Monday, November 3, 2008

Report: Apple's Jobs Gives iPhone Customers What They Don't Want

Jason Mick

(Source: Reuters)
Ask and ye shall not receive, in the iPhone world

It’s hard to argue the brilliant potential of Apple's iPhone. The device stands head and shoulders over most smartphones in terms of looks, form factor, graphics, internet capabilities, and touch interface. So when the new 3G iPhone debuted, customers flocked to it, hoping that the oversights of the first generation model might have been addressed by Apple.

The wish list wasn't very long, and some items on it seem like they would be almost trivial to implement. Among the desired features as chronicled by Wired -- photo texting, copy and paste, working Flash, browser crash fixes, Wi-Fi iTunes syncs, landscape view for emails, clicking anywhere to take a photo, and the ability to hide unwanted icons.

While one would thing one or two of these fixes -- requested by users and trumpeted all about by the media -- might be added, the iPhone 3G came with exactly none of them. What it did come with were a plethora of features that were met with varying reactions from modest enthusiasm to total indifference, including Google Street View, direct podcast downloads, application ratings on deletion, line in support (for mics), Emoji icons, location sharing, and Safari tweaks (not crash proofing). These fixes can easily be gleaned by glancing through leaks from the iPhone Firmware 2.2 Beta 2.

However, it’s the features that everyone wants that aren't there that are grabbing the most attention. Of the top 20 most requested features, you have to reach 18 before you reach one Apple has implemented -- turn by turn directions.

Many analysts are puzzled that a company could be so out of touch with its user base. A publicist for FullSix, the " relationship marketing” company that created Please Fix the iPhone drive points out that most big companies have launched initiatives which they use to gather and implement user suggestions. They point to My Starbucks and Dell's Idea Storm as examples.

Apple does quite the opposite. It gives people random features they never requested (with the exception of 3G, which was more of an upgrade to modern standards than a feature). Many blame Apple's polarizing CEO Steve Jobs. Mr. Jobs has publicly stated before that he doesn't think customers know what they want, but he does.

He likes to express this philosophy by using a Wayne Gretzky quote to refer to his thoughts on feature development; "I skate to where the puck is going to be. Not to where it’s been."

However, most analysts believe that Mr. Jobs will eventually be forced to relent and offer a feature here and there that consumers have been demanding for months -- or at least one would hope.

Original here

New iPhone App Measures Your Car’s Environmental Impact

Hacking Google: Turning a Search Engine into an MP3 Downloader

Yes, that's right. You can take everyone's favorite all-purpose search engine and turn it into a web-crawling, MP3 ripping demon for you. The procedure itself isn't as hard as you would think, either.

First, a little bit of a primer on Google. The Search Engine itself has a bunch of extra bells and whistles beyond "AND", "OR", and "NOT" in defining your search queries. We're not going to go through all of them now (Although that may be a good follow up article soon.), but suffice to say that if you spend enough time using Google, there are other search strings you can use to further narrow down your searches. (Check Advanced Google Searching for more Information.)

Copy / Paste the code below into your Google search box:

-inurl:(htm|html|php) intitle:"index of" +"last modified" +"parent directory" +description +size +(wma|mp3) ""
Where is either the name of the band you're searching for music for OR the name of the song you're looking for.

That's the hack in a nutshell, but if you're interested to see how it works, keep reading. Let's take a few moments to dismantle it and see what is happening in the search query.

-inurl:(htm|html|php) intitle:"index of"+"last modified" +"parent directory"

The first flag, -inurl restricts the Google queries without htm, html, and php pages, and has "index of" within the title. "Index Of" is a common flag that distinguishes website repositories; folder views of groupings of files on the internet. In a nutshell the first part of the query narrows down Google search results to pages you wouldn't ordinarily see, but nonetheless are logged and tracked by Google as it parses the net for new content.

+description +size +(wma|mp3) ""
In particular, this search will narrow down these repositores to include only sites with wma and mp3 files related to the BANDNAME or SONG you are searching for.

It should be noted though, that we at Haywire Hacking do not condone the illegal download of music: we assume you own a copy of the correlating CD or published work of the author, and are entitled to a digital backup copy of the music. That is what this hack is for.

