Google CEO Unveils Google Health Initiative

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Google CEO Eric Schmidt finally spilled the beans about Google Health at a conference in Florida (the video of the speech is expected to be uploaded to YouTube soon).
Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of products, blogged a bit about the initiative on the official company blog this morning, suggesting the tool will empower users "to collect, store, and manage their own medical records online."
Privacy experts repeatedly warn that online medical records (or PHR, for personal health records) are a bad idea because any sort of security breach could be obscenely harmful to consumers. Still, one analyst we spoke with thinks it's only a matter of time before people voluntarily give up their most sensitive medical information in exchange for the convenience of using the online service or for personalized care.
"We all had these privacy concerns years ago when it came to online banking, but what happened was this: People found it so convenient that they were willing to give up their privacy in exchange for the service," says Andrew Rocklin, principal of Diamond Management & Technology Consultants in Chicago.
You could, for example, argue that users of web-based weight loss services give up some of their most personal and embarrassing information in order to receive customized or personalized dietary care. Rocklin also makes the point that most people give up all kinds of personal information using their local grocery store scan cards.
"Think of all the personal information people give up," Rocklin says. "[Grocery stores] know your Zip code, they know about your kids, your pets, and maybe even your method of birth control. We give all that information away so we can save a little money on a quart of yogurt."


'Google Bomb' an Enemy

Google bombing involves manipulating search engines' contextual search methodologies to cause a certain search phrase to point to an unexpected page, usually for comedic or satirical purposes. A recent example of a google bomb happened in January 2008, when the search phrase "dangerous cult" returned the Chuch of Scientology home page as the top search result.

Google bombing -- also known by the more generic term "link bombing" -- works with any search engine using a relevancy algorithm similar to Google's. For example, run a search for "miserable failure " in Yahoo search. You'll see prominent links to President George W. Bush's biography at at or near the top of the list.
The heart of the system is Google's pagerank algorithm, as well as equivalent competing technologies. The PageRank system assigns a numeric score of 0-10 for each page on the web. Google derives a page's ranking from the PageRank scores of all other pages that link to it.
The key to Google bombing is to generate outgoing links to your target from highly-ranked sites. Get enough highly-ranked sites pointing to your target using the same phrase, and you'll push the target site to the top of the list of search results one sees when entering that mischievous phrase.
Here's how to do it.
Step 1: Plan Your Assault
You'll need a lot of friends who can be convinced to cooperate. The number of links you need depends on a number of factors, including the PageRank of the sites the phrase is posted on as well as the precise phraseology.
Alternatively, you can do all the linking yourself, but you would need at least a few hundred links on separate domains to get the desired result.
Typically, the victim is someone you and a bunch of other people dislike. The more high-profile the target, the better your chances of being seen and making your point.

Step 2: Generate a Whole Lotta Links
The more highly-ranked links search engines detect, the greater rank the chosen site will receive. Typical links include the URL of the target site, with the key phrase comprising the anchor text of the link. A link's anchor text is the words that appear between the and the closing tag in a link.

Tip: The more obscure the linked phrase, the better. If the phrase you choose is a popular one, you may need more links than an obscure phrase.
The total number of links depends on a lot of factors, but think in terms of hundreds or thousands, not millions. For example, the hacker radio show Off The Hook successfully Google bombed themselves with the search term "blank expressions." They peaked as the 6th-ranked site for that phrase with a total of about 350 links.

Step 3: Tell Everyone
What's the use of link bombing if no one notices? After the bomb takes hold, publicize it so ordinary citizens learn all about your move.

Tips & Tricks
In January 2007, it was announced that google would be taking steps to limit the effectiveness of google bombing. It's subsequent algorithm tweak rendered most bombs ineffective. Rather than eliminate them altogether, Google directed search queries to discussion pages describing the bomb and Google's reasons for defusing them. Furthermore, Google is known for manually altering PageRank scores for various reasons, including succumbing to political pressure. Many Google bombs have been suppressed for public relations reasons.
Yahoo, AltaVista and other search engines have not announced any similar measures, so many older bombs that no longer work with Google still work with these other engines.
Also, it is possible to Google bomb for commercial or self-promotional purposes. Commercial link bombing, also known as "spamdexing," involves driving traffic to sites by the massive creation of links via bots, usually targeting the comment fields of blog posts.


Hyper-V by Microsoft

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Virtualization Role
The Virtualization role enables you to create a virtualized server computing environment using a technology that is part of the Windows Server® 2008 operating system. This solution is provided through Hyper-V™. You can use a virtualized computing environment to improve the efficiency of your computing resources by utilizing more of your hardware resources.
Starting with the Beta release of Hyper-V (available in Windows Server 2008 RC1 with Hyper-V Beta) you can install this role on either a full installation or a Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008.
What does Hyper-V do?
Hyper-V provides software infrastructure and basic management tools in Windows Server 2008 that you can use to create and manage a virtualized server computing environment. This virtualized environment can be used to address a variety of business goals aimed at improving efficiency and reducing costs. For example, a virtualized server environment can help you:
•Reduce the costs of operating and maintaining physical servers by increasing your hardware utilization. You can reduce the amount of hardware needed to run your server workloads.
•Increase development and test efficiency by reducing the amount of time it takes to set up hardware and software and reproduce test environments.
•Improve server availability without using as many physical computers as you would need in a failover configuration that uses only physical computers.
•Increase or reduce server resources in response to changes in demand.
Who will be interested in this role?
The Virtualization role can be useful to you if you are one of the following:
•An IT administrator, planner, or designer
•An IT architect responsible for computer management and security throughout your organization
•An IT operations manager who is looking for ways to reduce the total cost of ownership of their server infrastructure, in terms of both power costs and management costs
•A software developer or tester who is looking for ways to increase productivity by reducing the time it takes to build and configure a server for development or test use
Are there any special considerations?
Hyper-V requires specific hardware. You will need the following:
•An x64-based processor. Hyper-V is available only in the x64-based versions of Windows Server 2008—specifically, the x64-based versions of Windows Server 2008 Standard, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise, and Windows Server 2008 Datacenter.
•Hardware-assisted virtualization. This is available in processors that include a virtualization option; specifically Intel VT or AMD Virtualization (AMD-V, formerly code-named "Pacifica").
•Hardware Data Execution Protection (DEP) must be available and be enabled. Specifically, you must enable Intel XD bit (execute disable bit) or AMD NX bit (no execute bit).
What are the key features of Hyper-V?
The key features of Hyper-V are as follows:
•64-bit native hypervisor-based virtualization.
•Ability to run 32-bit and 64-bit virtual machines concurrently.
•Uniprocessor and multiprocessor virtual machines.
•Virtual machine snapshots, which capture the state of a running virtual machine. Snapshots record system state, so you can revert the virtual machine to a previous state.
•Large virtual machine memory support.
•Virtual LAN support.
•Microsoft Management Console (MMC) 3.0 management tool.
•Documented Windows® Management Instrumentation (WMI) interfaces for scripting and management.


WaveMaker to ship upgrade to AJAX apps framework

WaveMaker Software will offer on Wednesday version 3.1.1 of WaveMaker Visual AJAX Studio, a framework for building database-driven AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) Web applications.
Featured in the upgrade is automatic form generation. "We can now take the time it takes to create an online Web form and really reduce it to a few seconds," said Rick Saletta, WaveMaker director of marketing. Users could migrate from an application like Oracle Forms, he said.
The product will be available both commercially with support or as an open-source product under the Affero General Public License, which requires that source code be made available to any network user of work authored under this license, WaveMaker said.
Also highlighted in version 3.1.1 are improvements to make it easier for users to add custom widgets, which are application components offering capabilities like windows and panes. Users can add widgets to the product's directory without the need to do JavaScript coding. Widgets themselves have been improved in the release.
Visual AJAX Studio utilizes the Spring Framework for Java and Hibernate object-relational mapping technology. It can work with any database supporting Hibernate. Minimal AJAX custom coding is required in the product, Saletta said. The product can leverage Web 2.0 technologies while adhering to a CIO's architectural, security, and data policies, WaveMaker said.
The company positions the product against rival offerings from companies like Nexaweb and Bungee Labs, believing products from other companies require use of proprietary technology, such as Bungee Labs's use of the Bungee Logic language with its online hosted service, Bungee Connect.
WaveMaker is considering offering its product as a hosted service similar to Bungee Labs, but no decision has been made, according to Saletta.
Other features in version 3.1 include simplified navigation, bug fixes in such areas as data binding and the product's data model, and certification that it can use the IBM DB2 database and the Internet Explorer browser.
Users can download Visual AJAX Studio 3.1 for free while annual subscriptions featuring professional support services cost $10,000 per Java Virtual Machine instance.
WaveMaker formerly was known as ActiveGrid.


