Thursday, September 25, 2008

Byte Into It - 24 Sep 08

The Power User's Guide to Google Chrome
ExitReality launches 3D browsing for 'the entire Web' - Internet - iTnews Australia
Melbourne-based company ExitReality today launched software that renders two dimensional webpages into three dimensional scenes – like something out of a computer game.

Developers say that ExitReality is compatible with ‘the entire Web’, working inside browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox to display a 3D depiction of each page’s contents.

Some websites already have special designs for use with ExitReality. Major companies such as eBay and MSN are depicted as buildings which act as hyperlinks.

YouTube appears as a movie theatre, while social networking site MySpace appears as a virtual lounge.

Other websites are displayed as a grid of content that users can walk through.

“It is the entire web in 3D – making 40 billion virtual worlds – and it will instantly transform 2D content into 3D,” said ExitReality founder Danny Stefanic.

Users can search for websites using the software and instantly switch between 2D and 3D views.

EFF sues Bush, Cheney et al for AT&T spying - Telecommunications - iTnews Australia
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a lawsuit on behalf of AT&T’s business and personal customers over the US government’s wiretapping of private telephone and internet records.

The organisation alleges that a secret National Security Agency was set up in San Francisco with AT&T’s help and was used to process the data from millions of telephone conversations and internet sessions.

The suit has been filed against the National Security Agency (NSA) but also names President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Cheney's chief of staff David Addington, former Attorney General and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and other individuals who ordered or participated in the warrantless domestic surveillance.

"Demanding personal accountability from President Bush, Vice President Cheney and others responsible for the NSA's dragnet surveillance of ordinary Americans' communications is the best way to guarantee that such blatantly illegal spying will not be authorized in the future," said EFF legal director Cindy Cohn.

Nokia 'free' music phone sales to start Oct 17 - Telecommunications - iTnews Australia
Nokia's first phone model with free access to music is scheduled to go on sale on October 17 in Britain, retailer Carphone Warehouse said on its Web page.

Nokia's "Comes with Music" bundle of phone and music service could help the music industry make up for falling CD sales, while challenging dominance of Apple's iTunes in the digital music market.

The package will differ from other bundles on the market as users can keep all the music they have downloaded during the 12 month subscription period.

Vodafone launches unlimited music downloads - Telecommunications - iTnews Australia
Vodafone today launched an unlimited music downloads service, allowing users to download thousands of songs to their mobile phones for a fixed price per month.

MusicStation will cost $11.95 per month, with no extra data download costs, and will give users access to a database of over a million songs.

Mandriva unveils Linux for netbooks - Operating Systems - iTnews Australia
Linux publisher Mandriva has unveiled a version of its platform designed specifically for the new breed of mini laptops.

Mandriva Mini is aimed primarily at vendors of so-called 'netbooks', and is customised for this category of small form factor device, Mandriva said.

It features a fast boot-up, comprehensive connectivity support and multimedia codecs, and is adapted to work on key netbook platforms such as Intel's Atom.

Unlike Windows, which powers many mini laptops, Linux versions such as Mandriva Mini are customised for a small footprint and efficient power management, and have user interfaces adapted to smaller display screens.

Open Source makes historic UK breakthrough - Software - iTnews Australia
Open Source companies have been granted official permission to supply software to the UK public sector for the first time in British history.

At least two Open Source software suppliers have been awarded places on the £80 million Software for Educational Institutions Framework, making them official suppliers to UK schools and scoring a victory in what has been a long and frustrating battle against favouritism shown to conventional commercial software companies in UK politics and procurement.

Mark Taylor, president of the Sirius Corporation, one of the winning Open Source suppliers, said "We were utterly stunned. We are delighted. It's a significant breakthrough for Open Source software."

The UK's procurement frameworks, a fast-track process for public sector purchasers, handled £4.4bn of business in the year to April 2008. They are not meant to prevent companies not on the lists from selling to the public sector but, said Taylor, this had not been the experience of the Open Source community.

Telstra 'a disgrace' to Aussie R&D, NICTA CEO says - Business - iTnews Australia
NICTA CEO David Skellern said that Telstra is 'a disgrace' and called on the federal government to give more support to the ICT industry.

“If Australia’s ICT sector was a national swim team, there’d be a huge outcry at its current state. We’d be throwing everything at it to make it go faster – special diets, training, coaches, the lot.

“We would bother, because we’d understand that the team had the talent – it just needed the support. So I’d like to let us bother about ICT innovation too.

“I have a deep conviction that it can flourish in this country, if it can attract the support it requires. You can rest assured that NICTA will be doing its part to bring home the gold.”

