Archive for December, 2011

Happy New Year from Synergy Software Systems in Dubai

December 31st, 2011

Many of us will be glad to see and end to 2011 -  the tsunami that hit Japan was just one of many natural disasters. 

The legacy of damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant still isn’t known, but the death toll from earthquakes in New Zealand and Turkey was heartbreakingly instant, wiping out 1,000 lives.

A year that began with apocalyptic floods in Brazil saw the suburbs of Bangkok underwater by the autumn, but these were natural disasters of an ominously unnatural kind. Drought in east Africa has starved and displaced hundreds of thousands, Hurricane Irene tore through the Americas in August, February’s cyclone in Queensland left much of the state looking more like Venice than Australia – and that was only some of the world’s extreme weather. the Phillipines suffered several tropical storms and cosnequent flooding. Still reeling from 2010′s s epic floods, Pakistan battled monsoon rains that affected 5 million people and killed hundreds. November’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report confirmed only what we already feared: this wasn’t bad luck, but proof we are losing the fight against climate change. The deal struck in Durban a month later was, despaired Friends of the Earth, an “empty shell of a plan” that leaves the planet “hurtling towards catastrophic climate change”.

On May 22, a powerful EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, Mo., reaching nearly one mile in length when it touched the ground. Early estimates place the amount of damage at nearly $3 billion. Emergency managers of the National Weather Service reported that nearly 75 percent of Joplin was destroyed by the tornado. With 160 deaths and nearly 1,000 people injured, the tornado was one of the most powerful and deadly in U.S. history.

Police stood by as Britain rioted, popular protests changed the face of the Middle East, European governments fell apart – and so did Fleet Street’s reputation. 2011 was  an extraordinary year.

The young Tunisian fruit seller who set himself on fire last December could never have imagined what the flames would spark. Within a month, President Ben Ali’s 24-year dictatorship was over. Weeks later, the government of Jordan had gone, too – and the Arab spring had only just begun.The Egyptians filling Cairo’s Tahrir Square quickly grew into an unstoppable human tide, and by February President Mubarak’s 30-year reign was over.

When Tripoli fell in August to the rebels – an amateur army in battered pick-up trucks – Gaddafi survived, slipping away to a concrete drainpipe hideaway. When rebels finally dragged him out and shot him, footage of Gaddafi’s grisly end caused some unease , but for Libyans it was proof of the impossible, and when a postmortem revealed their former tyrant wore a toupee, few could begrudge them the mocking hilarity of Gaddafi’s Wizard of Oz moment.

 Uprisings in Algeria, Bahrain, Morocco and Oman were halted, but in Yemen the world’s longest reign of a non-royal head of state finally came to an end in late November. Protests in Syria, which began in January have continued all year.

A portrait of Greek prime minister George Papandreou as a clown was hung from a noose in Athens during a rally against a new austerity package.  

In the course of a single year, the governments of Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain all collapsed under the weight of sovereign debt. The Celtic tiger was the first to be exposed as an optical illusion – and in February the Fianna Fáil party, which had dominated national politics for 70 years, wasn’t just voted out of office but off the political map. Portugal’s prime minister was the next to go in March, but it was the violence paralysing Athens that lurched Europe from drama into crisis. Tear gas and riot police were no match for the fury of Greeks facing financial ruin, but prime minister Papandreou‘s promises of yet more austerity were no match for the markets either, and his kamikaze bid to square the circle with a referendum he’d failed to mention even to his own cabinet proved the final straw, making him the first European leader to be replaced by a technocrat – but not the last.

Silvio Berlusconi‘sbegan the year on matters much closer to home. The man who once described himself as “the Jesus Christ of politics” was facing trials for corruption and sex with an under-age prostitute, but it wasn’t the bunga bunga parties but Italy’s bank balance that he should have been worrying about. As late as November, Berlusconi was blithely insisting “our restaurants are full of people”, but the markets could no longer be fooled, and eight days later he, too, was gone, replaced by another technocrat ex-banker. A week later, Spain’s government fell as well, leaving Europe’s leaders staring into the abyss.

