Friday, 31 October 2008

Beware, clickjackers on the prowl

If you thought your computer is attack-proof merely because you had a fully-updated and licenced antivirus software, it is time to worry. A new browser vulnerability, Clickjacking, has come to light and has caused enough anxiety among the security researchers.

The worrying news is that none of the popular browsers, including the newly launched Google Chrome, besides Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Opera are free from this exploit, according to reports.

The vulnerability can also be exploited through Flash plug-ins used by almost all the browsers to run video and video-based applications, and many shortcut buttons in the toolbars. The only browser which is reported to be immune to this attack is the lesser-known Lynx which incidentally is a text-only browser.

Are you sure you're safe?
Clickjacking enables an attacker to force a user click on an invisible link, obviously without his knowledge or consent. Once a user clicks the link unknowingly, the hacker takes over the control.

So while you might think you are clicking on your bank funds transfer link, or saving a favourite URL link at Digg, or some innocuous Facebook application, the reality could be entirely different, and dark.

An attack can invisibly hover these virtual buttons below the users' mouse, so that when they click on something they visually see, they actually are clicking on something else the attacker wants them to, warned security experts who reported the vulnerability.

Flaw is serious, warns US

The exploit was discovered by two researchers -- Robert Hansen and Jeremiah Grossman -- who disclosed it at a security conference last week after having alerted the concerned browser owner companies. Jeremiah Grossman is the founder and CTO of WhiteHat Security while Robert Hansen is the founder and CEO of SecTheory.

Following this, the United States CERT deemed it serious enough to release a warning. "Clickjacking gives an attacker the ability to trick a user into clicking on something only barely or momentarily noticeable. Therefore, if users click on a Web page, they may actually be clicking on content from another page," warned the US CERT.

Turning off JavaScript won't help

What is worse is that attackers need not compromise on a legitimate site only to launch an attack. In other words, this means the attacker can invisibly hover over the links or buttons on just about any website, according to Hansen.

The two researchers claimed that even turning JavaScript off will not prevent the attack. In fact, it will take advantage of the "fundamental flaw" inherent in all browsers, said the two researchers.

Using a frame buster script will protect a user who uses cross-domain scripting. However, even that will not prevent the attack if it's on a site the user is visiting.

There is no defence
In fact, they have reported the vulnerability to be so widespread that almost everyone could be affected by it as attackers can potentially get the users to click a button (thus the name clickjacking) whereas they may not be able to get them to click a button in JavaScript.

Since there is no viable foolproof defence against clickjacking at this time, the users have been advised to use browsers with the NoScript add-on installed, wherever possible. While this is not the solution, they said it will work in almost all such cases until a more permanent patch is found to plug the vulnerability.

Better safe than sorry

Hansen and Grossman said they have alerted industry majors such as Microsoft (IE8), Mozilla Foundation, Google, Apple Corp and Adobe so they could immediately start working on finding a solution to fix the problem. Software maker Adobe has already admitted in a company blog that one of its products is affected and it is working on a fix.

But this does not mean that the users will be safe until a solution is found and patched by the vendors, either separately or in the future versions of their software. Hence, precautions already proscribed by the security experts may well be the best anti-dote against the clickjacking vulnerability.

Unitech offloads 60% in arm

Realty major Unitech has announced a landmark deal in which it sold a majority 60 per cent stake in its telecom venture Unitech Wireless for Rs,6120 crore ($1.23 billion) to Norway-based Telenor.

Telenor ASA is the largest Nordic phone company with mobile operations in 12 countries and over 150 million wireless subscribers. Outside the Nordic region, Telenor owns units in Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro, Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Thailand.

The Norwegian government is Telenor's biggest owner, with a 54 per cent stake in the company. Goldman Sachs advised Telenor on the transaction while Unitech was advised by UBS AG and Mumbai-based IDFCSSKI Group.