Delivering the keynote address at the Influence Forum 2008 in the Hunter Valley this weekend, Skellern condemned Telstra’s historical record as a poor investor in R&D.

“Companies like Telstra are a disgrace when it comes to research and development,” he said.

BBC NEWS | UK | Google climbdown on abortion ads
Google is to change its policy on adverts about abortion following a legal challenge from a Christian pressure group.

It had refused a Christian Institute advert, saying it did not allow the advertising of websites with "abortion and religion-related content".

The institute threatened to use British equality laws to contest the decision.

But after an out-of-court settlement, Google will now allow religious groups to advertise about abortion.

It means when the word "abortion" is typed into the search engine, internet users will no longer just see adverts with details of abortion clinics and support groups, but could also find links to religious groups which may oppose abortion.

BBC NEWS | Technology | YouTube bans some weapons footage
YouTube is to ban footage showing weapons being used to intimidate people on its website in the UK.

The new policy was being introduced because of "particular concern" in Britain over the subject, the site's owners, Google, said.

MPs criticised video-sharing websites, including YouTube, in July, saying they should be doing more to vet content.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith welcomed the YouTube ban and called on other internet sites to follow suit.

YouTube said the introduction of the new rule on weapons and intimidation would be the first time the site had made a policy change targeted specifically at the UK.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Palin e-mail hack details emerge
Details of how an e-mail account of US Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was hacked have emerged.

Following the hack, screenshots of Mrs Palin's messages, inbox, pictures and address book were posted to the Wikileaks whistle-blowing site.

It is thought the attackers exploited the password resetting system of Yahoo's e-mail service.

Details about Mrs Palin's life pulled from public sources reportedly helped defeat security questions.

Fake popup study sadly confirms most users are idiots
For most of us, security issues happen to "other people"—we block popup ads, we carefully examine dialog boxes and, for those of us on the Mac platform, we snicker when confronted with something that attempts to mimic a Windows system warning. But everyone knows that they are exceptional—what's the behavior of a more typical user like? Some researchers have tested how college students respond to fake dialog boxes in browser popup windows and found that the students are so anxious to get the dialog out of the way, they click right through obvious warning signs.

Google's T-Mobile G1 Android phone: the first review - Tech & Web News - Times Online
The arrival of Android signals the opening round of the battle between Google and its rivals, such as Nokia and Apple, to create software for the next generation of mobile phones that allows users to connect seamlessly to the internet.

A Google spokesman said that, these days, using phones “does not just mean a phone call, but rather access to the world’s information” and that mobiles will be one of the most important ways to connect to the internet in future.

However, when The Times was granted a first glance at the new device, the phone did not seem to offer a ground-breaking feature to rival the “wow factor” of the iPhone’s touchscreen. Instead, the G1 happily adopts the best features of the iPhone and BlackBerry — two of the best smart phones on the market.

Apple's redesigned power adapters already shipping, sort of
Owners of iPhone 3G, and those who simply had to gobble up a few of Apple's cute lil' USB-to-AC power adapters, may have to wait a few weeks to swap theirs out for units that won't cause an electric shock. However, according two different reports, Apple's replacement plugs are already shipping with new iPhones, and analysts say that the company shouldn't have much backlash to worry about from the whole affair.

New royalty agreement leaves Internet radio out in the cold
This afternoon, the Digital Media Association announced a new agreement with organizations that represent musicians and songwriters that will provide a streamlined licensing procedure for many models of digital music distribution. The new agreement doesn't apply to "download to own" music, but will apply to streaming services, including subscription and ad-supported music (think and SpiralFrog). The agreement has been submitted to the Copyright Royalty Judges for approval.

For the purposes of this agreement, musicians and songwriters were represented by he National Music Publishers' Association, the Nashville Songwriters Association International, and the Songwriters Guild of America. They negotiated the deal with the RIAA and the Digital Media Association, which includes industry heavy-hitters like Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. But the DiMA also includes a variety of companies that are doing less well under the current system, such as the recently-purchased Napster, and Internet radio services like Live365 and Pandora, which are buckling under the current royalty system.

Bad seed ISP Atrivo cut off from rest of the Internet
Malicious ISP Atrivo has lost the confidence and support of the last upstream provider willing to do business with the company. Up until last Saturday, Pacific Internet Exchange (PIE) had kept Atrivo connected to the rest of the world, but evidently felt the cost of doing business with the rot-filled ISP was too high to justify. Pacific was the last company to get the memo on that particular decision, but as of Saturday, Atrivo is offline.

