for a connection, that counted as a 500 mile trip.

AccruedMiles = Max(ActualMiles, 500)

As of July 1, that’s changing to

AccruedMiles = ActualMiles

Or as the company puts it,

To ensure that Mileage Plus miles earned toward elite status and award travel on United are aligned with actual miles flown, we are revising our base accrual policy. Beginning July 1, 2008, for flights of less than 500 miles, passengers will earn redeemable miles equal to the actual miles flown. Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) will also be awarded based on actual miles. Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS) are not affected.

This new mileage accrual structure will apply to travel on or after July 1, 2008, regardless of when the travel was ticketed. Flights of less than 500 miles flown on or before June 30, 2008, will accrue Mileage Plus miles under the previous policy of a minimum mileage accrual per individual segment flown.

United just gets less friendly every day. See my comments in February about the new carry-on luggage restrictions.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Just passing this message along from Sourceforge’s publicist. I have no involvement in these awards, or with

Today (Wed., May 14), nominations are officially open for the 3rd annual Community Choice Awards.

This year, for the first time, the awards will be open to ALL open source projects, not just those that count as home.

The nominations period is open until June 20, then voting on the finals, and it leads up to the awards party during OSCON at the Jupiter Hotel in Portland, July 24.

Last year it was a pretty big deal, with over 500 people attending. It’s SourceForge and open source; it’s not a boring awards ceremony, kind of wide open and fun, food and drink, weirdo prizes.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

XBRL is one of the most interesting XML schemas, and the use of the eXtensible Business Reporting Language is probably going to become required by publicly traded companies.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is meeting today to discuss whether to mandate the use of XBRL to file their financial disclosures. This program has been going on, in a volunteer way, since April 2005.

The results of this trial have been outstanding: the reports are easier to file by companies, easier to interpret by the SEC, and easier to understand by analysts, regulators and shareholders.

For example, the SEC now has a “Financial Explorer” up on its Web site. According to the SEC, the application’s “interactive data pinpoints all of the facts and figures trapped inside dense financial documents. It allows you to immediately get the information you want, and instantly work with it. For example, you can compare this year’s information to performance in past years (both through raw numbers and visual diagrams) or drill down into how a company arrived at a given number – however you wish to slice and dice the data.”

Earlier this month, the SEC finalized its taxonomy for U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. With that done, today’s SEC meeting is set to discuss whether to require that companies file their financial statements using XBRL – and if so, what the schedule will be for implementing a transition to XBRL-only filings.

In their next meeting, on May 21, the SEC will consider whether mutual funds will have to file their risk/return summaries in XBRL as well.

If you work for a publicly traded company, and you’re not up to speed on XBRL – it’s time to hit the books.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

My colleague Edward J. Correia — editor of Software Test & Performance Magazine, and conference chair of STPCon — has his own blog now.

Cleverly named “EddieC’s News & Views,” you can read the blog here, and subscribe to the RSS feed here.


Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

As discussed yesterday (“HP may be buying EDS“), Hewlett-Packard has indeed entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Electronic Data Systems for $25/share, or $13.9 billion.

To quote from the official release,

HP intends to establish a new business group, to be branded EDS – an HP company, which will be headquartered at EDS’s existing executive offices in Plano, Texas. HP plans that EDS will continue to be led after the deal closes by EDS Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Ronald A. Rittenmeyer, who will join HP’s executive council and report to Mark Hurd, HP’s chairman and chief executive officer.

The goal, as discussed yesterday, is to help HP capture a larger share of services revenue than it gets already. Frankly, the company has been leaving a lot of money on the table — money, that in some cases, its partners and resellers have been picking up. More of that revenue will now accrue right to HP.

To quote from the release again,

Acquiring EDS advances HP’s stated objective of strengthening its services business. The specific service offerings delivered by the combined companies are: IT outsourcing, including data center services, workplace services, networking services and managed security; business process outsourcing, including health claims, financial processing, CRM and HR outsourcing; applications, including development, modernization and management; consulting and integration; and technology services. The combination will provide extensive experience in offering solutions to customers in the areas of government, healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, energy, transportation, communications, and consumer industries and retail.