This is the second major deal to be closed by a club of new GSM licensees. Earlier, Swan Telecom, which has telecom licenses in 13 circles, sold 45 per cent stake to UAE-based Etisalat for $900 million.

Unitech was awarded pan-India mobile telecom licences for Rs 1,651 crore early this year and has been allocated GSM spectrum in 13 circles so far.

The company plans to launch services in the first half of 2009. According to Unitech, the alliance will benefit from Telenor's experience in both high growth and mature telecom markets and Unitech's reputation as one of India's most respected business groups.

Unitech Wireless says it will be investing over $3 billion over the next three years to become a successful pan-India operator. The company says it has recruited over 250 employees and established offices across several cities.

Incidentally, Telenor holds $2 bn equity in Pakistan's second largest mobile operator Telenor Pakistan. This is the largest FDI from Europe in any sector in Pakistan and represents a significant commitment by the company.

Telenor Pakistan, which launched services in March 2005, currently serves over 18 million subscribers through a country-wide network. Telenor Pakistan employs 2,500 people directly and 25,000 indirectly, 99.9 per cent of which are local Pakistani nationals.

It is expected that the Indian government will take a good hard look at this massive cross investment by Telenor in Pakistan given that telecom is a sensitive area and foreign investments usually invite scrutiny by security agencies in addition to FIPB clearances.

“India enjoys a forward looking telecom regulation and an investment-friendly climate. By combining Unitech's strong presence as a trusted corporation in the Indian market with Telenor's successful experience at building and managing best in class mobile operations in Asia, we will together contribute to growing the industry and developing the mobile market in India," said Jon Fredrik Baksaas, Telenor Group President & CEO.

“We believe Unitech Group's local position and strengths coupled with Telenor's technical, operational and marketing expertise will form a winning team. Telenor's experiences from growth markets in Asia are also a great benefit for the partnership,” said Sanjay Chandra, chairman, Unitech Wireless and MD, Unitech Ltd.

Chairman Chandra said approval for sale of 49 per cent stake has already been received and the company would be approaching the FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) for approval for the remaining 11 per cent equity sale.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Hottest LCD Screens

Attractive pricing, aggressive marketing and newer technolgies have made LCDs (Liquid Crystal Displays) hottest bestsellers in the consumer electronics market.

In fact, falling LCD prices have made it the the top choice for consumers wanting to buy a TV. The makers too seem to be leaving no stone unturned to cash on the booming market with latest models and technologies.

Ultra-thin, Big, Budget, Green -- you have them all and much more in LCD screens. From Sony to Samsung to our very own Videocon have launched an array of LCD TVs across range and technologies. Here's a peep into the latest trends scorching the LCD market.

Japanese electronics giant Sony recently showed off an ultra-slim 40-inch Bravia ZX1 LCD TV which measures a bare 9.9mm at its slimmest point. The LCD TV has a wireless connection which Sony calls Bravia 1080 Wireless to carry the audio-visual signal from a separate Media Receiver to the screen in real time.

Unlike the conventional screens which use CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp) backlighting, the Bravia ZX1 is illuminated from the sides by LED arrays. The LCD is coupled with a separate Media Receiver which enables TV signal cables and inputs from other devices such as Blu-ray Disc players or PLAYSTATION3 to connect to the Media Receiver.

The Media Receiver has an integral MPEG4 AVC-HD2 tuner as well as DVB-T and DVB-C3 digital broadcast and cable tuners. This means users can access free-to-air HDTV as well as standard digital broadcasts.

Sony's ultra-thin LCD boasts of Motionflow 100Hz with IB Reduction, which increases the frame rate of the TV picture to 100 fps (100Hz) by inserting additional frames to the picture. Image Blur Reduction (IB Reduction) sharpens up each frame.

The LCD TV supports 4 HDMI inputs (1 x Display; 3 x Media Receiver) allowing it to connect to an audio-visual system. The LCD TV has a Picture Frame mode which means when the screen is not in use, it can display images, either those pre-loaded into the Media Receiver, or through USB.