Ballmer launches Windows Server 2008, lauds user base

Besides launching a set of updated products Wednesday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer lauded the company's IT user base, calling them the "heart and soul" of the industry.
The glowing rhetoric fit the theme of Microsoft's launch event, dubbed "Heroes Happen {here}" in homage to IT workers everywhere. But Ballmer quickly segued into a pitch for the new software, which includes Visual Studio 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008.
"I see each and every one of them as simply an enabler of the heroes [in enterprise IT shops]," Ballmer said as he worked the massive stage at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles during the event, which was webcast. Details of the products had already been released to the public and widely discussed, making the launch event anticlimactic.
Ballmer talked up Microsoft's "Dynamic IT" vision, which fits into four main topics that customers have been discussing with Microsoft: Achieving agility and managing complexity, protecting information and controlling access, delivering business value, and making sure that IT professionals are "not the cobbler's children without shoes."
With characteristic gusto, Ballmer painted Microsoft as a company set to transform IT from the datacenter to the browser.
"This is the most significant Windows Server release we have made since the first version," he said, citing in particular hardened security and power savings.
Windows Server 2008 OS is set to ship next week, followed by SQL Server 2008 in the third quarter. Itis expected that more customers will buy the 64-bit versions of the products, in part because of wider availability of 64-bit x86 server hardware and the trend toward server virtualization and consolidation.
"We think we now have the best platform, bar none, for hosting Web applications," Ballmer said later in the presentation, referring to Microsoft's Internet Information Services Web server and Silverlight, its browser plug-in for building rich Internet applications.
Ballmer also looked ahead to the upcoming release of Microsoft's virtualization hypervisor, Hyper-V, which will be offered free with the 64-bit version of Windows Server 2008.
"I think it's well-known we're not the market leader in server virtualization," he acknowledged, but added, "We want to democratize virtualization. Virtualization should be properly, if desired, run on 90 percent or 100 percent of servers, not the current 5 percent or 7 percent."


IBM launches 'consolidation machine'

Large enterprises embarking on big infrastructure consolidation projects could be tempted by the raft of mainframe-related announcements this week, from big name vendors EMC and IBM.
IBM has launched the latest in its line of System z mainframes, the z10, which is available with a new data protection package specifically for z-series systems from EMC, called Disk Library for Mainframe.
IBM claims its System z10 is its most powerful mainframe ever. "We're launching the z10 to solve the datacentre management difficulties being experienced by some of our larger customers. But the main one is unsustainable server sprawl in the datacentre," said IBM systems consultant, Doug Neilson.
The System z10 enables IT leaders to manage their function as a service, he added, through including a complete range of policy-driven functions, such as authorisation and utilisation management, just-in-time performance and capacity delivery. IBM already has plans to make the z10's virtualisation security planned compliant with US industry standard Evaluation Assurance Level 5 (EAL5).
IBM is targeting several distinct markets with the z10. For existing customers, like all the big banks, supermarkets and government, who already have all their core applications running one mainframes, the z10 delivers more " capacity, performance, security – all the traditional attributes – but cost effectively," said Neilson.
Neilson said that for customers who have never had a mainframe before: "This is a consolidation machine, the servers they currently use are underutilised, they're using too much power, they take up too much space. Why not consolidate to a number of smaller boxes?" IBM said the z10 would use 85 per cent less energy while requiring an 85 per cent smaller footprint than an equivalent x86 server farm.
A key benefit of mainframes is "that we're running at a much higher utilisation than standard x86 servers, around 80-90 per cent, 24 x 7," added Neilson.
The z10 can have a maximum of 64 processors, which are quad-core models, with four processors per core running at 4.4GHz, able to address a current maximum system memory of 1.5TB. Neilson pointed out that another reason for the performance of the z10 was that much of the OS virtualisation and security was set up and policed by the processor microcode. IBM said most customers want to run Linux on the z10's operating system z/OS, which calculates metered software capacity usage for billing z10 customers.
On the back of the z10 launch, storage giant, EMC has launched what it says is the “first tapeless backup solution for the mainframe market”, EMC Disk Library for Mainframe (DLM). DLM is made specifically for IBM zSeries environments, allowing disk stored data to be replicated to mainframes in other locations, without incurring costs associated with traditional tape transfer, said EMC senior director of software product marketing Rob Emsley.
Also, EMC announced RecoverPoint 3.0, which combines continuous data protection and replication which it claimed gives "an all-in-one solution for both operational recovery and disaster recovery." Version 3.0 can be integrated with EMC's Clariion CX3 systems for ease of deployment and supports Windows, Linux, Solaris and VMware ESX environments.
In other storage news, HP has launched a new EVA member, the StorageWorks 4400 EVA, for mid-sized enterprises, which can have a maximum of 96 x 1TB fibre attached technology adapted (FATA) drives, but can also connect to other hard disk variants like serial attached SCSI (SAS) or serial ATA (SATA) drives through fibre channel (FC), direct connect, or iSCSI network adapters.
Although at launch the 4400 uses 4Gbit/s host bus adaptors (HBAs), HP has also announced their StorageWorks 8Gb Simple SAN Connection portfolio for new SAN customers, which offers 8Gbit/s FC connectivity for the same price as 4Gb FC. As well as twice the throughput, the new 8Gbit/s HBA has new virtualisation and adaptive power management features. The StorageWorks EVA4400 is available now starting at $15,000.


Can Linux make an impact on phones?

One of the major themes that emerged from this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was Linux, with new Linux-based handset platforms on show and various applications and services for mobile Linux. Could this mean that Linux is likely to be a major rival for other mobile operating systems such as Symbian?
On the face of it, there seems to be a growing momentum behind mobile Linux. Vendors such as Motorola and LG showed off handsets based on the new Limo Platform, while ARM and Texas Instruments demonstrated prototype hardware running Google’s Android phone platform, which is also based on Linux.
Another Linux platform, Trolltech’s Qtopia Phone Edition, was freshened up with a new release at MWC, adding in support for touch-based user interfaces and a new Qtopia Sync Agent designed to let users synchronise information with Microsoft Outlook.
However, Trolltech is in the process of being acquired by Nokia, which wants the firm for its developer tools and application framework. While this does not necessarily mean the end for Trolltech, it must cast doubt over the future of its phone platform. Nokia uses Linux in its internet tablet products, but has been careful to avoid making these devices look like an alternative to its phones.
But the real problem with Linux is that it is a technology, rather than a product. Some handset makers and mobile operators look with a favourable eye on Linux because it saves on licence costs and can more easily be customised with a different user interface to suit a particular vendor’s preferences.
It is a position that can be compared with Linux on PCs; tech-heads love the operating system because it gets the job done with a minimum of fuss, to such an extent that a large proportion of internet sites are powered by Linux servers with an open-source application stack on top. On the desktop, however, Linux has failed to gain significant market share, even though some distributions are now arguably easier to use than Windows. User familiarity and application compatibility trump other considerations.
For these reasons, Linux seems more likely to target the lower end of the handset market, where the ability to shave a few pounds off the bill of materials is vital.
In the enterprise market, BlackBerry seems to have a firm grip on mobile email for executives, while business phones are more likely to be chosen for the rest of the workforce because of deals on tariffs offered with particular models. These are likely to be Nokia, since the Finnish giant accounts for half of all phones sold globally. Meanwhile, Windows Mobile handsets have the selling point that they can link directly with Exchange email servers.
However, if buyers really do not care what software is on their phone, so long as it has the right capabilities, then Linux could be in with a chance. If a Linux handset can provide corporate email compatibility and the ability to view Office documents in email attachments, then firms may be interested ­ - but despite the fact it runs Linux rather than because of it.


Yahoo releases APIs for more detailed search results

Yahoo is opening up its search platform to enable publishers to serve up more task-oriented, detailed search-page results as part of a larger strategy to encourage third-party development on its Internet platform.
Through a new publisher program called the Yahoo open-search platform, Yahoo is providing APIs to all of its publishers so that they can create feeds including structured data -- such as reviews, photos, and contact information -- that can be displayed on a search-results page, said Amit Kumar, a Yahoo director of product management.
Using that information, results displayed through the feeds will provide search users more direct access to the results they're looking for, as well as provide a more customized look to the results that reflects the Web pages they link to, he said.
For example, a user typing in a search for "blue shoes," might be delivered a link to an eBay auction for shoes that allows the user to "bid now" or an link to purchase shoes with an accompanying photo, Kumar said.
The new program focuses only on organic search results and does not affect sponsored and paid-search results, nor does it affect results ranking, he added. Search results from the new program should appear on Yahoo in the next few months, Kumar said.
All of Yahoo's publishers, whether large sites such as Yelp, The New York Times, WebMD, and the like, or smaller Web sites, will have equal access to the APIs and can send structured data to the Yahoo search engine, Kumar said.
Yahoo unveiled the program in a posting on the Yahoo Search Blog Monday evening. The company also will discuss the news Tuesday at the Search Engine Marketing Expo in Santa Clara, Calif.
Earlier this year in a keynote speech at CES, CEO Jerry Yang said the company would be allowing third parties to create more customized interfaces and content for its Web platform by releasing APIs in an effort to compete with Google, which already gives access to APIs to allow third parties to develop on its Web platform.
However, while Google allows similar task-oriented results that link to its own services, such as Google Maps, it has not opened this feature for publisher content, Kumar said.


