Sunday, 7 November 2010

Another perspective of PHP as a programming language

Learning PHP wouldn’t be that difficult for beginners, if they have some prior exposure to other programming languages like C, C++ or Java. Most of the coding paradigms like conditional structures. Loop blocks are very similar to that of other high level languages. PHP runs with most of the webservers and run in many top operating systems. 

Ever since PHP is projected as a main stream programming language, it has been considered mainly for developing dynamic web pages. Apart from web applications, PHP is a strong contender for developing standalone applications also. PHP-GTK is a combination of PHP with Gimp Tool Kit (GTK) framework that enables development of standalone UI applications without the need of any webserver. Even more interesting, PHP scripts can also be used for embedded applications development. Unbelievable!, have a look here.

Recent releases of PHP also include support for object oriented programming. PHP provides many inbuilt libraries as reuse components and new libraries are imported easily. These libraries improve the robustness and flexibility of the language. This enables new developers to focus on the application logic rather than worrying about the functionalities. Having good knowledge of the available libraries enables rapid development of applications.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Google to block data from Facebook

Google Inc will begin blocking Facebook and other Web services from accessing its users' information, highlighting an intensifying rivalry between the two Internet giants.

Google will no longer let other services automatically import its users' email contact data for their own purposes, unless the information flows both ways. It accused Facebook in particular of siphoning up Google contact data, without allowing for the automatic import and export of Facebook users' information.

Facebook, with more than 500 million users, relies on email services such as Google's Gmail to help new users find friends already on the network. When a person joins, they are asked to import their Gmail contact list into the social network service. Facebook then tells the user which email contacts are also on the social network.

In a statement, Google said websites such as Facebook "leave users in a data dead end." Facebook did not immediately provide a comment on Friday.

While Google framed the move as an attempt to protect its users' ability to retain control of their personal data on the Internet, analysts said the move underscored the battle between Google, the world's largest search engine, and Facebook, the dominant Internet social network.

"The fundamental power dynamic on the Web today is this emerging conflict between Facebook and Google," said Gartner analyst Ray Valdes. "Google needs to evolve to become a big player in the social Web and it hasn't been able to do that."

"If people do search within Facebook, if they do email within Facebook, if they do instant messaging within Facebook, all of these will chip away at Google's properties."

Google said that while it makes it easy for other Web services to automatically import a user's contact data, Facebook was not reciprocating.

"We have decided to change our approach slightly to reflect the fact that users often aren't aware that once they have imported their contacts into sites like Facebook, they are effectively trapped," Google said in an emailed statement.

"We will no longer allow websites to automate the import of users' Google Contacts (via our API) unless they allow similar export to other sites," Google said.

Some technology blogs were reporting that Facebook still appeared to be allowing users to import their Google Gmail contacts into Facebook as of mid-day Friday.

A Google spokesman told Reuters that the company had begun enforcing the new rules "gradually."

Google also stressed that users will still be able to manually download their contacts to their computers in "an open, machine-readable format" which can then be imported into any Web service.

Google has coveted the wealth of information that Facebook's half-billion users generate and amass. Having access to that data could be especially valuable to Google, whose business model is based on allowing its users to find any information anywhere on the Web.

"Google is trying to use the leverage that it has to get as much access to the Facebook social graph (network of friends and interests) that it can, so it can provide the best search function that it can," said Wedbush Securities analyst Lou Kerner. "The more data Google has access to the better its search results are going to be."

Last month, Facebook announced a deal with Microsoft Corp allowing Facebook information -- such as Web pages that Facebook users have endorsed by clicking on "like" buttons -- to appear within Microsoft search results.

Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt said in September the company would add social "layers" to many of its existing Web products in the coming months, following its less-than-stellar track record of developing stand-alone social networking products like Orkut and the recently shuttered Wave service.

Google also has acquired a slew of small social networking companies in recent months, including Slide and social payment company Jambool.

Gartner's Valdes said access to the explosion of new types of data generated by Web services, such as location-based services, would provide further flashpoints between Google and Facebook.

"It's one skirmish among many to come," said Valdes.

Google's shares closed Friday's regular session down 81 cents at $625.08.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Google sues US govt for favouring Microsoft

Google has filed suit against the US government claiming the terms for a large Department of the Interior contract favour rival Microsoft.

The lawsuit was filed by Google and Onix Networking Corp, a reseller of Google products, in the US Court of Federal Claims.

Google argues that the terms of the bid for an email, calendar and document collaboration system for some 88,000 Interior Department employees implicitly rule out a Google product and favor one from software giant Microsoft.

The company is promoting its Internet-based suite of office tools, Google Apps, for the contract over Microsoft's solution.

It said it was told there would be a "full and open competition" for the contract but the bid request "specified that only the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite-Federal could be proposed."

Google said it was bringing suit on the grounds "that such specification is unduly restrictive of competition" and in violation of US law.

The Internet giant said it was told its product was "not compliant with (Interior Department) security requirements," but that is not the case.

Google announced in September that three million businesses and more than 30 million people are using Google Apps, which are hosted on the Internet "cloud" as services on demand.

Google Apps include products or services such as Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs and are seen as the Mountain View, California company's challenge to Microsoft's popular Office software.

The Wall Street Journal said the Department of the Interior contract is estimated to be worth $58 million over five years.

Monday, 2 August 2010

How are Alexa's traffic rankings determined?

Alexa's traffic rankings are based on the usage patterns of Alexa Toolbar users and data collected from other, diverse sources over a rolling 3 month period. A site's ranking is based on a combined measure of reach and pageviews. Reach is determined by the number of unique Alexa users who visit a site on a given day. Pageviews are the total number of Alexa user URL requests for a site. However, multiple requests for the same URL on the same day by the same user are counted as a single pageview. The site with the highest combination of users and pageviews is ranked #1.

Alexa's traffic rankings are for top level domains only (e.g. We do not provide separate rankings for subpages within a domain (e.g. or subdomains (e.g. unless we are able to automatically identify them as personal home pages or blogs, like those hosted on Geocities and Tripod. If a site is identified as a personal home page or blog, its traffic ranking will have an asterisk (*) next to it: Personal Page Avg. Traffic Rank: 3,456*. Personal pages are ranked on the same scale as a regular domain, so a personal page ranked 3,456* is the 3,456th most popular page among Alexa users.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

20 Ways to Increase your Alexa Rank

Here is a collection of methods you can use to boost your Alexa Rank. Most of these tips are derived from several fellow webmasters who claimed to have derived positive results through their experiments with the Alexa Rankings.

To increase your Alexa rank in the long run, I would highly recommended that one focus on developing quality content which attracts and maintains a large audience instead of purely focusing on artificially increasing your Alexa Rank.

Great link-worthy content will leads to an natural increase in site traffic and is an excellent way to passively increase your Alexa rank.

