Thursday, September 27, 2007

Byte Into It - 26 Sep 2007

Amazon's MP3 store brings more DRM-free music at lower prices than iTunes Store
Amazon has launched a public beta of its long-anticipated digital music download store, offering more than 2 million songs as MP3 files. Tracks from EMI and Universal Music Group, music from another 20,000 independent labels, and $0.99 downloads. Most tracks are variable bit rate 256kbps MP3 files, though the occasional track is encoded at constant bit rates. Large, high-quality album art comes embedded in each file.

Dark Australian patent cloud looms over 802.11n spec
The Register reports that the IEEE group assigned to work on the 802.11n project is holding urgent meetings to assess whether another engineering organization may pose a threat to the 802.11n spec. The other organization is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), which holds patents it says are essential to the development and deployment of 802.11n technologies—and, unlike other groups participating in the specification drafts—CSIRO has not signed a Letter of Assurance.

Apple: firmware update likely to make unlocked iPhones "permanently inoperable"
Apple said today that a firmware update to the iPhone due to be released later this week "will likely result" in SIM-unlocked iPhones turning into very expensive bricks. "Apple has discovered that many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to the iPhone's software, which will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed," said Apple in a statement issued this afternoon.

DRM advocates getting nervous about consumer backlash
At the Digital Rights Strategies conference in New York City, a similar message could be heard: "DRM doesn't anger consumers, content owners abusing DRM anger consumers." The growing backlash against DRM is causing dissension in the pro-DRM ranks. Paul Sweeting's excellent report on the DRS conference records the frustrations of the DRM community at the tactics of the content industry. They apparently feel that an overzealous content industry is abusing DRM; this is a bit like Smith & Wesson complaining that bullets can kill.

Critical Acrobat Reader security flaw exposes Windows to arbitrary exploits
A security researcher and self-described hacker known as "pdp" claims he has found a critical exploit in Adobe's Acrobat software that can compromise many Windows PCs simply by viewing a maliciously-crafted PDF file. The flaw affects both Windows XP SP2 and Windows 2003; Windows Vista, OS X, and Linux users are unaffected.

GNOME 2.20 officially released
The GNOME community announced a new release today after six months of development. GNOME is a desktop environment primarily used on Linux and other open-source platforms. GNOME 2.20 includes numerous improvements and new features that benefit users, administrators, and developers.

Intel announces, demonstrates USB 3.0
One of the announcements to come out of the IDF keynote this afternoon was Pat Gelsinger's discussion and demonstration of USB 3.0 technology. Although still in the prototype stage, USB 3.0 is aiming for 10 times the bandwidth of current USB2.0 solutions, or approximately 5Gbps. Since this requires fiber optic cabling, USB 3.0 will add a length of optical data cable to the mix, though USB 3.0 will retain full compatibility with USB 2.0 (and, one assumes, USB 1.0 as well).

Britney Spears/Larry Lessig remix done to exacting MediaDefender "chop-and-screw" specs - Boing Boing
"The leaked Media Defender e-mails contain a serious of 'approved' instructions for how to create 'chopped and screwed' versions of popularly-searched mp3s using a variety of odd techniques, which result in damaged versions of the songs users hope to download. In this blog entry, I discuss these instructions, as well as provide an example of all these techniques being put to use on the new Britney Spears single, 'Gimmie More,' (now featuring readings from Lessig's 'Free Culture'!)"

eMusic selling DRM-free Random House audiobooks - Boing Boing
Random House and eMusic have begun to sell DRM-free audiobooks on their site. This is pretty big news, since iTunes has an exclusive deal with Audible for ebooks, and Audible won't sell non-DRM ebooks (though they have other non-DRM products), even when the author doesn't want any DRM

Pirate Bay suing major media companies for sabotage, based on MediaDefender leak - Boing Boing
ThePirateBay has been digging through the enormous chunk of leaked email from MediaDefender, the sleazy enforcers used by the entertainment industry to fight P2P, and they've discovered evidence of illegal sabotage. So they're suing all the big movie and record comapnies in Sweden:

Office 2003 SP3 released
The Microsoft Office division has just released Service Pack 3 for 2003, and it is available for download through Office Update or directly from Microsoft's web site.

Ask Lifehacker: Open Text Selection as URL? - Lifehacker
With Auto Copy installed, when you select text on a page, hit its right-click context menu to open that text as a URL in a new tab, paste it into the search box or location bar. This feature also comes in handy with long emailed URLs that wrap and aren't clickable.

Microsoft readies 'Halo 3' video game for launch - Software -
Video game aficionados lined up before dawn on Monday for the midnight release of "Halo 3," the acclaimed alien shooter game that Microsoft hopes will widen its lead over Sony in the battle for industry dominance.

Microsoft Vs. Europe: EU pundits want Windows-less PCs - Operating Systems -
An influential European think tank has released a position paper calling for PCs to be sold in the EU without pre-bundled operating systems like Microsoft Windows.

Wii wows with Star Wars light sabre - Software -
LucasArts has revealed that Star Wars: The Force Unleashed will be coming to Nintendo's Wii, allowing gamers to live out their Jedi fantasies by wielding the Wii Remote as a light sabre.

