Friday, June 26, 2009

Byte Into It - 01 Jul 09

Web filters to censor video games
Australia is the only developed country without an R18+ classification for games, meaning any titles that do not meet the MA15+ standard - such as those with excessive violence or sexual content - are simply banned from sale by the Classification Board, unless they are modified to remove the offending content.

So far, this has only applied to local bricks-and-mortar stores selling physical copies of games, but a spokesman for Senator Conroy confirmed that under the filtering plan, it will be extended to downloadable games, flash-based web games and sites which sell physical copies of games that do not meet the MA15+ standard.

This means that even Australians who are aged above 15 and want to obtain the adult-level games online will be unable to do so. . It will undoubtedly raise the ire of gamers, the average age of which is 30 in Australia, according to research commissioned by the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia.

Colin Jacobs, spokesman for the online users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said the Government clearly went far beyond any mandate it had from the public to help parents deal with cyber-safety.

Pirate Bay founders launch beta of "The Video Bay" - Boing Boing
The developers behind the Pirate Bay team have been developing a video streaming site for the past two years, and they've just opened up an "extreme beta" version of the project (meaning, in their words, "Don't expect anything to work at all"). Users can share video clips here without having to fear concerns they may be removed over copyright claims, as with the current dominant video-sharing service, YouTube.

Update: Boing Boing team member Dean Putney points out:

I highly discourage people from signing up on this site just yet. Not because of the content, but for a technical reason:

I just registered with a username and password that I don't use very often, really just for beta sites like this that I'm just looking at. I'm very glad that I did. The site sent me an email response containing both my username and the password I just typed into the site. This is really bad news. Getting emails with passwords for sites in them, unless they're temporary passwords, is bad for security. It also implies that they're storing their passwords in plain text, which means that if anyone got a hold of their databases all of their users' passwords and usernames are compromised. The Pirate Bay does some really great and interesting stuff, but I won't use their site seriously until I can be reasonably sure that they're hashing and salting my password. Obviously they're still working on it, so hopefully this will be repaired soon.

Microsoft to charge Europeans double for Windows 7
European customers will pay up to twice as much for Windows 7 compared to U.S. users, even though the new operating system will ship without a browser in Europe, according to Microsoft.

When the company launches Windows 7 on Oct. 22, it will price Windows 7 Home Premium, likely the most popular of the three editions available at retail, at €119.99 in the European Union (EU) and charge £79.99 in the U.K., an EU member that has retained its own currency. Those prices are the equivalent to $168.66 and $132.14 U.S., respectively, at Saturday's exchange rates.

U.S. consumers will pay only $119 for the same software after a two-week pre-order sales discount expires July 11. That means EU residents will pay 41% more, and U.K. consumers 10% more, than U.S. buyers for Home Premium Upgrade.
Official: Windows 7 Australian pricing announced, see how it compares to Vista - News - PC Authority
The good news is that the costs are pretty similar to buying Windows Vista. Windows 7 Ultimate's RRP is $30 more (Upgrade) or $20 more (Full version) than the equivalent Vista product, but a full version of Windows 7 Home Premium works out $50 cheaper than Vista Home Premium.

Windows 7 pricing nitty gritty

Upgrade pricing:

* Home Premium $199
* Professional $399
* Ultimate $429

Full Version pricing

* Home Premium $299
* Professional $449
* Ultimate $469

Windows 7 Upgrade Promotion

If you buy a new computer with Vista Home Premium, Business or Ultimate any time between now and 31 January 2010, you can upgrade to Windows 7 for nothing, or for a small cost, thanks to a special Microsoft promotion.

The upgrade can be redeemed from October 22, when Windows 7 is released, until 28 February 2010.

Take care though: only certain PCs are eligible for the promotion.Check in-store stickers on PCs before you purchase and visiting to check if the system you are planning to buy . You can also asking in-store if a system is eligible for the Windows 7 Upgrade.
HTC Hero Android phone launches - News - PC Authority
HTC has launched a brand spanking Android handset overseas, in the G1-esque shape of the Hero.

However, although it picks up the love-it-or-hate-it angled bottom of its predecessor, it boasts a much more slimline body due to no slide out keyboard.

The phone comes packing a full 3.2-inch anti-fingerprint touchscreen, a 5 megapixel autofocus camera, AGPS, digital compass and that all important 3.5mm headset jack.

It is also features 512MB on-board memory (expandable up to 16GB via microSD) and a dedicated search button that will allow you to look for things thorough out your whole phone, including emails and on Twitter.

The Hero will also debut HTC's new UI called HTC Sense, boasting intuitive features like the ability to view all your communication channels – Facebook, emails, texts, photos and phone calls – in one view.
HTML 5: Could it kill Flash and Silverlight? - LinuxWorld
HTML 5, a groundbreaking upgrade to the prominent Web presentation specification, could become a game-changer in Web application development, one that might even make obsolete such plug-in-based rich Internet application (RIA) technologies as Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, and Sun JavaFX.

HTML 5 technologies such as Canvas, for 2-D drawing on a Web page, are being promoted by heavyweights in the Internet space such as Apple, Google, and Mozilla. (Although Microsoft itself has given a thumbs-up to certain aspects of HTML 5, it has not backed Canvas.)

"HTML 5 features like Canvas, local storage, and Web Workers let us do more in the browser than ever before," says Ben Galbraith, also co-founder of the Ajaxian Web site and co-director of developer tools at Mozilla. Local storage enables users to work in a browser when a connection drops and Web Workers makes "next generation" applications incredibly responsive by pushing long-running tasks to the background, he says.

Web applications will become more fun, says Ian Fette, project manager at Google for the Chrome browser: "They're going to be faster and they're just going to provide overall a better user experience and make the distinction between online apps and desktop apps blurred."

Apple agrees to industry standard mobile phone charger - Technology - News -
10 mobile phone manufacturers and chip producers, including Apple, have signed up to an initiative to produce standard mobile phone chargers.

Companies signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will harmonise chargers in Europe on the basis of the micro-USB connector, in order to cut down on electronics manufacturing and waste.

Apple's involvement in the scheme comes as a surprise. When plans for a standard mobile phone charger were announced at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona earlier this year, Apple was noticeably absent from the list revealed by the GSM Association (GSMA), the trade body that represents the mobile phone industry.

However, some companies that were on the initial list, such as 3, Orange, T-Mobile, AT&T and Vodafone, now appear to be absent.

Apart from Apple, the companies that have signed the MoU are LG, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research in Motion, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Texas Instruments.
Linux first to support usb 3.0 - The Inquirer
USB 3.0 is supposed to be the next big thing for wires out the back of PCs and hardware manufactures are falling all over themselves to make stuff for them. However so far there has been no operating system that supports the new standard.

The Vole and Apple are not including the new standard in the Windows 7 or Snow Leopard operating systems. But it looks like Intel's open sauce community is rushing to fill the gap.

Sarah Sharp, a self-styled "geekess" and Linux developer at Intel's Open Source Technology Centre has been working on the Linux USB subsystem.

Writing in her bog, Sharp writes that the xHCI (USB 3.0) host controller driver and initial support for USB 3.0 devices is now publicly available on her git tree.

She said that this means that Linux will be the first operating system with official USB 3.0 support and she is working with Keve Gabbert, who is the OSV bloke at Intel, to make sure that Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Red Hat pick up the xHCI driver.
Why social media is like punk - mUmBRELLA
Why social media is like punk

Melbourne-based PR consultant Gerry McCusker - author of the PR Disasters blog, presented at the International Association of Business Communicators conference in San Francisco last week.

His topic was Why Are CEOs Scared of Social Media? As part of the presentation he created this two minute presentation on the similarities of social media to punk rock

WARNING: Twittersblogs is Another Twitter Phishing Scam
A new week, and a new scam to attempt to steal our social networking passwords is underway. Today, the target is TwitterTwitterTwitter, and the scam involves fake Twitter blogs.

Over the past hour, hundreds of tweets have gone out with the message “omg!! is it true what they wrote about you in their twit blog?” and linking to a subdomain of the site When clicked, the linked site looks exactly like Twitter’s homepage. However, if you provide it with your username and password, it tweets out the message, and hence, the scam spreads.

The Pirate Bay Goes Legit -- InformationWeek
Swedish tech company Global Gaming Factory X said Tuesday that it has reached an agreement to acquire controversial file sharing outfit The Pirate Bay for about $7.7 million.

Global Gaming said it would introduce legitimate business models to Pirate Bay's Web site, which had become a haven for illegal file sharing. Pirate Bay's Swedish founders in April were ordered jailed for one year and fined $3.6 million.

"We would like to introduce models which entail that content providers and copyright owners get paid for content that is downloaded via the site," said Global Gaming CEO Hans Pandeya, in a statement.

