Thursday, March 26, 2009

Byte Into It - 25 Mar 09

Google Voice takes on the telecoms giants - News - PC Authority
Google has upgraded its GrandCentral service to a new offering called Google Voice, in a direct attack against internet and traditional telephony services.

Google Voice takes the existing GrandCentral service, which consolidates landlines and mobile numbers into a single phone number with voicemail, and adds the ability to make free domestic calls, transcribe voice mails and allow conference calls for up to six participants.

"The new application improves the way you use your phone," said the company in a blog posting. "You can get transcripts of your voicemail and archive and search all the text messages you send and receive. You can also use the service to make low-priced international calls and easily access Goog-411 directory assistance. "

The move is bound to worry internet telephony providers such as Skype, but will also affect traditional providers by offering services for free that constitute a major part of their revenue streams.

Google acquired GrandCentral in July 2007, but has done little to develop the service until now. Existing GrandCentral users can use Google Voice immediately, and the application will be opened up to new users in the next few weeks.
IBM + Sun: How a merger would impact IT - Network World
The IT industry is abuzz with the rumor that IBM is going to purchase Sun for nearly $7 billion, first reported in the Wall Street Journal. It's all speculation until a deal is confirmed, but the combined reach of an IBM/Sun company would be vast. Here are nine topics to consider:
Cloud computing.Servers.Storage.Virtualization.Competition with HP.Database overlap.Speaking of open source…Java.Clash of cultures?
Kiwis get reprieve from new anti-piracy laws - BizTech - Technology
New Zealand has withdrawn a controversial law which could have forced firms to disconnect internet users accused of illegal use of material such as music or films.

The Copyright Amendment Act would have put the onus on internet service providers (ISPs) to ban users accused of copyright breaches, even if allegations were unproven.
iiNet pulls out of net censorship trials - web - Technology -
Australia's third largest internet provider, iiNet, has withdrawn from the Government's internet censorship trials, saying it could not "reconcile participation in the trial with our corporate social responsibility".

The move comes after the anonymous whistleblower site Wikileaks last week published a leaked copy of the secret Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) blacklist of prohibited websites, which forms the backbone of the Government's censorship policy.

Far from containing just "illegal material" such as child pornography, the list of prohibited websites includes a wealth of legal material such as regular gay and straight porn sites, YouTube links, online poker sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites and even the sites of a Queensland dentist, a school canteen consultancy and an animal carer.

The Government's mandatory internet censorship plan, which is already being trialled by a number of small ISPs, will block sites contained on the ACMA blacklist for all Australians.
Hacked filter reveals blacklist in 30 seconds - Internet - iTnews Australia
A 30-second hack of a NetAlert-approved family-friendly filter exposes a list of websites banned in Australia.

The vulnerability, leaked to iTnews over the weekend and verified by IT security consultants, is due to a flaw in the Integard internet filtering software developed by Brisbane's Race River Corporation.

A source claimed to iTnews that Integard can be reverse-engineered with a hex editor to reveal material the software is designed to keep secret.

iTnews asked three IT security specialists for their opinions.

They all refused to go on the record but they said the list of banned URLs is exposed in a process that takes about 30 seconds.
Wikileaks domain holder raided - Internet - iTnews Australia
Wikileaks claims the homes of the owner of its German domain ( has been raided by Police in what the whistle-blowing site claims is a reaction to the publication of blacklists from Australia, Thailand and Denmark.

Theodor Reppe, who owns the domain for the German Wikileaks site at, claims that seven police officers in Dresden and four in Jena searched his homes on Monday.

German police documents state that the reason for the search was for "distribution of pornographic material" and "discovery of evidence".

Mr Reppe claims he was not contacted by Police prior to the search.
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | China 'blocks YouTube video site'
China is reported to have blocked the YouTube video-sharing website because it has been carrying video of soldiers beating monks and other Tibetans.

The date and location of the footage, posted by a Tibetan exile group, cannot be ascertained.

A Chinese government spokesman would not confirm whether YouTube had indeed been blocked.

China has a history of blocking websites which carry messages it views as politically unacceptable.
Worm turns Linux routers into botnet - Security - iTnews Australia
The psyb0t worm appears to be in circulation since the start of the year and targets routers running Mipsel, a form of the Devian Linux distribution designed for MIPS processors.

The worm is believed to be the first of its kind and the researchers at DroneBL estimate it may have infiltrated as many as 100,000 routers.

The worm uses a brute force attack against the router by dictionary checking the username and passwords. This shows the exploitation is not an attack on the flaw in the operating system itself but against poor user security.

“90 per cent of the routers and modems participating in this botnet are participating due to user-error (the user themselves or otherwise). Unfortunately, it seems that some of the people covering this botnet do not understand this point, and it is making us look like a bunch of idiots,” said the DroneBL blog.

“Any device that meets the above criteria is vulnerable, including those built on custom firmware such as OpenWRT and DD-WRT. If the above criteria is not met, then the device is NOT vulnerable.”
BBC - Newsbeat - Technology - Thousands turn to cyberbully site
A new website set up to help people being cyberbullied has already prompted tens of thousands of children to look for help. is thought to be the first website in the world where help for victims comes from others their own age through instant messaging and online videos.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Call to 'shut down' Street View
A formal complaint about Google's Street View has been sent to the Information Commissioner (ICO).

