Monday, December 1, 2008

ISP's secret opt-in advertising test draws the UK's ire

By Joel Hruska

UK investigators have announced their intent to investigate ISP British Telecom (BT) over the contents of a leaked internal memo that surfaced last June. According to the memo, BT data-mined the web browsing activity of some 18,000 users during a two week period in September/October 2006, and they did so without informing the users. Whether this was illegal under UK law has been a point of contention between privacy advocates and BT; the results of the UK's investigation should settle the matter.

BT was able to mine the data through the use of an online dynamic antiphishing web package known as Webwise. According to the program's website, Webwise offers "a new security feature designed to dynamically warn customers if they visit a fraudulent 'phishing' site. When a user clicks on a link for a known phishing site, Webwise will detect it and automatically show the user a strong warning notice within their internet browser before they reach the fraudulent site." The technical details of just how BT got its data aren't given; presumably it was mined whenever the Webwise service was queried about the safety of a particular site.

Webwise is owned by the UK-based advertising company Phorm, which has suffered its share of negative publicity and government scrutiny in recent months. There are strong parallels between the services Phorm offers and the kinds of marketing strategies and advertising the disgraced NebuAd corporation once sold. If the UK's investigation deems that BT did indeed break the law, the writing may be on the wall for Phorm as well; the company is already under the watchful eye of EU regulators.

BT has pushed ahead with a second, public trial of Webwise in September, and is currently attempting to solicit the willing participation of 10,000 users. As hard as it may be to believe, there seems to be some indication that consumers are neither interested in having their data mined nor eager to watch ads specifically tailored to their buying preferences.

Regardless of whether BT actually broke the law, the company has hurt itself by sneaking around behind its users' backs. Because of BT's shortsightedness, the company's effort to evaluate the viability of targeted advertising has been been branded by critics as nothing more than covert theft.

Original here

Three applications for making disc labels

By Ben Martin

Making labels for DVDs and their cases is an often overlooked task. Many discs are lucky to have some terse information quickly scrawled on them after burning. But there are some fine open source applications available for creating labels for CD-ROM and DVD disks and printing jewel case inserts, including gLabels, kover, and cdlabelgen.

Fedora 9, Ubuntu Intrepid, and openSUSE 11 all provide packages for gLabels 2.2.3 and kover 3, but cdlabelgen 4.1.0 is left out in the cold by all three distributions. I used the packages for the first two projects and built cdlabelgen from source on a 64-bit Fedora 9 machine.

Both kover and GTKcdlabel support looking up the titles of songs on audio CDs. All of these programs include settings for which device you are using as your CD-ROM device, which Compact Disc Database (CDDB) server to contact for lookups, and proxy settings. CDDB lets you enter a disc ID from an audio CD and find out the names of the tracks on the disc and other metadata.


gLabels is a GNOME application that's designed to let you quickly print business cards and other labels, including those for CD-ROMs and DVDs. gLabels includes templates for many paper types, so you don't have to worry about offsets and formatting and can concentrate on the content of the labels. If your paper is not already supported, the application provides a template designer to help you set up gLabels once for your desired paper and reuse your new formatting template for future projects.

Selecting File -> New from the menu or clicking on New in the toolbar brings up the media type selection dialog, which lets you choose which paper you are printing onto. The three combo boxes toward the top of the window let you filter the media shown in the list to help you find the media that you have. For example, selecting business cards from the Category combo box will cause CD/DVD media not to be shown in the list. By far the quickest way to filter is by selecting the brand of paper you have, because this greatly limits the selection shown in most cases.