Big screen
This year LCD rivals Sharp and Samsung showed off their largest LCD TVs at the Consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.

Japanese giant Sharp displayed its 108-inches larger than life LCD, the Korean major Samsung showed a giant 82-inches HD LCD TV. Though Sharp unveiled its 108-inch LCD TV last year, the TV went on sale this year around June.

Samsung's big telly boast of a quad HD technology that gives a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels -- four times the resolution of current high definition TVs. The TV also has a 120Hz screen refresh rate and a LED backlight for improved contrast ratio and black levels.

Sharp 108-inch LCD also has Full HD 1080p resolution and measures 93.9 by 52.9 by 107.8 (diagonally) inches in size. The TV features company's Advanced Super View LCD Panel.

The LCD boasts of 6.21 million pixels (1,920 x 1,080 x RGB) and a TFT active-matrix drive system. For inputs it comes with 3 HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), DVI-I connectors, two composite video inputs and one S-Video input.

The TV weighs 195 kgs and consumes approximately 1.1 kilowatts.

Green LCD
The Japanese giant Sharp maybe boasting of its largest LCD display, but is not shying away from its Green initiatives.

The company recently unveiled a prototype of a 26-inch LCD Aquos TV, which is solely powered by solar energy.

The eco-friendly TV uses less than a third of the energy required by conventional LCDs. The LCD uses a triple-junction thin-film solar cell battery to power the TV.

Intrestingily, Sharp is not the only one going Green, Toshiba too is pursuing its Green goals. The company recently announced a new range of LCD TVs which will have eco-friendly components.

Toshiba's new LCD model 42XV515D will reduce the amount of backlights required, courtesy ‘advanced brightness control’ technology.

The technology sips less power and will help reduce power bill.

Sharpest LCD
Sony recently showcased what it claims world's fastest LCD TV frame rate 200Hz BRAVIA Z4500.

Equipped with Motionflow 200Hz system, the LCD TV promises smooth motion clarity for video games, action films, sports and so.

The Motionflow 200Hz system calculates three additional frames for every original, upping the frame rate from 50 to 200 per second. The LCD also has a image enhancement technology called IB Reduction (Image Blur Reduction) which boosts the sharpness of the final picture by improving the original, frame by frame, before it is processed by Motionflow 200Hz.

The LCD has high screen dynamic contrast ratio of 80,000:1 which further boosts up the picture quality.

Available in 40, 46 and 52 inches, the LCD is set to hit Europe by December end.

Budget screens
As they say, small is big. The LCD TV market is rapidly seeing stronger-than-expected demand for small-size sets as consumers switch to sleeker TVs from bulky tubes at ever-faster rates.

Korean electronics major LG's CEO said that the company is witnessing strong demand for 26-inch or smaller TVs. Sony too plans to target the market for smaller-flat screens.

Obviously this does not mean we will not see new technologies and designs entering the market. In fact, almost all top electronics manufactures plan to invest in order to strengthen their LCD TV portfolio.

Sony Corp recently said that it will invest about $17 billion in key businesses and technologies over the next three years as it aims for the top spot in the LCD TV market.

Samsung and Sony also plan to jointly build a new, larger LCD production line that could cost $3 billion to $4 billion.

Samsung plans to start construction of the new line next year for possible production from the third quarter of 2010. The company reportedly will use the largest-ever glass substrates in the new production line.

The new glass standard, called 11th-generation would be larger than the 10th-generation one to be used in Sharp Corp's plant.

Super skinny
Electronics maker Philips this year in August demoed a super-skinny 8mm prototype 32-inch LCD TV.

The ultra-thin design comes from the expertise in optical design and backlighting technology. The thin design is achieved by reducing the thickness of the light guide plate from standard 25mm to just 1mm.

The light guide is illuminated from top to bottom with high power LED lights.

