Sunday, October 19, 2008

Google Docs Guide: How to do Stuff with Google Docs

Written by Amit Agarwal

Google DocsA Practical guide to Google Docs: Learn how to do anything and everything with your online Google Office.

Q: How do I upload all my Microsoft Office documents from the desktop on to Google Docs?

A: List Uploader is a Windows utility that enables you to bulk upload files to Google Docs via drag-n-drop or through the right click menu.

Mac OS X users can upload documents through GDocsUploader - simply drag-n-drop the document onto the uploader icon. Another option is GDocsBar – just drag your files in the Firefox sidebar and they’ll automatically get uploaded to Google Docs.

Q: How do I associate the common Office file extensions like doc/xls/ppt with Google Docs so that desktop documents open directly in the web browser?

A: Get the Google Toolbar for Firefox and select the ‘Google Docs’ checkbox from Toolbar options. This will let you open Office documents directly in the browser bypassing Microsoft Office.

Q: I am worried that someone may hack into my Google Account and delete the important files. To play safe, I want to download all documents from Google Docs locally and burn them on to a CD. Is it possible?

A: To download a copy of all your Google Docs documents on to the hard drive, get this Grease Monkey script. It will create a list of all your online documents that you can download in one step using the DownloadThemAll add-on.

Q: How can I add watermarks (like PRIVATE, CONFIDENTIAL, etc.) to my Google Documents?

A: You simply need to edit the CSS of your document – add an image with non-repeating background.

Q: Can I open Word 2007 (docx) documents in Google Docs?

A: Unlike Zoho Office, Google Docs do not support the new Office 2007 format but you may convert these docx files to the older doc format using Zamzar and them upload them to Google Docs.

Q: I was checking mails on a mobile phone and a client sent me this PowerPoint presentation as an email attachment. My phone has no Office viewer so san I still view this presentation?

A: Sure. Just forward this email (with the attachment) to your Google Docs address. You’ll soon get an email back containing the link of your uploaded presentation that can be viewed in the mobile phone browser without requiring any Office viewer.

Q: I wrote a long document in Google Docs in English but my client is insisting for a French version. Can we translate Google Docs documents online?

A: Publish your Google Docs document as a public web page (read steps) and then use the online Google Translate tool to translate this page into any other language. You may copy-paste the translated text in a new document and then turn off public sharing for the original document.

Q: I am sending a Google Docs document to a large mailing list. Is is possible to track who read the document and when?

A: Go to your Google Docs Settings page (link) and turn on the option that says "Track visits to my documents using Google Analytics".

Q: Forget the mailing list, I am just sending a document to my immediate boss so how do I if he really opened my document?

A: Just embed a secret 1×1 tracking image in the document to know when people open your Google Documents.

Q: I want to create new documents in Google Docs in one click without having to go to File –> New Document.

A: Simple, either add a bookmarklet to your browser or install desktop shortcuts – see instructions.

Q: I want to turn Google Docs into a distraction free writing tool just like Writeroom.

A: Go to Edit –> Document Styles and turn the background color to either black. Then change the font foreground color to white or green and press Ctrl+Shift+F to enter Full Screen mode. See a similar hack for Word.

Q: OK, I know you can write documents or create spreadsheets in Google Docs but what else? Tell me some more creative uses of Google Docs.

A: Well, you may use Google Docs for live blogging, writing books, make a simple RSS Reader, compare text files, monitor web pages, run web polls, plan weddings and so much more.

Q: Tell me about some desktop applications that work with Google Docs.

  • GMDesk – AIR app that makes Google Docs behave like a desktop program. Thanks Ryan.
  • GDocsBar – The perfect Google Docs extension for Firefox.
  • Send to Google Docs – Upload web documents (including PDF) directly to Google Docs.
  • OO Add-on – Export or import documents from or StarOffice to Google Docs.

Q: Like other Google tools, can I access my Google Docs library from the Firefox Sidebar?

A: Create a bookmark for and set this to open in Firefox sidebar. You can browse all documents though the sidebar but can’t create new stuff.

Q. Can I use Google Docs like Microsoft OneNote for taking notes and saving web clippings?

A: Open a new Google Document in a separate browser tab and drag the clipping from another browser tab / window into this document. That’s it. Not sure if this works with Google Chrome.

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Original here

New Google Chrome Builds Show Greasemonkey Support

Remember that thing Google put together a comic book about? Chrome is its name, and Web browsing and AJAX crunching is its game. Well, just recently the latest beta builds are said to have basic Greasemonkey support. With emphasis on basic.

According to Martin at gHacks, the fact that Google doesn’t yet support an extension system within Chrome means that there are some pretty significant ifs and buts about what’s possible and what’s not with the addition of Greasemonkey. Script loading and a metadata issues are purported to be conflict prone.

As Martin writes, “Only scripts in c:\scripts are loaded and only if the user adds the parameter ‘–enable-greasemonkey’ by appending it to the program’s shortcut.” He goes on to explain that, “The scripts are not limited to a domain but will work on all domains which is usually handled by the @include metadata. The metadata part is ignored which could be problematic….”

The reason for Greasemonkey’s emergence in Chrome, however stifled, is because the software’s creator, Aaron Boodman, is a Google employee, as Google Operating System’s Alex Chitu describes.

If you’re looking to give the latest Greasemonkey-enhanced Chrome build, you can venture over to the Chromium BuildBot website. You’re able to download the most recent development, but keep in mind that stability is not guaranteed.

How do you see Greasemonkey sans Google Chrome extension support?

How to catch hackers on your wireless network


XArp can't stop ARP attacks, but you'll be warned immediately if it detects one

There are lots of tools around to help people carry out ARP-related exploits and if a malicious, Wi-Fi enabled neighbour decided to find out more about your network, this could be an effective way to do it.

The good news is that there are some defences out there. The bad? They can be costly and don't always deliver the protection you might expect.

ARPDefender is a good example. It's a solid-state security appliance that you simply connect to your network, then leave to look out for ARP poisoning attacks. It would be excellent if not for the fact that it costs almost £300 and, even if it does detect an attack, will do little more than make an entry in your system logs.

There is free software to monitor ARP traffic for suspicious signs. ARPDefender runs one of these, in fact: ARPWatch. Unfortunately, these tend to be dated, or focused on Linux users. There's very little for Windows.