If gLabels doesn't know about your media type, you can tell the program about it by selecting File -> Template Designer to invoke a new media type wizard. On the first page it asks you to enter the brand, part number, and a description for the new media type. The second page asks you for the page size of the label; the third page lets you select between rectangular, round, or CD/DVD labels. Depending on that selection, you will then be shown a page letting you fine-tune the label, as in the first screenshot below. Finally you are asked how many layouts this media type needs (one or two), then asked to position the individual label objects on the paper. Most of the time you will only need one layout -- for example, when printing DVD labels. For some media you might need two, if for instance you have a left and right page design for special labels. This final layout screen, shown in the second screenshot below, is the most complex, because you have to move the individual objects (DVD labels in this case) into the precise positions where they should appear on the printed page. After the layout page you can apply the wizard and your new template is saved. To use a new media type when you create a new label, set the category to User Defined, and gLabels will show all your custom templates.

Making media with gLabels. Click to enlarge.

Once you select your media type you are taken back to the initial window, only now your current label is shown in the left side of the window with the selected object's properties shown on the right, as in the screenshot below. Here, I have added text to the top of my DVD label and a barcode to the bottom. Among the properties for a text object you can set are the style, which includes the font, size, color, alignment, and spacing; the size and position of the object; and whether the text should have a shadow effect applied.

Making labels with gLabels. Click to enlarge.

gLabels supports text, box, line, ellipse, image, and barcode objects. An image object lets you put on the label a bitmap image like a PNG or JPEG or a vector image in SVG format. For barcode objects you can choose from a dozen barcode formats. In the above screenshot, the ISBN barcode includes text, a checksum, and the barcode. The first three digits form the checksum, and they are calculated automatically by gLabels.

The View menu lets you turn on and off the markers and grid from the display as well as change your zoom level. The red and blue lines around the inner and outer edges of the above screenshot are the markers and the gray square grid lines are the grid; these are not printed and used only to help you design your label. The Objects menu lets you set the stack order of objects, rotate them through multiples of 90 degrees, and align objects horizontally and vertically.

Most of the features of gLabel are available from toolbars that appear above and below the main label display. Although this design makes the interface seem a little cluttered on first inspection, it works well once you are familiar with where the buttons are located.

gLabels' Preferences window lets you specify locale settings such as how units should be displayed (points, inches, or millimeters) and select your default page size -- either US Letter or ISO A4. The Object defaults let you choose what font, color, and alignment to use for text and how thick you want lines to appear, as well as other color settings.

gLabels can make CD-ROM cases (normal and slim), DVD cases (inside, outside, and slim), circular CD labels for the discs themselves, and also business cards, video tape, diskette, and other types of label. The template designer should also let you add support for printing at the correct offsets for custom store-bought labels.


Kover is a KDE 3 application that is targeted at making jewel case inserts. The main interface is shown in the screenshot below. Selecting File -> New does not bring up a paper selection wizard as with gLabels, but instead simply clears the current design (offering to save it first). The left side of the interface lets you specify the label's title and contents, and the right side of the window shows you a preview of how the jewel case label will appear.

Making labels with Kover. Click to enlarge.

As you can see, the Contents text box has word wrapping enabled, but no automatic word wrapping is performed for the preview shown on the right side, nor do the contents wrap automatically for the printed cover.

Selecting Settings -> Configure kover brings up a preferences window with six sections. The first section lets you choose a CDDB server and which proxy server to use to contact that server. The CDROM section allows you to specify which CD-ROM device to use for working out what audio CD you want to perform CDDB lookups for, and whether the program should eject a disc in the drive when you close kover. The CDDB files section lets you specify where CDDB lookup information should be cached. The last two sections let you choose default fonts for titles, content, and spine text as well as some miscellaneous options.

There are two main things that kover can print -- an inlet, which you place below the tray that contains the disc, and a booklet, which you put in the front of the jewel case above the disc. Kover lets you print both or either, and will place your contents and title differently depending on which configuration you choose.

Some things in kover are a little confusing. The icons in the toolbar have no labels, and the toolbar uses the same image for icons that change the font and color for the Title and Contents sections. The blue rectangular icon in the toolbar to the left of the leftmost "TT" lets you specify three image files to use for the cover. You can place each image on the booklet or on the inlet. You can also elect to have your image centered, tiled, or stretched on your CD cover from the Image properties window.

