Saturday, 26 December 2009

Microsoft issues Word patch

Microsoft issued a patch for its Word software to comply with a court ruling that it infringed on patents relating to the use of XML or extensible markup language in its flagship word processing software.

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit had ordered Microsoft to stop selling Word programmes containing the infringing code from Jan 11, 2010. It also upheld jury-imposed damages of $290 million.

The ruling came in an appeal by Microsoft against a Texas jury verdict last August that found Microsoft had violated patents owned by Canadian software company i4i Inc.

"A small company was practicing its patent, only to suffer a loss of market share, brand recognition and customer goodwill as the result of the defendant's infringing acts," the three-judge panel said in court documents.

"The district court found that Microsoft captured 80 percent of the custom XML market with its infringing Word products, forcing i4i to change its business strategy."

The patch was made available to computer makers to install on new machines preloaded with the Word software and strips Word and other Office programs of custom XML editing capabilities which is used by companies to link their data to Word documents.

Microsoft Office, which includes Word, PowerPoint, and Excel is used by millions of businesses and consumers and accounted for more than $3 billion in worldwide sales in Microsoft's most recent fiscal year.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Top Christmas Gift Ideas 3 of 3

Portable Audio/Video
Entry level
Phillips Aria 4GB (Rs. 4,999)
For a 4GB device with good features, an MRP of Rs.4999 is pretty good. Also, the end user price should be a bit lower. The quality of the player for audio is good, though its two-inch screen is not suitable for watching videos. In our Philips GoGear Vibe we suggested you buy a good pair of earphones/headphones to go along with your player. Here you get good earphones as well, which makes the Aria a good alternate to the Vibe.

iPod Nano 16GB (Rs. 11,200)
Apple has just given the nano a major shot in the arm, turning an impressive little music player into an incredible all-round multimedia device. The addition of camera really came as a pleasant surprise and what's better is that it does not disappoint in its performance. 

The addition of FM radio and voice recording, which admittedly are a bit late compared to the competition, finally complete the feature list. No longer can critics claim the iPod nano to be all show and no go. The audio quality remains impressive, although I wish Apple had used a higher quality display on the nano, which could have made the video and photo playback just as impressive.

I am not a big fan of the click wheel and wished the camera captured still images as well. However, all these are minor drawbacks when you consider the overall performance, which is on par with the best the competition has to offer. Priced at Rs. 9,400 for the 8 GB model and Rs. 11,200 for the 16 GB model, the new iPod is sure to attract a lot more buyers than the one before it. The already strong sale of the world's most popular player has no place to go but up.

High end
Cowon iAudio S9 (Rs. 17,250)
I'm sure you guys were expecting the iPod Touch here but remember, we are talking about the best audio/video device and no one does it better than Cowon. For roughly Rs. 17,250 you get the 32GB version that lets you play Xvid and DivX movies. This means no more conversion, you can just directly dump movies and your set. The screen may be a bit smaller than the iPod Touch but the colour and contrast of the S9 is equally good. The S9 also has noticibly better audio quality and you get FM radio for those who care about it. Overall, between this and iPod Touch, we pick this for superior audio quality.

Thumb drives
Kingmax 16GB (Rs. 1,450)
The Kingmax Super Stick mini 16GB is one of the tiniest USB Flash drives around and it can certainly pack in a lot, thanks to its huge capacity. Though tiny in size, it is constructed ruggedly and can easily weather the elements of nature. The performance is good when it comes to read speeds, while the write speeds are a little below average.

It does not come with any software bundle, which is something expected when the drive can do so much with its huge 16GB capacity. With a lifetime warranty, the Kingmax Super Stick mini 16GB is available for an estimated street price of Rs. 1,450, which is pretty much a steal for a 16GB drive.

Portable Storage
2.5" Laptop based
Seagate FreeAgent Go - 500GB (Rs. 4,800)
Both Western Digital and Seagate are priced similarly around Rs. 4,800 for 500GB, which is a pretty sweet deal. The reason we chose Seagate is because you get a five-year warranty with it instead of a three-year.

3.5" Desktop based
WD My Book Essential Edition 1TB (Rs. 5,100)
If you need more space then you can pick the WD My Book, which sells for Rs.5100. Just a little more than the FreeAgent, since its using a standard desktop hard drive instead of the laptop kind. The size is slightly larger but not too much and will still fit snugly in your backpack.

DVD Player/Home Theater System
LG HB954TB BluRay home theater (Rs.47,000)
The LG Home Theater HB954TB sells for Rs. 47,000 with a one-year warranty. As compared to the previous Home Theater we saw from Samsung, this makes for a much better choice. The LG Home Theater HB954TB has a Blu-ray player and a much better audio experience. The pricing too is appropriate, so it's a good selection for those looking for a Lifestyle Home Theater System.

