Thursday, May 29, 2008

Byte Into It - 28th May 08

Microsoft surrenders libraries to Google - Business - iTnews Australia
Writing in his blog, Satya Nadella, senior vice president of Microsoft's search and advertising group said Microsoft would kill off two sites for searching the contents of books and academic journals.

Live Search will send Web surfers looking for books to non-Microsoft sites.

Instead, Microsoft will be focusing on "verticals with high commercial intent".

Microsoft has been scanning books since 2005 and has been giving information to the Open Content Alliance.

It will give publishers copies of the 750,000 books and 80 million journal articles it has scanned in.

Microsoft sees Windows Mobile unit sales up 50 pct - Mobility - iTnews Australia
Microsoft expects global unit sales of its Windows Mobile software for cellphones to grow at least 50 percent per year in fiscal years 2008 and 2009 as demand for smartphones rises rapidly.

"Fifty percent growth is the minimum," Eddie Wu, the software company's managing director of OEM embedded devices Asia, told Reuters on the sidelines of a news conference on Tuesday.

He said Microsoft expects to sell 20 million units in its 2007/2008 fiscal year ending in June, and expects to grow at least 50 percent annually over the next two years. It sold over 11 million units of its Windows Mobile software in its 2006/2007 fiscal year ended June.
Just in time for Apple? AT&T wrapping up 3G network upgrade
AT&T announced yesterday that it plans to roll out its High Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA) in six more US markets by the end of June, completing its deployment of HSPA. Once the rollout is complete, the company says that the beefed-up 3G service will offer uplink speeds of between 500 and 800Kbps, which will complement the roughly 1.4Mbps downlink already offered through AT&T. AT&T's timing doesn't seem to be a coincidence, as it appears to coincide with the widely-expected launch of Apple's rumored 3G iPhone.
HOWTO use TOR to enhance your privacy - Boing Boing
a HOWTO on TOR, The Onion Router, a technology for increasing your privacy and anonymity when you look at the web, and for getting around censorwalls.
Games need MORE sex in order to end the controversy over sex in games - Boing Boing
In this ~9-minute video, Daniel Floyd, a professor at Savannah College of Art and Design, convincingly advances the theory that the major problem with sex in video-games is that there isn't enough sex in video games -- that video-games' failure to come to grips with sex as part of the artistic message and aesthetic in games (in addition to the hypersexualized juvenile Lara Croft/Duke Nukem stuff), it can't convincingly argue that games are an actual artistic medium that deserves to be considered on the same terms as painting, literature, sculpture, film, and other media that often feature sexual material.
Why the "mobile Internet" is a poor investment - Boing Boing
Joi Ito, a shrewd Japanese/American venture capitalist, has written a great little blog-post about why he's not so hot to invest in the "mobile Internet." Basically, when a heavily regulated, big stupid phone company controls your "internet," then your ability to innovate and do cool stuff and make money is entirely predicated on the regulator's or the stupid phone company's willingness to allow that to happen. So if you're making money by disrupting something that matters to the phone company or one of its entrenched partners, forget about it.
HOWTO Lie to authority figures - Boing Boing
Instructables has just posted the latest installment in its ongoing series of HOWTOs. This week, they tackle the all-important skill of lying to authority figures.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Microsoft demos 'touch Windows'
Microsoft's next operating system (OS) will come with multi-touch features as an alternative to the mouse.

It is hoped the successor will have a better reception than the much-maligned Vista OS, released last year.

Scheduled for release in 2009 the new fingertip interface lets users enlarge and shrink photos, trace routes on maps, paint pictures or play the piano.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Web users 'getting more ruthless'
Web users are getting more ruthless and selfish when they go online, reveals research.

The annual report into web habits by usability guru Jakob Nielsen shows people are becoming much less patient when they go online.

Instead of dawdling on websites many users want simply to reach a site quickly, complete a task and leave.

Most ignore efforts to make them linger and are suspicious of promotions designed to hold their attention.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Nokia responds to gamers' anger
Nokia has said it is "working on a solution" to allow people to transfer N-Gage games between handsets.

The announcement was made following anger by gamers who found out that titles bought for a handset were locked to the device forever.

Nokia said it had made the decision to lock down the system to prevent piracy and guarantee revenue for games makers.