Your own router or software firewall may have some kind of ARP protection. It's worth checking the documentation or set-up screens to find out, but don't expect too much. Agnitum Outpost Firewall Pro comes with something called Smart ARP Filtering, for instance, where an ARP reply is only accepted if that system has sent a request. It's a step forward, but the program will still accept the first ARP reply and it doesn't know if that's from one of your systems or an attacker. You're still at some risk.

It turns out that one of the best ways to protect a small or home network is to ensure your wireless adapters use WPA or WPA2 encryption. And do so properly, which means using a long passphrase that doesn't only include dictionary words (even WPA is useless if your passphrase is 'passphrase'). As long as hackers can't intercept your traffic and inject their own, you're safe.

This doesn't apply to larger business networks, though, as there's always the possibility that a rogue employee (or someone with access to a network PC) could launch an internal ARP attack. You'll need something to monitor ARP traffic, looking for suspicious packets. A security appliance like ARPDefender is one answer and the software monitor XArp is another. See below for details.

Use XArp to detect ARP poisoning

The big security companies have little to offer in the way of ARP-specific protection, but Christoph P Mayer has stepped forward to fill the gap. His XArp tool does an excellent job of detecting attacks and is well worth the £20 price tag if you have a large network to protect.

1. After installation, XArp will run and monitor your network in the background. Right-click its red icon and select Show to launch the program.

2. The Status indicator shows if you're under attack. The IP address list shows if there are any suspiciously new devices connected to your network.

3. Increase the security settings and you've got more chance of detecting attackers. Experts can click View > Advanced for details of what's going on.

4. XArp works across our network on XP and Vista systems. It can't stop ARP attacks, but you'll be warned immediately if it detects one.

Three recommended network defences

1. AntiARP
AntiARP is a Chinese program that claims to be a 'professional defence' against ARP spoofing and attacks. The site gives little information, but the program itself may be worth a look.

2. Capsa
This network analyser alerts you to a sudden flurry of ARP requests, or that you've had more ARP replies than requests. Useful, but neither necessarily indicates an attack.

3. PromiScan
ARP attacks are only one way to intercept traffic. A hacker could also use a sniffer program to read packets of data without sending their own, but PromiScan can detect these dangers and warn you about them.

First published in .Net magazine, Issue 181

Now hack your router for speed and new features

Vista SP2 and Windows 7 by the End of June 2009

Enlarge picture
The evolution of the Windows client, involving both Windows Vista (now with Service Pack 1) and Windows 7, appears to be closer than Microsoft is ready to acknowledge officially. Of course, Windows XP, even with Service Pack 3, is the past, with the exception of customers abandoning Windows Vista by exercising their downgrade rights. Windows Vista, even with SP1, is a present that makes the future seem to not get here fast enough. And Vista SP2 along with Windows 7 and Windows Cloud (Strata) are the future. But at the same time, both Vista SP2 and Windows 7 are nothing more than the evolution of Vista, to a lesser, and respectively a larger degree.

Come the end of October 2008, and the start of November, Microsoft will deliver a rather consistent taste of where it is heading with Windows, not only Windows 7, but also Windows 7 Server and Windows Strata (the label continues to be unconfirmed by the company). Events such as the Professional Developer Conference 2008, Windows Hardware Conference 2008 and TechEd EMEA will be focused on Windows 7 and Windows Cloud, although less on Windows Vista.

While at TechEd Brasil, at the start of this week, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer indicated that the company planned to unveil a range of new products by July 2009. Microsoft's CEO mentioned that, by the end of June 2009, the software giant would offer "client operating system releases." Microsoft is, of course, already cooking Windows Vista SP2 and Windows 7.

Ballmer stated that "Microsoft technologies: Windows, Windows Server, .NET, Visual Studio, Silverlight, SharePoint, Office (...) over the course of the 12 month period that ends June of next year, [are] just a subset of all of the exciting new innovations Microsoft will bring to market: client operating system releases, information management tools, security, gaming products and systems. The range of new technologies in some senses is growing and growing quickly." (emphasis added)

Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2)

Microsoft released Windows Vista RTM at the end of January 2007, not counting the business launch of the operating system in November 2006. Vista SP1 was released to manufacturing on February 4, 2008 concomitantly with Windows Server 2008, but was only made available for download starting March 18. Now the Redmond company has already moved onward to Service Pack 2.

In fact Vista SP2 invites to the Beta program have already started to be sent out, according to Neowin. It is not Windows Vista SP2 that Microsoft is cooking, but also Windows Server 2008 SP2, Beta invites for which have also been sent out. Microsoft has yet to confirm anything officially, but the first Beta bits for Windows Vista SP2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2 are reportedly going to testers in just four weeks.

Still, while Service Pack 1 was the catalyst that took Vista RTM out of coma, making the operating system worthy of a long forgotten and discarded Wow label, SP2 is bound to be nothing more than a standard service pack release. At best, SP2 will take Vista forward just as much as SP1.

The equation is rather simple for Microsoft. The company will end up with a repeat of the Windows XP SP2 – Windows Vista scenario in which both operating systems are available at the same time on the market, although this situation would involve Vista SP2 and Windows 7 RTM. The last thing that Microsoft needs is to evolve Vista with SP2 sufficiently enough that it will be capable to rival Windows 7. In this context, the answer is rather simple. The Redmond giant needs to keep Vista at a relative stand-still even with SP2, and focus all innovation on Windows 7.

Windows 7, or Windows 6.1, or Windows Vista R2, or Windows Vista but "a lot better"

The seventh major version of Windows, but only according to Microsoft's math, comes with no differentiation between the codename and the brand. However, Windows 7 will, for the sake of perpetuating the existing level of Vista software compatibility, be in fact Windows 6.1. At the same time, according to Ballmer, Windows 7 will be Vista, but “a lot better.” This makes Windows 7 an excellent candidate for the Windows Vista R2 label, just as Windows 7 Server is in fact Windows Server 2008 R2. Still, the early feedback on the Windows 7 moniker indicates that the management of the Windows 7 project made the right choice.