It is important to emphasize that you should devote most of your efforts in growing your site audience alongside integrated implementation of any of the following tips below.
  1. Install the Alexa toolbar or Firefox’s SearchStatus extension and set your blog as your homepage. This is the most basic step.
  2. Put up an Alexa rank widget on your website. I did this a few days ago and receive a fair amount of clicks every day. According to some, each click counts as a visit even if the toolbar is not used by the visitor.
  3. Encourage others to use the Alexa toolbar. This includes friends, fellow webmasters as well as site visitors/blog readers. Be sure to link to Alexa’s full explanation of their toolbar and tracking system so your readers know what installing the toolbar or extension entails.
  4. Work in an Office or own a company? Get the Alexa toolbar or SS Firefox extension installed on all computers and set your website as the homepage for all browsers. Perhaps it will be useful to note that this may work only when dynamic or different IPs are used.
  5. Get friends to review and rate your Alexa website profile. Not entirely sure of its impact on rankings but it might help in some way.
  6. Write or Blog about Alexa. Webmaster and bloggers love to hear about ways to increase their Alexa rank. They’ll link to you and send you targeted traffic (i.e. visitors with the toolbar already installed). This gradually has effects on your Alexa ranking.
  7. Flaunt your URL in webmaster forums. Webmasters usually have the toolbar installed. You’ll get webmasters to visit your website and offer useful feedback. It’s also a good way to give back to the community if you have useful articles to share with others.
  8. Write content that is related to webmasters. This can fall in the category of domaining and SEO, two fields in which most webmasters will have the Alexa toolbar installed. Promote your content on social networking websites and webmaster forums.
  9. Use Alexa redirects on your website URL. Try this: . Replace with the URL for your website. Leave this redirected URL in blog comments as well as forum signatures. This redirect will count a unique IP address once a day so clicking it multiple times won’t help. There is no official proof that redirects positively benefit your Alexa Rank, so use with caution.
  10. Post in Asian social networking websites or forums. Some webmasters have suggested that East Asian web users are big Alexa toolbar fans, judging by the presence of several Asia-based websites in the Alexa Top 500. I suggest trying this only if you have the time or capacity to do so.
  11. Create a webmaster tools section on your website. This is a magnet for webmasters who will often revisit your website to gain access to the tools. Aaron Wall’s webpage on SEOTools is a very good example.
  12. Get Dugg or Stumbled. This usually brings massive numbers of visitors to your website and the sheer amount will have a positive impact on your Alexa Rank. Naturally, you’ll need to develop link worthy material.
  13. Use PayperClick Campaigns. Buying advertisements on search engines such as Google or Exact Seek will help bring in Traffic. Doubly useful when your ad is highly relevant to webmasters.
  14. Create an Alexa category on your blog and use it to include any articles or news about Alexa. This acts as an easily accessible resource for webmasters or casual search visitors while helping you rank in the search engines.
  15. Optimize your popular posts. Got a popular post that consistently receives traffic from the search engines? Include a widget/graph at the bottom of the post, link to your Alexa post or use Alexa redirection on your internal URLs.
  16. Buy banners and links for traffic from webmaster forums and websites. A prominent and well displayed ad will drive lots of webmaster traffic to your website, which can significantly boost your rank.
  17. Hire forum posters to pimp your website. Either buy signatures in webmaster forums or promote specific articles or material in your website on a regular basis. You can easily find posters for hire in Digital Point and other webmaster forums.
  18. Pay Cybercafe owners to install the Alexa toolbar and set your website as the homepage for all their computers. This might be difficult to arrange and isn’t really a viable solution for most. I’m keeping this one in because some have suggested that it does work.
  19. Use MySpace . This is a little shady so I don’t recommended it unless you’re really interested in artificially inflating your Alexa Rank. Use visually attractive pictures or banners and link them to your redirected Alexa URL. This will be most effective if your website has content that is actually relevant to the MySpace Crowd.
  20. Try Alexa auto-surfs. Do they work? Maybe for brand new sites. I think they are mostly suitable for new websites with a very poor Alexa rank. Note that there be problems when you try to use auto surfs alongside contextual ads like Adsense. They aren’t also long term solutions to improving your Alexa Rank so I suggest using with caution.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

How 100 mn Facebook users' info got leaked

Facebook SecurityThe man who harvested and published the personal details of 100 million Facebook users has said that he only disclosed what was already public information.

Ron Bowes, a security consultant, used a piece of code to scan Facebook profiles, collecting data not hidden by the user's privacy settings.

The list, which contains the URL of every searchable Facebook user's profile, name and unique ID, has been shared as a downloadable file. Bowes said that he did it as part of his work on a security tool.

"I'm a developer for the Nmap Security Scanner and one of our recent tools is called Ncrack," the BBC quoted him as saying. "It is designed to test password policies of organisations by using brute force attacks; in other words, guessing every username and password combination," he added.

By downloading the data from Facebook, and compiling a user's first initial and surname, he made a list of the most common probable usernames to use in the tool.

In theory, researchers could then combine this list with a catalogue of the most commonly used passwords to test the security of sites. Similar techniques could be used by criminals for more nefarious means.

Bowes said his original plan was to "collect a good list of human names that could be used for these tests.” "Once I had the data, though, I realised that it could be of interest to the community if I released it, so I did," he added.

Bowes confirmed that all the data he harvested was already publicly available but acknowledged that if anyone now changed their privacy settings, their information would still be accessible.

"If 100,000 Facebook users decide that they no longer want to be in Facebook's directory, I would still have their name and URL but it would no longer, technically, be public," he said.

Bowes said that collecting the data was in no way irresponsible and likened it to a telephone directory. "All I've done is compile public information into a nice format for statistical analysis," he said

In a statement, Facebook confirmed that the information in the list was already freely available online. "No private data is available or has been compromised," the statement added.

Bowes supported the view by adding that harvesting this data highlighted the possible risks users put themselves in. "I am of the belief that, if I can do something then there are about 1,000 bad guys that can do it too. For that reason, I believe in open disclosure of issues like this, especially when there's minimal potential for anybody to get hurt.

"Since this is already public information, I see very little harm in disclosing it," he said Facebook has a default setting for privacy that makes some user information publicly available. People have to make a conscious choice to opt-out of the defaults.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

How hackers snoop on private web browsing

Experts have identified how their web browser's 'private mode' setting is also vulnerable to hackers.

Most web browsers offer a private mode, intended to leave no trace of surfing history on the computer.

But Collin Jackson at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and colleagues, have found ways to detect which sites were visited with the mode enabled.

Even if private browsing is enabled, details relating to the key remain stored on the computer's hard drive, allowing a hacker to establish that a particular site had been visited.

A hacker could "guess what sites you've been to based on traces left behind," New Scientist quoted Jackson as saying.

These attacks on privacy "do not require a great deal of technical sophistication and could easily be built into forensics tools," he added.

