Thursday, November 27, 2008

Byte Into It - 26 Nov 08 opens on Wednesday January 21st 2009 and runs through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The event finishes with a spectacle of colour and activity with the Open Day on Saturday January 24 2009. Miniconfs will be held as usual on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th.

Australasian Virtual Worlds Workshop:

Nokia S60 users to get Lotus email - Hardware - iTnews Australia
Nokia has confirmed that S60 smartphone users will have access to Lotus email from December following a new deal with IBM, which owns the majority of Symbian.

Nokia said that S60 users, which the company estimates to be 80 million people, will be able to connect to corporate email accounts using Lotus Domino Server software called Lotus Notes Traveler.

"People need to be connected to their email, information and network when they are out of the office, and that has to be done conveniently and on their terms," said Nokia senior vice president Soren Petersen.

Internet Explorer 8 inches closer to release - Software - iTnews Australia
Microsoft has announced that Internet Explorer 8 will be released in the first half of 2009.

Developers said in a blog posting on Wednesday that the browser is slated to enter its final beta stages in the early months of next year, and that a release candidate will follow shortly after.

"We will release one more public update of IE8 in the first quarter of 2009, and then follow that up with the final release," wrote IE general manager Dean Hachamovitch.

"We want the technical community of people and organisations interested in web browsers to take this update as a strong signal that IE8 is effectively complete and done."

ACMA response to Hyarchis alleged spam breach - Telecommunications - iTnews Australia
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released a detailed response to claims by Hyarchis that its formal warning over alleged spam activities was unfair.

ACMA received a number of complaints from consumers regarding the sending of SMS messages by Hyarchis Ltd allegedly without the consent of these consumers.

Following these complaints ACMA conducted an investigation into Hyarchis Ltd.

As part of the investigation Hyarchis made written submissions to ACMA in relation to the complaints and its compliance with the Spam Act 2003. ACMA assessed the evidence, including the submissions made by Hyarchis Ltd and found that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Hyarchis Ltd had sent commercial electronic messages without consent in contravention of section 16 of the Spam Act, which is a civil penalty provision.

ACMA issued a formal warning to Hyarchis Ltd on 31 October 2008. The warning set out the particulars of the contravention and ACMA's view that, in relation to one electronic address (mobile number), Hyarchis had sent unsolicited commercial electronic messages in contravention of section 16 of the Spam Act. ACMA has not made a finding in relation to the other complaints received.

Telstra baits Government with NBN ‘detail’ carrot - Telecommunications - iTnews Australia
Telstra will hold the government to ransom by submitting a ‘proposal’ to build a $9.7 billion National Broadband Network but withholding more detailed bid documents.

The telco’s chairman, Donald McGauchie, called a last-minute press conference 45 minutes after the RFP deadline to dangle the ‘detailed bid document’ carrot in front of the government.

“While Telstra has devoted very considerable resources to preparing a fully detailed bid, a number of fundamental issues have not been resolved,” said McGauchie.

“Each of these unresolved issues causes unacceptable risk at a time of significant economic uncertainty, resulting in the Telstra Board deciding it is not in the interests of shareholders for Telstra to put forward a fully detailed bid at this time.”

McGauchie said the NBN proposal was ‘essentially an upgrade of Telstra’s fixed network’.

It will cost around $9.7 billion to build - $4.7 billion in the form of a concessional loan from the government, and ‘up to $5 billion' of Telstra's own capital’.

BBC - Newsbeat - Technology - US Army warns of Twitter danger
US intelligence agencies are worried that terrorists might start to use new communication technologies like the blogging site Twitter to plan and organise attacks.

A draft of a US Army report posted on the internet identifies a number of mobile and web technologies that could be used in the future.

A chapter on Potential for Terrorist Use of Twitter notes that first reports of the Los Angeles earthquake in July appeared on the service before established news outlets.

Activists also used Twitter to organise protests at the US Republican National Convention in September.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Google strikes book search deal
Google's reach into the world's libraries looks more assured following a deal struck today.

The agreement with the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers will resolve a number of lawsuits from the last three years.

Google will establish a non-profit Book Rights Registry to ensure copyrighted works receive compensation via subscription services or ad revenue.

The registry and settlements will cost Google $125m (£80m).

However, the deal still needs approval from a US district court to resolve the pending lawsuits.

If approved, the agreement will provide much wider access to out-of-print books and a great many in-print, in-copyright works.

