Wednesday, January 7, 2009

This Is Why I Love Linux.

Following The Twitter Hack Trail To DigitalGangster

One thing that didn’t make a lot of sense about the 33 celebrity Twitter accounts hacked this morning - the messages left on the various accounts weren’t consistent and were clearly written by different people with different agendas.

Fox News got “Breaking: Bill O Riley is gay,” and Rick Sanchez from CNN got “I am high on crack right now might not be coming into work today.” But other Twitter accounts had links to sites to generate affiliate revenue. Facebook’s Twitter account had a message pointing to (now shut down), which redirected to a porn site. President Elect Barack Obama’s account had a link to a site that offered a $500 gas card for taking a survey. Both had affiliate links associated with them.

Why were some sites simply defaced while others used to generate affiliate fees? It all seems to point back to one person that goes by “Gmz” on a hacker site called Digital Gangster (this site was also where Miley Cyrus photos were posted after they were taken from her hacked Gmail account). Gmz, says a source, obtained the account credentials for the Twitter accounts and then posted them on DigitalGanster. It was removed shortly afterward, but not before others grabbed the information and started to post on the various sites.

A later post on Digital Gangster asked “Who did it?” Gmz chimed into the thread, saying “That guy must have been a very generous individual. To hand out accounts rather than use that for profit. Could it be enough for respect or just enough for that user to be identified as an “idiot”?”

I’ve emailed Gmz from my new Digital Gangster account to confirm that he originally posted the credentials and I can’t wait to read his unlikely response. Twitter, of course, could follow up with Digital Gangster via their attorneys or the police and get access to that information. And it should be very easy to track the people who posted affiliate links on hacked Twitter accounts - just contact the affiliate companies and follow the money.

I wouldn’t be surprised if arrests were made in connection with all the Twitter drama this morning, once all this plays out.

Mininova’s Torrent Downloads Double to 7 Billion in a Year

mininovaMininova, founded in January 2005, soon became one of the most successful torrent sites. The site has grown steadily over recent months, and for a few weeks now the millions of daily users have been downloading well over 10 million torrents a day.

In 2008 the site passed several milestones, and in December Mininova broke a new record of 44.7 million unique visitors in one month. More users download more torrents, and just about every three to four months the site added another million torrent downloads to its counter. Today, just a few days into 2009, Mininova is close to recording the 7 billionth download, a double up compared to a year ago.

Mininova co-founder Niek told TorrentFreak that he expects this growth to continue in the new year. “Traffic is still growing according to Quantcast and Google Analytics. Unless something drastically changes, I see no reason why this will be different in 2009,” he commented.

Over the past months we’ve reported on the trend of more artists and publishers taking BitTorrent seriously, and Niek has noticed the same. “That’s definitely true,” he said. “We have almost reached the point of 1000 active CD publishers. We expect that free content distribution will play an increasingly important role in the music and video industry during the coming year.”

While existing Internet users are turning to BitTorrent at an increasing rate, most growth can be expected from rapidly developing countries such as India. With only 5 million broadband Internet subscribers, India is a relatively small player. However, the government plans to increase this number to 50 million by 2012, a 1000% increase, and we expect that many of them will be eager to try BitTorrent.

The exponential growth reported by Mininova and other torrent sites shows us that the BitTorrent hype is far from over. ISPs should brace themselves.

Demand for flash memory drops along with product shipments

A decreased demand for NAND flash-related applications has led DRAMeXchange Technology Inc. and other analysts to lower their outlook for 2009 NAND flash chip sales.

DRAMeXchange trimmed its forecast for higher chip sales from 108.2% to 81%. The research firm expects the market to reach 1.16 billion units sold in 2009, a decrease of 5.4% over 2008.

While the lowered sales expectations may not appear dramatic, over the past three years NAND flash sales grew 175%, 151% and 121% in 2006, 2007 and 2008, respectively. iSuppli Corp. also forecasted a huge drop in NAND flash units shipped - from a 132% year over year increase in 2008 to a 65% increase in 2009. So 2009 will be the first year in recent memory that the market will likely see only double-digit growth.

Gregory Wong, an analyst at Forward Insights, said NAND flash chip sales were down 20.1% between 2007 and 2008, with 12.4 billion flash chips sold last year, compared with 15.8 billion in 2007. He doesn't expect those figures to improve for 2009.

While Jan. 26 marks the beginning of the Chinese Year of the Ox, Wong said Asian workers will have little to be bullish about when it comes to the technology marketplace. "The layoffs in Asia will occur just before Chinese New Year. This way the companies will avoid paying year-end bonuses," Wong said. "If those rumors are true, there will be a lot of people let go."

Wong said widespread layoffs will hit NAND flash chip production and sales negatively.

Both Toshiba and SanDisk -- two top producers of NAND flash chips -- shut down their facilities for 13 days after Dec. 31 and said they would run manufacturing facilities at 70% capacity until flash memory demand increases.

"I think Samsung will take some days off too," said Wong, who blamed poor sales on an overstock of flash memory cards. "There's eight to nine weeks of flash memory card inventory out there."

DRAMeXchange expects flash chip suppliers to reduce production by 10% between the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009. It blamed the drop in flash memory sales on lackluster performance of products such as mobile phones and MP3 players. The 2009 forecast for mobile phone shipments is about 1.16 billion units, 5.4% lower than in 2008. For example, Nokia said its shipment of mobile phones declined 5% in 2008. Samsung and LG have also revised their 2008 mobile phone shipment forecasts down by 8% and 12%, respectively.

iSuppli forecasted a 17% drop in NAND flash revenue this year over last, from $12 billion to $10 billion. It predicted that sales won't pick up again until 2010, when revenue is expected to jump up by 16% to $11.5 billion. Solid-state disk (SSD) drives are also expected to see little growth in 2009 because of their high price and "reliability issues," DRAMeXchange reported. "Most [laptops] still mainly adopt hard disk drives as its major storage device. The penetration rate of SSD in the low cost PC market will be lower than 10% in 2009," the company said.

Digital camera shipments are forecast to hit 144 million units in 2009, an annual growth rate of about 10%, compared with 21.3% in 2007 and 18.6% in 2008.

Demand for MP3 portable multimedia players is also slowing, leading DRAMeXchange to forecast a drop in shipments ranging from 2.4% to 9.8% compared with 2008 levels. The firm said the drop is related to new mobile phone models that feature a music player function.

Oversupply in the DRAM chip market also pushed prices down 75% in 2008, from a high of $2.29 to 58 cents, and the industry lost more than $8 billion between the first quarter of 2008 and the third quarter, according to DRAMeXchange.