Drawn up by lobby group Privacy International (PI), it cites more than 200 reports from members of the public identifiable via the service.

PI wants Street View shut down while the ICO investigates the service.

"The ICO has repeatedly made clear that it believes that in Street View the necessary safeguards are in place to protect people's privacy," said Google.

Privacy International (PI) director Simon Davies said his organisation had filed the complaint given the "clear embarrassment and damage" Street View had caused to many Britons.
VMware working on mobile admin tool - Software - iTnews Australia
Developers at VMware are working on a new tool which will allow administrators to manage virtualized systems through a mobile handset.

The "vCenter Mobile Access" tool, as it is currently being called, will allow administrators remote access and management of virtual machines, performing such tasks as migration and recovery through a mobile phone.

"Imagine any scenario where you need to actively manage your datacenter but you are nowhere close to a PC," wrote Vmware director of product management and market development Srinivas Krishnamurti.

"Wouldn’t it be nice to act on the notification from your mobile phone? After all, we are now a generation that doesn’t leave home without a mobile phone."
Skype opens up to corporates - Telecommunications - iTnews Australia
Skype has finally decided to open up to corporates with the launch of a new beta program designed to bring Skype calls to PBX systems based on the Session initiation Protocol (SiP) standard.

Skype for SiP allows firms running SiP-based PBXs to place calls with Skype to landlines and mobile phones worldwide.

The software will also give firms the ability to receive and manage inbound calls from Skype users to SiP-enabled PBX systems, enabling them to offer click-to-call functionality on web sites.

Around a third of Skype customers use the tool in a business setting, but the company had not previously been ready to offer a corporate service, according to Stefan Oberg, general manager of Skype for Business.
Will every new high-def television in Australia be obsolete on May 1? - Silicon Lust - Blogs - PC Authority
MPEG4-gate is Freeview's latest FUD campaign designed to scare Australians into not skipping ads. Adam Turner tries to set the record straight.

If you believe that bastion of journalism, Rupert Murdoch's Melbourne Herald Sun, every digital television, set top box and PVR sold in the last decade should be taken down to the rubbish dump on May 1 because the broadcasters are changing formats from MPEG2 to MPEG4.

Thankfully our good friends at Freeview have come to the rescue by ensuring Freeview-endorsed digital television equipment handles both MPEG2 and MPEG4. Thank God for Freeview, protecting us from those big, bad television broadcasters.

The Freeview campaign has one goal - to protect the interests of Australia's old-school media giants from the combined threats of ad-skipping, copying and pay television. I call Freeview a "campaign" because all it does is rebrand what we already called digital television, while implying that "15 new channels" are on the way.

Freeview is not really a new product - unless your definition of a new product is taking a bucket of slop and changing the label to say "new and improved", when all that's new and improved is the label.

Freeview is basically a cartel of the existing free-to-air broadcasts looking to protect their position in a rapidly changing world. The best summary I've heard of Freeview so far is a spoof of the Freeview television ad, which Freeview had pulled from YouTube but is now back up here. I'd call it essential viewing if you want to understand what Freeview has to offer. YouTube - Freeview: More of the Same Sh#t
BBC NEWS | UK | Social network sites 'monitored'
Social networking sites like Facebook could be monitored by the UK government under proposals to make them keep details of users' contacts.

The Home Office said it was needed to tackle crime gangs and terrorists who might use the sites, but said it would not keep the content of conversations.

Civil liberties campaigners have called the proposal a "snoopers' charter".

The idea follows proposals to store details of every phone call, email, and internet visit made in the UK.

Tens of millions of people use sites like Facebook, Bebo and MySpace to chat with friends, but ministers say they have no interest in the content of discussions - just who people have been talking to.
New Linux kernel released without penguin - Linux & Open Source - iTnews Australia
The latest version of the Linux kernel has been released by Linus Torvalds with one instantly recognisable change – no Tux the Penguin.

Kernel 2.6.29 has some important changes, including some support for the Brtfs file system which will replace Ext and better support for WiMax wireless radio.

But users are more likely to notice that Torvalds has removed Tux and replaced him with a Tasmanian Devil wearing a penguin mask. This is a temporary measure to support the Australian campaign to save the rare marsupial.
Oz victims in the dark about credit card leak - Security - iTnews Australia
Australians whose credit card details and other personal data have been exposed on the public Internet since Friday are yet to be contacted by their credit card merchants or law enforcement authorities.

As reported on iTnews on Friday, the credit card and contact details of some 19,000 people have been discovered sitting in the cache of a popular search engine.

Within hours of the attack, representatives from both the Australian Federal Police and Visa told iTnews they would be investigating the matter.

As of 3pm today (Monday, March 23, 2009), the details remain available on the public Internet for viewing.
BBC NEWS | UK | Call to scrap 'illegal databases'
A quarter of all government databases are illegal and should be scrapped or redesigned, according to a report.