BBC NEWS | Americas | US 'cyber-bullying' case begins
Initial jury selection has begun in the trial of a Missouri woman alleged to have used a fake MySpace profile to bully a girl who later killed herself.

Lori Drew, 49, allegedly posed as a boy on the website to befriend Megan Meier, 13, who hanged herself after the "boy" broke off the virtual relationship.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Microsoft to offer free security
In a surprise move, Microsoft has announced it will offer a free anti-virus and security solution from the second half of next year.

It will stop selling OneCare, its all-in-one security and PC management service, from the end of June 2009.

The new software, code-named Morro, will be a no-frills program suited to smaller and less powerful computers.

The software will be free to download and will support Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Google unveils customised search
Google has unveiled a tool that will allow users to customise and refine their search queries.

The company's SearchWiki lets users re-order, remove or add specific web search results.

This means the next time they perform the same search, the personalised version will pop up.

"I would call this revolutionary. It's a huge step, not a baby step in the world of search," Google's product manager, Cedric Dupont, told the BBC.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Mobile internet usage on the rise
Mobile internet use is growing while the number of people going online via a PC is slowing, analyst firm Nielsen Online has found.

Some 7.3m people accessed the net via their mobile phones, during the second and third quarters of 2008.

This is an increase of 25% compared to a growth of just 3% for the PC-based net audience - now more than 35m.

It also found that the mobile net audience was younger and searched for different things.

HandBrake 0.9.3 accepts any files, boosts encoding quality (Updated)
Simple consumer options for quickly encoding video on the Mac have ridden a roller coaster lately. The demise and later rebirth of VisualHub, a leading app in the space, left many Mac users in need of video conversion feeling uneasy. Fortunately, a new version of HandBrake brings a long list of new features, as well as a new option for getting from point A to B in video formats.

Detailed on HandBrake's site, the cross-platform DVD conversion app is now capable of accepting video files already existing on your computer. This brings HandBrake into holy grail territory, as it is now a great one-stop shop for converting just about anything you need, thanks to the incorporation of the FFmpeg project.

HandBrake 0.9.3 brings so many other enhancements, though, that it could really have been called 1.0 due to the 600+ items on this version's changelog.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Byte Into It - 12 Nov 08

The International Digital Entertainment Festival (iDEF):

Including the Digital Lifestyle Show:

and the eGames Expo:

Melbourne Exhibition Centre, November 14th-16th

VMware Brings Virtualization To Smartphones -- Virtualization -- InformationWeek
With the announcement of the Mobile Virtualization Platform on Monday, VMware is setting its sights on the mobile space.VMware's MVP is a thin layer of software that will be embedded on mobile phones. It decouples the applications and data from the underlying hardware. The company said it will be optimized to run efficiently on low-power-consuming and memory-constrained devices.

"VMware is excited to extend the benefits of virtualization, which we pioneered for x86 hardware, to the mobile phone market," VMware CEO Paul Maritz said in a statement. "By abstracting the applications and data from the hardware itself, we expect that virtualization will not only enable handset vendors to accelerate time to market but can also pave the way for innovative applications and services for phone users."

For handset vendors and developers, MVP could reduce the amount of time it takes to make device-specific tweaks to applications and operating systems. With MVP a developer can build a software stack once, virtualize it over the hardware, and use the same software stack regardless of the handset's hardware.

For the end user, the virtualization platform could potentially make it easier to migrate personal data off a phone and onto a new one. An end user also could have a handset that's capable of running multiple operating systems or profiles. For example, a customer with embedded virtualization software could have a work profile that follows the company's security policies, as well as an unfettered personal profile on the same handset.

Parallels Boosts Mac Virtualization Performance -- Virtualization -- InformationWeek
Parallels plans on Tuesday to introduce a new version of its virtualization software to run Windows and Linux on Macs, with improvements designed to increase performance by 50% over the previous version, and boost battery life by 20%.

Parallels Desktop for Mac Version 4, the first new version of the software in about year, includes new manageability features in addition to the upgrades. The new features are designed to allow users to more easily manage external storage devices, and create snapshots and backups for data protection.

One in four DNS servers still vulnerable to Kaminsky flaw, survey says - Network World
Despite industry efforts to lock down DNS servers, one in four remain vulnerable to cache poisoning due to the well-documented Kaminsky flaw identified earlier this year and another 40% could be considered a danger to themselves and others, recent research shows. (See how DNS works here.)

