In defense of 'The Star Wars Holiday Special'

Say the words "The Star Wars Holiday Special" around a group of geeks, and you'll most likely be met with guttural groans and a lot of glares. The 97-minute TV special debuted on November 17, 1978 (making this its 35th-anniversary year), and never aired again. Many fans, as well as director George Lucas, would prefer to pretend the Wookiee- and disco-saturated show never existed, but I watch it every year as a holiday tradition to amuse myself and horrify my friends.

The infamous TV special aired on CBS, parent company of CNET. It featured not only the iconic "Star Wars" characters Chewbacca, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, C-3PO and R2-D2, but also new characters like Chewie's wife Malla, his son Lumpy, and his father Itchy. If that's not intriguing enough, we get "Golden Girls" actress Bea Arthur playing Ackmena the cantina bartender; "The Carol Burnett Show" veteran Harvey Korman playing a myriad of bizarre characters; and actor Art Carney as electronics salesman Saun Dann and friend to the Wookiees. … Read more

A viewing deck built right into your private jet

Every once in a while, something comes along that makes you wonder why no one thought of it sooner. BAE Systems' "Air Deck" does just that, with a balcony that folds right down off the rear of a private jet. The viewing platform, probably the first in aviation history, takes a mere five minutes to transform the back of the aircraft into either an extended living space or an elevated outdoor viewing deck.

U.K. luxury transport design consultancy firm Design Q came up with concept designs for BAE's Explorer One and Explorer Four Avro Business Jets … Read more

IBM proclaims middleware dominance

IBM released new analyst data on Monday that shows Big Blue is the market share leader for service-oriented architecture (SOA) software, capturing nearly 75 percent of the market. This follows news last week detailing IBM's 31 percent overall middleware market share.

And while it's not surprising that IBM has a large share of the middleware market, what's notable is that much of the company's recent success has come with an added bonus--taking away Oracle customers.

Oracle introduced its Fusion Middleware product roadmap in 2008, which included the amalgamation of several acquisitions, including BEA and Plumtree. However, … Read more

SpringSource and MindTouch seek to redefine the application server

There was a time when vendors knew how to color inside the lines. A database vendor sold databases. An operating system vendor peddled operating systems. And application server vendors were in the business of selling application servers.

Customers knew what "application server" meant, which is what paved the way for low-cost, high-value open-source application servers like JBoss, Geronimo, and others to arise. The category was well understood. The only thing the customer had to decide was whether she wished to overspend on a brand-name application server or buy into an open-source upstart.

As the economy continues to pressure … Read more

Oracle sticks a fork in BEA AquaLogic

Word on the street is that Oracle is in process of killing the AquaLogic brand that BEA spent over $300 million to assemble, and probably $100 million more to market. This is a bit of a surprise as BEA had gone to extraordinary lengths to build the brand, which I would argue was much more popular than Oracle's SOA offerings.

The Register has learned from individuals close to the company that BEA's new owner Oracle is merging the AquaLogic and WebLogic professional service teams. Oracle is also splitting the AquaLogic products between "web products" - user … Read more

Rumor: Tibco getting acquired?

Tibco Software's stock has been up Monday. My sources are tying it to an unsubstantiated rumor that the company is close to being taken out.

On one hand, this consolidation thing has gotten out of control. On the other hand, it remains a great time to be an open-source company, and these types of amalgamations prove how important it is to control your software environment.

A few possible acquirers of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based maker of business software:

• Oracle--unlikely in light of the BEA finalization but anything is possible • SAP--if anyone needs some good integration software, … Read more

A Map of the Players in Cloud Computing, SaaS, and PaaS

BEA's Peter Laird just posted a great overview of Cloud Computing, SaaS, and Platform-as-a-Service PaaS for those who are still struggling to figure it out (and really who isn't?)

As always, the definitions are vague, yet arguable but I think they do a good job in establishing what we are talking about.

Cloud Computing Cloud computing refers to the virtualization of the data center, such that server machines are not thought of individually but as just a commodity in a greater collection of server machines. Cloud computing solutions in general strive to eliminate the need for an application … Read more

Oracle closes BEA Systems merger

Oracle announced Tuesday it completed its $6.7 billion acquisition of BEA Systems, bringing to a close a contentious buyout effort that began last fall.

Oracle--which like Microsoft went public with its unsolicited bid for a reluctant acquisition target--cleared its final merger hurdle when European antitrust regulators gave it a thumbs up.

In Oracle's case, the enterprise software applications behemoth spent more than three months applying pressure to its rival BEA, before the parties struck a deal with the help of the middleware software maker's largest individual investor, Carl Icahn.

BEA initially rejected Oracle's bid as too … Read more

Oracle-BEA merger gets regulatory approval

Oracle announced Wednesday it has received a green light from regulators to move forward on its merger plans with BEA Systems.

For Oracle, the early termination of the antitrust review may just be the easiest part of the process it has undergone since launching its buyout bid for BEA in October.

Oracle's unsolicited buyout bid of $17 a share was initially met with resistance by BEA, which claimed it undervalued the company. The companies threw barbs back and forth, until BEA ultimately signed aboard, under pressure from its largest shareholder Carl Icahn.

The Federal Trade Commission and the U.… Read more

Tech companies beware, a bear may be outside your door

Has your tech company played coy with a potential suitor lately? You may want to rethink your reaction.

In the past four months, Oracle, Microsoft, and Electronic Arts have all launched high-profile, unsolicited buyout bids for reluctant targets. Such efforts are otherwise known as bear hugs.

Oracle put the squeeze on middleware competitor BEA Systems in October; Microsoft did likewise with Yahoo at the start of this month; and on Sunday, EA made a play for rival game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software.

Did someone forget to put the lid back on the honey jar?

In the case of Oracle, it … Read more