The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust says storing information leads to vulnerable people, such as young black men, single parents and children, being victimised.

It says the UK's "database state" wastes billions from the public purse and often breaches human rights laws.

But the government says the report contains "no substantive evidence" on which to base its conclusions.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Byte Into It - 18 Mar 09

20 years of the World Wide Web:

Top 10 best things about the web - Internet - iTnews Australia
Beyond just one site or service, this list ranks the best ways in which people have been able to use the internet.
Video:Prior to the web, video was hardly a democratic medium. If you wanted to reach a large audience, you had to own a studio of some sort and have a large enough budget to distribute your creations. For the individual user, videos were more or less an archival tool to collect family memories.
One of the most appreciated characteristics of the web is its ability to bring a good laugh. Not everyone feels that the same things are funny, and you only have to look at the furore caused by cartoons of Mohammed to see that not everyone enjoys a giggle at the same things. But humour is an indisputable part of human life, and the web helps export that to all. Laughter is always better than anger.
The immediate benefit from web gaming that comes to mind is the ability for the socially awkward to better connect and enjoy the hobby that has largely isolated them in the first place. The average gaming geek probably has a much larger circle of friends thanks to the web. But what it has also done is open a new hobby to those who otherwise would have been turned off by the isolation and loneliness. One of the main reasons why online RPGs have sold and thrived better than their local PC and console-based predecessors, is that playing them is no longer a solitary activity. The social nature has also broadened the spread of gamers, so that the gender imbalance is a lot less of a problem than it was.
Historical preservation is one of the more underappreciated aspects of the web. But never before has there been such a powerful vehicle for people to share their collective history not only with new audiences, but more thoroughly with future generations.
One of the most profound consequences of the web has been the plethora of cultures it has spawned and will continue to spawn in the future. Before the web took off there were already subcultures developing online. Bulletin boards catering to particular interests used their own languages and conventions to spot people who didn't belong, the lack of physicality made for a more egalitarian outlook and users began to experiment with different organisational structures. Social networking has taken this phenomenon mainstream, and is continuing to affect how people organise themselves today. Groups are no longer based on a shared proximity.
Using the web, activist groups have not only been able to organise more effectively but to share information and campaign literature. In more mainstream protests the online petition is gaining credibility and services like in the UK have made it much easier for people to get in contact with their elected representatives. The politicians may hate this, but they notice it. But it's not just politics; the web has made consumers more active as well. Had a bad experience with a supplier? There are sites to let people know and businesses are increasingly monitoring to see where they are falling down. Activism was also previously very limited by geography and surrounding demographics which could often reduce it to only the most dedicated individuals.
E-commerce:Not only have businesses seen the advantages of e-commerce, but consumers have benefited greatly as well. Just as a store owner can now sell an item to a buyer in another corner of the country, a consumer can buy a specialised item from a store hundreds of miles away that would have otherwise had to be ordered at a premium cost, or painstakingly purchased through a catalogue service. Then there's the bargains. A service such as Amazon would never have existed in the real world because doing so would have resulted in a sort of flea market layout that covered the entire state of Kansas. With the web, users can compare prices from dozens of retailers in multiple locations from a single screen. For things such as travel and hotel prices, it would be nearly impossible to match the efficiency of bargain-hunting web sites.
Neutrality:Often, it devolves into trolling contests or pointless back-and-forth, but when it does work, the web can become a truly excellent forum for debate and as reliable a method for presenting an issue from a neutral point of view as there ever was. Net neutrality was built into the foundations of the web, and long may it continue. Without neutrality we'd have no Google; lesser search technologies would have paid their way to faster access and we'd all be poorer for it.
Fifty years ago, starting a small business meant either opening a restaurant or a local retail shop. A handful of people were able to expand those operations into regional outfits, and even fewer were able to go national. But when the web exploded, so did the prospects for entrepreneurs.
The web is, was and will always be about the dissemination of information. With the web everyone has the ability to let everyone else know facts and data. This ability has opened people up to stuff they never even thought about, and has greatly expanded the ability of educators, researchers and businesses to go about their businesses. It has also democratised the information process. In the past newspapers could censor, publishers refuse manuscripts and governments ban writing. Now, with the ability to put all of this stuff online and spread it around, the consequences for human societies will be huge.For a start representative government depends on an informed electorate. Certain governments still try to keep their citizens uninformed about events and actions but the web makes that more and more difficult.