Phillips Soundbar HD HTS8160B (Rs.79,990)
The Philips SoundBar is a class apart. It sells for Rs. 79,990 with a one-year warranty. Being a premium lifestyle product it has the aspects that give it certain appeal. The slot loading tray that emerges from the center console of the bar takes things to a level of being sci-fi. It supports all media formats including Blu-ray and has USB and a 3.5mm jack input for connecting plug-n-play devices. The Philips Soundbar is not just all show, as it packs a punch with its six speaker angled setup providing good sound and surround effect. For a single piece it's quite good. The woofer too has the required thump and is well sized to suit large living rooms. All in all one could only wish for wireless communication between the woofer and the console but even otherwise it'll make an exceptional buy.


Top Christmas Gift Ideas 2 of 3

Mobile Phones
You can classify mobiles in countless number of ways but for this guide we wanted to keep it short and sweet. Following are the three hottest phones currently available under their respective price brackets.

Under 10K
Samsung Corby (Rs.7,800)
Attractive, easy to use and affordable, that's the best way to describe the Corby. Samsung has really brought the touchscreen technology to the masses with the release of phones like Star and the Corby. This phone takes it even further by being truly affordable. It looks very attractive, is slim and light and also well built. The interface design is good and easy to use and the display is also fairly large to enjoy your images, videos and for browsing the web.

The phone comes with convenient widgets for all the popular social networking sites, which I'm sure would be well appreciated. The only areas where the phone does not perform well are in the camera department and the lack of a few features such as 3G or accelerometer. But for the price of Rs. 7800, the Corby makes you ignore all those flaws and just go out and buy the phone.

Under 20K
Samsung Jet (Rs. 16,500)
The Samsung Jet has recently witnessed a price drop, which makes it a very attractive buy. It has a blistering fast 800 MHz processor, a brilliant 3.1", 480 x 800 pixel OLED display, a 3.5mm headphone jack, DivX/XviD playback and excellent audio quality. You couldn't possible ask for anymore in a multimedia phone. The phone is also priced superbly at Rs. 16,500, which is great, considering the features and performance on offer. Little doubt that it won our Editor's choice award.

Above 20K
Nokia N97 Mini  (Rs. 27,000)
The younger brother of the N97 packs in most of the features of the older brother but sheds a few millimeters and the D-pad to achieve a more compact body. The phone packs in almost all the features that the N97 has. You get the full QWERTY keypad for all your messaging needs. Then there is the large 3.2-inch, 640 x 360 pixel touchscreen display, 5 Megapixel camera, VGA resolution video recording, 3.5mm headphone jack, stereo loudspeakers and a full range of connectivity features covering 3G HSDPA to W-Fi and GPS. The N97 mini has everything that you'd want from a smartphone and more. The phone is priced at Rs. 27000.

Cheap Ultra portables
Asus EeePC 1005HA (Rs. 23,500)
You can find the 1005HA for as low as Rs. 23,500 which is a very good price for the features it offers. The Acer D250 also retails for around 20K but it's not as slim as the Asus. The 1005HA strikes a good balance between those who wanted the long battery life of the 1101HA and the compact size of the 1008HA but didn't want to spend so much. It has all the ingredients for a good portable netbook like light weight, good ergonomics, battery life and decent bundle.

The one place where it loses points though is in the feedback of the keys. It could have been better and the glossy finish completely ruins the show. If you ignore these minor things then yes, it makes a good buy.

Acer 751h
The Acer 751H is not a brand new product as it has been in the market for quite sometime and I'm really impressed with its overall design and performance (battery life in particular). The design is completely different from Acer's Aspire One 10-inch netbook, making it a lot sleeker and lighter. Add to that the well lit 11.6-inch screen and you've got a very good and practical netbook for the price of a 10-inch netbook.

This is the icing on the cake, as Acer seems to have hit it spot on. This is currently the only 12" netbook that sells for Rs. 23,400 (end user price), which is a very attractive price.

General purpose
Acer 4810TZ (Rs. 34,000)
The Timeline 4810TZ sells for Rs. 34,000 with a one-year warranty. This makes the laptop well priced as well. The Timeline doesn't really suffer in terms of performance as its smaller sibling. So once again we have an ideal laptop solution from Acer in the 14-incher laptop segment. This is an ideal work or casual solution, but not a gaming solution mind you. If you want gaming prowess then you can look at Dell. Word is that even a good Sony laptop will soon be within ones reach and is decently powered for some gaming as well.

Ultra portable (High End)
Apple MacBook Air (Rs. 93,000 - 1,12,200)
The MacBook Air is an incredibly slim and light notebook. It is these attributes that would endear it to those who want an ultra-portable notebook while traveling. But it is not just slim, as it also packs in a potent hardware that makes it a fairly powerful machine to work with. The large, bright display and comfortable keypad make the Air a pleasure to use and the good battery life means you'll be using the Air for a decent amount of time. The prices (Rs. 93,300 for 1.86GHz model and Rs. 1,12,200 for the 2.13GHz model) are on the higher side but compared to the VAIO X, which is another strong competitor in this segment, the Air is a lot more powerful and practical.