Google, IBM take another run at Microsoft's Office suite - Software -
No vendor has come close to breaking Microsoft's grip on PC applications, but they keep trying. Google, IBM,, and Yahoo last week gave it another go.New products from those companies are cheaper, delivered as a service, more collaborative, or more open than Microsoft's Office apps--in some cases, all of the above.

Sounds promising until you realize what they're up against: IDC puts Office's market share at around 95 percent.

Slashdot | Microsoft to Buy 5% of Facebook Valuing at $10bn
"The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft is poised to buy 5% of Facebook for $300 million to $500 million, valuing the company at up to $10 billion. Microsoft already handles advertising for the site."

Screenshot Tour: Desktop Show and Tell, Linux Edition - Lifehacker
From the wholly minimal to the completely ornate, the Linux desktop has never been sexier.

Linux Tip: Gently Restart a Frozen System - Lifehacker
Linux users: On your next system freeze, when CTRL + ALT + BACKSPACE leaves you high and dry, don't reach for the power button. Rather than forcing the system to shut down (which can do quite a bit of damage to your system—especially if data is being written to the hard drive), the FOSSwire web site explains a safer technique for restarting your system. 1. Hold down the Alt and SysRq (Print Screen) keys. 2. While holding those down, type the following in order. Nothing will appear to happen until the last letter is pressed: REISUB 3. Watch your computer reboot magically.

Digg - The 7 Most Influential GNU/Linux Distributions
An insider's look at the top distros, revealing both their strengths and their weaknesses.

Digg - Preview - Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon, GNOME 2.20
Preview - Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon, GNOME 2.20

Digg - Free Software Proves a Success at WalMart
On July 18th 2007, Everex launched its first 'Back to School' PC with 2.02 into WalMart stores throughout the United States. The response was fantastic.

Digg - Coming soon: automatic Linux driver upgrades
Linux users want two things for their hardware: drivers; and easy access to those drivers. The first is finally happening; and now, thanks to a Dell Linux project called DKMS (Dynamic Kernel Module Support), the other is on its way.

Digg - Intel: Why Open-Source Drivers Work
StarDict - The best free dictionary program in linux and windows

StarDict is a Cross-Platform and international dictionary Software. It has powerful features such as "Glob-style pattern matching", "Scan selection word," "Fuzzy query," etc. Stardict Version3.0 has developed a lot of new functions, such as Full-text translation, Net Dict.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Byte Into It 19th Sep 2007

Test drive: ajaxWindows leaves nasty streaks: Page 1
ajaxWindows simulates an entire operating system—without actually being one—inside a single browser window. The application runs on Firefox 2.x and Internet Explorer 6 or 7: Opera and Safari users are not invited to the party.

Mozilla creating a foundation to improve email - Boing Boing
The goals for the new company are: * Take care of Thunderbird users * Move Thunderbird forward to provide better, deeper email solutions * Create a better user experience for a range of Internet communications -- how does / should email work with IM, RSS, VoIP, SMS, site-specific email, etc? * Spark the types of community involvement and innovation that we've seen around web "browsing" and Firefox.

Sun to sell Windows Server boxes
Microsoft and Sun announced at a press conference that Sun has signed up to become a Windows Server Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), selling Sun x64-based servers that come bundled with Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

Report: Insiders cause more computer security problems than viruses
The Computer Security Institute has just released the 2007 edition (PDF) of its long-running "Computer Crime and Security Survey," and it offers some dreary news for overworked computer security admins: average losses from attacks have surged this year. More surprising is the finding that the single biggest security threat faced by corporate networks doesn't come from virus writers any more; instead, it comes from company insiders. It's internal users who are now causing the greatest number of problems, though they may also cause minimal damage. Hiding porn on an office PC, using unlicensed software, and abusing e-mail all count as security incidents, though all pale in comparison to one successful phishing trip. These sorts of internal incidents can be pesky, though, and 59 percent of all respondents had to deal with them in the last year. The CSI study has a major weakness: it's an "informal" study distributed to CSI members and conference-goers. The estimates of money lost to damages are, in one author's own words, "estimates." "Some of them," in fact, "are probably altogether approximate guesses."

Still, the study has been sampling this group of computer security people for a decade, so the report's conclusions seem to accurately track their perceptions of security; whether they represent reality is another question.

Intel picks up gaming physics engine for forthcoming GPU product
Late last week, Intel announced the purchase of gaming development tools maker Havok, authors of the famous Havok physic engine used in a whole raft of top-shelf games like BioShock, Oblivion, Half-Life 2, and Halo 2. According to a statement from Intel, "Havok will operate its business as usual, which will allow them to continue developing products that are offered across all platforms in the industry." So if Havok is going about business as usual, then why did Intel pick them up? Indeed, why would Intel buy a gaming dev tools maker in the first place? The answer to both questions, of course, is Larrabee.