Top 10 worst things about the web - News - PC Authority
Overcommercialisation: At times, navigating the web can be a lot like walking through a giant bazaar of overenthusiastic street vendors and desperate used car salesmen.
Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube… we have become a society that is rapidly losing any sort of comprehension of the term "too much information." When Jim Carey made "The Truman Show" ten years ago, the idea of broadcasting a person's entire life was scary and surreal, these days it has its own term- lifecasting.
Conspiracy theories:While the internet did a great service by allowing everyone to engage in intelligent discussion and debate, it also created a giant annoyance by giving a platform to every raving lunatic capable of typing the phrase "wake up, sheeple."
Memes: With the wisdom of collective groups comes the utter stupidity of large groups of people as well. For a period after 'Waynes World' came out for example there was always some git who used the word 'Not' to show how clever they were. The web has made the power of them much more effective.
Stalking: For every tool that makes it easier to track down old co-workers and classmates, the ability for dangerous individuals to track their victims also becomes easier. The most disturbing trend seems to be with teenagers. As just about everyone seems to believe in their own invincibility between the ages of 15 and 24, the idea of handing over very personal information to strangers or casual online friends is given little thought by many kids. This is already leading to some very tragic and frightening stories.
Addiction: Some people are addictive personalities who are naturally prone to become hooked on things. Others have obsessive tendencies that can force them to neglect basic and necessary things in the pursuit of a single goal. The scary thing about the web is that it gives so many different types of people ways to become dangerously engrossed.
In some ways the web can become addictive for its ability to replace reality. However, it can be just as dangerous for its ability to supplement reality. A gambler may only be able to get to the casino a couple weeks out of the year, but an online casino can be accessed 24/7 from the comfort of your own home, without the travel or accommodation costs but with all the same abilities to drain bank accounts
Porn: erotica and sexuality have a rightful place in adult society; just about any psychologist will tell you that to deny those urges is to invite madness. But the wild-west climate that accompanied much of the online porn industry has also lead to some very dangerous new attitudes and operations. Psychologists are also concerned that it is warping people's expectations of what sex is all about.
Viruses/Malware: "Entrepreneur" isn't always a term that applies to good guys. While many code jockeys and retailers have been able to make millions of dollars making people's lives easier, just as many malicious individuals have managed to make big bucks by screwing things up. Prior to the rise of the web, identity theft was a fairly rare criminal occurrence. Now, it's a multi-billion dollar trade. Access to massive archives of personal information can be had for pennies on the dollar.
This has lead to the rise in malware. Once considered fairly harmless pranks by hackers, writing and spreading viral computer infections and malicious software tools has become a highly lucrative criminal enterprise.
Fraud: Fraud is yet another occurrence that may not have been invented after the web, but it was most certainly given new life by it.
Fraudsters used to be thought of as slick-talking cons. Now they can be anyone from a bored teenager in Canada to a crime syndicate in Eastern Europe.
Again, the problem comes down to anonymity. Just as nobody on the internet knows you're a dog, they also don't know that you're not a Swiss bank executive or a Mastercard account manager. The web has both streamlined and democratized fraud, making a sort of perfect storm for criminal activity to flourish.
Disinformation: If information is the best thing about the web then disinformation has to be the worst. Now the phrase “I read it on the internet” has become a term of derision. The situation has not been helped by services like Wikipedia. While the online encyclopaedia is a massively good thing it has also allowed misinformation to spread more quickly and effectively. It has even allowed the creation of alternative information sources which are intentionally biased, such as Wikipedia rip-off Conservapedia.
SitePoint » Can You Imagine the Web in 20 Years?
Here are three growing trends that I’m excited to watch over the next few years.

Even more web-based applications: Web-based apps have been around for awhile, so this is a no-brainer, but I think it’ll go gangbusters once popular apps reach the mainstream. Thinking about great web apps like 280 Slides, the Aviary graphics apps, Google Apps, and Photoshop Express, I think it’s fair to say that we’re well on the way to a world where everyone — not just us geeks — find it easy to manipulate and store files online. As these applications become simpler and more enjoyable to use, the more likely Joe Sixpack is to adopt it. Best of all, the ability to create brilliant, useful, and unique apps is increasingly available to web developers like you and me.

Security will become an even bigger deal: It seems as though every week there’s yet another story about a security problem with an online service — whether it’s a malicious Facebook app, private documents exposed to the world, or a compromised online banking service. As we move towards conducting more and more of our personal business online, and as more of us carry around a little web device in our pockets, this issue will have to come to the forefront of everyone’s minds — beyond the security experts, to everyday people too. I think the strongest evidence of change will be a lot more education, and a massive shift in people’s attitudes about security. From a techie perspective, however, the time is right (and the time is right now!) for useful, friendly tools that make it much easier for everyday consumers and businesses to secure their identities and data.

The mainstream media refuses to die: It seems cool lately to proclaim long and loud (and perhaps with a dash of smugness) that the end of the world is nigh for the mainstream media. But this is far from the truth — while the mainstream media as a whole might stumble from time to time with the new way, leaders in the field are now showing that they’re ready to embrace new media and all that it offers. Here’s one recent bit of evidence: UK newspaper, The Guardian, just released an API that exposes their news content, free to mash up and reuse. Developers are already using this data to create geographic visualizations of the news. It’s a great example of mainstream media reaching out to the new media, and I think this trend will keep on growing.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Apple unveils new iPhone features
Apple has unveiled what it calls a "major update" to the operating system that drives the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Some of the 100 new features included in the update replicate those already offered by other smart phones.