The mobile phone maker said it was now working on an intermediate solution until a final one could be deployed.
Firefox 3: Firefox 3 Add-on Compatibility Report
The hard-working developers over at Mozilla issue a status update on which popular Firefox extensions still need to get updated for Firefox 3. Here's 20 add-ons that are Firefox 3-compatible, and seven that aren't yet. If you're testing the Firefox 3 Release Candidate, you can force Firefox to use incompatible extensions with a configuration tweak, but to avoid possible wonkiness, it's better to wait for officially-compatible releases. In other Firefox 3 news, a second release candidate is slated for early June.
Featured Windows Download: CloseWin Instantly Closes All or Select Windows
Windows only: Freeware application CloseWin is a single-use app that instantly closes either every window on your desktop or any window matching specific criteria. That makes CloseWin a perfect tool for setting up a Boss Key or something similar; just create a list of apps you'd want to get rid of at the click of a button, add them to CloseWin's profile, then choose the Close all windows in list option when you want to quickly close everything. On the other hand, the Close All Windows button is a perfect last-ditch tool for not just hiding, but getting rid of all of your open windows at once. CloseWin is freeware, Windows only.
Featured Windows Download: Desk Drive Creates Desktop Shortcuts to Your Removable Media
Windows only: Freeware application Desk Drive monitors your computer for new media—like a new CD, DVD, or thumb drive—then automatically creates a desktop shortcut pointing to your newly mounted media. Disabling autoplay is safer and less annoying than leaving it enabled, but that means you have to open up My Computer every time you plug in a thumb drive or insert a new disc. Desk Drive gives you quick and easy access to that media from your desktop as soon as you plug it in, similar to the default (and arguably better) behavior found on Macs. The downside: Desk Drive takes up way too much memory (around 17MB in my test), so it may not be worth it unless you've got boatloads of RAM.
Featured Windows Download: HomeCamera Turns Your Webcam into a Surveillance Camera
Windows only: Web site and software HomeCamera turns your desktop webcam into a web-enabled surveillance camera. Just sign up and download their desktop software to get started. In just a few minutes, you can check an image or video from your webcam in real-time from any browser. Even better, you can set up motion-detecting alerts that will email you with a shot or short clip of what triggered the alert. The Windows-only HomeCamera is completely free during their beta and will remain free with limitations once they leave beta.
Exclusive Lifehacker Download: Belvedere Automates Your Self-Cleaning PC
Windows only: Keep your desktop or any other folder on your hard drive organized and under control with Belvedere, an automated Windows file management tool. Use Belvedere's friendly interface to create advanced rules to move, copy, delete, rename, or open files based on their name, extension, size, creation date, and more.
Featured Windows Download: Some PDF to Word Converter Does What It Sounds Like
Windows only: Freeware application Some PDF to Word Converter takes your PDFs and—as the name implies—converts them to Microsoft Word documents. It's always been a cinch to print Word documents as PDFs, but going the other way around is generally more difficult. Many online tools can handle PDF-to-DOC conversions, but most of us don't want to upload our sensitive docs to the web for third-party conversion, so desktop tools are preferable.
Featured Download: Snackr RSS Ticker Keeps You on Top of News
Windows/Mac/Linux: Freeware Adobe Air application Snackr runs a news ticker of your RSS feeds at the bottom or top of your monitor, or as a scrolling sidebar. The application is very customizable, allowing you to add feeds individually or import an OPML file of feeds from your current reader of choice. If you like to keep an eye on all the latest updates to your newsfeeds, Snackr is an excellent option. The attractive Snackr is freeware, cross-platform, and requires Adobe Air.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Byte Into It - 21 May 08

Free Scheduling Software | Integrate Outlook, Google Calendar & Exchange Availability - TimeBridge
TimeBridge’s free scheduling software helps you share availability and schedule meetings easily with individuals or groups across time zones

Napster goes DRM-free MP3 - Boing Boing
"It's great that we have finally gotten here," said Chris Gorog, Napster's chairman and chief executive. "It is really the beginning of a level playing field, which I think is essential for Napster, but also for the health of the digital music business in general."

Tracks downloaded as part of Napster's subscription service will continue to have copyright restrictions.

For much of the decade, major record labels refused to license their music for downloading as MP3s. But steep annual declines in CD sales and the growing dominance of Apple Inc.'s iPod music players and its iTunes Music Store led the labels to ease that position last year to remain competitive.

BBC - Newsbeat - Technology - Facebook set for major facelift
Designers are planning some widespread changes to the way the core profile page is organised, aimed at making it "simpler, cleaner and more relevant".

The site is consulting its users on the changes ahead of a gradual roll out starting next month.

Tabbed browsing...and more...

BBC NEWS | Business | Microsoft mulls fresh Yahoo deal
In a statement, Microsoft said it "is not proposing to make a new bid to acquire all of Yahoo at this time, but reserves the right to reconsider that alternative".

It issued the statement, it said, "in light of developments" since the company withdrew its bid two weeks ago.

Microsoft stressed that a deal may or may not follow from Sunday's statement.

After Microsoft's statement, Yahoo confirmed it was looking at a number of "value maximising" alternatives with Microsoft, and would assess offers made by the firm.

CeBIT 08: Finance Minister heralds revamp - Internet - iTnews Australia
Finance Minster Lindsay Tanner today revealed that the Rudd Government’s ICT plans will provide Australians with a “one stop shop” for online government services.

The Government will redesign to serve as the single site for Australians to seek out government services, with an anticipated relaunch for the first quarter of 2009.

Speaking at an eGovernment forum at CeBit in Sydney, the Minster said that with 24 percent of Australians contacting the Government over the Internet in 2007, now is the time to provide citizens with an easier way to have their voices heard.

802.11n Wi-Fi to 'surpass wired Ethernet' - Networking - iTnews Australia
Enterprise adoption of next-generation 802.11n Wi-Fi technology is "unprecedented", according to a new report, despite the standard being ratified only as a draft.

"Wi-Fi Certified 802.11n will eventually surpass wired Ethernet as the dominant enterprise Lan access technology," said Paul DeBeasi, senior analyst at the Burton Group, who prepared the report for the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Firefox 3 RC1 put out for fiddling with - Software - iTnews Australia
Firefox 3 release candidate 1 has been released in to the wild. Mozzerella reckons it's seen some 14,000 updates including some major reworking on improving performance, stability and code simplification

