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BOLIVAR, Mo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Duck Creek Technologies, Inc., a provider of product configuration, sales automation, rating and policy administration solutions for the insurance industry, today announced that Everest National Insurance Company has selected Duck Creeks Commercial Policy Administration Solution, a web enabled platform designed to manage the complete commercial lines policy life cycle. The implementation will initially focus on Everests General Liability and Excess & Surplus lines with plans to support other commercial lines in the future.

One of the key factors contributing to Everests selection of Duck Creek was the systems flexibility and tool-based approach that will enable quick development and deployment of new insurance products. Being able to respond quickly to market opportunities in todays competitive marketplace was one of the insurers main objectives.

As a web enabled solution built on service oriented architecture (SOA), the Duck Creek policy administration solution proved a good fit for Everests technology strategy. In addition to the need for a flexible and configurable system, Everest also had a desire to be self-sufficient in order to quickly make product modifications and build new products with minimal ongoing dependence on Duck Creek resources.

We wanted a solution that was tool-based and was consistent with our SOA technology strategy, but we also wanted a system that would enable us to control our own destiny without having to rely on the vendor for every modification, enhancement, and new product. Duck Creek proved to be a good fit on all counts, Sandeep Bajaj, CIO with Everest National Insurance Company.

Everests Executive Vice President and CAO Barry Smith commented, Our selection of Duck Creek was a combination of the strength of their policy administration solution, coupled with the Duck Creek teams depth of insurance industry business knowledge and technical expertise.

Smith continued, With the Duck Creek system, the tools-based technology platform enables our business users for the first time to have easy access to and control of data—so they can more quickly make informed underwriting decisions; allowing us to take advantage of market opportunities with the proper infrastructure.

Duck Creeks Doug Roller, CEO, noted, We are pleased to welcome Everest National Insurance Company to our growing family of clients and thank them for selecting Duck Creek. Our success is the reflection of the ongoing support and vision of our clients combined with the dedication of the Duck Creek team. We look forward to continuing our work with the Everest implementation team to support their companys growth strategy.

About Everest

Everest Re Group, Ltd. is a Bermuda Holding company that operates through the following subsidiaries: Everest Reinsurance Company provides reinsurance to property and casualty insurers in both the U.S. and international markets. Everest Reinsurance (Bermuda), Ltd., including through its branch in the United Kingdom, provides reinsurance and insurance to worldwide property and casualty markets and reinsurance to life insurers. Everest National Insurance Company and Everest Security Insurance Company provide property and casualty insurance to policyholders in the U. S. Everest Indemnity Insurance Company offers excess and surplus lines insurance in the U. S.

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Shopping offline
Air was code-named “apollo” during its development


Adobe has launched software designed to make it easier for computer users to use online applications offline. Adobe Air allows developers to build tools that still have some functionality even when a computer is no longer connected to the net.

A free download will allow users of Macs, PCs and, later this year, Linux machines to run any Air applications.

The first programs that use the technology, developed by web sites such as eBay, have already been released.

“Air is going to allow applications that run on the web today – that run in the browser – to be brought down to the desktop,” Andrew Shorten, platform evangelist at Adobe told BBC News.

“It’s about taking existing web applications and adding extra functionality whether you want to work offline or whether you want to access data on your disk.”

Seamless vision

Mr Shorten said that the technology is not about replacing the web browser.

eBay

Many firms have already developed Air applications

“It’s about delivering the best experience depending on where you are and what you need to get from the application, ” he said.

“If I’m on the road with my laptop maybe I want to use the desktop version of my application. If I pop into an internet cafe I can still access it through the browser.”

The software is part of a growing number of technologies that aim to make the transition between the on and offline worlds seamless.

In 2006, Microsoft unveiled its Silverlight technology. And last year Google launched Gears.

The tool does not allow the creation of new content but does allow web applications to be used offline.

For example, the developers of the free online office package Zoho use Gears to give users similar functionality to normal desktop office programs.

The nice thing about it is that it works on all the different platforms
John O’Donovan
BBC

Similarly, Adobe is looking into provide Air versions of many of its popular programs such as Photoshop.

A host of other companies and web services have already built Air applications.

For example, Ebay has built a program that allows users to do much of the legwork required in setting up auctions offline. The next time the user connects to the internet the listing would be posted to the website.