The new functions include cut, copy and paste, long demanded by iPhone users, picture messaging and an in-phone search feature, but not Flash video.
Dell unveils slim Adamo ultra-portable with $2K base price - Ars Technica
Dell took the wraps off its new Adamo luxury notebook line. The aluminum-clad machine is billed as "the world's thinnest laptop," and its stylish casing and overall specs make it a worthy entry into the ultra-portable fray. However, the Adamo's  starting price seems like an odd choice given the state of the economy and the popularity of inexpensive netbooks.

First, the specs: this notebook packs some pretty decent power into its 0.65"-thick, four-pound frame. The display is a 13.4", 1,366 x 768 pixel, LED-backlit flat panel with true 16:9 HD proportions, and has a built-in 1.3 megapixel webcam and microphone. It comes with either a 1.2GHz or 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor with a Centrino chipset and 2GB or 4GB of DDR3 RAM. The only internal drive option is a 128GB SSD, though Dell offers matching aluminum-clad external hard drives in 250GB or 500GB capacities, as well as external DVD-RW or Blu-ray optical drives. Of course networking includes draft-N Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and gigabit ethernet—3G "mobile broadband" is an add-on option, but it doesn't appear to be available in Dell's configurator at this time.
BBC NEWS | Technology | The future beneath your fingertips
The success of the iPhone has given rise to a new grammar of touch control while the advent of multi-touch in Windows 7 will further accelerate the evolution of human computer interfaces, the South by SouthWest festival has been toldBen Rigby, from web firm Mobile Voter, told the conference that the "paper-like layered interface" of systems like Windows, Linux and Mac OS, did not work in today's social computing world. "It's essentially paper. we are socialising on a flat paper-like interface. This is a 30-year-old interface. Chris Bernard, a user experience evangelist for Microsoft, told BBC News: "In the real world we are working out how to build things like the Minority Report interface."Mr Bernard said: "It's hard to predict the future but it's hard not to say that touch isn't going to continue to innovate in mobile."Right now we talk about multi-touch screen; in the future it will be air-based gestural movements with the device.He added: "I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years every visual device had touch capabilities."Microsoft's second generation Surface will be able to read gestures as well as physical touches to the screen thanks to infrared cameras embedded in the device.
Today at Boing Boing Gadgets - Boing Boing
• Apple announced iPhone OS 3 in Cupertino: push notification, MMS, turn-by-turn GPS and, yes, cut and paste..
• Gazaro is a new price-tracking gadget site.
• Dell announced details of its Adamo luxury laptop today.
• Rob reviewed Ooma, the lifetime free VoIP system.
BBC - Newsbeat - Technology - Twitter growth explodes in a year
It's not just the public using the site either - celebrities like Barack Obama, Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand have all jumped on the bandwagon.

Market research company Nielsen Online says Twitter grew by 1,689% from February 2008 to February 2009.

That means there are now more than 1.78 million people signed on.

This time last year the social networking site only had 100,000 members.

The same figures, however, show Facebook is still far and away the leading social networking site, with 17.8 million users and steady, strong growth of 114%.
Google: Internet disconnection a "disproportionate" penalty - Ars Technica
Google makes clear in its comments that it supports copyright and the ability of rightsholders to stop infringement, but it has serious concerns about the process, especially when no judge is involved in disconnection proceedings. "Mere allegations of copyright infringement should not trump users' rights," says the filing. "Copyright law is often complex and context sensitive, and only a court is qualified to adjudicate allegations of copyright infringement. Indeed, in Google’s experience, there are serious issues regarding the improper use and inaccuracy of copyright notices by rights holders."

This last bit seems like a direct shot at New Zealand's major labels, which said in a filing of their own that "the evidence that the recording industry provides to ISPs is highly reliable, well-tested and has been accepted in countries around the world as the basis of criminal and civil legal actions."
EFF's searchable archive of secret government docs - Boing Boing
March 15-22 is Sunshine Week, an annual, non-partisan initiative to promote government transparency and the public's "right to know." EFF is celebrating by posting a heap of uncovered government documents online and launching a new search tool that lets the public search through them all by keyword. The documents cover cutting-edge digital civil liberties issues, like the Department of Homeland Security's data-mining projects, and FBI's surveillance technology, for example.
Would you buy an Intel smartphone? | Nanotech - The Circuits Blog - CNET News
One thing is certain. A re-badged Apple iPhone running Windows isn't going to upset the Apple cart (pun intended).

So, one obvious challenge is for Intel to get its considerable weight behind a new smartphone or mobile Internet device (MID) design that resets the market.

Just so happens there's a design that Intel has been brandishing for a couple of years now (see photos). It's essentially a high-end wide-screen smartphone or MID (choose your favorite device category nomenclature).

A series of videos demonstrating the Intel Moorestown-based mobile device pretty clearly show how--by virtue of the wide screen--the device would be different.
The headset that will mimic all five senses and make virtual world as convincing as real life | Mail Online
A virtual reality helmet that recreates the sights, smells, sounds and even tastes of far-flung destinations has been devised by British scientists.

The device will allow users a life-like experience of places such as Kenya's Masai Mara while sitting on their sofa.

They can also enjoy the smell of flowers in an Alpine meadow or feel the heat of the Caribbean sun on their face.
Android sales to outstrip iPhone by '12? | Wireless - CNET News
Android smartphone sales will outstrip iPhone sales by 2012, market researcher Informa Telecoms & Media has predicted in a new report.