Original here

Windows 7: Microsoft's Linux killer?

Linux has been making inroads into PC sales lately because it runs so well on lightweight netbooks with limited RAM and processing power. Windows 7, though, appears to run well on lightweight hardware as well, which could mean that it's Microsoft's Linux killer.

At the recent PDC, where Windows 7 was unveiled, Windows and Windows Live senior vice president Steve Sinofsky claimed that Windows 7 used less than half of the 1 GB of RAM on his Lenovo S10 netbook. Making the new operating system lightweight has clearly been Microsoft's goal. In addition to light RAM use, Windows also strips out a variety of applications, including Windows Mail, among others.

Of course, it's one thing for Sinofsky for claim Windows 7 runs on a netbook. But how does it work in real life? According to this review, Windows 7 pre-beta works well on an ASUS Eee PC 1000H with a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor and 1GB of RAM.

The writer found that Windows 7 uses 485MB of RAM. Despite that light RAM use she notes:

things are pretty smooth in terms of my use of the Eee PC 1000H for the entire evening I didn't have any hang ups while simultaneously chatting on Skype, writing this post in Wordpress, editing pictures in GIMP and uploading video files using Filezilla.

She did say, however, there were some problems with video playback. Keep in mind, though, that Windows 7 is pre-beta.

I expect Microsoft to push Windows 7 for netbooks hard. It's a tremendous growth area, and it's where Linux has been gaining traction. I wouldn't even be surprised to see a netbook-specific version designed for lower-powered processors and less RAM.

Given all that, Linux's growth in netbooks may be just a blip on the radar after Windows 7 is released.

Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for Computerworld, and the author of more than 35 books.

Original here

ISP Disconnects Customers with Open WiFi

Written by Ernesto

Open wireless networks have served as a successful defense strategy for several alleged filesharers, as it is often impossible for content owners to prove that the person they accuse, has actually distributed the files they claim they did. Unfortunately, for the customers of the UK ISP Karoo, running open WiFi might also get them disconnected - even if it’s unintentional.

karooOpen wireless networks can be found on every street corner. Some people leave their network open, simply because they are clueless about how to secure it. Others don’t mind that others use their network to access the Internet, or use a router that enables them to share Internet access safely with others.

In copyright infringement cases, having an unsecured wireless router creates plausible deniability. In recent months, we have seen several cases where accused filesharers have successfully argued that someone else may have used their WiFi to share copyrighted material. Because anyone could have accessed the network, it is impossible to prove that the defendant was the one who shared files illegally.

Not all ISPs are happy with customers who have open WiFi, however, and some even threaten to disconnect those who do. In the September 2008 terms and conditions of UK ISP Karoo, we read (pdf):

“We shall be entitled to terminate the Service immediately if We discover that you have permitted (whether knowingly or not) a third party (or third parties) to access the Service using a wireless connection over Your Communications Line.”

Should an ISP be entitled to demand this? Karoo leaves its customers no choice, and simply forbids them to leave their network unsecured, or use a FON router, despite the fact that this will be practically impossible for them to enforce. Not only that, people who have no idea about router security are now wide open to summary disconnection by this ISP. UK lawyers Davenport Lyons are actively encouraging that service providers of various types enforce their own terms and conditions against copyright infringers, so if you’re with Karoo and get a complaint, you can forget about 3 strikes. Even if you did nothing illegal, it’s one strike and you’re out.

Some would argue that having an open wireless network is the right thing to do. Earlier this year, security expert Bruce Schneier wrote an extensive essay on why it’s a good thing. Some of his key arguments were that it is basic kindness, and that the risk of running into abusers is extremely low. Also, when someone abuses the open WiFi to do something illegal, it is easy to defend yourself.

Schneier’s post led to a flood of responses, and most of them agreed with the security expert. Of course, there are pro’s and con’s to having an unsecured network, and whether it really is a wise choice can be debated. But, disconnecting your users simply because they, knowingly or not, have an open wireless network is a bit too strict for our taste. Nevertheless, Karoo thinks otherwise.

Original here