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Intel Profit Falls 55%; CEO Says PC Sales Have ‘Bottomed Out’ April 14, 2009

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From the Wall Street Journal:

“Intel’s first-quarter net income dropped 55% on lower sales and margins, but the computer-chip giant’s CEO said PC sales bottomed out during the quarter and the industry is returning to normal seasonal patterns.

The company declined to provide a formal outlook, but said that for internal purposes, it sees second-quarter revenue being about flat with the first quarter.

Intel is the first major high-tech company to post results for a period that has seen falling demand. The company’s results are expected to offer the best early indication of how far off the industry is from some level of stabilization.”

EBay to Spin Off Skype in 2010 IPO April 14, 2009

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This just in from the Wall Street Journal:

EBay said it plans to split off its Skype unit and set plans for an IPO of the Web-calling service in the first half of 2010. EBay CEO John Donahoe called Skype “a great stand-alone business with strong fundamentals and accelerating momentum,” but said it is “clear that Skype has limited synergies” with the core eBay auction service and PayPal payment arm.”

This was only a matter of time. Publicly, Ebay has been very careful to talk up the “synergies” between Skpe and Ebay – but despite the fact that over 80% of all international voice telecommunications are now carried through Skype and their SILK protocol, Skype has been a millstone around Ebay’s neck. The simple fact is, Ebay paid too much for Skype and also grandly underestimated the effect of Google Product Search on their earnings. The Street forced Ebay to unload Skype in order to protect future earnings. I like this move: it’s time for Skype to spread it’s wings. You may recall that the founders of Skype, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, also founded Joost and Peer-to-Peer network Kaazaa.

Zennstrom and Friis sold Skype to eBay in 2005 for US$2.6 billion in cash and stock, with the possibility of an additional $1.5 billion payout if certain financial goals were met. At the time, eBay planned to integrate Skype’s technologies into its online auction business, providing buyers with a “click to call” button on auctions so that they could ask questions and communicate with sellers. eBay also postulated that it could use Skype on its own customer support site, giving consumers a problem-solving option in addition to eBay’s Web interface.

Boston Game Developer’s Meeting Tonight (Tuesday, April 14th) in Waltham! 7-10pm @ The Skellig Pub April 14, 2009

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There will be a meeting tonight (Tuesday, April 14th) of the Boston Post Mortem Game Developer’s Group in Waltham, at the Skellig Pub on Moody Street, from 7pm to 10pm. http://www.bostonpostmortem.org

From Their Web Site’s Post regarding tonight’s event:

“For our April meeting, we have Steve Meretzky doing his talk, “Bring Back the Fun”:

“Is game development less fun than it used to be, and if so why and what can we do about it? The answers, it turns out, lie in the birth of the American industrial revolution and the Australian wine industry. Intrigued? No? Well, then stay home and work on your taxes, you last-minute slackers.”

As a side note, Steve will soon be moving out of our great state of Massachusetts, so this will also be your final chance to throw rotten vegetables at him for the foreseeable future. Don’t miss out!

Logistics:

Tuesday, April 14th @ 7pm – 10pm
The Skellig, Waltham

Our sponsors are the Independent Game Conference East, which is coming to Boston May 7-8, and Mary Margaret Network! We’re not completely finalized on whether it’s food, drink. or both being sponsored, but we’ll keep you in the loop.”

In order to sign up for the Boston Post Mortem Group’s Email List, Click Here

If you loved, as I did, the 80’s text-based adventure games from Infocom like Planetfall, Zork Zero, and Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, then you won’t want to miss this event:

Some quotes regarding Steve Meretzky, most recently of Blue Fang Games, creators of Zoo Tychoon, and headquartered in Waltham’s Reservoir Place office park on Trapelo Road:

“Meretzky’s resume reads like the contents of a ‘Best Of’ compilation.”
— PC Gamer

“The funniest man in the business.”
— Zero

“Seeing the words ‘Steve Meretzky’ on a game box is akin to seeing the words ‘The Beatles’ on an album.”
— Compuserve Online Reviews

“The Steven Spielberg of adventure games.”
— Compute’s PC & PCjr

What the Heck is a MPLS NGN? April 14, 2009

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Ever since I heard of MPLS NGN, I have been excited about the potential for the latest backbone networking technology and wanted to find out more about it. After reading through several books on MPLS NGNs, their architecture, the advantages, and what their potential for ILEC provisoners as well as CLEC access providers truly is, I think I am ready to outline the definition of a MPLS NGN, describe in an extremely non-technical way how they work, what they do, and what kinds of services they will enable in the future. I also try and expand just a bit on why I think they are so important, and what kinds of traditional weakness and deficiencies is the networks that have gone before they are able to address. And addressing on the fly is really at the heart of what a MPLS NGN does so well: 

General Architecture of a Multiprotocol Label Switching, Next Generation Network

MPLS is an acronym for Multiprotocol Label Switching. A NGN is a Next Generation Network. 

MPLS was created to address the weaknesses in traditional IP networks. Please recall that IP was designed to support “best effort” services. In other words, routers contain no inherent perception of the existence of or proper functioning of connections or rings; they see the ports and addresses that are available to their discovery via priority cues and routing tables. Simply put, IP routing lacks intelligence. So-called “Least cost” routing was designed to conduct traffic along the network using the shortest possible number of hops, which means traffic on the network could potentially take shorter, congested paths rather than the potentially more efficient longer, uncongested paths, leading to network “hotspots” and degrading network performance.

The MPLS environment, which has been gaining increased attention, was born out of Cisco’s tag switching. MPLS was originally proposed by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) in 1997, with the core specifications being finalized in 2000. MPLS’s ability to plot static paths through an IP network gives service providers the traffic-engineering ability they crave, and the capability for provisioning (in the telecom sense of that word) VPNs is greatly strengthened. In fact, MPLS provides a very solid base for VPNs – and with increased capability for traffic engineering, service providers are able to tightly control and maintain QoS as well as optimize network utilization.

Although technically not an IP network, despite the fact that it can run in routers and uses IP routing protocols like OSPF and IS-IS, MPLS is one of the most significant developments in IP. To truly understand why this is, you also need to know that although it can also use repurposed ATM switch hardware, MPLS is, again technically, not an ATM network. 

MPLS is another type of network entirely: MPLS is a service-enabling technology. Think of MPLS like a general purpose, tunneling technology. As such, it is capable of carrying both IP and non-IP payloads. It uses what is called “label switching” to transport cells or packets over any data link layer throughout the network.

Much like the inband and out-of-band signaling on the PSTN, MPLS separates the forwarding, or transport, plane from the control plane. By so doing, it enables the capability to run the control plane on devices which cannot actually understand IP or recognize the boundaries of incoming packets. MPLS itself is an encapsulating protocol that has the ability to transport a number of other protocols. These protocols are encapsulated with a label that at each hop is swapped. The label is a number, or UID (Unique Identifier) that identifies a set of data flows along a particular logical link. They are only of local significance and they must change as a packets follow along a predetermined path – they literally switch.

MPLS’s potential to untie IP and optical switching under one route-provisioning umbrella is of great benefit, but it was designed to address two problems inherent in IP networks: IP sends all traffic over the same route between two points, and it cannot absolutely guarantee network resources, because as you will recall, IP is a connectionless protocol. These two shortcomings, in times of heavy network traffic, lead to some routes becoming underutilized while others become congested. Lacking control over the routing assignments, the provider cannot steer traffic from congested to less busy routes. So one key differentiator between IP and MPLS is the simple fact the MPLS networks can steer packets between two points along different paths depending upon their switching MPLS labels.

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