Sony Vaio CW (Rs. 57,000)
Backed by a good performance and build quality, the Sony VAIO CW is here to give stiff competition to the HPs and Dells that dominate this segment of the notebook market. Styled brilliantly with plenty of ergonomic features to back it up, the CW is very comfortable to use and can easily handle anything you throw at it.

It's not all work though, the bundled Nvidia GT230 will handle today's games with ease. The day is not far when we'll be able to play high-end 3D games on affordable notebooks and the VAIO CW is a perfect example of that. However, there are a few negatives. One is the battery life, which is strictly average and second, is the weight, which makes it a little difficult to lug it around.
Overall, the Sony VAIO CW is a great notebook for those looking for a powerful all-round solution for work as well as play. This particular model is priced at Rs. 57,000 including taxes.

Samsung R470
(Rs. 38,000)
If the Sony CW is a bit too much for your wallet then take a crack at this baby. The Samsung R470 sells for Rs. 38,501. For that price the R470 is one of the best bang for the buck models in the Rs. 40,000 range. With nearly the same configuration the Dell Studio 14 costs a little over Rs. 45,000. The mixture of fairly powerful components, good build quality, unique features and a competitive price makes the Samsung R470 an ideal recommendation to anybody looking for a multi-media machine under 40k.


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Top Christmas Gift Ideas 1 of 3

The holiday season is here and as the urge to spend our hard earned money grows stronger, we suddenly realize there's so much to buy and not enough time or money. You could be shopping for gifts for your friends, family or maybe even for yourself - a little self indulgence doesn't hurt once in a while. So how do you decide on what to buy? Well, that's where we come in the picture.
This being a technology site you'll notice a common trend among all products we've chosen, so if you were looking for a fridge or a microwave, then you'll be disappointed. Below, we've listed some of the most common and popular tech gifts. Without further ado, let's check out some of the best buys for the season.

Digital Camera 
Digital cameras have been separated into three categories; point-and-shoot, prosumer and DSLR. Out of these we've chosen one for each category.

Sony DSC W190 (Rs. 10,000)
This Cybershot packs in 12.1 Megapixels, CCD sensor and comes with a 2.7-inch LCD display. This large screen makes it very easy to view photos, compose shots and toggle between menus. The 3x optical zoom lets you capture images even from a distance; while the macro lets you shoot images from as close as two inches. Other features include, Smile Shutter, Face Detection, Image stabilization, various scene modes, Multi purpose resize function and lots more. The camera is powered by a Li-Ion battery for easy recharge. All this is packaged in a very simple but elegant design that won't scare away novices.

Canon SX120IS (Rs. 15,000)
This is a newly launched model that aims to replace last years SX110IS model. The most notable change is the resolution, which has been bumped up to 10.0 MP. But apart from this, the body remains pretty much the same with similar dimensions and weight. You get a 10x optical zoom, Image Stabilization, 3-inch LCD display and most importantly a new image sensor (DIGIC 4) that should provide improvements in noise, autofocus and auto exposure.

Canon EOS 1000D (Rs. 27,000)
The 1000D takes many of the features from its older brother and puts it in a lighter and less expensive format. This makes it a perfect option for someone who wants to get their feet wet in professional photography.

Featuring a 10.1 MPixel CMOS sensor, 7-point wide area AF system and up to 3fps continuous JPEG shooting, this makes it an ideal "first DSLR" for a budding photographer. Some of the highlights of this camera are listed below;

  • 10.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor
  • 7-point wide-area AF
  • EOS Integrated Cleaning System
  • 2.5" LCD with Live View mode
  • Large viewfinder
  • DIGIC III processing
  • SD/SDHC memory card compatible
  • Compact, ultra-lightweight body
  • Compatible with all EF lenses and EOS accessories

Stepping into the world of LCD televisions, we've split this group depending on the size of the TV. We therefore have the best 32-incher, 40/42 -incher and 46-incher.

32-inch LCD TV
LG  32LH35FR (Rs. 37,000)
This was a toss up between the Samsung LA32B530P7R and the LG 32LH35FR, as they are both priced very similarly around 38K. In the end we had to go with the LG and here's why. Both TVs have similar specifications like Full HD resolution, very high Dynamic contrast ratios, low response time and so on. As for performance, both aren't that different once calibrated well, but where the LG pulls ahead is in the connectivity. Here you get an extra HDMI port as well as a USB port, which supports DivX files and the NTFS file format.