However, Rik Ferguson -- a UK-based security researcher at Trend Micro of Tokyo, Japan -- says that any attacker with the knowledge to exploit the weaknesses would probably look to other attacks first, which may yield more detailed information.

"If someone is capable of tracking your browsing habits in this way, then they are probably also tech-savvy enough to know about commercial spyware which could much more effectively track your computer use," says Ferguson.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Get the New Rupee Symbol On Your PC

With India announcing a new symbol for its currency - Rupee, people have been working overtime to bring it to the next obvious place your PC.

A Mangalore based company Foradian Technologies has already made a new font available for users who would like to use the new Rupee symbol on their computers. While the sign may take time to be adopted by Unicode, that doesn't mean you should not be using the font all the while.

The font, available for download here. Foradian has also posted instructions as to how the Rupee symbol can be used in your computer for various applications including MS Excel, Lotus Notes, Silverlight, Blend and Visual Studio. They even have versions for Linux and Mac users.

Foraadian's posterous blog has all the details you need to use the new Rupee symbol on your PC.


Tuesday, 13 July 2010

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Don't buy Apple iPhone 4: Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports said it cannot recommend Apple's iPhone 4 to buyers after tests confirmed the device's well-publicised reception glitches.

It added that that AT&T Inc, the exclusive mobile phone carrier for the iPhone 4, was not necessarily the main culprit.

The influential nonprofit organisation, which publishes guides on everything from cars to TVs, said in a report that it also tested other phones -- including the iPhone 3GS and Palm Pre -- and found none had the signal-loss problems of Apple's latest iPhone.

The report was the latest blow to the iPhone 4, which sold 1.7 million units in its first three days on the market but has been plagued by complaints of poor reception. Many of the complaints involve a wraparound antenna whose signal strength is said to be affected if touched in a certain way.

Kaufman Bros analyst Shaw Wu said he was surprised by the stance that Consumer Reports took on the new iPhone. Wu noted that the group's recommendations are used as a guide by many consumers.

"Consumer reports is a respected publication. This could have an impact on iPhone sales," Wu said. Apple shares were down 1 per cent at $257.06 on Monday afternoon on the Nasdaq.

The company has been sued by iPhone customers in at least three complaints related to antenna problems. "When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone's lower left side -- an easy thing, especially for lefties -- the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you're in an area with a weak signal," contributor Mike Gikas said in a report on the Consumer Reports website.

"Our findings call into question the recent claim by Apple that the iPhone 4's signal-strength issues were largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software that 'mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength,'" Gikas said.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment. Gikas recommended covering the gap in the wraparound antenna with duct tape or some other non-conductive material. Apple has said almost any cellphone will suffer a loss of signal if held in certain ways. It said later it had discovered a software glitch that overstates signal strength, though it did not directly address concerns about the antenna with that admission.

On the flip side, Consumer Reports said the iPhone scored high on other testing grounds such as battery life, sharp display and high-quality video camera.

However, Gikas said the signal problem was the reason the iPhone 4 would not be classified as a "recommended" device in its smartphone ratings.

"Apple needs to come out with a permanent -- and free -- fix to the antenna problem before we can recommend the iPhone4," said Gikas in his blog post on

Monday, 12 July 2010

Google remains at risk in China

China’s government confirmed that it renewed Google Inc’s Internet license, after the US company’s local venture pledged to allow its Web content to be supervised by regulators, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Beijing Guxiang Information Technology Co, operator of Google’s China website, has undertaken to comply with Chinese law and provide no law-breaking content, Xinhua reported, citing an unidentified official at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Getting the go-ahead gives Google, which disclosed China’s decision to renew its license last week, a chance to win search share lost to market leader Baidu Inc and woo advertisers put off by the company’s half-year dispute with the government. Some Google operations were in jeopardy as it balked at censorship rules that require companies to filter Web content.

Google was surprised by how quickly China renewed the company’s Internet-services license, Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt said in a July 9 interview. There were no formal negotiations between Google and Chinese officials over the decision, a person familiar with the matter said.

China renewed the license through 2012, and officials will revisit the decision annually. China’s government can still use its authority to yank the license if it deems Google’s compliance wanting, said Sandeep Aggarwal, an analyst at Caris & Co. in San Francisco.

‘At risk’
“Google remains at risk in China,” Aggarwal said. “Chinese regulators gave them a back door.”

Google, owner of the world’s most popular search engine, went public with its dispute in January, saying it was no longer willing to comply with China’s filtering regulations.

“We look forward to continuing to provide Web search and local products to our users in China,” the company said on its July 9 blog. Spokeswoman Jessica Powell declined to say whether China had imposed any conditions on renewing the permit.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, won approval after changing the way it handled search requests. After closing its Chinese search engine in March, it had been automatically redirecting users to its unfiltered site in Hong Kong. To allay officials’ concerns, Google added an extra hurdle for Chinese Web surfers, directing them to a landing page that in turn pointed them to the Hong Kong site.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

To go for HD set-top box or not?

Watch out before you go for that high definition (HD) DTH set-top box. Even as DTH companies gear up for relaying content in high definition, the content backing it is very little.

Only two channels -- Discovery and National Geographic -- are available in HD. While Essel Group channels -- Zee TV and Zee Cinema -- are available only with Dish TV, ESPN has only two properties, the ongoing Fifa World Cup and Wimbledon, currently available for HD broadcast, and that too with select DTH operators.
Leading players such as Dish TV, Tata Sky, Airtel Digital TV, Sun Direct are marketing HD set-top boxes.

“There is no demand for HD content from broadcasters,” says Nikhil Alva, MD of Miditech, the country’s third-largest production house that supplies content to many major TV channels.

“Also, the number of high-definition television sets in the country is miniscule. Transmitting HD is significantly more expensive for channels, so it is not a priority for them. Also our analog cable networks that supply content to the majority of C&S homes is already too clogged with channels to deliver HD content. For now, HD is a niche phenomenon and largely a marketing gimmick,” Alva adds.

Even DTH players admit that sale of HD set-top boxes will take some time. “The numbers on HD set-top boxes will be low,” says Salil Kapoor, COO, Dish TV.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Only 503 Microsoft Kins Sold?

Barely days after Microsoft s (in)famous Kin disaster wherein the company had to take the not-so-difficult decision of scrapping the entire project, here comes a shocker. According to one rumour, Microsoft, in all actuality, sold a total of just 503 Kins. That s including both the handsets.

While the 503 figure does seem unrealistic, this is what is the number claimed by John Gruber of Daring Fireballs who in turn claims to have heard it from an unnamed source from Microsoft. There is a different twist to the story as well with Pocketnow pointing out another interesting stat. Pocketnow noted that the Kin, being a social networking handset, came with a Facebook application. The interesting thing about this app is that this app is specific only to the Kin and using it one can actually see the number of monthly active users of the application. Since this app can only be used on a Kin, a rough estimate of the number of Kins out there can be guessed by the number of users that are connected to Facebook using it. This number is way off the 503 mark and is somewhere close to the 8,000 mark. Having said that, even 8,000 isn't such an awe inspiring number but heck, it is anytime better than the 503 figure we first heard.