With this deal, much comes down to execution. It’s clear that HP chief executive honcho Mark Hurd (pictured) is better at execution than his predecessor, Carly Fiorina. Let’s see if he can pull this one off. The market is clearly not optimistic: HP fell 5% yesterday on the rumor, and another 5% today.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

One day in late 1987, Computer Language magazine editor JD Hildebrand walked up and down the halls of the Miller Freeman publishing company with a gleam in his eye, saying that we needed to launch a newsletter on embedded programming. JD had been convinced by some of the compiler guys at Intel that embedded programming was different — very different — from traditional software development and no one else “got it.”

I knew these Intel guys because I’d been trying to sell them ads for years into various magazines. They continually explained how cross compilers were different and, without the modern aid of resources like Wikipedia, I just nodded and walked away shaking my head, also not getting it.

Over the previous few years, I had collected a series of advertisements talking about debugging, emulation, and microprocessor-based development that used terms like real-time and firmware. I didn’t know what they meant, but I maintained folder full of them for the day when I would understand and maybe one day start a magazine on the topic (I had many such folders).

Hearing JD’s description, I ran out into the hall with my file bursting with ads and said, “forget the newsletter, let’s start a magazine!”

So begins a guest column published this month on, where Ted Bahr explains how Embedded Systems Programming magazine and the Embedded Systems Conference got started. If you want to learn what Ted was up to before we met — and see true publishing greatness in action — read “Dawn of an era: Embedded Systems Programming and ESC.”

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Big Blue’s biggest weapon has long been its services arm. As the saying goes, when you buy enterprise “solutions” from IBM, the bulk of the sale is the van full of services folks with packed suitcases, ready to move into your office for good. Just hand over your checkbook. Good luck getting rid of the services squad.

IBM Global Services differentiates IBM from, say, Microsoft, which sells its software through the channel, leaving the lucrative services business for partners. In a few cases, as with its Avenade joint venture with Accenture, Microsoft does capture some of the revenue, but otherwise, Microsoft doesn’t play in that world.

Hewlett-Packard is another Big Blue competitor that just doesn’t measure up when it comes to services and service revenue. Eight years ago, HP almost bought Pricewaterhouse Coopers, but the deal fell though. (IBM snapped up PwC a couple of years later.)

Now, apparently, HP is ready to try again by buying EDS, as reported by Reuters and other sources. To quote from Reuters:

Hewlett-Packard Co is in talks to buy technology outsourcing company Electronic Data Systems Corp for $12 billion to $13 billion, seeking to better compete with the top computer services company, IBM.

The acquisition would be HP’s biggest since its $19 billion acquisition of Compaq in 2002. News of the talks, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, sent shares of EDS soaring nearly 28 percent, taking its market value to about $12 billion.

HP shares fell nearly 5 percent amid some skepticism that slow-growing EDS would provide more than a one-time boost, and might not be worth a premium of as much as 37 percent.

HP admits, by the way, that it’s in talks with EDS:

HP today confirmed that it is engaged in advanced discussions with Electronic Data Systems Corporation regarding a possible business combination involving the two companies. There can be no assurances that an agreement will be reached or that a transaction will be consummated. HP does not intend to comment further until an agreement is reached or discussions are terminated.

To me, this doesn’t seem like a good deal. But then again, I’m skeptical about HP’s ability to full advantage of large acquisitions. HP never achieved the value it could have from the Compaq fiasco, and the jury is still out as to whether HP and Mercury Interactive are better off a single company. Certainly, Mercury’s competitors remain delighted about the acquisition — and the amount of business they picked up because of it.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

A friend was congratulating me via IM about having passed 500 blog posts. I replied that I felt very “Alan 2.0.”

He scoffed, saying that I was “maybe Alan 1.5.” He said that to truly become Alan 2.0, I have to turn into Alan-as-a-Service.


I have to work up my AaaS plan now.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick


A friend found this posting on San Francisco’s Craig’s List. I wonder which publishing company is advertising for someone to turn press release chutney into faux journalism, at $30 per “story.” I hope it’s nobody I know.

Headline: Re-writes of Press Releases into articles

We need someone to re-write about 30 press releases into short articles. Subject matter will be Enterprise Software Integration ie SOA, ESB, BPM, SOA Governance etc.

We will select the Press Releases – articles should be 300 words.

Please send note with experience and writing samples about Software Integration or related subjects.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Agitar — makers of the AgitarOne family of Java unit testing products — is winding down, liquidating, going out of business.