The chain of events that ultimately led to Atrivo's shutdown may have been touched off by an August report from HostExploit on the company's illegal endeavors. At the time, Atrivo was a major hub of illegal activity; some 66 percent of the fake antivirus scanners and false malware-laden "codecs" were on Atrivo's network. The situation also persisted over time, a significant indication that Atrivo's disproportionate share of the malware market was no mere blip or oversight.

Windows 7: an upgrade to Vista, not an overhaul | Community
Screenshots of Windows 7 leaked this week on the site shows Windows 7 looking more like an update to the Vista user experience and not an overhaul of Vista. That makes sense given the short timeframe to develop and release Windows 7, and Microsoft's change to shorter OS release cycles over the past mega-Windows OS releases. Balmer is saying Windows 7 should be here in 2009. Frankly, most of the screenshots show pretty minor updates to the Vista user interface: a simplified Start menu, ribbon menus (BOO!) in apps like Wordpad, and redesigns to Windows Explorer and other control panel apps. So far, not a lot to get excited about, at least in this group of leaked screenshots.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Byte Into It - 17 Sep 08

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BBC NEWS | Technology | Retailer Best Buy to buy Napster
Consumer electronics giant Best Buy has entered the online music arena, purchasing the Napster online music service for $121m (£67.5m) in cash and investments.

The acquisition values Napster at $2.65 a share, more than twice its market value on Friday.

Best Buy said the move was to "reach new customers" and leverage Napster's 700,000 existing subscribers.

The deal is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Best Buy said Napster's easy-to-use interface, streaming music and mobile offerings were the service's key strengths.

Neuros open set-top box goes HD - Boing Boing
Computers becoming open in the early 80s transformed the category from proprietary computing machines to PCs. Can the same thing happen with the TV set? Will an open device that allows content providers and third party software developers (Miro as an example) to access the TV render proprietary set-top devices obsolete as happened in the computer space? This is Neuros's strategy as they enhance their Neuros OSD with HD capability

Google puts wallet behind African wireless broadband effort
The new venture is a startup called O3b networks, named for the "other 3 billion" that aren't currently getting Internet service. Although the first deployments will be in Africa, the company hopes to eventually deploy its access model across other poorly served areas of the globe.

That model takes into account a couple of realities that are sometimes ignored in plans to connect the developing world. Equatorial Africa is vast, politically fragmented, and unstable. No private entity is likely to put up the money necessary to provide and maintain comprehensive access to fiber in the region, and assistance from other governments has primarily focused on wiring up academic centers that tend to be in the already-developed regions of the continent.

The solution, in O3b's view, is to go wireless and leverage the region's infatuation with the cell phone. The company plans to use the existing infrastructure of cell phone towers, and add hardware that enables 3G and WiMax networking. That hardware will then be linked to the big-ticket item in the plan: a series of low-earth orbit satellites, which will serve as a bridge to the wider world at speeds approaching 10Gbps. Should the full plan be rolled out, there will be a total of 16 satellites connected to over 2,300 earth-bound access points.

TiVo fans rejoice: HD, MPEG-4 TiVo returning to DirecTV
Ever since DirecTV decided to part ways with TiVo and roll its own DVR, fans of the pioneering TiVo have fervently hoped that the two service providers would reunite. While the companies have played nicely with one another since the split, providing a handful of modest feature improvements to DirecTV TiVo owners, there was no indication that DirecTV had any plans to embrace the TiVo platform once again. That has finally changed, as a new HD-capable TiVo for DirecTV customers will be launching in the second half of next year.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Yahoo defends Google advert deal
Yahoo said it will implement its much-criticised search ad deal with Google despite possible anti-trust hurdles.

Under the agreement, from October Google will sell ads alongside Yahoo search results on some of its pages.

Rumours the US justice department would challenge the deal grew this week when it hired a veteran anti-trust lawyer.

Hilary Schneider, executive vice-president of Yahoo US, told the BBC the agreement was "fully within the guidelines of the law".

Both companies voluntarily agreed to have the US Department of Justice (DoJ) examine the plan, which was announced in June.

They also committed themselves to wait three and a half months to give regulators time to scrutinise it.

Google's chief executive Eric Schmidt recently said both companies were aiming to go forward with the deal.

Woman sues city after it orders her to remove a link to the local cops' website - Boing Boing
A woman in Sheboygan, MI is suing the city because the city's attorney used legal threats to get her to remove a link to the local police department website -- the city apparently believes you need permission to communicate the URLs of its pages:

Jennifer Reisinger says the Sheboygan city attorney ordered her to remove from her Web site a link to the city’s police department, in what she believes was retaliation for her support of recalling Mayor Juan Perez, according to the suit filed last week.