Fred Boekhorst, senior vice president Philips Research said that model weighs about 5kgs making it very flexible.

The company claims that they are using the same LCD panel they currently use, but the thinness is achieved by using ultra thin LED backlighting. The model uses two thin strips of LumiLEDs – 30 on top and 30 at the bottom.

Google's biggest business blunders

As Google Inc completes the first 10 years of its 300-year plan to organise all the world's information, are its ambitions compatible with its famous motto, "Don't be evil"? That is the question author Randall Stross seeks to answer in "Planet Google: One Company's Audacious Plan to Organise Everything We Know".

Google's smarts pushed it ahead of Yahoo Inc as the world's favorite search engine. Its genius was working out how to make real money from this success -- by targeting advertisements based on a user's search.

Targeted advertisements helped propel it from a tiny startup to its historic high valuation in November 2007 of $225 billion -- surpassing for a time established names like IBM and Cisco Systems.

However, for all its success, Google also has its share of products and services which can't be termed ‘roaring successes’, many of these were in fact quietly discontinued. Here's a look into eight such products and services.

Google X-File: Google X
This is one of the Google's project which last for a mere day. Launched by Google Labs on March 15 2005, the service was withdrawn next day itself. It had the traditional Google search bar interface, however, it was made to look like the Dock user interface feature of Apple's Mac OS X operating system.

Google never released any official statement on why the project was shut down. Here is the Google X announcement from their blog:

Today is an amazing day: A small idea -- a fun late-night coding jaunt to help me learn Javascript & DHTML -- has just launched on Google Labs. I never expected it to make it as far as it has when I wrote it a month ago, especially since my “real” job is working on Keyhole, where I’m having the time of my life taking our cool 3D mapping application and putting the power of Google behind it. It’s fulfilling to have the opportunity to reach the audience we always dreamed of when we started Keyhole five years ago, and that by itself is absolute coolness.

And now there’s Google X, which came about because I wanted a quick fun way to access all of Google’s services. I gave it to a few friends in the company, who gave it to their friends, some posted it on their blogs, others sent it around on mailing lists, and it eventually made its way to Marissa Mayer, who liked it enough to say, when do you want to put it up on Labs? So after some spit and polish from some enthusiastic Googlers and the keen eye of the UI team, Google X is here. I hope all of you enjoy it - especially Mac users, who I’m sure will appreciate its lineage.

Google Catalog
This is one of Google's products, which possibly had the longest beta in the company's history. Google Catalog has been in a perpetual state of beta since 2002. The Catalog search was in fact overhauled in 2005.

According to the information on the Google Catalog Beta site, "Google Catalogs helps you browse and search merchant-provided catalogs right on your computer. You can flip through any catalog to find what interests you, or simply type in what you're looking for, and you'll find every place that your search term appears in the catalog. If you're not sure what catalog to look in, just search all of the catalogs in our index."

Google Video Player
Google video player was another way to view videos on the company's online service Google video. Supporting Mac OS X and Windows, it could play back files encoded in Google's own media file format (.gvi) and supported playlists in "Google Video Pointer" (.gvp) format.

The company discontinued the player sometime in the second half of 2007. The options to download Google video media player as well as to download videos in GVI format were removed.

The Google Video player was a 4.5 MB file that could only play .GVI and .GVP files (Google proprietary formats). The software was part of the Google pack unveiled by Larry Page at CES 2006.

Google Answers
Yea, Google too had launched its `Answer' service which was discontinued in 2006.

Here's what the text on the site says: We're sorry, but Google Answers has been retired, and is no longer accepting new questions. Search or browse the existing Google Answers index by using the search box above or the category links below.

According to analysts here's something, here's something where Yahoo beat Google. It is widely believed that, Google Answers launched in 2002, fell prey to the rising success of Yahoo Answers.