Analysts give CIOs advice on weathering recession

A pair of Forrester Research analysts gave CIOs a passel of advice Thursday on how to deal with the possibility of a U.S. economic recession.
"We are not predicting a recession, but we think its important for CIOs to be proactive, to get their businesses ready in case there is a recession," said analyst Andrew Bartels, who conducted the teleconference with colleague Alex Cullen.
Their recommendations boiled down to a number of main themes: The right ways to cut costs, to work closely with CFOs, and to plan not only for the lean times but for the good ones that inevitably follow.
"Get close to your CFO. You want to be arm in arm with that CFO," Bartels stressed.
Forrester said there is a 55 percent probability the economy will remain essentially stabilized, due to factors including U.S. exports boosted by a weak dollar. The firm projects a 35 percent chance the country will enter a shallow recession, and a 10 percent chance it will fall into a deep one.
The analysts said to watch for two key warning signs: Gas prices rising above $4 a gallon and two or more consecutive months of non-farm payroll employment.
If they haven't already, CIOs should prepare now by reviewing their portfolios and identify which projects could be postponed, cut, or cancelled, he said.
"If you're running things well, adapting to recession is easier," Cullen noted.
The tradeoffs vary depending on the type of cut, he said. For example, delaying hardware purchases could result in increased service outages.
CIOs could also try other tactics, such as renegotiating vendor pacts or enacting hiring freezes, according to Forrester. Such measures could antagonize business partners and overburden staff, they said.
But those types of risks are mild in comparison to that posed by cutting certain types of "low-hanging fruit," such as time and support for research and development.
"These things look like they don't have immediate payback, so the question is 'Why are we doing them when times are tight?'" Cullen said.
Likewise, it would be foolish to pull money and resources away from architectural strategy, he argued: "You're going to be impeding your ability to take a long-term view of IT investments. When the tap opens up again people are going to be creating silos ... and you're going to spend your time unwinding these things."
"The worst thing you can do as a CIO is get so focused on cuts that when you come out of a recession, your department can't take the business where it wants to be," Bartels added.
Outsourcing IT may also look like an appealing option, but the analysts issued a stern warning against it as a quick fix.
Large-scale outsourcing deals take a long time to close, for one thing, Cullen argued: "This is not near-term savings. This is not 2008 savings." But outsourcing of a particular IT function could make sense, he said.
The hot trend of the past couple of years -- SaaS (software as a service) -- is not necessarily a fitting remedy during a recession, the analysts argued. While SaaS vendors relentlessly tout the cost savings their offerings can provide, it would cost a lot more to rip and replace legacy assets with SaaS products, the analysts said. However, they added, SaaS might offer lower upfront costs for a new technology.


Server revenue could slow in 2008, after strong 2007

The Revenue for servers in 2008 could be effected as the market looks for an economic slowdown in 2008. The global server market could be headed for a slowdown this year, market researcher IDC said Wednesday, after one of the strongest years ever in 2007.
"The impact of the economy on the IT infrastructure market will depend on the duration and severity of the downturn," said Matt Eastwood, group vice president at IDC. The housing and mortgage crisis in the U.S. could have a ripple effect around the globe and slow down consumer spending, Eastwood said.
"Some projects may well be deferred and this could have some impact on the market and flatten out growth during 2008," Eastwood said. However, he doesn't expect a massive reduction in server spending to occur in 2008.
That said, slower spending could give legs to initiatives such as consolidation of IT resources and virtualization which have fairly short paybacks and high return on investments. "These types of projects will be largely recession proof particularly in the enterprise space," Eastwood said.
Concerns for a server market slowdown in 2008 come on the heels of strong revenue growth in 2007, which was driven by increased IT spending and a growing adoption of x86 and blade servers.
Server revenue hit $15.65 billion in the fourth quarter, boosting 2007 to its highest level since 2000, said Jean Bozman, research vice president at IDC.
Full year server revenue reached $54.42 billion, the highest since it topped $61.6 billion in 2000, following which the dot-com bust contributed to an economic downturn and dropped server revenue, Bozman said. Worldwide server unit shipments for 2007 were 8 million, an increase of 6.7 percent from the previous year.
IBM topped the 2007 full year server revenue rankings at $17.3 billion, for a 31.9 percent market share and 1.1 percent yearly growth. Hewlett-Packard was second at $15.4 billion in revenue, followed by Dell, which had $6.15 billion and recorded the strongest yearly growth, 12.4 percent.
The fourth quarter of 2007 was the seventh straight quarter in which server revenue posted gains, Bozman said. It was driven by a rapid rise in blade server revenue, which countered a quarterly year-over-year fall in revenues from high-end and mid-range servers.
During the quarter, blade server revenue grew 54.2 percent and shipments increased 35.6 percent, IDC said. The server infrastructure is moving towards modularization, adopting technologies like blade servers that drive up scalability without huge investments, IDC said.
IBM retained the top spot in fourth-quarter revenue, hauling in $5.75 billion, up 0.5 percent over the previous year and good for a 36.7 percent share of the market. Hewlett-Packard, in second place, had server revenue of $4.34 billion, up 6.3 percent. Dell took third place, recording revenue of $1.58 billion, a 6.8 percent increase. Sun's server revenue dropped 2.4 percent year-over-year to $1.46 billion, and it fell to fourth from third place in the ranking. Fujitsu/Fujitsu Siemens saw quarterly revenue shoot up 7.1 percent to $666 million to come in fifth.
Though Windows OS servers generated the largest quarterly revenue, Linux-based servers grew the most in terms of revenue, according to IDC. Linux-based servers generated $2 billion in revenue, growing 11.6 percent year-over-year and representing 12.7 percent of market share. Windows server revenue was $5.7 billion for the quarter, a 36.6 percent market share and 6.9 percent growth. The revenues were all-time highs for both platforms, IDC said.
Unix server revenue grew only 1.5 percent to $5.2 billion. The growth was mainly driven by IBM's strong System p business, IDC said.
Revenue for x86 servers was $7.8 billion during the fourth quarter, a 7.6 percent year-over-year increase. HP led in x86 server revenues, with 35 percent, followed by IBM and Dell, with 20 percent apiece.
The study calculated revenue from high-end servers, mid-range servers, blade servers and servers that ship in volume, like x86 servers.


Microsoft to push IE 8 public beta

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Microsoft has surprised watchers by saying that it will shortly make a first beta of Internet Explorer 8 generally available.
In a mail-out to previous testers, Microsoft said it would make the pre-release code available to the “general public” but pointed out that it is “focused on the developer community”.
Microsoft has stated in the past that the main advances in IE8 will focus on compliance with web standards, security and user interface options.
The company has long been the target of criticism for not following standards in its browser but, as numerous critics have noted, any effort to make IE standards compliant runs the risk of breaking existing sites written for earlier versions. Microsoft will attempt to compromise by offering developers the option to stay in or out of the web standards mode.
The move could also help Microsoft win over regulators. Late last year, Opera Software filed an antitrust complaint with the European Union, alleging that “Microsoft is abusing its dominant position by tying its browser, Internet Explorer, to the Windows operating system and by hindering interoperability by not following accepted web standards”.
Microsoft recently said that it expects to release the complete version of IE 8 in the first half of this year. The company released IE 7 in October 2006, more than five years after IE 5, earning the criticism of experts who argued that Mozilla’s Firefox had been allowed to become the technology leader in browsers. Microsoft has said that it now plans more regular browser updates.
IE 8 is scheduled to be demonstrated in public at the MixConference in Las Vegas that starts on 5 March.