Yahoo acquires online collaboration suite Zimbra
Yahoo has acquired online collaboration suite Zimbra for $350 million, the two companies announced this afternoon. Yahoo said that it hopes to expand its presence in universities, businesses, and through ISPs with the help of Zimbra's offerings. Zimbra currently offers open source e-mail, calendaring, and contact management solutions that can be used both on- and offline, and services small businesses and educational institutions. The company also encourages users to create "Zimlets," which tie information from other web services into Zimbra's suite. The Zimlets essentially act as widgets that can be customized and placed around Zimbra's e-mail or calendar tools so that users can access information quickly and conveniently. The companies believe that Yahoo's broad reach with its advertising and content network, combined with Zimlets, will make for a nice pairing.

Industry players working on standard for VMs
The issue of incompatible virtual machine formats has the attention of the major players in the virtualization industry, so three of the biggest are teaming up with some hardware makers in hopes of developing a single format for virtual machines. Under the aegis of the Distributed Management Task Force, Microsoft, VMware, XenSource, Dell, HP, and IBM have come up with a draft specification.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Facebook dismisses privacy fears
Facebook's 40 million users should not worry that personal details will be available to anyone searching the net. That was the message from executives at the social network who are in London to set up their first overseas office. Facebook's plan to make user profiles available to search engines has provoked anxiety amongst some users and attacks from privacy campaigners. But the firm's head of privacy said that the idea that personal data would be exposed was "completely wrong". "The only data that will be available is your profile picture and your name - and then only if you agree that your profile should be searchable,"

Social web sites often easy pickings for phishers, malware writers
Social networking sites are attractive to hackers not only because of potential security holes in the applications themselves, but the fact that the very nature of the site works as a way to spread attacks to more people. "In such a scenario, the attacker may use the legitimacy of the Web site to attract victims of subsequent attacks," the Symantec report said. "Sites with large user bases, such as MySpace, have already been abused in this manner."

New iPods reengineered to block synching with Linux - Boing Boing
The latest iPods have a cryptographic "checksum" in their song databases that prevents third-party applications from synching with the portable music players. This means that iPods can no longer be used with operating systems where iTunes doesn't exist -- like Linux, where gtkpod and Amarok are common free tools used by iPod owners to load their players.

Miro needs your donations to build the future of Internet video - Boing Boing
Miro (formerly known as Democracy Player) needs your donations -- the project is trying to raise $50,000 to pay programmers and designers to make its player even better. It incorporates three different technologies that make watching videos easier and better than any of the proprietary players like Windows Media Player or iTunes. These technologies are VLC, a free and open video playback engine that plays all video formats, no matter where they come from; RSS, so that you can subscribe to "feeds" of your favorite videos (including subscribing to feeds of YouTube videos matching your keywords); and BitTorrent, so that you can download files without costing the people who host them -- so the more popular a file is, the cheaper it is to host.

Google adds presentations to Google Docs | Lifehacker Australia
Google's launched the latest in its online office application arsenal - presentations. Posting on the official Google Blog, software engineer Attila Bodis said: "Starting today, presentations -- whether imported from existing files or created using the new slide editor -- are listed alongside documents and spreadsheets in the Google Docs document list. They can be edited, shared, and published using the familiar Google Docs interface, with several collaborators working on a slide deck simultaneously, in real time. When it's time to present, participants can simply click a link to follow along as the presenter takes the audience through the slideshow. Participants are connected through Google Talk and can chat about the presentation as they're watching." They've also parked some screenshots on a Picasa gallery here.

New York Times cans fees on website and archive | Lifehacker Australia
Two years after imposing a $US50 subscription fee for people to view its archives and columnists' writing online, the New York Times has decided to reverse the decision and open up all areas of its website for free browsing. It seems to be a global trend in the online world, but I thought this was particularly cool - in addition to opening up its website, the Times will also make its archives from 1987 to the present freely available, as well as those from 1851 to 1922, which are in the public domain.

Open a Set of Bookmarks in One Click? | Lifehacker Australia
The solution is actually very simple; all you need to do is create a bookmark folder. To get started, right-click your bookmark toolbar and select New Folder... and give the folder a name befitting the group of bookmarks you'd like to open at one time. Then just start bookmarking every page you want to open (if you've already got them open, you can bookmark them in one fell swoop the Bookmark all tabs shortcut) and file them in that folder. Next time you fire up your 'fox and you want to open that collection of bookmarks at once, either middle-click the folder in your bookmarks toolbar or go to Bookmarks -> Folder Name and then select the Open in All Tabs option.

Set up bookmarks for weekday or weekend reading with Morning Coffee | Lifehacker Australia
"If you prefer to have different sites open on different days of the week - ie you've got your weekday faves and different weekend faves - download the 'Morning Coffee' extension. You can then save different sites for different days (individual days, M-F only, weekend only, M, W, F only or the T-days only) - what a choice! Then you only have to click the cuppa icon in the toolbar and the day's sites automatically open.

Best Free Software to Unlock Your Favourite Hardware | Lifehacker Australia
Your favourite gadgets have more functionality than their default software exposes, but it rules that several software applications are built to unlock that potential for free. Whether it's your iPod, Xbox, router or iPhone, we've covered some incredibly ambitious free software projects that unlock features and enable unauthorised but oh-so-useful applications to run on them.