Would the euro survive? Would the EU survive? Did we need closer fiscal integration – a two-speed Europe? Repatriation of powers? Summit after summit produced little more than alarming proof that nobody had a clue.

In the UK the unions, launching their biggest strike in a generation, and then the Tory Eurosceptics, for whom Christmas came early when a government containing the most pro-European party in parliament stunned the country by exiling Britain into a minority of one in Brussels. -  in the words of one columnist, that, “The grown-ups are not in charge.”

 Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whose arrest for rape in a Manhattan hotel bathroom (a charge that was later dropped) prompted a flood of sexual allegations, and a sudden vacancy at the IMF. Drunken fumblings with an old flame, weeks after his wedding to the Queen’s granddaughter, lost Mike Tindall his place in the English rugby squad – the second royal embarrassment of the year, after Prince Andrew’s friendship with a convicted sex offender cost him his job as UK trade envoy.

There was little sympathy for John Galliano when his antisemitic outburst in a Paris bar (“I love Hitler”) sent him packing from Dior.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who owns publications including The Wall Street Journal and News of the World, was ousted for hacking into the phone of a murdered 13 year old. A private detective deleted old messages on the 13 year old’s phone, giving the family hope that their daughter may still be alive. It was eventually revealed that Murdoch’s publications have a widespread act of phone hacking, setting off doubt about journalism ethics in Britain.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin’s party held on to its parliamentary majority, but mass protests against election-rigging suggested the Kremlin’s great survivor might be losing his grip.

Four UK ex-MPs and two lords were jailed for expenses fra

Corruption and inflation aud thebiggest fall in the stock market plagued India.  In October three of Pakistan’s Test cricketers were  accused of spot-fixing,

Julian Assange‘s confinement was more comfortable, spending the year under house arrest in a stately home, but the WikiLeaks chief’s fight against extradition to Sweden on rape charges was finally lost, barring a final appeal to the supreme court next year.

“We are the 99%” declared the Occupy Wall Street movement as it pitched camp in New York in September. Anti-capitalism camps began appearing on every continent,

Nothing will ever fully explain why Anders Breivik woke up one morning in July and set off a bomb in Oslo killing eight, before moving on to a political youth summer camp on the picturesque island of Utøya, where the 32-year-old Christian laughed and cheered as he calmly gunned down 69 teenagers.

We got him,” may be the sweetest three words President Obama has heard since entering the White House, relayed to a tense situation room early on May 2 by US special forces who had stormed a plain-looking house in a quiet Pakistani garrison town, and shot dead the world’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden. But British bodies kept on coming home from Afghanistan, averaging one a week in a year that saw the 10th anniversary of 9/11, but still no end to the decade-long war.

The world of science and innovation lost Steve Jobs, the Apple founder who invented and marketed sleek gadgets that transformed everyday technology from the personal computer to the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

 Science said goodbye this year to Christian J. Lambertsn, Norman Ramsey, William Nunn Lipscomb, Jr., Boris Chertok and Ralph Steinman.

 Political figures who died in 2011 included R. Sargent Shriver, Warren M. Christopher, Jiri Dienstbier, Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Geraldine Ferraro, Max van der Stoel, Necmattin Erbakan, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu, Leonidas Kyrkos, Hugh Carey, Garret FitzGerald, Betty Ford, Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong Il.

 In entertainment, the world lost Elizabeth Taylor, a woman whose sultry screen persona, stormy personal life and enduring fame made her one of the last of the classic movie stars. The year also saw the passing of soul singer Amy Winehouse, whose death at age 27 left many wondering what works of musical brilliance the world might have seen from the troubled, young star.

 Others in the arts and entertainment field who died include Peter Falk, Jane Russell, Clarence Clemons, Pinetop Perkins, Annie Girardot, Harry Morgan, Ferlin Husky, Susannah York, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, David Nelson, Sidney Lumet, Richard Hamilton, Bil Keane, Poly Styrene, M.F. Husain, Heavy D, Jackie Cooper, Robert Tear and Betty Garrett.