"There you have it, Windows 7 now has a name. It’s called – Windows 7,” revealed Steve Clayton, Microsoft's UK Partner Group CTO. “To be honest I was quite surprised but also pretty pleased. The naming decision as Mike Nash says is about simplicity. It’ll certainly save us from all having to unlearn the name we’ve all had for it to date. I expect this naming decision will be debated to death on all the usual sites, but me, I’m just happy we settled on a name. Now let’s get to the PDC and get the bits!"

"Win7 to officially be called . . . Win7" said Robert Hensing, Microsoft security software engineer. "I actually for once - LOVE that we are keeping the name of the OS simple and leaving it at Win7. I will admit – I was somewhat disappointed when XP's name was announced internally (internally it was known as Whistler) and I was downright horrified when we decided to call Longhorn "Vista" (my friends call it "Veesta"). Longhorn sounds cool . . . manly . . . Vista is pretty much the exact opposite in my mind . . . it sounds serene and 'pretty'."

"Steve Ballmer was at Gartner's Symposium/ITxpo conference today, talking about a number of issues. The big question was about Vista deployments and what should companies do. He answered by saying that the adoption rate for Vista, is two times that of where XP was after the same period," stated Neil Hutson, Microsoft evangelist. "Then in Jedi style, Neil MacDonald from Gartner said that 61% of respondents are thinking of skipping Vista. To that, Ballmer said that Microsoft would be ready for that outcome, but if he was the audience, he would not wait. I think that this is a good call. Vista SP1 is really stable and the big question is whether companies are going to wait for the first SP of Windows 7 before they deploy? That will leave them with a lot of very outdated machines and OS software that will take them a lot longer to replace."

Windows Cloud – To Strata or not to Strata?

At PDC2008 Microsoft plans to unveil the first Beta of Windows Cloud, which could be labeled Windows Strata, although the company has yet to confirm this aspect. Windows Strata goes beyond the Windows client and server operating systems, and is a new platform tailored to the Redmond giant's Software plus Services business model.

"We have our Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles in a couple of weeks, we're going to roll out new technologies and a new platform for this software plus services world. The new platform has a lot of work to do. First, it requires a new platform in the cloud. In the Microsoft kind of way of thinking every new major trend requires a new version of our operating system. So, we did Windows, then we did Windows Server, then we did Windows CE and Mobile. And you'll see us bring Windows technologies in a new form to the cloud," Ballmer explained.

Microsoft is essentially looking to keep up with the changes associated with the development paradigm. But what the company is doing is transition the Windows style of development to the cloud and make it available in the browser. Silverlight, .NET, Windows Presentation Foundation and Visual Studio will all contribute to enabling developers to built web-based solutions running on Microsoft's new Internet platform. In this regard, the software giant is working to ensure that services will "be available as a system construct in Windows Server, in Windows desktop and in Windows in the cloud," Ballmer stated, adding that "with this evolution to a new world of distributed computing, we Microsoft will introduce a new cloud platform, some new cloud services around Web 2.0, some advances to our development tools and development runtimes, as well as tools and technologies that really support new business models."

Original here

From Evil to Good: List of Formerly Closed-source Software

Increasing number of software applications are going the free/open-source way these days. Looks like more and more software companies and developers have seen the barriers of closed-source programs and have now fully realized the significance of freedom.

Here are some of the most notable software packages which were published under a proprietary software license but later released as free and open source software. Note that some software from this list are still published commercially alongside their free and open-source version.

Adobe Flex
Adobe Flex is a collection of technologies released by Adobe Systems for the development and deployment of cross platform, rich Internet applications based on the proprietary Adobe Flash platform. The initial release in March 2004 by Macromedia included a software development kit, an IDE, and a J2EE integration application known as Flex Data Services.

Adobe Flex was relicensed in 2007 under Mozilla Public License.

Apache Derby

Apache Derby is a Java relational database management system that can be embedded in Java programs and used for online transaction processing. It has a 2 MB disk-space footprint.

It was released as free and open-source software by IBM in 2004 and donated to the Apache Software Foundation.

Bitstream Vera
Bitstream Vera is a typeface (font) with a liberal license. It was designed by Jim Lyles from Bitstream, and is closely based on Bitstream's Prima, for which Lyles was also responsible. It is a TrueType font with full hinting instructions, which improve its rendering quality on low-resolution devices such as computer monitors. The font has also been repackaged as a Type 1 PostScript font for LaTeX users, and is called Bera.

It was relicensed in 2003 through the efforts of Bitstream and the GNOME Foundation.

Blender is a 3D animation program which can be used for modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging, skinning, animating, rendering, particle and other simulations, non-linear editing, compositing, and creating interactive 3D applications.

Released in 1996 as proprietary, it was relicensed under GNU General Public License (GPL) in 2003.

Duke Nukem
Duke Nukem 3D is a first-person shooter computer game developed by 3D Realms and published by Apogee Software. It was released on January 29, 1996. Duke Nukem 3D features the adventures of Duke Nukem, a character that had previously appeared in the platform games Duke Nukem and Duke Nukem II which were also published by Apogee.

Duke Nukem 3D was relicensed under GPL in 2003.

Doom is a 1993 computer game by id Software that is a landmark title in the first-person shooter genre, and in first person gaming in general. It is widely recognized for pioneering immersive 3D graphics, networked multiplayer gaming on the PC platform, and support for custom expansions (WADs).

Doom's source code was originally released under a restrictive license in 1997, but was later relicensed under GPL in 1999.

Netscape Navigator
Netscape Navigator, also known as Netscape, was once a proprietary web browser that was popular during the 1990s. Once the flagship product of Netscape Communications Corporation and the dominant browser in usage share, its user base had almost completely evaporated by 2002, partly due to the inclusion of Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser with the Windows operating system, but also due to lack of significant innovation after the late 1990s.

Netscape Navigator was later open-sourced in 1998 under Mozilla Public License.

id Tech
id Tech 2 and id Tech 3, formerly known as Quake II engine and Quake III Arena are game engines developed by id Software for use in their games, most notably the first-person shooter game Quake . Since its release, id Tech has been licensed for use in several other games.

id Tech 2 and id Tech 3 were relicensed in 2001 and 2005 respectively. They are both under GNU General Public License.