Firefox 3: Five Extensions You Won't Need with Firefox 3
# NoSquint: Never have to enlarge the text on that web page with the teeny tiny font size again. Firefox 3's new "Text Only" zoom feature doesn't enlarge images, and is smart enough to remember your text size setting on a per-site basis when you visit again.
# Google Gears: While offline web application support is still a ways off, Firefox 3 does have support built-in and ready for webapp authors to turn it on, effectively making Google Gears unnecessary. It will be very interesting to see Gears' fate in the face of Firefox 3 offline webapp support, and which webapps support which. Overall, it's great news for users who want their data whether they're online or not.
# Resize Search Box: Sometimes, it's the little things that make us happy, like a search box that can be as big or as small as you want without having to hand-edit CSS. In Firefox 3, just grab the separator between the address bar and search box and drag and drop to the width you desire. It doesn't auto-expand as you type, however, like Searchbar Autosizer does; perhaps in Firefox 4.
# DownThemAll: Ok, so Firefox 3's improved download manager definitely does not have ALL the features DownThemAll offers, but it does include dTa's key feature, which is the ability to resume downloads even after you've restarted your browser or lost your network connection. We still do love dTa for all the other download acrobatics it can do; see more on how to supercharge your Firefox downloads with DownThemAll.
# Better Gmail and other Mailto: handler add-ons:

Firefox 3: Set Firefox 3 to Launch Gmail for mailto Links
By default, the Firefox RC 1 only comes with Yahoo! Mail as a possible mailto: link handler, which leaves Gmail users out in the cold—unless you know how to set it up by hand. Here's how to configure Firefox 3 to use Gmail as your default mailto: application handler.

Microsoft previews Windows Essential Server - Networking - iTnews Australia
Microsoft is inviting customers and partners to begin evaluating pre-release versions of Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server 2008..

Due for general release later this year, Microsoft has overhauled its licensing terms following customer feedback on its current Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 offering.

The new licensing terms mean that customers will be able to purchase single client access licences, allowing them to pay only for the exact number of employees using the product.

Windows to run on One Laptop Per Child computer - Operating Systems - iTnews Australia
Microsoft reached an agreement to make available its Windows operating system software for the One Laptop Per Child Foundation's XO Laptop, the company said on Thursday.

Microsoft was not part of the project started by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Nicholas Negroponte to develop an inexpensive laptop computer for elementary school children in developing countries.

In recent months, the two sides have engaged in more serious talks and started testing the XO Laptop's Sugar software package on Microsoft's Windows operating system

OpenSSL bug found in Debian Linux - Linux & Open Source - iTnews Australia
The vulnerability only exists in Debian and Debian derived Linux systems, but those also include the Ubuntu versions of Linux that have lately become quite popular among casual desktop Linux users.

The problematic OpenSSL code appeared in the Debian unstable distribution on September 17, 2006 and has since been propagated into the current stable and testing distributions named Etch. The previous stable Debian distribution named Sarge is not affected.

Many Debian Linux desktop users shouldn't be affected by this Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) bug unless they've generated cryptographic keys for Secure Shell (SSH) access between systems or digital signing or authentication certificates.

However, techies who administrate Debian based Linux systems that traffic in certificates might be scurrying about somewhat in coming days as they apt-get the upgraded OpenSSL package and regenerate and roll over cryptographic keys and certificates.

Featured Download: Alliance Creates Private P2P File-Sharing Networks
Windows/Mac/Linux (All platforms): Alliance, a free, open-source, cross-platform peer-to-peer application, takes nearly all of the security and privacy concerns out of peer-to-peer file sharing by putting you in charge of your own network. The dead-simple interface lets you add Alliance-using friends to your network and files on your system to share, and you can search, chat, and download like any other peer-to-peer app. The traffic between clients is encrypted at a low level, but you can apply an experimental SSL layer if you'd like a bit more protection from snooping. For trading files with co-workers or friends, it's a nice no-overhead solution. Alliance is a free download for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux systems.

Featured Download: ReadAir Brings Google Reader to Your Desktop
Windows/Mac/Linux (Adobe AIR): Free, open source application ReadAir syncs your Google Reader feeds to the comfort of your desktop. ReadAir—whose three-pane interface looks and feels much more like a desktop newsreader than Reader—also retains a lot of Google Reader features, like starring items and adding and tagging feeds. The biggest missing feature in ReadAir is its lack of keyboard shortcuts; you won't be j/k-ing your way through your unread items in ReadAir the same way you can on the web—at least not in this version. That said, the app's to-do list includes offline mode and keyboard shortcuts, so if you'd prefer Reader had that desktop look and feel plus a killer web interface when you need it, ReadAir is a great option. ReadAir is free, all platforms, requires Adobe AIR.

XBMC For Mac: XBMC Turns Your Mac into the Ultimate Media Center
You don't have to mod your classic Xbox to run the best free media center application around anymore: Dedicated developers have ported the Xbox Media Center (XBMC) software to the Mac, and its killer features will convince you to abandon Front Row forever. The latest XBMC on OS X beta dropped last week, and it's as stable and useful as ever. Dubbed the "throw out your Xbox" release, XBMC for Mac 0.5 beta 1 adds the key feature that finally puts your media center Mac under the TV where it belongs: remote control support.

Xbmc: XBMC for OS X 0.5 Beta 2 Chock Full o' Fixes
The busy folks working on XBMC for OS X just dropped beta 2, which fixes several bugs

Parallels: Parallels Adds Windows Service Pack Support
The Windows on Mac virtualization arms race continues: On the heels of a new VMware Fusion 2.0 beta, Parallels Desktop issues a software update that adds support for XP Service Pack 3 and Vista Service Pack 1 for Boot Camp partitions.

Report: Apple's focus on "premium" computers is paying off
According to NPD's numbers recounted by Apple Watch, Apple snags a much larger share of the market when you focus on brick-and-mortar sales of "premium" PCs; desktops and notebooks that cost $1,000 or more. It is an admittedly narrow scope when you consider the big picture—a world where businesses and enterprise order cheap PCs in bulk via the web from giants like HP and Dell. Speaking of cheap PCs, retail shelves aren't exactly bursting at the seams with $1,000 boxes either. Typically, you'll find one of these premium PCs alongside at least three to five cheaper or bargain-bin brethren.

