Friday, August 1, 2008

Firefox 3.1 Alpha Preview Delivers Slick New Features

By Scott Gilbertson

Firefox logoFirefox 3.0 is barely out of the gate, but already Mozilla is moving toward the future with the first alpha release of Firefox 3.1. The final release of 3.1 is scheduled for the end of 2008 with the usual series of alpha and beta releases in the coming months.

The first 3.1 alpha (code-named Shiretoko) already packs some impressive new features like the new visual tab switcher, which offers previews of pages, and changes the sorting order based on which tab was most recently open. In essence it mimics the behavior of cmd-tab application switchers on most OSes. The visual eye candy is quite nice, but the real benefit is the dynamic ordering, which makes it much easier to quickly jump between recently viewed tabs.

Also new in alpha 1 is the wildcard searching capabilities we mentioned earlier. Firefox 3.1 will allow you to quickly restrict your “awesome bar” searches using customizable wildcard characters. For instance typing an asterisk limits results to your bookmarks and typing a pound sign limits results to page titles (rather than titles and URLs).

The Gecko rendering engine, which powers Firefox under the hood, also has support for some new CSS options like text-shadow, box-shadow, border images and the HTML5 Canvas text API. The first three are already available in some other browsers like Safari, but with Firefox on-board as well, web designers will no doubt feel more comfortable using those elements in their designs.

The HTML 5 canvas support is a bit more experimental (the W3C spec is still in the draft stages), but Mozilla has rolled it in anyway. If you want get really bleeding edge, the latest Firefox nightly builds also include support for audio and video tags.

Like the Canvas element, the and HTML 5 elements are still in the draft stages, but the idea is to easily embed media without proprietary plugins (like Quicktime, Windows Media, etc). Technically both tags are codec-neutral, but Mozilla has bundled the Ogg Theora and Vorbis codecs giving you the option to deliver audio and video in an open format.

Keep in mind though that the and aren’t part of alpha 1. For those elements you’ll need to go to the nightly builds.

So far, Firefox 3.1 is looking like it will be a very impressive release, building on and refining many of the best features in 3.0, as well as adding some important new ones. If you’d like to test it out, head over to the download page, but bear in mind that, as this is an alpha, the usual warnings apply and most of your extensions will probably be disabled.

Original here

Firefox market share exceeds 20%, Internet Explorer dips below 70%

By Wolfgang Gruener

Chicago (IL) – It has been six weeks since Firefox 3 has been released and if we believe market share numbers provided by an ongoing survey of NetApplications, then it appears that Mozilla has had a successful launch with market share gains, especially at the expense of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Examining NetApplications’ numbers, it is almost certain that this data is highly dependent on daily user behavior and that any results have to be taken with a grain of salt. But if the numbers are any indication then it is clear that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer market share is trending down, while Mozilla is playing with the 20% range and is successfully jumping over this mark more often.

The average market share for Firefox was 19.27% in June, up from 18.41% in May. Internet Explorer dropped from 73.75% to 72.95% in the same time frame.

According to the most recent data made available by the market research firm today, Internet Explorer stands at 69.88% today, while Firefox 2 and 3 account for a combined market share of 20.68% (Firefox 2: 13.75%, Firefox 3: 6.92%.) Since the launch of Firefox 3 on June 17, IE’s share was as high as 74.30% and played at least 12 time with numbers below the 71% mark, while today’s estimate is a new low for the browser in NetApplications’ chart.

On the other side, Firefox was estimated to have accounted for a market share of 17.81% on June 17 (Firefox 2: 16.19%, Firefox 3: 1.62%) and was able to jump over the 20% barrier eight times since then. Firefox 3 has been continuously gaining market share since launch and Firefox appears to be making a slight comeback in recent days, after falling as low as 12.37% on July 23. July 26 and July 27 have been the first two consecutive days on which Firefox was able to maintain a market share above 20%.

Since the day of the introduction of Firefox 3, Firefox was able to add 2.85 percentage points to its market share, while IE lost 4.20 points in the same time frame.

Original here

Microsoft's Midori -- a future without Windows

by Joshua Topolsky

According to a report, Microsoft isn't just looking at the next version of Windows (no, not Mojave) for future OS possibilities, but is looking beyond the Windows architecture altogether with a project known as Midori. The new OS is still in the "incubation" phase (which puts it slightly closer to market than R&D projects), but Microsoft has admitted to its existence, and the Software Daily Times says at least one team in Redmond is actively working on the new architecture.

The basis for the platform centers around research related to Microsoft's Singularity project, and envisions a distributed environment where applications, documents, and connectivity are blurred in a cloud-computing phantasmagoria which can be run natively or hosted across multiple systems. The researchers are working to create a concurrent / parallel distribution of resources, as well as a method of handling applications across separate machines -- religiously-dubbed the Asynchronous Promise Architecture -- which will set the stage for a backwards-compatible operating system built from the ground up, with networks of varying size in mind. Says the SD Times, "The Midori documents foresee applications running across a multitude of topologies, ranging from client-server and multi-tier deployments to peer-to-peer at the edge, and in the cloud data center. Those topologies form a heterogeneous mesh where capabilities can exist at separate places." Like it technical? Hit the read link for an in-depth look at the possible shape of Microsoft's future.