Last month, Telefonica Europe said that sales of the iPhone topped 1 million in the U.K. Although T-Mobile UK--the exclusive carrier of the first Android device, the G1--wouldn't say exactly how many of the devices had been sold, it did say the handset now accounts for 20 percent of its contract sales.
Photos: Hands-on with the HTC Magic Android phone

Web behemoth Google released the first beta developers kit for its Android open OS platform in August, with the first handset--the G1 smartphone--launching the following month. A second handset, the Magic, is expected to arrive next month.

Apple's iPhone has a slightly longer heritage--with the first device arriving in the U.S. in June 2007. However, the iPhone 3G hit stores last July, giving it only a few months' head start on its Google rival.

Both Android and OS X are eating into the market share of the best-selling smartphone OS maker, Symbian. Last year, just under half of smartphones sold were based on Symbian--a drop of 16 percentage points from the year before when it had 65 percent market share. BlackBerry OS, Linux, and Windows Mobile are also gaining popularity and eating some of Symbian's share, according to Informa.

However, London-based Informa believes Symbian's switch to open source will help the Symbian Foundation maintain its leadership over Android, Linux, and Microsoft over the next few years.
TG Daily - Palm OS: Dead, forever
There never will be another smartphone to utilize the Palm OS. The company announced today it will begin a transition to webOS while also supporting Microsoft Windows products. The current Centro smartphone will be the last phone to utilize the Palm OS.

Palm is currently working to convince about 30,000 Palm OS software developers to move their applications to the new operating system. Even so, at this point the company has divulged very little information about webOS, which reportedly supports many different web standards.
Google updates Chrome Web browser to boost speeds - Software - iTnews Australia
Google has released a new version of its Chrome Web browser, as the search giant continues its efforts to get a foothold in a market dominated by Microsoft.

The new Chrome represents the first major update of the software aimed at the general public since Google entered the browser business six months ago.

It offers Web surfers faster performance and a handful of new features, such as auto-filling of personal information on online forms and a new way for users to drag around tabs of different Web pages within the browser window.
Roll your own Linux, share with the world - My other OS is Ubuntu - Blogs - PC Authority
SUSE Studio is an experimental distribution customisation system from Novell, based on its SUSE Linux distribution.

From its web interface, you can build up your own customised Linux system, starting from a base template and adding the extra packages you need.

At the end of the process, SUSE Studio builds your configuration in to a disk image, in one of a number of formats: a raw image that you can write to a hard drive or USB key, a live CD image that you can burn and boot from, or a VMware disk image for virtualisation.

The SUSE Studio concept isn't entirely dissimilar to Red Hat's Kickstart tool, which lets sysadmins write scripts that automate the Red Hat installation process, complete with custom package selections or configuration changes.

Both could help a sysadmin roll out the same customised OS to multiple systems, but what sets SUSE Studio apart is its easy web-based interface and community-focused design.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Byte Into It - 11 Mar 09

to donate laptops for bushfire vet relief project contact:

20 great Windows open source projects you should get to know | Community
Fun stuff: Juice (p. 1); RSSOWL (p. 7 )
Security tools Eraser (p. 1); TrueCrypt (p. 6 )
System or
Net mgt tools FOG (p. 2 ); MRemote (p. 2 ); Paglo (p. 3 ); GroundWork Monitor (p. 4 ). Cobian Backup (p. 5 ); H-Inventory (p. 7 ); NetStumbler (p. 7); jNetStream (p. 9 ); Keyfinder (p. 10); Angry IP Scanner (p. 10 )
Personal or enterprise productivity tools GIMP 2 (p. 3 ); LifeRay (p. 4 ); Joomla! (p. 6); ReactOS (p. 8 ); Thunderbird (p. 8 ); Filezilla Server (p. 9 )

Reader's Choice for Best OSS Projects | Community
This list is based on the number of comments received and the passion of the post. (Please note: this is not a ranking).

Happy 30th Birthday, Compact Disc! - Gizmodo Australia
Happy birthday! 1979-2009.Thirty years. Pretty amazing that it's been that long since those crazy Dutchmen at Philips spun the technology off of laser discs as part of an optical digital audio disc demo in Eindhoven.

Of course, the CD didn't immediately take off right then and there. It needed a little help from Sony, which worked with Philips to get the format standardised. The standard they named Red Book, which included everything from playing time (initially 60 minutes), to the disc diameter to sampling frequency. Put simply, the collaboration worked out, and Red Book was a success.

Who gives good broadband? - Core Frequency - Blogs - PC Authority
The results from Whirlpool’s annual Australian Broadband Survey are in, and as always they make interesting reading.

Of course, the demographics of the survey very likely don’t represent the public at large. But it is a good sampling of the opinions of those who are best informed about broadband issues – readers of Whirlpool.

As you might expect, the proposed censorship regime isn’t popular, with nearly 90% of respondents saying they will turn off their opt-out filters if they are ever introduced.