Padeya said Pirate Bay draws enormous amounts of Internet traffic but added that it needs to adopt legitimate business models to stay in operation.

"The Pirate Bay site is among the top 100 most visited Internet sites in the world. However, in order to live on, The Pirate Bay requires a new business model, which satisfies that requirements and needs of all parties, content providers, broadband operators, end users, and the judiciary," said Pandeya.

"Content creators and providers need to control their content and get paid for it. File sharers need faster downloads and better quality," he added.

The deal could see The Pirate Bay evolve in a manner similar to that followed by Napster. A nexus for illegal peer-to-peer swapping several years ago, Napster was acquired by a string of legitimate vendors that instituted pay-to-play business models on the site.

Also Tuesday, Global Gaming said it agreed to acquire Peerialism, a Swedish company that specializes in the development of p2p file sharing technology. The move is not unrelated to Global Gaming's buyout of The Pirate Bay.

"Peerialism has developed a new data distribution technology which now can be introduced on the best known file sharing site—The Pirate Bay," said Peerialism CEO Johan Ljunberg, in a statement.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Byte Into It - 24 Jun 09

China carries on with censorship plan, as Google capitulates | Technology |
China has said it will continue with its plans to force every computer in the country to run a controversial filtering program that will further restrict the activities of web surfers.

Officials at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said they would be going ahead with plans to make the software - known as Green Dam - compulsory.

Despite claims that it had decided to shelve Green Dam - which is intended to prevent access to pornographic material - the government "will not back away" on its plans for the software, an official told China Daily.

The move follows a string of controversies over the plan, and after internet giant Google agreed to filter its search results in China to screen out pornographic or explicit material
Hands-on: Google Voice dialing up for launch - Ars Technica
The Google Voice service launched in March for closed testing with a limited audience that consisted of existing GrandCentral users. Google introduced a number of highly impressive features such as automatic message transcription and free SMS delivery. The transcription feature will convert voicemails to text and make them searchable. The service can also automatically forward voicemail transcripts directly to your preferred e-mail account.

There are signs that Google is preparing to open the service to a broader audience. Reports indicate that Google has recently obtained over one million new phone numbers from backbone operator Level 3. PC World speculates that the number grab could be a prelude to the full public launch of Google Voice, but it was unable to get official confirmation from the search giant. There are also reports that Google will offer number portability, enabling consumers to move their existing phone numbers to Google's infrastructure.

Ars recently began testing Google Voice as part of the closed beta program. The service is remarkably powerful and easy to use. It has a number of killer features, such as support for switching between lines during the middle of a call and recording incoming calls by simply pressing a button. Recorded calls and voicemails can be heard directly in the browser through a streaming playback interface and can also be downloaded as MP3 files.

It also offers a simple scheduling system that can be used to control when calls will be routed to specific numbers
Fight over German filtering law sends MP into Pirate Party - Ars Technica
After seeing Swedish voters send the Pirate Party to the European Parliament, the German branch of the group has now gotten a seat in the lower house of that nation's parliament, the Bundestag. But the seat didn't come about through an electoral triumph; instead a member of the Social Democrats, Jörg Trauss, changed allegiances, claiming his decision was driven by his former party's support for a mandatory Internet filtering scheme. But the situation is complicated by the fact that the filtering would target child porn, and Trauss is under investigation for possession of that material (he claims it was for investigative purposes).

The legislation in question would implement a scheme that's somewhat similar to the one under consideration in Australia.
BBC NEWS | Technology | The rise of Hate 2.0
The number of hate and terrorist websites has increased by a third in the past year, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights organisation put the figure at more than 8,000 in its 2008 report Hate 2.0. It said the presence of such sites "demeans and threatens African Americans, Jews, immigrants, gays and virtually every religious denomination".

And the number of so-called hate sites is growing fast, while the use of social networks to push controversial messages is also on the rise.

In May this year, Facebook became embroiled in a row after a number of Holocaust denial groups were set up on the site.

Critics said Facebook was propagating anti-Semitism, others said that free speech was a cornerstone of society and Facebook should keep its hands off.

At the time, Barry Schnitt, a spokesman for Facebook, said it should be "a place where controversial ideas can be discussed".

"The bottom line is that, of course, we abhor Nazi ideals and find Holocaust denial repulsive and ignorant," he said.

"However, we believe people have a right to discuss these ideas."
Don Black
The Home Office says Don Black's actions could "lead to inter-community violence in the UK".

A few days later, the site had closed two of the groups, Holocaust is a Holohoax and Based on the facts... there was no Holocaust. It said they had breached the firm's terms of service.

But there are still plenty of other Holocaust denial groups on Facebook
Telstra bumps Next G uplink to 5.8 Mbps - Telco/ISP - Technology - News -
Telstra has increased peak network uplink speeds on its Next G network to 5.8 Mbps, meaning customers will achieve at least 300 kbps up to 3 Mbps in real-use terms.

Customers in metropolitan and "selected" regional areas will achieve uplink speeds anywhere within that range.

Other areas will still receive a minimum 300 kbps but the upper limit will be 1 Mbps.

Telstra said existing users of Turbo 21 modems manufactured by Sierra Wireless can download a software upgrade for their devices from the Sierra website to take advantage of the speed increase.

The same software upgrade will be pushed out automatically to users "over the air" this weekend.

In addition, business customers using the Telstra Turbo 21 mobile broadband USBs can upgrade their device.

"Upgrades to selected other Telstra and BigPond devices will be available in coming weeks," said executive director of Telstra product management, Ross Fielding.
Minchin claims there is no need for NBN - Telco/ISP - Technology - News -
Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin has seized on an ACMA report showing most Australians are satisfied with their ISP to claim the country does not need a National Broadband Network (NBN).

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) report, released today, concludes that most Australian households and businesses are generally satisfied with the level of service they receive from their Internet Service Provider (ISP), "with the great majority expressing reluctance to switch ISPs."

Minchin said the study "raises serious questions about the Minister's sweeping claims of fundamental market failure" in the telecommunications industry.

Questions over survey

The ACMA report is based on a number of sources.

The primary two surveys from which broadband satisfaction was measured was a Roy Morgan survey of 1396 fixed line customers and 241 mobile users that don't use a fixed line services, plus a survey of 1800 small business users conducted by Sensis, a subsidiary of the country's largest ISP, Telstra.

The annual Whirlpool broadband user survey, by contrast, includes the opinions of some 20,000 users.

In both 2007 and 2008, around 75 per cent of Whirlpool respondents said the customer service they get from their ISP is either "good" or "excellent", 62 per cent were "very happy" with the reliability of the connection and 77 (2007) to 79 per cent (2008) would recommend their ISP to others.

But also in 2008, about one in three Whirlpool survey respondents said their ISP plan was too expensive.

The Whirlpool survey also showed that three in four respondents (75 per cent) favour a Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH) National Broadband Network (2008), and 69 per cent would prefer the Federal Government to build it (2007).

Newlyweds Vodafone and 3 to compete on iPhone - Telco/ISP - Technology - News -
The newly-merged VHA has signed an agreement with Apple for its '3' brand to sell the new iPhone 3G S.

Hutchison 3, which carries the iPhone in other regional markets such as Hong Kong, had until now avoided the iPhone market, leaving larger competitors Telstra, Optus and Vodafone to fight over the popular mobile device.

But according to a spokesperson for 3, the mobile carrier began conversations with Apple to carry the iPhone just prior to the merger with Vodafone being approved.

These discussions were taken over by VHA, who agreed it in the best interest of the merged entity to offer the iPhone under the 3 brand just as it does under the Vodafone brand.

No pricing or plan details are available as yet, but a spokesperson for 3 confirmed with iTnews that Vodafone and 3 will offer the iPhone under differentiated plans.

FTC to crack down on undisclosed "sponsored" blogging - Ars Technica
Do your favorite mom and pop blogs secretly accept cash or gifts in exchange for product mentions? They might, and the FTC wants to make sure they disclose their conflicts of interest with a new set of guidelines that it hopes to implement later this year.
Meet Melody: Movable Type's open-source sibling | Webware - CNET
Community members of Six Apart's Movable Type platform (MT) are launching a new blogging service on Tuesday. Dubbed "Melody," it's an open-source version of MT that community members are free to build on and change.