CALL YOUR SENATOR: Stop proposal to make taxpayers responsible for MPAA's copyright claims! - Boing Boing
ast week, the Senate Judiciary Committee gave the green light to S. 3325, "The Enforcement of Intellectual Property Act of 2008." We need you to show them the red light, and quick! Among other things, this intellectual property enforcement bill lets the DOJ enforce civil copyright claims and lets the government do the MPAA and RIAA’s intellectual property rights enforcement work for them—at tax payers’ expense.

Beta Beat: Foxmarks Beta-Testing Profile-Specific Password Sync
bookmark-syncing extension for Firefox, Foxmarks, is venturing into syncing your passwords as well as your bookmarks between browsers over the internet. Coupled with Foxmarks' new profile support, you can selectively sync what passwords go where and keep your banking passwords at home and your IT passwords at work. You have to opt into the password sync beta to enable it in your Foxmarks account. Of course, trusting your important passwords to a feature in beta—no matter how secure it appears to be—should make anyone concerned about security and privacy antsy, so do proceed with caution, and maybe only use this feature for your low-security passwords. Do you sync your passwords to the cloud, or do you wish you could?

Beta Beat: Firefox 3.1 to Add Private Browsing Mode
You can already switch on private browsing in Firefox with previously mentioned Stealther, but in the wake of IE8's InPrivate Browsing and Google Chrome's Incognito mode, Mozilla is set to incorporate their own private browsing mode with Firefox 3.1.

Firefox: Enable Chrome's Best Features in Firefox
The internet is atwitter with Google Chrome's innovative new features, but there was no clear winner in our speed test comparing Firefox and Chrome—which means your choice of browser may depend solely on features. Apart from a few specific issues (namely process management), many of Chrome's best features are already available in Firefox 3, proving yet again the power of extensibility. From incognito browsing and the streamlined download manager to URL highlighting and improved search, let's take a look at how you can bring some of Google Chrome's best features to Firefox.
Stealther Turns On Incognito Browsing

Chrome's Incognito browsing allows you to shop for your significant other look at porn without keeping any history of that browsing session anywhere on your computer. In Firefox, the Stealther extension does the same thing. The main difference: In Chrome, a single window can enter Incognito mode, whereas in Firefox it's enabled globally (this is probably possible in Chrome because of how it manages each tab as a separate process). But let's be honest, are your multi-tasking skills really that good? (Original post)
Download Statusbar Puts Downloads in Your Status Bar (Surprise!)

Chrome is all about saving space, so files you download don't break out into a separate window. Instead, they live in your status bar. Not bad, but guess what: The Download Statusbar Firefox extension has been doing this for five years, and it offers lots of additional options and wastes even less screen real estate. (Original post)
Speed Dial and Auto Dial Power Up Your Empty Tabs

Chrome's empty tab page—which displays your most visited sites, most used search boxes, and even your recently closed tabs—is awesome. There isn't currently anything quite as full featured for Firefox, however there are a couple of options that are very close. The Speed Dial extension (which itself is a ripoff of the Speed Dial feature in Opera) provides a very similar thumbnail-based new tab page, but you decide which sites you want in your speed dial and you can quickly access any of them from your keyboard with shortcuts. (Original post)
Locationbar2 Adds Domain-Highlighting to the Address Bar

Google Chrome's "omni bar" sports root domain highlighting, a cool feature that doubles as a nice anti-phishing device (if you see the root domain more easily, you are less likely to give your information to an imposter domain). That sort of domain highlighting isn't new by any means, though; the Locationbar2 Firefox extension has been boasting this same highlighting—in addition to several other excellent features—for well over a year.
Prism Extension Turns Any Site into a Separate Application

If you want to break out a webapp you use all day long into a separate window and desktop shortcut, Chrome makes it easy on you. Just click x and do y. The concept of separating webapps into their own application isn't new, though. At Mozilla, they've been cooking up Prism to do just that for quite some time. With Prism and the Prism for Firefox extension installed, just go to Tools -> Convert Website to Application to break a webapp into a separate window and application. Right now this extension is Windows only, but hey—so is Chrome.
Keyword Search Bookmarks Integrate Site-Specific Search with the Address Bar

Chrome boasts that after using a site's search engine once, you can perform that same search from the address bar the next time. For example, after you search Amazon once, the next time you may just be able to go to your address bar, type 'a', press Tab, and then perform your search. That's pretty saucy, but it's also not much of an innovation over keyword searches in Firefox. Granted, you have to manually add a search box (here are 15 of our favorite Firefox quick searches), but you can also define exactly what you want that shortcut to be. Chrome also doesn't currently support keyword bookmarking in general, which is one of the most time-saving features in Firefox.