Java is a programming language originally developed by Sun Microsystems and released in 1995 as a core component of Sun's Java platform. The language derives much of its syntax from C and C++ but has a simpler object model and fewer low-level facilities. Java applications are typically compiled to bytecode which can run on any Java virtual machine (JVM) regardless of computer architecture.

On 13 November 2006, Sun Microsystems released much of Java as free software under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). On 8 May 2007 Sun finished the process, making all of Java's core code free and open source, aside from a small portion of code to which Sun did not hold the copyright.

Movable Type
Movable Type is a weblog publishing system developed by the company Six Apart. It was publicly announced on 3 September 2001, and version 1.0 was publicly released on 8 October 2001.

On 12 December 2007, Movable Type was relicensed as free software, under the GNU General Public License.

Qt is a cross-platform application development framework, widely used for the development of GUI programs (in which case it is known as a Widget toolkit), and also used for developing non-GUI programs such as console tools and servers. Qt is most notably used in KDE, the web browser Opera, Google Earth, Skype, Qtopia, Photoshop Elements and OPIE.

Released in 1991, Qt was relicensed in 1999 under Q Public License (QPL).

Open Sound System
The Open Sound System (OSS) is a standard interface for making and capturing sound in Unix operating systems. It is based on standard Unix devices. The term also refers sometimes to the software in a Unix kernel that provides the OSS interface; in that sense it can be thought of as a device driver or collection of device drivers for sound controller hardware. The goal of OSS is to allow one to write a sound-based application program that works with any sound controller hardware, even though the hardware interface varies greatly from one type to another.

In July 2007, 4Front Technologies released sources for OSS under Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) for OpenSolaris and GPL for Linux. In January 2008, 4Front Technologies released OSS for FreeBSD (and other BSD systems) under BSD License.

Second Life

Second Life (abbreviated as SL) is an Internet-based virtual world launched in 2003, developed by Linden Research, Inc (commonly referred to as Linden Lab), which came to international attention via mainstream news media in late 2006 and early 2007.[4][5] A downloadable client program called the Second Life Viewer enables its users, called "Residents", to interact with each other through motional avatars, providing an advanced level of a social network service combined with general aspects of a metaverse. Residents can explore, meet other Residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, create and trade items (virtual property) and services from one another.

Second Life started as proprietary software in 2003, but was relicensed under GPL v2 in 2007.


SimCity is a city-building simulation game, first released in 1989 and designed by Will Wright. SimCity was Maxis' first product, which has since been ported into various personal computers and game consoles, and enhanced into several different versions including SimCity 2000 in 1993, SimCity 3000 in 1999, SimCity 4 in 2003, and SimCity DS & SimCity Societies in 2007. The original SimCity was later renamed SimCity Classic. Until the release of The Sims in 2000, the SimCity series was the best-selling line of computer games made by Maxis.

On January 10 2008 the SimCity source code was released under the free software GPL 3 license. The release of the source code was related to the donation of SimCity software to the One Laptop Per Child laptop, as one of the principles of the OLPC laptop is the use of free and open source software.


The Solaris Operating System, usually known simply as Solaris, is a free Unix-based operating system introduced by Sun Microsystems in 1992 as the successor to SunOS.

Solaris is certified against the Single Unix Specification. Although it was historically developed as proprietary software, a majority of its codebase is now open source software as OpenSolaris.

Watcom C compiler
The Watcom C/C++ compiler is esteemed amongst DOS developers by the high execution speed of the compiled code it produces and for having been one of the first compilers to support the Intel 80386 "protected mode". In the mid-1990s, some of the most technically ambitious DOS games such as Doom and Duke Nukem 3D were built using Watcom C.

The Free version was released as OpenWatcom in 2003.

Original here

Google monetizes start page, vocal minority gets vocal

By David Chartier

If you love something, set it free. Then, if you're lucky, maybe you can figure out a way to make money with it. Despite what appears to be a vocal minority that is unhappy with the changes, that's what Google may have finally been able to do with the redesign of its popular iGoogle start page.

Announced on the Official Google Blog, the new iGoogle start page features a major UI redesign that allows for both traditional, boxy widgets and a larger "canvas" mode that can take up the entire iGoogle pane. A key aspect of this change is a shift from iGoogle's previous horizontal tab navigation to a left-hand sidebar.

The new iGoogle with its left sidebar and traditional widgets

"The left navigation allows users to go from canvas view to canvas view of the new gadgets with one click," Jessica Ewing, Group Product Manager for iGoogle told Ars Technica. "We think is important as we see more and more great canvas view gadgets that require a scalable navigation model."

Regardless of the scalable UI advantages of the new iGoogle, some of its users arrived in the Google Groups forums right on schedule, voicing everything from despair to anger over the changes. Users are particularly unhappy over the left hand sidebar that arguably detracts space from the main area of gadgets.

"We're constantly thinking about how to improve our products for our users," Ewing continued. "We realize [the new sidebar] does take up some screen real estate, particularly on small monitors. One change we made was to narrow the left nav from the initial experiments. We'll continue to monitor user feedback and usage and adjust accordingly." Ewing wouldn't comment further on the broader reaction over iGoogle's new UI, but it's very likely that this is simply a negative reaction from a vocal minority over a very significant change for iGoogle and the start page in general.

The Wall Street Journal's widget in canvas view, offering much more content
and an ad to boot

Start pages are inherently useful because they act like a customizable dashboard for the web. Everything from to-do lists, to RSS snippets, to video players, to games can be organized side-by-side, but the intrinsically compact nature of start page widgets has made it difficult for service providers and widget developers to monetize their work. By introducing a dynamic UI that offers more spaces for applications to spread their legs, Google can finally entice developers with an opportunity to turn a buck from their widgets.

Google Reader running in canvas view. Hallelujah

These larger spaces also introduce a lot more room for content and utility, making the start page even more functional for the end user. While the new widgets in Google's canvas-compatible showcase are few in numbers for now, they already reveal how much more productive iGoogle's platform can be. The new Gmail widget, for example, expands to reveal a full view of one's inbox (sans-ads, at least for now), complete with composing and reply abilities right from iGoogle. Google Reader is also now completely integrated, as are a few third-party widgets like those from The Wall Street Journal and New York Times, which both show ads in their full canvas layout of content.