The application also allows users to keep up to date with auctions and bids without the need to have a browser open at the eBay page.

Blurred boundary

The BBC is also building prototype applications with AIR.

“The nice thing about it is that it works on all the different platforms – Mac, PC and eventually Linux,” said John O’Donovan, chief architect in the BBC’s Future Media and Technology Journalism division.

The corporation is currently building prototype versions of several applications such as the news ticker, which displays headlines on a desktop, and mini Motty, which provides desktop football commentary.

The current versions of the programs only work on PCs.

Other programs exploit Air’s ability to access both web content and files on a computer’s disk.

For example, the web-version of Finetunes allows users to stream music over the internet

“If you install the Air version on your desktop it can also look at what you have in your iTunes library and then suggest music based on what it finds,” explained Mr Shorten.

“So it’s really taking the essence of what works on the web, brining it to the desktop and then making it more personal to you.”

Some commentators have pointed out that the ability for an application to delve between the web and a computer’s hard drive raises security implications.

“Our advice would be to only install applications from sources that you trust,” said Mr Shorten.


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Author:  Nick Langley What is it?

Rails is not the only framework for Ruby, and Ruby is not the only language which uses Rails. Rails has also been ported to Javascript by a team at Google (Rhino on Rails), to PHP (Akelos) and most recently, by the BBC, to Perl (Perl on Rails).

But Ruby on Rails is still the main event, and December’s release of Ruby on Rails 2.0 caused a stir, not least because of the abandonment of Soap (Simple Object Access Protocol) in favour of Rest (Representational State Transfer).

Rest is described as an architectural style, not a standard or specification. Restful web services make use of existing technologies, such as HTTP with its simple operations such as “put”, “get” and “post”, and of URLs to uniquely identify each resource. Rest is already widely used, for example, by Amazon. In fact, the Worldwide Web itself has been described as the largest Rest application. Making use of the existing common infrastructure means that Rest applications themselves are similar in structure and can more easily interact and share data.

Where did it originate?

Ruby on Rails was developed by David Heinemeier Hansson of the web-design company 37signals, and released in 2004. Rest was defined in 2000 by Roy Fielding, part of the IETF working group which specified HTTP. Fielding also co-founded the Apache HTTP Server project.

What is it for?

Rails is used to develop web applications using existing database schemas. It provides “scaffolding” – skeleton code – to simplify structuring applications. Like Struts and other web frameworks, Rails uses the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture, which separates different levels of the application and allows them to be worked on without having to make corresponding changes to other levels – enabling a move to Ajax in the view layer without touching the data model.

What makes it special?

Rails users claim a substantial productivity increase. More generally, Rest champions say that existing web services technologies like Soap and WSSD have become increasingly complex and bogged down by slow moving committees and industry consortia. By making use of the existing architecture and protocols of the web, Rest is a more natural fit, and free from the interference of external vested interests.

How difficult is it to master?

Rails simplifies web application building, making it easier to be productive in Ruby and other supported languages. Despite its use of familiar web technologies however, it can be difficult to get your head round Rest at first.

What systems does it run on?

Ruby on Rails.org says “just about any operating system will do, but we recommend a ‘nix-based one for deployment”.

Ruby on Rails is widely shipped and supported – by Oracle, Apple and IBM among others. IBM has released IBM Sharable Code, an online development platform for Ruby on Rails.

What’s coming up?

The forthcoming ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions use the MVC architecture and support Rest, and have been dubbed “ASP.Net on Rails”.

Rates of pay

Ruby on Rails is usually required as part of a larger portfolio and rates vary accordingly.

Training

See Ruby on Rails and Ruby on Rails on Oracle: A Simple Tutorial. Also, An introduction to Ruby on Rails for DB2 developers and other Ruby, Rails and Rest resources on IBM’s Developerworks. There are a number of books including Agile Web Development with Rails and Restful Web Services, both from O’Reilly and Associates.

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Windows XP

Microsoft is one of the firms the NCC wants to see investigated

Some of the world’s biggest computer firms have been accused of imposing unfair contracts on customers who buy their software. The National Consumer Council (NCC) has accused 17 firms, including Microsoft, Adobe and Symantec, of using unfair “end user licence agreements” (EULAs).