How to replace Windows completely with Ubuntu | Lifehacker Australia
APC magazine offers up a 10 part guide to replacing Windows with Ubuntu, written by former Atomic editor Ashton Mills.

Ten Features You Might Not Be Using | Lifehacker Australia
The official Gmail blog has compiled their picks for the top 10 least known Gmail features.

How to check that you're enrolled to vote | Lifehacker Australia
The pundits are predicting that with the APEC circus behind us, the federal election may be called at any time. Due to recent changes to the electoral laws, the electoral rolls close within a couple of days of the election being called - so now's the time to make sure that your enrolment is up to date.

Roundup of Federal Election websites | Lifehacker Australia
The Australian's Media section had an interesting roundup of the websites which are springing up to cover (and cash in on) the upcoming federal election. It says that Google is going to launch its own election website tomorrow, replete with "video footage, user-generated content and customised information feeds."

Google Election site now live | Lifehacker Australia

Keyboard shortcuts | Lifehacker Australia
Learn and look up keyboard shortcuts for a wide variety of online and desktop applications from Firefox to Excel to Google Apps at the KeyXL keyboard shortcut database.

Virtualisation | Lifehacker Australia
VMWare recently released an open source version of its virtual machine tools. The new product will be housed at Sourceforge and known as Open Virtual Machine Tools.

Phishing | Lifehacker Australia
Keep your identity from getting stolen online with eight effective methods to avoid phishing

Microsoft updates Windows without user permission, apologises - Software -
Even though the updates ended up being benign and vital to the function of Windows Updates, such a breach of trust could end up harming Microsoft's reputation. Over the last few weeks, without user approval, Windows Update has updated nine small executable files in both Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Microsoft sued over WGA spyware allegations in China
Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage woes aren't likely to end any time soon. Soon after a global WGA failure caused by human error comes word that a privacy suit has been brought against the company in China over alleged WGA behavior. This joins similar suits in the US that have described WGA as "spyware."

EU court comes down hard on Microsoft in antitrust appeal
Three and a half years after the European Commission first found Microsoft to be abusing its dominant market position in Europe, the EU's Court of First Instance has smacked down Microsoft's appeal and upheld the original €497 million ($688 million) fine against the company.

FSFE, Samba: A triumph for freedom of choice and competition
FSFE have a press release today about a victory in the EU over
Microsoft's anti-competitive behaviour on file/print serving: The EC
have upheld the requirement that Microsoft release interoperability
specifications, and they agree with FSFE that Samba must not be
excluded from this access. Carlo Piana, FSFE's legal counsel: "FSFE and the Samba Team welcome the decision of the court. This is a milestone for competition. It puts an end to the notion that deliberate obfuscation of standards and designed lock-in is an acceptable business model and forces Microsoft back into competing on the grounds of software technology."

States to judge: Extend Microsoft antitrust oversight by five years
After a 2002 ruling that Microsoft abused its monopoly power in the operating system and web browser markets, the company, the individual states, and the DoJ signed off on a consent decree that would govern the company's conduct. The states originally asked for ten years of monitoring, but the judge decided half of that would be sufficient; the decree is scheduled to expire in November of this year.

Company patents playlists, sues everyone
A company called Premier International Associates has filed suit against a slew of tech companies over infringement on two of the company's patents. Microsoft, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, Viacom, Real, Napster, Samsung, LG, Motorola, Nokia, and Sandisk are named in one of the two suits filed this week, while Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Gateway, and Yahoo are named in another. All of the above companies are accused of violating Premier's patents for an electronic "List building system"—the older of which was applied for in 1997 and issued in 2001. The patents describe what essentially comes down to a playlist.Patent Reform Act close to vote, Google and others weigh in on changes
The Patent Reform Act looks on schedule for a vote in both the House and the Senate within the next couple of weeks, and companies are lining up to make their opinions heard. Google, for example, spelled out its position on Tuesday: it supports the legislation as a way to "defend against frivolous patent claims from parties gaming the system to forestall competition or reap windfall profits." The problems are clear enough: patent infringement lawsuits have tripled in the last decade, patent applications are increasing faster than the number of patent examiners available to handle them, and the triple damages that can come with "willful" infringement scare many companies away from even examining the patents filed by competitors.

Head of US copyright says "DMCA does what it is supposed to do" - Boing Boing
Marybeth Peters, the US Register of Copyrights, has come out in favor of the controversial 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, saying "it did what it was supposed to do." The DMCA makes it possible to sue companies that make music, video and ebook players that play back DRM file-formats without permission, giving Apple the right to sue Real for making its own music player to run on the iPod.

With trial date looming, RIAA tries to avoid facing a jury
The over 20,000 file-sharing lawsuits that have been filed over the past few years share a single distinction: not one of them has made it to trial. The RIAA is trying to keep Virgin Records, et al v. Jammie Thomas from a jury trial, filing a motion for summary adjudication on some specific aspects of the case.