Unlike previous open-source efforts though, this one is the first to break off (or "fork") from the main product, allowing for much faster and drastic changes. In many ways it's an answer to WordPress, a competitor of Six Apart that began as an open source project and has benefited from rapid development because of it.
What’s New in Firefox 3.5?
Mike Beltzner gives a quick preview of what’s new and exciting in Firefox 3.5, coming soon from Mozilla
Lifehacker - Top 10 Firefox 3.5 Features - Firefox 3.5
Firefox 3.5 is a pretty substantial update to the popular open-source browser, and it's just around the corner. See what features, fixes, and clever new tools are worth getting excited about in the next big release:
- Firefox 3.5 implements a restore feature for both tabs and windows from the History menu, which would (hopefully) also restore any text you've typed into them.
- Firefox 3.5's history browser offers a convenient "Forget this site" option, erasing your browser's memory of particular domains. It doesn't cover subdomains, and your network traffic and Flash memory would still hold some details, but it's a handy tweak however you cut it.
- Google Chrome and Safari somewhat stole the thunder out from under this feature, but it's still a nice one: Grab a tab and drag it out a bit to create a new browser window from it. Drag windows into tabs again.
- Firefox 3's AwesomeBar/address bar offers a speedy list of suggestions to complete whatever you're typing,that list comes from your page history, bookmarks, and tags, and can be matched by URL or name. Special character filters in the next Firefox allow you to restrict matches to a particular category for instance.
- Firefox's developers took a cue from the users and turned the session restore feature into more of a crash recovery tool, allowing users to select which tabs should come back. If you don't know who's the culprit, here's a hint: It's probably the one with Flash on it.
- Private Browsing mode,already in a number of competing browsers, has uses beyond the prurient. Beyond obvious situations, like gift buying and sensitive research, logging onto a friend's browser for a quick email check or bill pay is made a lot more secure if you can get to the private mode.
-Firefox 3.5 introduces dynamic color profiles for each picture, meaning that whatever the graphic designer or photographer saw when they were doing their work, you'll see it on their web page.
- Even if TraceMonkey (javascript engine) is ultimately outpaced by Chrome and/or Safari, its innovations push the whole browser market forward and give us all a bit less load time to complain about.
- Integrated geo-location, powered by Google's Wi-Fi triangulation and simple IP address information, looks to know roughly where you are and help you when you're looking for something local. You can disable it if you'd like, but, realistically, signing on from any IP address reveals a bit about where you are anyways.
- If you're viewing a page coded in HTML 5 with video in an open-source format like Ogg Vorbis or Theora, Firefox 3.5 treats that video like it's just part of the page, not a separate little island of Flash content. That means instant commenting on videos. It could also mean offering links from inside a tutorial video that offer more details on what's being shown

Lifehacker - Microsoft's Browser Comparison Chart Offends Anyone Who's Ever Used Another Browser - Internet Explorer 8
This browser comparison chart pits IE8 against Firefox and Chrome and puts IE8 on top time after time, but in very dubious categories. Each row comes with its own ridiculous set of comments justifying the seemingly meaningless checkmarks
Web-Based Productivity Suite Zoho Now Integrated With Microsoft SharePoint
Zoho Suite, a web-based software suite comprised of document, project and invoicing management tools, has launched an add-on that allows Zoho Office to integrate with Microsoft SharePoint.

Zoho users can now create new documents and save them to SharePoint in MS Office formats, view existing documents within SharePoint using Zoho apps, and edit existing documents with Zoho Apps and save them back to SharePoint. The new add-on also provides collaborative editing functionality in Zoho with the integration with SharePoint. Zoho says the add-on costs $2/user/month on an yearly subscription or $3/user/month for monthly subscription
EFF kills another stupid internet patent - Boing Boing
EFF's patent-busting project has put another notch in its belt: today they killed a truly outrageous patent on the use of subdomains for navigation and content management, as with Can you believe that the patent office granted that patent in 2004, based on a 1999 application? Can you believe that the people who filed the patent claimed (with a straight face) that they didn't know of any other prior art that made this invalid?

It's hard to know whether to be happy for and grateful to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for killing this abomination, or pissed off with the patent office for creating it.
Obama's USPTO choice supports patent reform - Ars Technica
Last Thursday, the Obama administration finally named its choice to head the Patent and Trademark Office: David J. Kappos, who is currently serving as IBM's assistant general counsel. Kappos has a long history in the field of intellectual property law, and has been an advocate of patent reforms, having testified in favor of a reform bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Normally, a public record of that sort provides plenty of opportunities for people to identify problems with a candidate, but, so far at least, response to Kappos' nomination has been generally positive.
Researchers conclude piracy not stifling content creation - Ars Technica
File-sharing, to the (very large) extent that it involves copyright infringement, has affected the music business. But, as a pair of academic researchers happily point out in a working paper they've posted online, copyright law was never meant to protect the music business in the first place—instead, it is intended to foster creative production in the arts, which happen to include music. As such, they argue it's worth analyzing the deeper question of whether file sharing is putting a damper on music creation. Their conclusion is that this is a much more complicated question, but the answer seems to be "probably not." The authors construct a bit of a causal chain between file sharing and the intent of copyright law to foster creative works. First, you'd need to know that file sharing was harming music sales, and that the music industry wasn't finding alternative ways of generating income. Then you'd need to show that the loss of income provided a disincentive to musical creativity. They recognize that this calculus might seem a bit heartless, though: "It might seem curious to some of our readers that we do not consider the welfare of artists and entertainment companies in our calculus. Our approach, however, reflects the original intent of copyright protection, which was conceived not as a welfare program for authors but to encourage the creation of new works."...If the first two links in the chain are tenuous, the last one pretty much gets demolished. There's essentially no indication that the more challenging economics are slowing down creative content production. In the five years prior to 2007, film production is up 30 percent, album releases have doubled, and book releases are up by two-thirds.

The authors also cite statistics that suggest that finances aren't (or at least, shouldn't be) the primary motivator for creative musical works. Because of the structure of the music business, even a gold record doesn't guarantee a windfall to artists, and the ratio of gold records to all records suggest that success is distributed by a system that most resembles a lottery. People clearly seem willing to put time into producing music even if it's not paying off, as the authors note, "even among those who spent at least thirty hours a week on music-related activities, only 22 percent derived at least four-fifths of their income from music."

Given that all the links in the causal chain are, at best, tenuous, the authors conclude that, while copyright infringement may be hurting the music business, that shouldn't be taken as an indication that it's affecting the theoretical basis of copyright law, the fostering of creative works.

Anti-Piracy Lawyers Lose License To Chase Pirates | TorrentFreak
Just days after Norway’s data protection department told ISPs they must delete all personal IP address-related data three weeks after collection, it’s now become safer than ever to be a file-sharer in Norway. The only law firm with a license to track pirates has just seen it expire and it won’t be renewed.
DX11 is AMD's weapon - News - PC Authority
t certainly is interesting to see AMD putting most of its energy into DX11 leadership while Nvidia focuses maniacally on GP-GPU with its C for Cuda and Open CL. So even though NV will likely be behind ATI in DX11, ATI lags behind NV in the GP-GPU battle, which is not insignificant in the slightest.

The lines have been drawn and now it is left to the customer to ultimately decide who's approach is right
Does Intel have a deal with Nokia? | Technology |
The speculation is that Nokia will use a next-generation Atom chip in some kind of device, possibly even a mobile phone
Flash Player 10 beta coming to most smartphones this fall | Crave - CNET
Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen confirmed that Adobe will release a beta version of Flash Player 10 in October for a number of smartphone browsers, including Windows Mobile, Google Android, Palm WebOS, and Symbian.
Mobile stars of the show
A collection of mobile manufacturers unveiled their latest phones at the glamour-studded CommunicAsia 2009 event held last week in Singapore.

Some mobiles will bring real innovations to the handset market such as Sony Ericsson's new gesture gaming phones that let you box or do yoga in front of them and LG's GD900 Crystal that can recognise symbols and handwriting on its transparent alphanumeric keypad.

Other makers like Nokia and Samsung are ramping up the touch functions, screen resolution and speed of smartphones to ensure people who use their device primarily for work don't miss out on iPhone-like features. Samsung's new Jet is one new model that looks impressive in this category. Its screen resolution is four times higher than previous Samsung models and it has a new user interface that supports motion, customisable widgets, multitasking and simultaneous downloads.
iPhone In-App Purchases Already Leading To The Dreaded Two Words: Bait And Switch
the old practice of luring customers with a shiny price, only to reveal the real cost after (in this case, the download), could find its way to the App Store, thanks to in-app purchases.