Original here

Is it possible that the Linux Desktop is going to surpass the Mac in use? And why or why not?


for the children
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols addresses this question. The question itself was recently raised when Mark Shuttleworth (Mr. Ubuntu) discussed the possibility in a recent talk.

We can assume that Shuttleworth is being optimistic and pro-Linux because he is so invested in it. So I won't write off what he has to say, but we will not be surprised at his exuberance. Vaughan-Nichols bothers to make a comparison between the Mac system and the Linux system and bases his conclusion on that. Sorry, Stevo, but that's dumb. If that was the basis for what system is going to be growing vs shrinking in user base, then where would Windows be? Out the window, certainly.

I think there are two types of people who will put Linux on their desktop in their notebooks. One, obviously is the geek, and we need not discuss that further other than to say that there are not enough true geeks to move Linux very far ahead in user base.

The other people are serious computer users ... people who are not programmers or engineers or fiddlers with hardware, but who need a serious computer ... who simply don't like windows and don't like macs and who have not been convinced by their 'friends' to be afraid.

Membership in this group of people who may prefer the simple power and versatility of Linux would grow for financial reasons as well. As long as the Microsoft philosophy remains "the users will upgrade, the users will pay" and the Mac philosophy remains, well, similar, there will be people who look at the computer that costs a third of a Mac and half of a Windows-infected box and pick the one they can afford that does what they need it to do.

Right now, I still believe that Linux is not for everyone. It is not for the faint of heart, it is not for people who like to whine. It is not for individuals who are not very smart or who don't really need a computer that works well and packs a punch. People who don't know their Ram from their Rom or the difference .... or lack thereof .... between a file and a folder need to be hand held by their Mac or bullied by their Windows box had better stay away.

Fortunately, none of these attributes apply to children. Children have not yet learned to be selectively ignorant of technology or afraid of what they are told to be afraid of. My daughter is equally competent at Mac System X, Linux KDE or Gnome, and Windows. She does not see them as really different. I wish more children (among those that are exposed to computers to begin with) were more widely exposed to different approaches. Were that to happen, unless Macs became cheap or Windows computers became sensible, you can bet Linux will take a much larger share of the user base.

Original here

New Linux file system in development: Tux3

Recently Daniel Phillips announced that he is developing a new file system, Tux3. It plans to be a modern file system on level with ZFS and the currently also still in development Btrfs.

While there are many file systems like ext3, Xfs, Jfs and others are available for Linux it currently lacks a modern, new age file system: especially features like versions and writable snapshots are hardly available. On the other hand, other Unixes do have such file systems: OpenSolaris and some BSDs have ZFS, and DragonFly BSD has HAMMER.

To fill this gap the Oracle’s Chris Manson started the development of Btrfs a year ago. Now Daniel Phillips also announced that he is developing a new file system, Tux3. The general aims are indeed close to the general aims of the other mentioned file systems.
Also, Daniel is not new to file system development. Years ago he announced Tux2 as an improvement to ext2 but without journaling. However, that file system never started off due to patent reasons.

The question is of course which file system will make the run: Tux3 is still at the beginning, while Btrfs could see a first beta in the next months. But there are still rumors that ZFS might be released under the GPL, and Hammer could also be implemented for Linux.
Either way, exciting times for file systems on Linux are ahead

Original here

Verizon still doesn't understand fire

The good news is that this time Verizon did not start the blaze, unlike on so many other occasions that we have chronicled here in excruciating detail.

The bad news, at least for the burned-out-of-house-and-home in-laws of Network World columnist James Gaskin, is that this is a telephone company that continues to have trouble grasping the finer points of smoke and flame.

Gaskin tells the tale on his private blog, Technology is Broken. Forced out by the fire, his in-laws asked Verizon to transfer their phone number to their temporary quarters. Answer: No can do. The highlight of the post comes when the in-laws are told that the best Verizon can do is to have their calls forwarded from their long-time number -- the one whose associated physical telephones were lying in charred ruins -- to their temporary phone. There would be one catch with Plan B, though, which Gaskin explains:

We can't do (the forwarding), said the Verizon reps; only you can do it. Get this: They were told to call from their old phone to request the forwarding service. Yes, the phone in a house that burned down. Yes, calling on phones that had turned into lumps of melted plastic with metal bits sticking out.

See what I mean about not grasping the finer points.

(Update: Coincidentally, Verizon recently commissioned a survey that found 83 percent of consumers intend to keep their landlines indefinitely, whether or not they have a cell phone, and whether or not that cell phone has been melted into an unidentifiable lump of plastic in a house fire. "Ninety-four percent of the respondents cited reliability and 91 percent cited safety as the key factors for retaining landline service," according to Verizon. It was not clear how many, if any, cited number portability.)