The NCC has asked the Office of Fair Trading to launch an investigation.

The NCC said the firms’ EULAs were misleading customers into “signing away legal rights”.

“Software rights-holders are shifting the legal burden on to consumers who buy computer programmes, leaving them with less protection than when they buy a cheap Biro,” said Carl Belgrove of the NCC.

“Consumers can’t have a clue what they’re signing up to when some terms and conditions run to 10 or more pages.

“There’s a significant imbalance between the rights of the consumer and the rights of the holder,” he added.

‘Legal responsibility’

As one of the firms named by the NCC, Microsoft said it had not seen the details of the report and was unable to comment.

But it added that it was committed to dealing “fairly” with consumers and addressing any concerns they might have.

The NCC looked at 25 software packages and said that in 17 instances, the packaging did not tell potential buyers they would have to sign an EULA in order to use it.

While some contained the EULA inside an instruction manual, or let it be read online, this was only after the software had been bought.

“This means that consumers are unable to make informed decisions before they buy a product, yet are being forced to take on an unknown level of legal responsibility,” said the NCC.

After examining the contents of the EULAs, the NCC also said that some contained potentially unfair clauses.

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iTunes advert

The software will allow the sharing of music bought on iTunes

The release of software from a firm run by a notorious Norwegian hacker is likely to cause waves in the music and film download world. Jon Lech Johansen became the “enfant terrible” of the DRM industry when he released software which cracked the encryption codes on DVDs, aged just 15.

His firm, DoubleTwist, has now released software allowing users to share digital media files across devices.

It would allow songs bought on Apple’s iTunes to be shared on other devices.

At the moment, the only portable music player which can store content downloaded from the iTunes store is Apple’s iPod.

Users can copy downloaded songs to a CD and then copy the disc back on to the computer so that the songs can then be moved to other portable devices – but the quality of the music is affected.

In 2003 Mr Johansen distributed a program which bypassed Apple’s Fairplay system, the software that enforces this relationship between iTunes and the iPod. Since then he has had several other well-publicised run-ins with the firm.

Tower of Babel

The new software from his San Francisco-based company DoubleTwist will allow users to share both user-generated and professionally created music, photos and video clips between computers, mobiles and game consoles.

Media which lives on a computer can be moved to a variety of mobile devices by dragging and dropping the files to a desktop folder which then drops copies on the external device over the web.

Initially the system will allow file-sharing with Sony’s PSP games console, Nokia’s N-series mobile, Sony Ericsson’s Walkman and Cybershot handsets and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile smartphones.

The software converts media stored in one file format to those used by the other devices in a system that mimics the process of ripping a CD onto a computer.

One hundred songs can be converted in about half and hour, with a slight degradation in sound quality, according to the firm.

“With digital media such as video from a friend’s cell phone or your own iTunes playlists, it’s a jungle out there,” said Monique Farantzos, co-founder of DoubleTwist.

“The digital media landscape has become a tower of Babel, alienating and frustrating consumers. Our goal is to provide a simple and well integrated solution that the average consumer can use to eliminate the headaches associated with their expanding digital universe,” she said.

The company is confident there will not be any legal challenges from Apple.

“All we are facilitating are friends sending things to one another,” Ms Farantzos told the Reuters news agency.

The software is available as a free download from the company’s website.

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NEW YORK – A new version of video chat software ooVoo released this week allows users to record chats, perhaps to post them to video-sharing sites like YouTube or just to keep them for posterity.

The free software from New York-based ooVoo is a video-oriented competitor to eBay Inc.‘s Skype. It allows video conferencing with up to six participants, while Skype supports only two-party video calls and is more focused on voice communication.

Skype video can be recorded through third-party programs.

Apple Inc.‘s iChat does multiparty video chats, and a recording feature was introduced with Leopard, the company’s latest operating system.

The new 1.5 version of ooVoo also adds features found in other chat programs: visual effects and the ability to call U.S. phones. The first two hours of calls are free. The company hasn’t said how it plans to charge for additional calling.

Recording of calls without the knowledge of all participants is illegal in many U.S. states so the program notifies participants that they are being recorded.

Oovoo is available for Windows PCs only. A Macintosh version is in the works.

___

On the Net:

http://www.oovoo.com

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