40/42-inch LCD TV
LG 42LH60YR Jazz Theater (Rs. 73,000)
If I was to focus purely on picture quality then the Samsung 6-Series would probably beat the LG, but when you consider overall performance and value for money, you really can't beat the Jazz Theater. For roughly 73K you're getting a 42" Full HD TV, 200Hz Tru motion (which I'll admit does a bit more harm than good), 700W PMPO belted through a nine-speaker system and not to forget the cool blue neon light on the side. Plus, you also get a USB port that supports DivX.

46-inch LCD TV
Samsung Series 6 UA46B600VR LED TV (Rs. 1,40,000)
Samsung has done a brilliant job with their new design. The full glass stand itself is sure to attract a lot of attention. The build is typical Samsung; solid from the ground up and made to last. Due to its slimness, they had to sacrifice a couple of composite ports but you get four HDMIs, which make up for that.

The one thing that it retains from its predecessors is the picture quality of the L6 series televisions, which is nothing short of amazing. BluRay's never looked as good as it does on this panel. However, this is not without some niggles.

The USB port does not support video files, which is a let down. Apart from the price there's nothing much to crib about, as it delivers as promised.

LCD Monitor
Samsung 2233SW (Rs. 8,800)
I think the features of this monitor are pretty well known by now. But put simply, this is the best 21.5" Full HD LCD monitor currently available in the market. You can currently find this monitor for as low as 8.8K, which makes it really good value.

BenQ G2412HD/Samsung P2350 (Rs. 10,800)
The colour gamut for this monitor may not be that impressive but for the price and features it offers, we can overlook this small shortcoming. The G2412HD comes with a slimmer bezel, HDMI port and most importantly a good price of just Rs. 10,800 or even lower depending on where you're located. Another very good alternative is the Samsung P2350 Lavender, but you'll have to sacrifice the HDMI port.


Microsoft Loses Word Suit, Will Alter Code

U.S. Court of appeals upheld $290 million lawsuit verdict in favor of Canadian Firm i4i who sued software giant Microsoft for 1998 XML-related patent infringement. As per i4i's lawsuit, Microsoft Word 2003 and Word 2007 carried patented XML-tagging feature. Now, according to the ruling passed, Microsoft is not allowed to sell any Word program that includes patented XML (eXtensible Markup Language) based technology.

Microsoft was sued by i4i for using 1998 XML patent based code in Word 2003 and Word 2007 for opening .XML, .DOCX and .DOCM based files containing custom XML code. In August, Judge Leonard Davis of U.S. District Court of Texas issued an injunction that prohibited Microsoft from selling Microsoft Word products that can open .XML, .DOCX and .DOCM files as per i4i's statement. This injunction will go into effect on January 11 next year.

Kevin Kutz, director of Public Affairs, Microsoft, in an official statement, said, "While we are moving quickly to address the injunction issue, we are also considering our legal options." So, Microsoft will look forward to file appeals in higher courts of justice. Also, the company clarifies that - This injunction applies only to copies
of Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007 sold in the U.S. on or after the injunction date of January 11, 2010. Copies of these products sold before this date are not affected.

As reported by Reuters, Microsoft is also hooked to pay $290 million as damages that include additional fees and interest.

7 Most hacked software of 2009

HackerWhich are the software that are top on hackers' hitlist? Applications and software that are most vulnerable and are the potential targets of scammers and hackers to install malicious codes into your PC?

Forbes recently released 2009's `Most-Hacked Software' list. The list names the software and applications that were biggest targets of hacker attacks in 2009. The software used most by hackers and other cyber criminals to sneak into your system and cause havoc.

Here's over to the 7 Most Hacked Software of 2009.

Adobe Reader
Adobe ReaderThis year's Most hacked software belongs to (no not Microsoft) Adobe. Adobe Inc's popular software Adobe Reader is the most hacked software of the year. Security firm iDefense reportedly tracked as many as 45 bugs in the Adobe Reader programme this year. The number is up from 14 in 2008 and seven in 2007.

Security experts feel that Reader being a universally used programme makes it highly vulnerable. Also, its complex code base offers a high risk of flaws.

Internet Explorer
Internet ExplorerAt No. 2 on the Most Hacked Software list is Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Little surprising that the browser with majority marketshare (almost 65%) is hot on hackers and scammers target list. According to the news report, IE's complex code base with no shortage of bugs helps hackers.

Security researchers found 30 bugs in IE this year, almost the same number as last year and way down from 49 found in 2007.

Mozilla Firefox
Mozilla FirefoxThe open source browser Mozilla Firefox is the year 2009's third Most Hacked Software. Closest rival to Internet Explorer with approximately 25% marketshare, recorded an increase in vulnerabilities this year.

Researchers and cybercriminals found as many as 102 bugs in Firefox this year, an increase of 12 bugs vi-a-vis last year's 90 bugs. Wondering what makes its more vulnerable than IE which showed 30 bugs? Remember, the two cannot be compared directly as Firefox is an open-source programme and Mozilla publicly reveals all its bug finds.