Google Coupons?
Many analysts wonder if Google Coupons too form a part of Google ‘fiasco’ list. On 15 August 2006, Google announced printable online coupons on Google Maps.

According to the company announcement, "When searching for local information, discount coupons from businesses are now displayed on Google Maps search results and business listing pages. These coupons can be printed out directly from a computer and redeemed at a physical store location of a neighborhood or local business. For users of Google Maps, coupons provide additional relevant business information and ultimately contribute to a better local search experience. For businesses, coupons provide another way to reach customers online."

Though a nifty idea, there are few who have seen it. "As an avid user of Google Maps, in the two years Google Coupons has been available I've never come across one when using a map," commented Tom Spring of PC World in an article. The article in fact compares Google Coupons to White Rhinos, which few have seen.

Book Scan
A big setback grew out of its attempt to scan the world's 32 million books, which resulted in a lawsuit over copyright. Stross also recalls the anger of Google co-founder Eric Schmidt when CNET published personal information about him it discovered in a Google search. The company said it would stop cooperating with CNET journalists for a year but relented a month or so later.

Let Facebook steal the show!
Just as Microsoft Corp watched Google capture the lucrative search business, Google in turn allowed privately-owned Facebook to run away with social networking, notes Stross. Introduced in 2004, the social networking site is a big hit in Brazil, but in the US, Orkut has lagged in popularity behind Facebook and MySpace.

In fact Orkut is missing in the latest Hitwise report, where it ranks Top 5 social networking websites by marketshare of US Internet visits. The top 5 social networks according to this report are MySpace, Facebook, myYearbook, Tagged and Bebo.

Google video clip service
Google also never quite perfected its video clips service and ended up paying $1.65 billion to buy YouTube and is still struggling to sell ads and spin profits from the site.

New Google Toolbar for IE users

Coming November, Google toolbar turns eight year old. To celebrate the ocassion, the company has launched a new version for Internet Explorer.

The new version which is launching out of beta is available in 40 languages. With the new tool bar IT users can synchronise their settings online to access their Toolbar from wherever they are.

Here are some of the new features users can find in this latest version:

Custom buttons
It will also have the option for users to add buttons to their Toolbar that will let them visit and search their favorite websites and keep up with interesting feeds. Google's Button Gallery offers a selection of ready-made buttons for popular sites, and users can make also their own buttons by right-clicking within the search box on any site.

Create multiple profiles in AutoFill to keep your business and personal information separate.

To translate a non-English web pages into English? Just select "Translate this page" from the Toolbar's Translate menu to view French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese (simplified), Japanese and Korean pages in English.

Users can also use the WordTranslator feature to translate English words on a Web page into another language.

Enhanced Search box
As users type a search query into the new Toolbar's search box, they will see a list of useful suggestions based on popular Google searches, spelling corrections as well as their own Toolbar search history and bookmarks.

Users can also click the `G' icon in the search box to search different Google sites, the current site, or sites for which they have installed custom search buttons.


Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Ten strategic technologies for 2009

Gartner Inc analysts have highlighted the top 10 technologies and trends that will be strategic for most organisations. The analysts presented their findings during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo held recently.

Gartner defines a strategic technology as one with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar investment, or the risk of being late to adopt.

“Strategic technologies affect, run, grow and transform the business initiatives of an organisation,” said David Cearley, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “Companies should look at these 10 opportunities and evaluate where these technologies can add value to their business services and solutions, as well as develop a process for detecting and evaluating the business value of new technologies as they enter the market.”

The top 10 strategic technologies for 2009 include:

Much of the current buzz is focused on server virtualization, but virtualisation in storage and client devices is also moving rapidly. Virtualisation to eliminate duplicate copies of data on the real storage devices while maintaining the illusion to the accessing systems that the files are as originally stored (data duplication) can significantly decrease the cost of storage devices and media to hold information.

Hosted virtual images deliver a near-identical result to blade-based PCs. But, instead of the motherboard function being located in the data center as hardware, it is located there as a virtual machine bubble.