Still, in this space, Apple enjoys a 70 percent share in desktops and 64 for notebooks. Combined, that's a 66 percent ownership of the US market for premium brick-and-mortar PC sales.

3G iPhone launch "confirmed," will be available at launch
the so-called "3G iPhone" finally has a "confirmed" launch date: June 9 at WWDC. Gizmodo has sources "close to the launch" who say the iPhone will be available immediately after its announcement, with no lengthy lead time like your soon-to-be-eBay'd iPhone did. Other details surrounding the launch say that Apple will finally adopt more flexible sales terms with the iPhone 2.0.

First Look: Cyberduck 3 is a great, free FTP client for Mac
Cyberduck, a free and open-source FTP client made just for Mac OS X, announced a major update to version 3.0.

The latest version of Cyberduck adds support for WebDAV servers and Amazon's S3 storage service to its support of FTP, SFTP, FTP/TLS, and SCP protocols. Version 3 also adds a feature to quickly open a file via its http URL in a web browser. And, extending Cyberduck's excellent Mac OS X integration—which includes support for Keychain, Spotlight, Bonjour, and iDisk—the latest version adds very slick integration with Leopard's Quick Look feature, allowing Quick Look to work with remote files.

Mac BU talks Office 2008 SP1, VBA's triumphant comeback
Adopting the Windows update convention and calling the update SP1, the update brings Office 2008 to version 12.1 and offers "over 1,000 fixes and improvements," Software Design Lead Erik Schwiebert writes in his blog. Significant improvements were made to all Office apps, including improved printing and file compatibility as well as general performance and stability improvements. Academic and business users will appreciate that Excel brings back custom error bars and tick marks to chart formatting. PowerPoint has also gained object access to its AppleScripting support, and Entourage has received the lion's share of improvements--in particular, improved compatibility with ever-important Exchange servers.

Time Capsule and Airport Extreme top sellers in their class
"For the last five or six months [AirPort Extreme] has been the number one or number two product, trading places with Linksys," NPD's Stephen Baker told Macworld. And it makes sense. Airport Extreme makes setting up a wireless network brain-dead simple, and the Airport configuration utility is far easier to use than most routers built-in web-based configuration.

Time Capsule builds on this by adding a 500GB or 1TB drive inside what is essentially an Airport Extreme for a zero-configuration file server. Apple mainly targets it as a wireless backup solution that works with Leopard's Time Machine. This brings automated wireless network backups into the realm of mere mortals, sysadmin certification not required.

Featured Mac Download: Name Mangler Bulk Renames Files
Mac OS X only: Rename large groups of files—like that batch of photos fresh off your camera's memory card—using simple or complex rules with Name Mangler. Simple options include numbering files sequentially, adding a prefix or suffix, or changing case. In advanced mode, you can script any number of those actions and save them. Name Mangler also produces reusable droplets you can add to Finder; then, whenever you want to batch rename a set of files, simply drag them onto the droplet without even starting up the application. Name Mangler is a free download, donations requested, for Macs running Leopard only.

Quick Look: Tape Deck, simple audio recording on the Mac
Tape Deck isn't bloated with features or totally unnecessary eye-candy, and best of all, anyone who has ever used a tape recorder will be able to use it right away. When the application is launched, you are met with the face of an
old-fashioned portable tape recorder and a tape drawer. To get started,
all you have to do is push the record button, causing both the record
and play button to be pressed down simultaneously, and the app begins
recording; you even have the click sound you would hear from a real
tape recorder. One of the nice features of Tape Deck is that you can't
accidentally record over a tape. Every time you activate the record
feature, a new tape is created and the old one is put into the tape
drawer to the right.Recordings are done in compressed MP4-AAC audio and can easily be
exported to iTunes, e-mail, or disposed of easily via the File menu.
Furthermore, Tape Deck can be minimized and controlled via a menu item
or through system-wide hotkeys. There is also a handy search pane that
allows you to search through tapes titles and notes. Each recording
even takes on an icon representing the tape with the labels that you
set in the application.

The software goes for $25, but users can play with a demo before committing. .

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Byte Into It - 14 May 08

Ed's interview with Martin Krafft - one of the lead Debian developers - available in Ogg Vorbis format (20MB):

For more from Martin:
BBC NEWS | Technology | Virtual telescope opens night sky
Microsoft has launched WorldWide Telescope, a free tool that stitches together images from some of the best ground- and space-based telescopes.

Collections include pictures from the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes, as well as the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

The web-based tool also allows users to pan and zoom around the planets, and trace their locations in the night sky.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Google helps the web to go social
Google has joined the drive to make the web more social by introducing tools to enable people to interact with their friends.

Friend Connect follows plans announced last week by the world's two biggest social networking sites, MySpace and Facebook.

Data Availability and Connect let users move their personal profiles and applications to other websites.

At the heart of Google's service is the use of Open Social which will allow third parties to build and develop applications for the site.

The company says with Friend Connect, any website owner can add a snippet of code to his or her site and get social features up and running right away without any complicated programming. This will run the gamut from invitations to member's gallery and from message walls to reviews.


BBC NEWS | Technology | Microsoft boosts XP on budget PCs
Microsoft is cutting the cost of putting Windows XP on low cost laptops.

The price cuts will only be available for ultra-portable laptops that meet a strict set of specifications.

The move is widely seen as an attempt by Microsoft to bolster its market share in one of the PC industry sectors showing growth.