Let me be clear: I think in-app purchases are potentially the most exciting thing about the new iPhone 3.0 SDK for developers. I believe it will mean a boatload of money for a great many of them as well as Apple, which takes its 30% cut. But where there is money to be made, there is money to be taken. And we’re likely to see a rise in apps that seem priced way too good to be true — because they are, until you download them.
Hands on review: iPhone OS 3.0 chock full of changes - Ars Technica
Sure, the iPhone 3G S is exciting—who doesn't like new hardware?—but more important than the hardware itself is the software that runs on it. As a bonus for all iPhone users, iPhone OS 3.0 won't just run on the new iPhone 3G S; it will run on iPhone 3Gs and even the original iPhone. There are elements to iPhone OS 3.0 that only run on the iPhone 3G S, however, and we will address those in our iPhone 3G S review. This part of the review, however, will focus on features that are generally available to all iPhone users (but focused mostly on the iPhone 3G, since that's the device with the widest reach at the moment).
Review: iPhone 3GS lives up to its speedy claims - Ars Technica
this review will mostly focus on changes to the device that differentiate it from previous versions.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Byte Into It - 17 Jun 09

Telstra split is needed: ACCC
THE AUSTRALIAN Competition and Consumer Commission has told the Federal Government the structural separation of Telstra is essential to its planned $43 billion national broadband network.

But Telstra in its submission to the Government's review of telecommunications regulation argues that no further separation of its operations is necessary as the new network, which will be wholesale only, would deliver structural separation.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy yesterday published more than 120 submissions, which he said supported the Government's conviction that regulatory reform was "urgently required" in the sector.

Telstra's submission is conciliatory in tone, restating its commitment to "engaging constructively" with the Government on the broadband project, which it described as a "vital investment for the nation, the telecommunications industry and Telstra".
Locus Online Features: Cory Doctorow: Writing in the Age of Distraction
We know that our readers are distracted and sometimes even overwhelmed by the myriad distractions that lie one click away on the Internet, but of course writers face the same glorious problem: the delirious world of information and communication and community that lurks behind your screen, one alt-tab away from your word-processor.

PC Pro: News: BT wants BBC to pay-up for iPlayer
BT is tired of the BBC and other video sites getting a "free ride" on its networks.

Last week a row erupted between BT and the BBC, after it emerged that BT was choking iPlayer streams on some of its broadband packages, which the broadcaster said was hurting viewers' ability to watch television online.

John Petter, managing director of BT Retail's consumer business, has now accused the BBC of getting a "free ride".

"We can't give the content providers a completely free ride and continue to give customers the [service] they want at the price they expect," he told the Financial Times, adding it wasn't only the BBC that was the burden, but any sites offering streaming video.

The iiNet twenty: AFACT go after individual downloaders in court - News - PC Authority
According to a story at ITnews, iiNet has been called upon by the court to give up the account details of twenty unlucky downloaders. Perhaps twenty of the unluckiest downloaders you're likely to hear about in the next few weeks. The iiNet twenty are going to be made an example of; originally AFACT (Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft) sought the records of 300-400 account holders.

Considering AFACT has half succeeded in their battle to order the names and details of any number of iiNet customers, let alone twenty - is still a very scary thought for privacy activists.

However, those twenty symbolic iiNet users shouldn't feel alone. A recent Torrentfreak report suggested that Aussies downloaded as many as 6 million files in April across the auspicious P2P/Bittorent network, with most of those being directed through Bittorrent site, Mininova.
Top French Court Declares Internet Access 'Basic Human Right' - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News -
France's highest court has inflicted an embarrassing blow to President Sarkozy by cutting the heart out of a law that was supposed to put France in the forefront of the fight against piracy on the internet.

The Constitutional Council declared access to the internet to be a basic human right, directly opposing the key points of Mr Sarkozy's law, passed in April, which created the first internet police agency in the democratic world.

The strongly-worded decision means that Mr Sarkozy's scheme has backfired and inadvertently boosted those who defend the free-for-all culture of the web.

Mr Sarkozy and Christine Albanel, his Culture Minister, forced the law through parliament despite misgivings from many of the President's centre-right MPs. It was rejected in its first passage through Parliament.

The law innovated by creating an agency, known by its initials HADOPI, which would track abusers and cut off net access automatically to those who continued to download illicitly after two warnings.

The law was supported by the industry and many artists. They saw it as a model for the USA and Europe in the fight to keep earning a living from their music and film. Net libertarians saw it as the creation of a sinister Big Brother. Many called it technically unworkable. Some artists saw it as hostile to the young consumers who are their main customers.
AACS license finalized; managed copy coming to Blu-ray - Ars Technica
The managed copy feature is designed to allow an owner to make at least one full-resolution backup copy of AACS-protected content. It has been a mandatory part of the Blu-ray specification since 2005, and we were told that support was coming by the end of 2007. Of course, that was contingent on the finalized AACS licensing agreement, which was just published earlier this month. AACS licensees have until the end of this year to sign the agreement, and due to a number of factors support won't likely be available until sometime early next year.

Among those issues is the fact that current Blu-ray hardware doesn't support managed copy, and most likely can't be enabled by a firmware upgrade, so it will mean at a minimum a hardware upgrade for users to take advantage of the feature. Also, capable Blu-ray devices will have to be able to connect to an authorization server to track whether a managed copy has been made, or if the number of copies made has reached the allowable limit. Those servers aren't expected to be online until sometime in the first quarter of 2010. And finally, content providers have to encode a URL to the necessary authorization server when mastering the disc.
Virgin and Universal to roll out music service - News - PC Authority
Virgin and Universal Music have signed a new deal overseas to launch an unlimited music download service.

The new service will be offered as part of Virgin's UK broadband service will allow unlimited downloads of Universal artists for a monthly fee as well as a second option for limited downloads at a lower price.

The companies vowed that the service will not use any DRM protection software and users will be able to keep the downloaded tracks for as long as they wish. However, Universal also said that it would work with Virgin to keep the downloaded songs from being redistributed to other users.

The move is a first between a major label and an ISP.
Adobe challenges Google Docs with launch of - Ars Technica
Adobe has finally (well, sort of) taken the beta tag off of, shedding more light on Adobe's software as a service strategy first revealed with Photoshop Express. Along with online PDF creation tools, file sharing, online meeting and collaboration, also includes Adobe's Buzzword word processor for online and collaborative document creation. Adobe is also giving a first peek at the less-cleverly-named Tables spreadsheet app and Presentation... presentation app. The move seems like a shot across Google's bow.

The collection of tools is aimed at replicating many of the functions for which most office workers use Microsoft Office. It also offers some services similar to Google Docs. Adobe describes the design focus behind as being on ubiquity, collaboration, and user experience. Ubiquity is powered by (of course) the Internet, and collaboration comes from group document creation, editing, and sharing. Collaboration is also facilitated by ConnectNow, which includes and online meeting space as well as screen sharing facilities. The user experience is naturally fueled by Flash and AIR.

Though Adobe is launching today, taking the beta tag off of the service itself, Buzzword still appears to be in beta status. And, while the previews for Tables and Presentation available from Adobe Labs are quite functional, and offer all the basic features one would expect from such apps, Adobe doesn't seem ready to even label them as betas.
Google adding microblog indexing to its search results - Ars Technica
Though Twitter has its own search capabilities, Google will be soon offering a way to search it as well as and other microblogging services. A reference to "MicroBlogsearch" turned up recently in the Google In Your Language localization service, suggesting that Google plans to launch the feature soon.

Twitter's own search system merely shows recent results containing the search terms, with the most recent first. Older results can be viewed by clicking on "Older," and a small sidebar shows the top ten "trending topics," but that's about the extent of it. And of course it doesn't have results from other micro-blogging platforms, such as, Tumblr, or BrightKite.

Google's system, on the other hand, would work more like its current Blog Search, sorting results by relevance using its constantly evolving algorithms. If a particular string of search terms has relevance to keywords in tweets or other micro-blogging messages, then Google will show them along with other results under the heading "Recent updates about...."
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Take control of what you share online
Opera Unite allows you to easily share your data: photos, music, notes and other files. You can even run chat rooms and host entire Web sites with Opera Unite. It puts the power of a Web server in your browser, giving you greater privacy and flexibility than other online services.
Microsoft's Browser Unbundling Puzzles Europe - PC World
Microsoft's plan to dump Internet Explorer (IE) from Windows 7 for the European market is a move to discredit antitrust regulators by tying its proposal to a failed enforcement effort from 2005, a noted antitrust expert said today.

microsoft windows internet explorer legal"It's sort of a puckish thing to do, when you think about it," said William Page, co-author of The Microsoft Case: Antitrust, High Technology, and Consumer Welfare (University of Chicago Press, 2009). "Their solution is a little bit like Windows XP [and Vista] 'N,' which dramatizes that the EU essentially wants the same thing this time. But everyone knows that 'N' was a total flop."

Windows XP N, and later, Windows Vista N, were special editions that omitted Windows Media Player, which Microsoft was forced to create for Europeans after losing an earlier antitrust case. By all accounts, Windows XP and Vista N have been major busts, with few copies sold and no computer makers installing them on new PCs.