However, despite ambitious deployment plans from many organisations, deployments of hosted virtual desktop capabilities will be adopted by fewer than 40 per cent of target users by 2010.

Cloud computing
Cloud computing is a style of computing that characterizes a model in which providers deliver a variety of IT-enabled capabilities to consumers. They key characteristics of cloud computing are delivery of capabilities “as a service,” delivery of services in a highly scalable and elastic fashion, using Internet technologies and techniques to develop and deliver the services, and designing for delivery to external customers.

Although cost is a potential benefit for small companies, the biggest benefits are the built-in elasticity and scalability, which not only reduce barriers to entry, but also enable these companies to grow quickly.

As certain IT functions are industrialising and becoming less customised, there are more possibilities for larger organisations to benefit from cloud computing.

Servers -- beyond blades
Servers are evolving beyond the blade server stage that exists today. This evolution will simplify the provisioning of capacity to meet growing needs. The organisation tracks the various resource types, for example, memory, separately and replenishes only the type that is in short supply. This eliminates the need to pay for all three resource types to upgrade capacity.

It also simplifies the inventory of systems, eliminating the need to track and purchase various sizes and configurations. The result will be higher utilisation because of lessened “waste” of resources that are in the wrong configuration or that come along with the needed processors and memory in a fixed bundle.

Web-oriented architectures
The Internet is arguably the best example of an agile, interoperable and scalable service-oriented environment in existence. This level of flexibility is achieved because of key design principles inherent in the Internet/Web approach, as well as the emergence of Web-centric technologies and standards that promote these principles.

The use of Web-centric models to build global-class solutions cannot address the full breadth of enterprise computing needs. However, Gartner expects that continued evolution of the Web-centric approach will enable its use in an ever-broadening set of enterprise solutions during the next five years.

Enterprise mashups
Enterprises are now investigating taking mashups from cool Web hobby to enterprise-class systems to augment their models for delivering and managing applications. Through 2010, the enterprise mashup product environment will experience significant flux and consolidation, and application architects and IT leaders should investigate this growing space for the significant and transformational potential it may offer their enterprises.

Specialised systems
Appliances have been used to accomplish IT purposes, but only with a few classes of function have appliances prevailed. Heterogeneous systems are an emerging trend in high-performance computing to address the requirements of the most demanding workloads, and this approach will eventually reach the general-purpose computing market.

Heterogeneous systems are also specialised systems with the same single-purpose imitations of appliances, but the heterogeneous system is a server system into which the owner installs software to accomplish its function.

Social software and social networking
Social software includes a broad range of technologies, such as social networking, social collaboration, social media and social validation.

Organisations should consider adding a social dimension to a conventional website or application and should adopt a social platform sooner, rather than later, because the greatest risk lies in failure to engage and thereby, being left mute in a dialogue where your voice must be heard.

Unified communications
During the next five years, the number of different communications vendors with which a typical organisation works with will be reduced by at least 50 per cent. This change is driven by increases in the capability of application servers and the general shift of communications applications to common off-the-shelf server and operating systems.

As this occurs, formerly distinct markets, each with distinct vendors, converge, resulting in massive consolidation in the communications industry. Organisations must build careful, detailed plans for when each category of communications function is replaced or converged, coupling this step with the prior completion of appropriate administrative team convergence.

Business Intelligence
Business Intelligence (BI), the top technology priority in Gartner’s 2008 CIO survey, can have a direct positive impact on a company’s business performance, dramatically improving its ability to accomplish its mission by making smarter decisions at every level of the business from corporate strategy to operational processes.

BI is particularly strategic because it is directed toward business managers and knowledge workers who make up the pool of thinkers and decision makers that are tasked with running, growing and transforming the business. Tools that let these users make faster, better and more-informed decisions are particularly valuable in a difficult business environment.