You won’t read about this on their Web site (at least I can’t find it), but the company has made a “general assignment for the benefit of creditors.”

What this means is that, “pursuant to the assignment, Agitar transfered all of its rights in tangible and intangible assets to Assignees for liquidation. Assignee shall liquidate the Assets, wind down Agitar, and distribute the net liquidation proceeds to creditors of Agitar who timely submit claims.”

We’ll have more details on shortly, as our intrepid reporters track all this down. Note, however, that Alberto Savoia, who founded the company in July 2002, left Agitar last month. He, and fellow Agitar founder Roongko Doong, are now is at a stealth-mode startup, LikeLoops.

Buh-bye, Agitar. You had good stuff.

Update: Here’s the SD Times story.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

How many of you were early adopters of the Mac? I came in on the second wave, with my first being the Mac SE, which came out in 1987 – three years after the original Macintosh release. It’s fun to look back at how the graphical user interface, called Finder, evolved.

At that time, there was no mainstream GUI for IBM PC compatibles, as what we now call Windows PCs were termed. (The fact the machines ceased being identified with IBM, and became identified instead with Microsoft, demonstrates how badly Big Blue botched the whole thing. (Today, of course, IBM doesn’t even sell Windows PCs, though they do make PowerPC-based IntelliStations, which offer “server-inspired performance in deskside workstations.”)

Although Windows 1.0 appeared in 1985, and the vastly better Windows 2.0 in 1987, DOS GUIs were niche products until Windows 3.1 came out in 1992, and then of course Windows 95 clinched the deal a few years later.

If you want to see how much different the Mac user interface is today from its forebears, check out Prince McLean’s article from Apple Insider, “The Road to Mac OS X Leopard: Finder 10.5.” The milestones he details were so important. MultiFinder was a biggie, as any Machead would remember.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

This year has been a terrible one for tornadoes across the United States. Accounts very, but this weekend tornadoes killed at least 21 people in Missouri, Oklahoma and Georgia. It’s simply terrible and tragic, and my heart goes out to the victims.

I was discussing the situation with a friend back East this morning, and recalled that while I’ve never been close to a dangerous tornado, I did see one once — here in the Bay Area. In March 2005, a tornado struck South San Francisco, and we saw it from our living room. (Actually, we saw the black funnel cloud but thought that something was on fire in SSF. We didn’t realize that it was a tornado until later.)

To quote from the story in the San Francisco Chronicle,

At least 40 buildings — 20 homes and 20 businesses, including a fire station under construction — were damaged as the swirling winds ran a wild 3-mile path across the city, from Westborough to the San Francisco Bay. The twister also uprooted towering trees, caused gas leaks and knocked out power to about 1,500 residents.

South San Francisco Fire Chief Philip White said that one home had to be evacuated because of extensive damage. Throughout the city, residents were stepping around snapped power lines and cleaning up pieces of roofs from houses blocks away. Traffic lights, some twisted, were out at many intersections.

“I’ve been with the South San Francisco Fire Department for 22 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” White said.

South San Francisco Battalion Chief Tom Azzopardi said the funnel cloud touched down an estimated six times. It formed over the Westborough hills during a storm with dark skies and hail, touching down twice in that area before heading east over Interstate 280. Once downtown, it smashed into homes and businesses, bounced around an industrial park at Canal Street and South Spruce Avenue and then headed to Cypress Street, over Highway 101 to Dubuque Avenue and finally the bay, where it weakened.

Read the whole story… although the Chron called it a “probable tornado” in this story, its status was confirmed by meteorologists a few days later.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

My son, who adores everything Japanese, is particularly fond of the new flavor of A1 steak sauce, Kobe Sesame Teriyaki. When he emptied the bottle last week, my wife and I promised to get him another bottle.

Easier said than done, if you’d like the sauce to be within its sell-by date. That’s what we learned this afternoon, when we set off on the Great
Teriyaki Steak Sauce Hunt.

• The first grocery store we tried, a Mollie Stones in San Bruno, Calif., didn’t carry the sauce at all.

• Next, we visited a Safeway store in Millbrae, which had it listed on the shelf tag, but none in stock.