Low-powered laptops, such as the Asus Eee PC, are proving hugely popular in developed nations and in projects trying to bridge the digital divide.

BBC NEWS | UK | Facebook users warned about ads
Credit companies are using the Facebook social networking site to target young people, a debt charity has warned.

Credit Action says adverts promising cheap loans for people with poor credit ratings are appearing on the site and many break advertising regulations.

In particular, they are promoting two new products - payday loans secured against a salary or logbook loans secured against a car, it says.

The charity has made a complaint to the Office of Fair Trading.

Credit Action says many of the adverts contravene UK credit advertising regulations, usually by failing to give details of interest rates.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Adobe opens up Flash on mobiles
Adobe has announced a plan to try to get its Flash player installed on more mobile devices and set-top boxes.

Dubbed Open Screen the initiative lifts restrictions on how its multimedia handling software can be used.

Adobe will stop charging licencing fees for mobile versions of Flash and plans to publish information about the inner workings of the code.

In taking this step Adobe hopes to repeat on mobiles the success its Flash technology has enjoyed on the web.

NNDB mapper lets conspiracy theorists connect the dots between powerful people - Boing Boing
The NNDB Mapper is a visual tool for tracking the connections of more than 32,000 famous people- linking them together through family relations, corporate boards, tv shows, political alliances and shadowy conspiracy groups.

Creating a map with the NNDB Mapper tells a story about the world through connecting the lives of billionaire executives, scientists and inventors, politicians and activists, writers and musicians, and even Hollywood stars.

Analog switchoff == DRM screwjob - Boing Boing
Fred sez, "Nice article explaining how the end of analog TV in the U.S. in Feb. 2009 is going to unleash DRM troubles on a lot of unsuspecting consumers."

This is great for the studios, but it's not how the audience thinks (or should think) of their product. Paying for some form of content should directly connect to real received value: a performance of a movie in a theater. A DVD with additional commentary and deleted scenes. And yes, convenient on-demand availability, when appropriate. But too often, the "value" is based upon an indirect conspiracy to make it difficult or impossible to use the media you've already paid for, making the end result a tax on the technological have-nots.

SMS data rate is 4x more expensive than data from the Hubble - Boing Boing
A space scientist from Leicester has calculated that SMS data is four times more expensive than receiving data from the Hubble space telescope.

He worked out the cost of obtaining a megabyte of data from Hubble – and compared that with the 5p cost of sending a text.

He said: “The bottom line is texting is at least 4 times more expensive than transmitting data from Hubble, and is likely to be substantially more than that.

Macworld | Mac 911 | Alphabetizing Firefox bookmarks
Here’s the trick:

Choose Bookmarks -> Organize Bookmarks. Select a folder full of bookmarks in the left pane of the Bookmarks Manager window. The right pane will fill with that folder’s contents. If you want to sort all the items in the right pane by name, just Control-click on an item in the right pane and choose Sort By Name from the contextual menu. Firefox will first organize folders alphabetically, and then follow those folders with alphabetized items that carry URLs. For example, in my Bookmarks toolbar, choosing Sort By Name puts my Apple, Favorites, and Mac Stuff folders first in line and then Google News, Latest Headlines (an RSS feed with a URL), and Rhapsody follow after that.

If the right pane includes folders of its own—you’ve chosen the Bookmarks Toolbar Folder, for example—click the triangle next to one of the folders in the right pane, select an item within that folder, and perform that Control-click/Sort By Name trick again. The items within the folder will be sorted alphabetically. And yes, the alphabetical sorting will carry over into Firefox’s Bookmarks toolbar as well as submenus in the Bookmarks menu

10 Useful Gadgets for Mobile Computing | Six Revisions
If you’re a web worker, mobile computing is either a necessity of the job or something you choose to do to get away from the monotonous confines of your office work station. Along with your laptop and (most probably) your iPhone/Blackberry/[insert handheld here], there are a plethora of useful devices that you can tag along with you to enhance your computing experience. Here’s a round-up of 10 cool gadgets that can supplement your remote workspace. Including (amongst other): The USB Port Blocker prevents data thieves from plugging in USB devices to grab your precious data or injecting malware when you’re not looking. The Solio Solar Charger is a multi-compatible device charger that uses stored solar energy to charge up your other gizmos. It works with the iPhone, iPod, and most other portable handhelds. A fully charged Solio can charge two standard cell phones, and can charge as fast as any wall chargers (according to the maker) and Adding an extra layer of protection to your data is made easy with the STYSEN E08 RFID Security Mobile Disk. It works by locking your hard drive which you can then unlock using an RFID key.

SME's get more Web choices with MYOB - Internet - iTnews Australia
Business solutions company MYOB announced today it will expand its range of products to offer online Web hosting services to its SME customers.

MYOB will now offer domain registration from $35 for two years, email hosting from $14.95 per month and Web hosting from $29.95 per month.

MYOB has always focused primarily on small to medium enterprise (SME) clients, and has tailored their new web offerings to benefit anything from young start-up companies to fully established SMEs.

Sun open sources Mac OS X virtualisation tool - Operating Systems - iTnews Australia
Sun Microsystems has unveiled a useful update to its xVM VirtualBox, open source desktop virtualisation, which now has support for both Solaris and Mac OS X.

The update means that Sun is now officially the first firm to have launched open source virtualisation for those particular two operating systems.

Sun is seeking a niche in the big-business virtualisation market. Its Virtual Box, which was developed by German company Innotek, bought by Sun this February, can run as an application on a host operating system, allowing several guest OSs to run on top of it.