Adobe Flash
Adobe FlashAt No. 4 on the Most Hacked Software list is Adobe's popular design software Flash, commonly used for viewing animations and movies. The report found 11 vulnerabilities in the programme this year, down 8 from 19 last year.

According to the report, the vulnerabilities pose a potential danger as the software used for viewing videos and animation requires no interaction with the user to infect the machine with malicious software.

Apple Quicktime
Apple QuicktimeNext on the hit-list of hackers is Apple Quicktime, a multimedia framework used for handling various formats of digital video, media clips, sound, text, animation and music. Though Apple talks about immunity from bugs in its machines, however, security experts feel that relative security comes from its low marketshare and not careful coding.

According to the report, 26 bugs were found in Quicktime in 2009, down 10 from 36 found in 2008. The number looks high compared to mere 3 found in Windows Media Player.

Microsoft Office
Microsoft OfficeAt No. 6 is another Microsoft software, Microsoft Office. IDefense tracked 41 bugs in Microsoft's popular suite of apps in 2009, down from 44 in 2008. According to the report, hackers many a times use Microsoft Office applications like PowerPoint, Excel or Word document to plant malicious code.

WindowsAnother Microsoft software on Most Hacked Software list is at no. 7. The company's Windows-based operating system continue to be top on hackers radar. Experts believe that the fact that Windows vulnerabilities can be exploited without a user actually doing anything makes the software hacker-prone.

For example the Conficker worm spread to over 7 million PCs last year without requiring a user to visit a website, or open an attachment or actually do anything else, other than just leave their computers running.


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Facebook policy upsets millions

Millions of Netizens suddenly face the prospect of having key personal information and posts made accessible to everyone, unless they consciously monitor their privacy settings.

Facebook, the world's largest online social networking site, recently announced that in order to encourage members to share more information on the internet, it has upgraded its privacy settings, making several categories of information of its users visible by default to everyone.

Why this assumes significance is because Facebook allows its users to chose their level of privacy, by letting them restrict access to either friends, friends of friends or everyone. It's a feature that has helped the site gain many users and is in line with its mantra of "control what you want to share."

But with the recent change -- unless users actively manage their privacy settings themselves -- their information like Family and Relationship, Education and Work, and their posts will be made visible to everyone, regardless of what their previous privacy settings were.

This has made many of the sites 350 million users see red. "The way these changes have been implemented has created a sense that I'm being forced to share more than I want," says Manish Sinha, an IT professional. Online observers believe the revised settings are a tactical move by Facebook to get search engines to index more information from the website, in order to counter growing competition from microblogging sites like Twitter.

"I wouldn't want prospective employers to see profiles that I create on social networking sites," points out Sinha. Electronic privacy groups are already up in arms against Facebook. Recently, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a legal complaint in the US against the social networking site's new privacy settings, claiming the changes violate user expectations, diminish user privacy, and contradict Facebook's own representations.

Cyber law expert Pavan Duggal says the development is likely to open up a Pandora's box of interesting legal situations for social networking sites. "A large number of netizens do not look at the existing settings pertaining to the privacy once they have created their accounts. By a single stroke of change of settings and change of terms which have not been given enough coverage within the netizen community, we are going to see a recipe for potential privacy violations," he says.

On their part, Facebook officials have claimed that the changes have been aimed at providing more options for users and that regulatory bodies like the Federal Trade Commission had been informed about these changes. But among surfers, the site seems to have lost some face.

LG unveils 'world's thinnest LCD TV'

South Korea's LG Display said that it has developed the world's thinnest LCD television panel, measuring 2.6 millimetres (0.1 inches).

The company, the world's second largest maker of liquid crystal displays (LCDs), said the panel uses an ultra-slim, edge-lit light emitting diode backlight system and proprietary optical film technology.

It said in a statement the 42-inch panel weighs less than 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds), making it ideal for wall-mounted TVs.

LG Display said it would showcase the product at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early next year.

Yahoo to go for weeklong shutdown

Yahoo says it will close its offices from Christmas through New Year's to help save money. The cost-cutting move ends a year in which Yahoo's revenue declined for the first time since 2001.

It's the first time that Yahoo has required most of its 13,200 employees to use vacation time or unpaid leave during the holidays. Only employees performing essential duties will be working from Dec. 25 through Jan. 1.

Yahoo Inc, based in Sunnyvale, California, has eliminated about 2,000 jobs and shed other expenses since September 2008. The streamlining has helped offset a 12 percent decline in Yahoo's revenue through the first nine months of this year.

Several other Silicon Valley companies traditionally close most of their offices during the holidays.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Google pays no tax on £ 1.6 bn in UK

Internet search giant Google has not paid any tax on its 1.6 billion pound advertising revenues in Britain last year, a media report says.