Kover is great if you want to quickly create a jewel case insert for a DVD or CD case -- though there is no support for the larger DVD cases. The lack of word wrap for the contents text is a bit of a drawback if you already have a small text file that describes the disc content and do not want to have to manually wrap the text in kover so it will all appear on the printout.


cdlabelgen is a command-line tool that also has a Web interface and many graphical clients. You can make a CD or DVD cover using cdlabelgen by supplying only two pieces of information -- the items on the disc and the cover type you want. You can quickly produce a PDF or PostScript file from the program's Web interface without installing any software, or make your own offline with the GTK interface and get a PostScript file to print anywhere you like.

You can try cdlabelgen without installing any software at all by using its Web interface. The Web interface asks you for an optional disc title, barcode, and backgrounds for the front and back of the cover. The only two required pieces of information are the list of items that are on the disc and which type of case you want your label for, such as normal or slim CD cases. Once you submit these details you can download your cover in PostScript, PDF, or GIF format. The GIF image is also displayed inline in your Web browser. An example cover is shown below. Note that there is no option for automatic word wrapping, so you have to break longer items into multiple lines manually. If your list of items is very long, cdlabelgen will automatically use multiple columns on the cover.

Sample cdlabelgen Web output. Click to enlarge.

To start the GTK graphical interface, run, which will bring up a main window similar to that shown below. The Text & Printing tab is where all the labeling action takes place. In this tab you choose the media you are printing to and what the "list of items" to print on the cover are. The cover style combo box and the multiline text box below it are the core of the main window.

The Make Cover section in the bottom area of the window takes a little experimentation to understand. To save a label, you have to type a file name into the Make Cover input box and then click on Save To File. I would have expected the Save To File button to always be available and work more as the Save button in other applications, prompting for a filename if this is the first time you have saved the data or just saving to an existing label if you are modifying an existing file.

GTKcdlabelgen. Click to enlarge.

The Images & Colors tab lets you specify the options you would expect from its name. Because GTKcdlabel uses cdlabelgen in the background, the Images & Colors page offers the same options that the Web interface to cdlabelgen does. One downside is that the image files you specify in the Images & Colors tab of GTKcdlabelgen for the cover must be in EPS format. It would be nice if the graphical client, GTKcdlabel, would convert bitmap images like JPEG and PNG to EPS format before calling cdlabelgen with them automatically behind the scenes.

The Settings tab lets you specify where the various programs that GTKcdlabel needs are located, as well as the label's page type (A4, letter, or custom).

Back on the Text & Printing tab, at the bottom of the window, the Preview button generates a temporary PostScript file and runs your default viewer on it. Clicking the Print button dispatches a print job for your label without any intermediate dialog, so you can't select page load options or which printer you want the labels to be printed on. If you have multiple printers, you should probably use Preview and print from your PostScript viewer instead.

When you select Preview, GTKcdlabel displays the command used to make the label in the terminal that you started GTKcdlabel from. This is handy, because you can start a label in the GUI and finish processing it using cdlabelgen from the command line if you want to. One downside I found is that, although you can save covers from GTKcdlabel, I couldn't find a way to loading them back into the GUI again. That means using cdlabelgen from the command line is also the best way to generate a duplicate label should the existing one get damaged.

cdlabelgen can make CD-ROM cases (normal and slim), DVD cases (inside, outside, and slim), circular CD labels for the discs themselves, as well as paper envelope printouts that can be used as cheap holders for raw discs.

Final words

cdlabelgen's Web interface is handy if you are traveling and want to label a few discs using a cheap printing center. If you like how the covers generated by cdlabelgen appear, you might like to use the GTKcdlabel desktop app when printing covers for discs with more private contents. Unfortunately, GTKcdlabel includes a few user interface design decisions that will have you scratching your head. Once you get used to GTKcdlabel, you can use word wrap for the main contents and make both labels for the CD media and cases.

gLabels allows you to print both CD booklets and labels for the discs themselves. The inclusion of paper templates and the ability to fairly quickly make your own, guided by a well designed wizard, is a wonderful feature.