The software comes in a free, open source version as well as in a licensed version sporting advanced features, which is also free, but only for individual use. Any business users who want the software have to cough up for the purchase licenses.

Sun claims that as well as supporting Solaris and Mac OS X as hosts, its new and improved VirtualBox 1.6 now also comes with seamless windowing for Solaris and Linux guests, SATA support for up to 32 hard disks per VM and a programming interface for Web services. Solaris is also supported as a guest OS, but Mac OS X is not as yet.

XP SP3 crashes some AMD machines - Hardware - iTnews Australia
The long-awaited and much-delayed update to Windows XP, Service Pack 3, is giving owners of machines with AMD hardware headaches aplenty it seems.

The problems, which first arose just one day after the push, have been causing lots of noise on Microsoft support sites and angry user blogs.

One user reported, "I just installed Windows XP SP3 and after completing the processes and when the system reboots, the system cannot proceed to load the Windows. It just displays the flash screen of Windows then after it reboots again."

Angry users have also reported that, after the installation, it is not even possible to boot in safe mode, usually the last resort before setting up a repeated forehead/screen interface.

Jesper Johansson, a former program manager for security policy at Microsoft and a well respected blogger has provided some pointers as to where the problem might lie.

ADC Round 1 Winners! | Android Phone Fans
Google has contacted the Round 1 winners of the Android Developer Challenge and here are the results. Listed are 46 of the 50 Winners… the remaining 4 opted not to disclose their project!

Video games don't create killers, new book says - Software - iTnews Australia
It was a different approach than most other studies, which have focused on laboratory experiments that attempt to use actions like ringing a loud buzzer as a measure of aggression.

"What we did that had rarely been done by other researchers was actually talk to the kids. It sounds bizarre but it hadn't been done," Kutner said.

They found that playing video games was a near-universal activity among children, and was often intensely social.

But the data did show a link between playing mature-rated games and aggressive behavior. The researchers found that 51 percent of boys who played M-rated games -- the industry's equivalent of an R-rated movie, meaning suitable for ages 17 and up -- had been in a fight in the past year, compared to 28 percent of non-M-rated gamers.

The pattern was even stronger among girls, with 40 percent of those who played M-rated games having been in a fight in the past year, compared to just 14 percent for non-M players.

One of the most surprising things was how popular mature games were among girls. In fact, the "Grand Theft Auto" crime action series was the second-most played game behind "The Sims", a sort of virtual dollhouse.

Kutner and Olson said further study is needed because the data shows only a correlation, not causation. It is unclear whether the games trigger aggression or if aggressive children are drawn to more violent games.

Adobe CS3 subscription offer for Aussies - Software - iTnews Australia
From May 1 resellers will stock Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium Subscription Edition, which will cost customers $129 per month for a 12-month contract. Australia will be the first and currently only country that has been offered the subscription service, claimed Cokes. The suite will also be available for AU$199 month-to-month.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Byte Into It - Apr 30 08 - makers of clipmate

BBC NEWS | Technology | Loopholes keep Windows XP alive
PC makers are finding ways to keep selling Windows XP despite Microsoft efforts to remove it from sale.

Dell, HP and Lenovo are exploiting loopholes in Microsoft's licensing terms to extend the operating system beyond a 30 June end of life date.

XP is being phased out in favour of Windows Vista which has, so far, got a lukewarm welcome from many firms.

The news comes as Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer hints that XP could live longer if enough customers demand it.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Microsoft unveils its web vision
Microsoft has lifted the lid on a new web service called Live Mesh, designed to connect a multiplicity of devices and applications online.

The service is seen by many as a key plank in the company's vision for the future of the web.

Live Mesh is designed to blur the lines between running software and storing data on a desktop and "in the cloud".

Microsoft's Amit Mital said Live Mesh would "connect and bring devices together... to work in concert".

Live Mesh pits Microsoft against companies like Amazon, Google and which are already offering different varieties of so-called software-as-a-service systems.

EFF to Ballmer: You owe MSN Music customers an apology, a refund and more - Boing Boing
In an open letter sent to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer today, EFF outlines five steps Microsoft must take to make things right for MSN Music customers -- including a issuing a public apology, providing refunds or replacement music files, and launching a substantial publicity campaign to make sure all customers know their options.

"MSN Music customers trusted Microsoft when it said that this was a safe way to buy music, and that trust has been betrayed," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "If Microsoft is prepared to treat MSN Music customers like this, is there any reason to suppose that future customers won't get the same treatment?"

Malware gets a EULA - Boing Boing
It's obviously difficult for the manufacturers of an illegal product to threaten legal sanctions against an infringer, but the Zeus authors give it their best shot. According to the EULA, "In cases of violations of the agreement and being detected, the client loses any technical support. Moreover, the binary code of your bot will be immediately sent to antivirus companies." Frankly, "We'll blow your kneecaps off and feed them to you," might be a bit more effective as a threat, but I suppose it's a bit hard to carry out that threat over the Internet.

Microsoft releases the long-anticipated Windows XP SP3 (updated)
With SP3, Microsoft has back-ported four Vista features to XP, including Network Access Protection (NAP) in order "to help organizations that use Windows XP to take advantage of new features in the Windows Server 2008 operating system." The four features that are no longer Vista-specific are as follows:

* NAP is a policy enforcement platform meant for enterprise use that blocks systems attempting to access a network until they meet whatever security criteria the corporation has in place.
* "Black Hole" Router Detection helps detect and protect end users from a router that drops packets without returning the specified Internet Control Message Protocol response.
* Microsoft Kernel Cryptographic Module incorporates cryptographic algorithms in a single module other kernel mode drivers are capable of hooking into and accessing.
* The new Product Activation module allows users to install XP without entering a product key at installation.