"Google, the Internet giant whose informal corporate motto is 'don’t be evil', did not pay any tax on its 1.6 billion pound advertising revenues in Britain last year," the Sunday Times reported.

Google legally avoided paying more than 450 million pound in corporation tax to HM Revenue & Customs in 2008, as it diverted all its advertising earnings from customers in Britain to its Irish subsidiary, the newspaper said.

Citing accounts filed with the Companies House in the past week, the daily said, "Google's 2008 UK corporation tax bill amounted to just 141,519 pound -- and that was tax on the interest generated by its cash pile in UK bank deposits."

Vince Cable, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, has urged Google to "pay its fair share" of tax.

"Google’s reputation will be severely damaged if it continues to behave in this way. It is ducking its social responsibility," Cable told the Sunday Times.

Cable further added that "avoidance like this is hard to stomach at the best of times. But when the country is in recession and everyone is feeling the pain, it really sticks in the throat -- it means higher taxes for the rest of us".

Google, however, said its structure complies fully with UK tax rules and that the company makes a "substantial" contribution to tax receipts wherever it operates.

At present, about 13 per cent of Google's global revenues, come from the UK, and 770 staff are based at its London offices.

Austin Mitchell, the Labour MP for Great Grimsby who campaigns against tax avoidance, said, "Google isn't just sucking money out of local newspapers and other people who rely on advertising for a living -- it's also draining money out of the public finances."

Meanwhile, Peter Barron, director of communications for Google in northern Europe, told the newspaper: "Google makes a big investment in the UK, with over 800 employees, and we make a substantial contribution to local and national taxation.

"But the fact is that our European headquarters is in Dublin. We comply fully with the tax laws in all the countries in which we operate."

Quoting accountants the report said that if Google had paid tax on its 1.6 billion pound advertising revenues in Britain, it could have raised about 450 million pound for the public finances -- "enough tax to fund three NHS hospitals, buy at least eight Chinook helicopters or pay the annual salaries of about 15,000 policemen.”

IT cos offer hardware-as-service

Had enough of software-as-a-service? How about some hardware or entire infrastructure-as-a-service, too? If you are an SME or if you do not want to make heavy capital investments in IT infrastructure, then hardware-as-a-service offers a cost-saving alternative. With IT and IT-related companies targeting SMEs, or small and medium enterprises, this is the newest offering.

While IT-hardware makers like Dell and HP launched specific products for the SME segment early this year, companies like Airtel, Cisco, Microsoft, Wipro, Global Outlook, etc, have now started offering their products on the infrastructure-as-a-service model for SMEs. Airtel along with Cisco has launched ‘VPN in A Box’, a ready- to- deploy bundle of a managed private leased line port, bandwidth, last mile connectivity and customer premise equipment. Meanwhile, Microsoft, along with Airtel, Wipro and Global Outlook is running a pilot of a pay-per-use model for knitwear companies, usually SMEs, in Tirupur in Tamil Nadu. The over $2 billion knitwear industry in Tirupur has invited and received bids from top tech firms including IBM, Wipro, to develop an ERP software on a pay-per-use model.

Sam Elangalloor, CEO, Airtel Telemedia Services, said, “All large companies have a lot of IT infrastructure and their vendors, who are all SMEs, also need to have a compatible IT infrastructure. However, shortage of funds to make capital investment and the unscalability of the infrastructure restricts IT and connectivity adoption by SMEs. IT infrastructure needs heavy configuration and integration to be done at the customer’s end, which is difficult unless the SME has an internal knowledgeable resource. We are strong in connectivity for large enterprises, but we could not have sold the same products and services to SMEs. So came up with the hardware(plus connectivity)-as-a-service model along with Cisco.”

Adding to his point, Ravi Venkatesan, chairman, Microsoft India, maintains that IT should be around when companies want to use it and should be priced according to usage. “Indian SMEs have potential for immense growthbut the challenges before them are equally a fact of life. Relevant technology, at an affordable price, can reduce the threat these challenges pose,” he maintained. In Airtel’s ‘VPN in A Box’ , the customer need not even understand technology, Mr Elangalloor said.

“The customer has to tell us his needs, we will figure out how and what equipment he will need, configure everything at our end and give him the complete bundle for plug-and-play use, configured for use with whatever equipment he already has. In return, the customer pays only for the operating expenditure, and not for the capital expenditure,” Mr Elangalloor said. Along with its VPN in a box, Airtel is also providing tools like a website builder, which allows anyone to build and manage a website using pick-and-choose options, along with all Microsoft software on a hosted model. For SMEs in Tirupur, Microsoft is offering MS Office and Windows operating system on an online desktop from Airtel with anti-virus software and 10 GB storage space.