                                                                                               Kin One
In a different twist to the story, according to Business Insider, the fact that even Microsoft employees weren't particularly impressed or hopeful about the Kin is somewhat evident from the sentiments from the blog posts at Mini Microsoft, a blog of sorts where Microsoft employees rant about their problems. The blog has interesting quotes from people who are either current Microsoft employees or had worked for the company and left it as well, looking for greener pastures. A former Danger employee (Microsoft took over Danger) calls Microsoft a "dysfunctional organization where decisions were made by politics rather than logic". Another person commented, "I for one can't believe that no one has been axed over the Kin debacle. Billions of dollars were wasted, not to mention all of the smart people over there who spent 3 years with no return on the investment."

                                                                                             Kin Two

With the kind of things going on at Microsoft, looks like it is going to have a big task at hand ensuring Windows Phone 7 doesn't end up like the Kin.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Capture 3D Images with New Sony Cyber-shots

Sony has announced three new digital point and shoot cameras - WX5, TX9, and T99 with HD video shooting capabilities. The all new Cyber-shot WX5 and TX9 boast the capability of shooting 1080i HD movie. The new T99 digital camera is capable of shooting 720p HD video. The most interesting part is that WX5 and TX9 features Exmor R sensor that boasts of Super Auto mode. These new cameras would be available by mid-September this year.

This well deserved refresh for Sony's point and shoot cameras comes in the middle of the year. All new cameras come with BIONZ processor. New Cyber-shot DSC-WX5 and DSC-TX9 come with a 12.2 megapixel EXMOR CMOS sensor that brings Super Auto mode capturing high-speed burst of up to six frames at the press of the shutter button. Settings get optimized as per the shooting conditions.

For the first time, Sony introduces 3D image capturing capability in point and shoot cameras with 3D Sweet Panorama that lets clicking images in press-and-sweep motion. The Sweet Multi-Angle shoots high-speed burst of fifteen frames to create 3D style image of the subject from different angles. The camera also has built-in sensors to detect side to side movement of camera after the image is shot to show the multi-angle views.

These 3D images can be obviously viewed on 3D TVs but Sony's Multi-Angle view enables watching it on normal 2D TV too. The difference between WX5 and TX9 is that the former has 5x Optical zoom supporting Sony G Lens while the latter sports 4x optical zoom supporting Carl Zeiss lens.

Snorkeling enthusiasts can make the best out of TX9's Underwater Sweep Panorama for amazing underwater photos. As mentioned earlier, both WX5 and TX9 are capable of shooting AVCHD 1920x1080 (1080i) full HD video in MP4 format. The TX9 features Background Defocus that simulates the depth of field.

All new T99 features 14.1 megapixel image sensor with 4x Optical Zoom offering Carl Zeiss lens. Sony packs almost all features in T99 but most importantly, this digital camera comes with Sweep Panorama including Underwater Sweep Panorama. This budget friendly digital camera also supports 720p HD video recording at 30 frames per second in MP4 format.

Pricing of the new Cyber-shot cameras:

$300 (Rs. 14,100 approx.) - available in Black, Silver, Brown, Gold and Violet
DSC-TX9: $400 (Rs. 18,800 approx.) - available in Dark Grey, Gold and Red
DSC-T99: $250 (Rs. 11,700 approx.) - available in Black, Silver, Pink, Green and Gold

Mozilla Releases Firefox 4.0 Beta

Mozilla has released the first beta of its Firefox 4.0 web browser based on the Gecko 2.0 Web platform layout engine. Obviously, all the add-ons you've been using with the Firefox 3.7 version won't work on with the new Firefox 4.0 beta. This new 4.0 beta version of the web browser mainly revamps the looks and brings a sizeable number of features that include WebM video format and HTML5 support.

The first noticeable feature of this new Firefox 4.0 beta is that all tabs would be visible on the top. However, this is visible for Windows based OS users only. We believe that the visual delight would slowly appear for the Linux and Mac OS X versions of the web browser when the final build of Firefox 4.0 releases. The new significant features included in the Firefox 4.0 beta are:

* Add-ons Manager: More space to efficiently manage your favorite add-ons, plugins and themes.
* HD Video: The future WebM format is supported and promises HD-quality hardware accelerated HTML5 video on the web.
* HTML5 Support: Better HTML parsing, support for HTML5 form controls and also runs the latest web apps based on HTML5 such as Google's Gmail and Yahoo's Mail interface for the mobile phones.
* Full WebGL support for in-browser 3D rendering.

Apart from these features, the new Firefox 4.0 beta also promises performance improvement and the necessary security improvements to protect browser history.

Download the Firefox 4.0 beta for Windows, Linux or Mac OS X from here.

Microsoft Xbox 360 Arcade Prices Slashed

Microsoft India has lowered the price of Xbox 360 Arcade gaming console for the Indian audience. The Xbox 360 Arcade console price was introduced for Rs. 16,990 last year in June. Now, the price of Xbox 360 Arcade has been dropped to Rs. 14,676. Apparently, this price cut doesn't apply to special bundles.

Xbox 360 Arcade is a bare bones version of the gaming console that comes with Xbox 360 Wireless Controller, standard AV cable, an Xbox LIVE Arcade Compilation Disc that includes 5 Arcade games and 256MB Memory Unit. We aren't sure as of now whether 512MB internal memory unit loaded Arcade SKUs are available in India.

Do note that Kinect for Xbox 360, the controller free gaming device, would be usable with this Arcade model via a special adapter cable. But that will be taken care of when Kinect is announced for India.

The price cut on Xbox 360 Arcade is effective immediately so if you have been planning to buy one, now is a good time.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Some File Extensions You Need To Know

File Extension Part
PART is a Partially Downloaded File, a file extension used primarily by Internet download managers, programs designed to speed up and handle multiple downloads. These download managers work on the principle that smaller files take less time to transfer than large ones. The download manager takes one or more files from the Internet and breaks them into smaller data chunks, and then when all of the data chunks have been downloaded, the download manager converts them back into one file again.

File Extension JAD
JAD stands for Java Application Descriptor. This file extension describes java applications, which are distributed as JAR files. JAD is specifically a decompiler of Java as it reads class files that belong to Java as well, subsequently converting them to Java source files available to be compiled once again. JAD file extension is purely a C++ program that works faster than decompilers that have been written in Java. JAD files are used to package Java games or applications that can be downloaded onto mobile phones.