• We tried the Safeway in Burlingame. It had plenty of bottles… but they all expired in January 2008. We told a store clerk; he removed the bottles, and advised us to check back in a few days for fresh stock.

• Finally, we went to the Lucky store in Millbrae. They had lots of bottles, too — but the first few we saw had expired in October 2007. Then we found one that expired in June 2007! Behind all of them was a single bottle that was good through September 2008. We bought it. (We showed the expired bottles to the customer service manager, and she was livid and very apologetic.)

Amazing, eh? We find expired products in major grocery stores all the time, but this was quite a coincidence.

The moral of the story: Always check the expiration date of goods that you buy, every container, every time.

Update: I went to Kraft’s A1 Steak Sauce Web site, to link it to this post. Kraft doesn’t list the Kobe Sesame Teriyaki flavor. Maybe it’s been discontinued.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

It’s funny when you come across old stuff about yourself on the Internet. In today’s episode, I was trying to find something that I’d written about the Macintosh Finder. After failing to find it on my hard drive, it was off to Google with the search phrase +zeichick +finder.

What came was a press release by Sun Microsystems, dated March 24, 1998.
It celebrated that the publication I edited at the time (Miller Freeman’s Network Magazine) gave the Sun Enterprise 10000 “Starfire” server a “Product of the Year” award. Here’s the quote I apparently gave Sun a decade ago:

“In selecting the “Product of the Year” recipients, we looked for products that are sure to make a significant impact on our readers’ networks,” said Alan Zeichick, editor-in-chief of Network Magazine. “There are many contenders in the enterprise-level server category, but when it comes to brute strength, the Starfire system is the only server that offers mainframe-class performance without the drastic changes that the mainframe demands in the way you manage the technology.”

Network Magazine is gone now, as is the now-obsolete Starfire server. But thanks to the Internet, both will live on forever.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

I like RFID. I don’t like that the new passports issued by the United States, the European Union and other countries have radio-frequency identification chips.

I first wrote about this in November 2006, and in “Passports in lead foil” recommended shielding such important documents in an RFID-blocking enclosure.

During the opening general session at this year’s JavaOne, James Gosling alluded to the problem very clearly. While praising how JavaOne uses RFID chips to count the attendees in crowded classrooms, he decried their use in passports: “Hi, I’m an American. Can you detonate the closest device?”

Thanks, James, for raising the visibility of this issue. Not that it’s going to do any good. RFID is undoubtedly here to stay.

Fortunately, RFID-shielded passport holders are now readily available. For example, here’s one on for only $19.99.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

This is the 500th posting on the ZTrek blog.

The first posting was on September 22, 2006, which according to my calculations was 595 days ago. That means:

1. The posting rate is about 0.84 blog items per day.
2. If the rate remains constant, the 1000th posting should be next Christmas: December 25, 2009.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

If you’ve been to the doctor recently, you’ve probably shared the waiting room with one or more pharmaceutical sales representatives. Almost without exception, they’re beautiful young women and men, immaculately groomed and expensively dressed.

I read in the NY Times that Big Pharm likes to recruit from college cheerleaders (see “Gimme an Rx! Cheerleaders Pep Up Drug Sales“). Certainly the girls and boys hanging out in waiting rooms look both perky and athletically trim enough to be cheerleaders.

Why would the drug companies focus on people like that as sales representatives? One would surmise it’s because that strategy pays off.

Thus, see this article in Folio, which asks, “Are you good-looking enough to sell magazine ads?” According to Josh Gordon’s story, 17 percent of a pharm site’s survey respondents say that looks matter more than anything else.

I wonder if it applies to the media business too. If so… it’s a good thing I’m not in ad sales!

I’ve been sick as a dog since Wednesday night, and I think I know why. This disturbing message came in today from the JavaOne conference folks:

The JavaOne conference team has been notified by the San Francisco Department of Public Health about an identified outbreak of a virus in the San Francisco area. Testing is still underway to identify the specific virus in question, but they believe it to be the Norovirus, a common cause of the “stomach flu”, which can cause temporary flu-like symptoms for up to 48 hours. Part of the San Francisco area impacted includes the Moscone Center, the site of the JavaOne conference which is being held this week. We are working with the appropriate San Francisco Department of Public Health and Moscone representatives to mitigate the impact this will have on the conference and steps are being taken overnight to disinfect the facility. We have not received any indication that the show should end early, so will have the full schedule of events on Friday as planned. We hope to see you then.