Change can be scary, especially when it involves a company as large as Google messing up users' web-based desktops. But the new iGoogle may be exactly what the start page needed to take the next leap into becoming even more productive for both users and developers.

Original here

Record Label ‘Infringes’ Own Copyright, Site Pulled

Written by enigmax

QuoteUnquoteQuote Unquote Records is an Internet based record label, run by Bomb the Music Industry! and ‘The Arrogant Sons of Bitches’ frontman Jeff Rosenstock. A forward looking outfit, all artists on the label give their music away for free on the label’s website. Well, they would, if the webhost hadn’t have taken down the site for alleged copyright infringement.

In a MySpace blog entry, Jeff Rosenstock explained that the Quote Unquote Records site is non-operational, and other sites connected to the label, including the Bomb the Music Industry! and Arrogant Sons of Bitches sites, have all been taken down too. So what happened?

Around a week ago, the label was notified by its webhost that it had some copyright music files on its server, which was no surprise to them since they were tracks by Arrogant Sons of Bitches, one of the label’s bands. The tracks the webhost referred to were actually written by Jeff himself. Jeff spoke with someone at the host on the telephone, explained that they were his own tracks and was informed this wasn’t a problem.

Three days later the labels site went down completely, due to Jeff hosting his own copyright files on his own site - a claimed violation of the hosting company’s Terms of Service. In order to solve the problem, Jeff would have to send his copyright registration forms to the host by mail, to prove he held the copyright, a problem in itself, explains Jeff:

“I called the company to explain that a lot of this material was NOT in fact registered with the US copyright office, instead we did the ol’ poor man’s copyright. The music that was copyrighted was done so under a Creative Commons License, which is a digital copyright that cannot be viewed if the website where the files are posted is down.”

It seems amazing that a host should be proactive like this, especially since it has clearly made a huge mistake. However, a week later and Jeff’s site is still down and he’s quite rightly upset: “I guess the scary thing for me is that it seems that my hosting server employs a guilty before proven innocent policy, which is terrifying for anyone who does not physically mail forms for every small idea they’ve ever had in their bedroom to the US copyright office. What a great new digital age, stuck in the trappings of wasteful forms and red tape.”

If losing your site to a bogus copyright claim isn’t enough, there is a more immediate problem. Jeff is being denied access to his data by the host and he says that since he had a crash on his local hard drive, he no longer has copies of any of the content that was on the Quote Unquote Records server. “So, long story short, I’m looking for any artwork or mp3s that were put on Quote Unquote Records,” he said.

If you can find any of the material Jeff is looking for on P2P networks, please post comments on his blog.

Original here

Business tech born in Cern's Big Bang lab

By Nick Heath

Cutting edge particle physics is being used to hone new technology that will eventually make its way into enterprises.

The Cern nuclear physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland is helping the tech industry refine the multi-core processors and fat gigabit networks destined for the data centres of tomorrow through the openlab initiative.

The project sees the IT department at the lab behind the "Big Bang" Large Hadron Collider push cutting edge kit to breaking point to perfect it for its own use, and the consumer and business markets.

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1.Robin Dargue Royal Mail

2.David Lister Royal Bank of Scotland

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4.Catherine Doran Network Rail

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6.Gordon Lovell-Read Siemens UK

7.Paul Coby British Airways

8.Tania Howarth Birds Eye Iglo Group

9.Simon Post Carphone Warehouse

10.Ben Wishart Whitbread

The lab has partnerships with companies including HP ProCurve, Intel and Oracle, who provide the backbone of its IT infrastructure, its 8,000-server computer centre and its links to the worldwide Worldwide LHC Computing Grid, consisting of more than 100,000 processors spread over 33 countries.

Cern CIO Wolfgang von Rueden told "We wait for industry to develop the technology then we take it and see how far we can push it and feed back to them."

von Rueden said openlab is currently helping Intel test out its new chip designs.

"We are looking at optimising and measuring the performance of new CPUs, doing tests on new architectures. The very first quad core that left the US for Europe came to Cern and we tested that," he said.

Cern has also helped Intel optimise more than 100 software compilers for its chips, over 50 of which have gone on to be implemented.

The lab is working with HP ProCurve on automated data collection, to allow the lab to monitor behaviour over its vast network, with 70,000 1-gigabit ports exchanging data within the Cern complex alone.

von Rueden said: "We try to gather all of the data together and analyse them and try to understand, in automated ways, what would you call a standard data pattern.

"Then you can find an abnormal data pattern to detect abnormal behaviour on the network. This obviously would have a use in any large data centre."

Cern was at the forefront of testing 10Gbps networks before they became widely available, and has dedicated 10Gbps links to its 11 main tier-one computing centres worldwide.

von Rueden said the department has already detected abnormal behaviour on the LHC Computing Grid with some users loading up unauthorised shareware.

Working with Oracle, it has also managed to greatly increase the speed at which Cern databases could be distributed to its computer centres.

von Rueden described the challenge of collecting and organising the millions of streams of information from the LHC's five detectors.

"This data has to be collected, watched and stored and this pushes the database technology quite far," he said.

This continuous refinement of hardware and software has allowed the centre to reduce the space needed for its server racks, allowing Cern to double up its storage, CPUs and network bandwidth to maximise reliability.

Original here

Mr Bubble Leaves His Mark on Web Design

How much value do you place in Web design? More specifically, how important is the construction of a company or website logo to you? Do you pay a good amount of attention to such things, or is it all really non-critical and ancillary?

Most of us judge books by their covers. It’s really just a matter of degree than anything else. You can be all cover, some cover, a little cover, and so on and so forth. Yet, with the rise of a full-on economy of online services that require some visual uniqueness to distinguish one from the other, there inevitably surface many similarities. Almost too many. One commonality is the speech bubble.

You’ve seen them everywhere, even if you haven’t quite noticed their existence. Ordinariness can do that. IM services show them. As do media providers. Networking sites, mobile or otherwise, are known to sport their share. We thought we’d point some out to see what your take might be on the sameness - or at least the variations on that simple, popular trait. These are in no particular order. If you’ve got extras we’ve missed, you know where to post ‘em, and be sure to share you thoughts on the trend.

AIM - As an instant messaging service, AOL’s AIM icon is fitting, to say the least. No harm, no foul.