Green IT
Shifting to more efficient products and approaches can allow for more equipment to fit within an energy footprint, or to fit into a previously filled center. Regulations are multiplying and have the potential to seriously constrain companies in building data centers, as the effect of power grids, carbon emissions from increased use and other environmental impacts are under scrutiny. Organisations should consider regulations and have alternative plans for data center and capacity growth.

“A strategic technology may be an existing technology that has matured and/or become suitable for a wider range of uses,” said Carl Claunch, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “It may also be an emerging technology that offers an opportunity for strategic business advantage for early adopters or with potential for significant market disruption in the next five years. Companies should evaluate these technologies and adjust based on their industry need, unique business needs, technology adoption model and other factors.”

Courtesy: Gartner

Gmail Mobile: What’s new

Gmail users can rejoice as Google has introduced Version 2.0 of Gmail for Mobile for smartphones which the company claims is faster and more stable. Above all, it will give users offline access to their mails.

The offline access will let users read, edit and respond to any mail. The sending of replies (as well as downloading of new mails), however, takes place when connectivity resumes.

The new version works with BlackBerry devices and smartphones supporting Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) which includes the Nokia N series, Google phone G1, Sony Ericsson and Samsung phones as well as the Motorola Rockr. Motorola's Moto Q doesn't support the new version.

The all new Gmail Mobile
The mobile Gmail application was first released in 2005 and has since seen several minor upgrades, but this appears to be the first major upgrade.

"Our focus for this version was to make the experience faster and more reliable. We re-architected the entire client to push all the processing to the background, greatly improve the client-side caching scheme and optimize every bottleneck piece of code we came across," writes Derek Phillips, software engineer, Google mobile team on his blog.

Here's a look at some of the features that the new version packs.

Multiple accounts management
Those who have both a Gmail and Google Apps email account, can easily switch between them quickly. Users will no longer have to use two different mobile apps to access personal and work emails.

This means the new version allows users to log in with multiple accounts, without having to log out one and only then log in to the second. This multiple account support can be a boon for many users who use separate account for different purposes. Google has also made Gmail for Mobile available now in more than 35 languages.

Multiple email drafts and faster speed
Users can save multiple email drafts in their mobile phone, so that they can pick and choose what they would like to send later.

Also, the new version packs powerful shortcut keys. So if you have a QWERTY phone, you can use shortcut keys. Hit 'z' to undo, 'k' to go to a newer conversation, and 'j' to go to an older conversation. Now, that is cool for a mobile email client!

Users will also experience significant raw speed improvement, smoother scrolling, and no freezing. As per Google's claim their focus was to create a version that promised faster speed, was more robust and easier to use.

Basic offline support
Can't get a signal, or in flight mode? Not a problem. You can compose and read your most recently downloaded emails even when there is no signal.

Similarly, any outgoing messages will be saved in the outbox on the phone and sent automatically when coverage returns.

No support for Windows Mobile
Sadly, however, Gmail mobile Version 2.0 lacks support for many phones, especially those running on Windows Mobile such as HTC handsets. However, Google said users can try installing it at their own discretion if they have a Java Virtual Machine installed.

According to Google, the company doesn't officially support the application on Windows Mobile phones.

Also, not all of the Gmail features are still available for all phones which can be a letdown for users of these phones. Besides, some users have complained that V2.0 does not provide a full-screen mode which existed in the V1.5 and that could disappoint many Gmail fans.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Fantasy gadgets for your home!

Homes today have become the playground for all our fantasies -- this may be a direct result of busy working lives spent in conformity. If the best of LCD televisions, Playstations and other gizmos have already become a part of your regular life, there are enough off-the-planet ideas to bring novelty into the home.

Here's looking into some of the hottest gadgets for your home.

Tantrum alarm clock
Wake up to the tantrum-throwing alarm clock, which opens its mouth wide to get out a good scream. It is capable of dancing to its own music, nodding when patted down and of course throwing a tantrum for one hour.