Microsoft's obvious attempt to tie its solution to the failed "N" editions of 2005 -- it went so far as to say it will slap the letter "E" on the Windows 7 editions that omit IE -- is probably one reason why the EU has turned a cold shoulder to the company's plan, said Page.

"The Commission had suggested to Microsoft that consumers be provided with a choice of Web browsers," EU regulators said today in a statement. "Instead Microsoft has apparently decided to supply retail consumers with a version of Windows without a Web browser at all. Rather than more choice, Microsoft seems to have chosen to provide less."
Opera and Mozilla unimpressed by IE unbundling plans - Software - iTnews Australia
Browser makers have spoken out against Microsoft's latest proposal to open up competition in the market by shipping copies of Windows 7 without Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) bundled in.

Opera's chief technology officer, Hakon Wium Lie, said that he was "not impressed at all" by the latest proposal from Microsoft, which would let computer manufacturers choose which browser or browsers to include on new Windows 7 PCs.

"If this had happened in 1997 when the competition case was first being heard in the US, maybe it would have helped in creating a level playing field," Lie said.

"But this is too little, too late. It won't restore competition in the browser market."

Lie added that, although IE8 would not be bundled into Windows 7 as standard by Microsoft, computer makers would choose the Microsoft browser anyway as this was the easy option.

"[Microsoft is] putting all the pieces into place for OEMs to put in IE8 anyway," he said.

Instead of the Microsoft proposal to ship browser-free copies of Windows 7 in Europe, Lie supported the European Commission's (EC's) recommendation of a 'ballot screen'.

This would present users with a choice of browsers when first starting up their new PC, along with an explanation of what each one offers.
Linux News from Linux Loop » Blog Archive » Firefox 3.5 Preview Shows New Hope For Open Media Standards
The preview release of Firefox 3.5 is showing some neat tricks relating to online video, but not the kind that comes in a little proprietary bubble of Flash.

For example, the new Firefox 3.5 will be able to smoothly resize videos on the fly within the page. The interesting part, though, is that these videos are in OGG format – in other words, entirely open. With such a mainstream browser showing off what can be done with open video formats, there is a good chance that flash will lose its dominant position, or at least have to share a little. I’m not one to say “death to Flash” just because it happens to be proprietary, but an open video standard would allow for so much innovation. Already numerous projects are attempting to unify our media-watching experience. Just imagine the sudden freedom to create an even better experience if all that media was available in open formats.

Flash has been essential to the rise of sites like YouTube, but it might be time for something more flexible to replace it.
Google's Rich Snippets Starts the Semantic Snowball Effect | Digital Media Buzz
some things that were seen as being enabled by the Semantic Web in 2001 are already here without it. For many Americans, persistent mobile connection is a reality — e-mail and SMS-capable phones are ubiquitous, and Web-enabled phones are common. But the full power of machine-understood data, linked across the entire body of information in one global Web, with “agents” focused on personal service to humans, is only in its infancy. The Semantic Web vision is the other part of Web 3.0, which vertically integrates data from a diverse set of sources, according to the W3C’s Semantic Web group.

The challenges to the Semantic Web
The Web, as of July 2008, included one trillion distinct URLs, by Google’s count. The search giant is estimated to actually index less than 5 percent of those, still a matter of tens of billions of Web pages. The overwhelming majority of these pages are meant to be read and understood by humans. The content of the pages isn’t meant to be understood by computers. Search engines can index keywords, but without context.

Semantic Web experts have collected the toolkit of languages and metadata markup systems that will allow machines to understand key words and the relationships between them. Such metadata is already being used in many places. A microformat called hResume, for example, allows to tag appropriate resume fields of its public profiles so that the resume data can be understood and reused elsewhere.
Persuading websites to recode Web pages to Semantic Web specifications — or even to do so going forward — will take a powerful motivator.
Google may have provided such a motivator with its May 12 announcement of Rich Snippets. “Snippet” is the name Google uses for the short block of text appearing below a search result, giving more information about the Web page. Google announced in its Webmasters Central Blog (a bookmark for anyone interested in making his or her website more visible to the leading search engine) that it is now applying Google’s algorithms to “highlight structured data embedded in web pages.” Translation, content marked for the Semantic Web. The “rich snippets” will be based on the structured data.

This is a major event for a couple of reasons. First, Google is the poster child for machine learning, which in Web terms means teaching machines to scan plain-language Web pages and cull meaning from them. This is the other end of the spectrum from the Semantic Web vision of coding pages in a special way so they have meaning to machines. Google’s announcement, which explicitly discussed plans to extend support for structured data in new ways as well as to recognize metadata coding developed elsewhere on the Web, puts the company on a course for a synergy between machine learning and Semantic Web practices.

Yahoo searchmonkeyGoogle isn’t the first major search company to focus on structured data. Yahoo’s Search Monkey platform for Web developers supports a robust package of metadata formats, and urges developers to have at it. But the reality is that Google is the one people are paying attention to where it counts.

This brings us to the second reason this is a major step: self-interest. It’s important to harness the force that created those tens of billions of indexed Web pages in the first place. And Google’s announcement means money.
Ars toasts English language as Web 2.0 named millionth word - Ars Technica
The Global Language Monitor says that the one millionth word entered the English language today at 10:22am GMT. Setting aside the preposterous nature of the claim, let's celebrate the language that brought us everything from "cloud computing" to "nincompoop."
Ars Reviews the Palm Pre, part 1: the BlackBerry killer - Ars Technica
Most of the gadget press is obsessing over whether the Palm Pre is an iPhone killer, but they're asking the wrong question. We've been testing one for the past few days, and it's clear to us that the real target of Palm's new phone is the BlackBerry. Here's how Palm will use the webOS to tackle the enterprise market.
Cisco report: the exaflood will be televised - Ars Technica
More and more technology companies are adopting an Internet-scale variant on the "give away the razors, sell the blades" model to stimulate demand for their products, and they're doing so in order to ride the one demand curve that's set to keep going up despite any global slowdown: the demand for bandwidth. Cisco's acquisition of video gadget maker PureDigital is a case in point, though the idea there is really more like "invest in razor development to stimulate global blade demand." The networking infrastructure giant made it known at the time of the acquisition that this purchase was about one thing: boosting the amount of video traffic flowing over everyone's pipes, so that it can sell newer, larger pipes to bandwidth providers.
Ultimate BIOS Guide: Every Setting Decrypted and Explained!
Power users routinely punch into the BIOS in order to fine tune their system, but it can be an intimidating place to go exploring if you've never before burrowed beneath the surface. Here is your go-to guide for everything you've ever wanted to know about the BIOS.
E3 2009: Who won? Who lost? Who wins a golden Ars? - Ars Technica
This was a big show filled with games, parties, lines, headaches, and, of course, celebrities. What rates as a Golden Ars? Here are our picks.
IGN: IGN's Overall Best of E3 2009 Awards
These are the games that got the IGN editors talking last week and haven't been able to shut up about since
Prototype review: One thing you can't destroy is yourself - Ars Technica
It's an interesting question to ask while playing: why did Prototype fail? Yes, it did fail, although for hours while playing I couldn't quite put my finger on what exactly missed the mark. It's a fun failure, in places, with a sense of power that feels almost unearned. The game begins with the worst cliche of this sort of game: you have all your powers straight up, and get to tear-ass around the city for a few minutes before the game shoves you back in time to explain how you got there. The problem—and this is a big problem for a superhero game—is that this approach makes you feel powerful, and then weak. Since you've already lost most of your humanity, what's the point of feeling like a weak monster?

Sydney Morning Herald | Technology | Iran | Twitter | Tehran | Mahmoud Ahmadinejad | Mir Hossein Mousavi | protests | riots
An opposition activist spreads word of an upcoming protest in the streets of Tehran. Another posts pictures of clashes between demonstrators and police.

As Iran's government cracks down on traditional media after the country's disputed presidential election, tech-savvy Iranians have turned to the micro-blogging site Twitter.

Its use to organise and send pictures and messages to the outside world - in real time as events unfolded - was a powerful example of how such tools can overcome government attempts at censorship.
Cyberwar guide for Iran elections - Boing Boing
The purpose of this guide is to help you participate constructively in the Iranian election protests through Twitter.

1. Do NOT publicise proxy IP's over twitter, and especially not using the #iranelection hashtag. Security forces are monitoring this hashtag, and the moment they identify a proxy IP they will block it in Iran. If you are creating new proxies for the Iranian bloggers, DM them to @stopAhmadi or @iran09 and they will distributed them discretely to bloggers in Iran.

2. Hashtags, the only two legitimate hashtags being used by bloggers in Iran are #iranelection and #gr88, other hashtag ideas run the risk of diluting the conversation.