Google Talk - Ditto.

Meebo - This is one stellar use of a bubble trail.

VideoEgg - This headlines a video advertising network. Whether it’s a speech bubble or a thought bubble, I can’t quite make out the reasoning behind it. Sure looks good, but does it look appropriate? Again, does it matter?

YouLicense - A music licensing warehouse. It’s hard to say whether that’s a bubble or one of them Google Maps-type pins with a big ‘C’ inside.

Imeem - Music networking with subtle play on user talk. I have to say I’m fond of this one.

Technorati - Might be a stretch to incorporate a speech bubble, but it is what it is. Technorati is blog search and blog cataloguing at its core. Maybe it’s communicative by virtue of the millions of blogs and bloggers it sifts through on a daily basis.

3jam - This company introduced the SuperText in June. The bubble most definitely passes go.

Bluepulse - Mobile messaging service. I’m cool with the bubble play. You cool?

Piczo - A website builder introduced some years ago, the logo might be due for a bit of a refresh simply for freshness’s sake.

Angie’s List - The bubble is so small that it’s pretty much unrecognizable. If you’re like me, you first noticed Angie marketing the heck out of her list on NPR. No relation to that list by that guy Craig, from what I gather.

Posty - Multi-microblogging message manufacturer. Perfectly acceptable.

Pownce - One micro-blogging service with one icon wrapped in one speech bubble. Also perfectly acceptable.

Twitter - The guys behind this one have gone and popularized the reverse bubble. (Take a look at the homepage.) Everything but the logo. Rebels. If they’ve contributed anything to modern Web design, it’s that hard-edged triangle that tells you where to talk - just so long as you keep your speech to 140 characters or less. Gotta love ‘em.

Slate - Who’s to say Slate will continue to sport that big header bubble after a new design launches next week? We’ll just have to wait and see. Whatever the case, that one that’s up there right now may well be the largest of non-functional bubbles yet. Non-functional in a conversational fashion, anyhow. Not that the bubbles above or below on this list are so special.

Real Networks - That’s right, Real Networks. What an oldie. And the verdict is still out on whether it’s a goodie. I find it necessary at times, but not all that enjoyable, sadly. Hey, at least they’re taking the fight to the MPAA. Even though that fight isn’t very helpful to Joe “DRM-hating” Consumer. Here’s to a classic logo!

ClubMom - An online community for moms. Who’s got anything against that? You love your mom? I love mine. Logo is simple and straightforward. Woot.

Scrapblog - “Share digital scrapbooks” is the pitch. We last spoke about them in August. I can’t quite get a grip on the logo, but neither does it bug me. The service behind the name is snazzy, so I’ll go ahead and give it a thumbs up anyway.

CoComment - Does that count as a bubble? I’m not so sure. I want to believe it does, because it would make sense to connote some form of communication there. An extra big of flair couldn’t hurt.

BubbleShare - Photo sharing made simple. My verdict on this speech/thought bubble: not a fan.

Yedda - A so-called knowledge community based out of Israel. Thought bubble is approved.

WooThemes - Premium WordPress Themes is the subtext. How about…no?

Skype - Just one big cloudy bubble. Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

BooRah - Location-based food and restaurant reviews. It’s a humorous design, as you can see.

Loud3r - A little bit of PopURLs, a little bit of Alltop. And a big, ostentatious, look-at-me logo. With a ‘3′ in place of an ‘E’ for extra hipness.

Snooth - Global wine reviews and shopping options. This is perhaps the most clear-cut example yet of a speech bubble of all items presented here.

Original here

How to Improve Your iTunes Experience (Part 1) [Mac Only]

I love my music and everything else that goes along with it. I love the fact that in my iTunes, every song is properly labelled, is nicely arranged alphabetically by artist and have their particular album artwork attached in high resolution. It is so much easier to search for the songs you want when almost all the fields (i.e. genre, artist, album, year) are completed. Every little bit of information helps Genius to find the songs which match the ones you are listening to, creating a playlist which suits your current musical mood.

I grimace when I browse though some of my friends’ playlists and most of the songs are labelled “Track 1, Track 2…. Untitled Artist”. They must have some kind of ESP or monumental memorizing ability to remember what track is by which artist.

Listening to music on iTunes can be more than simply “listening”. It can turn into a pretty interactive hobby which for me, has become an obsession. A fairly rewarding one, at least. Here’s how you can convert from mere music-listening to actively interacting and expanding your music experience. In this part 1, I’ll show you how to enjoy your current music collection.

How To Organize Your iTunes Library

This is the very first step to improving your iTunes experience. How can you truly enjoy your music if you’re not sure who you’re listening to? Label your music properly, fill in their genre (if you’re not sure of what genre your artist/album fall under, check the iTunes store by clicking the arrow link next to the album title. It might not always be 100% accurate as some might argue but it’s a start), rate the songs you like, enter the year it was released - you get the drift.

I spend quite a lot of time doing this, especially after I get my hands on a couple of new albums. My friends think that I’m crazy for wasting so much time but in the end, it’s very rewarding.


  • It is easier to search for the song you want to listen to
  • Rated songs automatically gets added into “My Top Rated” playlist for quick access
  • Smart playlists get updated instantly when new song from a particular artist/genre is added to library
  • Instantly create playlists by year (eg. 90’s or Oldies) if you fill in the year it was released
  • Properly labelled songs make it easier to check for duplicates
  • It helps Genius find out which songs you’re listening to and find the songs which are similar by retrieving information from iTunes according to the artist, genre etc.
  • As your music collection gets larger, you’ll find more reasons to organize your music. If you have somehow labelled your songs but haven’t capitalized the first letter of each word and you couldn’t be bothered to redo them again, TuneInstructor can do it for you. It has a lot of other functions but I mainly use it to recapitalize some of the letters which escaped me.

    Add Album Cover Artwork To Your iTunes Songs

    itunes covert artThis is just eye-candy but it subconsciously improves your music experience. In addition to only using your sense of hearing, you’re now adding a visual sense. Wine connoisseurs use this theory - that when more senses are involved, the better the experience. That’s why they look at the wine (vision), swirl it (hearing), smell it (smell) and finally drink it (taste).