Wipro has offered unified communications, while Global Outlook has hosted Microsoft’s tools, Exchange and SharePoint on its servers, to offer email solutions, all of which comes at a significantly reduced cost. For instance Microsoft Exchange for 100 users, comes for about Rs 20 lakh and a monthly expenses of about Rs 60,000. However, on the pay-per-use model, the cost is only Rs 25000 a month.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

`Facebook captures true personality’

People use online social networks such as Facebook to express and communicate real personality, instead of an idealized virtual identity, says a new research.

Psychologist Sam Gosling at The University of Texas at Austin said: "I was surprised by the findings because the widely held assumption is that people are using their profiles to promote an enhanced impression of themselves."

The expert added: "In fact, our findings suggest that online social networking profiles convey rather accurate images of the profile owners, either because people aren’t trying to look good or because they are trying and failing to pull it off.

"These findings suggest that online social networks are not so much about providing positive spin for the profile owners," he adds, "but are instead just another medium for engaging in genuine social interactions, much like the telephone."

To reach the conclusion, Gosling and a team of researchers collected 236 profiles of college-aged people from the United States (Facebook) and Germany (StudiVZ, SchuelerVZ). The researchers used questionnaires to assess the profile owners’ actual personality characteristics as well as their ideal-personality traits (how they wished to be). The personality traits included: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness.

In the study, observers rated the profiles of people they did not know. These ratings were then compared to the profile owners’ actual personality and their ideal-personality.

Personality impressions based on online social network profiles were accurate and were not affected by profile owners’ self-idealization.

Accuracy was strongest for extraversion — paralleling results of face-to-face encounters — and lowest for neuroticism. Those findings were consistent with previous research showing that neuroticism is difficult to detect without being in person.

"I think that being able to express personality accurately contributes to the popularity of online social networks in two ways," says Gosling. "First, it allows profile owners to let others know who they are and, in doing so, satisfies a basic need to be known by others. Second, it means that profile viewers feel they can trust the information they glean from online social network profiles, building their confidence in the system as a whole."

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Intel unveils futuristic chip

The world’s leading chipmaker, Intel Technologies, unveiled its futuristic chip which was developed with significant contributions from its research and development centre in Bangalore.

The concept chip, which has 48-cores called ‘single-chip cloud computer,’ has processing power 20 times higher than the ones currently being used. The chip developed over a period of two years saw a team of 40 people across three labs of Intel globally -- Hillsboro, US, Braunschweig, Germany and Bangalore contributing equally to the project.

The Bangalore lab contributed in the areas of circuit and physical design, memory controller logic and the mesh interconnect network. According to Vasantha Erranguntla, senior engineering manager, Intel Labs India, “The single-chip cloud computer was designed as a concept vehicle for parallel software research.”
For now, this concept chip would be largely used for academic and research purposes. Intel’s 48 core chip is also an extension of its earlier research called the teraflop processor which had 80 cores, in which the Bangalore centre had a major part to play.

Intel started its R&D operations in Bangalore in 1998 and it has grown to become one of the largest centre outside US with an estimated headcount in excess of 2,500.

The Bangalore R&D centre has also been part of the various commercial launches of Intel with most notable being the six-core x86 microprocessor called the Xeon 7400 series.

The Xeon 7400 series saw the Bangalore centre executing the end-to-end design activity and also for the first time working on the 45 nm technology.

On the 48 core chip, Intel is expecting the processor to get into commercial production only in the next three to four years. This could be largely used in the area of data centres or conducting very large computing applications.

Though for now, Intel is looking to engage industry and academia next year by sharing 100 or more of these experimental chips for hands-on research in developing new software applications and programming models.

Ms Erranguntla said they were also holding discussions with several research labs and universities in India also to be part of this concept chip.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

100 times faster, cooler PCs soon

Indian-origin researcher Sanjeev John and his colleague Xun Ma of the University of Toronto have discovered new behaviour of light which could lead to cooler and faster computing.

The two quantum optics researchers have discovered "new behaviours'' of light changes within photonic crystals that could lead to faster optical information processing and compact computers that don't overheat.

"We discovered that by sculpting a unique artificial vacuum inside a photonic crystal, we can completely control the electronic state of artificial atoms (light) within the vacuum,'' lead author Xun Ma was quoted as saying in a statement.

"This discovery can enable photonic computers that are more than a hundred times faster than their electronic counterparts, without heat dissipation issues and other bottlenecks currently faced by electronic computing,'' said Ma.

Added Sanjeev John, "We designed a vacuum in which light passes through circuit paths that are one one-hundredth of the thickness of a human hair, and whose character changes drastically and abruptly with the wavelength of the light. A vacuum experienced by light is not completely empty, and can be made even emptier. It's not the traditional understanding of a vacuum.''

Ma said, "In this vacuum, the state of each atom - or quantum dot - can be manipulated with color-coded streams of laser pulses that sequentially excite and de-excite it in trillionths of a second.

"These quantum dots can, in turn, control other streams of optical pulses, enabling optical information processing and computing.''