According to the fourth annual DNS report issued by The Measurement Factory, 25% of DNS servers in the sample group have not been upgraded to perform source port randomization, which is considered the patch for the vulnerability identified earlier this year by Dan Kaminsky, director of penetration testing at IOActive. The industry group bases its study on a sample that includes 5% of the IPv4 address space, or 80 million addresses.

"A surprising number of have not been upgraded and are very vulnerable to cache poisoning," according to a press release from IP address management vendor Infoblox and DNS service and tools provider DNSstuff.

Net censorship plan backlash - BizTech - Technology -
As opposition grows against the Government's controversial plan to censor the internet, the head of one of Australia's largest ISPs has labelled the Communications Minister the worst we've had in the past 15 years.

Separately, in Senate question time today, Greens senator Scott Ludlam accused the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, of misleading the public by falsely claiming his mandatory censorship plan was similar to that already in place in Sweden, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.

Despite significant opposition from internet providers, consumers, engineers, network administrators and online rights activists, the Government is pressing ahead with its election promise of protecting people from unwanted material, this week calling for expressions of interests from ISPs keen to participate in live trials of the proposed internet filtering system.

Michael Malone, managing director iiNet, said he would sign up to be involved in the "ridiculous" trials, which are scheduled to commence by December 24 this year.

Optus and Telstra both said they were reviewing the Government's documentation and would then decide whether to take part.

But Malone's main purpose was to provide the Government with "hard numbers" demonstrating "how stupid it is" - specifically that the filtering system would not work, would be patently simple to bypass, would not filter peer-to-peer traffic and would significantly degrade network speeds.

"They're not listening to the experts, they're not listening to the industry, they're not listening to consumers, so perhaps some hard numbers will actually help," he said.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Web 2.0 or Web 2.No?
The economic downturn will not sound the death knell for Web 2.0 firms say analysts and experts.

But, they warn, tough times are ahead and to weather the downturn Web 2.0 must grow up focus on real problems.

"You have to conclude, if you look at the focus of a lot of what you call 'Web 2.0', the relentless focus on advertising-based consumer models, lightweight applications, we may be living in somewhat of a bubble, and I'm not talking about an investment bubble," said Tim O'Reilly, who coined the phrase "Web 2.0".

"It's a reality bubble," he said.

Mr O'Reilly, widely regarded as an industry visionary, bemoaned the frivolous applications on Web 2.0 sites that, for instance, let people throw sheep, poke friends or send virtual drinks.

"For me, Web 2.0 is about the internet as platform and its power to harness collective intelligence," Mr O'Reilly told the BBC.

"Areas like the smart power grid, collective action on early disease detection or disaster response, or personalised medicine are all examples of how the principles that drove the consumer internet can be applied in other areas," he said.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Full-length MGM films on YouTube
YouTube, the largest video-sharing website, will show full-length films from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's archives.

The partnership is aimed boosting advertising revenue for both YouTube and the Hollywood studio.

It will result in the launch of a video-on-demand channel called Impact, dedicated exclusively to action films, TV shows and clips.

iTunes Store finally gets a bargain bin for movies
With a new section unfortunately called "This Week's Great Movies Under $5" (iTunes link), a set of movies will be offered for purchase each week for... well, $5 (interestingly, they can still be rented at the regular $2.99 price). This first—and small—batch of movies is a bit older, most of them being on the action side of the store.

BBC NEWS | Technology | A hands-on preview of Windows 7
Microsoft has released an early preview copy of its new operating system, Windows 7.

The release follows in the wake of Vista, which has been subject to fierce criticism from a number of users.

When Vista launched in January 2007, many complained that it ran slowly and failed to work at all with some programs and devices.

Corporate customers have been slow to switch from Windows XP to Vista, although Microsoft said that the operating system had an unfair press, and that it enjoyed record sales.

Despite this Microsoft has extended the life of Windows XP so PC makers can continue selling it to those that do not want to upgrade.
Windows 7 desktop
Visually, Windows 7 has a lot in common with Windows Vista

Windows Vista took more than five years to develop but Windows 7 is likely to arrive within a couple of years.

Microsoft's VP, Steven Sinofsky, described Windows 7 as an "exciting new version" and claimed it would deliver a more personalised experience.

With Windows 7, Microsoft has added a range of new functions including:

* A new taskbar to give more rapid access to files and programs.
* A feature called HomeGroup, allowing users easy sharing of data across PCs and other devices in the home.
* Support for devices such as cameras, printers, and mobile phones with a product called Device Stage offering a single window to manage tasks for each device.
* Windows Touch - software for touch screen devices that enables users to use different gestures to perform tasks.
* Improvements to some applications, such as MS Paint, and Calculator.