Kover's interface lets you make a jewel case quickly, though for more involved designs you might like to use gLabels.

Ben Martin has been working on filesystems for more than 10 years. He completed his Ph.D. and now offers consulting services focused on libferris, filesystems, and search solutions.

Original here

Biggest Battle Yet For Social Networks: You, Your Identity And Your Data On The Open Web

by Michael Arrington

Today’s the day that Facebook makes their big press push for their Facebook Connect service, which was first announced last May. The NY Times has a story giving a broad overview of Connect as well as competing services from MySpace (Data Availability) and Google (Friend Connect).

All three services are platforms for third party sites (Digg, Twitter, Citisearch, CBS, whatever) to let users sign in via their favorite social network instead of the normal approach. Some profile information flows with the sign in, which the sites can keep for a period of time. And activity that occurs on the site - Twitters written, Digg stories voted on, restaurant reviews on Citysearch, etc.) can optionally flow back to the user’s activity stream.

What the third party sites get out of these services: easy sign in for users, particularly new users. They can also use the profile data to help users create accounts at their site with little data input. The activity stream information published on the social networks includes links back to their sites. And one of the most interesting features, for Facebook Connect partners: sites can request friend lists from Facebook to help them make more connections on their own services. Digg CEO Jay Adelson recently gushed over the potential of Facebook Connect for his service.

Facebook also gives Connect partners most of the same tools as their application developers to promote their services via the news feed, invites, etc.

But the real value goes to the social networks. These services make users begin to think about their identity in terms of their MySpace profile, or Facebook login as they use it to sign into their favorite services. That makes it even more likely the users will maintain their profiles on those services, add friends, etc.

MySpace in particular wants to own user identities. Their MySpace profile is their name online, which is why they’ve embraced OpenID so completely in recent months. Data Availability and OpenID are two parts to a single strategy.

Facebook is probably less concerned with identity - there is no branded URL for users, for example. But they do want to own the definitive profile for an individual and, more importantly, their social graph. Knowing who you are and who your friends are is the key to their yet-unrealized business model.

And the biggest win of all is this free flow of data back to the social networks, which quite nicely fills out a user’s profile for advertising purposes.

Facebook is moving ahead alone with Connect, using proprietary standards for login and data sharing. They’ve also prohibited Google from trying to get in the middle of things with their Friend Connect service. MySpace, by contrast, is using mostly open standards in their approach, and is working closely with Google to make sure the services work properly together.

The battle for partners is intense. MySpace announced Twitter as a launch partner, but rumor is that Twitter is actually integrating with Facebook first (there’s no reason they can’t offer both, and they probably will). MySpace also announced Yahoo and eBay as launch partners. To date, though, they’ve only launched with Flixster and Eventful.

Original here

Yahoo and Virgin agree mobile search deal

LONDON (Reuters) - Yahoo and Virgin Mobile have agreed a deal making Yahoo search the exclusive pre-installed search service for Virgin's 4 million mobile subscribers in Britain, the two companies said on Monday.

Yahoo is hoping to steal a lead on rival Google in the nascent mobile search and advertising markets, having lost the battle for dominance in the desktop computer search market, and is spearheading its European efforts in Britain.

"We will continue to focus on investing in this area. It falls squarely within our strategy of indispensable starting points," the head of Yahoo's mobile operations in Europe, Mitch Lazar, told Reuters by telephone.

Yahoo aims to make itself a favourite starting point for Internet consumers, providing easy access to popular services and relevant information without needing to own those services and information itself.

The Virgin deal will bring Yahoo's coverage of the British population using mobile search up to 80 percent from about 76 percent previously through its partnerships with operators, Yahoo said, citing m:metrics data.

Globally, Yahoo now has 70 such partnerships, giving it access in theory to 850 million subscribers.