File extension ITHMB
File extension ITHMB falls under the category of image or media files and is a creation of the Apple Inc company. The ITHMB files are utilized by the Apple iPOD and are made up of four images of different resolutions that have been designed to be displayed on a variety of screen sizes. A file extension ITHMB is most commonly a picture files which are in a thumbnail format that is specific to the iPOD. They cannot be read by regular photo programs. When a thumbnail is clicked on, the images are then displayed.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Airtel Brings Free Facebook Access

Airtel has announced that it will offer free access to the mobile version of Facebook on its network. The company, which has a subscriber base of over 130 million will offer free access for a period of two months ending August 31.

The mobile version of the site enables users to post status updates, comment and write on walls, message others, and also be able to view or upload photos.

For existing mobile Internet customers on Airtel, there is no need to do anything - they can immediately start connecting with their friends by visiting the Facebook mobile site. Those who are accessing the mobile Internet for the first time need to SMS 'FACEBOOK' to 54321 to take advantage of this offer.

Airtel will also offer Facebook in six Indian languages - Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam, initiating with Hindi and English.

Looks like Airtel customers who are Facebook fans have a lot to rejoice!

Friday, 2 July 2010

IBM to employees: Use Firefox

Technology giant IBM wants its workers around the world to use free, open-source Mozilla Firefox as their window into the Internet.

"Any employee who is not now using Firefox will be strongly encouraged to use it as their default browser," IBM executive Bob Sutor said yesterday in a blog post at his website.

"While other browsers have come and gone, Firefox is now the gold standard for what an open, secure, and standards-compliant browser should be."

Making Firefox the default browser means that workers' computers will automatically use that software to access the Internet unless commanded to do differently.

All new computers for IBM employees will have Firefox installed and the global company "will continue to strongly encourage our vendors who have browser-based software to fully support Firefox," according to Sutor.

New York State-based IBM, known by the nickname "Big Blue," has a corporate history dating back a century and now reportedly has nearly 400,000 workers.

"Today we already have thousands of employees using it on Linux, Mac, and Windows laptops and desktops, but we're going to be adding thousands more users to the rolls," Sutor said.

Sutor is the vice president of open source and Linux at IBM, which launched an Open Source Initiative in 1998.
Open-source software is essentially treated as public property, with improvements made by any shared with all. Firefox is the second most popular Web browser in an increasingly competitive market dominated by Internet Explorer software by Microsoft.

Google Chrome has been steadily gaining market share, last week replacing Apple Safari as the third most popular Web browser in the United States.

"We'll continue to see this or that browser be faster or introduce new features, but then another will come along and be better still, including Firefox," Sutor said.

"I think it was Firefox and its growth that reinvigorated the browser market as well as the web. That is, Firefox forced competitors to respond."

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Govt threatens to ban BlackBerry, Skype

India has given Internet telephony pioneer Skype and the makers of BlackBerry handsets a deadline to fall into line with strict security-monitoring regulations or be blocked, a report said.

India's intelligence officials have long complained that they are unable to decipher encrypted data sent on Blackberry handsets, made by Canadian firm Research In Motion, or intercept calls on Skype.

The government has threatened to ban or block BlackBerry and Skype services if the companies fail to adhere to a 15-day deadline to make data available in formats that can be monitored, a leading business newspaper said.

Google has been asked to ensure emails on its Gmail service can be deciphered, though no deadline has been issued, the paper said.

"The latest development indicates that security agencies are again finding it difficult to intercept or decipher messages sent through BlackBerry phones," the paper said.

The Indian telecommunications ministry was unable to comment when contacted by AFP.

India, which faces a strengthening home-grown Maoist insurgency and constant threats from Islamist groups, is highly sensitive about the potential risks of technology.

The government has been restricting imports from Chinese telecom equipment manufacturers because of Indian intelligence agency fears that "spyware" could be embedded in the equipment.

It has also restricted the use of mobile phones in violence-wracked Indian Kashmir, where pay-as-you-go phones and the use of text messages have been curtailed. The area is a hotbed of anti-India activity.

Samsung mobile offers 67-day standby time!

Korean giant Samsung has unveiled a rugged phone called Samsung Xcover E2370 which offers a standby time of 67 days.

This means the phone's battery can last upto 2 months (1,600 hours) in a standby mode, or upto 22 hours in talktime mode.

The phone features a 128×160 pixel TFT display, packs a 5MB internal memory and a VGA camera.

Other key features include Bluetooth, GSM/EDGE connectivity, music player, flashlight with a dedicated button and a microSD slot for upto 2GB memory expansion.

The phone is certified with IP54 rating which means it can withstand dust and water.

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Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Google building Facebook rival

Web world is abuzz with rumours that Google's Facebook rival is in works. The rumour mill began churning after Digg founder Kevin Rose posted a tweet last weekend (saturday to be precise), saying, "Ok, umm, huge rumor: Google to launch facebook competitor very soon 'Google Me,' very credible source."

Wondering how Google Me will really work? Experts believe that Google already has almost 30 different social properties that it has acquired or built including YouTube, Picassa, Google Profiles, Google Docs, Google Friends Connect and Google Latitude. So, the company largely has almost every component that it requires to built a Facebook killer. All it needs to do is a bit of organisation and create a common platform for all these networks.

However, so far Google is still to get a hit in the social networking space. Orkut, one of the pioneers in social network, today has little following except in Brazil and India. More recently, the company made another foray into social networking arena with Google Buzz, which aims to upgrade Gmail into a social networking hub from just an e-mail service. However, the service has been relegating to more of a Web 2.0 sharing tool than a social networking hub.

Several analysts also wonder if Google would really risk waging a full-scale war against Facebook, which has seen its fortunes soar in the past year.

Writes eWeek's Clint Boulton, "Google challenging Facebook in social is like Facebook challenging Google in search," he writes. "People are comfortable socializing on Facebook, which is where their friends (and their friends of friends are) and they are comfortable searching on Google, which is where all of the data about businesses, places and other facts live. Unless and until there are technological improvements on both sides, paired with practical user behavior shifts from consumers, never the twain shall meet."

While analysts may continue to debate the issue, the rumour has been further fanned by Adam D’Angelo, former Facebook CTO and now founder of Q&A service Quora (on Quora only).

Here's what Angelo wrote on Quora.

* This is not a rumor. This is a real project. There are a large number of people working on it. I am completely confident about this.

* They realized that Buzz wasn't enough and that they need to build out a full, first-class social network. They are modeling it off of Facebook.

* Unlike previous attempts (before Buzz at least), this is a high-priority project within Google.

* They had assumed that Facebook's growth would slow as it grew, and that Facebook wouldn't be able to have too much leverage over them, but then it just didn't stop, and now they are really scared.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Google Voice Opens Up, No More Invites Required

Google has announced that its Google Voice service would now be available for all U.S. citizens - without the need of an invite.

In a blog post announcing the decision, Google Voice product manager Craig Alker quipped, "We're proud of the progress we've made with Google Voice over the last few years, and we're still just scratching the surface of what's possible when you combine your regular phone service with the latest web technology."