Read the public health notice for people at Moscone Center, from the San Francisco Department of Public Health, dated May 8.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

I’m scratching my head over this one. For the past few years, InfoWorld has put out a weekly newsletter called Application Development Report, filled with a mixture of development and general IT news. While the newsletter wanders a bit around the topic (they do a lot of coverage of e-mail management and network security, for example), it’s not bad.

But then a few weeks ago, the newsletter’s editors announced:

This is the final week for the Application Development Report. Starting next week, you’ll get the Strategic Developer newsletter on Thursdays, with the same great emphasis on news and how-tos in the app dev space.

So… since the content for Strategic Developer is going to be the same as for Application Development Report, presumably the audience is the same: programmers.

The question is: Is there a difference between “application development” and “strategic development”?

Does a strategic developer seem to be more like a business analyst, rather than a software developer? What do you think?

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

A lot of companies see the value of blogs to communicate with customers, with partners, with investors, with the media and with the world at large. At BZ Media, Ted Bahr and I both have blogs — his is on Folio, and of course, this is mine.

The most famous IT company with an executive blog is Sun Microsystems, where Jonathan Schwartz writes regularly. It’s fair to say that he’s breaking new ground in this area.

According to a story in Workforce Management’s May 2008 issue, about 11 percent of Fortune 500 companies have corporate blogs. By contrast, that was about 4 percent at the end of 2005.

How are companies handling blogs? The name of Workforce Management’s article makes it plain: “Chief Blogging Officer Title Catching On With Corporations.

To quote from the story, it’s not about the title, it’s about what the blog says. And how it says it.

While the title of chief blogger is seductive, analysts and industry insiders said the title shouldn’t be the focus. What’s essential is the brand voice, whether it comes from one chief blogger (such as vice chairman Bob Lutz on General Motors’ FastLane Blog or CEO Jonathan Schwartz on Sun Microsystems’ Jonathan’s Blog) or a group working together, such as those on Southwest and Wal-Mart’s blogs.

No one is saying that a chief blogger or blog voice is right for all brands. Bloggers and analysts said companies that want to blog should identify a specific reason to do so, such as to humanize the company (like Microsoft), make the company more open (like Dell) or advance the fun-and-happy company image (like Southwest).

Transparency and open communications are good things. A customer-facing corporate blog can be wonderful, as long as it’s not just a way to distribute corporate speeches, canned marketing messages and press releases in a different format.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

The surprising aspect of Embarcadero’s purchase of CodeGear from Borland is the low, low price tag: US$23 million. As Borland put it yesterday:

Borland announced today a definitive agreement to sell the assets of its individual developer tools unit, CodeGear, to Embarcadero Technologies. The purchase price for CodeGear is expected to be approximately $23 million. Borland will also retain CodeGear’s accounts receivables with an approximate value of an additional $7 million.

That’s an incredible price, given the large number of users for products like JBuilder and Delphi, and the powerful brand equity in those products (though admittedly, not in the CodeGear name).

From this, one may draw several possible conclusions:

1. The CodeGear business wasn’t doing very well.

2. Borland was desperate to sell, and took the first offer.

3. Embarcadero has some world-class negotiators.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Adobe’s Photoshop Express service has been in beta for some time. I was surprised and delighted to see this email come in from Adobe yesterday afternoon, via its public relations agency, AR-Edelman. This type of candor is far too rare in our industry, and deserves to be praised:

I would like to provide you with the following statement from the Adobe Photoshop Express Team:

“As you know, we were preparing updates to the Photoshop Express beta on May 7th that added significant new functionality to the product. However, prior to going live, we discovered a bug that requires a fix. We’re committed to delivering a quality experience with Photoshop Express and don’t want to send out an update that isn’t ready for prime time. We’re working on a quick resolution. Stay tuned — we’ll have an exact time frame on when you can expect these new Photoshop Express features soon.”

— Adobe Photoshop Express Team

Thank you, Adobe, for being honest! Most companies would have just glossed over it.

>> Update 5/9: Adobe now reports: “We’re happy to report we have successfully fixed the bug that slightly delayed our newest feature update for the Photoshop Express beta. New updates are now publicly available.”