3. Keep you bull$hit filter up! Security forces are now setting up twitter accounts to spread disinformation by posing as Iranian protesters. Please don't retweet impetuosly, try to confirm information with reliable sources before retweeting. The legitimate sources are not hard to find and follow.

4. Help cover the bloggers: change your twitter settings so that your location is TEHRAN and your time zone is GMT +3.30. Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location and timezone searches. If we all become 'Iranians' it becomes much harder to find them.

5. Don't blow their cover! If you discover a genuine source, please don't publicise their name or location on a website. These bloggers are in REAL danger. Spread the word discretely through your own networks but don't signpost them to the security forces. People are dying there, for real, please keep that in mind...
Twitter reschedules maintenance to avoid clobbering Iranian dissidents - Boing Boing
A critical network upgrade must be performed to ensure continued operation of Twitter. In coordination with Twitter, our network host had planned this upgrade for tonight. However, our network partners at NTT America recognize the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran. Tonight's planned maintenance has been rescheduled to tomorrow between 2-3p PST (1:30a in Iran).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Byte Into It - 10 Jun 09

Internet filter: $44.5m and no goal in sight - Technology -
The Rudd Government's internet censorship policy will cost about $90,000 per blocked web address to implement and the Government has admitted it has not developed any criteria to determine whether trials of the scheme are a success.

The Opposition, Greens and online users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia are concerned the lack of success criteria is a sign the policy itself has no clear goals and is instead being dictated by what the technology will allow.

Nine ISPs are trialling the web censorship plan, which will mandatorily block all content that has been "refused classification" by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Results of the trials are due to be published in July but, in response to a freedom of information request, the Government has admitted that "there are not success criteria as such".

"This exposes a major shortcoming in the Government's approach," Opposition communications spokesman Nick Minchin said.

Greens senator Scott Ludlam said: "It sounds as though we'll filter as many sites as the technology allows us to ... that's the reason I think people are so concerned about this in that it seems to be really open-ended."

Palm Pre iTunes compatibility confirmed as a hack - Ars Technica
None other than "DVD" Jon Lech Johansen, most well known for defeating the CSS encryption used in commercial DVDs, has verified that Palm's Pre smartphone is indeed emulating an iPod to enable automatic syncing of music, photos, and videos.

As it turns out, Johansen knows quite a bit about how iPods and iTunes work together. In addition to reverse engineering CSS, he also developed software called QTFairUse that could strip the FairPlay DRM from iTunes tracks. And, his current company, doubleTwist, makes software that can sync a variety of content among several devices, including iPods.

Here’s what’s wrong with the Palm Pre
Most of you already assume the phone is “good,” so I’ve gone ahead and collected a few excerpts of the more critical points. You know, the part of the review that goes something like, “Now, the Palm Pre isn’t perfect; we found a few problems with it. And they are…” That part.

  • The Pre’s biggest disadvantage is its app store, the App Catalog. At launch, it has only about a dozen apps, compared with over 40,000 for the iPhone, and thousands each for the G1 and the modern BlackBerry models. Even worse, the Pre App Catalog isn’t finished. It’s immature, it’s labeled a beta, and Palm has yet to release the tools for making Pre apps available to more than a small group of developers.

  • Battery life between charges is relatively weak. While it’s in line with competitors with a claimed five hours of talk time, and matches the iPhone’s claimed five hours of Web surfing time, it offers only half the iPhone’s 24 hours of continuous music playback and claims just five hours of video playback, versus seven for the iPhone.

  • Another downside: the Pre’s autocorrect system, for instantly fixing mistyped words, is puny. Even with a physical keyboard, people make typos, and Palm only fixes about 2,500 common words, like “the.” By contrast, both the BlackBerry and iPhone have tens of thousands of autocorrections built in, including fixes for long, complex words.

Google releases Chrome preview for Mac OS X and Linux - Ars Technica
Google has announced the availability of the first official Chrome developer release for Linux and Mac OS X. The search giant says that the release is a preview intended for testing purposes only and that the software is still unsuitable for regular users.

When Google launched Chrome last year, the browser was available only on Windows. Development on the Linux and Mac OS X ports began shortly after the initial Windows release and has progressed at a steady pace. The Chrome team aims to build ports that feel native and conform well with the underlying platform, but also retain some of the browser's unique characteristics, such as the distinctive angled tab skyline. This approach to cross-platform software development is very challenging, especially on Linux where the inherent diversity and modularity of the platform makes it difficult to translate many elements of the original Chrome vision.

Google: sandboxing for Chrome on Mac OS X a piece of cake - Ars Technica
Google engineers have found that implementing Chrome's signature sandboxed processes is easy under Mac OS X thanks to its built in sandbox facility. Compared to the built-from-scratch approach used in Windows, it was apparently child's play.

Windows 7 arrives on October 22 (Updated) - Ars Technica
Those waiting anxiously for the next version of Windows now have a date to anticipate. Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 7 will be launched on October 22, 2009. This date, which is referred to as General Availability (GA), is in line with Microsoft's previous statement saying that it would have Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 ready by the holidays.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Will Bing boom or be a big bust?
In the last few weeks we have had Wolfram Alpha offering a way to search structured data and provide results in a form suitable for further computation. We have had Google Squared promising a simple way of pulling organised data from websites into a spreadsheet style format.

Finally, a new controller-free interface for the Xbox 360 games console from Microsoft that - the company hopes - will open up gaming to the millions who are intimidated by the complexity of current controllers.

And now, after years of effort, billions of dollars worth of investment and several failed attempts, Microsoft has launched Bing, a search engine that it thinks has a chance of unseating Google and which it would like us to think of as a "decision engine".

In the end, Bing could of course succeed not by offering a better search than Google but by making money for more people. Google's targeted advertising programmes, Adwords and Adsense, are the key to the company's success and have fuelled its growth, and if Microsoft can find ways to generate advertising income for others then it may raise Bing's profile enough to take some of Google's mindshare.

As long as Microsoft has income from software sales to subsidise its search technology then it can afford to offer advertisers better deals than Google, which needs the money they provide. The success of Windows 7 and the Azure cloud computing platform could end up mattering as much to Google as it does to Microsoft.

Quick Peak? Bing’s Reign As #2 Search Engine Lasted One Day.
June 4, Bing had over 15% of the U.S. search share market, according to
the data. On the same day, Yahoo had just over 10%. The following day,
Yahoo had almost 11% while Bing had fallen below 10%. And yesterday,
Bing had fallen to 6.68% while Yahoo rose again to 11.33%. Meanwhile,
the same data suggests that while Google took a big dip during Bing’s
reign, it too has now started moving back upwards as Bing declines. Not
that Google was in any real danger — on June 4 (the day of Bing’s #2
position), Google had fallen to 72% of searches in the U.S. Now it’s
just about back up to 80%.

Is Twitter Really That Big?
Purewire was able to pull together profile data from 7 million user profiles and this is what it found:

First, many Twitter users "have abandoned their accounts shortly after creating them, and a significant percentage are not showing signs of account activity".

* 40 percent of Twitter users have not tweeted since their first day on Twitter (i.e., the account was most likely created and subsequently forgotten about).

* Approximately 25 percent of Twitter users are not following
anyone, while two-thirds are following less than 10 people (i.e., the
account was created but is not actually being used regularly).

Second, the data shows that "Twitter is used more as a mass medium for receiving information, rather than as a way to interact with others. Proof is shown by evaluating the followers and friends of Twitter users".

* More than 1/3 of Twitter users have not posted a single tweet, and almost 80 percent of the users have less than 10 tweets (i.e., while Twitter is billed as a great collaboration tool, a large number of users are there to consume content, not distribute it).

* Approximately 30 percent of Twitter users do not have any
followers, and 80 percent of Twitter users have less than 10 followers
(i.e., for many users, their posts are not being widely tracked or

* 50 percent of Twitter users are following more people than they
have as followers, and another 30 percent of Twitter users are following
the same number of people that are following them (i.e. users are
aggressively trying to attract followers by hoping they will "follow
back" but have been unsuccessful).

Kindle competition heats up as Google floats e-book plans - Ars Technica
Late last week, Plastic Logic demonstrated a touch-screen reader designed to compete with the Kindle DX. Then, over the weekend, Google pitched its upcoming book content store to publishers at BookExpo America. It's looking like the e-book market is on the verge of getting very crowded.

HTML 5 and Web video: freeing rich media from plugin prison - Ars Technica
DailyMotion and Google are both experimenting with the HTML 5 video element and have strongly endorsed standards-based solutions for deploying video on the Web. Ars takes a close look at the state of open video and explores both the benefits and challenges of liberating rich media from the proprietary plugin prison.