(Update 2: You think the in-laws with the fried phone had problems with Verizon? You think you have had problems with Verizon? Tell it to Dr. Herman I. Libshitz of the West Philadelphia Libshitzs. Now Dr. Libshitz, he's had trouble with Verizon ... and all because he won't change the spelling of his name.)

Original here

Google Street View gets go ahead

Street View car, PA
The Street View cars have already been spotted in the UK

Google's controversial Street View photo-mapping tool has been given the all clear by the UK's privacy watchdog.

The system takes pictures of streets and adds them to online maps to let people see what locations look like.

The project drew criticism from privacy campaigners worried it could breach data protection laws.

But the Information Commissioner said it was "satisfied" that Google had put in place safeguards to avoid risking anyone's privacy or safety.

In a statement the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said it had requested a further meeting with Google to talk about Street View prior to the service's launch.

It said the safeguards Google was putting in place, such as blurring faces and registration plates, were sufficient to allay worries about privacy.

The statement said: "Although it is possible that in certain limited circumstances an image may allow the identification of an individual, it is clear that Google are keen to capture images of streets and not individuals."

The delay between the images being snapped and them appearing on the web meant it could not be used as a tracking tool

UK rights group Privacy International raised worries about Street View which employs special vehicles to take panoramic snaps of busy streets in cities and towns. The digital images are then attached to Google's online map system so visitors can virtually travel up and down a route.

The Street View tool was first launched in the US in May 2007 and gave views of five cities. Since then it has been expanded to many more as well as overseas cities.

Although the Street View cars have been spotted in many places in the UK Google has yet to reveal when pictures will be added to maps of the country.

A Google spokesperson said it "welcomed" the decision of the ICO.

"We've always said we will not launch in UK until we are comfortable Street View complies with local law," they added, "and that we will use technology, like face-blurring, licence plate blurring and operational controls, such as image removal tools, so Street View remains useful and in keeping with local norms wherever it is available."

Original here

Sprint early termination fees are illegal, judge rules


By Steve Johnson
Mercury News

A view of the Sprint Nextel campus in Overland Park, Kan., Tuesday, Jan. 9,... ( Orlin Wagner )

Californians fed up with being charged for ending their cell phone service prematurely won a major victory in a Bay Area court decision that concluded such fees violate state law.

In a preliminary ruling Monday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw said Sprint Nextel must pay California mobile-phone consumers $18.2 million as part of a class-action lawsuit challenging early termination fees.

Though the decision could be appealed, it's the first in the country to declare the fees illegal in a state and could affect other similar lawsuits, with broad implications for the nation's fast-growing legions of cell phone users.

The judge - who is overseeing several other suits against telecommunications companies that involve similar fees - also told the company to stop trying to collect $54.7 million from other customers who haven't yet paid the charges they were assessed. The suit said about 2 million Californians were assessed the fee.

Whether Sabraw's ruling will stand isn't clear. Experts say an appeal is likely, and the Federal Communications Commission is considering imposing a rule - backed by the wireless industry - which might decree that only federal authorities can regulate early termination fees.

Sprint Nextel also argued in the lawsuit that such fees - which ranged from $150 to $200 - were outside the purview of California law. But Sabraw rejected that argument.

"This is a terrific ruling," said

Chicago attorney Jay Edelson, who was not part of the case but has filed about 50 other suits nationwide against various cell phone charges.

"The phone companies have a tremendous amount of power," he added. "They lock you into long-term contracts and then they allow all these charges to be put on your bill. We have to make sure that consumers are protected."

"We are disappointed," said Sprint Nextel spokesman Matthew Sullivan. But he added that Sabraw's ruling was tentative and that she has given Sprint Nextel's attorneys the opportunity to file a rebuttal before she considers making it permanent.

Sullivan noted that similar suits have been filed in other states, but that Sabraw's decision was the first he knows of declaring such fees illegal.

Several other industry experts agreed, including John Walls, a spokesman with the CTIA, a Washington-based organization that represents the wireless telecommunications industry.

"I don't know of any state that has gone to this extent," he said, adding that his group believes it makes more sense to have such fees solely policed by the federal government.

'National framework'

"A consistent, uniform, national framework of standards is the best-case scenario for consumers and for the industry to serve consumers," he said. "If you allow 50 states to regulate and legislate in 50 different ways, you can create a very confusing and obviously inefficient service."

At a public hearing last month, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin sketched out a plan in which cancellation fees would be reduced over the life of the cell phone contract. Three companies - T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon Wireless - already do that, and Sprint said it would begin prorating its fees next year.

The commission also is trying to resolve whether states have any role in regulating early termination fees, which are among the biggest source of complaints among wireless consumers, said spokesman Robert Kenny.

Fees or 'rates'?

He said the agency may decide to define such fees as "rates," which are subject to federal regulation under federal law. But if that happened, it is unclear how that might affect lawsuits in California and other states, Kenny said.

"That is something that will have to be addressed," he added, noting that the FCC hopes to resolve the issue by the end of the year.

Chris Murray, senior legal counsel for Consumers Union, said he hoped the California court decision would "drive a stake through the heart" of the industry's desire to remove state courts and state regulators from overseeing the fees.