BlackBerry’s crash, the launch of Google+, and the growing popularity of Android, eBooks, the iPad and hacktivism made 2011 a busy year for tech trends. Sony suffered arguably the most damaging attack of the year, when 77 million PlayStation Network users’ personal details were accessed by hackers, forcing the firm to shut down for three weeks. It has been estimated the incident, which Sony has linked to Anonymous, cost $170m.

Google+, a new social network was launched. Google’s Android operating system has been taking over smartphones for a number of years, but in 2011 it passed the tipping point when more than half of all sales were Android. With 10 billion apps downloaded and a growing range of mobile phones and tablets on the market

In August after 30 years in flight, NASA closes the book on its shuttle program, and opens a new window in space with Kepler — the planet hunting telescope — looking for the goldilocks planet: Not too hot and not too cold.

Rebecca Black’s infamous “Friday” video topped all other YouTube videos of 2011 with 180 million views.

Britain celebrated Royal weddings and looks ofrward tot eh Queen’s Jubilee in 2012.

Synergy officially reached 20 years and The U.A.E. reached 40 years.

What will next year bring?? We don’t know, but we wish everyone a Happy New Year and keep our fingers crossed!

Project Isotope – Hadoop on Windows Azure and Windows Server

December 31st, 2011
  • Project Isotope is the codename Microsoft has give to Apache Hadoop on Windows Azure and Windows Serve
  •  Isotope was born from Microsoft’s work on cloud-scale analytics.
  • Microsoft is planning to make Hadoop on Windows Azure generally available in March 2012.
  • Microsoft is planning to make Hadoop on Windows Server (referred to  as the “enterprise” version of the project) generally available in June 2012. This version will include integration of the Hadoop File System with Active Directory, giving users global single sign-on for not just their e-mail, but also for analytics.
  • The coming Hadoop distributions for Azure and Windows Server are not all that interesting in and of themselves. It’s the tools and the data that make them potentially useful and lucrative. The Isotope team is working on enabling bidirectional integration between the core Hadoop File System and tools like Sqoop and Flume. (Sqoop provides integration between HDFS and relational data services; Flume provides access to lots of log data from sensor networks and such).

Microsoft’s big-picture concept is that Isotopewill give all kinds of users, from technical to “ordinary” productivity workers, access from inside data-analysis tools they know — like Microsoft’s own SQL Server Analysis Services, PowerPivot and Excel on their PCs — to data stored in Windows Servers and/or Windows Azure. (The Windows Azure Marketplace fits in here, as this is the place that third-party providers can publish free or paid collections of data which users will be able to download/buy.)

check out the Channel 9 video – http://video.ch9.ms/ch9/27f9/17cb73b8-19f0-4c29-a22c-9fb8000427f9/LearnAboutHadoopOnWindowsAzureWithAlexStojanovic2WithScreenshot_ch9.wmv

SQL ODBC driver for Linux

December 31st, 2011

The Microsoft SQL Server Team announced a preview release of the SQL Server ODBC Driver for Linux and you can download it today.

http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=28160

It’s a 64-bit driver for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, supporting SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2012, including Kerberos authentication protocol, SSL and client-side UTF-8 encoding.

This release brings proven and effective tools and the BCP and SQLCMD utilities to the Linux world

NewYear’s Eve – Dubai

December 27th, 2011

Last year, Emaar estimated that around half a million people congregated in the Downtown area to watch th midnight fireworks display at the Burj Khalifa. Congestion at Dubai Metro stations and gridlock on the roads – particularly around Defence Roundabout – meant that many were stuck for ages on Sheik Zayed Road and thousands opted to walk home.

This year, the RTA announced that the Metro will run services on the Red Line every three minutes between 12am and 5.30am. In addition, extra gates have been installed at Burj Khalifa station, and the agency says it has streamlined movement at the Financial Center and Business Bay stations.

To ease congestion in the Downtown area, the RTA has also set up a park and ride scheme, creating around 10,000 parking spaces at several sites including Meydan, Dubai World Trade Center and Zabeel Park, all of which will be served by 63 extra buses.

There will be an extra 4,000 taxis deployed during the night.

The Boulevard Street at Burj Khalifa will be closed once the parking slots are full to avoid potential traffic congestions in the area

RTA will reset the programmed timing of the key light signals on the Financial Center Street to fit the traffic volumes generated during the peak hours, and deploy makeshift virtual messaging signs on the main roads to alert commuters about the condition of the parking space in Dubai Mall.