7 Keys to Cleaning Up Windows with Windows 7 | Community
Now, here's the seven things Windows 7 is doing to clean up the user experience in this new Microsoft operating system:

* 1. Clean Up That Mess - Taskbar, Quick Launch are combined and simplified. No more starting up applications in the order you want them to appear in the Taskbar. Windows 7 doesn't want apps plopping down icons all over your desktop either. And we'll see much less frequent balloon messaging, popping up and annoying us while trying to get other stuff done. Windows 7 also de-emphasizes some of the Windows controls and replaces it with large portions of user content. Viewing picture/graphics files in the Windows Explorer is a good example.
* 2. Do It Here - Want to see what's in that application window? Want to close it? Want to organize your task bar to how you work? Windows 7 cleans up the task bar and makes managing the desktop easier with jump lists, bigger window previews and close boxes just a short mouse move away.
* 3. Do It Naturally - Windows 7 adds hot spots to the desktop, so expanding a window for editing or viewing windows side-by-side is just a matter of placing the window next to the screen's edge. Windows 7 also knows that your default printer at home is your home printer, and the default at work is the work printer. Novel idea but little touches like this make your computer work for you rather than the other way around. Windows 7 also doesn't make you remember which computer has what music files on it; you just play the music and it streams from the device the music lives on. Same with data on multiple volumes; Windows 7 keeps those organized in libraries and still knows about them when those devices are offline so you can find that pesky to locate files that live one of the eight flash drives you've accumulate over the past two years.
* 4. Keep In Touch - Windows 7 is clearly positioning itself for a touch screen revolution on the PC. Though the Microsoft Surface technology is separate from Windows, there were plenty of touch demos during the PDC. I imagine this will fit into some type of Windows Mobile 7 strategy supporting touch interfaces. Windows 7 is also incorporating location aware features and support for sensors like a light sensor, or an accelerometer, like we have in some SmartPhones and the Wii game machine controllers today.
* 5. Bringing Your Devices Together - Increasingly we're a multi-device world, with mobile phone in one hand, a laptop in another, a media PC or device somewhere else in the house and yet another fixed desktop in the office. Windows 7 wants to be the place that brings all this together and helps you manage all those devices, rather than each being a one-off unto itself.
* 6. Device Center - Like that helpful little Window that Vista shows when you first begin using it, Windows 7 puts the most important things you do with your mobile device right there in one window; view files on it, sync it, check out the device user guide, etc. And the device icon looks the like device, not something warmed over from Windows 3.1.
* 7. Less Is More - Yes, as I've said Windows 7 takes the attitude that if it's not needed, don't add it, or at least don't constantly shove it in the user's face all the time. Make UAC even less obtrusive. (I'd still say turn the annoying thing completely off.) We'll see fewer pre-installed apps, in favor of directing users to cloud base Live applications with online versions of Windows Mail, Live Writer and the Photo Gallery.

Now, will third-party apps take the queue from Microsoft and change from their ways of cluttering the desktop, displaying annoying balloon messages, and calling out for our attention like an unruly six year old with a hankering for a temper tantrum? Lets hope Microsoft's good work cleaning up Windows won't be wasted by old paradigm applications and crapware loaded on our PCs. Seems to me Microsoft Office is due for a major extreme makeover too.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Texting bug hits the Google phone
A text conversation has revealed a big problem with the G1 mobile phone - powered by Google's Android software.

The newly discovered bug causes the phone to restart when owners type in the word "reboot" soon after starting up the device.

Google hurried to repair the problem, which causes the phone to interpret any text entered just after the phone was turned on as a command.

Google has rushed out a fix for the bug which will soon be available in the UK.

The bug was discovered when an owner of the phone typed the word "reboot" into a text message after restarting the phone.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Websites set government data free
The UK government has announced the winner of a website design contest.

"Show Us a Better Way" asked for ideas that would give the public better access to public information.

The finalists included ideas for a map site showing school catchment areas and a service telling people where to find the nearest public toilet.

More than 450 people entered the design contest, with the overall winner being "Can I Recycle It?" - where people can find out what they can recycle locally.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Web helps Obama with transition
Barack Obama is turning to the web as he prepares to become US president.

Via a website called, the Obama campaign plans to provide a guide to the transition process.

The site also solicits suggestions from US citizens about their vision for America, and lets them apply for a post with the new administration.

On its transition website, the US governmental watchdog has listed the 13 most urgent issues that will soon confront President-elect Obama.