That view was seconded by Scott Bursor, a lawyer for the victorious Sprint Nextel customers, who said the FCC likely would be persuaded by Sabraw's logic that states should have a role in policing the fees. If the FCC does limit state oversight, "it will get reversed" by the courts, he added.

On June 12, a jury in the Alameda County lawsuit ruled in favor of Sprint Nextel, determining that its customers who canceled their service early had breached their contracts with the company and that early termination fees were warranted.

But in overruling that decision, Sabraw said the jurors appear to have erred in assuming the fees were valid, and she took issue with the way Sprint Nextel determined that its customers owed the fees.

"Sprint did no damage analysis that considered the lost revenue from contracts, the avoidable costs and Sprint's expected lost profits from contract terminations," she said.

Nonetheless, Sabraw preserved a portion of the jury's verdict and used that to scale back the amount of refunds the suit initially had sought.

Original here

Controversy as Rookie Admin Aspires to BitTorrent Domination

Written by enigmax

Vortex Network, the touted replacement for the BrokenStones tracker, is today surrounded by controversy. The site owner announced she will link the site to a non-profit organization as part of a wider plan to unite all BitTorrent sites in a new air of legitimacy. Staff and members are leaving the site en masse.

A few weeks ago after difficulties with Malaysian hosting, the much-loved BrokenStones BitTorrent tracker went down. When news of a replacement site started to filter through, staff, members and others were prepared to offer time and resources to make the site a success. This led to the birth of Vortex Network - a brand new site put together in record time and one of the first to be built on the shiny new ‘Gazelle‘ codebase, developed by

Around two weeks ago, a message appeared on the site, written by Rachel Faith Anderson, “Owner, SysOp and Chief Admin of the Vortex Network”. In it were thanks to the ‘heroes’ who put the site together along with statements about Vortex Network becoming something unique and something different, a standard claim for a new BitTorrent site trying to get off the ground. “Welcome to the eye of the storm my friend” ends the notice from Rachel, which has turned out to be quite the prophetic greeting.

The Start of the Storm

A few days ago the first rumblings of dissatisfaction started to appear from within the userbase of Vortex Network. Although donations are an absolute requirement for most BitTorrent communities to stay afloat, there are many differing opinions on how this issue should be approached. It’s safe to say that some of the community were not happy with the site’s ‘donation’ page. While it’s not compulsory for users to pay to use Vortex Network, there is a page where users can pay cash to fix their share ratio, enabling them to opt-out of seeding and get ‘customer’ or ‘patron’ status.

Some other members who won’t (or can’t) seed have cautiously welcomed the scheme. However, it seems that most are not in favor of it, labeling Rachel Faith - a self-confessed BitTorrent newcomer - as greedy. For her part, Rachel denies that the site is accepting payments in this fashion, indicating that the code was already present in ‘Gazelle’.

The P2L debate will rage on here and elsewhere, but this is really just a distraction. Following this discussion came an announcement from Rachel Faith Anderson herself. It’s quite long but in order to present the entire picture, here it is in full. To fully appreciate the nuances, a detailed read is required:

A Discussion not a Debate

That is what I shall be doing. In a debate, sides present their case and then some other party gets to decide. In a discussion, both sides can present their case and then that is that. They are each understood. But there is not the presumption that persuasion will occur.

I know this “debate” has been around for longer than p2p. I know the roots run deep and no one post can persuade those whose minds are already made up. Thus, this is a discussion. Feel free to discuss for as long as you wish. Feel free to ‘debate’ if you wish. Know that I am not interested in debate.

With that being said, let me make the brief introduction and outline the points I hope to present. There are many issues, and not all of them are even related, so keeping this as a discussion not a debate, allows the latitude to include all the points being raised even if some are not germane.

The list of points:

P2L is bad, impure, and somehow against the spirit of something greater. It makes others (those who pay not seed) who are for this reason not as good as others (those who see seeding as the ultimate sign) equal.

Yeah, it does exactly that. It says, just because you seed and do not donate, you are not better than someone who donates and does not seed as much as you. If you are offended by the equality of the two different ways in which status can be obtained, that is your personal feeling. But a feeling is not a fact. Choose to act upon a feeling and not a fact, and you act irrationally. That is also a fact.

The fact is, we fully declare that there is no superiority between those who seed and those who donate. None. We are neutral, unbiased and blind to any such thought, rejecting totally and without repentance the notion that seeders are “better” than “donors”.

That this is a point of contention for those who would like to think they are better than someone else – because their way is pure – is a very old elitist mentality which we fully intend to eradicate. In short such thinking is beyond bullshit, and the mark of juvenile thinking and weak egos who cannot bear the thought that they are not superior to someone else.

This is why we do not have the titles as plain as other sites.

Take the word user, or power user. What is a user? Someone who uses something or someone. This too has been rejected. You will never see the word user in any of our rules or guides. You, the people are not users. You are not using us, using each other, or using the community. You are members, each equal under the rules and given the same opportunity to succeed or fail in your own right.