Hands-on: much to like in Hulu Desktop - Ars Technica
Hulu has introduced Hulu Desktop as part of its new Hulu Labs. The client allows Mac and Windows users to browse their favorite TV shows and movies on the desktop using an Apple or Windows Media Center remote.

Adobe launches Flash Catalyst tool for rapid UI design - Ars Technica
Adobe has launched the beta release of Flash Catalyst, a new authoring tool that aims to accelerate the development of rich user interfaces with Flash. According to Adobe, the new authoring tool is a response to growing demand for more polished enterprise applications.

Tomboy note app gains Web sync, showcases power of open Web - Ars Technica
The open source Tomboy notetaking application is coming to the Web. A new project called Snowy aims to build a Web service that will enable Tomboy cloud synchronization and allow users to seamlessly access and edit their notes through a Web browser. Distributed under the AGPL, Snowy is a compelling example of how the open Web can empower users.

Wine 1.1.23 Released
Support for registering MIME types with the Linux desktop. - FBO mode is now the default for Direct3D. - Support for COM proxy delegation. - Improved support for the Mingw cross-compile. - Proper fullscreen mode for the virtual desktop. and "Wine is not an emulator"

The top four Linux netbook trends - Computerworld Blogs
1) Moblin 2.0, Intel's, and now the Linux Foundation's, entry in the netbook Linux operating system race seems to be the early winner. Canonical, with Ubuntu Netbook Remix; Linpus, Novell; Red Flag; and Xandros all announced they will deliver Moblin versions of their distributions for Intel's Atom architecture.
2) Google continues to play coy with Android Linux on the desktop, but the netbooks are already on their way.
3) The ARM processors seem to be lagging behind the Intel Atom family. That said, Asus, Compal, Foxconn, HTC (High Tech Computer), Inventec, Toshiba, and Wistron all showed off Snapdragon-powered devices at the show. What I see as the ARM/Snapdragon problem is that it's largely waiting on Android
4) Proprietary media playback on Linux desktops will stop being a problem for most users. RealNetworks is really serious about being the media-player for Linux desktops. The company, which has long provided a proprietary and open-source media player, Helix, for Linux announced a host of partnerships.

Why Linux is ready for the desktop today | Tech News on ZDNet
Until recently commercial desktop Linux deployments had mostly been limited to single task applications, such as cash registers or transactional workstations. But Linux offerings are now mature enough and ideal for a wide range of workers. In fact, power users all the way down to users who perform such basic tasks as word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email and web browsing are benefiting from a Linux operating system. In addition, due to the current economic environment, enterprises are required to rationalize the cost of their server and desktop software and thus they are reevaluating their use of costly proprietary software. As customers seek fully functional operating systems and applications at a fraction of the price of Windows or Mac, Linux has become a truly attractive alternative:
Open source applications reach maturity
Linux preloads on PCs increase
Netbook and Thin Client growth leads to Linux surge
Security issues plague Windows
Computing heads for the clouds

Driving the Linux drivers - Computerworld Blogs
To make sure that Linux supports hardware, Greg Kroah-Hartman, a Linux kernel developer and an engineer at Novell, started a project, the LDP (Linux Driver Project), for open-source developers to create hardware drivers for free for companies. You don't even have to reveal your precious proprietary secrets to the world. The programmers will keep those secret.

It's been a very successful project. Last year, at the Linux Foundation conference, Kroah-Hartman said, "LDP) is alive and well, with over 300 developers wanting to participate, many drivers already written and accepted into the Linux kernel tree, and many more being currently developed. The main problem is a lack of projects. It turns out that there really isn't much hardware that Linux doesn't already support. Almost all new hardware produced is coming with a Linux driver already written by the company, or by the community with help from the company."

To be honest, device drivers, on any platform, are always moving
targets. And, while you can get basic functionality from almost any
device, getting the fancier stuff can be a real challenge.

In particular, all-in-one units that combine multiple functions into
a single box, remain problem children. Getting any single function to
work isn't a problem, co-coordinating all of them, that's not so easy.
In no small part, that's because what people want isn't just a working
fax/printer/scanner, they want the front-end software that lets you
manage all that functionality.

That's a problem, which will only be solved when hardware companies start writing more programs for Linux desktop users. With the rise of Linux netbooks, though, this issue too will be addressed.

EFF to track terms of service changes ... so you don't have to | Community
Most Internet users read Web site terms of service agreements about as often than they peruse car owner's manuals, which is to say only when it smells like something is burning.

Yet ToS changes happen all the time, those changes are often important, and, they can cause a stink, as Facebook and its faithful learned recently when the company proposed alterations to its terms that were perceived as Facebook helping itself to the pictures and writings of members. Much complaining and backpedaling ensued before order was restored.

In an effort that may actually accelerate such flare-ups in the future, the Electronic Frontier Foundation today announced that it has begun tracking ToS changes and making those findings available on a special Web site. At, you can see a real-time feed of changes and updates to more than three dozen polices from the Internet's most popular online services. Clicking on an update brings you to a side-by-side before-and-after comparison, highlighting what has been removed from the policy and what has been added

Bullshit about newspapers' future, dissected - Boing Boing
What will these media executives do when that reality hits them? When these debt-burdened chains, stripped of journalistic talent by a decade of profiteering, their web traffic reduced by 60 percent by their paid-content follies, their pockets emptied by the cost of the proprietary paywall systems offered by Journalism Online LLC and other opportunistic vendors, what will they do?...

They don't get it. They don't want to get it. And in many cases, they're literally paid not to get it.

America's journalism infrastructure - from corporate giants to non-profit foundations like the American Press Institute and the Newspaper Association of America - is funded by dying companies. So when you hear about efforts to save newspapers (and, by extension, journalism), understand that answers that don't return the possibility of double-digit profits and perpetual top-down control aren't even considered answers. They're not even considered.

They'll do anything to survive... so long as it doesn't involve change.

Bad Science versus the piracy scare story - Boing Boing
But what about all these other figures in the media coverage? Lots of it revolved around the figure of 4.73 billion items downloaded each year, worth £120 billion. This means each downloaded item, software, movie, mp3, ebook, is worth about £25. Now before we go anywhere, this already seems rather high. I am not an economist, and I don't know about their methods, but to me, for example, an appropriate comparator for someone who downloads a film to watch it once might be the rental value, not the sale value. And someone downloading a £1,000 professional 3D animation software package to fiddle about with at home may not use it more than three times. I'm just saying.

In any case, that's £175 a week or £8,750 a year potentially not being spent by millions of people. Is this really lost revenue for the economy, as reported in the press? Plenty will have been schoolkids, or students, and even if not, that's still about a third of the average UK wage. Before tax. Oh but the figures were wrong: it was actually 473 million items and £12 billion (so the item value was still £25) but the wrong figures were in the original executive summary, and the press release. They changed them quietly, after the errors were pointed out by a BBC journalist. I can find no public correction.

MPAA Says Making Even “One Copy” of a DVD is Illegal
Last September Real Networks launched RealDVD to allow users to make backup copies of purchased DVDs for private use. The MPAA immediately dubbed it "StealDVD" and filed a lawsuit to ban the sale of RealDVD.

It’s essentially arguing that the price of a DVD is predicated on the "notion of certain use rights associated with certain price points."

"When a consumer can voluntarily expand the rights that come with one of those services — in essence open the door to multiple copies of a work not licensed for that — that eliminates any monetization models except one: selling full use rights to the work at one fixed price," says the Copyright Alliance on the MPAA’s behalf.

In other words, it only charges $9.99 per DVD, for example, because it assumes it lasts for a finite period of time, becoming inoperable due to wear and tear I suppose.

If you want a DVD you can make copies of then the "price point" must be higher to reflect "expanded use rights."

The pirates will always win, says Carphone Warehouse's Dunstone | Business |
Trying to stop people sharing copyrighted material over the internet is a game of cat and mouse in which the pirates will always win and calls for internet service providers to halt illegal file sharing are "naive", according to the boss of Carphone Warehouse.

Instead, Charles Dunstone said, the solution is education about the benefits of respecting copyright coupled with services that allow consumers "to get content easily and cheaply".

How Pirates Shook European Politics | TorrentFreak
With 7.1 percent of the vote, the Swedish Pirate Party has shocked its critics and secured a seat in the European Parliament. The Pirates received more votes from those under 30 than any other party in the European elections yesterday, and this was celebrated with pints of rum and loads of pirate chants.

pirate partyLate Sunday night, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt congratulated the Pirate Party on their unprecedented win at the European elections.

The Pirate Party is seen a serious competitor in Swedish politics now, a fact underscored by the Prime Minister who said that his own party will formulate a clear policy regarding net integrity and copyright issues in preparation for the Swedish national elections in September 2010.