And thanks to his handling of the censorship regime and National Broadband Network, Stephen Conroy is rated roughly twice as badly as Communication’s Minister than either Helen Coonan or Richard Alston, which is really saying something (and that’s in spite of roughly 59% of respondents saying they voted Labor).

Politics aside, perhaps the most significant part of the survey covers the respondents’ feelings about their own ISPs. As in previous years, Westnet and Internode rated very well for customer support and responsiveness, and Adam, Amnet and iiNet also scored well. Westnet, Internode and iiNet also rated well for connection reliability.

Australian Broadband Survey 2008 Report
Only 2% of Labor voters supported the filtering policy. Almost two thirds of Labor voters did not even realise the filtering policy was being proposed.
I voted Labor and supported filtering policy 1.2%
I voted Labor despite filtering policy 20.4%
I voted Labor without awareness of filtering policy 37.3%
Didn't vote Labor because of filtering policy 11.3%
Didn't vote Labor 29.8%

Dell Adamo gets its own teaser video - News - PC Authority
Dell unleashes more tasty teasers for its ultralight Adamo notebook, their answer to the MacBook Air

First mentioned way back in 2008, the Dell Adamo is clearly the PC giant’s answer to the MacBook Air, but aside from the fact that it was going to be super-thin, we’ve never really known much about it - until now.

Dell has updated its “Adamo by Dell” website with a teaser video that shows off the luxury laptop’s exterior for the first time as a pair of CGI robot arms put one together.

Apple's rumoured netbook "will have 10-inch screen" - News - PC Authority
The new murmurs have appeared on no less a credible news source than CNN: a source who didn't want to be named told the US news network that the mini laptop will feature a screen size of between 9.7 and 10 inches. That would put Apple's netbook in opposition to the likes of the Asus Eee PC 1000.

Of course, none of this has been confirmed (or denied)by Apple, so we'd suggest you take it all with a large portion of salt. And in any case, another source informed CNN that, while the Apple netbook is happening, all specifications are still under review

Upcoming Firefox release changed from 3.1 to 3.5 - News - PC Authority
Mozilla has announced that the latest version of its Firefox browser will be changed from 3.1 to 3.5, and that the fourth beta will be published on 14 April.

"The version number of the Shiretoko project will be changed to Firefox 3.5 before the upcoming fourth beta release," wrote Mike Beltzner, Mozilla's director of Firefox, on the Mozilla developer blog.

"Add-on developers should stay tuned for announcements about what this means for their extensions and themes hosted on We expect to be able to do this with a minimum of inconvenience to our community."

The change in name from 3.1 to 3.5 was first proposed last week to recognise "the sheer volume of work which makes Shiretoko feel like much more than a small, incremental improvement over Firefox 3", according to Beltzner.

Enhancements include better user control over data privacy, improved web layout and rendering, and the TraceMonkey JavaScript compiler.

Mozilla posted the 3.0.7 update of its Firefox 3 browser only last week, promising multiple security patches and stability fixes. The five security fixes included three which addressed flaws rated as 'critical' by Mozilla.

Telstra cable Internet is going to get bleeding fast - News - PC Authority
Is Telstra trying to make a point? First they received the cold shoulder in the Government's National Broadband Network (NBN). Next, suddenly it's raining super fast broadband everywhere.

With the 21Mbps wireless announcement out of the way, Telstra has now moved onto bumping up cable speeds again.

Telstra's cable, for those city slickers lucky enough to have access, was already up to 30Mbps for some users on the Extreme version. Now, thanks to the fabled DOCSIS 3.0 technology, speeds in Melbourne will jump to 100Mbps by Christmas.

Incidentally, it also seems this means fibre is suddenly no longer the fastest thing in the land for now.

There's also room to move to 200Mbps in the future, Telstra says. While no other cities are mentioned in the announcement, it does say Melbourne will be the "first city" to benefit from these speeds, which does sound to us like other cities are in the queue

TV coming to your netbook - News - PC Authority
ASUS obviously thinks TV is a great thing to have in a netbook, because it's doing just that - building TV into its mini laptops.

ASUS tells us TV is being slated as an option for the 1-inch thick T91 tablet, which wowed us at CES with its touchscreen, sub-1Kg weight and LED screen.

While you can log onto various network TV sites for "catchup TV", or download your ...cough....illegal episodes via the Web, having a TV built into the notebook itself seems like a great next step for people who aren't prepared to go hunting, or if you'd rather the over the air version.

It's been possible to plug a PC card TV tuner into a laptop, it will be interesting to see how well the concept works built into the notebook itself, and whether issues with antennas and signal reception put a dampener on the whole notebook TV concept.

ASUS isn't the only one thinking about notebook TV. Intel has even announced the "world's first embedded balanced antenna for digital TV", designed so you don't need an external antenna.

Review: Amazon's Kindle App For iPhone -- amazon -- InformationWeek
Eager to try Amazon's e-books, but not willing to shell out $359 for a Kindle? Now there's an alternative: An e-book reader from Amazon that's completely free -- if you already own an iPhone or iPod Touch.

