Stories by Neil McAllister

Will Google and Microsoft own the Web?

It's something of an open secret that Mozilla, the organization behind the open source Firefox Web browser, gets most of its funding from Google -- 91 percent, to be exact. The deal gives Google top placement in Firefox's search engine bar. But now that Google is also shipping Chrome, its own branded browser, some critics are asking whether the search engine giant's deep pockets have allowed it to gain too much influence over the Web browser market.

15 events that changed technology history

There are certain key points that have shaped the way technology is today. We've rounded up the 15 most important milestones and explained why they changed the course of the industry.

Can Apple Save the Netbook?

I'm a big fan of netbooks -- the compact, lightweight, inexpensive laptops pioneered by Asus with its Eee PC line. Small, rugged, and yet full-featured enough for Web browsing and other light computing tasks, my Eee PC 901 has become a treasured companion for business travel. But the cost of newer netbook models has crept up, and many vendors are now offering standard-sized notebooks at rock-bottom prices, making the value of netbooks less clear.

This software brought to you by Ovaltine

Are we having a recession yet? Ask and ye shall receive. If the bad news keeps rolling in from Wall Street, coded phrases like "economic downturn" won't stop companies from acting as if the recession is already here.

SDK shoot-out: Android vs. iPhone

InfoWorld has been all over this week's official launch of Android, the new smartphone platform from Google. With its slick interface and open application platform, Android shows every sign of giving Apple's iPhone a run for its money when the first phones begin shipping in late October.

20 more IT mistakes to avoid

Back in 2004, InfoWorld's then-CTO Chad Dickerson polled the best and brightest to reveal 20 IT mistakes that were surefire recipes for cost overruns, missed deadlines, and in some cases, lost jobs.

Building Google Chrome: A first look

Last week I said I would look at Google Chrome "from a developer's perspective." I should have specified what kind. I meant I was considering it from a Web developer's perspective: What does it mean for Web application builders to have yet another browser enter the already-crowded field?

Bitten by the Red Hat Perl bug

As my colleague Martin Heller recently observed, smart coders always optimize the slowest thing. Trying to optimize every trivial performance issue in your code is just chasing your own tail. You should find the one problem that's causing the biggest performance hit and fix that first.

Empowering the software auteurs

The best technology products are often the product of a singular vision. Look at Apple. Look at Nintendo. These companies' enduring successes owe their existence to the presence of a strong guiding hand: someone whose exacting standards ensure that the project never strays too far from its core goals and principles.

Product review: Netbooks for business

The original Asus Eee PC took the hardware world by storm. Small, lightweight, inexpensive, yet running a full-fledged OS, this tiny device offered laptop capabilities at near-PDA pricing. Asus has since expanded its Eee PC line with models of varying capabilities, and competing devices are now arriving from other manufacturers, including Acer, Dell, HP, and MSI, among others. Collectively, these devices have come to be called "netbooks."

Exploit reveals the darker side of automatic updates

A recent study of Web browser installations showed that far too few are up to date with the latest security patches. And browsers aren't alone; as my dear old mum can attest, it can be hard to keep up with OS and application patches when all you want to do is use your computer for work. It should come as no surprise that many PCs are vulnerable to security exploits that could otherwise be prevented.

SourceForge Award Winners Announced

SourceForge.net's annual Community Choice Awards, designed to honor open source software projects in a variety of categories, have concluded. This year's awards were open to any open source projects, not just ones that were hosted on SourceForge.net, so they promised to be an accurate representation of the entire field.

Battle for the Cloud: Google vs. Microsoft

Last week I got my first close-up look at Live Mesh, Microsoft's new cloud computing-based data synchronization and device management platform. Unlike past sync solutions from Microsoft, Live Mesh maintains a master copy of your data on the software giant's own servers, enabling instant access to the latest version your files from any Internet-connected device. It's clearly a shot over Google's bow.

Drizzle Project Plans a Stripped-Down MySQL

The open source MySQL database began life as a lightweight alternative to big, resource-hungry database management systems, such as Oracle or Sybase. Over the years, however, users have clamored for more and more features, causing MySQL's codebase to swell with capabilities that had previously only been found on its commercial cousins.

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