Now the other end. The VIPs. We do not have this term either. Rejected is the idea that someone is more important or very important beyond anyone else. All members are part of the same body. Any opinion from any member is received with the same hope, optimism and credibility as is any other. Each will be weighed on the merits of the idea, not on some favored status. You are all Very Important People. Words have meaning, and we have chosen the theme and the words for the titles with that care in mind.

What are the other problems? The red herring. Server costs. Let us be very clear. Vortex Network is not a tracker. It has a tracker. True enough. And we come to existence from the ashes of a tracker. Also true. But this is not who we are, where we are going and what is to be the future.

We are more than a tracker. We are more than 22,000 members. Not yet, not today, not this hour. But sooner than later. Sooner than many but a very small few who really understand what is going on, would dare to believe. So let us be clearer for all.

We are a legal and legitimate Tax Exempt Corporation. Any other site taking money of any kind for any reasons and not filing with the authorities needs to face the facts that p2p may not have ever put anyone in prison, but tax evasion has done so to the best of mice and men.

There are two schools of thought. One is old and is the conventional thinking. One is new and is the wisdom we present.

The first school of thought says this: Our technology is forbidden by most authorities, we must be small, quiet, hidden and meek. If we get caught we must lie and erase our activities. We, by these actions admit our guilt and we believe ourselves to be criminals. Nothing, will or can change and we must act in this belief.

We reject every element of that thought. We embrace a better future. We believe the statutes change. We believe public perception changes. We are students of the law, of history and we are agents of change.

Like those before us who stood for the right of men to be free of slavery, like those before us whose suffrage was to bring the right of women to vote, and like those before us who have stood even for their most basic of human rights under much worse oppression and tyranny, we stand to bring the necessary changes to the use of p2p technology and to the common sense rights for intellectual property as well.

We do not hide. We are not criminals. Our behavior will not be that of cowards, criminals or those who are ashamed to speak out truth in this, a darkened night.

Your donation is not for access to a tracker. That access is free. And as the seeder club has pointed out, a donation is not needed at all to seed or even to build a ratio, provided you are willing to wait long enough.

Your donation will fund this change. It will provide us the opportunity to build a community far beyond 22,000 members, beyond 220,000 members. It will change the whole misunderstanding about what p2p technology is, does and who and why we are doing what we do.

Our effort will be public, it will be open, it will be legal, and you will see exactly where your contributions are going. And we use the word contribution, because it is not just a donation of money, but of time and effort, which will be rewarded as well.

This is just a single small step into a new world vision. This is but the tiniest spark of hope in a hopeless future. We are asking you to be part of that spark. To be keen to lighting the brush fire which then can never be extinguished!

And to our dear friends who cannot. To those whom we still love and respect, we wish you the best in your efforts. We bear no ill will to those who, in their own belief cannot see, cannot hear and will not act. We ask only, that you let us do so. We ask this in friendship and sincerity.

We know these are real differences and they are real points of objection. We understand the thinking of fear. Do not think we are deaf to it or ignorant of it. We know you are uncomfortable with our choice, and you feel safer in your isolation. That is the freedom we all share. The choice we all make. You can go in peace or stay and be peaceful.

This is not a debate. This is a direction and a path. You are welcome to walk it with us, or stop and wait and watch, or run and hide as far as you may need to run. We will not hold it against you in any path you choose.

And should providence shine a blessing upon us, we will never ask “Where were you?” We will embrace it together, welcoming you to this future as brothers/sisters, family.

For those who understand, who see what could be and seek with us to pursue it, to embrace the future: You have reached the calm… the eye of the storm.

Rachel Faith Anderson

We are a Legal and Legitimate Tax Exempt Corporation

In this headline and statement from Rachel lies the real controversy. It appears that in order to supposedly protect Vortex Network from legal action, it (or a parent organization) has been incorporated in the US as a non-profit Subchapter “S” corporation, which was necessary to “open a bank account, purchase equipment and report revenue to the taxing authorities”. We can find no evidence to suggest that Rachel is worried about copyright laws, which is an interesting approach.

The mere thought of being registered or linked to some sort of tax-exempt charity/organization has sent shockwaves through the Vortex Network community. Add to this that she is suggesting that tracker admins should no longer hide in the shadows, but join her to face the world head on, has seen many of the staff deleting their accounts and leaving the site in disbelief.

Rachel Faith’s Plan for World BitTorrent Domination

Although previously we’ve spoken about non-profit organizations, Rachel actually wants prominent people and existing sites from the BitTorrent community to unite to join her in a new, “for-profit entity” which has already been registered in the US. Labeling herself as a “visionary” she proposes - either by creation, merger or acquisition - the establishment of a network of private trackers which will operate together, combining resources, members and staff.

Her theory is that the unified resources of these sites will prove a more difficult target for the authorities to take down. By making the sites “99% community and 1% tracker”, Rachel feels legal issues surrounding the tracker can be mitigated. She also hopes that by combining the sites - hopefully hundreds - the whole operation will become more secure and “profitable”. Those enjoying a small club-like feel to their favorite tracker better get used to becoming a small cog in a huge wheel - if Rachel gets her way, that is.