    The most reliable way to add cover art to your music is to do it individually by album. It takes a little bit of time and effort if you’re starting from scratch but it prevents mistakes from occurring. To do this, I use Amazon Album Art Widget. I find it very usable and almost always finds the cover art I’m looking for. Other applications you may try are Corripio and GimmeSomeTune (which I covered in a previous article).

    If most of your music have their artwork attached and you’re trying to find those little buggers which eluded you, there’s a very useful script from Doug’s Applescripts called Tracks Without Artwork To Playlist which will find the songs without any artwork and automatically add them into a separate playlist.

    Don’t Settle For Low Quality

    organize your itnues libraryStatic, buzzes and noise in my music really ticks me off. That’s why I always go for a lossless file format if possible. Right now, I’m settled on Apple Lossless but FLAC is still the most popular lossless format. Music, especially classical or jazz are better appreciated in higher quality because of their sophistication. In the long run, keeping your music in a higher quality, either lossless, 320kbps MP3 or 256 AAC will spare you from re-ripping your songs in the future once your taste for music quality has been acquired. For starters, don’t settle for anything lower than 192kbps MP3.

    If you need an explanation about audio files formats, a good introduction would be to check out the article I wrote about audio convertors for Mac.

    As I said earlier, FLAC is the most popular lossless audio format but unfortunately, iTunes doesn’t support FLAC. Previously, I had to convert FLAC files into another format which iTunes recognizes. Every time a music file is converted from one format to another, it loses quality. That’s something that makes me cringe. Granted, that loss in quality might not be audible but it’s a loss nonetheless. Then I found Fluke. Fluke is an utility that allows me to play FLAC files directly in iTunes without any conversion and hence, without any loss in quality.

    Sing Your Songs (Add Lyrics to iTunes )

    How many times have you listened to a song you’d really like to sing along then had to open your browser, search for the song’s lyrics and add them into iTunes? TunesTEXT is a very reliable widget which retrieves the lyrics of the song which you are currently listening to and adds them into iTunes - you don’t even have to lift a finger! Use this together with DesktopLyrics and you will always have your lyrics right on your desktop. No rogue lyric windows to deal with. Whenever you want to view the lyrics, use the Show Desktop Exposé hotkey and boom - sing-along time!

    That’s all for Part 1. In Part 2, I will focus on helping you to expand your music library and few other tips to really enhance your iTunes experience.

    Original here

    Inside the new MacBooks: Audio and Video

    By Prince McLean

    Apple's new MacBook and MacBook Pro models present a variety of changes in the way audio and video are handled, including support for iPhone-style integrated mic headphones and the new DisplayPort standard. Here's what's new in audio and video.

    Audio Inputs

    The entire new MacBook line retains audio input and output with both regular electrical analog and optical digital (S/PDIF) connections. However, the new models also adopt the four conductor headphone jack introduced with the original iPhone, which enables the use of headphones with an integrated mic and remote playback controls.

    Last month, the new iPod touch, nano and classic were also updated to support iPhone-style headphones to handle new audio recording features, and potentially VoIP features on the iPod touch. Apple has announced new sets of headphones due out later this month that provide an integrated mic and playback controls.

    The MacBooks also have an omnidirectional mic integrated into the left side speaker grill (as earlier models did), but capturing audio conversations for podcasting and VoIP will greatly benefit from the new capacity for using mic-integrated headphones. The new MacBooks also continue to supply 2.1 audio, with two directional speakers for stereo imaging and a subwoofer for better bass response built into the center of the right side of the unit.

    When an iPhone-style set of headphones with an integrated mic are plugged in, the Sound panel in System Preferences automatically switches audio input from the internal microphone (below top) to the external mic available in the headphones (below bottom).

    Inside MacBooks

    Inside MacBooks

    PlainTalk to the iPhone mic

    Apple hasn't supported a basic microphone input on the Mac since 1991, when it replaced the Mac's unpowered mic input with the PlainTalk line level input. Prior to that, Macs shipped with the "Apple Omni-directional Mic," an unpowered or "mic level," monophonic device.

    Throughout the 90s, Apple shipped new Macs with its PlainTalk microphone, which used an extra long jack to supply power to the mic from the computer. By tapping power from the Mac, the PlainTalk mic could boost its output from mic level to "line level." The line level mic inputs that have been on all Macs since (apart from a few models with no mic input at all) have therefore required a line level microphone. Most cheap mics designed for use with generic PCs are unpowered and therefore do not deliver a strong enough signal to be used with the Mac's line level audio input.

    In order to use an unpowered mic, Mac users have previously needed to either attach a preamp between the unpowered mic and the line level input to boost the mic's output to line level, or alternatively use a digital USB mic, such as the Snowball from Blue, or some other USB or Firewire driven audio input device such as the Griffin iMic. For a period of time around the delivery of the PowerMac G4 Cube, Mac desktops and notebooks dropped PlainTalk analog mic inputs entirely as Apple expected everyone to use a USB mic.

    Line level mic inputs later returned, and since the MacBook arrived in 2006, most Mac models have sported a line level input that can input 24-bit stereo at a 44.1-192kHz sampling rate and also accommodate an optical digital mini-toslink S/PDIF input at the same audio resolution. With the latest MacBooks, the headphone jack can also now support audio input using a fairly standard four conductor jack.

    Video and Display

    Physically, the glass panel covering the screen on both new MacBook models is listed by Apple as "not a serviceable part," according to sources familiar with its design. The company's policy on servicing a broken glass panel notes that "any attempt to remove the panel can shatter the glass, which could lead to other damaged parts. Broken or scratch glass panels will instead be addressed by replacing the entire display module."

    The new Mini DisplayPort contributes toward a much more compact array of expansion ports on the left side of the machine. Looking at the logic board (below), it's obvious why such a difference in physical port size matters. The MacBook's motherboard is only a bit larger than a quarter of the surface area inside the machine, and its left edge offers no vacancies for additional ports or a full sized DVI connector.

    Inside MacBooks

    Unlike VGA, DVI, and HDMI, DisplayPort is more than just a way to deliver a video signal between devices; it is also designed to replace the LVDS cabling used internally in notebooks and inside displays. The more sophisticated signaling of DisplayPort, and the subsequent need for fewer wires to deliver the signal, will not only allow manufacturers to make slimmer display case designs, but also affords Apple the ability to add support for multiple internal displays on its notebooks in the future, such as an LCD panel built into the trackpad. DisplayPort is also designed with the potential to allow a single cable to drive multiple monitors.