On the other hand, previously mentioned Auto Dial automatically populates the new tab page with your most frequently visited sites. It's not as attractive as Speed Dial or Chrome's new tab page, though. Either way, give Firefox extension developers some time. We'll have an even better alternative before you know it.

Pew study: cloud computing popular, privacy worries linger
A new survey by the Pew Internet and American Life project, released Friday morning at Google's Washington, DC headquarters, finds cloud computing applications taking off among Internet users. But respondents also told pollsters that they have profound concerns about ways their personal data might be used—among them, the kind of ad-targeting practiced by... Google.

As Internet users increasingly find themselves using multiple (potentially incompatible) networked devices to get online from a variety of locations, it should come as little surprise that large numbers of them are availing themselves of "cloud" services that offload computing or data storage functions to someone else's server, allowing e-mail, photos, or documents to be accessed anywhere. More than half of Internet users have used Web-based e-mail services, which study author John Horrigan called the "starter drug" of cloud computing, while just over a third have stored personal photos on sites like Flickr or Photobucket. Cloud apps like Google Documents and Adobe Photoshop Express were third most popular, with 29 percent of respondents saying they'd used one, while fewer than 10 percent had used Web-based services to store personal videos or back up their hard drives. All told, 69 percent of users had used at least one form of cloud computing; 40 percent had used two or more. For users under 30, those numbers jumped to 87 percent and 59 percent respectively.

Perhaps more surprising is that 68 percent of respondents who said they'd used cloud services declared that they would be "very" concerned, and another 19 percent at least "somewhat" concerned, if their personal data were analyzed to provide targeted advertising. This, of course, is precisely what many Web mail services, such as Google's own Gmail, do—which implies that at least some of those who profess to be "very" concerned about the practice are probably nevertheless subjecting themselves to it.

Copyright bill blasted as "enormous gift" to Big Content
The United States Congress returned to work this week, and senators appear to have copyright on the brain: A broad intellectual property enforcement bill introduced in July is slated for markup by the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, and another aimed at cracking down on piracy overseas was introduced Wednesday.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Byte Into It - 10 Sep 08

Google moves to ease search privacy concerns - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Google has moved to calm privacy concerns, with plans to halve the time it keeps users' web search data on record following pressure from European regulators.

The company said on its official blog it was reducing the amount of time it keeps the search data associated with a user's unique internet address to nine months from 18 months currently.

After nine months search data would be disassociated with internet protocol addresses. The company did not say when the measure would take effect.

Microsoft retain search logs for 18 months while Yahoo! kept such information for 13 months.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Google looks to the next 10 years
Don't be evil

It was 10 years ago this month that Larry Page and Sergey Brin formed Google Inc to "organise all the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" and do it better than anyone else.
Google Chrome: Is there anything under the hood? - Network World
The bottom line — it's fast, very fast. However, throwing huge factors of performance improvement around is likely more for headlines and less related to what you see yourself.

Interestingly, though, is one last aspect of Chrome that has yet to be mentioned, how it addresses the true slow part of the Web — the network. Sure JavaScript is slow, but it is nothing compared to round-tripping to the server. If you look closely at Chrome there is real goodness here. First, simple DNS resolution caching of common sites and pre-fetching is on by default in Chrome.And in terms of network plumbing, we found a very interesting feature in Chrome — native bzip2 compression. While gzip-based HTTP compression has been around for quite some time, bzip2 compression is much better in terms of size reduction for common text formats like HTML, CSS and very importantly JavaScript.

With the rise of very JavaScript-heavy sites this is going to be a welcome improvement. The bad news though is that so far no Web servers are dishing out bzip2-based data, save Lighttpd.

In the final analysis Google Chrome certainly gets the plumbing right, and this is just the start. While its end-user features are still being developed it is certainly clear that, as an engine, it provides a lot of horsepower for the future of Web development.

The WebKit Open Source Project
WebKit is an open source web browser engine. WebKit is also the name of the Mac OS X system framework version of the engine that's used by Safari, Dashboard, Mail, and many other OS X applications. WebKit's HTML and JavaScript code began as a branch of the KHTML and KJS libraries from KDE. This website is also the home of S60's S60 WebKit development.
Nokia's Comes With Music won't worry Apple... yet
Comes With Music offers a compelling proposition: buy a phone, get free music downloads for a year. Carphone Warehouse will be the exclusive UK provider of Comes With Music handsets for now, and the initial CWM device will be Nokia's 5310 handset. Buyers receive "free" access to millions of tracks out of Nokia's own music store for 12 months.

The really interesting bit about Comes With Music is that users get to keep downloaded tracks after the 12-month free download period is up. Nokia would love for people to buy another Nokia device, thereby extending their subscription for another year, but it won't rescind the rights to music already downloaded.