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Didn’t see this one coming! To excerpt from the official release:

Embarcadero Technologies® to Acquire CodeGear™ from Borland® Software

SAN FRANCISCO – May 7, 2008 – Embarcadero Technologies, a privately-held company of Thoma Cressey Bravo, today announced that they signed a definitive asset purchase agreement with Borland Software Corporation (NASDAQ: BORL) to purchase its CodeGear division. The transaction is expected to close in 30 to 60 days. By combining the market leaders in development tools and database tools, Embarcadero will be able to address the growing productivity and resource challenges companies face as a result of different applications and diverse database platforms. With more than $100 million in annual revenue and over 500 employees worldwide, the combined companies will operate under the Embarcadero Technologies name.

“The application and database development worlds are colliding and the synergies between these two companies make this union timely and logical,” said Orlando Bravo, managing partner of Thoma Cressey Bravo. “This acquisition will yield Embarcadero the financial strength, people and product innovation to aggressively address the demands of this evolving market,” said Holden Spaht, Principal of Thoma Cressey Bravo.

The acquisition of the CodeGear business is expected to make Embarcadero the world’s largest, independent software provider offering an integrated portfolio to design, develop, manage and optimize heterogeneous applications and their databases. Customers and partners will benefit from Embarcadero’s ability to help fully integrate their application development lifecycle, automate error-prone tasks and dramatically increase their productivity.

In addition, Embarcadero gains a significantly larger sales footprint to serve millions of software developers, architects, independent software vendors (ISVs) and database professionals worldwide. The combined market opportunity for Embarcadero and CodeGear products will represent more than 15 million users worldwide and is expected to grow by up to 10 percent annually, according to industry reports.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Over the past half-dozen years, the JavaOne conference has been slowly morphing into the Mobile Java Development conference, with an increased emphasis on writing Java ME apps for cell phones.

This year, JavaOne is branching out to a broader vision, encompassing not only desktops and mobile phones, but also televisions and consumer electronics devices.

Sun’s new catchphrase – which I’m already tired of – is that Java applications are for “all the screens of your life.” Whether it’s a business dashboard or a Facebook plug-in or software distributed on a Blu-ray disc, the same software should run on everything. More importantly, the user experience should be consistent across every possible device – without developers having to write custom versions of their software for particular deployment targets.

That catchphrase is a key part of Sun’s messaging about Java: “Today, Java technology is the most widely adopted runtime in the world and is now powering compelling content and rich end-user experiences across all the ‘screens of your life’ on billions of devices – from desktop browsers and computers (800,000) and mobile phones (more than 2 billion) to TVs, Blu-ray Disc players and other connected consumer devices.”

The foundation for this cross-platform user experience – dare we call it, “write once, experience everywhere?” is JavaFX. That’s a new GUI layer for rich client applications that will integrate 2D, 3D, animation and sound into Java ME and Java SE VMs – hardware-assisted, when possible. Yes, it’s somewhat reminiscent of Microsoft’s Windows Presentation Foundation, but the difference is that unlike WPF, JavaFX is not tied to a particular operating system

JavaFX looks good, but we’ve been hearing about it since JavaOne 2007, and Sun has yet to deliver even beta code. (The demos during the JavaOne keynote kept crashing.) The latest word is that we’ll have “early access” code in July, and a Java SE version for desktops later this year. Java ME versions of JavaFX won’t be until early 2009. Maybe then we’ll see what Sun means by having software running on all the screens of our life.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

While Sun talks about its technology future here at the busy, bustling JavaOne, I’m thinking about its financial results.

As reported in the San Jose Mercury News last week, Sun is planning to cut up to 2,500 jobs. Why? Because the company, which had been expected to make a profit, had a big loss instead. In its fiscal third quarter, running from January-March 2008, the company lost $34 million. By contrast, in the same quarter of 2007, it made a profit of $67 million.

Quoting from the May 1 earnings release:

Revenues for the third quarter of fiscal 2008 were $3.266 billion, a decrease of 0.5 percent as compared with $3.283 billion for the third quarter of fiscal 2007. Total gross margin as a percent of revenues was 44.9, an increase of 0.4 percentage points, as compared with the third quarter of fiscal 2007.