Additionally, she views large and overly vocal public trackers as a menace and proposes that steps should be taken to put “embarrassing” sites (such as The Pirate Bay) “out of business”.

Rachel and her ever decreasing team believe that the way regular trackers operate is doomed to failure and so they intend to embark on a mission to change the public’s perception of BitTorrent in order to encourage legal change to allow their plan to grow. They aim to do this in 12 months, while at the same time amassing a minimum of 250,000 members as a base to work from.

Whatever this new plan for BitTorrent is, it’s not calming nerves and there is growing opposition to this plan, before it even gets off the ground. Rachel may want to take on the world in a blaze of glory, but most seem to want a quiet life.

We are students of the law, of history and we are agents of change.

According to sources close to the situation, Rachel Faith (possibly Rachel Faith Anderson, possibly something else) has a background in banking and is a lawyer (or at least a law student) using her real name. Using real names consistently on the Internet has its problems. As does hosting your avatar on your AOL page, which in turn reveals your AOL account name. Unless, of course, this is all some elaborate case of misdirection. But there again, Rachel said she isn’t hiding but it seems crazy to believe someone would be as open as this.

In any event, it’s clear that the majority of staff and members who have expressed a preference are not happy to be treated as “guinea pigs” in Rachel’s worldwide BitTorrent laboratory, especially when they now view the “BrokenStones replacement” line as a simple “bait and switch” tactic to get a solid base for her plans for domination.

Time will tell what will come of these plans, but in the meantime the opinions of others in the community are plain to see, especially if one visits any of the #crazybitch channels that have appeared on IRC, or the many outraged posters on the Vortex forums.

Or maybe Rachel Faith Anderson is sane and everyone else is crazy? Stranger things have happened…

…or if you read ‘Scene’ notices…..

Update: TorrentFreak managed to catch up with Rachel Faith Anderson but with other ‘real-life’ commitments (hey, we all have them), she didn’t really have much time for much other than a very brief chat. We’ve offered her a full right of reply and even delayed this article for her to do so, but we have heard nothing further.

However, she has finally responded to the ex-BrokenStones community and staff. Here is a small part of it which seems to have hit a raw nerve:

But there was existing, trained, competent staff from BS looking for a new home and so we tried to make it fit and tried to make it work. But from the very beginning, I could tell that it would not. The end was not unexpected, though it was untimely and unplanned. And this is the sadness I share with many. It is a loss and it came at a terrible time. Such is the nature of life.

So long ex-BrokenStones staff who worked hard to put the new site together, seems the Vortex Network doesn’t want you anymore…..

Original here

Top 10 Norton/Symantec Secrets You Shouldn't Know

I awoke this morning to find a dead man on my doorstep, apparently from the gunshot wound to his back. By examining the depth of the tread marks and the streak of blood on the walls, I determined that he had dragged himself up after receiving the fatal bullet. I cleaned up the pool of blood with some extra-thirsty Brawny towels, and rifled the pockets of his black trench coat to find a package addressed to "The Consumerist." A hastily scrawled coversheet read, "Please keep my identity secret, I could lose my job. I have compiled a "10 Norton/Symantec secrets I shouldn't be telling you" list." Too late. Someone already punched his pink slip. Let's read what was inside...

10. You can always install the product on twice as many computers as stated in the EULA. This is enforced via the backend and a grace number is allowed.

9. If you ask for a refund, Symantec will probably give it. If your order is more than 60 days old, Symantec may have to cut you a check, but odds are good Symantec will give you your money back.

8. When you get a order refunded, the product/entitlement/subscription is not disabled on the backend. You can continue to use your product as normal without any consequences.

7. We enroll you into our Automatic Renewal service on the without giving you the chance to opt-out of enrollment during the purchase process. You have to access the link in the email we send you to disable this enrollment.

6. Customer Support in India is the best thing that has ever happened to Norton/Symantec . They take 1+ million calls a month. Prior to outsourcing, the most calls per month was less than 100k. You may hate the accent, but they do great work.

5. We know the performance of our product sucks. This has been an engineering priority for 3 continuous years, progress is being made.

4. You don't have to "upgrade" to get upgrade pricing. From the website, select upgrade and you will pay a reduced price for the upgrade. You may be asked for prior proof of purchase, but you don't have to provide it.

3. When you upgrade from product X to Product Y, product y Does not inherit the subscription time from product X. Calling Support and asking to have the time transferred will provide you with this extra time.

2. Symantec support agents will do whatever it takes to make you happy. This includes giving away free things. We can give free shipping, eliminate processing fees and do price matching as needed. Just ask for it.

1. With the right search engine, you can find coupon codes to buy Symantec software for free. The store website has coupon codes, every company needs codes to test with, some are easily guessable.