Key message is have fun and enjoy yourself but dont drink and drive and expect delays or go early.

Seasonal Greetings 2011 Synergy Dubai

December 24th, 2011

With a turbulent year behind  and an uncertain year ahead for most of us the year end celebrations are a welcome relief.

Whatever your religion we hope that the  goodwill spirit of Christmas is shared by all and that we all have a happier and more prosperous New Year.

Our thanks to customers, partners and staff without whose support there would be no Synergy and of course no blog!

Automatic updates of Internet Explorer browser

December 24th, 2011

 Microsoft  intends to begin delivering beginning next year to ensure that as many machines as possible running Windows  XP, Vista and Windows 7 are protected from the latest malware schemes of cyber criminals

This will start in January for customers in Australia and Brazil who have turned on automatic updating via Windows Update.

According to Microsoft’s latest security intelligence report, the biggest online threat that Windows users face comes from socially engineered malware targeting outdated Web browsers and other aging software

Subway’s $3 million lesson in point-of-sale security

December 24th, 2011

In a scheme dating back at least to 2008, a band of Romanian hackers is alleged to have stolen payment card data from the point-of-sale (POS) systems of hundreds of small businesses, including more than 150 Subway restaurant franchises and at least 50 other small retailers-  The hackers are alleged to have gathered the credit and debit card data from over 80,000 victims. and over $3 million in fraudulent charges.

Small businesses’  poor security practices and reliance on common, inexpensive software packages to run their operations makes them easy pickings for large-scale scams like this one, The PCI Security Standards Council, which governs credit card and debit card payment systems security, requires two-factor authentication for remote access to POS systems—something the applications used by these retailers clearly didn’t have.

In the case of Subway restaurants, those requirements were provided to franchisees. but it seems  that, some of the franchisees “directly and blatantly disregarded Subway’s security and POS configuration standards.

The basics also apply here. Limit remote access, patch your software, and above all, don’t allow any default, or extremely easy passwords

Buy Better save money and improve cash flow with Birch Street Systems – Synergy, Dubai

December 14th, 2011

When times are tough you need to manage cash flow and costs.

eProcurement offers both.

The cloud based SaaS module approach reduces up front cost and provides predictable IT costs – no hardware, no patch or upgrade worries , regular product enhancements and a central systme to ensure  group standards.

Thousands of hotels, assisted living facilities, country clubs and restaurants in over 40 countries have chosen BirchStreet Systems for their e-Procurement, AP Automation, Inventory Control, Recipe Management and Capital Projects solutions.

Specifically designed for hospitality and food service organizations, BirchStreet’s solutions gives you better control over your supply chain, and your back-office operations.

Available in several languages, the SaaS-based BirchStreet applications are incredibly easy to use, customizable, and are delivered securely over the Web, so there’s no hardware to buy or maintain. Minimal setup and low subscription costs ensure a low total cost of ownership and immediate ROI.

Having one easy-to-use online system will improve our productivity and allow us to maintain a higher degree of control over our purchasing activities.”Deshia Goldman
InterContinental Chicago

Take a look to understand why out Marriot and Hilton have both signed global agreements with BirchStreet Systems.

UAE’s stalled, scrapped projects.

December 14th, 2011

UAE  saw $20bn worth of developments suspended or cancelled in last year, $604bn worth of projects are still planned or underway, but that is a decline of 33 percent on the year-earlier period. Understandable with the ‘Arab Spring’  and the fall out from the economic global recession.  High debts around the world are drying up finance. As US forces leave Iraq there is a knock on effect to local supply chains etc.

More recently, a slowdown in Abu Dhabi’s construction market has alarmed the industry, which fears a reduction in spending in the oil-rich emirate could crimp any fledgling recovery in Dubai. The UAE capital has pushed back the delivery of major projects including its planned Louvre and Guggenheim museums, in a sign it may be feeling the pinch of its $500bn ‘2030’ plan.