OpenVPMS | Open Source Veterinary Practice Management Software - Your practice, your software!
Did you know that OpenVPMS is a not for profit company that has written software specifically for the use of veterinary practitioners worldwide? OpenVPMS relies on financial support from veterinary industry members to fund ongoing development and refinement of our software.

iPhone now has more commercial apps than Windows Mobile - Ars Technica
Apple's App Store has reached the 25,000 application mark after adding another 5,000 applications in less than a month. The new tally also means that the App Store now has the most applications of any mobile platform, beating out the collection Windows Mobile has built up over nine years.

More Mac mini details: soldered processor, drive upgrades - Ars Technica
First is the shiny new Core 2 Duo processor, which happens to be soldered to the logic board. This, of course, means you won't be able to do processor upgrades down the road—we're not sure how much of a selling point this was in previous incarnations, but it is totally out of the picture now. Second is the fact that, if you put 2GB of RAM in a new mini, the video memory will bump up to 256MB. While still shared memory, it is better than the rather paltry 128MB alternative. Last, but certainly not least, is the fact that if you remove the optical drive, the mini can now fit a second hard drive. This is surely a point of interest for those of you using the mini for a server or HTPC; the potential for extra hard drive space may be the reason you will want to upgrade.

iFixit offers a kit to make your mini into a machine with a terabyte of storage for $249.95, but the company is quick to mention the hack requires some soldering. It just involves soldering some molex connectors together and not the logic board, but it still may be enough to sway some of you away from the idea. If you would rather do it without the kit, you can order all the parts from the retailer of your choice and follow iFixit's step by step instructions, but keep in mind that you aren't going to get any more than 1TB of storage in the mini because of current 2.5" SATA drive capacities

BBC NEWS | Technology | Scrutiny of Microsoft scaled back
The European Commission is scaling back its scrutiny of Microsoft.

Regulators have ended full-time monitoring of Microsoft that was started to ensure the firm was complying with an anti-trust ruling.

The 2004 ruling forced Microsoft to share information about the internal workings of its software with rivals.

Brussels said the shift was driven by Microsoft's improved behaviour and legal changes that meant market abuse could be tackled at national level.

Hitachi admits to price-fixing LCD screens - Hardware - iTnews Australia
Hitachi has become the latest electronics manufacturer to be fined in a price fixing conspiracy that dates back as far as 2001.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) said that the Japanese firm has agreed to plead guilty to felony price-fixing charges and pay a US$31 million fine.

According to the DOJ, Hitachi was one of four manufacturers who conspired to charge system vendors such as Dell and Apple at artificially high market rates for the components in TFT-LCD displays.

Hitachi's dealings are said to be limited to Dell for a roughly 3 year period between 2001 and 2004.

Google Docs leaks private data online - Security - iTnews Australia
Google has admitted that some users of its Google Docs online word processing service may have had their documents shared with unauthorised users.

A flaw in the system meant that the documents of some users of the service were marked down as collaborative items, allowing third parties who are also signed up to the system to access and amend them.

The flaw has now been fixed said the company.

French anti-P2P law toughest in the world - Ars Technica
France's long talked-out law to kick repeat copyright infringers off the Internet has finally come up for debate in Parliament. If passed, it would be illegal not to secure one's Internet connection, and even public WiFi hotspots will have to offer only a "white list" of approved sites.

New job for the man who exposed Comcast's P2P throttling - Ars Technica
Robb Topolski, the man who helped to bring to light Comcast's throttling of P2P uploads, has a new job: Chief Technologist of the Open Technology Initiative at the New America Foundation. OTI is the New America unit headed by Sascha Meinrath, and it was instrumental in partnering with Google to create the Measurement Lab project.

The move is significant because Topolski now serves in an official capacity with three of the main DC groups fighting for network openness and white spaces, New America, Free Press, and Public Knowledge. (He was already advising the latter two groups.) That combination of jobs should make Topolski an even more influential voice on network management issues in DC.

Eminem producers lose bid for massive iTunes royalties - Ars Technica
Music labels can breathe a sigh of relief after a jury concluded that sales through digital download stores like iTunes should be treated like CDs for the purposes of paying royalties.

Eminem's former production team, F.B.T. Productions, sued Universal over the issue in 2007. The brothers behind F.B.T. claimed that, when Universal provided music to stores like iTunes, it was actually "licensing" the tunes to another distributor rather than distributing them itself.

The distinction makes a huge difference in the royalty rate: Eminem received a 12 percent royalty on CDs, which Universal distributed, but a 50 percent royalty whenever the music was "licensed."

After a brief trial last week, a jury decided that digital downloads were to be treated like a distribution and not a license, even though it's the digital download stores that actually make the copies offered for sale

Norway's public broadcaster launches BitTorrent tracker - Ars Technica
Norway's public broadcaster NRK receives 94 percent of its revenue from a license fee paid by TV-owning households in the country, and it's charged not with making money, but with getting its content in front of as many people as possible. To do that, NRK has just launched its own BitTorrent tracker to distribute its TV shows—DRM-free, of course. NRK takes its distribution mission so seriously that it's even providing subtitle files so that non-Norwegians can translate the shows easily.