The Tantrum Alarm Clock runs on 4 AA batteries, and it has a warning light of flashing red lights in his eyes if the batteries are low. You can also plug in an AC cord if you want more power.

Electric table
Cooking in front of the television, every housewife's dream, is now possible, thanks to the mobile electric table called the COOX. It has an adjustable height and can be wheeled out of sight the moment work is done.

So Maggi noodles and soups are easily doable, even more ambitious fare can be tried while sympathising with the latest oppressed bahu, or jigging with the celebrity contestants on the latest reality dance show.

The smart oven
The next step in cooking - or rather not cooking - is the smart oven developed by Samsung teamed with Birds Eye frozen foods that knows how to cook a meal by just reading "Smart Codes" found on specially marked packaging.

Buyers seeking the ultimate in convenience will appreciate this oven, just scan and cook. Though, of course, there is no word yet on availability.

Customisable shower panel
The bathroom has its own set of totally over-the-top items, but for those budding writers and poets one invaluable item is the erasable shower tablet, which comes with its own suction pad, writing instrument and wiper.

Those who spend a lot of time in the bathroom can also think of using the customisable shower panel that plays favourite music play lists with preset settings, dims the lights, provides steam and a massage, apart from actually being a shower space!

Bathtub with sound vibration
A bathtub with sound vibration, chromatherapy and music are choreographed in four pre-set compositions that guide you to profound relaxation. There are whirlpools and airbaths to renew your body and spirit, with effervescence, neckjets, backjets and/or chromatherapy, targeted hydro-massage .

All of the above are remote controlled for even further ease. A full-body hydro-massage via airjets, powered by a blower that adjusts massage intensity, where warm air is injected into the bath is the basic description of an air bath.

An automated water closet is available, which senses approach, opens, warms the seat, washes, wipes and flushes automatically. It disinfects and shuts on its own too. Pots of automation!

For the overworked housewife, there is succour around the corner. The yet to be marketed "WashDryIron" is an all-in-one machine that can handle up to 16 items at once.

All the washing, drying, and ironing take place in separate compartments with each piece on hangers to prevent creases, designed by Oliver Blackwell.

The young designer would not be wrong in expecting it to fly off the shelves once it is available, it is a dream come true for every person who has wrestled with housework.

Six part toaster
A good talking point would be the stylish Six Part Toaster by Matt Gossington, which really gets the job done. It sports six individual compartments that can be removed to keep your toast hot and crispy.

Ideal for homeowners who are inspired by contemporary touches in their living space, or maybe just a large family who eat together- who cares! It is a truly wonderful looking appliance that also gives hot toast.

Japanese air shower system
For the really fussy montessori mama, for whom an antiseptic wash is just not enough, the Japanese airshower system is perfect.

Situated in a 2 m (tall) x 90 cm (wide) chamber and using 12 nozzles to blow off any allergens (pollen and dust) found on the body/clothes it is ideal to keep kids allergy free.

It could even be placed at a common space in the society premises for use of all the children.

Sharpshooter TV remote
Among the smaller gadgets that can give as much or maybe higher levels of happiness would be the sharp shooter remote. The Sharp Shooter TV Remote is perfect for settling those disputes over who wants to watch what.

No more battling over the ordinary, regular remote. To re-enforce your point the Replica Revolver Remote emits a 'BANG !' sound every time the trigger is squeezed.

So just show them who is the boss in the three-sofa town! It will also work on the music system.

Come-in and go-away doormat
The Come-in and Go-away'doormat changes sides and lettering to both welcome and shoo away your guests. Just make sure it doesn't read the opposite when relatives are due!

The come in and go away doormat isn't just a novelty as it is made to the highest quality from natural materials so that your guests can clean their shoes on the way in and not traipse mud all over your house!

Available off the Internet, most of these products are only for the truly interested. Take your pick.