But the entire scheme has a set of drawbacks so substantial that they will certainly limit Comes With Music's stocking-stuffer appeal. For one thing, there's all that DRM. The songs are all protected by a DRM that makes them playable only on a computer and a phone (and apparently, just one of each). That's great if you plan to use your phone as your music player at all times, though not so hot if you also have, say, an iPod or a Creative Zen.While the music can be kept "perpetually," even after the 12-month download period is over, DRM has a way of crashing the party. As noted when Microsoft and Yahoo shuttered music stores of their own, DRM-crippled tracks are only yours in perpetuity where "perpetuity" is defined as "until we shut down the DRM key servers." Don't plan on building a permanent music collection this way; it's more for sampling.

Then there's 5310 itself, which in no way possesses the sleek styling or "gotta get it now!" awesomeness of the iPhone or HTC Touch. While it may well be a competent platform on which to roll out the Comes With Music effort, it's hard to see how Nokia is "taking on Apple" with the offering, especially given the restrictions on the music.
BBC NEWS | Technology | BBC iPlayer offered on Nokia N96
Users of the Nokia N96 are to be among the first with the ability to run the BBC's iPlayer on their mobile phones.

From 1 October a purpose-built application will be available to download via the BBC website and will also be pre-loaded on some handsets.

The BBC iPlayer allows UK audiences to download and stream BBC TV and Radio programming from the past seven days.

A Nokia spokesman said the service would be 3G and wireless compatible and that Nokia would not charge to use it.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Intel details new core chip line
Intel has unveiled the processors that will form the core of its product line from 2009 onwards.

Details about Nehalem, now officially called Core i7, were given at the Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco.

The chips will appear in laptops, desktops and servers and with them Intel aims to boost processing ability, cut power use and improve graphics.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Intel unites the internet with TV
Intel has signed a deal with Yahoo to enhance the way people use their TVs by adding internet applications.

The collaboration will produce a Widget Channel that lets viewers e-mail friends, trade shares or check the weather while watching programmes.

The internet-based services will run on a new set of Intel chips designed specifically for web-connected devices.

"This is not a copy of a PC on TV," said Eric Kim, head of Intel's digital home group.

"We are setting a new bar and delivering a richer internet experience to TV like never before," he said.
BBC NEWS | Technology | One Laptop signs up with Amazon
The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organisation has signed a deal with Amazon to sell its low cost laptops.

The online retailer will help with its next Give 1 Get 1 (G1G1) programme that is due to begin in late November.

Under this scheme people can buy one of the XO laptops for themselves and donate the other to a school child in a developing nation.

It is hoped the deal with Amazon will iron out the problems OLPC encountered when it ran the G1G1 programme itself.
Kaspersky Lab patents dynamic antivirus technology - Security - iTnews Australia
Kaspersky Lab has patented a method of antivirus scanning that assesses files according to when and how they first appeared on the computer.

The method has been granted Patent No. 7 392 544 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Internally, it has been unofficially named ‘FirstTimeCheck’.

By dynamically varying the scanning level and set of tools used for file scanning, FirstTimeCheck is expected to minimise the impact of antivirus scanning on the overall system performance.

The technology also makes it possible to extend the time taken to scan new files and files received via ‘high-risk’ sources such as suspicious Web sites, P2P networks and e-mail attachments.
VMware Fusion 2.0 reaches release candidate stage
VMware Fusion 2.0 RC 1 was ushered out the door recently, and even contains a few new features to boot.

Most of the major feature updates were released as part of the Beta 1 and Beta 2 builds, including Unity 2.0, Leopard Server support, DirectX 9, and VM snapshots. It's pretty hard to compete with heavy-hitting features like those, but RC 1 is giving it a shot by including a free 12-month subscription to McAfee VirusScan Plus in order to keep nasty things off of your Windows VM. The RC build also includes full Italian and Spanish language support, bringing the number of support languages to seven (including English). In terms of more minor updates, the user interface has received a few tweaks, and the Leopard Server compatibility has been improved.
AppleInsider | Road to Snow Leopard: twice the RAM, half the price, 64-bits
Following the initial introduction to 64-bit computing leading up to Snow Leopard and a second segment outlining issues related to the amount of RAM that can be installed and actually used by the system, this third segment examines how much memory a specific app can use and how performance will improve with 64-bit addressing despite the additional overhead involved. A follow up segment will look at how the market for 64-bit apps is unfolding and how Apple is pioneering 64-bits on the desktop.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Byte Into IT - 03 Sep 08

The Blogging Revolution

"Antony Loewenstein introduces us to many members of the digital tribe, their hopes, dreams and daily lives in countries where the new battle for freedom of expression is being fought." Salam Pax, The Baghdad Blogger

YouTube on the intranet: Google Video for business launched
Companies making use of Google Apps as part of their business operations can now share videos within an organization without having to upload them to YouTube or another video sharing service. Google introduced Google Video for business today, which allows businesses to upload a video to Google Apps, then invite others to view it securely without having to worry about messing with privacy settings. The feature is already available for enterprises making use of Google's services, and will soon come to education customers, as well.