Lazar said Yahoo's next key target markets in Europe were France, Germany, Italy and Spain. "We hope to announce some arrangements in the near future," he said.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

Original here

Pentagon hires British scientist to help build robot soldiers that 'won't commit war crimes'

By Tim Shipman in Washington

American military is planning to build robot soldiers that will not be able to commit war crimes
The Pentagon aims to develop 'ethical' robot soldiers, unlike the indiscriminate T-800 killers from the Terminator films

The US Army and Navy have both hired experts in the ethics of building machines to prevent the creation of an amoral Terminator-style killing machine that murders indiscriminately.

By 2010 the US will have invested $4 billion in a research programme into "autonomous systems", the military jargon for robots, on the basis that they would not succumb to fear or the desire for vengeance that afflicts frontline soldiers.

A British robotics expert has been recruited by the US Navy to advise them on building robots that do not violate the Geneva Conventions.

Colin Allen, a scientific philosopher at Indiana University's has just published a book summarising his views entitled Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong.

He told The Daily Telegraph: "The question they want answered is whether we can build automated weapons that would conform to the laws of war. Can we use ethical theory to help design these machines?"

Pentagon chiefs are concerned by studies of combat stress in Iraq that show high proportions of frontline troops supporting torture and retribution against enemy combatants.

Ronald Arkin, a computer scientist at Georgia Tech university, who is working on software for the US Army has written a report which concludes robots, while not "perfectly ethical in the battlefield" can "perform more ethically than human soldiers."

He says that robots "do not need to protect themselves" and "they can be designed without emotions that cloud their judgment or result in anger and frustration with ongoing battlefield events".

Airborne drones are already used in Iraq and Afghanistan to launch air strikes against militant targets and robotic vehicles are used to disable roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices.

Last month the US Army took delivery of a new robot built by an American subsidiary of the British defence company QinetiQ, which can fire everything from bean bags and pepper spray to high-explosive grenades and a 7.62mm machine gun.

But this generation of robots are all remotely operated by humans. Researchers are now working on "soldier bots" which would be able to identify targets, weapons and distinguish between enemy forces like tanks or armed men and soft targets like ambulances or civilians.

Their software would be embedded with rules of engagement conforming with the Geneva Conventions to tell the robot when to open fire.

Dr Allen applauded the decision to tackle the ethical dilemmas at an early stage. "It's time we started thinking about the issues of how to take ethical theory and build it into the software that will ensure robots act correctly rather than wait until it's too late," he said.

"We already have computers out there that are making decisions that affect people's lives but they do it in an ethically blind way. Computers decide on credit card approvals without any human involvement and we're seeing it in some situations regarding medical care for the elderly," a reference to hospitals in the US that use computer programmes to help decide which patients should not be resuscitated if they fall unconscious.

Dr Allen said the US military wants fully autonomous robots because they currently use highly trained manpower to operate them. "The really expensive robots are under the most human control because they can't afford to lose them," he said.

"It takes six people to operate a Predator drone round the clock. I know the Air Force has developed software, which they claim is to train Predator operators. But if the computer can train the human it could also ultimately fly the drone itself."

Some are concerned that it will be impossible to devise robots that avoid mistakes, conjuring up visions of machines killing indiscriminately when they malfunction, like the robot in the film Robocop.

Noel Sharkey, a computer scientist at Sheffield University, best known for his involvement with the cult television show Robot Wars, is the leading critic of the US plans.

He says: "It sends a cold shiver down my spine. I have worked in artificial intelligence for decades, and the idea of a robot making decisions about human termination is terrifying."

Original here

Mumbai Terrorists Watch World React With Horror Using BlackBerrys

By matt buchanan

The terrorists in Mumbai might have committed inhuman acts, but in at least one way, they are just like you and me. When authorities cut the cable feeds to the hotels where the terrorists held over 200 hostages, they relied on another piece technology to monitor the police response and the world's reaction to the attacks: BlackBerrys. Commandos were not only surprised to find the devices in the terrorists' rucksacks, but that they used the internet to look beyond local Indian media for information, watching the global reaction in real-time as well.