Microsoft patents the "El Dorado" of audio watermarks
The new watermark was designed to stand up to a set of "plausible attacks" listed in a Request for Proposals from the RIAA, including: * Two successive D/A and A/D conversions * Data reduction coding techniques such as MP3 * Adaptive transform coding (ATRAC), adaptive subband coding * Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) * Dolby AC2 and AC3 systems * Applying additive or multiplicative noise * Applying a second Embedded Signal, using the same system, to a single program fragment, * Frequency response distortion corresponding to normal analogue frequency response controls such as bass, mid and treble controls, with maximum variation of 15 dB with respect to the original signal * Applying frequency notches with possible frequency hopping

Report: fair use adds $2.2 trillion to US economy each year
studies that look at the economic impact of fair use. That was the goal behind a new report (PDF) from the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA). Their provocative finding? "In 2006, fair use-related industry value added was $2.2 trillion, 16.6 percent of total US current dollar GDP." The CCIA is the group that has launched a Defend Fair Use campaign and has filed a complaint with the FTC about overly-broad copyright notices in books and on sports broadcasts. Now, it's challenging the "more rights are always better" approach of groups like the Copyright Alliance with its new report. Not everyone sees a contradiction between the positions espoused by the two groups; Microsoft, for instance, is a member of both.

Autodesk sued for $10 million after invoking DMCA to stop eBay resales
A Seattle man is suing Autodesk for abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in an attempt to restrict the resale of its software. The plaintiff, Tim Vernor, alleges that Autodesk has repeatedly sent copyright infringement notices to eBay, where he has tried to sell legal copies of Autodesk software, because the company does not want the used copies to compete with new sales of the software.

Leaked Media Defender e-mails reveal secret government project
Peer-to-peer (P2P) poisoning company MediaDefender suffered an embarrassing leak this weekend, when almost 700MB of internal company e-mail was distributed on the Internet via BitTorrent. The e-mails reveal many aspects of MediaDefender's elaborate P2P disruption strategies, illuminate previously undisclosed details about the MiiVi scandal, and bring to light details regarding MediaDefender's collaboration with the New York Attorney General's office on a secret law enforcement project.

ISO reforms proposed in response to OOXML shenanigans
Late last month, evidence emerged indicating that Microsoft has used financial incentives to influence the outcome of Office Open XML (OOXML) fast-track approval in various national standards bodies. Although ISO ended up voting against fast-track approval for OOXML, the company's efforts have created doubts about the reliability of the standards process. In response to these revelations, Freecode CEO Geir Isene has proposed several ISO reforms and calls for an "investigation" to determine if OOXML "was unduly put on the ISO fast track."

Google goes to court in Australia over sponsored links
Google appeared in court last week in Australia to fight charges of "misleading and deceptive conduct" regarding its sponsored links.

2Clix backtracks on Whirlpool lawsuit - Telecommunications -
2Clix Australia has dropped its controversial courtcase against broadband community forum, Whirlpool.A lawsuit brought forth against Whirlpool for alleged "injurious falsehood" has been dropped by accounting software firm 2Clix Australia.

“Simon Wright and the Whirlpool legal team can confirm that they received informal notice from an employee of 2Clix that there may be an intention on the part of 2Clix to withdraw their Statement of Claim against Simon,” according to a statement issued by the popular broadband discussion forum.

But Whirlpool is not counting its chickens until they’ve hatched, noting that the Queensland Supreme Court records still show legal action is current and active.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Byte Into It 12th July 2007

Coming up on the 15th September is 'Software Freedom Day' at
Melbourne Town hall, it's a great day and people can find out all about
Linux and how it can help them be productive in their business and at
Check this out at:

Sauerbraten screenshot

Sauerbraten/Cube 2
Sauerbraten (a.k.a. Cube 2) is a free multiplayer/singleplayer first person shooter, built as a major redesign of the Cube FPS.The engine supporting the game is entirely original in code & design, and its code is Open Source (ZLIB license, read the docs for more on how you can use the engine). For Windows, Mac and Linux

Telstra takes CDMA battle to court | Australian IT
The telco is determined to prevent the Government's attempt to stop Telstra turning off the existing CDMA network in regional areas, as planned next January.Senator Coonan says she is not yet satisfied that Telstra's Next G mobile service will be able to provide the same coverage as, or better than, the CDMA network and is planning to impose this requirement on Telstra as a licence condition.

Merger frenzy as ISPs flee bush | Australian IT
The Government's decision to reject all but a few of the 30 applications for continued funding under the final round of its rural broadband subsidy program has prompted a regional ISP fire sale.Wireless internet providers Cirrus Communications and Broadband Anywhere said they were currently poised to make multiple acquisitions after being approached by several companies seeking to quit the rural broadband business.The ISPs in the companies' sights were formerly registered to receive
subsidies for connecting customers to their networks under the
Government's long-running rural broadband infrastructure development

BBC NEWS | Technology | Fossett sought via Google Earth
Images from Google Earth are being enrolled in the search for adventurer Steve Fossett.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Government backs Trust on iPlayer
The BBC Trust has committed to making sure the BBC would meet calls for non-Windows versions of the iPlayer "as soon as possible" said the government statement.It added: "[The BBC Trust] will measure the BBC's progress on this every six months and publish the findings."