7 Reasons That Nokia's Phone of the Future Will Be Good For

Nokia's Morph concept phone offers an image of the future. It is a future where, despite nanotechnology being so advanced we can fabricate integrated circuits, displays and physical interfaces that are able reconfigure themselves in a dynamic freeform substrate, we are still making phone calls. Here are 7 alternative uses for a form so advanced it makes its own function seem comically obsolete.
Breaking into your own house
Locked out? The Morph proves more than a match for basic home defenses. Slide it between the door and jamb to wedge open an angled bolt. Use its finely honed edge to remove putty from around windows without breaking them, or simply cut a hole in the glass through which to enter. And if anyone challenges you, you can decapitate them with a flick of the wrist.
Defending oneself from ninja attack
Fend off hordes of agents sent by the evil merchant Echigoya to kidnap the noble Lord's daughter! Prevent neighbors from stealing the newspaper! Kill squirrels! With its blade-edged design possibilities and aerodynamic form, the Morph is the equal of even the finest steel in a shuriken battle.
Chopping onions
When cooking up a bolognese sauce, the limitations of traditional cellphones become readily apparent. Even ultrathin models like the Samsung Upstage and Motorola RAZR make poor culinary implements. With the Morph, Nokia changes the game.

Removing snow and ice from cars
Obviating the need for an expensive dedicated ice and snow scraper, the Morph's keen edge cuts through even the most inclement weather: It is the phone of tomorrow for residents of Buffalo. It may also be duct taped to a pole and used to remove sticky detritus from high windows, or as a jousting lance.

Opening bottles

That Nokia thoughtfully provided a bottle opener demonstrates the doughty Finns' commonsense approach to even the most advanced designs. After disposing of the ninjas and onions, polish off a Coors to relax. Did I say Coors? I meant Penn Dark.
A Magic: The Gathering card

It's tiny, it depicts something fantastical, and is based on the notion of selling something vaguely worthless with an extravagant markup. The difference between a Nokia concept phone and a collect-em-all card game card is as immaterial as its chances of existing within the next 20 years.

Kinky shackles

In American's eco-friendly Aquarian future, leather will be the sole province of meat-transgressive throwbacks. Pleather, as a petrochemical derivative, will be an expensive luxury. PVC will have been revealed as the worst carcinogen since AM radio waves (banned by the Franken-Nader administration of 2016). They'll have to make bondage gear from something, and nanotech will have to do. And it's green, the sexiest color since red.


Nature Mill Composes Compost in the Kitchen

Monday, February 25, 2008

Recycling is good. When you separate glass, paper and cans you know they're going to a happy place, but what of the organic waste; the pizza crusts and the caviar that has passed its use-by date? Apartment dwellers can dump these slops into the Nature Mill, a kitchen-cupboard composter.
The upper chamber does the work: waste decomposes and the heat generated by microbes sterilizes the compost. A motor then tips the now nitrogen rich mixture into the lower bin, ready to be added to the window box. A carbon filter, good for up to five years, eliminates odor.
The standard model is available now for $300, and the pro model, shipping in March for $400, adds stainless steel construction, a lockable box and a "vacation mode" which kicks the Mill into action periodically, instead of leaving it running continuously. There's also a Pet-Friendly" version, with these quite excellent instructions:
Ideal for up to 2 large dogs, or 4 cats, rabbits, hamsters, snakes, ferrets, or other small animals.Not recommended for horses or other large animals.


Houseplants Will Twitter You When Thirsty

Add one more nagging time-sink to your Twitter account: your houseplants. Botanicalls is a system which monitors the moisture level of your plants and lets them telephone you when they need water. Voice, though, is so 2005, which is why you can now add your plant to your Twitter list and have it message you when it's thirsty.
The principle is simple, but you'll need to be a confident circuit-maker to get the kit up and running. Two nails are pushed into the soil. When the humus is wet, a current flows between them. When that current drops, the Arduino-based circuit will connect to the Botanicalls network via a built-in, low-powered Zigbee radio and send you a Twitter update. It's up to you to actually water the plant. If you have arranged for a neighbor to take care of your flora, however, you can still keep tabs them: the plant will Twitter a "Thank you" when watered.


World`s smallest PC unveiled

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fujitsu PC Asia Pacific, Japanese IT and communications solution provider, unveiled world`s thinnest Ultra Mobile PC, Fujitsu Lifebook U1010s recently in Bangalore. Addressing the mediapersons here, the Associated Director of Fujitsu, Ivan Kam informed that the Ultra Mobile PC weighing 63 grams with 3.5 G mobile broadband is the thinnest in the world. "It is the lightest A4 size PC we have in the world. We are promoting it as one spindle tablet. It is very light in weight. At the same time it has a port replicator. On the port replicator you can have your optical disk drive, so nothing is lost you still have your optical disk drive and hard disk there," Kam said. He further added that the PC facilitates the luxury of palm-sized connectivity to those who constantly travel. According to the 43.2 billion dollars Japanese company, India is a growth story and focusing on Indian markets is a prudent business strategy. The price of the PC is between Rs 60,000 (1,496.36 dollars) to Rs 85,000 (2,119 dollars) and is enabled with mobile broadband. Besides, the A4-sized LifeBook is armed with long lasting battery life of up to 11 hours with a 9-cell battery, which also has security features that prevent unauthorized access to information in the device. The company aims to be among top ten leading PC players within the next two years.


Oneindia launches language Gadgets for Google Desktop, iGoogle

BANGALORE, INDIA: launched an interactive set of desktop tools, popularly known as Gadgets, for Google Desktop and iGoogle homepage. The tools are developed to save users' time by fetching information directly from the portals.
The Gadgets have been developed for all language portals of viz., thatsHindi, thatsKannada, thatsMalayalam, thatsTamil and thatsTelugu. Apart from Languages, Gadgets are available for its news, entertainment and living channels as well.
While the Gadgets get live updates from portals, users will be able to customize the feeds by selecting various category options available in the Gadget.
"This is an exciting time for, as we launch Language Gadgets for Google users," said BG. Mahesh, CEO, Greynium Information Technologies Pvt. Ltd. " has always been the first to offer innovative services to the Internet community and now with the Gadgets for Google, users can receive their favorite content straight to their desktops, in their own languages."
The gadgets for Google Desktop & iGoolge are currently available for Windows OS only.


Facebook 'sees decline in users'

Social networking site Facebook has seen its first drop in UK users in January, new industry data indicates.
Users fell 5% to 8.5 million in January from 8.9 million in December, according to data from Nielsen Online.

This was the first drop in user numbers since July 2006 when Nielsen began compiling data on the site.
Nic Howell, deputy editor of industry magazine New Media Age, said the site was no longer as popular among its core audience of young people.
"Social networking is as much about who isn't on the site as who is - when Tory MPs and major corporations start profiles on Facebook, its brand is devalued, driving its core user base into the arms of newer and more credible alternatives," he said.

Facebook, along with its main rivals Bebo and MySpace, lets users set up personal web pages and communicate with each other.
Windows Live Spaces
BBC Communities
Friends Reunited
Yahoo! Groups
MSN Groups
Google Groups
Source: Nielsen Online
Alex Burmaster, European internet analyst at Nielsen Online, said that it was inevitable that the site's early growth rates could not be sustained and user numbers were likely to plateau.
Nielsen's figures showed that there are 712% more Facebook users than a year ago.
"Just as one swallow doesn't make a summer, so one month of falling audiences doesn't spell the decline of Facebook or social networking," Mr Burmaster said.
"However, real growth potential lies in the niche networks - those based on a particular lifestyle or interest, such as travel, music, wealth or business," he added.

The data showed that MySpace users had fallen by 5% in January, while Bebo's audience had fallen 2%.
Less popular social networking sites such as Windows Live Space, BBC Communities and Friends Reunited saw a rise in users in January, Mr Burmaster said.


Computers to match Humans Brains by 2020

American computer Guru Ray Kurzweil has envisioned a new advancement that indicates that computers might have a “matching human intellect by the 2020s.”

The intellectual abilities that PCs would incorporate would help the world to resolve some of the most significant intractable problems of the 21st century. Ray drew his envisage after noticing the computer chips that have doubled the power and keep enhancing its energy every half-century. He expects in the next half of the century, 32 times more technical progress will be observed.
Computers, which are developed by 2D chips made of silicon, are now in the process of using 3D chips with vastly improved performances. These three-dimensional chips could be made from biological molecules to reduce the size of the chips as compared to metal-based computer chips.
It is also believed that computation, communication, biological technologies as well as human knowledge have improved at a much faster pace and continue to increase the capacity, bandwidth as well as performance as time processes.
“Three-dimensional, molecular computing will provide the hardware for human-level ‘strong artificial intelligence’ by the 2020s. The more important software insights will be gained in part from the reverse engineering of the human brain, a process well under way. Already, two dozen regions of the human brain have been modeled and simulated,” predicted leading scientific futurologist Ray Kurzweil.
Ray also forecasts, “We are understanding disease and ageing processes as information processes, and are gaining the tools to re-programme them. Within two decades, we will be in a position to stop and reverse the progression of disease and ageing resulting in dramatic gains in health and longevity.”
He also stated that PCs have taken a step to construct a ‘post human’ world, wherein second, intelligent entity is expected to exist beside people. For this, a computer needs to match its artificial intelligence with the human and continue to accelerate IT. It should even have the ability to instantly share their knowledge.