Since the service was launched in U.S., Google Voice has managed to garner a decent userbase of about 1 million users. If you are one of those people who are wondering what Google Voice is all about, let us explain briefly. Google Voice basically gives you a single phone number that can be used to reach you if you have multiple numbers. Google Voice also offers its own voicemail message transcription service.

Google Voice was in the news not long ago when Apple blocked the Google Voice application from entering its App Store saying that it duplicated native iPhone capabilities. This led to the once good friends turn into foes.

iPhone Gets Windows Live Messenger

It's not like you cannot login to Windows Live Messenger on the iPhone already (using chat clients like Nimbuzz). But then, an official Windows Live Messenger app for the icon is always newsworthy, right?

That's exactly why we are talking about it too. Microsoft already had the Bing app out there for download at the Apple App Store. And now, it is the turn of Windows Live Messenger to make it there. That's right. Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger app has made an official entry into the Apple App Store and from what we see, it looks quite slick and replicates its PC version.

The client is now available in U.S., Canada, the UK and France and is a free download. The app is capable of updating your status message and see your friends' updates. Users will also soon be able to access other services like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn (coming soon), and more through the new Windows Live Messenger for iPhone.
While the messenger has gone social in its approach, the core functionality of instant messaging is still in there. Starting an IM with friends is easy. You just tap a person's name on the Friends tab, or tap their picture from anywhere in the app. So, if you're scanning through the highlights on the Social tab and you see some new pictures that a friend just uploaded, you can instantly send her compliments on her new photos. Microsoft is also working to add Facebook chat support in the app later this year.

The app can also notify you about new e-mails in your Hotmail account. All you need to do is to tap the Hotmail icon inside the Social tab. This takes you to the mobile web version of Hotmail right inside the app.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Update your drivers with DriverAccess

Can't able to find the right driver for your new hardware? Or is your old hardware not working properly on your new computer? Tired of searching many sites for the right driver? If so, Chill out then! You have come to the right place.

This site is an all in one site that boasts of a large collection of drivers for a variety of devices. It not only allows you to download drivers but also allows driver update.  You can find all your computer drivers including windows drivers and also sound drivers for many different PC configurations in one place.

All you have to do is download the DriverAccess software, install it and then allow it to scan your system. It automatically detects all devices and updates them with the latest drivers available. So why waiting? Just log on to DriverAccess and start updating your devices in no time!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Now, a Muslim-only 'Facebook'

Pakistanis outraged with Facebook over "blasphemous" caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed have created a spin-off networking site that they dream can connect the world's 1.6 billion Muslims.

A group of six young IT professionals from Lahore, the cultural and entertainment capital of Pakistan, launched for Muslims to interact online and protest against blasphemy.

The private venture came after a Pakistani court ordered a block on Facebook until May 31, following deep offence over an "Everyone Draw Mohammed Day" page considered "blasphemous" and “sacrilegious.”

"Millatfacebook is Pakistan's very own, first social networking site. A site for Muslims by Muslims where sweet people of other religions are also welcome," the website tells people interested in signing up.

Dubbed MFB, after Facebook's moniker FB, its founder says professionals are working around the clock to offer features similar to those pioneered by the wildly popular California-based prototype.

Each member has a "wall" for friends to comment on. The site offers email, photo, video, chat and discussion board facilities.

The Urdu word "Millat" is used by Muslims to refer to their nation. The website claims to have attracted 4,300 members in the last three days -- mostly English-speaking Pakistanis in their 20s.

The number of aficionados may be growing, but the community is a drop in the ocean of the 2.5 million Facebook fans in Pakistan and there have been some scathing early reviews of the start-up.

Neither has Facebook been immediately reachable for comment.

"We want to tell Facebook people 'if they mess with us they have to face the consequences'," said Usman Zaheer, the 24-year-old chief operating officer of the software house that hosts the new site.

"If someone commits blasphemy against our Prophet Mohammed then we will become his competitor and give him immense business loss," he said, dreaming of making "the largest Muslim social networking website.”

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Standard phone charger coming soon

An energy efficient standard charger for all mobile phones will soon be introduced in the global market, said International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a leading United Nations agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) issues.

ITU officials announced on the first day of World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-10) that standard mobile phone charger is ready to be introduced in the market. The new Universal Charging Solution (UCS) underlines the role of ICT in providing solutions towards mitigating climate change.

Director of ITU's Telecommunication Standardisation Bureau (TSB), Malcolm Johnson, told reporters on the sidelines of the conference that it was a significant step in reducing the environmental impact of mobile charging.

He said UCS would reduce 13.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year and 82,000 tonnes of redundant chargers.

Johnson said the telecom industry led the development of UCS and hence it would be universally accepted by the telecom companies.

The standardisation of technology enables the same charger to be used for all future handsets, regardless of make and model. It will cut the number of chargers produced, shipped and subsequently discarded as new models become available.

The new standard will mean users worldwide will be able to charge their mobiles anywhere from any available charger, while also reducing the energy consumed while charging.

The new UCS standard was based on input from the GSMA, which predicts a 50 per cent reduction in standby energy consumption.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Internet cloud is future: Microsoft

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said that the technology giant that built a fortune with packaged software is betting the future of computing is in the Internet "cloud."

"Cloud computing represents the next frontier," Ballmer said at an annual gathering of corporate chief executives at Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Washington.

"We've been betting or investing in the cloud for about ten years and in earnest for about six or seven years."

Cloud computing gained momentum during the economic downturn as people and businesses saved money by using applications hosted online instead of buying, installing and maintaining software on their own machines.

"There is incredible opportunity in the cloud," Ballmer said.

Microsoft sees cloud computing as playing roles in its investments in personal computers, smartphones, and Internet-enabled television.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Consumermate - The Ultimate Buying Destination for Mobiles, Digital Cameras and Laptops

Do you have a passion for photography? Are you worried of what camera you have to buy? Are you looking forward to buy a good digital camera that offers great features at a resonably fair price? Do you want to know about the latest deals and offers around? If so, I recommend you to login to this site, a 9.9 Media initiative, where you can browse over a huge collection of cameras and choose the one that you feel is affordable and pleasing.

If you are looking for buying a higher-end digital camera, you can choose the SLR Digital Cameras, that, unlike the normal digital cameras, they have more advanced features like Live Preview, Optical Image Stabilization etc. Nikon has some of the best SLR cameras and ConsumerMate has compiled and categorized all of these based on their features. Just search ConsumerMate for SLR Nikon and you will get a whole lot of Digital Cameras come popping up. The Digital Cameras section not only offers banking options, hot deals and discounts etc., but it also helps prospective buyers zero in on a particular model that is best suited for them. You can find expert reviews for each product and they are provided by the Digit Test Center, India's No.1 Research Lab.

