DEMO - Vendors make a splash

Sixty-eight companies at Network World's DEMO 07 conference last week managed to bring attention to their new products and services without shutting down a single highway, bridge or river. Not a bomb-sniffing dog in sight. No one hauled off in handcuffs.

Yet there was plenty of exciting stuff to see in Palm Desert, California. Here's a sample:

It wasn't anything like the cartoonish chaos that crippled Boston last week courtesy of Turner Broadcasting's publicity stunt, but crime - namely, identity theft - was in the air here. As the show was underway, a survey paid for by Visa, Widentity theft last year over 2005.

Call Symantec unimpressed . . . and why not, given that the decline cited in the survey leaves ID theft as a US$50 billion "business." Symantec used DEMO to discuss details of its Identity Initiative that will use the company's Norton line of products to help consumers protect their personal data and conduct safe transactions online. Reputation services, antiphishing warnings, personal identity management tools, and one-time credit card transactions will be part of the package that should appear in Norton products by September, company officials said. A free lightweight version of the Norton Identity client also is on tap.

The Evros Project from Alcatel-Lucent (Bell Labs) used the show to demonstrate a tool that will let network pros manage users' laptops not only wirelessly and when they're plugged in, but also when they're turned off or in the hands of thieves. They aren't the only ones tackling these issues, but their demo looked slick and corporate customers are hungry for these capabilities.

They're just as anxious to get their hands on products that will help navigate the shifting waters of regulatory compliance. SailPoint showed off its Compliance IQ software that will provide such a detailed look into your organization that you'll be able to tell it's Bob in Accounting who represents the greatest risk.

But let's get down to the important stuff: Which among these companies is going to make my life easier or more amusing?

One might be laptop battery maker Boston-Power. On the flight from Massachusetts to California, I don't think we had crossed the Mississippi before my laptop battery crapped out. Boston-Power promises that its Sonata line of batteries will provide significantly longer life without fading, enhanced safety features and dramatically reduced recharging times. An executive from HP, which ships more laptops than any vendor, was on-stage to introduce Boston-Power and sing the praises of its founder/CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud. Lampe-Onnerud said she's continually spurning the advances of would-be investors.

Here's another one looking out for me-me-me: Iwerx. As many as 100,000 blogs are born every day, a teeming brood that includes an alarmingly high percentage - estimates as high as 45% - of so-called splogs, rip-off sites that scrape content and steal traffic from established writers such as yours truly and amateurs such as your mom. Whacking these moles has proven difficult if not futile. So into the fray steps Iwerx with a service called Sentinel, which will scan the blogosphere looking for exact cut-and-paste copies of your content, and the more difficult-to-detect lightly rewritten versions. Subscribers get reports and cease-and-desist letters. Basic Sentinel will be free, and it'll take about two weeks to get your report. Added features and faster turnaround costs US$20 a month.

Other good DEMO stuff:

  • University research labs are not supposed to be like Las Vegas: What happens in them is not supposed to stay there, yet too often that's the case. Looking to change that situation is the Kauffman Innovation Network and its nonprofit iBridge Network, which aggregates university research materials, technologies and discoveries into an online, easy-to-search forum. Through the iBridge Web site , researchers and commercial users can find what they need by using community tagging and open interfaces - and then obtain the materials via e-commerce.
  • No mean trick, technically speaking, but eJamming Audio would have won a raised cigarette lighter from me for choosing the greatest song of all time to demonstrate its ability to connect performing musicians online in real time and in sync. An instrument (or voice), broadband connection and eJamming's software are all you need to hook up with others online for jamming, teaching, learning or just goofing around. Looks like a lot of fun. . . . The song? Born to Run. Bruce would like eJamming.
  • Support.com: For those of you who don't have a crack IT department at your beck and call.

Think I'll read on the flight back just to spite my laptop battery.

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Paul McNamara

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