Stockholm court: Pirate Bay judge wasn't biased! - Ars Technica
Soon after The Pirate Bay trial ended in a guilty verdict, the site admins objected to alleged "bias" in district judge Tomas Norström. Turns out that Norström was a member of two different copyright organizations, one of which received some of its money from global music trade group IFPI. A court of appeals agreed to look into the matter, even assigning the review to a different section of judges that usually does not deal with copyright questions to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest.

As part of the appeal, the Stockholm District Court has now weighed in, defending its judge, according to newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (read an English summary).

Norström, it says, wasn't biased at all, but simply a member of organizations in which he learned more about copyright and kept abreast of new developments. It certainly was not Norström's only way of keeping up to date on copyright, and such professional memberships should not be used as evidence of bias.

Norström belongs to the Swedish Copyright Association along with Henrik Pontén, Peter Danowsky, and Monique Wadsted—all lawyers who represented the recording industry in the Pirate Bay trial. Norström also sits on the board of the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property, an advocacy group that pushes stricter copyright laws.

The appeals court will rule on the issue of judicial bias soon, but either way, the case will continue. If Norström is found to be biased, the case will likely have to be retried; if not, the Pirate Bay defendants have already signaled their desire to appeal the verdict.

Snow Leopard hitting shelves in September for $29 - Ars Technica
Apple announced that Snow Leopard will be shipped in September and will cost $29. The five-license Family Pack will cost $49. Those purchasing new Macs between June 8 and December 26, 2009 will be able to get Snow Leopard for $9.95.

For those looking to upgrade to the latest version of Mac OS X and iLife at the same time, the Mac Box Set with Snow Leopard, iLife '09, and iWork '09 will cost $169, with a Family Pack priced at $229.

Apple is packaging Snow Leopard as an "upgrade" for Leopard users, which explains the $29 price (previous versions of Mac OS X have retailed for $129). Snow Leopard includes a rewritten Finder; performance improvements to Mail, Time Machine, and Safari 4; and a new version of QuickTime called "QuickTime X" with a redesigned player. Snow Leopard will also take better advantage of 64-bit CPUs, with full 64-bit support built in to Mail, iChat, Safari, and the Finder. There's also full support for Microsoft Exchange built in.

Apple's notebook nomenclature gets shake up: see what's new - Ars Technica
You may have heard that the 13" MacBook got some feature improvements as well as a name change today at the WWDC keynote. What was once the 13" unibody MacBook is now the 13" unibody MacBook Pro, leaving the MacBook line void of any kind of aluminum enclosure. The white polycarbonate MacBook that saw a speed bump last week is the lone non-Pro, non-Air MacBook

Gizmodo - iPhone 3GS Complete Feature Guide - apple iphone 3gs
As expected, the new Apple iPhone 3GS is out. Here you have a comprehensive guide to the iPhone 3GS' new features:

iPhone 3GS: The Key Australian Details | Lifehacker Australia
The 3GS will be released in Australia on June 26, which is a week after the US release. The upgraded 3.0 iPhone software will be available to download on June 17; iPod Touch owners will have to pay $14.95. (For anyone who’s already paid once on their Touch, that sounds like a rip-off, frankly.)

How much will you pay for the device? In typical iPhone fashion, no-one’s saying, though it seems reasonable to assume that Telstra, Optus and Vodafone will all be coming to the party once again, and that “buy outright” deals will be thin on the ground. (Optus has put out a press release confirming it well sell the phone, but offers no details.)

As for the iPhone’s new enhanced features: APC is reporting that tethering will work on all three carriers, but as that’s based on a single slide, you might want to wait for more solid confirmation before actually slapping down money if that feature matters for you. It’s widely presumed that MMS will work.

40 Mac Freewares and Open Source Software for Web Designers | Desizn Tech
. In this article we have complied 40 best freeware and open source software for web designers.

This is first part of the freeware and open source software complication. The second part will have essential free windows software for web designers. Please note that GIMP, Pixelmator, Transmit or Cyberduck and popular software are excluded intentionally because there have been numerous posts about them.

Lifehacker - Synchronize Nearly Any Storage Device with iTunes - iTunes
Palm's Pre smartphone has received fairly positive press coverage for claiming to sync "seamlessly" with iTunes. The Boy Genius Report blog points out that free software can do pretty much the same thing with any removable drive.

Acer to offer Google's Android OS on netbooks
Small new netbook computers from Acer will come with Google's Android operating system if buyers desire, instead of Windows from Microsoft.

The move by Acer, the world's third-largest PC maker, could raise Android's chances of becoming a widely used alternative to Windows on mobile computers.

Because Android, originally designed for mobile phones, is freely distributed by Google, netbooks running the software would cost less, Acer executive Jim Wong said Tuesday at Computex, a huge computer show in Taiwan.

Microsoft Silverlight versus Google Wave: Why Karma Matters by Sridhar Vembu, Zoho

Inevitable comparisons are made between the hugely enthusiastic developer response (including from us at Zoho) to Google Wave yesterday with the relatively tepid reponse to Microsoft's new search engine Bing. The real interesting contrast to us, as independent software developers, is the way developers responded to Silverlight as opposed to the reaction yesterday to Google Wave. Both Silverlight and Wave are aimed at taking the internet experience to the next level. To be perfectly honest, Silverlight is a great piece of technology. Google Wave, as yet, is not much more than a concept and an announcement...

The Complete Google Analytics Power User Guide
Google Analytics can be a powerful tool. It can also be incredibly intimidating for new users. This guide is a compilation of VKI's Google Analytics: Power User series, presenting an overview of several key features and uses of Google analytics—some basic, some advanced—and how you can use these features to analyze, interpret, and optimize your websites traffic.

Spaz - open source, cross platform Twitter client - Desktop and mobile versions

* No ads

* Cross-platform: available on all AIR-compatible platforms: Windows, OS X, and Linux

* Open source software using a New BSD-style license (source available at Spaz Google Code project site)

* Written in pure Javascript, XHTML and CSS. Utilizes the powerful jQuery Javascript framework

* Built-in global search powered by Summize

* Short URL creation tool with support for multiple services (,,, and more)

* In-line short URL decoding

* Markdown syntax support

* Multiple themes and support for user-created themes

* User-defined CSS overrides

* Event sounds using the Tokyo Train Station soundset by Dominik Dimaano

* Directory listings of users you’re following, and your followers.

* Debugging and development tools and debug logging

Daily Motion using Ogg and other cool open video news - Silvia Pfeiffer
"1. YouTube are experimenting with the HTML5 video tag. The demo only works in HTML5 video capable browsers, such as Firefox 3.5, Safari, Opera, and the new Chrome...

2. The Chrome 3 browser now supports the HTML5 video tag. The linked release only supports MPEG encoded video, but that’s a big step forward.

3. More importantly even, recently committed code adds Ogg Theora/Vorbis support to Google Chrome 3’s video tag!

4. And then the biggest news: Dailymotion, one of the largest social video networks, has re-encoded all their videos to Ogg Theora/Vorbis and have launched an openvideo platform..."

Introducing Android scripting environment - Google
The Android Scripting Environment (ASE) brings scripting languages to Android by allowing you to edit and execute scripts and interactive interpreters directly on the Android device. These scripts have access to many of the APIs available to full-fledged Android applications, but with a greatly simplified interface that makes it easy to:

* Handle intents

* Start activities

* Make phone calls

* Send text messages

* Scan bar codes

* Poll location and sensor data

* Use text-to-speech (TTS)

Scripts can be run interactively in a terminal, started as a long running service, or started via Locale. Python, Lua and BeanShell are currently supported, and we're planning to add Ruby and JavaScript support, as well.

Melbourne Uni startup websites
Agents of Change - a group which supports Melbourne Uni students who want to turn their ideas into startup businesses, has a blog which pointed out three new websites by students aimed at the Melbourne community.

is a free, user-centred directory that provides information about Jazz artists, events and venues around Melbourne.

is a site with sections for rental listings, job openings, business directories, upcoming events, restaurant reviews, and more so that you can use UpUrAlley in the way that makes life easier for you. And your neighbour can use it in the way that makes life easier for him or her. And then, if you'd like, you can use it to easily make your neighbour a part of your life.

will satisfy all of your Melbourne chocolate needs, with everything from chocolate recipes to reviews of local chocolate producers to insight into its rich history. Compiled for fellow Melburnians and visitors to Melbourne, this collection of all things cacao-related is sure to hit the spot.

(sidenote/disclaimer - these websites were built by students in Sarah's class at Melbourne Uni. Yay!)

Fanboys - showing at ACMI until 21 June
A movie about tragic Star Wars geeks - written by fans, for fans. Sarah gives it 5 wookie growls out of 5.