It's somewhat striking that the terrorists' use of BlackBerrys "caught the anti-terrorist forces by surprise." While perhaps another step forward in the sophistication of their organization, in that it it makes communication more instant than ever, it's long been reported that terrorist networks use the internet and cellphones for communication. Why wouldn't they use the same tools that millions around the world use? They don't all live in caves, you know.

That said, it doesn't make it any less scary, either. [Courier Mail via Business Sheet]

Original here

SanDisk plans hat trick of SSD performance improvements

By Joel Hruska

For all the performance advantages that a solid state drives (SSDs) can offer, the technology's mass-market appeal is limited by high costs, low drive capacities, and decidedly mediocre (given the first two factors) random write performance. SanDisk believes it has found a way to address all three of these multi-level cell (MLC) flash drive issues, and the company plans to present the details of its solutions—including information on its brand-new ExtremeFFS technology—at CES in January.

The first two components of SanDisk's plan are entirely unsurprising: the company will begin the transition to a smaller, 34nm manufacturing process by the end of 2009. It also plans to introduce 3-bit and 4-bit MLC drives. At present, SLC drives store two states (1 bit) per block of memory, while MLC drives store four states (two bits). Increasing the number of bits (and, by extension, the number of states) stored in a single block of memory will increase drive capacities (improve cost-per-gigabyte), while a smaller manufacturing process allows the company to build more flash on a single wafer (decreasing drive cost).

SLC and MLC, compared point-by-point

Adding additional bits to MLC drives, however, has a direct effect on write performance, and MLC can't afford to get any slower here. (For an example of SLC, MLC, and HDD write performance, see Tech Report). This is where ExtremeFFS enters the picture. According to SanDisk, ExtremeFFS (Flash File System) "has the potential to accelerate random write speeds by up to 100 times over existing systems," and will appear in shipping products within 2009. The company is playing coy on exactly how ExtremeFFS works, but has at least given a high-level overview.

Currently, SanDisk products (and presumably quite a few others) use TrueFFS, which SanDisk pioneered back in 1994. TrueFFS's read-modify-write cycle is performed as follows. First, the drive finds the block of flash it wants to write data into. If that block is empty, the write is performed in a millisecond or less. If, however, that block already contains data, the file system reads the current data block, moves the information within it to another location, and writes the new data in its place. The entire operation takes about 100 milliseconds—two orders of magnitude longer than it took to write data to an empty flash block.

SanDisk's ExtremeFFS will resolve this performance hit by decoupling the write cycle from the Modify/Delete cycle. Under ExtremeFFS, when new data comes in, it's immediately written to an empty location on the drive. Because the flash is multithreaded and uses a non-blocking architecture, one segment of the drive controller can be occupied with handling writes, while another part flags outdated blocks for erase or overwrite. ExtremeFFS maintains a lookup table where block states are categorized and processed, in order to avoid mistakenly overwriting a block of "good" information.

One thing we don't know yet is how ExtremeFFS will impact drive reliability. Multi Level Cell drives are inherently less reliable than their SLC brethren, and while a number of major companies have been working on this issue, adding more cells per block will only make the problem worse again. Hopefully SanDisk will address this point in their CES presentation. ExtremeFFS, however, should work just fine for current 2-bit MLC drives. If the file system lives up to SanDisk's claims, faster SSDs could arrive more quickly than we previously thought.

Original here

Stainless - Google Chrome’s Mac Twin [Mac Only]

No, not really. Stainless is a multi-process OS X browser inspired by Google Chrome. If you haven’t heard of Chrome - well, it is only the most popular, latest addition from Google to the existing line of internet browsers. Unlike other browsers like Firefox, Safari and Opera that try to surpass each other with cool new features and an endless repository of plugins, Google decided that their new browser would be a little different from the mainstream browsers.