The BBC has said that a Mac version of the iPlayer will be released in the autumn followed by versions for Windows Vista and mobile gadgets.

The BBC Trust was the body the government created to look after the interests of licence payers, said the statement.

As well as an e-petition calling for cross-platform versions of the iPlayer, the BBC has also faced criticism from organisations such as the Open Source Consortium (OSC).

This group wants to see versions of the iPlayer that work with open source software such as Linux. The OSC has had meetings with the BBC Trust to discuss its views.

Since a trial version of the iPlayer was launched in the BBC has been gradually signing up more people to test the Windows version of the software. A full launch is expected in the autumn.

Those using the iPlayer can get at BBC TV programmes broadcast in the last seven days and watch them, once saved, at any time during the next 30 days.

AMD to open up graphics specs []
A quick report from the kernel summit: AMD's representative at the summit has announced that the company has made a decision to enable the development of open source drivers for all of its (ATI) graphics processors from the R500 going forward. There will be specifications available and a skeleton driver as well; a free 2D driver is anticipated by the end of the year.

BigPond boosts broadband cable speeds to 30Mbps - Telecommunications -
Telstra BigPond has given its cable broadband plans a hefty injection of speed, with the launch of its 30 Megabits per second (Mbps) BigPond Cable Extreme.The new plans will be available to more than 1.8 million Sydney and Melbourne homes and businesses eligible for Foxtel cable, and up to 17 Mbps in all other parts of Telstra's HFC network.

Warning to Skype users: Beware of new worm - Security -
A worm that is targeting Skype users is quickly spreading around the globe, security researchers warn.The worm, which different vendors identify as Ramex, Skipi or Pykspa, uses Skype's chat function to send users a short message that contains a link to a jpg file, according to a warning from the Internet Storm Center.

Skype warned users in a blog entry that by clicking on the link, the Windows Run/Save dialog box will pop up, asking for permission to save or run a .scr file. This is the virus file and should not be downloaded or run.

IBM joins community - Software -
IBM has decided to join the development community to collaborate on future versions of the software.Big Blue will initially offer code that has already been developed as part of its Lotus Notes product, before making ongoing contributions to the features and code quality of the free office suite.

The company will also include the software in its products.

Microsoft's virtualisation software release will 'migrate' VMware - Software -
Microsoft this week unveiled its System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007 (SCVMM 2007).The Microsoft offering, launched Thursday, includes its Viridian software, which had earlier been the subject of major changes as the software colossus sought to perfect its virtualisation software offering.

Among other things, SCVMM 2007 will enable IT managers to convert some VMware offerings to a Microsoft-compatible format.

Ten ways to maximise your broadband value | Lifehacker Australia
• DON'T sign up for a low-capacity plan. Entry-level broadband plans typically have tiny (500MB or less) download limits, and steep charges (15c a megabyte or more) if you go over the line. These are effectively useless unless all you ever do is send text email.
• PLAN your internet activity around usage rules. Many ISPs have separate caps for daytime and overnight traffic. Use the overnight period to download large system updates or for file exchanging, rather than bombarding the network during the day.
• DON'T sign long-term contracts. Broadband prices change frequently, and if you sign up for a two-year plan, you're likely to be paying over the odds by the end of it. Even if you're offered free hardware, the overall savings may not be worth it.• MONITOR your internet activity. Most ISPs offer a meter that tracks your ongoing usage. Keep an eye on this to detect signs of unexpected or improper usage.

• PICK an ISP who suits your usage habits. If you're a dedicated online gamer, pick an ISP that offers free gaming traffic. Conversely, if you're permanently swapping files via BitTorrent, don't choose an ISP that automatically shapes P2P traffic.

• SECURE your wireless network. An open wireless connection is an open invitation for your neighbours to "borrow" some of your bandwidth, with potentially nasty results when the download limit gets reached.

• PAY your bill the cheapest way possible. Many ISPs charge a service fee for monthly billing or payment by credit card; direct debit is often the cheapest option.

• CHECK for upload rules. Most ISPs don't count uploads as part of your overall traffic, but some (including Telstra and, in some cases, Optus) do. Avoid these plans, especially if you regularly send large files yourself.

• MAKE sure your ISP supports rapid transfer. Rapid transfer allows you to easily switch to another ISP with minimal disruption if a better plan comes along.

• KEEP your security software up-to-date. If your machine becomes part of an infected "botnet", your internet usage can skyrocket.

Microsoft Office Tips Roundup | Lifehacker Australia

# Wrap Text as You Type in Excel with Alt-Enter

# Search and Replace Word Formatting

# Compare Two Word Documents for Differences

# Disable Annoying MS Word Features

# View Two Areas of Your Spreadsheet at Once

# Go Back to Where You Left Off in a Word Document

# Reference Excel Cell Ranges by Label

# Change Case in MS Office Apps from the Keyboard

# Automatically Insert Sample Text into a Document

Logmein - remote access to your PC | Lifehacker Australia
Logmein is a free application which allows you to connect and remotely control your PC

Speed up your ADSL 2+ | Lifehacker Australia
Here's a tip which I was embarrassingly unaware of - if you've upgraded to ADSL2+, without upgrading your line filter - you may be losing out on the speed boost you should be getting!