    Despite using the new Mini DisplayPort for external video displays, the new MacBooks continue to use LVDS cabling internally to drive the built in display. This results in needing to route a delicate bundle of a large number of wires from the logic board through the hinge and to the display panel. Future models may likely take advantage of the DisplayPort standard internally to replace this thick display cable with a simpler, thinner signal cable once LCD panel makers start adopting DisplayPort themselves.

    The mini DisplayPort catch-22

    Mini DisplayPort also allows even the entry level MacBook to support the 2560x1600 resolution of Apple's most expensive 30" Cinema Display without needing the large, 24-pin connector demanded by dual-link DVI on the relatively small notebook. The muscle to drive that resolution is provided by NVIDIA's 9400M controller chip; the previous MacBook, using integrated Intel graphics, lacked the capacity to drive a 30" resolution display despite having a DVI connector with the pins available. Resolutions lower than 30" only require single-link DVI, which uses 6 fewer pins on the DVI port, although the connector itself is the same size.

    The new MacBooks now have the best of both worlds: a small connector and the capacity to handle very high resolution. Somewhat ironically, the converter for adapting the MacBook's Mini DisplayPort for use with the dual-link DVI signal required by the 30" Cinema Display not only costs $99, but it's not even available for purchase yet.

    Dell makes a 30" monitor of its own that uses DisplayPort, although the "Mini DisplayPort" used by Apple isn't common (it appears Apple invented it) and therefore cables aren't yet readily available to connect the new MacBooks to a third party, full size DisplayPort-equipped screen either. Apple's new 24" LED Cinema Display uses Mini DisplayPort exclusively, so it can only be used by the new MacBook and MacBook Pro. There are no converter boxes for turning DVI signals from a Mac mini or Mac Pro into DisplayPort, which uses not just different physical wiring but an entirely different signaling protocol.

    In other words, during the transition from DVI-based Macs to DisplayPort, there are a number of things that won't work together. From this point forward, all new Macs will have DisplayPort (likely Apple's Mini variant, as there is no obvious advantage to using the larger version), and new Cinema Displays will also eventually gain the new connector. Existing 30" displays will require a somewhat expensive box (although if you can afford a 30" screen, you're probably not sweating over a $99 converter), but other displays only need the $30 VGA or single-link DVI dongle to work with a new mini DisplayPort Mac.

    The Apple TV will likely retain HDMI rather than mini DisplayPort, as it doesn't need to drive display resolutions higher than HDTV's 1920x1080, which HDMI has no problem doing. DisplayPort is only required for driving higher resolution monitors with 30" 2560x1600 resolutions or greater.

    Original here

    Handsets to become crime targets

    Phone in back pocket, BBC
    More powerful phones will become targets for hi-tech criminals

    The risk of spam and viruses that attack mobile devices is set to rise, says a report.

    Security experts suggest current risks are small, and that attacks will take the same form as PC spam and scams.

    End-user protection like anti-virus software is not yet mature in the mobile market, so the issue is being addressed by the network operators.

    Mobile users are urged to employ the same safe behaviours familiar from PCs to reduce risks.

    New threat

    The annual Emerging Cyber Threats Report from the Georgia Institute of Technology Information Security Center (GTISC) in the US has identified mobile devices as particularly vulnerable platform.

    It said that as more and more people adopt smartphones, more applications will allow financial and payment infrastructure that employs them, and the availability of such sensitive data will prove to be a draw for cybercriminals.

    The growth of mobile spam and viruses has been reminiscent of the early days of PC spam and scam, says Simeon Coney of Adaptive Mobile, a firm that tracks malware and provides security software for mobile firms.

    "One of common types we see now runs amok on the Symbian platform," Mr Coney told BBC News. "These viruses work their way through the contact book, sending themselves out to every subscriber who has been called or has called that handset."

    Mr Coney says that network operators receive 100,000 virus incidences a day, nearly a 50% rise on last year. However, most subscribers are not infected - in part because mobile viruses are comparatively unsophisticated at present.

    "The first generation of these were fairly easy for mobile operators to detect," Mr Coney said.

    "Just like the first PC viruses came across as screensavers, in the mobile instance they came across as executable files. No-one was ever sending executable files themselves so it was easy to detect and block that.

    "But in the last four months, the majority of viruses we now see are of a new type that either masquerade as an MP3 file, a picture file, or a media file."

    People should start to exercise that same caution with their mobile devices that they do today on their PC
    Simeon Coney, Adaptive Mobile

    Adaptive Mobile has identified one particular virus called Beselo that spreads via MMS or by searching for nearby Bluetooth devices - a true "airborne virus".

    For a typical network operator, they find, the virus is responsible for a rise in spam from 0.5% of traffic to 6% over the last 12 months.

    The simple solution for users, Mr Coney says, is to employ the same behaviours familiar from computing.

    "People should start to exercise that same caution with their mobile devices that they do today on their PC; think twice before running any attachment from someone you don't know, check your bill on a regular basis, and ensure your Bluetooth connection is not set in discoverable mode.

    Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure, said statistics it had gathered about mobile viruses suggested there were about 400 in circulation.

    "The growth rate is slowing," he says. "This is because the mobile vendors are awake and are installing better built-in security in their new phone models."

    "We haven't seen much mobile malware that would use exploits to target vulnerabilities on mobile phones to gain access," he adds. "Almost all of them instead rely on users installing the malware themselves. This could change."

    'Missed opportunity'

    Up to now, mobile security has largely been in the hands of the network operators, who have taken a very pro-active stance to security for their users.

    But the report instead suggests that co-operation between operators, manufacturers and application developers will be necessary.

    The report lauds open-source mobile operating systems like Google's Android, which will make it easier for application developers to develop robust security.

    The average life-cycle of mobile devices is just two years - compared to 10 years for a PC - so developing security infrastructure for mobiles will happen quickly.

    "Because the mobile communications field is evolving so quickly, it presents a unique opportunity to design security properly - an opportunity we missed with the PC," says the GTISC's Patrick Traynor in the report.

    Original here