LinkedIn boosts Web 2.0 credentials - Internet - iTnews Australia
LinkedIn has launched a raft of new Web 2.0 features designed to enhance its business value and enable professionals to collaborate and network more effectively.

The social networking site, which claims over 26 million members, unveiled interactive discussion boards, enhanced search and a searchable groups directory which will allow users to find professionals and groups with similar interests.

Also new are digest emails, group homepages of latest activity within a group and the ability for group administrators to monitor and control comments.

Here’s the Google Chrome Browser Comic Book: Hey Microsoft, Kaa-POW!!! | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD
Here is Google’s entire comic book that it is using to explain the technical details of its new browser called Chrome. It explains the techie underpinnings of Chrome, especially its JavaScript engine, called V8, that the company says makes future complex Web applications render faster.

Google Chrome - Download a new browser
Google Chrome is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier.

Chrome Just Means More Incompatible Web Sites | Community
What Google is glossing over are the inevitable compatibility problems Chrome will introduce in how it renders and displays HTML. As software developers we already have to design, code and test knowing IE and Firefox each have their own idiosyncrasies. And Chrome will have its own as well.

Web Publishing: Google 404 Pages Help Your Web Visitors Find the Right Page
Google offers a free, embeddable widget for web site owners that can help fight back against link typos, permalink problems, and other issues that send visitors to non-existent pages. The customizable JavaScript widget suggests the URLs on your site closest to the link visitors come in on, and offers a search box pre-loaded with search terms relevant to the bad link. Anyone who's run a site for a long while knows that page URLs are a hard thing to keep linked and standing properly, and this widget is a nice step to preventing aggravation on both sides of the site. The widget requires signing up for a free Google Webmaster account and heading to the Tools menu, then the "Enhance 404 pages" link.

Featured Download: GMDesk Puts Google Webapps into a Single Desktop Application
All platforms with Adobe AIR: Free desktop application GMDesk provides quick access to Google services in a standalone window separate from your browser. GMDesk separates Gmail, Google Reader, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Maps from the rest of your web browsing, and provides keyboard shortcuts to switch between them (Ctrl+ or Cmd+1 through 6). You can't install browser add-ons like Better Gmail or Better GReader in GMDesk, and currently it displays too-small text in Gmail (though the developer is working on a fix for that). Ultimately GMDesk doesn't offer many features that make it worth using (or much better than apps like Prism or Fluid), but it raises the question: If Google released native desktop apps like Picasa for Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader, and Google Docs, would you use them? Until they do (which may be never), GMDesk is a free download and requires Adobe AIR to run.

Feature: Create Distraction-Free, Customized Webapps with Prism
Prism is remarkably easy to install and start using, whether you use the Firefox extension to create your Prism apps or just use Prism itself. Simply head to your favorite webapp and pass Prism the URL, or download one of the pre-compiled app bundles of popular sites. Ubuntu 8.04 users can also grab most of the popular Google tools, plus Twitter and Facebook, through the repositories.

Once you see your app shortcuts, you may (still) be wondering what advantage Prism has over, well, a URL shortcut. Here's a few reasons you might consider using Prism instead of a Firefox tab (or five):

* Distraction-free web work: Sure, I can open up Google Docs in a tab and get typing, but, wait, the Gmail tab says I've got a new message! ... Okay, back to work. I was on the third paragraph ... But, wait, Google Reader probably has 100 new items in the time I've been doing this, right? I'll just check for a few minutes ...
* Memory savings: Firefox 2 launches on my Vista system and grabs about 30 MB of memory, and that amount grows and grows, even if I close my tabs as I go. A Prism implementation of Google Calendar uses just 16 MB, and stays there, no matter what I do with it.
* Security/privacy: A Prism app keeps its cache, temporary files or web history in a separate space from Firefox, and trades only a single set of cookies with the site it points at.
* Crash protection: Got a site or webapp that's resulted in repeated browser breaks? Run it in Prism instead, and even if it goes down, the rest of your browsing can continue uninterrupted.