Original here

Digg Recommendation Engine Updates

Anton Kastby Anton Kast

Hi all,

It’s been a month since we’ve rolled out the Recommendation Engine, and we’ve found that you’re Digging more than ever. Now that we have thirty days under our belt, we wanted to share out some stats and give you a heads up on some of the improvements we are working on to make the Recommendation Engine even better. Some statistics:

- Digging activity is up significantly: the total number of Diggs increased 40% after launch.
- The Recommendation Engine is running strong: at any given point in time, the system is generating over 54 Million Recommendations, with the average Digger having nearly 200 Recommendations from an average of 34 “Diggers like you”.
- Friend activity/friends added is up 24%.
- Commenting is up 11% since launch.

Many of you completed the survey, thanks for all your feedback. We’re incorporating it into our next round of improvements, including:

- Adding more stories to the Recommendation Engine widget on the home page.
- Increasing the 30-day Digging window to a longer time frame, to get more Recommendations.
- Continued advances in the back-end algorithm to present you with more targeted Recommendations.

If you have feedback on the Recommendation Engine, we’d like to hear from you by filling out this quick survey or by adding your comments below. If you have yet to test drive the Recommendation Engine we encourage you to check it out. It’s a great way to discover relevant upcoming content on Digg.

Thanks everyone,

Original here

The Pirate Bay Now Supports Tagging

Written by Ernesto

The Pirate Bay has rolled out a new feature which allows users to add tags to the torrents they upload. The tags will make it easier to structure and discover new content, and it gives users the opportunity to form tag based groups.

pirate bayAlthough tags are fairly common for blogs and other online publications, The Pirate Bay is one of the first BitTorrent sites to implement this feature. The purpose is to make it easier for users to discover content they are interested in, and structure and organize torrents more easily.

The tag cloud still has to be filled, but when it does, Pirate Bay users will have the option to browse through tag based archives. In the days to come, support for tag based RSS feeds will be added, and the option to browse tags per category.

Among other things, the tags will allow users to form micro communities within the site, as Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde explained: “Let’s say I run a small movie club or whatever, just tag the uploads with my club name and it will be on the same page. The new feature adds genres to all the stuff as well, and i’m making a tag browser per category.” Peter further told TorrentFreak that they will be introducing some more additions to the site this weekend.

The new tag feature marks the end of a turbulent week, with many hours of downtime, which should be over by now. In a few weeks, The Bay plans to move some servers, but until then, the site should remain up and running. Stay tuned for updates.

For those who are interested, The Pirate Bay “road movie”, documenting their trip with the Bureau of Piracy to Bolzano, is available for download now.

Original here

AT&T Says It Will Cut Off P2P Wireless Users; But What About Pandora Users?

by Mike Masnick

from the be-careful-on-that-iPhone dept

While those who like to claim that the US broadband market is more competitive than it really is like to point to the rise of 3G wireless networks as proof, they almost always ignore the fact that those 3G networks come with insanely restrictive terms of service, that allow the providers to cut users off for almost any activity outside of email or web browsing. For example, using such a service for video and music has been prohibited in some terms of service. Sprint was the most open with their 3G wireless until recently.

Now AT&T is admitting that if it discovers users of its wireless broadband 3G service are making use of P2P apps, it will cut them off completely, and claims that it makes this clear in the terms of service. It hasn't happened yet, but this bit of data will supposedly be used by a dissenting FCC commissioner this week to show that Comcast's traffic shaping is pretty tame compared to other "rules" out there on network usage (ignoring the very different nature of the networks in question, of course).

This raises a number of questions: If AT&T's biggest concern about P2P file sharing apps is clogging its 3G wireless network, why does it allow streaming apps to run on the iPhone? For example, one of the most popular apps on the iPhone is Pandora, whose customized streaming radio offering is super popular (and appears to work quite well). So is AT&T going to cut off users of one of the most popular apps on the iPhone? And how will AT&T respond when someone (inevitably, if they haven't already done so) develops an iPhone app for P2P file sharing as well? This really just seems like AT&T slipping an excuse into the terms of service to cut off anyone they don't like -- but in the long run it may backfire as people get pissed off at AT&T for limiting what new devices like the iPhone can do.

Original here

World's Scariest Robots (That Already Exist)

By Michael Rundle
If you've seen the latest Pixar film "Wall-E," you're probably fuming with rage that we don't already live in a world with adorable clean-up robots, super-cool iPod evil robots and hover chairs.

It's the same old story: good movie about the future makes us sad that we live in the present. Then again, we've done some research, and it turns out that there are some pretty weird robots already out there. There's the EinsteinBOT, the Corpse-Eater Bot and a robot operated by a roach.
Incidentally, we noticed while compiling this piece that most of the world's weirdest robots are also really scary. Do we want to live in a world populated by these inhuman monstrosities? Take a look and judge for yourself. (via Asylum UK)

Original here

10 Things We Want to See in the iPhone 2.1 Update

The iPhone 2.0 software is pretty good. We like the App Store a lot; it adds a boatload of new functionality to the iPhone. But it's certainly not perfect. Having used it for a few weeks, we've discovered a number of little quirks that we really hope are addressed in the upcoming update. From bugs to missing features, here are ten things that would make the iPhone a much more attractive device.
1. Make it Less Crashy
The iPhone with 2.0 software feels a little… buggy. It'll randomly crash or slow down to the point of unusability until you restart every few days with normal use. That's not right; this is a cellphone. It shouldn't feel like an unstable computer.

