Privacy Legislation in California

Not all politicians are blind to the need for laws protecting people’s privacy, or at least putting some brakes on the wholesale violations we’re seeing every day by an assortment of Big and Little Brothers. One of the consequences of our current system is rampant identity theft. The credit industry thinks it’s just a nuisance, but the consequences are horrible for the victims.

California State Sen. Debra Bowen is one of the politicians who gets it, as I discuss in Tuesday’s column.

A sign of the times: You can buy identify-theft insurance. I’m not sure this is progress…

Prime Time for BeOS 5.0

It’s here. As of today you can download BeOS 5.0 for Intel-compatible computers. The cost to you is no dollars plus, no doubt, a considerable amount of your time.

Be is also opening up some of the source code, though not all. From a press release:

The advanced BeOS user interface known as Tracker (the desktop) and Deskbar (the taskbar) form the user’s experience with the operating system. Be is placing source code for these applications on the Internet for programmers who want to increase the integration between their applications and the award-winning architecture of the multimedia-rich Be system. The source code for Tracker is available at and the source code for the Deskbar is available at Both websites are operational and available immediately.

Cisco Hits the Top Market Spot

It finally happened. At least for a day, though one suspects considerably longer, Cisco Systems became the most valuable company in the world (Mercury News). As of the market close last night, Microsoft was second.

Last week, as this day drew closer, I asked Cisco’s chief executive how he’d feel when the company he leads reached this pinnacle. His answer was a bit surprising.

Consolidation in Speech Recognition Market

It’s sobering to see the news that Lernout & Hauspie is buying Dragon Systems (Dragon press release). The innovation shown by the latter, a tiny company up against industry giants — including IBM, Philips and Microsoft, which has a big stake in L&H, has been inspiring to watch. Dragon has deservedly captured a large market share.

Perhaps competition will continue at the frenetic pace we’ve seen in recent years. But this merger should get some antitrust scrutiny.

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