The researchers, whose original aim was to gain a deeper understanding of optical switching as part of an effort to develop an all-optical micro-transistor that could operate within a photonic chip, ended up discovering a new and unexpected dynamic switching mechanism.

Their research also led to the discovery of corrections to one of the most fundamental equations of quantum optics, known as the Bloch equation.

Said John, "This new mechanism enables micrometer scale integrated all-optical transistors to perform logic operations over multiple frequency channels in trillionths of a second at microwatt power levels, which are about one millionth of the power required by a household light bulb.

"That this mechanism allows for computing over many wavelengths as opposed to electronic circuits which use only one channel, would significantly surpass the performance of current day electronic transistors.''

The study has been published in Physical Review Letters.

Monday, 14 December 2009

How to get rid of app update mess on PC

Microsoft makes available for free a Windows Installer CleanUp Utility. The CleanUp Utility will not actually remove any application files, but it will remove any installation files that were copied to your computer. Removing installation files will often allow you to restart the programme's installer and proceed forward with a successful installation.

In Windows, you're supposed to be able to uninstall applications with ease, right? Well, not exactly. While the venerable uninstallation utility built into Windows works most of the time in getting programmes off of your computer, uninstallations rarely succeed in removing every trace of an application. And sometimes an uninstallation can fail in mid-stream, leaving you with no obvious way to remove the program. How can you deal with such dilemmas? Read on for some answers.

Q: I was installing a big office suite onto my new computer, and for some reason the installation failed. Now I'm left with a partial installation and no way to uninstall the files that were copied to my PC. How can I remove these files?

This problem is much more common than it should be, and by default Windows comes with no way to remove a partial installation.

The good news is that Microsoft makes available for free a Windows Installer CleanUp Utility ( that may help. The CleanUp Utility will not actually remove any application files -- including those from botched installations. But it will remove any installation files that were copied to your computer.

Removing installation files will often allow you to re-start the programme's installer and proceed forward with a successful installation. Once the programme is installed successfully, you should be able to use the standard Add/Remove option in the Control Panel to uninstall the programme, if that's what you wish to do.

Since problems with installations are fairly common -- and seem to occur always when we have the least amount of time to deal with them -- it makes sense to create a restore point in Windows before installing any application. That way, if the installation should fail, you could simply restore your computer using System Restore to the point it was at before the installation occurred. That's the cleanest way to remove a failed installation.

Q: I recently upgraded from Adobe PhotoShop CS3 to CS4. Prior to attempting to install CS4, I tried to uninstall CS3, but the removal failed. Now I'm left with a crippled CS3 installation, and I'm unable to completely remove the product or re-install it. Can you help?

Stories like theses are, unfortunately, not uncommon around the Internet. Adobe has no doubt heard about frustrations like these, and the company has released two downloadable products that may offer some help.

The Adobe CS3Clean Script ( will scour your system for any CS3 products and offer to remove all or part of them. To use the product, simply download it into a folder of your choice, and then double-click the CS3Clean.exe file.

Follow the prompts, and by the end of the process, CS3 products should be removed from your computer. Note that you may need to run the utility more than once to completely remove all traces of CS3 products from your hard drive and your Windows registry.

Likewise, there's a CS4 Clean Script ( for those who have the latest Adobe CS4 products installed and need to remove those. Note that these scripts can be used even if uninstallation of the products was successful using the conventional Add/Remove Programs section of the Control Panel. The scripts will remove registry entries and folders left behind by the standard uninstallation.

Before running either of these tools, however, be sure to download and install the Windows Installer Cleanup Utility ( Once the products are removed, you should reboot your computer and re-try the installation of the newer versions.

Q: I tried to remove Symantec's Norton 2009 from my computer, and while the uninstallation seemed to work, there are remnants of the programme still on my computer. How can I get rid of everything related to Symantec?

Symantec, like Adobe, has no doubt heard complaints like these before, and it too has released separate, downloadable Removal Tools for a number of its products ( 62039).

Just select the removal tool for the product you own, run it, and afterwards you should be left with a clean system. The removal tool may restart your PC several times before the removal is complete.

Q: I allowed Windows to install a suggested update to my computer. After the installation, my Microsoft Word started stalling and freezing. How can I remove the update? I can't find it in the Uninstall area of Control Panel.

Every required and recommended update is logged by Windows. But you're right: It's just not easy to find out how to uninstall those updates.

To do so, open the Windows Control Panel and go to Add/Remove Program (XP) or Programs and Features (Vista). From the XP Add/Remove Programs window, select the check box labeled "Show updates." In Vista, click the View Installed Updates link. In both cases, you will then see the updates that have been applied both to Windows and to various other applications on your system. You can sort the list by the date installed to see the most recently installed items first.

From that point, uninstalling an update is a simple affair. Just select the update and then click Remove, as usual.