It is revolutionary because they simplified it.

They stripped the User Interface down to its bare essentials; made it snappier, more efficient and sophisticated on the inside; then delivered it to the public. And we love it. When I say “we”, I actually mean “they”. That’s because I use a Mac and Google hasn’t quite got the OS X version of Chrome up to speed yet. However, all Mac users can rest assured that they are working on it.

So as usual, Mac users will have to wait it out while everyone else on Windows enjoy their new toy. Luckily, a small group of developers came up with an imitation of Chrome, a Chrome-sque browser if you will, for OS X.

Although it is merely a technological demo, there are 3 words I can utter about Stainless. It has potential - and I’m not the only one who shares this opinion. Most of us who have taken Stainless for a ride will agree that it is quite usable, considering that it is still in its very early stages of development. I’m guessing that it is because it is inspired by Chrome, it is a fair bit more stable, quicker and simpler to use - and that appeals to most people who are stuck with the productivity-driven mindset of “Do more with less time”.

So how does Stainless compare to Chrome? I have no idea. I refuse to run Chrome on Windows or try Crossover Chromium. I want to maintain that purity of excitement and amazement when I run Chrome of OS X for the first time after Google is ready to dish it to us. For the time being, Stainless is the furthest I will ever get to Chrome.

From the screenshots, I assume that Stainless looks a bit like Chrome. It has a very simple user interface: separate address bars for each tab, forward/back/refresh buttons and a New Tab plus (+) sign. Like Chrome, it also comes with its own Process Manager and because it is a multi-process browser, that means each separate browser tab is actually an individual process (not a collective one like Safari, for instance). If a particular tab is irresponsive, you can close that tab without affecting others. This also means that performance is increased since each browser tab is processed separately.

Surfing is noticeably more responsive and quicker. The whole browser ‘feels’ lighter than Safari, definitely. There is also an option to open a Private Browsing Window where no history, cache or other information are stored. Personally, I don’t see the point of the private browsing mode for the time being - I don’t think Stainless stores browsing history just yet! It doesn’t even have a bookmark manager and it isn’t integrated with Keychain so usernames and passwords aren’t stored.

Overall, Stainless has managed to impress me, even if it is only a demo. I can’t even begin to fathom what Google Chrome on OS X is capable of.

If you want to take Stainless for a spin, you can download it here. Take note, it is for Leopard only. For those of you who have actually used Chrome, let me know how Stainless compares. I can only read your experiences since I want to keep myself a Chrome-virgin.

Original here

MacDeveloper Helps Mac Beta Testers and Developers Connect

by Darrell Etherington

It can be tough putting together a good closed beta testing pool if you’re a small developer. Perhaps especially so if you’re developing for Mac, which, despite recent advances, still has a smaller overall user base to draw from than Windows. Sure you can offer incentives, and try to use your own network, friends, and families, but there’s now an easier (if slightly more expensive) way.

MacDeveloper, a recently founded Mac testing community, wants to bring developers together with motivated, responsible beta testers. They do so through their website which allows individual testers to register and become part of a pool, which is made available to developers. Sign up is free for individual testers, but developers have to pay a $16.75 to set up what MacDeveloper calls a “Project Channel,” basically a home page and server space to house your development project.

The site is built around a rewards model for beta testers, and has a points system in place whereby you can earn free software or discounts based on your testing contribution. Testers also obviously get early looks at upcoming software, which is always a big incentive for Mac users involved in the development community.

Testers can also earn “Star Ratings” by becoming a “Quality Tester” through positive developer feedback, which grants even more benefits. If they wish, developers can limit their search to Quality Testers, in order to help ensure that those working on their product are interested and engaged.

As of this writing, MacDeveloper currently has a beta pool of 442 testers, though only 10 project channels are currently active. 88 developers have signed up. If you have a project you’d like tested, it might be a good idea to get in now, since there seems to be an imbalance on the side of available testers.

Original here