If any of that sounds appealing, here's a few ways you can get more utility out of Prism, using free software tools and a little creative thinking.
Quickly access your webapps
It might go without saying for Windows power users, but you can easily integrate any Prism application into your preferred app launcher or assign a hot key to it. Launchy can find Prism apps pretty easily, and you can also assign hot keys using tools like Qliner Hotkeys, or to a desktop-side tab with Nubs. Even Vista's Start search feature can be a handy link to your calendars, email, and/or to-do lists with Prism. OS X users can keep their shortcuts on the dock, and so can Linux fans, with some help from Awn.
Keep Prism apps in the system tray
I'm a huge fan of applications that can be front-and-center on my screen when needed, but tucked quietly into the system tray the rest of the time. Mac OS X users can reduce any window to the dock, Linux users can do much the same with the AllTray utility, but what about Windows users? You've got your pick of apps, two of which we've previously covered. I like TrayIt for its easy customization, but our commenters have given shout-outs to 4T Tray Minimizer as well, which adds two buttons to your apps' title bars. Either way, you'll be able to keep your favorite sites running without taking up screen space.
At-a-glance web previews in Windows
Want to keep occasional tabs on your personal mail or Facebook page, but don't want the pop-ups or pings of an auto-checking app? Using tools like the previously-mentioned Thumbnail Sizer, Visual ToolTip, or a Vista registry hack, you can keep tabs on chat rooms, email, or live-blogging events in Vista (or XP) by simply mousing over a taskbar window or hitting Alt+Tab.
Create dynamic monitors with URL hacks
alexa_cropped.jpgSites that let you paste information into them for processing right from the URL are pretty nifty, and Prism can make them even more convenient. Want a Google Maps directions applet with your house always pegged as the starting point? Roll your own with a simple URL hack. Keep your eye on web traffic, create a window of deep Amazon discounts, and generally wrap the web around your savvy little finger.
Customized extensions (experimental)
This is more a "promising possibility" than current reality, but since Prism creates a new runtime environment for each application, each webapp can have its own extension set. Right now, unfortunately, there are no official Prism-accepted extensions—but a few handy hackers have figured out how to make some Firefox add-ons work in Prism. The trick involves modifying a configuration file and seems to work mostly with smaller, less-complicated apps, but the author claims to have gotten AdBlock working in his Prism rig. The more bright minds that turn toward this app, however, the more interesting the possibilities will become.

Featured Mac Download: Add Webapps to Your Dock with Fluid
Mac OS X Leopard only: Freeware application Fluid runs your favorite webapps in a dedicated, WebKit-based browser so you can run your most-used webapps just like they're native Mac apps. If this idea sounds familiar it's because Mozilla has tackled similar territory with an app they're calling Prism. The major difference is that Fluid uses the same rendering engine as Safari and gets that native Mac look that's still lacking from Mozilla apps. And since Prism doesn't really work with extensions yet, Fluid seems like the best choice if you're on a Mac. Fluid is freeware (though this beta expires in April, so it may go shareware in the future), Mac OS X Leopard only.

Featured Firefox Extension: Evernote Web Clipper Adds Content from Any Web Page
Firefox only (Windows/Mac/Linux): Free, cross-platform note-taking application Evernote offers a handful of tools for clipping content into your Evernote account, including the newly released Web Clipper Firefox extension. Aside from a Clip to Evernote entry in the right-click menu and a new toolbar button, the extension works just like the Clip to Evernote bookmarklet (perfect in its own right if you don't want to install another extension). The inline dialog autocompletes tags and adds the item to your Evernote account without interrupting anything you're doing. A Web Clipper keyboard shortcut would be nice, too, but the extension or bookmarklet are a must-have for anyone getting started with one of the best note-taking tools available.

Feature: The Quicksilver-for-Windows Showdown
Before I owned my first Mac, Quicksilver was the application that made me wish I did. Luckily, slowly but surely, Windows developers began building apps intended to successfully attain that Quicksilver-for-Windows status. They started as simple application launchers, but recently the Quicksilver-for-Windows battle has exploded with tons of new applications. The question is: Which one deserves a place on your system?

Firefox Tip: Make Firefox 3's Bookmarks Available to Launchy and Quicksilver
Firefox 3 doesn't store your bookmarks in the plain old HTML file that Firefox 2 did, so desktop launchers like Quicksilver and Launchy can't index them properly. But the HackCollege blog has a solution: a Firefox 3 about:config tweak that makes Firefox automatically export your bookmarks to a file. Change the browser.bookmarks.autoExportHTML value from false to true to get a bookmarks.html file saved to your Firefox profile directory each time you shut down your browser.

Not only does this config tweak provide a nice automatic bookmark backup, it also makes your links accessible to application launchers like Quicksilver and Launchy for quick launching from the desktop.