Apart from the Digital Cameras section, also has Mobile Phones section where users can check all latest mobile phones price and their features. An LCD TV section and a Laptop section are also available that helps user in buying their respective products. So friends, I am pretty sure that you wouldn't have any difficulty in buying your gadget as ConsumerMate will become your ultimate buying destination for Mobiles, Digital Cameras and Laptops. Comments about your experiences with the site are always welcome! Good luck Readers!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Testing time for UID project

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the ambitious project that aims to give every citizen an identification card, is about to launch a series of tests to demonstrate its feasibility as a precursor to the actual rollout later this year.

The project, which received an outlay of Rs 1,900 crore in the budget, will kick off the so-called proof of concept projects in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka this month. The tests will parse different aspects of technology including biometric systems, security, data centre linkages and servers and address key issues such as duplication and fraud. At least 60,000 people in these states will be covered by the tests before they lead to a prototype sometime in July.

UIDAI, headed by tech czar Nandan Nilekani, had a budget of Rs 120 crore for this fiscal. But keeping in mind the greater costs involved in the rollout, the finance minister has spiked its budget by over 15 times for the next fiscal. The money will be used to set up registrars, enrollment costs, servers, data centres, a central data repository in Delhi, a data backup in Bangalore, regional offices and for other related activities.

UIDAI aims to provide a unique 16-digit number ID card to at least 600 million residents over the next five years starting from August.

The agency, whose regional offices in Bangalore and Hyderabad are already functional, will set up six more in Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Gauwhati and Ranchi. These developments come in the midst of the agency’s expansionary moves. UIDAI will add 11 experts from the industry for functions spanning HR, knowledge management, process and operations soon.

The experts will be part of the core project management team comprising chief architect Pramod Varma, technology head Srikant Nadhmuni and Shankar Maruwada who leads UIDAI’s demand generation and marketing activities. With the new hires, UIDAI’s total workforce will increase to 30, or 10% of the planned 300 employees it will eventually have.

UIDAI also roped in Ernst & Young (E&Y ) as consultant last week. E&Y will help in formulating a business strategy and revenue model for the project. “With E&Y’s appointment, the project will now move faster towards meeting the August 2010-February 2011 commitment for issuing the first set of numbers,” said a person familiar with the development who requested anonymity.

E&Y will give a road map for the Central ID Data Repository (CIDR), select a managed service provider and help in related activities.

Telcos oppose 11-digit numbers

All mobile firms, with the exception of Reliance Communications and the Tata Teleservices, have asked telecom regulator Trai to continue with the existing system of 10-digit mobile number format and have opposed the proposal to move towards 11-digit mobile numbers.

Responding to the Trai’s consultation process on this issue, most mobile firms have suggested that digits between ‘2’ and ‘9’ be opened up for mobile telephony so that the current 10-digit format be retained as against the current policy where levels ‘9’ and sublevels of ‘8’ and ‘7’ are only used for mobile numbers.

Over 90% of the mobile numbers begin with ‘9’ as this level has been completely opened up for mobile telephony. Off late, the Department of Telecom has also opened up sublevels in ‘8’ and ‘7’ for mobile telephony, which has resulted in cellular phone numbers beginning with this digit.

Most operators have taken the stance that currently many levels -- 2 , 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 -- were reserved for fixed line services and these levels are highly underutilised . “For the past few years there has been a constant decline in the number of fixed line subscribers in India.

In such a case, it is unfair to keep six billion numbers reserved for fixed line subscribers, whereas the actual number is even below 40 million. This is a clear wastage of the precious numbering resource,” the Cellular Operators Association of India, the body representing all GSM operators said.

“Considering the relative size of the subscriber bases in the mobile and fixed sectors and the exponential growth of mobile subscriptions, it is worthwhile to free up the fixed line numbering resources and re-allocate some levels to mobile services.

In view of this, we believe that there should be reorganisation of existing fixed line numbering scheme to get at least 3 levels vacated from the existing levels and allocated for mobile services. This would give provisioning for many more millions of subscribers within the existing ‘10’ digit numbering scheme, which would be in consumer interest,” the COAI added.

Freeing up one level will provide about a billion new mobile numbers. On the other hand, Reliance Communications and Tatas are of the view that while the 10-digit numbers can be used for the next three years, for long term, from 1st April, 2013, the country must move ‘towards the implementation of 11 digit numbering scheme so as to address the exponential growth needs of the sector and the unforeseen requirement resulting out of future technologies and services’.

Both these telcos have also pointed out that since fixed line services are in continuous decline mode, it would be not be appropriate to change the numbers of customers.

Monday, 1 March 2010

How to decline Facebook request

A colleague I just met at work has invited me to be their friend on Facebook. I don't want to offend them, but nor do I want to share my candid photos and lousy Scrabble scores with someone I hardly know. Can I ignore their invite?

"Can I be your friend?" might work as an ice-breaker among small children, but it's not a question you hear often between adults, at least not outside of Las Vegas.

Friendship, it is generally understood, is a relationship that evolves through shared interests, common experiences and a primeval need to share your neighbor's power tools.

Yet for many people, Facebook permits a return to the simplicity of the schoolyard.

Rather than inviting someone to be our Facebook friend only after we've become friends in the real world, many of us are using Facebook as a short-cut around all that time-consuming relationship building.

Why bother asking someone you've just met questions about their family, interests and ability to run a farm or aquarium, when you can simply send them a friend request and read the answers in your Facebook news feed? And so we think little of receiving friend requests after we meet someone for the first time at, say, a dinner party.

If you like the person, perhaps because they brought an excellent bottle of wine to the party, then you can accept the request in the hope of further opportunities to sample the contents of their cellar.

If you didn't get to taste the wine because they accidentally spilled the bottle over your brand new party dress, then etiquette experts would probably agree that you can decline the friend request, send them a dry-cleaning bill and humiliate them in a derisory posting to your real Facebook friends.

In the workplace, however, the dynamic is very different. The consequences of offending someone by ignoring their friend request are greater with a colleague you see every day than with a careless dining companion you may never meet again.

So why are people you work with increasingly offering to share their Facebook output?

Joan Morris DiMicco, an IBM researcher who studies social software in the workplace, said it's partly because some people just don't anticipate the ramifications of sharing their personal life with colleagues.

But it's also a function of the Facebook interface, which recommends other people for you to friend.

"Once you've connected to one person you work with you get recommendations to connect to others that you work with," she said.

Of course, many people don't have a problem with being Facebook friends with colleagues, especially those they know well. But for those who would rather keep their work and private lives separate, there are options other than ignoring an unwanted friend request.

One is to accept the invitation and then use Facebook's privacy settings to limit the flow of information between you and your new "friend". To do this, you can create a "colleagues" list from the Friends menu and then add to it your new friend. Then navigate to the privacy settings and use the "Profile Information" section to control what information people on the "colleagues" list can see.

An alternative, says workplace etiquette expert Barbara Pachter, is to suggest to the colleague that you connect instead on LinkedIn, a social network for professional relationships.