Across the main MENA markets,an average of 65 percent of projects were delayed and 35 percent cancelled.  Saudi Arabia and Iraq  replace the UAE as the region’s dominate construction market. Saudi,  has an ambitious $130bn state spending plan  in part to overhaul the country’s affordable housing market,and  has $648bn worth of projects in the pipeline  a 90 percent increase on 2010.

Iraq, which is struggling to rebuild its infrastructure awarded almost $17bn of projects in 2011, up from $10bn last year. The country has $356bn worth of projects planned, the report said.

The building boom expected in Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup has yet to materialise into projects on the ground, The gas-rich country has  cancelled $7bn worth of projects in the last 12 months,

Kuwait has faced ongoing political issues which have stalled spending plans

A review of construction firms showed Asian companies continued to dominate contract wins, with Samsung and Hyundai bidding for the biggest share of projects in the pipeline.

Individual companies will undoubtedly suffer and the overall market will feel the knock on effects. However the previous pace of change brought more than its share of problems with inflation, traffic disruption etc. A more modest sustainable rate of growth as the market matures may be a blessing in disguise. Whether all of those projects could have been financed and resourced with staff and euipment without disrupting the economy is debatable.

We offer proven solutions to help businesses to manage and grow. New technologies for collaboration, mobility, social media, cloud computing , data processing and storage, and communication offer new ways for the best to compete, and new ways for us to work with customers to help them better manage their busineses.

Yahoo messenger vulnerability

December 13th, 2011

An unpatched vulnerability that lets attackers alter user’s status messages and possibly perform other unauthorized actions that could be exploited by directing users to malicious spam links, according to Computerworld. The flaw,  is found in the application’s file transfer API, and  allows attackers to write a script in less than 50 lines of code to send malformed requests resulting in the execution of commands without any involvement from victims.

Bogdan Botezatu, a researcher at security firm BitDefender, says, in a blog post“If you can receive messages from contacts outside of your [Yahoo Instant Messenger] list, you are 100% vulnerable.” The potential for this exploit affects Yahoo Messenger version 11x, including the newly released 11.5.0.152-us.

Note, that according to the Yahoo! Messenger blog, they ended support for previous Yahoo! Web Messenger as of November 1, 2011 and urged users to download the new desktop client 11.x or use IM through Yahoo! Mail.

UAE ranks 27th happiest country

December 12th, 2011

The latest Legatum Index ranks 110 countries on their overall level of prosperity.

UAE ranks 27th based on various parameters including: economy, entrepreneurship, governance, education, health, safety, personal freedom and social capital.

India is ranked at No 91. Yet, many Indians are optimistic about their economic future as well as about business opportunities, the survey reveals.

Rwanda, at 98, is ranked below Iran (97). The country faces a small domestic market, poor standards of living and high inflation. Kenya’s economy is one of the worst performing in the world with very dissatisfied citizens, most of which are deeply suspicious of their country’s politics. Kenya is ranked at No 102. Nigeria (104) faces an inflation rate of around 11%

Yemen has high unemployment, low output, and poor prospects for future growth; not to forget the civil unrest. The country is ranked at No 106. Pakistan is one more Asian country in the bottom 20 ranks. Ranked 107, Pakistan does not perform well on most macroeconomic variables. Its political system suffers from a lack of competition and low accountability

Volvo Ocean Race 2011 – Abu Dhabi

December 12th, 2011

The six-strong Volvo Ocean Race fleet begins its historic journey from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi today, as the emirate completes plans to become the first Arabian destination to host the gruelling, 39,000 nautical mile, round the world ‘Everest of Sailing’.

Public beta of Windows 8

December 10th, 2011

Microsoft on Tuesday confirmed that it will release a public beta of Windows 8 in late February, 2012.

The company broke the news at a San Francisco developers event Tuesday, where Antoine Leblond, vice president of Windows Web services, touted Windows Store, the app market that will be the sole distribution channel for applications designed to run in Windows 8′s new “Metro” interface.

Windows Store will open to the public at the same time Windows 8′s beta ships,. While Microsoft has yet to talk about an official launch date for Windows 8, the beta’s timing hints at a fall 2012 debut, assuming the company paces Windows 8′s final development and testing as it did Windows 7′s.