2. Fix the Keyboard Lag
A good chunk of the time, typing on the iPhone keyboard is made even more difficult due to the lag involved. Typing quickly means the letters pop up four keystrokes after you hit them. Make the keyboard move as fast as the user can type.

3. Fix Safari Orientation Switch Lag
Sometimes, Safari takes its sweet, sweet time switching from portrait to landscape when you turn the phone. This should feel almost instantaneous, not something you have to wait for.

4. Make Backing Up Faster
For some, "backing up" whenever you plug in your iPhone can take upwards of 30 minutes. What is it doing, exactly? The iPhone sync should be near-instantaneous when you plug it in if you aren't moving large files back and forth on purpose.

5. Make it More Efficient
The 3G mode is a battery hog. You can turn off 3G completely, but if there was an option to only use 3G for certain programs, such as Safari and Maps, it would go a long way towards making this a phone you aren't afraid to unplug in the morning when you aren't planning on getting home until very late that night.

6. Video Recording
This could easily be implemented, as we've seen from apps available for jailbroken phones. What's the holdup?

7. Wi-Fi Syncing
We'd love to have our iPhone sync automatically when it hits our home Wi-Fi network, from app data to photos to music to contacts.

8. Leave App Icons in Place After an Update
When apps update, their icon gets picked up and moved to the very bottom of your last screen. Why? When you updated four apps at once it then makes you awkwardly move them all back to where they were. Just leave them in place.

9. Make Moving Icons from Page to Page Easier
Moving an icon from one page to another takes multiple tries and, unlike most things on the iPhone, feels awkward and user unfriendly. Make this less of a pain.

10. Copy & Paste

Original here

iPhone Developers Get Push Notification API

Apple's just seeded the push notification API to developers through the second beta release of the iPhone 2.1 firmware. What this means to you is that developers can now tailor their apps to receive notifications in the background while it's not running, something supremely useful for apps like AIM, and to a lesser extent, Twitter and other social networking apps. The target date back at WWDC for when you'd get your hands on the background notification was September, which seems right seeing as developers need a month or so to integrate it and then get their apps approved. Now *bling* you can *bling* always *bling* know when someone *bling* is trying to *bling* get ahold of you. *bling* [Apple Insider]

Original here

Analysis: why Apple won't drop Intel chipsets any time soon

By Jon Stokes

A recent rumor making the rounds suggests that Apple will be switching from Intel chipsets for its products to using chipsets made by one of Intel's competitor, either AMD or VIA. I'm skeptical, but the rumor has gotten enough traction that it's worth taking a closer look at it.

If Apple will use non-Intel chipsets, then the first question that must be answered is, where? In desktops, laptops, or both? Let's take the desktop chipset possibility first.

The only desktop chipset replacement for Intel that I realistically could see Apple using, given what I know of the company and its current preference for all things CUDA (look for some GrandCentral coverage before long) is an NVIDIA part, and the only reason I could see them using NVIDIA is to roll out a tower with dual-GPU capabilities. (Intel's Bloomfield will do SLI with NVIDIA GPUs, but probably not as well as comparable NVIDIA products.)

The NVIDIA SLI scenario is mildly plausible, given how seriously Apple takes data parallelism. The company has long had internal "GPGPU" efforts aimed at providing internal developers with ways to use the GPU to speed up their apps, and Snow Leopard will represent a leap forward in Apple's OS-level support for multicore and data-parallel coprocessors. So a Snow Leopard plus NVIDIA SLI combo could be a match made in media processing heaven.

The problem with this theory, however, is that Snow Leopard is scheduled to arrive sometime in the summer of 2009, which is also when Intel's Larrabee is set to launch. And I've heard from a source that I trust that Apple will use Larrabee; this makes sense, because Larrabee, as a many-core x86 multiprocessor, can be exploited directly by GrandCentral's cooperative multitasking capabilities.

But the real development that makes this chipset rumor implausible to me is Nehalem. Intel's Nehalem is due out at the end of this year, and if NVIDIA (or any other chipset maker) has a license for Intel's new QuickPath interconnect I'm not aware of it. So Apple would have to switch right back to Intel chipsets for their upcoming Nehalem towers. And indeed, those towers could very well be the mysterious margin-reducing products that Apple referred to on their conference call.

To turn our attention to mobiles, I can't think of a good reason for Apple to move away from Intel's mobile platform. The only possible exception here would be the MacBook Air, where Apple might like to pair Intel's custom-packaged Core 2 Duo with a more capable integrated graphics processor than what Intel's chipsets provide. I'm not sure if this is feasible, though, given that both the CPU and the chipset in the Air have special, reduced-footprint packages. NVIDIA would have to match this packaging effort, and that's unlikely.

Ultimately, I remain unconvinced by this latest round of speculation. Given what I know of Apple and Intel, and the two companies' software and hardware roadmaps, I'd expect them to get even cozier over the next year or two, not grow further apart.

Original here