"You can just go ahead and ask them to join you on LinkedIn and hope they forget they sent you a Facebook friend request," said Pachter, the author of New Rules @ Work.

"Or you can say, Thanks for asking me. I'm keeping Facebook for my family and friends. I'm asking you to join me on my professional network instead.'"

Pachter said that whatever you do, it's important not to offend your colleague -- and that's not just because politeness is good etiquette. "The person you offend might end up being your boss next year," she said.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Trouble for Win7 trial users!

Microsoft Windows 7 Release Candidate users will lose control over their computers. Their PCs will start shutting down every two hours, even if they haven’t saved their work. And, on June 1, the screens will go black.

World’s largest software maker Microsoft’s business strategy for pushing hard to sell its new Windows 7 by exerting control over users’ PCs has opened a pandora’s box.

Release candidate were the trial versions that Microsoft released last year. Most proprietary software vendors do supply beta or trial versions for a limited period, which shut down after limited use. Microsoft Office software versions also lock a user’s files after a few trials, which means all data created during the trial period becomes unusable. But, in case of an operating system, which is the brain of a PC, the risks of losing control over a PC are much higher.

“The RC is a pre-final build that is distributed with a clearly stated intent and expiration date. Thus, testers already know at the time of downloading/installing that the RC is valid for a limited period. Even now, users have over 130 days to buy the final available for sale version of the product,” says Rajiv Popli, director–Windows Client, Consumer & Online Business, Microsoft India. “It’s a normal practice in software industry,” he adds.

Open source and non-profit IT bodies have started lobbying for open source software even harder for government systems. They fear that during times of a crisis, large corporations can control private networks. Legally, users cede the right to control over their PCs when they check into terms and conditions before installation. Many IT leaders cite this loss of control, as an unhealthy trade practice, especially for government systems. “The government is unfortunately burying the cyber threats as a non-real threat by procuring critical systems from foreign parties. Some US internet search engines are also reported to use US’ National Security Agency (NSA) algorithms. The issue of loss of control by users has to be taken suo moto by competition commission. It’s a highly coercive practice,” says Prabir Purkayastha, of Knowledge Commons.

Microsoft had however denied any reports of an NSA backdoor in Windows 7, last year. IT for Change, a non-profit body working towards open software in public systems, says that public systems should use public software. “Resting the control over public systems to private parties is against the principles of universal access,” says IT for Change director Gurumurthy Kafinathan.

Public systems aside, for users, geeks have designed ingenious ways to get past the practice. Dr Zaki Qureshey, chairman E2-Labs and an ethical hacker, says that reverse engineering of software is the key to it. “Many hackers get into reverse engineering after the Beta software are made available. All they do is create a small program that stops software from expiring, by lets says stopping the date to change.”

Numerous patches are available on the internet that promises to do away with the desktop watermarks and even stop the send feedback functionality. However, for users these may come with a risk. Security updates and patches would be unavailable making them vulnerable to malware attacks. “Further some of the software developing companies can even remotely lock the PCs which are using the pirated versions,” he adds.

A software called TimerNuke counts the remaining beta test period of Windows 7. If one missed the deadline for downloading the Beta software, when it was made available, one still has the option of downloading the entire cracked version from the internet through torrents. Torrents are small files with addressees of several internet connected PCs, which act as a resource base.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Tech Budget 2010: Highlights

Highlights of 2010-11 budget presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in parliament:

* Mobile accessories market to get tax breaks

* Market responds positively, Sensex up 300 pts

* R&D Corp Tax break up to 200%

* 30% income tax on Rs 8 lakh and above

* 20% income tax on Rs 5 - Rs 8 lakh

* 10% income tax on Rs 1.6 - Rs 5 lakh

* No income tax upto Rs 1.6 lakh

* Saral 2 form to be rolled out for simplification of tax filing in 2010-11

* Infotech usage in tax management to be increased

* First set of UID numbers this year

* Tech advisor group under Nandan Nilekani

* UID authority given Rs 1900 cr

* Allocation for urban development up 75% from Rs 3062 cr to Rs 5400 cr

* Hike in allocation for school education

* Rs 1.73 lakh crore for infrastructure

* To establish clean energy fund

* Rs 16,500 cr capital support for PSU banks

* Gradual phasing out of stimulus

* Govt will implement direct tax code by April 1, 2011

* Economic growth slows down to 6% in Q3

* Economy stabilised in Q1 of 2009

* First challenge is to get to the high GDP growth path

* Sensex quotes 0.4% up before the Budget

* Disinvestment target:Rs 25,000 cr this year

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Sony launches SD/SDHC cards

Sony has launched a range of SD/SDHC and microSD/microSDHC cards. Providing memory capacity to consumers in compact devices, these cards can be used in cameras, mobile phones & laptops which use SD card format.

The new range of memory cards are all class-4-speed for high-definition recording and include unique benefits like x-Pict story and File Rescue software.

Speaking on the launch, Masaru Tamagawa, MD, Sony India said “The new memory cards range SD/SDHC and microSD/microSDHC will complement Sony’s existing Memory Stick line up, satisfying the needs of a broader range of users, and strengthening Sony’s position as a full line media supplier. In addition to the current models, Sony also intends to expand the product line-up to address the price conscious customers and capture 35% share in the SD card market by 2010-11."

Class 4 data transfer speed means stable HD video recording and better speed to cope with the advanced functions of compact digital cameras. Sony’s SD/SDHC memory card range features storage capacity of up to 32GB, while the microSD/microSDHC memory cards are able to store up to 8GB of data.

With File Rescue software, users can retrieve photos, videos, or music files that were damaged or deleted by mistake. The same is available as a simple download which is free of cost. Then there's x-Pict story, which will let them combine their choice of music with their favorite pictures.

Priced between Rs 600 to Rs 1500, the new range of Memory cards will be available across all Sony Center stores and other major electronic outlets across India.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Sandisk launches 64GB SD card

SanDisk Corporation has begun shipping the 64 GB SanDisk Ultra SDXC card. The company's highest capacity SD card ever offers up to 15MB/sec read speed2 and Class 4 speed rating.

The new card is ideal for capturing and storing massive 1080p High-Definition video files and then transferring them quickly to a computer.

SDXC cards are based on the new SD 3.0 specification, which makes it possible to manufacture cards with storage capacity up to 2 terabytes (TB)3. The SDXC card's exFAT file structure helps consumers record long-duration HD videos. The 64GB SanDisk Ultra SDXC card can store more than eight hours of such video.

“SDXC is the successor to the world’s most popular card format,” said Susan Park, director, retail product marketing, SanDisk. “The 64GB SanDisk Ultra SDXC card delivers the speed and capacity consumers need for extended HD video recording and improved rapid shooting of still images. The card is an ideal complement for recently-announced SDXC-compatible cameras and camcorders.”

The 64GB SanDisk Ultra SDXC card comes with a lifetime limited warranty.