Data by the zeta byte

December 10th, 2011

The November 2011 edition of Popular Science magazine isdevoted to data and how to use it to “transform the world”.

In 2010, there was around1.2 zetabytes of data (a zetabyte is a trillion gigabytes), and tby the end of 2011 there will be about 1.8 zetabytes.

Impressive numbers (and maybe  a good time to  self: invest in some hard drive company shares),but  raw data is, by itself, worthless. For data to be useful, it must be analyzed and interpreted. Storing data is easy, putting it to good use can be very difficult, and organizations are trying hard.

Google is in the process of collecting every word published since the year 1500, about 500 billion words so far. It has already created an entirely new field of study called culturomics, for the study of human behavior and cultural trends through the analysis of digitized texts, which are then used to predict future trends.  ( Isaac Asimov’s Foundation book series, where a science he calls psychohistory,  combines the knowledge of history, sociology and mathematical statistics to make predictions about the future).

Today I  read in Gulf News Business section an interview with Harold Goldjin, the founder of Tom Tom for in car navigation systems which was adopted faster than fax, email etc. Now you can get such services cheaply on your phone, so the company profits started to fall and they evolved a new business model. One of these allows the individual car GPS to send data back to a central database along with other drivers route plans to predict where bottlenecks may occur and re-route drivers accordingly. It could extend to  an in car sim providing data for car sharing arrangements, or for car insurance charges based on miles driven and the current road conditions, traffic and risk.

Also today in Gulf News there was a pertinent article about (Gordon) Moore’s Law (1965) ie. that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles about every 2 years. Since I first worked on silicon chips in 1970 with Plessey Research the number has amazingly  grown from just 1,000 to 2 billion.

As use of mobile applications increases and You Yube becomes one of the most used websites (6 million hits daily from the Gulf region)  ,  and video and audio streaming etc increases rapidl,y so does the amount of data flowing and the neeed for increased bandwidth.

 In 2010 the the data capacity in the region was  379 gbps (equivalent to 250,000 movie downloads) and its increasing rapidly and that is without considering Iraq yet to come on stream. Business regularly now presents over the web. Medical experts collaborate with sophisticated imaging, cloud based computing, SharePoint etc   will all drive demand for bandwidth . The Gulf Bridge International cable network is the answer.  It will use 40G fibre optic (industry norm is 1o Gb)  and will be the first subsea cable operator with 100 GB connectivity.

This is a major plus  for both businesses in the region and for personal use.

Microsoft Dynamics Ax 2012 – enterprise software for Dubai

December 10th, 2011

The 3 P’s  of successful erp selection are:

  1.  processes – which are key to your business -  does it make that much difference when you change your back office  software, or is it in your sales and manufacturing where you make money?
  2. partner – a good partner  will not sell you an inappropriate solution and will make an average product work for you – a good solution with  a bad partner  will be a disaster
  3. platform – scalebability, performance, integation, ease of adaptation to your business, workflows,

Here are jsut 3 reasons why  Microsoft Dynamics Ax 2012  from Synergy Software Systems is recommended  for Enteprrise requirements: 

A single vendor for all your end-to-end business management process requirements
With Microsoft and Microsoft Dynamics AX you get it all. You get the Microsoft stack which includes office productivity, middleware, collaboration, project management, secure access and communications. Only Microsoft and Microsoft Dynamics AX offer you all of this integrated functionality from a single, software powerhouse.

 Global familiarity
Microsoft Office and Microsoft Outlook is a universal, business fact. Global work force familiarity with traditional Microsoft Office productivity software equates to superior ease-of-use and a greater degree of comfort and confidence when it comes to your most important asset – your people. This one simple fact translates into a lower-cost Dynamics AX ERP implementations, greater staffing flexibility, easier ramp-up, faster end-to-end business processes, and quicker innovation cycles.

 The backing of the Microsoft brand
Microsoft has been, is, and will continue to be there with you. With Microsoft you get it all – optimum risk management and innovative thought and industry leadership. By implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX for your manufacturing business, you won’t have to worry about whether or not your software partner is keeping up with industry trends. Microsoft publically announces their R&D budgets yearly.