An elephant never forgets? George W. Bush's lost e-mails: Page 1
A federal magistrate judge on Thursday chastised the Bush administration for failing to fully answer questions related to a long-running dispute over missing White House emails. The White House is facing lawsuits from two public interest groups, Citizens for Responsibilty and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive at George Washington University, demanding that the White House restore the missing e-mails and put in place systems to prevent further e-mail losses. Administration officials were ordered to provide detailed information about the burdens involved in taking immediate actions to preserve copies of hard drive, tapes, and other media that may contain copies of the missing e-mails.

New Microsoft law enforcement tool bypasses PC security
Microsoft revealed its development of a digital forensic analysis toolkit at a security conference yesterday as part of a wider discussion of how technology can be used to fight crime. The Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor, or COFEE for short, is a USB thumb drive that contains software capable of executing approximately 150 separate commands. Once plugged in, COFEE can be ordered to decrypt system passwords, display a history of internet activity, and search the system for evidence.

Details on precisely what the device can do have been kept vague, probably on purpose, but the Seattle Times reports that Microsoft has been distributing the devices to law enforcement agencies around the world since last June. Currently, about 2,000 people in 15 countries world-wide have access to the devices, which allow police to gather dig for data immediately onsite, thus avoiding the wait involved in offsite analysis COFEE also allows law enforcement to snapshot any data that might be lost when a system is shut down for seizure and transport.

Microsoft: Office Genuine Advantage released "inadvertently"
As part of Microsoft's continuous efforts to reduce piracy, the software giant released update KB949810, also known as the Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) Notifications application, through Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). The update was meant to notify companies in Chile, Italy, Spain, and Turkey whether or not their copies of Office XP, Office 2003, or Office 2007 were genuine. Microsoft has acknowledged that the release did not go as planned: "but because of WSUS publication, it became available to WSUS managed clients inside and outside of these intended countries."

The problem with the update in question, which was "marked critical for WSUS," does not end with a mistaken worldwide release. Not only did the update appear to be a patch for a security problem by being marked as "critical", it did not always detect genuine software as genuine. As a result, many computers with legally purchased software began to spit out errors and productivity ground to a halt.

Cory Doctorow: How to stop your inbox exploding | Technology |
a few tips and hacks that never fail to surprise and delight:

  • Sort your inbox by subject,

  • Colour-code messages from known senders,

  • Kill people who make you crazy,

  • Half-resign from mailing lists,

  • Keep a pending list

See also Merlin Mann's take on Inbox Management in a presentation given to Google staff

The ABCs of securing your wireless network: Page 1
Ars Technica's original Wireless Security Blackpaper

Digg - All the rage in Europe: Firefox marketshare climbs higher
Month by month, Firefox continues to make gains in Europe, where the browser approaches a 50% marketshare in some countries, and shows stronger use on weekends, when people get to use the browser of their choice.

Skype tests mobile VoIP app - Mobility - iTnews Australia
Skype has released a mobile version of its VoIP application, giving owners of Java-enabled handsets access to the communication service while out and about..

The product is still in beta, but is freely available to download and offers most Skype features, including chat, group chat, presence and receiving calls through SkypeIn.

Universal: EFF SLAPPed us with dancing toddler DMCA lawsuit
The anti-SLAPP statute allows critics to get such cases tossed out of court quickly, and it allows the target of the lawsuit to sue in return. The law is generally invoked by corporate critics, but in the last year we've seen it used several times by the major media companies themselves, which claim they are being prevented from exercising their legitimate public rights. Universal, in fact, is currently arguing that the EFF—a big supporter of anti-SLAPP laws—is itself running afoul of those laws. In fact, Universal is actually the victim here of "an ongoing campaign by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to deter copyright holders from protecting their rights."

Yahoo-Google ad test triggers DoJ antitrust scrutiny
The US Justice Department has launched an investigation into Yahoo's test run of Google ads launched earlier this month. Although both companies alerted the Justice Department of their plans before the test began, officials are apparently concerned about possible antitrust violations when it comes to the two major search companies collaborating.

Several weeks ago, Yahoo inked a small, temporary deal with Google to test out Google ads on a number of Yahoo's search result pages. The ads would only run on up to three percent of Yahoo's search pages, and only for a couple of weeks. The point of the test was to show that Yahoo's searches could be valued much higher than Microsoft thinks they are, and some analysts speculated that outsourcing the entire Yahoo search advertising function to Google might increase Yahoo's cash flow by 25 percent in the first year. Just over two weeks later, "inside sources" reported that both Yahoo and Google were happy with the results and hoped to extend the partnership.

Oops! MPAA lawsuit gives free publicity to torrent site
Of course, the MPAA's lawsuit against has another effect that the MPAA is fully aware of. People who had no idea existed (including me) are now aware of it and what it offers. We wouldn't be surprised if a lot of them are going to head over to check it out—perhaps downloading a few movies in the process.

Pirate Bay opens uncensored blog site, tweaks IFPI
The Pirate Bay (TPB), the seemingly unsinkable torrent site, has launched a new service called BayWords that aims to provide users with censorship-free blog hosting at no cost. The site is powered by WordPress and supports standard features like comments and CAPTCHAs. The administrators promise that additional features will be rolled out in the future, but also note that advertising will eventually be one of those features.

