Software bill expected to die at Capitol

The future looks bleak for proposed legislation that would have made Texas the second state in the country to require its agencies to use software that could be translated by all other software programs.

For the second consecutive legislative session, the proposal that would require vendors such as Microsoft Inc. to make their software more accessible to all users is expected to die a quiet death. This time, it’s stuck in the State Affairs Committee with no hearing date scheduled before the May 15 deadline.

The translatable software, called open document format software, is an interoperable standard used in proprietary and free software. It was developed in 2005 with extensions such as .odt for text files and .odp for presentations, instead of proprietary extensions like .doc, .xls or .ppt.

The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said it should have been sent to the Technology Committee instead of State Affairs, “where bills are sent to die.”

Dell had change of heart for Web domain

Is $750 too much for a $61 billion computer maker to pay for a domain name — especially when it involves one of the fastest-growing segments of the industry’s business? It was for Dell Inc.

Last month, Round Rock-based Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) launched its ultrathin laptop computer called the Adamo. But Dell, the No. 2 computer maker in the world, spent nearly three months playing a name game before finally spending the money for the domain

Dell’s approach provides a cautionary tale, experts said, for computer companies trying to attract customers at a time of shrinking profit margins  as consumers increasingly rely on simple Web site addresses to skip search engines.

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Twitter’s tweaking marketing

When crashed a couple weeks ago, technology executive Andy Meadows didn’t call a buddy nor the company to find the problem. Instead, he turned to a network of instantly accessible tech-savvy people — on Twitter.

Meadows, CEO of Austin business consulting firm LiveOak 360, said he used to log onto Google or wait for a really simple syndication, or RSS, feed. But Twitter, the text message-based social networking tool, has become his chosen method for fast answers.

“It’s the first place I go when I have a question,” Meadows said. “It’s a continuous conversation going on right now around the world. It’s immediate.”

It’s also why more businesspeople in Austin are using Twitter — businesses selling everything from coffee to computers.

iPhone apps big business

Brian Greenstone wasn’t expecting much when he started working on an application for Apple Inc.’s iPhone in March.

The Austin-based game developer just wanted to have some fun. That fun has turned into a multimillion-dollar business for Greenstone’s Pangea Software Inc.

Although his game development business launched in 1987, the revenue generated in six months by just two of its iPhone games has matched the retail revenue of all of Pangea’s preceding personal computer games combined, he says. Instead of looking in the mouth of such a gift horse, Greenstone is jumping aboard and riding it all the way to the bank by forgoing the PC market to focus exclusively on iPhone games.

“There’s no point in doing any Mac games,” he says. “It’s more fun to do the iPhone, it’s more profitable and it’s easier.”

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