Easily Install iPodLinux | Lifehacker Australia
Linux users: Install iPodLinux on your iPod without losing any of your existing content with a script introduced by Mike's Ubuntu Blog. The script automatically partitions your iPod's hard drive and installs a boot partitioner with just three terminal commands.

Australian Blogging Conference | Lifehacker Australia
the Australian Blogging Conference which is being held on Friday, September 28 at QUT in Brisbane.
Information on the conference is available here.

Digg - Compiz Fusion 0.5.2 - Preview
Preview of the new Compiz Fusion 0.5.2 that will be included in the next major Linux releases. Screenshots look fantastic.

Digg - Super-Easy Ubuntu Setup From Windows - For Windows Users Eager To Try Linux
Wubi is an Ubuntu installer for Windows that lets you install and uninstall Ubuntu from a Windows desktop. Ubuntu is installed within a file in the Windows file system, this file is seen by Ubuntu as a real hard disk. That way the hard drive does not have to be repartitioned before the Ubuntu installation.

Digg - Is Linux really ready for Simple Users?
This engaging and insightful eight-part series explores the suitability of desktop Linux for ordinary computer users. The author investigates a veritable alphabet soup of Linux distributions -- from Damn Small Linux to Zenwalk.

Linux Done Right: A user’s pleasant surprise — Enterprise Linux Log
Consider this the first in an occasional, meandering series of articles on Linux done right. These aren’t meant to boost the sales of any particular vendor, but instead are meant to show other end users, IT managers and decision makers what to look for when vetting applications and operating system migrations. It can be support, migrations strategies, execution or anything and everything in between. If it’s Linux done right, then you’ll find it here.

Quicksilver: Get to Know Quicksilver from Its Maker - Lifehacker
Get to Know Quicksilver from Its MakerQuicksilver's heretofore elusive creator Nicholas Jitkoff, generally known only as A1c0r, demos Quicksilver at a Google Tech Talk for his employers and co-workers at Google. Aside from providing an exceptionally detailed overview of the ideas behind Quicksilver, it's also a great guide to understanding the application.

Digg - iTunes, 1425x1425 Album Artwork
Use Type in the artist and album and get the big album artwork from apple.

Digg - Apple: You have our blessing to hack the iPhone to bits
PC Mag spoke with Apple's Greg Joswiak and received some refreshingly candid responses to their questions about the iPhone and iPod touch. Most notably, Joswiak said that Apple doesn't oppose native software development at all, and that the company takes a neutral stance on it.

What is Interference Robustness? | Macinstruct
If it cuts down on interference, shouldn’t I leave it on all the time?No. This is very important to understand. Using Interference Robustness will essentially slow down your wireless connection. As discussed above, if you’re looking for speed, you send a high frequency of large packets. If you’re looking to battle interference you send smaller packets at a lower frequency. So your connection will be slow but strong.

New iPods do component video out, iPhone apparently will too
If you're wondering how Apple is pulling off component video with the current cable, it apparently isn't. Reports are cropping up all over that there's a new cable, retailing at the same price, which plugs into iPods and iPhones via the 30-pin Dock connector, not the headphone jack anymore. Things get even stranger on that product page, however, as it notes component video output is supported only by the 3G iPod nano, iPod classic, and iPod touch (480p or 576p for the former two, only 480i or 576i from the iPod touch for some reason), but the small icon legend just below that lists the iPhone in addition to the three new iPods.

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Byte Into It - 5th Sept 2007

Crave: The gadget blog - Posts tagged 'Ovi'
As part of its new Ovi brand of Internet services, Nokia is reviving the much-maligned N-Gage gaming platform in a new way. Instead of offering a hardware-based gaming system, Nokia is opening up a mobile gaming portal with the N-Gage branding. Once accessed, you can browse through a wide selection of game titles, download free trials, and finally purchase the games directly from Nokia. Nokia is also heavily promoting the community aspect of the new N-Gage platform, suggesting that you can connect and play with friends all over the world, as well as keep track of global gaming stats. As with the Music store, you can either purchase the game over the air or download it to your PC first.

Search: top | Lifehacker Australia
If you're (for whatever reason) blocked from viewing a particular web site, tech site WebStuffScan has posted a list of ten different strategies you can use to access the forbidden.

Software Freedom Day Bazaar at the Melbourne Town Hall — Computerbank Victoria, Australia - Recycles donated computers with open source software
Software Freedom Day Bazaar at the Melbourne Town HallSaturday 15th September 2007
Melbourne Town Hall
Corner Swanston St and Collins Sts, Melbourne

Two members of Melbourne Linux Users Group been working on their Mythtv project and we
have tested all the myth tv distributions available, they also have
published their notes on how to get everything working including remote
control and an EPG for Melbourne. Please check it out at

The PC Authority Acronym Dictionary - Features -
The PC Authority Acronym Dictionary. Ever wondered what a particular acronym stands for?