Woz on Psystar OpenPro: "I like the price, so I may get one"
Psystar and its Open Computer/OpenPro have stirred up a frenzy in the Mac ecosystem. While our forums overflow with references to the mythical "xMac"—generally agreed to be a smaller, expandable, and less-expensive Mac tower—Apple has given no indication of being interested in producing such a product. Meanwhile, tinkerers and hackers are building "Hackintoshes," custom-built PCs that run a hacked version of Leopard. Psystar clearly saw a market opportunity and is trying to cash in on it.

European Parliament says "no" to disconnecting P2P users
By a 314-297 vote, the European Parliament has signaled its opposition to recent initiatives to kick users off the Internet for repeated copyright infringement. The vote came on an amendment (Word document) to the wide-reaching Bono Report on the Cultural Industries, which is intended in part to develop a policy strategy for the European creative industry. And whenever the creative industry is involved, there's a question of copyright.

Recently, the movie and music industries have focused on a two-pronged strategy for fighting file-sharing. There's a stumbling block, though: both prongs involve the cooperation of ISPs. Big Content wants broadband providers to filter traffic on their networks to keep copyright-infringing content off of it as well as to kick repeat offenders off of the Internet.

Parliament doesn't want any part of the latter strategy. The vote indicates that the members of parliament "want to strike a balance between the interests of rights holders and those of consumers, and that big measures like cutting off Internet access shouldn't be used," according to a spokesperson for the European Parliament.

Universal: You don't own those promotional CDs we gave you
Is throwing a record label's promo CD in the trash an "unauthorized distribution" of the music? According to Universal, the answer is yes. The claim surfaced as part of a legal case against an eBay reseller who offered Universal promo discs for sale in violation of the "not for resale" label printed on each disc. While the case sounds almost farcical, it raises an important question: can Universal and other labels in fact control the distribution of a product once they have sent it to others, or does the US "first sale" doctrine give people the right to do as they like with the promo discs?

Record labels aren't thrilled about people who sell the promo discs that are sent out to music magazines and radio stations, though even a casual visit to a used music store will show that the restrictions printed on the discs aren't followed with any sort of rigor. Normally, this is no big deal, but when it escalates into an eBay business model, the labels get a bit jumpy.

Closely-watched case may spell trouble for software patents
Two of the nation's leading civil liberties organizations and a new organization dedicated to the abolition of software patents have all filed amicus briefs in a patent case that could give the courts an opportunity to revisit the issue of software and business method patents. The case involves an application for a patent that would cover "a method for managing the consumption risk costs of a commodity" through a series of financial transactions. Not surprisingly, the Patent Office rejected the application on the grounds that purely abstract ideas are not patentable.

Dvd Ripping: AutoGK Rips DVDs to DivX and Xvid Formats
Windows only: Freeware application AutoGK rips DVDs to hard drive-friendly DivX and Xvid formats for quick, easy, and high-quality backups. It does so by acting as an automating front-end to several other free ripping and encoding tools, which it automatically installs on your system. We've never featured AutoGK, but a lot of readers swear by it. If you happen to be one of them, let's hear more about your experience with AutoGK in the comments. If you're looking for more DVD-ripping tools, like the previously mentioned HandBrake, check out the five best DVD-ripping tools. AutoGK is freeware, Windows only.

Featured Windows Download: CCleaner 2.0 Decrapifies Your PC
Windows only: One of our favorite PC cleansers CCleaner (which stands for "Crap Cleaner") saw an upgrade this week. Since the last time we mentioned CCleaner several new versions have come out; this week's added support for the Firefox 3 beta plus performance improvements and bug fixes. CCleaner scans your PC for unnecessary temporary and log files, cookies, memory dumps, and more and wipes them out at the press of the "Run Cleaner" button. You might be surprised at how much disk space it can recover

Crapware: Superior Alternatives to Crappy Windows Software
It may be the year 2008, but a whole lot of sucktacular software still rears its ugly head on PC's everywhere, even when better-behaved options are freely available. Whether it's molasses-slow bloatware, shameless adware, anemic default apps, or "Your trial period has expired!" nagware, it's time to replace stinky Windows software with its superior (but lesser-known) alternative.

Ask The Readers: What Apps Should You Never Install?
In a dated but still relevant post, technologist Anil Dash calls out a couple of software apps that no one needs to install these days, like WinZip and "sketchy codec packs." I'd add any software manufactured by AOL, Adobe Reader, and digital camera-specific photo software to that list. (You're better off with 7-Zip, Pidgin, Foxit Reader, and Picasa.)

Featured Windows Download: Daphne Offers Drag-and-Drop Process Control
Windows only: Killing runaway, memory-gobbling processes from Windows' task manager is easy—if you know the name of every process and thread on your system and which apps they match up with. Daphne, a free Windows process management utility, gives you a unique set of crosshairs to drag onto the window of any app giving you trouble. There's also a magnifying glass that reveals properties and even passwords of any window it stops on, and Daphne can call back to its DRK database to identify any apps you might want exlained. Daphne is a free download for Windows systems only. For more tools and tips on knocking down memory-grabbers, see our guide to mastering Windows' Task Manager.

Internet Explorer: Get Firefox's Best Features in Internet Explorer
You can cram many of Firefox's best features into the proprietary beast that is Internet Explorer. After the jump, find out how to add bookmark syncing, integrated spell-checking, session management, keyword bookmarks, ad blocking, inline search, undo-closed-tab functionality, and oh-so-much more to IE.

There are several IE add-ons available, but probably none more popular than IE7Pro (original post), a freeware IE7 add-on that opens the doors for tons of improved features and Firefox-like user-submitted extensions and scripts. I'll highlight IE7Pro features below, but I'll also include several add-ons that do their own thing separate from IE7Pro (and work for versions of Internet Explorer below 7).