The Most Beautiful Computers of all Time

Some are classy .Some are trashy.But scant few transcend such barriers to become works of art.
Cray 2
Seymour Cray is gone, but the spectacular design of his supercomputers remains. The original had a couch, but it's the sequel, with its freakish, science-fictional cooling fountain, that strikes the most beautiful (if not the most iconic) pose.

Sinclair ZX Series
At the turn of the 1980s, Clive Sinclair's gift was to make a small, cheap, user-friendly computers when many still bought them in kit form at great expense. Their good looks are easier to appreciate today than they were many years ago, when people actually had to type on those rubber chiclet keys. The ZX-80, left, fit into its tiny case (and equally tiny $100 price tag) by being less powerful than the clock on a modern microwave oven. The ZX Spectrum, right, could be mistaken for a modern UMPC with the display snapped off.

Golden Oldies: Babbage's Engines and The Antikythera Mechanism
You don't have to be electrical to be beautiful: any good steam-era aficionado will love the complex regularity of Charles Babbage's early digital computers. The Antikythera Mechanism, an analog computer used by the ancient Greeks for some mysterious purpose (likely navigation) has been recreated by scientists. Think you could stuff a mini-ITX motherboard in that?

Apple MacBook Air
Since it's the newest in the lineup, let's get it out of the way early. If you haven't seen one in person, go and have a fondle before denying this minimal slice of metal its rightful place as one of the most beautiful computers ever.

The Cubes
Cube-shaped computers wow with their simple geometry and space-saving proportions, but no-one has ever really got it right. The Jonathan Ive-authored Mac G4 Cube, center, won design awards but performed poorly. The NeXT Cube, fruit of Steve Jobs' Apple interregnum, was too expensive to succeed outside of institutional settings. And the Cobalt Qube, a much-loved server appliance that made Sun look dumb, was put to death — by Sun itself, when it bought Cobalt for no obvious reason other than to kill it.

Vaio Art
Sony's Vaio Art laptops, on their own, are attractive enough. Used as a canvas, however, they've become an intriguing counterpoint to the modern Macbooks for Windows-lovers. Where Apple is sleek, Sony's models, designed by artists like Maya Hayuk, are stamped with wild designs. Where the Mac offers minimalism, the Sony offers spendour.


Of the current trend of all-in-ones, it's Gateway's One that makes the loudest design statement. Clear, crisp and revoltingly overpriced, it's such a bizarre product from the usually-milquetoast manufacturer it's hard to know exactly what to make of it. But it sure is pretty.
If people are wary of praising it, it's probably because it's so clearly inspired by Apple's recent iMacs. The prettiest of that lineup, however, remains the classic luxo lamp-style original. A finicky and unpleasant tool, it looked great all the same.

Let's not forget the original underpowered, overpriced all-in-one work of art, the 20th Anniversary Mac. Repeat after me: function follows form.
It's a short list, I'm afraid: not too many pretty computers out there, even to this day. Add your suggestions to the comments and we'll add them to the list—if they're hot enough!


Practicing Safe E-Commerce

Despite the overwhelming success of e-commerce, there are still consumers out there too terrified to click their cart through a virtual checkout.
Are they just a silly-nilly group, nutty as a bunch of conspiracy theorists? Or are the rest of us just too naive to get it?
Neither, it turns out.
"There are as many ways to hack the physical store -- probably even more -- as there are to hack an online store," Marc Aniballi, Board Advisor at, told the E-Commerce Times. "Life is risky -- get over it. But protect your interests and limit your impacts."
Defining the Risk in Brick
There are those that swear that shopping online is safe, and those that promise you're only safe inside brick-and-mortar stores founded solidly on terra firma. As usual, the truth, is a bit smudgier than that clearly drawn line.
"If you are shopping or even passing through certain areas in southern California, it is definitely a possibility that you will be shot or robbed. You may get robbed online but not shot. So the answer depends on where you are as to which is safest," Michael Gardner, life coach at The Experience Training, told the E-Commerce Times.
Those who deal in the world of gray where safety is not a black-and-white issue say hackers can sometimes make their way through actual walls as easily as firewalls.
"In reality, it might actually be more risky to pay by credit card at your local mall than online. Many brick-and-mortar retailers are simply not well protected against today's hackers," Tom Bowers, senior security evangelist at Kaspersky Lab, told the E-Commerce Times. "Identity thieves can squat outside of physical stores and steal personal credit card data off of unencrypted wireless transactions, and the infamous TJX breach largely involved information stolen from brick-and-mortar Marshalls stores in Miami."
The Risk Between
In the end, it may not matter whether you shopped online or off. The middle guy might be the biggest threat.
"The worst problem for consumers may be externally stored repositories of their personal information. This information still belongs to you but is out of your hands to review or protect," warned Bowers.
Basically, whether you're shopping safely at all depends on one thing: "You have to trust that the companies involved will take reasonable actions to protect your information," said Bowers.
Wrong Size, Right Color
Although there certainly are risks associated with buying online -- or anywhere, for that matter -- the fear may not be as real or as large as has been reported.
"In most of the consumer research done by NearbyNow, we have found that consumers say 'security concerns' for not buying online, but the real reason is they don't trust that they will get a fully functional product on time," NearbyNow CEO Scott Dunlap told the E-Commerce Times.
Even that problem, though, isn't so clear-cut.
"Buying the wrong product is only a consideration where actually eyeballing it is an issue," Patrick Allen, a government manager in Oregon, told the E-Commerce Times. "If I'm buying a book, there's no safety difference between Powell's online and its brick-and-mortar store."
A Lock on Online
If you're headed to a brick-and-mortar store or a restaurant, drive safely, lock your doors, and don't dawdle in the parking lot. Don't leave a receipt on the table, and be sure to check your credit card bill to make sure the staff didn't heist your credit card number.
Those are common-sense behaviors for real-world commerce, but similar security measures are in order when shopping online.
"Credit cards have similar risks in both situations. You are trusting the store clerk much like trusting a Web site SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate. Neither assures you that the person or system is trustworthy, only who they represent -- and they really don't even do that well," Doug Salah told the E-Commerce Times. Salah is an information system security architect for a technology-based products and services company serving the rail and transit industry.
"Once the process button is selected or your card is swiped, you have very little assurance that the information is secure or even going where you think it may be," he added. "The Internet site has better availability to bad guys, but the store clerk, their support guys, and a slew of other people have access to the local system and could be capable of stealing your information."
At least reputable online stores have tightened security quite a bit in recent years.
"With actively enforced PCI (payment card industry) data security standards, shopping online has become even safer in many respects," Chuck Mooney III, director of strategic business development at First American Payment Systems, a Texas-based credit card processor, told the E-Commerce Times.
Online Crime Stoppers
Even so, consumers need to protect themselves and not rely too heavily on store Web site protection. What, exactly, can one do to protect oneself?
"Be wary of sites that ask for too much information. Do you really need a Social Security Number to buy a diamond ring? If it doesn't make sense, don't enter it," advised Dunlap.
"The most nervous consumers read everything -- including the fine print -- to make sure their data will not be shared with third parties in any way. If it might, they will call or fax in the order instead," he added.
Then there are the usual precautions:
Never use the Internet via an unsecured wireless connection.
Password-protect your wireless access at home.
Use an up-to-date antivirus product and install Internet browser security patches to keep out data-stealing Trojans and spyware.
When entering sensitive data, make sure you're on a Web site that's been secured by the retailer. Look for icons noting that the retailer has taken steps to ensure a safe connection for transmitting information or logos, such as that of the Better Business Bureau.
For those who want to go even further to protect their information while shopping online, there are a few extra steps to take.
"Cautious consumers can invest in products in the identity protection market, with vendors such as LoudSiren and LifeLock allowing consumers to add layered identity security for a monthly fee," said Bowers. "Consumers can also use a more roundabout way of paying by going through payment systems such as PayPal to avoid typing in credit information directly on the retail Web site."
Now, if you can just remember to shred those credit card bills when they come in the mail -- maybe, just maybe, your shopping experience will be risk-free


Google's Video AdSense: Just the Beginning?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Google is launching an AdSense-like advertising service aimed at placing ads in videos. A video ad service that works something like AdSense -- which analyzes the text you're seeing on your screen and places relevant ads there -- has been missing from the Web. It's made it harder to monetize Web video. One of the challenges has been the ability to analyze video. Text is relatively easy. But using technology to "see" a video and know what's on it is tough -- and you'd have to know what's on the video to serve up a relevant ad.


Microsoft to Troops: Deal Likely, Don't Talk to Yahoos

A top Microsoft executive sent an internal memo Friday afternoon preparing his troops for the company's proposed takeover of yahoo and the tone suggests that the Microsoft brass is confident the deal will happen.

The memo was from Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft's platforms and services division, and appeared on the blog Techcrunch soon after it was sent. Blogger Michael Arrington said the memo appeared designed to be leaked.

The message, which the company later posted to its website,hits the boilerplate Microsoft talking points in favor of the deal.

"The industry needs a more compelling alternative in search and online advertising," Johnson wrote. "I have personally met with top executives of the major media companies, and I know there is a desire for more competition in search and online advertising. Without this, there's less innovation, less competition, and less value being generated for consumers, advertisers, and publishers."

"Together, Microsoft and Yahoo would have an opportunity to change and evolve the experiences and value we deliver to all of these groups," he added.

Johnson appeared to be setting his employees up for a difficult merger process, and urged them to proceed with "business as usual."

"Please stay focused on your key priorities, whether it's a technical product roadmap, serving our advertiser or publisher customers, or connecting with users of our services," he wrote. "It's important that we stay focused on our business commitments and let the process for the transaction take its course."

To ward off employees from leaving the combined company, Johnson strongly hinted that they would be well rewarded for staying.

"We want the very best talent at the combined company, and we will demonstrate this to Yahoo and Microsoft employees at each step of the deal," he said. "There's no question we will dedicate significant rewards and compensation to Yahoo and Microsoft employees."

Johnson downplayed the difficulty of integrating the two companies, portraying them as complementary.

"We would have an opportunity to bring together the best of both companies," he said. "Microsoft's culture of innovation, and long-term commitment to tough R&D problems, with Yahoo's blend of Web-centric DNA and innovative engineering, 21st century media expertise, and advertising talent."

In a nod to Yahoo employees, Johnson said the merged company "would be committed to maintaining Yahoo's significant presence in Silicon Valley." Yahoo is based in Sunnyvale, California. Microsoft is headquartered in Redmond, Washington. He also said that it's "premature to say which aspects of [Yahoo's] brands and technologies we would use in our combined offerings."

Finally, Johnson warned Microsoft employees not to "speculate with Yahoo employees about the proposal or about what a deal would mean for the combined company."

"Prior to close of the transaction," he wrote, "no Microsoft employee should reach out to Yahoo employees for the purpose of integration planning unless specifically instructed to do so by the integration team and its LCA advisors."


Microsoft warns on Vista update

The software giant has released a list of programs that may be broken by the SP1 update for Vista.

Most of the software hit by the upgrade are security programs that prevent Windows users falling prey to viruses, trojans and booby-trapped webpages.

The Windows Vista update will be released to the public in mid-March.

Update loop

Service Packs are among the biggest updates Microsoft issues for its various operating systems. The software firm said SP1 makes Vista more secure and reliable and introduces some new features.

The list of programs affected by SP1 is divided into three. Some will be blocked by the update, some will not run and others will lose some of their functions.

Of the 12 programs mentioned, six block viruses or keep an eye on the places someone visits online.

Microsoft warned that its list was not "comprehensive" and asked people to get in touch with the maker of any affected software to fix problems.

Although the update will become widely available in March, Microsoft is releasing it to business customers in February.

Microsoft has also been forced to withdraw an update to Vista that was required before Service Pack 1 could be applied.

Writing on the Windows Vista blog, Nick White, Microsoft product manager, said the company had withdrawn the preparatory update while it investigated.

Isolated reports suggest that some machines on which the preliminary update has been applied go into an update loop.

He wrote: "We are working to identify possible solutions and will make the update available again shortly after we address the issue."

BitDefender AV
Fujitsu Shock Sensor
Jiangmin KV Antivirus 10
Jiangmin KV Antivirus 2008
Trend Micro Internet Security
Zone Alarm Security Suite
Iron Speed Designer
Xheo Licensing
Free Allegiance
NYT Reader
Rising Personal Firewall
Novell ZCM Agent


Share MP3s With Your Facebook Friends Using DoubleTwist

The new desktop application Double Twist lets users share audio, video and photos between their computers. It can also strip the digital rights management restrictions from songs purchased from iTunes by rerecording them into the MP3 format, so you can share those too. (Also, by creating DRM-free MP3s from your iTunes music, DoubleTwist frees those files to be played on any digital audio player -- not just an iPod or iPhone.)

DoubleTwist is the work of Monique Farantzos and DVD Jon (whose real name is Jon Lech Johansen), the programmer who made his name cracking the CSS encryption that's part of the DVD standard.

Their company also launched a Facebook app called Twist Me that lets you and your friends share audio, video, and pictures with each other. The Facebook app works in sync the DoubleTwist desktop application. A drop box within the app lets you send photos, videos, and music out to your friends and receive stuff from them.


Gates: Microsoft Ain't Budging on Yahoo Bid

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates -- a guy who's supposed to be focusing on philanthrophy and prepping for retirement -- found time to spout off on Microsoft's bid for Yahoo in a phone interview yesterday about free software for students or some such nonsense.
"We sent them a letter and said we think that's a fair offer. There's nothing that's gone on other than us stating that we think it's a fair offer. They should take a hard look at it," Gates reportedly said.
The appropriate answer to the question should have been: "We have no further comment." But Gates' answer suggests he's sending a message to Yahoo and to shareholders.
We have to believe that Microsoft has squandered what little goodwill it had in Silicon Valley with its hardball negotiating tactics. Assuming Microsoft finally wins Yahoo, what's going to be left of the company other than a bunch of embittered engineers who are looking for jobs at Facebook or Google?


Bill Gates Touts Free Developer Kits, Global Progress in Stanford Speech

Microsoft founder Bill Gates talked about the future of technology and the advent of, as Gates puts it, "the second digital decade" in a talk Tuesday at Stanford University's Memorial Auditorium. The ex-CEO, who plans to leave day-to-day work at Microsoft this year, also highlighted his company's plan to release Microsoft developer kits free to students, in the hope that they will help make "huge breakthroughs" in technological research using the Microsoft platform.
Not mentioned during the hour-long speech: Yahoo. The name of Microsoft's potential takeover target never escaped the founder's lips, even though the topic has been a constant source of chatter since the Redmond, Washington-based giant announced its intent to go after the internet portal Feb. 1.
Gates, introduced by Stanford president John Hennessey, began his speech by showing a video clip imagining his upcoming last day in office, which elicited laughter from the mostly student crowd. Tech watchers may note that this video was similar to the one shown at this year's CES, but with a few extra guest appearances -- Venture Capitalist John Doerr and Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren Buffet, for example -- as well as an amusing collection of outtakes tacked on to the end of the clip.
Gates' talk was titled "Software, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Giving Back," and it focused on the future of technology and how that technology can affect change in places like the developing world. Stanford students and faculty, but not press, were allowed to ask questions during the 15-minute Q&A session after the talk. The questions stuck to the Gates Foundation side of things, touching on topics like microfinancing and immigration, with more than one student asking about the impact of social justice. None of the students in the engineering-heavy university inquired about Microsoft's free development-tool plans, though Gates did mention it in his speech. "One of the best investments any company makes is in their research groups, and how those research groups hook up with universities," Gates said.


Is Apple Ready to Bust a Blu-ray Move?

Apple has never been big on alliances, coalitions or other formal industry-wide groupings. Case in point: The company joined the Blu-Ray Disc Association in 2005 promising to help promote the high-definition format and then did pretty much nothing (at least in a commercial sense) for close to three years.
This despite Jobs acknowledging that "consumers are…anxiously awaiting a way to burn their own high-def DVDs." Apparently, they weren't anxious enough to warrant sticking Blu-ray drives in Macs.
Given the ongoing format war, Apple's hesitation is more than understandable. But with Toshiba finally waving the white HD flag on Tuesday -- and other BDA members like HP and Dell starting to offer more Blu-ray equipped systems -- that reluctance could finally be morphing into actual concrete plans. But don't expect Apple to hop on the Blu-train just yet. Apple's approach will be probably be different than other industry players.
"Apple wants to use [Blu-ray] as a creative tool," notes Yankee Group's Carl Howe, not simply add it to a MacBook Pro's feature list. Put another way, Apple is waiting for some decent Blu-ray software.


More Potential iPhone Apps Emerge, Including BBC's iPlayer and Gameloft Games

Apple may be keeping tight-lipped about its SDK plans, but clues continue to emerge about what's in the native app pipeline. The latest hints come from this week's Game Developer's Conference here in San Francisco and a new report about the BBC's updated iPlayer.
Hidden among other stats about the streaming TV service, the BBC divulged it will also be launched an iplayer service on Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch devices in "the next few weeks." Recall that Steve Jobs said the SDK would be available in late February and you'll note that the iPlayer service launch fits rather nicely within that release window.
Unfortunately, it's unclear whether the iPlayer, which comes in both web-streaming and Windows-only downloadable versions, will be native or simply an optimized streaming web version.

Read more... Launches: Yet Another Video-Sharing Site, Plus an NBA Star

LiveUniverse publicly launched its video site today, days after purchasing video site Revver for reportedly around than $5 million.

LiveUniverse was founded by Brad Greenspan, the former CEO of Intermix, the parent company of MySpace before it was sold to News Corp (got that?). appears to be a mashup of a video-sharing site and a social network. Users can stream content live from their webcams (not just upload prerecorded video clips as you can on YouTube), create both video and text blogs, embed widgets, as well as see and communicate with anyone else who is online on the site. It joins a long string of startups attempting to capitalize on the internet video boom.
The site is starting off with a big-name contributor. NBA star Steve Nash has signed on with his own page, and is planning to show a livestream of all of his drives home from basketball games, beginning tonight after the LA Lakers/Phoneix Suns duel. The press release promises that Nash will answer viewer's questions while he makes his way through traffic. (We hope answering these questions doesn't inhibit the former MVP's ability to keep his eyes on the road.) made waves last year when it tried to entice top YouTube talent to its site by offering cash incentives. Revver tried to attract content creators in a similar way, by promising a cut of the advertising revenue, and Revver succeeded in drawing names like Ze Frank, Ask a Ninja, and Lonelygirl15 to its platform. Such incentives may be a thing of the past: The newly-launched LiveVideo makes no mention of payments to content creators, though we strongly suspect Nash's bank account will be a bit fuller after his contributions.


Dot Asia opens up to all-comers

The new .Asia top level domain has officially launched its landrush registration period, giving firms which missed the sunrise period another chance to grab the domain name for their business.
The domain was predicted by many to be a popular one, due to the growth in economic prosperity and population in the Asia region. But according to Thomas Herbert of registrar Hostway, UK businesses have been slow to sign up.
"Dot Asia is catered around getting a greater business presence in the region, so maybe firms aren't signing up [in large numbers] because they don't want a presence, or because they feel they don't need to protect their trademarks against cybersquatting."
Herbert added that defensively registering your organisation's trademark with .asia is increasingly important as domain names are bought and sold for sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, with cybersquatters looking to snap up unregistered names.
The landrush period lasts until March 26, when .asia is set to go live.


Data migration suite launched to aid consolidation projects

Data integration firm Informatica has launched a new suite that will help organisations move data during IT change.
Informatica Data Migration suite draws on Informatica’s experience in dealing with data migration projects and offers this as a packaged solution.
Girish Pancha, Informatica’s Enterprise Data Integration Business Unit vice president, said “The Informatica Data Migration Suite is the first comprehensive offering that enables organisations to take a strategic approach to migration, ensuring success in delivering trusted information wherever and however it is needed.”
The suite includes PowerExchange, PowerCenter, Informatica Data Explorer and Informatica Data Quality.
The firm said the solution is aimed at organisations undergoing mergers, consolidation or outsourcing of critical functions.


DIY-Friendly Chumby Gadget

Chumby is the gadget that wants to be loved by developers and geeky dudes who didn't have dates for Valentine's Day. Sometimes, both of those consumer demographics signify the exact same people, and they might like this one if they can get over the fact that it looks like a toy for a 12-year-old girl.
Available beginning this week, the Chumby mini-computer streams personal music channels like Pandora, checks on your favorite social networking sites for updates, and can be used as a photo frame by grabbing your pictures over-the-air from the net and streaming them on its 3.5” LCD screen.
More interesting is that it's open-source and Linux-based, with acceptable specs and user support that a good modder could use for tricks and endless enjoyment. For example, there's a Chumby Wiki support page for developers and a widget-maker page that can take advantage of the specs, with the clear hope that it will build a Chumby-friendly community.

Ever since the open gadget was announced early last year, Chumby has been wooing the Linux crowd with promises of the available user support groups and feeding ideas about how cool it would be to modify a small computer into weird formats (like the bear at right).
In addition to the LCD touchscreen, the Chumby includes two external USB 2.0 ports, a 350 Mhz ARM processor, 64 MB of SDRAM (flash), an accelerometer, and a Wi-Fi connection. And of course, it includes stereo speakers so that it function as the slightly more interesting alarm and radio that it looks like.
The Chumby is available in three difference colors for $180 (pre-tax) Chumby's Developers Page:


'Terapixel' Camera Is Cute, Too

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

You'd think it would be enough to push resolution to 5.5 terapixels, the equivalent of 5,500,000 megapixels, thousands of times more than even the most extreme cameras out there can capture.But oh, no. Chinese manufacturer Penchan also made its new camera bright blue. With cartoon duckies! Now all you need to do is find a petabyte memory card to use it.BTW, there are such things as terapixel images but it takes a lot of stitching.


Apple Announces 2GB iPod Shuffle

The iPod shuffle price drop wasn't the only Apple news today. The company also announced a new 2GB version of the tiny clip-on, and it will be $10 less than its predecessor, at $70. The 1GB, as reported, will remain on sale at the new price of $50. The new model is otherwise unchanged: same size, same color line-up and same no screen. It should be in stores "later this month".


RetroVision Sunnies Takes Shades Literally

The appropriately titled RetroVision is a pair of sunglasses which eschews tinted lenses for, well, shades. The eyepieces are filled with tiny, Venetian blind-style slats which cut out light. The slats should also restrict light from above and below, which means less glare from the sun and its reflected light. The concept design, from Sang Jang Lee, features pop-in screens for customization. I remember a similar product back in the 80s, although it came in cheap, brightly colored plastic and did little more than blind you with its four or five oversized slats.


Put trust in your pocket: CSIRO's trust extension device

Known as a Trust Extension Device (TED), the TED consists of software loaded onto a portable device, such as a USB memory stick or a mobile phone. It is able to minimise the risk associated with performing transactions in untrusted and unknown computing environments. The problem is that trust is currently tied to specific, well-known computing environments,” says CSIRO ICT Centre’s, Dr John Zic. “TED makes that trust portable, opening the way for secure transactions to be undertaken anywhere, even in an internet cafĂ©.” The concept behind TED is that an enterprise issues a trusted customer with a portable device containing a small operating system, as well as a set of applications and encrypted data. This device creates its own environment on an untrusted computer and, before it runs an application, it establishes trust with the remote enterprise server. Both ends must prove their identities to each other and that the computing environments are as expected. Once the parties prove to each other they are trustworthy, the TED accesses the remote server and the transaction takes place. Focus groups run by the Centre for Networking Technologies for the Information Economy, funded by Australian Government, suggested developing a device to facilitate trusted transactions and provide authorised people with access to confidential and private information. For instance, banks could use a technology like TED to provide authorised customers and employees with access to financial data, or conduct financial transactions over the internet. “The idea is that the person or organisation issuing the device runs their own computing environment and applications within the TED,” says Dr Zic. “Wherever you go, whichever machine you run on, you and the issuer can be confident both parties are known to each other, cannot engage in any malicious acts, and that the transactions are trusted.”


Google finds evil all over the Web

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Web is scarier than most people realize, according to research published recently by Google.
The search engine giant trained its Web crawling software on billions of Web addresses over the past year looking for malicious pages that tried to attack their visitors. They found more than 3 million of them, meaning that about one in 1,000 Web pages is malicious, according to Neils Provos, a senior staff software engineer with Google.
These Web-based attacks, called "drive-by downloads" by security experts, have become much more common in recent years as firewalls and better security practices by Microsoft have made it harder for worms and viruses to directly attack computers.
In the past year the Web sites of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth movie and the Miami Dolphins were hacked, and the MySpace profile of Alicia Keys was used to attack visitors.
Criminals are getting better at this kind of work. They have built very successful automated tools that poke and prod Web sites, looking for programming errors and then exploit these flaws to install the drive-by download software. Often this code opens an invisible iFrame page on the victim's browser that redirects it to a malicious Web server. That server then tries to install code on the victim's PC. "The bad guys are getting exceptionally good at automating those attacks," said Roger Thompson, chief research officer with security vendor Grisoft.
In response, Google has stepped up its game. One of the reasons it has been scouring the Web for malicious pages is so that it can identify drive-by-download sites and warn Google searchers before they visit them. Nowadays about 1.3 percent of all Google search queries list malicious results somewhere on the first few pages.
Some of the data surprised Provos.
"When we started going into this, I had the firm intuition that if you go to the sleazier parts of the Web, you are in more danger," he said.
It turns out the Web's nice neighborhoods aren't necessarily safer than its red-light districts.
"We looked into this and indeed we found that if you ended up going to adult-oriented pages, your risk of being exposed [to malicious software] was slightly higher," he said. But "there really wasn't a huge difference."
"Staying away from the disreputable part of the Internet really isn't good enough," he noted.
Another interesting finding: China was far and away the greatest source of malicious Web sites. According to Google's research, 67 percent of all malware distribution sites are hosted in China. The second-worst offender? The U.S., at 15 percent, followed by Russia (4 percent), Malaysia (2.2 percent), and Korea (2 percent).
It costs next to nothing to register a Web domain in China and service providers are often slow to shut down malicious pages, said Thompson. "They're the Kleenex Web sites," he said. Criminals "know they're going to be shut down, and they don't care."
Malicious site operators in China fall into two broad categories, Thompson said: Fraudsters looking to steal your banking password, and teenagers who want to steal your World of Warcraft character.
So how to stop this growing pestilence?
Google's Provos has this advice for Web surfers: Turn automatic updates on. "You should always run your software as updated as possible and install some kind of antivirus technology," he said.
But he also thinks that Webmasters will have to get smarter about building secure Web sites. "I think it will take concentrated efforts on all parts," for the problem to go away, he said.


Everex Cloudbook Unboxed

Everex's $400 Cloudbook comes in a neat little green box. It makes clear that the Google Appl-routing, gOS-branded Linux distro doesn't actually have anything to do with Google: the G is for Green!

It's small, but not as tiny as UMPCs. About the same size as Asus's EeePC, it has better specs (such as a 30GB hard drive) at the same price, but our first look at a preproduction model suggests that it isn't quite as polished.

Based on Via's Nanobook reference design, the Cloudbook ain't pretty. But it ain't supposed to be, either. It's supposed to be a cheap workhorse of a subnotebook.The gappy lid-hinge won't appeal to everyone, but I know at least one person who likes the durable, no-nonsense look.

The Cloudbook keyboard is a little smaller than full size, but quite usable. No risks are taken with the design. Rubbery chiclets, of which UMPC makers are so fond, are no-where to be seen.

The trackpad is on the top-right shoulder of the keyboard, and the left and right buttons on the top-left. It works better than you'd think, but the trackpad is so small it can be hard to make precise movements. You won't be editing photos on the Cloudbook without a steady, small-tipped thumb.

Two USB ports, the power cord and audio I/O lie on the right-hand side.

And on the other, a card reader and DVI-out. It's a minimal loadout — enough to make it worth your while? Read our first impressions.


Toshiba Kills HD DVD, Official

Tokyo—Toshiba Corporation today announced that it has undertaken a thorough review of its overall strategy for HD DVD and has decided it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders. This decision has been made following recent major changes in the market. Toshiba will continue, however, to provide full product support and after-sales service for all owners of Toshiba HD DVD products.
HD DVD was developed to offer consumers access at an affordable price to high-quality, high definition content and prepare them for the digital convergence of tomorrow where the fusion of consumer electronics and IT will continue to progress.
“We carefully assessed the long-term impact of continuing the so-called 'next-generation format war' and concluded that a swift decision will best help the market develop,” said Atsutoshi Nishida, President and CEO of Toshiba Corporation. "While we are disappointed for the company and more importantly, for the consumer, the real mass market opportunity for high definition content remains untapped and Toshiba is both able and determined to use our talent, technology and intellectual property to make digital convergence a reality.”
Toshiba will continue to lead innovation, in a wide range of technologies that will drive mass market access to high definition content. These include high capacity NAND flash memory, small form factor hard disk drives, next generation CPUs, visual processing, and wireless and encryption technologies. The company expects to make forthcoming announcements around strategic progress in these convergence technologies.
Toshiba will begin to reduce shipments of HD DVD players and recorders to retail channels, aiming for cessation of these businesses by the end of March 2008. Toshiba also plans to end volume production of HD DVD disk drives for such applications as PCs and games in the same timeframe, yet will continue to make efforts to meet customer requirements. The company will continue to assess the position of notebook PCs with integrated HD DVD drives within the overall PC business relative to future market demand.
This decision will not impact on Toshiba’s commitment to standard DVD, and the company will continue to market conventional DVD players and recorders. Toshiba intends to continue to contribute to the development of the DVD industry, as a member of the DVD Forum, an international organization with some 200 member companies, committed to the discussion and defining of optimum optical disc formats for the consumer and the related industries.
Toshiba also intends to maintain collaborative relations with the companies who joined with Toshiba in working to build up the HD DVD market, including Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, and DreamWorks Animation and major Japanese and European content providers on the entertainment side, as well as leaders in the IT industry, including Microsoft, Intel, and HP. Toshiba will study possible collaboration with these companies for future business opportunities, utilizing the many assets generated through the development of HD DVD.


Would You Buy A Wooden Cellphone?

Ah, wooden gadgets. Sometimes cute, sometimes silly, and always up for it. But nature's "fastest growing plant" is yet to take its place alongside cheap plastic and brushed metal on the gadget shelves of America. How long until designs like Michael Laut's "Chute" phone come to be?
Imagine a simple, everyday handset, sold at an everyday price, but made of wood: is it so easy to dismiss? Whatever you do, don't think about pressurized lithium and flammable materials being in close proximity to one another.
Is That. . . Wood? [Yanko]


Hands On With Everex's $400 Cloudbook and Sony's $2,700 Vaio Premium SZ

Everex's Cloudbook and Sony's Vaio Premium SZ are very different machines. The former is an efficient little budget subnotebook that costs only $399, but has better specifications than the similarly-priced Asus Eee PC. The Vaio Premium SZ is a high-revving 13.3" beast that grinds down its battery in less than 90 minutes and costs about $3,000: you couldn't spec a MacBook to match it even if you wanted to.
Both the scrappy little Cloudbook and the wallet-pounding Vaio, however, offered a curiously similar first impression.
The Cloudbook, powered by a 1.2 Ghz Via C7-M processor, has 512Mb of RAM, a 30GB hard drive, a seven-inch 800x480 display powered by a unichrome video chip, WiFi and gOS Linux. Weighing only 2 pounds, it's designed for students, kids, and others who'll get by just fine with the basics.
The Vaio Premium SZ has a 2.5 GHz T9300 Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of RAM, a 1280x800 display powered by an Nvidia 8400M video card with 64 MB of its own discrete memory, WiFi, Sprint mobile broadband and Windows Vista Business. It's designed for people who want untrammeled power in compact form, dressed in an exotic and stylish alloy casing.
Both are fantastic machines, but both are hobbled by something that has nothing to do with how contextually superior their hardware is.
This is what you see when you turn on the extravagant, expensive Sony:

A systray and start folder filled with garbage.
And this is what you see when you turn on the ugly but ultraportable Everex and try to fire up any of the online apps that so prominently feature in its marketing:

An unclosable, application-locking popup!
Both machines immediately confront the user with annoying software configuration problems. In the Sony's case, it's loaded with craplets, freebies and trial junk. In the Everex's case, it spits out windows that are simply too large for the native display resolution.
The Sony's problems required a long session at the Add/Remove Programs dialog, and left me feeling angry that the buyers of top-end machines are still treated as mere eyeballs for advertising partners. It has AOL on it. AOL! Who spends three grand on a laptop with an integrated cellular modem, only to sign up for AOL?
The Everex has no such nonsense. But its problem is that its desktop theme is simply inappropriate for a 480x display. The user to must repeatedly hold the Alt key and resize windows to navigate the system: it's a usability nightmare for something that's aimed at less sophisticated shoppers. (Everex has delayed the Cloudbook's release, presumably to fix these pre-production issues).
Sony's premium SZ is a marvel of technology. Both in its design and as a work of engineering, it's breathtaking: something one could own for years and love for every minute of them. And yet its cavalcade of craplets made the all-important first minutes a bitter experience.
Everex's Cloudbook is a potential Asus Eee-killer, offering superior specifications to the popular machine at the same price. But it lacks the Eee's friendly default user interface, dumping the Wal-Mart shopper right into a somewhat rough-edged linux distro.



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