New Eudora email client built on Mozilla | Lifehacker Australia
This is the first new version of Eudora since 2006, when developer Qualcomm donated Eudora to the Mozilla foundation. They've basically been working on migrating Eudora to an open source framework as an extension built on top of Thunderbird.

Ubuntu Founder Mark Shuttleworth on Productivity and Linux | Lifehacker Australia
Founder of Ubuntu Linux Mark Shuttleworth took time out of his busy schedule to talk with Lifehacker about email, productivity, travel, web applications, Ubuntu, free software and much more.

10 Must-Have Linux Tools - Software - IT Channel News by CRN and VARBusiness
In this TechBuilder Recipe, the Test Center uncovers 10 tools that every Linux solution provider or administrator should be familiar with. While some of these are readily available for download, many of the command-line utilities generally are bundled with the distribution.

Live coverage of Apple's "The Beat Goes On" event

IGN: Forty PS3 Games Playable at TGS
Four mystery titles join White Knight Story and LocoRoco.

Sony edits Wikipedia, downplaying Halo 3's graphics
The Internet sees everything. It used to be you were safe to strike out at your enemies via Wikipedia edits, but with the advent of WikiScanner, those days are over. Which is why we're discussing a small edit made to the Wikipedia page of Halo 3. The contributor claims that Halo 3's graphics won't look much better than Halo 2, citing a Time story from March. Page 52, if you'd like to look it up...
For some crazy reason MaxConsole ran the IP itself and isolated the IP range to a particular place: SCEE's Liverpool offices. Someone at Sony isn't too happy with the state of Halo 3's graphics, and they want to talk about it.

Free Games: Ubisoft Titles Go Free On Fileplanet - Kotaku
Are you a PC gamer who's never tried Far Cry, Rayman's Raving Rabbids or Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time? Well today all four games have shown up on FilePlanet, completely free of charge for subscribers to the service. Well, not exactly completely free. They are all now in convenient as supported form, meaning you'll get a healthy dose of marketing along with your free game, but hell, these are some pretty awesome titles to get for the low, low price of watching a few commercials. Not sure if this is a temporary deal or what, as Ghost Recon was up there as well but the link is now not working, so you might need to hop on this ASAP.
Original Command &Conquer ISO images for Windows XP

US state bans forced RFID tagging of humans - Hardware -
RFID tags have been used for years to identify pets, track inventory and more recently in contactless smartcards and other ID systems.State Senator Joe Simitian proposed the bill after RFID developer VeriChip was licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration to sell implanted identification devices.

Simitian said that, so far, about 2,000 people have had VeriChip's devices implanted.

"RFID is a minor miracle, with all sorts of good uses," said Simitian. "But we should not condone forced 'tagging' of humans. It is the ultimate invasion of privacy."

Google patent sparks G-phone speculation - Mobility -
Google has filed a patent application for a mobile payment system, fuelling rumours that the search giant may launch a mobile phone.The patent application covers a system that would allow consumers to pay for services via text message.

Dubbed 'GPay', the service would involve sending an SMS to Google which would then pay the retailer and charge the cost to the consumer.

"We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, and some do not," a Google spokesperson told The Times.

International standards group rejects Microsoft Office Open XML - Software -
Microsoft's controversial campaign to convince worldwide standards bodies to endorse its Office Open XML document format as an international standard has hit a roadblock.A proposal that called for OOXML to receive so-called fast track approval was voted down over the weekend at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in Geneva by standards groups from participating countries.

The outcome does not end OOXML's chances of ultimately becoming an international standard. Many of the countries that voted against the format did so with qualifications, meaning that Microsoft will have a chance to address their concerns before a final vote is taken in March.

Failure to win the ISO's endorsement of OOXML could lock out Microsoft products that use the format from lucrative government markets, given that governments around the world are increasingly turning toward software that is open and standards based. Microsoft's new Office 2007 suite is among the company's OOXML-based offerings.

Microsoft is hoping to position OOXML as an alternative to the Open Document Format, which has already received ISO approva

In-game advertising company adopts TV ad model - Software -
Double Fusion, a private company that connects advertisers and video game publishers, rolls out new technology on Tuesday to allow advertisers to mount last-minute ad campaigns in games the same way they use spot TV ads.The technology will be shown to developers at the Austin Game Developers Conference starting on Wednesday.

Game designers now designate and hard-code locations for in-game advertising during the development process. After the coding is completed, advertising content can be changed via an Internet connection, but locations for ads cannot be changed or added.

Double Fusion's new program, called fusion.runtime, separates in-game advertising from the development process, allowing developers to create new placements in completed games, including back catalog titles.

Featured Linux Download: Browse the Web Without Installing Anything with ioSwiftFox - Lifehacker
Linux only: Run a browser directly from RAM with open source "app" ioSwiftFox. ioSwiftFox requires absolutely no installation and doesn't even require root privileges to run for the first time. ioSwiftFox is a simple script that after some chmod foo you can use to browse the web. It runs faster than Firefox and even works with your existing Firefox extensions! If you want to get technical, ioSwiftFox is a recompilation of Firefox 2 for Infodomestic Objects.

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