Net loss for the third quarter of fiscal 2008 on a GAAP basis was $34 million, or ($0.04) per share, as compared with net income of $67 million, or $0.07 per share, for the third quarter of fiscal 2007. In the third quarter of fiscal 2008, the company recorded a $52 million dollar tax provision, as compared to a tax benefit of $3 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2007. Net loss for the third quarter included charges related to the acquisition of MySQL, which reduced earnings per share by approximately $0.04.

However, cash does remain strong:

Cash generated from operations for the third quarter of fiscal 2008 was $329 million, and the cash and marketable debt securities balance at the end of the quarter was $3.801 billion. During the third quarter, Sun continued to leverage its cash position, spending $300 million to repurchase 17.5 million shares of its common stock. There is currently $500 million remaining of the $3 billion share repurchase program announced in the company’s fiscal fourth quarter of 2007.

Sun paid about $1 billion for MySQL. The deal closed in February.

What does Sun’s executive team think about all this? CEO Jonathan Schwartz was characteristically direct in his blog (you should read the whole post, which I’m excerpting):

We announced the results of our third fiscal quarter (Q3) on Thursday last week, and the results weren’t what I, or any of us, wanted.

As you can read in the press release, we delivered $3.267 billion in revenue for Q3, roughly flat with a year ago. On that revenue, we delivered a GAAP loss of 4 cents (equal to the charge associated with the acquisition of MySQL, which closed within the quarter) — on that revenue, we generated around $320m in cash.

The low light of the quarter was revenue in the US — which declined year over year by nearly 10%, a big step down for a geography that typically contributes 40% of our total revenue. The highlight of the quarter was our India performance, up 30% year over year — and our chip multi-threading Niagara systems, which grew (billings) 110%.

We had growth in 12 of 16 geographies in which we sell, but a shortfall in the world’s largest economy (and the largest in Sun’s portfolio), is tough to make up elsewhere. So we showed no growth at the corporate level.

Despite a weak US economy, we still see growth and opportunity across the world. We are going to be making some changes as a result of the quarter, certainly, but not in our core vision or strategic direction — network infrastructure is being built out across the world, developers will continue to define its architecture and shape demand, and we will continue to position ourselves to drive and capture that market.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Yes, yes, I’m sure that we’re overpaying for domain registrations and DNS, but we have many of ours through Network Solutions.

One of the downsides of Network Solutions is the price. An upside is that they have good online tools for managing the name servers. Frankly, it’s too much work to bother researching alternatives and moving the stuff, particularly as the service has been reliable.

Another downside is that they’re always trying to sell us something, often in the guise of a continuous stream of bogus service renewals. Today, they sent me a “Gold VIP Renewal Service” alert, warning me that one of my services was running out of time. “Act now. Don’t let your service(s) expire” cautions the urgent message.

That particular service is a domain registration that expires in … wait for it … March 2009.

Sheesh. It reminds me of the great steamroller chase scene from Austin Powers.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

The headliner of the JavaOne keynote was legendary rocker Neil Young. His connection with JavaOne is that his forthcoming Neil Young Archive will be released on Blu-ray discs. Blu-ray uses an embedded Java virtual machine to drive dynamic content.

But Neil Young didn’t sing! There was even a setup line, where one of the Sun folks — can’t remember if it was Rich Green or Jonathan Schwartz — said after the Archive demo that his favorite Young song is “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

What a clear setup! I expected someone to throw Young a guitar or something. But no, Young just shuffled off the stage. What a letdown. But at least I got a photo of Young with Green and Schwartz.

Sun describes the Archive product as:

More than 15 years in the making, the Neil Young Archive will be a complete biography of the artist’s career in a timeline format including a chronology of songs released and unreleased. Through Blu-ray and Java technology, for the first time viewers will be able to navigate through Young’s music, movies, videos, personal archives, memorabilia, photographs, letters, handwritten manuscripts and more while the high resolution 192/24 audio is playing, giving a chronological insight into the creative process and an opportunity to bear witness to the evolution of Neil Young’s musical soul over the course of his life and work.

The Blu-ray format delivers both unsurpassed 192/24 audio quality and high definition video, capturing the quality of the original analog master recordings in the best digital format available today. The first Neil Young Archive release will be a 10 Blu-ray Disc set available this fall from Reprise/Warner Bros. Records, covering Young’s career from 1963-1972.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick